At our high school in my hometown of Richland, Ga., once the students were promoted to the ninth grade two things occurred. We began changing classrooms for each class period and we were offered shop class for the males and home economic classes for the females. And before you start wondering, I do not know of any boys who requested to take home economics classes or even one girl who asked to take shop classes.
We can only speculate about what that kind of circumstances that request might have caused and about how this rule would be interpreted today.
The Ag shop was located in a smaller building down the sidewalk past the gymnasium with the back of the building near the Christian Church. There was a wide entranceway with the shop located to the left and a classroom located on the right; our ninth grade Algebra I class, taught by Coach Charles Sheppard, was held in that room.
The shop classes were taught in a large area that contained all kinds of power tools and machines. During the school day you could hear those noisy saws that the boys used to create various kinds of projects made with wood. The male students were also allowed to work on their personal cars learning how to change the oil in their vehicles and learning life-skills that became important in their later lives.
The boys had a smoking area outside that building, it sounds unbelievable to write about that now, but it was the truth. The girls did not have a designated smoking area and it was expected that they did not smoke cigarettes at all but it was reported that certain females smoked in the dressing rooms in the basement of the gymnasium.
The home economics classes were held in a set of rooms in the main building. The room was equipped with a kitchen area for cooking classes and another area that could be setup with sewing machines for the sewing classes. We learned about setting up a modern kitchen, what various kitchen tools were used in preparing a meal, and how to set a table and serve a meal. The more advanced classes were allowed to prepare a meal and they invited the male students to come and do a taste-testing event.
The freshmen girls received lessons on table etiquette. I think that is when Marcia and I decided that we preferred cloth napkins to the paper ones, which we still prefer today; and before we realized that the cloth ones have to be pressed. We were introduced to a recipe that people either love or hate; it is not particularly difficult to master and it is called tomato aspic.
For those who might not be familiar with tomato aspic, it can contain celery, olives, onions and other savory type ingredients in tomato juice and prepared with gelatin. It was popular in those days because it was molded and presented on a beautiful platter and was an edible centerpiece.