Petty Crimes…

I was about 40, probably noticing how difficult my teenagers could be when I started reflecting back on my terrible-teens. Terrible two’s, what a joke, get real. Little kids, little problems, big kids, well you know the rest. Holy cow, I was an awful teenager. Don’t know why. Was I trying to get attention? Gee that’s very hard to believe now. The last thing I ever want to be is the center of attention, really. Maybe it was my way of dealing with my loss of Larry. Or how strict and mostly absent Dad was. Add that to how smothering Mom could be. I realized that we shared a very different home life. Just being in my friend’s homes told me we weren’t like them. At least the part I saw.


Neese, 1965 at John’s, Rock Valley, Ia.

Well, don’t want to dwell on the why too long, suffice it to say I was a pain in the butt. Drank a few times, but never really liked the feeling of not being in control. Then there’s the taste, well that just sucks. Never took drugs, never smoked pot. But if there were pranks of varying degrees of legality or a mildly destructive nature, I was one of the go-to-girls. I was afraid of heights, wild carnival rides and fast cars, this was my way of being a daredevil. With a couple of these pranks, I’m fortunate to be able to state “never arrested” on my very mundane life.


First prank started innocently enough. I had been invited to a slumber party at Mary Klein’s house. She lived several miles out in the country, closer to Doon than Rock Valley. We were having a good time. I was the youngest one there. Not a lot to do on the farm during the middle of the night though, ho-hum. Someone, don’t remember who, wish I could take the credit, suggested we drive to Sioux Falls about 45 miles away. There was this truck stop that was open all night. Did that sound like fun? Most certainly did. We had to wait until the rest of the house fell asleep, then sneak away for our adventure in the Klein family car, yikes. Guess who got behind the wheel when we were ready to go? Me, the youngest and probably the most inexperienced driver of the group. I wasn’t even in driver’s training yet. Not to worry, I had driven a car several times before. Pretty sure I was about 14.


Looked innocent, but really, not so much. 1965…



The Klein car (Dodge or Plymouth) was gigantic, salmon colored. It boasted huge fins, and the dashboard was different and truly fascinating. On the dash was a bunch of buttons indicating Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drives 1-through-8–at least. I got it figured out. We slunk out of the drive-way, no headlights, and scooted to Sioux Falls. Got to the truck stop, ordered burgers, fries, shakes. We giggled, joked, flirted, and acted like it was an ordinary occurrence for a carload of young Iowa girls to be in there at 1 am. We had the best time! No drinking, no State Troopers, no accidents. We made it back to the farm without incident. A night this young girl would remember with a lot of fondness a half century later. Good times indeed, no guilt, well maybe just a little for stealing the car.


My second “prank” was with most of the same girls. Hmm, when I did stuff with my classmates I was usually fine. Any activities with older kids and trouble seemed to stick to me like a magnet. I’m noticing a pattern here that would have been helpful to recognize 50 years ago. Duh. We decided it would be so cool to put our “year” stamp on something permanent. The problem that night, we were dealing with 2 years. I wanted mine, 1969, the older girls of course wanted 1968. I was outnumbered and out voted. We decided on the round Quonset building near the Green Acres Drive Inn. Wasn’t too late but very dark when we snuck up, painted a big white “RV 68” on the side of the building. Now this had a different outcome than you might think. I don’t remember ever being questioned, looked at sideways, brought into any office, school or police. My name simply never came up. Who in their right mind would try and pull something like that and not even use their own stinking year? Though I didn’t get caught it was kind of a wake-up call that I was being really dumb. Unfortunately, that hardly ever stopped me.


Not another prank, just a hard life lesson. When I was very young, maybe 2nd or 3rd grade, I spent a couple days on a farm north of Rock Valley. Don’t remember the girls name or the parents. They were church friends, but I do remember this incident vividly. Two men (the farmer and a friend, it wasn’t my Dad) were talking while we were playing in the front yard. Both the men were smoking cigars. They were teasing us and jokingly offered us a puff from their cigar. I said sure, took a puff–and liked it. Oh boy. I think my friend got sick after she took a puff, but even at that early age I knew I was destined to smoke. If there is a gene that makes you prone to become an alcoholic, I got the gene that made me want to smoke. I started when I was about 13 and would take me almost 3 decades to quit. I didn’t seem to learn my lesson of being dumb any quicker as an adult, than when I was a dippy teen. Huh. I was the only high school cheerleader (not smoking-hot, just smoking) that went out during half time for a cigarette.


Finally came to my senses and John and I quit on the same day, May 5, 1990. After that momentous and very smart decision though, we would not utter a civil word to each other for about 3 months. Some wicked side-effects. I was fine, he was a total tool…



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