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Girls Just Wanna Be…. (Dredging the Past for New Series)

Finding Tina (top from memory, bottom from yearbook)
Finding Tina (top from memory, bottom from yearbook)

I was sketching and looking at my high school yearbook in preparation for a series of paintings I’m starting. I was surprised by the low expectations so many of the girls in the yearbook had for themselves compared to today’s young women. I started counting how many “hoped to eventually” to become beauticians, secretaries and airline hostesses (flight attendants). Even my high school best friend Tina’s yearbook entry said she aimed to be a beautician (not to denigrate those important jobs, but there are so many more options for women now.) Maybe it was the elaborate, sculptural hairstyles back then that made so many of us want to be hairstylists?

When I read the tender, poetic inscription Tina wrote in my annual,  I decided to try to find her again.  We’d lost touch with when I moved away a year after high school and have unsuccessfully searched for her for years. Today I found her 86-year-0ld father, just by typing his last name and the city where we lived into the people finder on! He promised to give her my phone number and then filled me in on her life over the many decades since we last were together.

Jana's senior picture and yearbook entry
Jana's senior picture and yearbook entry

When I filled out the form for my blurb I was trying to be funny:  “Hopes to marry a millionaire…especially liked the people, weekends, and vacations.” But there was some truth in it too. I was so done with high school and wasn’t looking forward to having to grow up and get a job, either.

OK, so maybe I was procrastinating and avoiding the nice blank canvas waiting for me… but, (not counting the girls who said they just wanted to be happy, or didn’t mention their goals at all), here is my tally of career goals for San Diego’s Crawford High class of  ’66 (I put the odd outliers in red):

  • Teacher: 67  (90% said elementary teacher)
  • Graduate from college: 55 (and then get married: 30)
  • Secretary: 51
  • Airline hostess: 33
  • Beautician: 23
  • Nurse 21
  • Housewife: 20
  • Dental/medical assistant: 19
  • Commercial artist: 14
  • Social worker: 11
  • Psychologist or Psychoanalyst: 11
  • Travel the world: 11
  • Interior Decorator: 9
  • Dress designer: 8
  • Model: 6
  • Doctor: 6 (mostly pediatricians)
  • Scientist, mathematician, engineer: 3
  • Diplomat, linguist: 2
  • Bullfighter: 2
  • FBI/Secret Agent: 2
  • Probation officer: 2
  • Owner of Village of Pancake House: 1
  • Mortician: 1
  • Police woman: 1
  • Artist: 1 (and she is did it: Deborah Butterfield is famous for her sculptures of horses)

10 replies on “Girls Just Wanna Be…. (Dredging the Past for New Series)”

Cool cool cool entry, Jana/ My 40th HS reunion is coming up in August, and I think I’ll see what I can find in the old yearbook. So you went to school with Deborah Butterfield? I’ve heard her speak, and the Madison Art Museum has one of her marvelous horses. I like the sketch of your graduation portrait, too. As I read I could suddenly hear my mother in my head, saying I should go to college, “So you’ll have something to fall back on.” Ha!


Hi Sherry, Yes, I went to school with Debbie (how she was known at the time) and I knew her, but not very well. Her horses are so amazing and profound! I’ve always loved her work. Her actual quote in the yearbook was that “she hopes to enter some field of Art or Foreign Relations.” I guess horses are sort of foreign relations! That’s funny that your mom thought college was something to fall back on. Did she mean in case you got married and it didn’t work out? Jana


Hi Jana, this is too funny. I am always amazed about the habit in the US of having yearbooks. This does not exist in Germany unfortunately – so you regularly lose sight of your comrades you had in school. I can hardly remember anyone but then I could not get away quickly enough from my parents home as far as possible when I finally went to university. Our school system is completely different. There is a big gap between highschool and university. Students don’t meet each other again so often who have been friends in school. Of course there are sometimes reunions but that’s an entirely different subject.
Very interesting – your statistics and so typical for the time. A real social study. Although there are so many more offers for the girls today – I doubt that there is more expectation today – rather a shift towards becoming a pop star or actress or rather famous on tv in one of those docu soaps – LOL


Hi Petra, I’m going to see if I can get my hands on some more current yearbooks and see if you’re right that girls’ goals now will be similar, with the addition of wanting to be famous/on TV. Not one person had that as an idea (rich and happy, yes, but not rich and famous). I’m going to see if I can match people with the same names, then and now, to sketch just for fun. (Like John Smith, class of ’66 and John Smith, class of ’06). I bet there will be many fewer hoping to be secretaries though!

