Peggy Putnam Houser
How excited I was in Home Economics Class one morning, as I was standing by the window, after having finished my assigned “table setting,” etc, and across the parking lot, I looked up and saw Joe Griffin waving wildly at me out of the upstairs window in the Main High School Building (Home Ec. was in the brick building attached to the Gymn). He was leaning out of the window, and yelling—and actually blowing kisses to me! A green freshman in high school, I was thrilled and began waving back to Joe. All of a sudden, Mrs. Harris, the teacher, came marching over to me, saw Joe and me waving, and asked loudly (as she was shaking her finger at me), “Peggy, just what in the world are you doing?” My face turned a bright pink, and I was so embarrassed. I stammered that I was just returning Joe’s friendly wave. With both hands placed firmly on her hips, she told me in no uncertain terms that “ladies just do not do that, and you must be very discreet if you are going to flirt with the boys!” The whole class of course was taking all of this in, and I just wished the floor would open up and swallow me whole! But fortunately, the bell rang, and I dashed out of there as fast as I could, hurried to find Joe, and told him I got in trouble over that incident. He was very apologetic, and wanted to buy me some ice cream to soothe my ruffled feathers and embarrassment. I made a vow to forever be “discreet”—and never forgot that warning. From then on, I made sure I was the “perfect lady” in all my classes, in Home Economics especially.
I remember so well how I loved to walk home from Cliffside High with my good friend Patsy Humphries. (The years were the late 1950’s.) As we came to the famous “Bowling Alley Cafe” downtown, I would be so excited, because my sweetheart, Wayne Houser, worked in the cafe, and it was always a thrill to have him cook my delicious hamburger, and then he always winked at me and Pat as we enjoyed our treats after school. We also played the jukebox, and would “hang out” as long as we could at the Bowling Alley and visit with our friends.
I spent many school nights with Pat, and loved her dad’s (Lassie Humphries’) delicious breakfasts. Also, I always loved talking with Pat’s brothers, Ben, Red, and Max. Pat always teased me about the fact that I would be talking to her about something before going to sleep, and just in the middle of a sentence, I would stop talking and be sound asleep in a flash. It was amazing, she said. My husband, Wayne, says I still do that!
I truly loved Cliffside High, and my biggest thrill was when I made cheerleader for the Cliffside Eagles in my freshman year. I loved everything about cheering on the teams, and was simply in heaven when we were doing the cheers in our best form. To travel to all the games with the football team was so great and rewarding—especially when the team won. I was lucky to be a cheerleader for all my high school years, and when I earned the letter “C,” I was so happy, I wanted to sleep with it. I treasure the precious memories of all my grand friends from High School, those years helped shape our lives, and we shared so much in that wonderful place called Cliffside. We had many talented and grand teachers, who shared their wisdom and experiences with us. Some of my favorites were: Margie Packard, Mrs. Talbert, Dot Nelson, Mr. Nanney. Their personal interest in me definitely made a difference in my high school years.
(Peggy—still cheerful and enthusiastic, or could you tell?—is married to Wayne Newton Houser. They have four children, Garry, Bruce, Pam, Susie, and ten grandkids. Peggy is a realtor in North and South Carolina and Wayne is a Systems Engineer. They live on Lake Houser near Cliffside.)