The book by Grace Metalious first appeared in 1956. It is tells the tale of the dark side, below the surface, life of a small New England town. The movie starring Lana Turner came out the next year. I was 6. I didn't read the book until I was in high school, sneaking it into study hall.
Peyton Place, the TV show, was on from 1964-1969 and starred Dorothy Malone, Ryan O' Neal and Mia Farrow . It was television's first night time soap and I was hooked. 1964 was also the year I was a Freshman in high school. This was a "have to watch" program for my girl friends and I. I was lucky that my mother liked it too. It was considered pretty daring at the time.
Of course, my favorite character was not the virginal Allison McKenzie (Mia Farrow). Oh, no. I was in awe of Betty Anderson's (Barbara Parkins) "bad girl" persona. She was much more daring than I was so I could only imagine doing the things she did. Actually, I couldn't imagine them. There were certain things, many things really, that "nice girls" didn't do because you didn't want to "ruin your reputation", so said my southern mother. Seriously. I mean, we were taking Home Ec classes and learning how to sew aprons.
I thought Ryan O'Neal was dreamy but he was he was a "bad boy" because he "did it" with Betty Anderson. Betty's reputation was really shot. I probably would not have dated him because of the guilt by association thing.
I was just starting to date as a Freshman. Mostly, I dated Senior football players. I really don't know how that started but, again, I had to follow the unwritten rules for nice girls. I remember one instance when a couple of my guy friends saw me walking up town and stopped the car to talk. I could see the driver was holding a beer between his legs on the seat. He asked me out on a date and I said no....because of the beer. Later I said yes, because he wasn't holding a beer at the time. Why that made sense I do not know. Probably because it is easy to ignore certain things if the proof is not staring you in the face. Nice girls did not drink beer or date those that did.....accept we knew they did, we just refused to acknowledge it.
I am certainly not passing judgement on anyone that chose to do things differently. I fully admit I was raised with guilt. My mother was an expert at that. Plus, it was the times. It was the end of an era before birth control and the whole sexual movement began. It wasn't long before I was singing "If You Can't be With The One you Love, Love the One You're With" right along with everyone else. I sang it but I didn't live it. As I tell my daughters, I was a hippy for the fashion style, not the life style.
Back to Peyton Place though - On one occasion, there was some reason we girls could not watch Peyton Place, so my mother tape recorded it for us to listen to later. I took that tape to school, where I was a librarian for 3rd hour... (which mean for one class period I worked in the Library) and the Head Librarian let us listen to it together. I was a librarian for my Freshman year and a small part of my Sophomore year. Small part because I got kicked out of the library for talking to boys...... and not just kicked out for that hour... I was the only librarian that I know of, that ever got kicked out of her job! I had to go to study hall the rest of the year. (It was so worth it!) So, when my girls had "talks too much" written on their report cards, I could really understand that. It's genetic.
There was Dark Shadows in the afternoon but Peyton Place had the night and my imagination.