“At certain times each month you feel listless, bored or even completely knocked out. A physical change is making its presence known through menstruation. With the beginning of these days of monthly bleeding, some girls may be hit by attacks of cramps, headaches and even upset stomach. Strange, isn’t it? And frightening at first, until you begin to understand that this is part of life’s process for continuing itself. Your body will supply a son or daughter to build the world of the future.”
Your Happiest Years by Dick Clark, 1959
About the Book: Do any adults actually remember adolescence as their “happiest years?” This book by television personality Dick Clark, who would later be called “the world’s oldest teenager,” falls into that strange 1950s genre we have encountered here before—a volume of teenage advice authored by an adult celebrity. Can you imagine buying your young daughter a book in which Ryan Seacrest explains how her body will soon burst into womanhood?
Of course, when it comes to these celebrity books, it’s questionable who really authored them. Pat Boone’s book had a ring of authenticity, but this one is a pretty generic collection of 1950s wisdom for teenagers. It offers sensible advice on dealing with friends and family, while urging strict adherence to gender roles.
About the Author: American Bandstand premiered nationally in 1957. The show “did as much as anyone or anything to advance the influence of teenagers and rock ‘n’ roll on American culture,” according to the New York Times. An immediate hit, it would run until 1989. In its early years, the Times wrote, teenagers saw Clark as “their music-savvy older brother.”
Clark was also a shrewd businessman, who never shied from a money-making opportunity.
”I get enormous pleasure and excitement sitting in on conferences with accountants, tax experts and lawyers,” he told the Times in 1961. It’s not surprising that he would lend at least his name to this book. Now, it is a bit surprising that he also “authored” a book for adults about bowling (scroll about 3/4 of the way down the page).
Clark wasn’t experiencing one of his happiest years in 1959. As the U.S. House Subcommittee on Legislative Oversight investigated payola in the music industry, Clark’s network bosses took pre-emptive action. As Time wrote on November 30, 1959, “ABC confronted him with a significant decision: he must get rid of his outside music interests or else quit TV…Faced with the ABC ultimatum, Clark decided to ‘divest’ himself of his interests in various music firms.” Clark denied any involvement in payola.
Celebrity Names This Book Drops: Connie Francis, Solly Hemus, Mickey Mantle, Dinah Shore.
Cautionary Tales Clark Offers:
- A boy who failed to overcome his shyness with girls at the appropriate age and reached the age of 19 without ever being kissed.
- A young ladies’ man who grew into a lonely adult when girls tired of his “gay-blade routine.”
- A sickly boy who resisted his parents’ curfew and came down with tuberculosis.
- A girl who stayed out all night, causing her worried father to head out looking for her. In his exhausted state, he crashed his car and emerged permanently crippled.
More Quotes from Your Happiest Years
“Once you’ve stepped out and found you can have a good time with girls, you are free to call any of them you know and ask for a date. They can say no, but at least you can ask. You don’t even have to feel self-conscious about it if one turns you down—you can dial another. A girl can’t do this—or certainly should not.”
“The sweaters and blouses that once flopped about you, to the despair of your mother and father, who wanted their little girl to look neat, are starting to fit snugly around your chest. Your breasts are undergoing a change as you grow into young womanhood. So are your hips, which broaden as they prepare for the function nature has marked out for you as a woman: the bearing of children.”
“It’s fine to be ‘one of the boys’ at certain ages. The teen age isn’t one of those times. The sports you played together when you were nine or ten belong only to him around thirteen or fourteen. You can know about them. In fact you should be able to talk about them—but let him star at them. You be there to cheer and he’ll notice and appreciate that.”
“A young woman should begin in her teens learning the things that keep a home running smoothly. She can watch how her mother cooks and bakes. There are also many opportunities for a daughter to observe how Mother handles Dad when he’s had a tough day at work. Mom can always use some help around the house, with dishes, cleaning, cooking, and a million other things a girl should know to qualify for that band of gold.”
On menstruation: “Accept it as you accept other signs of developing femininity and attractive womanhood. Although it may give you some discomfort and even embarrassment at first, it is a mark of special favor for you as a woman.”
Why teenage boys shouldn’t avoid dating in favor of hanging out with the guys: “A pinball machine may be a lot of fun when you’re seventeen, but at twenty-two it’s no date for a dance, and it won’t sew up those ripped shirts, when you’re thirty.”
Previous entries in this series
Weird Words of Wisdom: Prettily Bewildered Edition
Weird Words of Wisdom: Spanking New Edition
Weird Words of Wisdom: Chaperoned Edition