Having never really dated in high school, being secretly stalked during my first semester of college was a bit of a thrill. To have someone be interested enough in me to actually write me letters and have them sent to my campus mailbox perhaps cured my homesickness and opened up a world I wasn’t quite prepared for.
Back in the late 1960’s not many parents prepared their daughters or sons for sex and relationships. That is evidenced by the thousands of unplanned pregnancies of that era. You can blame that on the “sexual revolution” or hippies, but I blame it on the lack of sex education.
But back to stalking. As an entering college freshman in September of 1966, I had embraced the meeting of new friends far (two hours) away from home. There were lots of new “girl” friends in my dormitory, but there was one special “boy” friend that I had met at a back-to-campus dance. He was handsome, attentive, and nicknamed “Skip.” How much more 1960’s could you get?
Skip and I never really had a date that I can remember, but we saw each other on campus and at the Student Union. I don’t even remember even ever holding his hand or kissing him. But we kept in touch. It was a small campus and paths that crossed.
During that first semester, Skip got a job as radio disc jockey at a local radio station, so I did phone him a couple of times to make record requests. Sometime during that first year at university (college at that time), someone began sending cards and sweet letters to me by college mail. The letters were always signed by a post office box number, and I kind of fell into responding to those letters. It was fun getting mail, but even more intriguing knowing that someone was following me without me really knowing who it was. Eventually somehow or other Skip or his best friend revealed that Skip had been sending the letters. The intrigue was over and so was my contact with him. His “real” girlfriend was pregnant, and there was a wedding in the planning.
Date life picked up a bit for me, but most relationships stayed in the platonic sphere. When things got too serious, I would shy away. One fellow even told me that he asked me to go on a date because he had heard that I had broken my back in an automobile accident in August 1967. And he had never dated a girl with a broken back. Nice guy, that John. Wonder what ever happened to him after I gave back his fraternity pin and got back my favorite portrait?
Then I dated a few nice fellows and kept my social calendar pretty full, but none of the guys were interesting enough to set up a commitment. They weren’t ready either.
By my Junior year I had gotten deep into my major field of English Education, and the guys I met in those classes were nice but real “bookworms .” One guy named John Perry became extremely interested in me for some reason. Maybe it was the short skirts that my mom made for me. Whatever. I remember that he asked me out, and I said, “No.” Well, John Perry did not stop there. He asked again and again. And each time I declined. Then he began writing me letters professing his admiration for me. He even had his sister phone me to beg me to go out with him. She accused me of “leading him on.” I laughed and told her to tell her brother to leave me alone. He didn’t. I received more letters, and they were signed with RIP. I had to “Webster” that to find out that it meant Rest In Peace. Now that was frightening. Finally John Perry gave up.
Senior year finally arrived, and stalking took on a whole other angle. I began student teaching at a local high school, and a 16 year old boy (not even in my student teaching class) began phoning me and stalking me. His father had given him a Corvette as a 16th birthday present, and he drove it through Northeast campus looking for me. He said that he liked me because I didn’t act dumb like the girls in his class and that I did not wear make-up three inches thick like they did. I guess that I told him to “go away” enough times that he finally got tired of it.
About that same time, Skip (remember him from Freshman mailbox stalking?) began phoning me again. He had continued his radio disc jockeying while being married to his old high school girlfriend, but was now divorced and “practicing” to become a pastor of a small Methodist church. Although no longer a college student, he, too, had been driving through Northeast campus hoping to get a glimpse of me. WTH? He never asked for a date. He just called to talk. I even heard from Skip several years after I graduated from college. He somehow found my parents’ phone number and called to say that he was homeless and a bum. Bizarre !
After I graduated from college in May 1970 and spent the summer at the Methodist Home Hospital where L. was born, I returned home to find a teaching job in a local middle school. That is when another stalking began. One day while practicing for a holiday program with a group of students in the school gym, I was told that a “male visitor” had dropped by my classroom to check on me. My students described him in detail, but to this day I have no clue who that stalker might have been. “High water” pants? Now, really, who dressed like that in 1971?
I was still living with my parents that school year. Suddenly I began getting phone calls from some fellow who did not identify himself by name but said we had met at a local bar during the summer of 1970. As that was virtually impossible since I spent that summer in New Orleans, I couldn’t imagine who this guy might be. One afternoon he happened to call just as we were preparing to go out to the ballpark to watch my youngest brother play baseball. I boldly made an appointment to meet this stalker at the ballpark. My dad said I was nuts, but I knew I would not be alone. Plus I wanted to put a “face” on this stalker.
My parents and I went to the park, and I sat in the bleachers and waited. Eventually a lone man walked by the stands and scanned through the fans, but he never looked at me. Whether that was the weirdo or not, I will never know. After I moved to my own apartment, I still received strange phone calls with heavy breathing at odd times. Almost every single time, the call came just as I had entered my apartment. Now this was the early 1970’s before cell phones, so this was too weird. That meant that my stalker was somewhere near where I lived. Could that have been my prinicipal or other colleague from the school where I taught? I just lived across the street from that school.
I eventually got fed up with the teaching atmosphere at that school and moved to a bigger city. Just before I moved, one last stalker got my phone number. Back in the early 1970’s, getting phone numbers was really easy. No one had even thought of Privacy Acts. Anyway, the birthfather of L contacted me after not having heard from him since early 1970 when he called to asked if he had left a pair of dress pants at my parents’ home back at New Years. For the next 4-5 years he called me at the least expected times. Mostly at night after I had been asleep for a few hours. The stalking from him stopped when I moved and eventually left the US.
My husband and I sometimes received “empty” phone calls up until about a year ago. Thankfully those have ended. Now to figure out how to stop the “student loan” Ashley and “credit card” whoever who call way too often. Those are stalkers, too, aren’t they?