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Name for a Sister, Color TVs, Family Secrets, & The Beatles

The Year I Turned Ten: 1964

By Shirley BelkPublished 4 years ago Updated 6 months ago 5 min read
JFK November 22, 1963 just prior to his assassination in Dallas, TX

Picture my world if you will. It is 1964 and we are living in Houston, Texas. My sister was born that first week of January, one day before my mother's birthday. My sister was mostly bald, but the red fuzz on top of her head was foretelling. We would have a beautiful, little red-headed girl. My brother, closer to two years old than to three, now had to share my mother's lap. I, who had better things to do than to be in my mother's lap, would soon be returning to my 3rd grade class when Christmas break was over. For our family, it was a joyous time.

JFK, our 35th President, had been assassinated on November 22, 1963. We had been let out of school early after Miss Dore, our teacher, notified us of this horrible event. She was beside herself, crying. She had told us (class) she was Roman Catholic and she was very pleased that Kennedy had been our first Catholic president. She took it hard. I couldn't grasp the gravity of the situation, but I loved Miss Dore, a young, chic-dressing lady with black hair in a 60's bob. She was very "groovy!" Once at home, all eyes had been on our black and white television set watching how the events that fateful day in Dallas, Texas, had played out. That day was my grandmother's 71st birthday, too.

Miss Dore's hairstyle, but jet black

That year (1964) saw many changes in our world and they were interesting to say the least...even for kids. The United States surgeon general had declared war on cigarettes by stating, "Smoking may be bad for your health." I was happy to hear this because I thought they stunk. And they made me cough when I was around the smoke, which was always. I hoped my mother and aunt (we all lived together along with my grandmother, too) would quit. But that never happened.

Actor, Rock Hudson, making smoke rings

After President Kennedy had died, Lyndon B. Johnson (his vice-president) became our president. Shortly after that, in his first year of office, he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was stated that, "American negroes had won their freedom slightly over 100 years ago, but now (1964) they had won their dignity." This law sought to eliminate a century of Jim Crowe laws/injustices that kept black Americans from enjoying the same opportunities as their white counter-parts. Johnson urged the country to "challenge their homes and hearts to eliminate injustice once and for all."

President Lyndon B. Johnson with Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Act 1964

Even though, in our house we kept up with current events, my main concerns were how fast and how far I could go on my bicycle with neighborhood friends. And when the popsicle truck would come by. And what family in our neighborhood had a color tv. (There had only been one and they lived on the corner.)

I would later learn that color tv was "invented" in 1951, but, according to Jennifer Rosenberg from Thought Co., "despite these early successes with color programming, the adoption of color television was a slow one. It wasn't until the 1960s that the public began buying color TVs in earnest and in the 1970s, the American public finally started purchasing more color TV sets than black-and-white ones. Interestingly, sales of new black-and-white TV sets lingered on even into the 1980s. "

Everyone loved the NBC Peacock in "living color"

So, on our good old black and white tv with rabbit ears for antennae, I would tune in to my favorites like, "Bewitched" and comedian Rowan & Martin's "Laugh-In." And that's where I watched the British invasion of the Beatles on the "Ed Sullivan show." They would hold five top singles on Billboard's Top 40 in 1964! Every girl had their favorite Beatle and every parent hated those long-haired hippies. But their songs were amazing!

Notice: No remote controls, either
Bewitched lasted 8 seasons
And I was introduced to modern clothes styles of the 60's

Besides playing with Barbie & Ken dolls with my neighborhood girlfriends, we all begged for "go-go" boots like the dancers from "Laugh-In" wore when they did dances like the Watusi, the Twist, the Mashed Potato, the Swim, and the Jerk.

Cool dance 1960's

The Beatles five hit singles that year along with other hits included:

My favorite was Love Me Do

And for Christmas of 1963, a year my Aunt 'Cile said she was the "brokest" she'd ever been, but she made sure Santa brought me a pair of white go-go boots! I was deliriously happy and wore them everyday. I felt like the richest kid on the block as I showed them off.

My Go-Go Boots :)

So, hopefully, now that I've painted a picture of my world, let me get to the part of how my sister got her name, because she had no name for almost a week after she got home from the hospital. By that time, my Aunt Sis and her husband had come to meet her and the family Bible came out to look for names written in the middle of the Good Book under our "family history."

Old Family Bible

Aunt 'Cile loved the name, "Kitty," because she had a friend named that and it was unique. Aunt Sis liked the name, "Rena" and for it to be spelled liked that, with a long a sound. (She spelled by sound and it became very funny to us over the years.) My mother and grandmother looked at the names of my mother's grandmothers...maternal was Eliza Almeda and paternal was Katie. My sister was finally dubbed, "Katherine Rena" and would be called Kitty.

But while the Bible had been out, I read the full name of Katie and her husband: Katie Herrin, her maiden name and Perry (Smith.) Then, after my grandmother had left the room and was out of earshot, I heard the three sisters whispering about the secret name of Perry and Katie, which wasn't "Smith" at all, but Youmans.

It wasn't until after I got my DNA results (a Christmas gift from Kitty after our mother and our aunts had passed,) that I could verify the fact, that we were truly Youmans. My oldest cousin and I had discussed that our maternal grandfather, Andrew John Smith, was aka James Youmans. He had another "set" of family, too...a wife, three daughters, and a son. This first family had lived in Georgia and moved to north Florida. At some point before meeting and marrying my grandmother in the early 1900's in southern Mississippi, the story goes that the young Mr. Youmans, my grandpa, had killed a man in self-defense, and had to "leave town." He re-created himself and became Mr. Smith. My grandmother never spoke of all of this. She referred to her husband as "Mr. Smith" in conversations and it was told that he referred to her as "Mrs. Smith," as well.

Not the original Mr. & Mrs. Smith, by far...

I have yet to follow the clues to get the facts of these events in times past, but I am just retired and plan a trip to Georgia and Florida for discovery. I have met (online through social media) some of my Herrin relatives...sweet and good people. The Youmans have seemed to disappear, but I did find some very rich, historically information about their family line. I love ancestry and unveiling secrets, but I hope it doesn't make my grandma mad at me. Alas, 1964, was a long time ago.


About the Creator

Shirley Belk

Mother, Nana, Sister, Cousin, & Aunt who recently retired. RN (Nursing Instructor) who loves to write stories to heal herself and reflect on all the silver linings she has been blessed with :)

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    Shirley BelkWritten by Shirley Belk

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