With All the Anticipation of Childhood!

Oysterville Moms and Kids, Summer 1938

When our friends in Portland wrote and asked if they could come for a sleepover later this month, I felt the same excitement I remember from seventy or seventy-five years ago – that little tummy tingle of butterflies and the warm glow of looking forward to a special event.  But even though it was a dimly familiar feeling, I wonder how many friends actually spent the night at my house when I was a kid.  And, vice-versa.

I do remember staying overnight with my friends Anne (Nixon) and Nancy (Goodell) Cannon in Portland – usually on the way to or from my home in California.  My mom and their mom (Gyla) had been friends since girlhood and, on those occasions, we kids were pretty much left to our own devices while they visited and giggled like schoolgirls, themselves.

Nancy Cannon Goodell (1936-2015)

They lived on N.E. Davis Street in a wonderful house with all sorts of nooks and crannies.  I seem to remember that we could get up into the attic from one room, crawl around up there ‘exploring’ and then re-enter the main house through an entirely different ‘doorway.’  I don’t actually recall anything about the sleeping arrangements – not even if Anne and Nancy each had their own rooms.  The ‘sleep’ part of ‘sleepover’ certainly wasn’t important.

Plus, I don’t remember when the term ‘sleepover’ came into vogue.  Certainly not way back then.  In fact, I can only remember staying at someone else’s house overnight out of necessity.  Ditto in the next generation when Charlie and Marta were little.  I’m not sure about Marta as she lived with her mom (except for weekends and vacations) so she could have stayed overnight with her school friends now and then.  But I think that Charlie’s only overnight excursions were when he stayed with my folks who lived fairly close by in Oakland.

It wasn’t until I began teaching here on the Peninsula in the ’70s that I remember anything much about sleepovers.  Certainly, that’s when I was first made aware of the term.  Every once in a while, a child (usually a girl) would share or write in her journal that she was going to spend the night at a friend’s.  I also remember that about fifty percent of the time – especially if it was a first grader – it didn’t go well and parents would be called to come pick up their homesick child before the night really got under way.

Oysterville Kids (r to l Nancy, Judy, Anne, Me

That never ceased to amaze me, mostly because I don’t remember ever experiencing homesickness.  I do remember, clearly, someone asking me the first summer I spent at Dorothy Elliott’s Camp Willapa if I missed my mom and dad. “Oh no”, I responded confidently.  “I don’t worry about them. They can take care of themselves.”  My mother, who was apprised of my remark, never let me forget it!  I think she actually felt a bit insulted that I wasn’t pining for home, even just a little.

So… here I am, a venerable octogenarian, looking forward to our friends – four of them! – coming for a sleepover at the end of the month!  And they are coming “just because.”  Which I am sure is the best possible reason for a true sleepover!

One Response to “With All the Anticipation of Childhood!”

  1. Bruce jones says:

    I’ve only heard “sleepover” recently, like the last 50 years. Before then it was “slumber party” of which my older sister had a bunch until we told her she was done or she could go find another family to be part of.

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