Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Teen-Age Pregnancy in the 1950's

After I received a Kindle, I began downloading books and reading them voraciously. One of the first books I read was The Third Floor by Judi Loren Grace. This book, written in first person, was about a teenager in the 1950's who found herself pregnant and was sent away from her family to live in a home for unwed mothers, thus eliminating embarrassment to her family, especially her father, who was a politician.
I remember hearing of homes like this because I was a young teen-ager during the 1950's. I remember asking girls in my junior high school class about one of the girls who had suddenly disappeared. They snickered and giggled, embarrassed, as they told me she had gone to have a baby. I knew nothing about how this happened, but I tucked this information away. I never saw my classmate again. No doubt, she was spurned because she had had a baby out of wedlock, which was the common treatment for an unwed mother in those days. In TheThird Floor, girls were treated with disdain by those in the home where they lived. The supervisors were "punishing" them and "teaching them a lesson", however, it was in a round-about way. 

In this book, the girls lived in dormitory-like rooms.They didn't go out into public much, so they formed close friendships with the other pregnant girls. However, they were not given any information about how babies were born or what would happen to them. 
Each girl in this home was told that whenever her labor pains began, she was to pack her suitcase and walk to the third floor, where her baby would be delivered. The girls in the dorms never saw their friends again. They were whisked out the backdoor of the third floor and sent back home, with or without their babies. They were not allowed to tell the girls still waiting for their babies about their experience.
As I read about the delivery of the main character's baby, I noticed she was given no drugs to help with her pain. This girl was in labor for three days, and when the baby finally came, the nurse asked, "Have you learned your lesson now?"

She took her baby home, but her mother arranged a "back-door" deal and gave the baby away. Years later, she found her son, and also located her good friend from her time in the home.

Times have certainly changed from the 1950's; unwed pregnancy is not viewed as it was in the past. Girls who are pregnant before marriage are given pre-natal classes and are encouraged to be healthy so they can have healthy babies. They receive advice about adoption or raising their babies themselves.

This book was well-written and the characters were real to me as I read it. It is a fast read that I downloaded free on my Kindle. I recommend it highly. 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous, I got your comments by email, but they did not appear here, so I do not know how to contact you to answer your questions. Try again to post a contact here, or let me know how to contact you if you'd like an answer.