From Married at Fourteen

I started seriously looking for a husband when I was twelve. I’d had enough of being a child, enough of being told what to do. I was unhappy at school; I resented homework; I didn’t get along with my mother. Having seen movies like South Pacific, Sayonara, and A Summer Place, I believed in true love. More than anything, I wanted Rossano Brazzi, Marlon Brando, or Troy Donahue to come rescue me from my childhood. I wanted to be an adult, to be free, and to be loved.

The grown-ups always warned that getting pregnant as a teenager would ruin your life, but I didn’t believe them. I felt that in truth my life would be ruined if I had to live with my mother much longer: her nagging would drive me crazy. And my sanity would benefit even more if I could be freed from boring math drills and stuck-up classmates. A high school diploma? I didn’t need one. I already knew everything I’d ever need to know.

My thoughts on all these things began to crystallize in the summer of 1960, after my sixth-grade graduation from Egbert W. Beach School in Piedmont, California. That summer I went to Camp Augusta, where Piedmont Blue Birds and Campfire Girls rode horses, swam, wove key chains from long strips of colored plastic, and painted daisies on salt and pepper shakers for their mothers. On the bus, which took us from the Piedmont Community Center to the Sierra foothills, we sang “Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall” and “A Hot Time in the Old Town.” But my fun was to be short-lived. Singing on the bus, I had no inkling that once at Camp Augusta, I would spend my time figuring out how to avoid the broom treatment, and that having accomplished that, I would dive headlong into a turbulent adolescence.

Lucille Lang Day