Archive for Thursday, May 5, 2005

Bits and pieces

Prom pictures bring back memories

May 5, 2005

Signs of spring are everywhere these days. My pear tree in the front yard has bloomed, the robins are back in their nest -- the same ones from last year -- baseball fields are filled with girls and boys practicing for the games to begin, and the prom at Eudora High has come and gone.
Reading last week's article in The Eudora News brought to mind thoughts of my own prom days.
When I was growing up, prom was a formal affair. No one would have dreamed of departing from traditional formal wear or thought to dress as pirates or have any idea that duct tape could be used to create the stunning formal gown and tux as worn by Aaron Neis and Jessica Stout. Neither would anyone have been so daring or creative as Jason Hamlin and Caleb Pettengill arriving at the prom with their dates in their vehicle magically turned into a pirate ship.
Girls didn't get a day to go to the hairdresser and for a manicure. We did our own shampoo and style and prayed for a good hair day. Mothers made our dresses, or you were taken to the dressmaker because not many shops sold formal gowns. If they did, they were not to be found in Emporia.
One year, my mother chose a peach taffeta material that was created into a swirl of ruffles and flounces by her friend "Iny" Percal. This was to be her last chance to transform the tomboy, who was famous for defeating the neighborhood bully in a fistfight, into a semblance of the ladylike girl she so desperately craved.
I can't say I ever liked that dress and much less the neckline that called for a strapless bra which required a lot of readjustment time in the girls' restroom.
Often there would be a dinner at a friend's home before the prom where several couples ate by candlelight, and you were expected to know which fork to use. There was none of this dining out at a restaurant or climbing into a rented limo for the trip to the prom. And we actually went to the dance, which was always in the gymnasium, transformed for one night by streams of crepe paper hanging from the ceiling with waterfalls and wishing wells in the middle of the floor.
Since you usually didn't get to go with the boy that was your first pick, a lot of the evening was spent looking for your current Mr. Right and his date.
Actually, the boy who asked me first and with whom I attended the prom (aren't you always honor bound to go with the one who asks first?) was one I was always trying to avoid -- waiting for my first choice to appear.
Funny how things work out. Mr. Right -- who also had a fabulous singing voice and was asked to sing "Blue Velvet" at the prom -- ended up driving a peanut truck, and my date attended the recent reunion looking healthy, wealthy and terrific. There is a lot to be said for late bloomers.
There was no after-prom party for us either. "After" usually meant a leisurely drive up and down Commercial Street with the top down on the convertible if your date was lucky enough to have one, and a stop at the A&W and then home by midnight.
I heard rumors of other "happenings" out in the hills that were called "Mortgage Row" by my father who was scornful of the nouveau riche who populated that part of town. The lonely acreage around the golf course at the country club was also a favorite parking spot for couples trying to find some privacy.
But not for a good little Catholic girl. No, home I went, and "Cinderella," whose shoes were killing her by midnight, breathed a sigh of relief. She had done what was expected and was now to the best part of the evening -- a good book and jammies.
I haven't traveled far from the good old days, I'm afraid.

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