A Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century: A Memoir by Jane Vandenburgh

By Jane Vandenburgh

Jane Vandenburgh's existence all started often sufficient. Born into "a sure form of family"—affluent, white, Protestant—she got here of age in the course of a time whilst the sexual revolution used to be sweeping our cultural panorama. Her father, an architect with a trendy l. a. company, used to be arrested numerous occasions for being in homosexual bars in the course of the Nineteen Fifties. He was once despatched to a health center to be "cured" of his homosexuality; he dedicated suicide whilst she was once 9. Her mom used to be a Bohemian who believed that she was once glamorous and proficient and will write her personal ideas for how she lived her lifestyles. confident that she was once being persecuted for being "unconventional," she misplaced her brain and used to be despatched to a psychological health facility. Vandenburgh and her brothers have been raised through relations in an prosperous suburb within the San Fernando Valley, a spot the place medicines, intercourse, and generalized performing out have been the waves of social switch that have been simply hitting the shores the place they spent each weekend. Quirky and extraordinary, A Pocket heritage of intercourse within the 20th Century is an interesting combination of memoir and cultural revelation.

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She is wearing huge dark glasses and, in the fashion of the times, has her hair wrapped in a terry-cloth turban. She is tall and is now thinner than she’s ever been. She’s stopped eating, preferring, she says, to get most of her vitamins and essential nutrients from the hops and grains and barley in Pabst Blue Ribbon, which is—as everybody knows—one of Nature’s Most Perfect Foods. When the principal calls again, our mother sighs hugely and then goes to meet him. She has a new motto now, which is Public Opinion No Longer Worries Me, which she got from a New Yorker cartoon that she’s taped to the wall.

He is flawed, so Perky is, of course, our favorite. Geo is the one who found him. Geo, who has always been silent, is witchy now; like St. Francis, he 39 A pocket history of sex speaks only to the animals now, so that’s how they find him. Perky dies, or flies away, after a few weeks in the new house. The finch flies freely in the house until it drowns in the dishwater in the kitchen sink. My brothers and I fish the wet bird out, then bury him in a shoebox under the dirt floor of the bomb shelter, this cold, damp, concrete-smelling alcove.

Fathers Camping with Sons is evidently the way people act in other, more normal families. I am shocked when I hear this plan, too hurt and astonished to even cry. Instead, I take the kitchen scissors into the bathroom and cut off all my hair. My hair is blond and curly, it is Shirley Temple hair, it is one of the major things Will makes fun of me for. Now it’s gone. With my hair cropped close, I dress in his jeans, put on his Keds and ball cap, and shove myself into the backseat of my father’s car, hold on to the armrest, and scream that they will never get me out of the car, that they will never never never make me stay home.

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