Monday, July 26, 2010


As I was sorting through the old pictures, I came across the one of my Senior prom.  So many years and so much has happened.  Yet, the excitement of graduation and new beginnings was dimmed by what happened that night.....

It's hard to believe that Dick and I have reached the age of retirement.  Where did the time go? We've decided to sell the house that we bought two years after we were married.  We've lived here since 1968, raised our children and grew up ourselves.  Now I'm down to boxes that have been stored in the attic and I can't remember the last time I was up here.  As I was sorting through the old pictures, I came across the one of my Senior prom.  So many years and so much has happened.  I rubbed my fingers across the creased picture, remembering why I had stored this picture in the attic, rather than in the photo album. As I travel back to that night, the dresses, my classmates, we were full of excitement because the time was drawing near for us to graduate.  Yet the excitement of graduation and new beginnings was dimmed by what happened that night.

It was a May night in 1966.  We were going through financial hardships so my mom took a dress she had worn in someone's wedding and made it into a evening grown for me to wear.  I thought the bodice of white lace over pink taffeta was beautiful. I loved how the skirt of the same taffeta flowed to the top of my feet.  It was amazing how my mom could sew.  I felt like a princess when I pulled the gown over my head and stood in front of a mirror.  She went out and bought me a pair of silver heels, the ones with a small heel that was popular at that time. And of course, the outfit wasn't complete without the elbow length gloves. I loved the outfit, even though I only wore it that one time.

I remember being so excited about going to the prom, Jackie, a boy I had a crush on and never thought he would notice me, had asked me to go with him. I can still see him, he had that rebel look.  The dark hair, leather jacket with only a tee shirt underneath and of course he wore biker boots. I spent hours on my hair and makeup in anticipation of the date.  Finally six o'clock arrived and I heard his car pull up, one couldn't help hearing his modified fifty-seven red and white Chevrolet. It was such a cool car. When the car sat idling, the sound was a deep throated beat, like muffled drums, that reached into your soul, the drum beat vibrating the car slightly as it sat there.  My dad opened the door and invited him in and were we all surprised.  He had on a black suit with a white shirt and even had on dress shoes, plus he stood there with a white and red rose corsage for me; I thought it the most beautiful corsage ever.  Before we left my mom pinned it on my dress and gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, "Have a great time, girl-girl".   It was a dream come true as he opened the car door for me and saw me safely into the Chevy.  At first, we were quiet, looking out of the corner of our eyes at each other, but by the time we arrived at the school we were beginning to become comfortable, carrying on snippets of conversation.  After all, we really had never talked except in the school hallway.  I was seventeen and he was eighteen, both of us would be graduating from high school  in June. Then in the fall, both of us would be going to Auburn University, me to enter the premed program and he was going on a football scholarship. I felt weak kneed and in heaven.

Once inside he left to go get us something to drink, as dinner wouldn't be served until seven.  I turned and searched for my best friends Martha and Linda, who both were hurrying over, anxious to hear what had transpired on our drive over, plus I'm sure they wanted to comment on his suit and how he looked, so totally different from his usual wardrobe.  As we stood there talking, we watched him walk over to Roger and Danial, Linda's and Martha's dates.  At the time I thought it was boy talk about us and the prom.

Jackie, Roger and Danial brought us our drinks and then informed us they were just going out to the parking lot for a minute.  We assumed it was to smoke a cigarette.  While they were out, they opened the dinningroom, so me and the girls went in to find us a place to sit.  After about twenty minutes the guys returned, but we had already started eating.  Even so, we were able to enjoy the rest of the meal, joking and laughing with each other.  Sitting there contented at being who we were and where we were going, excited about starting our life's journey and how we were going to save the world.

As it neared eight, we could hear the dance band gearing up for the night.  We sat there a few minutes tapping our toes and finishing up the conversations. Finally, someone suggested we go into the auditorium to dance, we all jumped up swaying and laughing.  It was great being young and enjoying the night of fast songs and of course slow waltzes. One thing I can say about Jackie, he held me close and didn't step on my toes.  My head fit perfectly on his shoulder and I could smell his Aqua Velva. After about thirty minutes of dancing, we broke for a girl break, while they, supposedly went outside for another smoke break.  When Martha, Linda and I returned, we discovered they had set up to take pictures.  Martha, Linda and I stood around waiting for the boys to return, looking toward the doors every time they swung open, until finally we decided to go ahead and have one of ourselves and then later on have one taken of us as a couple. 

After the picture taking, we stood around not sure what to do, wondering where the guys were, after all, it was nine o'clock.  Suddenly, the auditorium doors banged open and several guys, girls and a few couples rushed in looking excited and frantic.  Some gave us a furtive glance, as though they were talking about us.  One of the teachers, Miss Blansit, broke away from the group and came over to us.

"Ann, would you, Martha and Linda come with me into the dinningroom?"

I felt a certain dread in the pit of my stomach, I knew something was terribly wrong. "What is it, Miss Blansit?"

"There seems to have been an accident. Some of the boys got up a chicken race with their cars.  Two of the cars crashed killing the drivers and their passengers.  Jackie was the driver of one of the cars, he had Roger as a passenger.  They both died, instantaneously."

My legs gave way and thankfully there was a chair to catch me.  It was as though all the air had been sucked out of the atmosphere.  The room noise started out as a roar, but died down to silence.  I could see Miss Blansit talking, but I couldn't hear what she was saying.  Linda, who was Roger's date, had fainted, as they had been sweethearts since the seventh grade.  I saw Miss Blansit motion for help and then she turned to me and placed my head in my lap.  Just as suddenly as the silence appeared, the roar of the room came back,  people hurrying to help and shouting instructions as what to do.

They called our parents to pick us up and take us home.  It was like my world had ended before it even started.  Why do girls and boys do such stupid things when they are in the process of graduating. What was the point of racing their cars and each other waiting to the last minute to turn and miss the other car.  Except in this instance, they both turned the same way. So pointless, four promising lives ended so close to their beginning.

The summer passed slowly until it came nearer to head off to college.  The excitement of graduation was dimmed by Jackie's death. He had such a promising future.  Linda and I both consoled each other as we prepared to go off to our respective college, me to Auburn and she to Alabama.  I had forgotten about paying for the prom picture until it arrived in the mail in late July.  My one regret was that I didn't have a picture of us as a couple.  I only have a memory of him handsomely dressed out for the night.  I wish he had stayed around for a picture at least.

Thoughtfully, I replaced the picture in it's box, closing the lid, it went into the stack of boxes of pictures my daughter wanted if I decided to throw them away.  She has chosen to be the family historian.  Maybe I needed to share the story of that night with her.  Oh well, I wonder if it really mattered now.

    Tuesday Morning Writings is a project sponsored by Gaelikaa and Judy Harper.  The words are copyright of Judy Harper. Gaelikaa's story can be found here . 


gaelikaa said...

A very good story, but so tragic. It reminds me of that song 'The Leader of the Pack'. You kept me hooked to the end, I didn't see it coming at all.

Well done, a lovely piece of work xxx

Judy Harper said...

I liked the story, but I wonder if I wrote choppy. Was it like a news story rather than a fiction? I wonder how I could have made the flow smoother and more flowing?

gaelikaa said...

It's being told like a memoir and it has a personal touch. But one thing I've learnt recently is that dialogue always bring a story forward. As they say, try to show, not tell. All the crit I've been getting lately is screaming 'show more, tell less."

My piece this week is also a type of memoir.

gaelikaa said...

Hey Judy, come back. My post was unfinished and published by accident

gaelikaa said...

Judy - would you like me to post the pictures for next Tuesday?