DON’T WORRY ABOUT TEENAGERS
Chicago Sunday Tribune May 27, 1951
All Over America There Are Girls and Boys Like Babs Pollard and Her Friends at Tallulah, La., High School
MADISON COORDINATOR’S NOTE: This article by Norma Lee Browning appeared in the Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune over 70 years ago and features Babs Pollard of Tallulah. Mrs. Browning was for over 30 years a well-known reporter, feature-writer and columnist for the Tribune. She also was the author of at least nine books. In 1951 Mrs. Browning, while passing through Tallulah with her husband, longtime Chicago Daily News photographer Russell Ogg, met Babs, was impressed, and decided to do a “typical southern teenager” article about her and some of her friends. The article follows. Mrs. Browning passed away in 2001 as did her husband Russell Ogg in 1990. But what about Babs Pollard, where is she? Well she is living with me in Jackson, MS. We’ve been married for 67 years. RPS May 2021
Babs Pollard (center), Tallulah, La., High school senior, strums ukulele on bridge over Brushy bayou. Her friends are Annette (left) and Rita Smith, sisters.
FROM THE NATION'S high schools next month a throng of teen-agers will walk out into an uncertain world, diplomas in hand, dreams dancing in their young eyes.
Who are they? Where are they going? How well do they know their way?
Let Babs Pollard tell you. Babs (her real name is Barbara) is one of 42 graduating seniors in the high school at Tallulah, La., a bustling farm town of 10,000, with a company that manufactures baseball bats and a game reserve that boasts one of the few ivory-billed woodpeckers in existence.
"Tallulah is a good town," Babs will tell you quickly. "Maybe better than average. Maybe that's why the kids in our town are better than aver-age, too."
More than half of Babs' classmates are planning definitely on a college career—certainly a better than average score compared with many schools.
Most of the girls are going into nurses' training. Babs is going to be a grammar school teacher when she gets thru Louisiana State university. Her father died suddenly last Christmas and her mother is carrying on the management of their little restaurant on Main street. With some girls a father's death would mean the end of their hopes for a college education. Not for Babs. Besides being just about the prettiest and most popular girl in her class, she has learned how to work, and at 17 the prospect of having to work her way thru college doesn't diminish her enthusiasm at all.
" I like to be independent anyway," she says. " Sure, I expect to marry some day, but I'd rather do something on my own first. I wouldn't give up going to college for anything, even if I have to scrub floors to get thru."
All during high school Babs has worked at various jobs, at a dairy, a dry goods store, the five-and-dime. Now, with her dad gone, she has had to accept more responsibilities at the restaurant, too, along with her 16 year old brother, Buddy, who wants to be a minister. Babs types menus, works behind the counter, and sometimes waits on tables.
With all this she has turned out a B average in school, is assistant editor of her school paper, president of the Tallulah chapter of the National Allied Youth organization and her home economics club, vice president of the senior class, and secretary of the Latin club. She is a drum majorette and plays the oboe, piano, and ukulele. She was Tallulah's Homecoming Queen and Maid of Honor to the Cotton Queen.
In her spare time she paints figurines.
Babs was also one of four girls from her junior class chosen as delegates to " Pelican Girls' State "—a 10 day convention in Baton Rouge for 500 Louisiana high schoolers to learn the inside workings of local and state government. In Baton Rouge Babs ran for "house of representatives " (Pelican Girls' state ticket) and won. The girls learned how to vote and pass laws.
Most of the boys and girls in Babs' class don't smoke, drink, or go on necking parties. Few of them "go steady."
There is no student center or youth recreation hall in Tallulah; yet this lack has created no juvenile problems, as it has in some towns. Why? Because Tallulah's parents encourage parties at home. Outside of Crow's drug store, popular hangout for ice cream sodas or colas, the gang's night life consists mainly of dancing or snack parties in somebody's home, often with mom and pop invited to join in the fun.
"I don't think we're so bad," says Babs. "I know folks do a lot of talking about what's happening to the younger generation. And I guess right at my age we're all mixed up on a lot of things. We can't get as confidential with our parents as we did when we were younger. But we'll turn out all right."