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Kvelve's Comments: How the young have changed

| February 26, 2020 1:26 PM

Boy oh boy. Things have changed, yet as someone once said, “the more things change the more they remain the same.”

Case in point, today’s junior and senior high school students.

But let me digress a bit here. Journey with me now to a time long ago when a certain young lad with a very Norwegian middle name (that would be me) was, at least in my own mind, the epitome of what has been known as “styling.”

Once a week or so, I would don what I thought was the coolest gear around prior to roaming the halls and classrooms of Lincoln Junior High, a downtown Billings middle school that long ago ceased to function as it was originally intended.

Shuffling down the hall was this dude, dressed in, are you ready, black and white checkered bell bottom pants, black and white saddle shoes and a snap button red shirt like the Monkeys wore.

Okay, the fact it involved the lip-synching group of musicians who had their own TV show, ought to reveal this was the late 1960s. With a mop of hair, much to my flat-topped dad’s dismay, that covered half of my ears and the wide black belt holding up my hypnotic trousers, I was, as the term of the day implied, “casual.”

Hey man, you’re “cas” was the response I was going for. Yup, me and Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork were as cool as it got. We were riding the Last Train to Clarksville singing Hey, Hey We’re the Monkeys.

My God, the older generation screamed, what a bunch of idiots. Look at that long hair and those ridiculous outfits (threads to us in the know). And that music, don’t get me started!!

My own Dad, who was and remains my hero, used to muse that guys were wearing their hair long because the commies were secretly dumping female hormones into the water supply to make us all weak when the next “big one” broke out and we had to battle the dreaded Ruskies hand-to-hand.

Somehow, we survived and surrendered the weirdness to the next generation. I will never forget coming home from work and seeing that my son had dyed his hair blond and trimmed it in such a fashion I used to refer to him as the “Dutch boy”.

And that music they were listening to, what kind of racket is that? Bad poets who can’t rhyme or sing belching out “hit” music?

And I, as an unofficially non-elected spokesman for my generation, will never understand the “sagging and bagging” look with the pants that had to be lower than the underwear line.

Paaaleeeese, I would beg them, pull those pants up and cover you shorts! What if someone starts chasing you and you get tangled up in a ball of pants and briefs?

My God son, have you no decency?

But he too survived and has thrived, as have my two very lovely, independent daughters.

Which brings me to this current age. And maybe, just maybe, I’ve begun to become more tolerant of being a teenager.

Lately I’ve had the pure pleasure of attending, photographing and writing about today’s kids, the academics in which they are involved and the sports they play.

I can tell you, at least from what I’ve seen here in small town Montana, they too will survive to thrive.

I’ve been stunned and amazed to see the bow tie making a comeback. I may be one of the few people out there who still know how to tie a regular tie, but as for a bow tie, unless it’s a clip on…fahget about it!

Hair styles run the gauntlet of styles and colors sprinkled in among the more traditional “doos.”

Shoes? I had no idea shoes, even athletic shoes, could come in such a variety of colors. Those who wear black or brown “dress” shoes keep them, gasp, shined!!

A comedian from many years past, Mickey Rooney with his flat-top haircut, once said, “I feel sometimes like the whole world is a tuxedo and I’m a pair of brown shoes.”

I can relate.

The music I do not understand, but that’s mostly because I can’t hear so well any more. I do, however, like the beat.

Of course, growing up through the years I have come to like more than just country Western. Give me an Angus Young guitar lick during an AC/DC song or an Eddie VanHalen mind-bending solo and I’m a toe-tapping, head-banging dude!

So basically, what I’m seeing, is that high school kids haven’t really changed much at all in the desire to be individuals, to seek a way to express themselves.

At sporting events, the crowds are just as loud and rowdy as they were when I was in school. We may have even been rowdier, considering when not playing football I was a member of my school’s non-sanctioned or appreciated “Animal Klub” (and that’s Klub with a K, you got a problem with that man?).

We had a cheer we broke out once during a basketball game against hated Billings West. “Copenhagen, Copenhagen spit on the grass, come on West High kiss our (rhymes with grass)”!

What is different is that cheer got a few of us slammed off the lockers all the way down the hall by the dean of boys who then introduced us to the business end of a wooden paddle in which some sadistic bastard had drilled holes to reduce wind resistance.

Yet, somehow, I survived and they will too!

Chuck Kvelve Bandel is a reporter for the Clark Fork Valley Press and Mineral Independent.

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