I too moved as far away from home and family as I could shortly after high school: from San Diego, California to New York City! Jana


What a great post, Jana. And I love your ‘bob’. Yearbook aspirations changed in the 12 years between when you and I graduated (though probably not the reality behind it) but, like you, I chose to be a bit goofy and mine reads “professional champagne taster.” Hmm. Deborah Butterfield’s horses are stunning.


Hah! Champaigne taster! That’s funny and I can just picture you doing just that, but at a grand gallery opening with you as the star artist!

And thanks for the compliment on the “bob” — it took great effort, requiring sleeping on curlers the size of orange juice cans with little bristles stabbing into my head, all wrapped in a hair net (before hand-held blow-dryers) and then back-combing it until it stood on end, smoothing the top layer and then spraying it with a ton of hairspray and hoping the humidity would stay low so it wouldn’t turn to frizz!



Jana…I am new to your blog and I so enjoying it. I found you listed on A Sketch in Time. I also enjoy sketching and painting and blogging about both. I am primarily watercolor/pen and ink but also enjoy multi media (batik, collage,etc) and dabble in acrylics from time to time. I had trouble with your blog downloading SO slowly and wonder if anyone else has had an issue with this? It may be that during the summer in northern WI I am FORCED to dial up which is, of course, horribly painful once you’ve had high speed! I winter in FL and have high speed there. If you check my blog sometime ( you can see that I am prepping to teach a class in sketching (not my first) and I think I will list your blog in the bibliography as a good example of how some people really do “journal” along with information and comments and etc. I enjoy your work a lot!


Thanks Ginny! I visited your blog and left a comment there. Your creativity and joy for art and exploration is wonderful, as is your artwork. I used to be a batik artist, and supported myself for a while in my 20s selling my batiked t-shirts, scarves and halter tops at a Berkeley (every) weekend street fair. I loved the process and it was a helpful background for watercolor painting.

Thanks for letting me know about how slow my blog is loading for you. If you’re stuck with dial-up I’m not surprised it’s slow, since there are so many pictures. On my next posting I’ll add a poll to find out if others are having the same problem. Although I do write in my journal in and around sketches, I often don’t post the writing portion. I’d be delighted to be listed in your biblio. I’ve taught ink & watercolor sketchbooking as part of my watercolor classes and it’s such fun! Thanks for sharing your wonderful work with me too!



Love your posts. I keep wondering if there are any famous artists from my graduating class of 1968 (Woodside HS, northern Calif.) I guess if there were, I’d know it by now.

I’m traveling right now, but as soon as I get back home, I’m going to haul out my old senior yearbook to see if we did the career goals thing, too. If so, I have no idea what I would have said.

It took me 9 colleges to complete my 2 degrees in art, and 30 years of working art related jobs to get to the point I’m at now, working at art full-time. Wonder if I knew what I know now, if I’d have done things differently. Don’t know. Don’t think so, though.

Not famous yet. Still working at it.

Thanks for your blog. I enjoy it!


Barbara, thanks so much for writing and for including the link to your beautiful website. Your work is incredible! I think you did the right thing, even if it did take all this time (besides, what a great way to spend 30 years!). I love your unique point of view and subject matter (the bathroom drain, a staircase and handrail) and the glowing light and evocative feel of your paintings. Viewing the art on your website was like watching a movie and being carried away to a whole different realm.

I’m curious where (if) these scenes exist in real life? Are some of them in your own home or studio? Thanks again for writing. I’m honored by your interest and kind words! Jana


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