Pregnant at 16

BACK IN THE DAY

Author’s note: Back in 1960, a girl named Darla had a big life changing event. She ended up finding out she was pregnant. She moved out to live in an apartment with her boyfriend on little pay. They got married a few months after the baby was born. Then, years down the road she had another baby. They finally bought a house together and started their life. She worked at Buchanan Elementary School in the cafeteria for years and moved on to other schools as they came together. To this day, Darla is a very important person in my life. She is my next door neighbor, who I call Nana, along with her husband Gene, who I call Pap. Gene is the same man she had a baby with whenever she was 16 years old. They have been married for 58 years now. They have two girls, who are fully grown, and they are like my two aunts I never had. Both kids have successful careers and were raised right even though it was a long time ago and times were tough. I chose to write about my Nana because she has a huge impact on my life. She always cares for me when I am sick, she took me in as her own grandchild, she always has the goodies that are not healthy, and most of all, her house is always open and filled with love and happiness.

Way back when, on a chilly January day, a girl named Darla had a complete life changing event happen to her. It was a very calm day, around noon. As Darla was eating lunch, she all of a sudden jumped up and ran to the bathroom and started throwing up in the toilet. That is when she took a pregnancy test and found out she was pregnant. She could not tell her parents, so the first person she called was her boyfriend. She called him right when it happened, and said, “Gene, I am pregnant.” Then, Gene screamed and dropped the phone. The baby belonged to Gene, who was her boyfriend at the time. She did not know what to do. She was scared, confused and worried because she knew she had to tell her parents sooner or later.

Things were very different back then. People were different, and they had different ethics and morals also. For example, sex was not talked about at all as if it was a huge sin and frowned upon. Darla was 16 years old at the time when she found out. She was beautiful, strong-willed and determined with excellent grades in school. She did not know any different. Gene was 18 at the time, and he was hardworking, had good grades and was very determined with his future as well. They fell deeply in love the first time their eyes met. They had been dating approximately a year and a half when she became pregnant.

When you got pregnant back then, you were not able to continue attending school. Darla ended up quitting school because she had no other choice. She was not able to pursue her college dream. She needed to get a job because she realized that her life was going to change now. She would now be providing for two people. She got an easy job at a store called Murphy’s 5-10 cent store. She did not really make a lot of money working there but enough to make ends meet, while only making $3,684 per year. Life was hard for her. They had to use wringer washers, hung clothes on a line to dry and cleaned every day. Also, there was no eating out, so she had to cook meals herself for her and Gene while he continued to work.

She was very scared to tell her parents, but when she did, she came to find out that her mom was supportive but at the same time upset with her. She kept hearing from others how hard it was to be a young parent, along with all the different obstacles she would soon be facing. Everyone thought they should have waited because they were too young. There was talk between her and her mother about giving the baby up for adoption, but Darla had no intentions of doing that because most people were heavily against that. Her mom as well, like any other mother, helped her and talked to her about becoming a mother and started to prepare her for the baby’s arrival.

On the other hand, Gene’s parents were unhappy and did not like that Darla was pregnant when they found out. They thought they were too young and should have waited until after they got married to decide if they wanted a baby. After telling family, she then told her friends very discreetly. They were not shocked or concerned by it because everyone was very close and supportive of each other.

A couple weeks after finding out she was pregnant, they both moved out of their parents’ homes and got an apartment not far away. It was very hard for them to adapt to these life changing events and being so young and having very little, it was hard for them to pay for expenses while only getting paid minimum wage. Shortly after settling into their apartment, they decided to get married right away.

A year or two later they had another girl. Life became harder for them. Darla was working in factories until 1969 and then started working at Buchanan Elementary School in the cafeteria. Both of her children were in school at that time, and the hours worked out perfectly for Darla and Gene. Darla ended up working in the kitchen and making that her career. Darla and Gene both saved up money over time to buy a house in 1964. Their house cost $5,000, and they were able to make this purchase with all of their hard work and savings. They saved up $5,000, but they only made $45 per week. Their house payment was $45 a month. Darla’s grandmother always said, “One week’s pay equals your house payment. No more, or you could not afford to buy it.” They were able to live in their house together with their two girls.

Darla always went by the saying, “Remember you are not alone.” You are able to get through anything. Even if you make mistakes or some things go wrong, everything will always work out. One needs to try his or her best and believe.

To this day, Darla is a wonderful woman. She has two beautiful grown girls and her husband, Gene, who she loves dearly. Darla has accomplished so much in her life and is a part of a loving family. I am very thankful to have grown up living beside them all of these years and being involved with them. Many people have neighbors, but these special people that live next to us have made us feel like we are a part of their family.

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