GET THAT MULE OUT OF MY CHRISTMAS TREE!

This is a Christmas addendum to the following story about my cousins’ homes in the country. I promised my Cousin Jimmy I would write it the morning of Christmas Eve, but things kept getting in the way and now here it is at 12:28 AM, Christmas morning.

Jimmy remembers hearing about the incident, and I remember living it as though it were last year instead of 75 Christmases ago.

It was our custom to go to the country to select our Christmas tree. We always went the Sunday before Christmas. Daddy didn’t like having a tree in the house. To tell the truth, he really didn’t like Christmas very much at all. But more about that in another story.

On the appointed Sunday in 1941, we traveled to Aunt Hazel’s house to have dinner. Afterwards, Daddy, Uncle Melvin, Jimmy and I went into the woods to select a Christmas tree. In those days almost everyone I knew had a cedar tree. We were no exception. As usual, Daddy chose a tree much too short to suit me, and I let it be known that a taller tree was a much better choice. We had the same argument every year. We finally reached a compromise, and he chopped the tree down. He and Uncle Melvin dragged it to our car and tied it on top.

It was after dark when we left to go home. Daddy drive, of course, and Mother sat in the passenger seat holding my baby sister. I was in my favorite spot in the car when we were on a longish trip:  on the little shelf at the top of the back seat, where I could watch the stars go by. Remember, there were no seat belts in those days. We tooled down the blackness, and I was loving every minute of it. Christmas was only a few days away, the stars were close enough to touch, and everything was right with the world. I was brimming over with four-year-old wonder and joy.

Suddenly, Mother screamed and Daddy slammed on the brakes. Standing crosswise in the middle of the road was a big, shaggy, brown mule. There was nothing Daddy could do. The car hit it right in its middle. There was a frightening thud, and the windshield view was obliterated by a mass of brown hair that disappeared in an upward direction, followed quickly by another sound on the roof of the car and then a thud behind the car. When we hit the mule, it sailed up to the top of the car and rolled over the roof, Christmas tree and all. Daddy leapt  from the car and ran toward the spot where the mule had probably landed. Just as he did so, the mule got to its feet and went galloping off across a nearby field, apparently not hurt at all.

Shortly, Daddy returned to the car. I was thunderstruck, and Mother was still kind of whimpering. It took us a while to gather our composure to continue our trip home.

We lived in the big house with all our extended family at the time, and when we arrived, everyone came running out to see the Christmas tree. The three of us all talked at once telling about our adventure with the mule. I was very unhappy about the tree, because I just knew it was crushed and ruined. We would never get Daddy to go back and cut down another tree.

But Dooley, my grandmother, and the others looked the tree up and down and declared it may have been a bit smushed on one side, but never mind. We would turn that side to the wall. The Christmas tree was to be set up in a corner of the living room, and it would be just beautiful.

We took the tree inside, and Dooley leaned it against the wall in the corner. The decorating was set for the following evening. I think I was still in a state of shock. I was sent to bed right away, and the grown-ups continued to discuss the mule experience in the living room. I could hear them, and it scared me. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t like it one bit.

The next night after supper, the family gathered to decorate the tree. I usually gladly took part in the festivities, but I was quite uneasy being close to the tree. Someone teased me and asked if I thought that mule was somehow still in the tree, and everyone laughed. Of course, I didn’t think any such thing, but there was something about it I didn’t like and mostly didn’t understand. For years I asked myself why was I afraid of that tree. I don’t know. To this day, I can still work up a little shiver thinking about it. There’s no doubt in my mind it was a feeling of fear, but I have no idea where it came from.

It did, however make the Christmas of 1941 prominent in my memory. I guess you could say my personal ghost of Christmas Past was a big, brown, shaggy mule.

So, there it is. I hope if you have a mule experience with your 2014 Christmas, he was there by invitation only, and that your entire New Year is free of ghosts, past, present, and future.

Thanks for reading.

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AN UNFORGIVABLE BREACH OF FIFTIES RULES

When my best friend, Robert, retired several years ago, his niece prepared a scrapbook for him. She asked me and some of his other friends to write a memory of Robert to be included in the book. Here is mine.

When people have known one another for more than 60 years, said people accumulate many memories. Some of us have zip for long-term memories; others have trouble with short-term memories. Some have no memory at all, but I’m not naming names.

Since Robert and I met in the 6th grade (he says the 7th grade) and we’ve spent much time with one another starting way back then, I thought I would plod through my recollections, knowing it would be difficult to select the best one for his scrapbook. As it turned out, it wasn’t hard at all. One memory so stands out from the rest, it was easy to choose.

The event I shall relate landed us in the soup, to say the least. Today it would be a minor misdemeanor, but in the 50s it was a felony punishable by death or at least being sentenced to a year of dish washing.

Here’s what happened:

Once upon a time around 1953-1954, Robert invited me to go with him on a hayride and cookout. He attended the Nazarene Church, which sponsored the event. I can’t remember who thought of it, but the idea appealed to both of us.

We would find some way to obtain a bottle of vodka, with which we would spike the chaperones’ Big Orange drinks when we arrived at our cookout destination. Nehi orange soda pop was stuck with the “Big Orange” appellation in those days because of a popular Andy Griffith monolog in which he referred to the drinks as Big Orange. At least that’s where I think it started.

One of our best friends was Joyce Schurman, who was the minister’s daughter. We ran the idea by Joyce, to test the waters, so to speak, to find out what she thought about it and how much trouble she thought we’d be in if we got caught. To our surprise and delight, Joyce thought it a splendid idea and asked if she could join us. So, there were now four of us, counting Joyce’s unsuspecting date, Charles, who would go along, but didn’t wish to take an active part. Never mind; more was better if it became necessary to spread the blame around.

Having no earthly way to find vodka, it seems to me we really thought we wouldn’t be able to secure it, making the caper impossible to actually fulfill, but fun to talk about. Little did we know just how easily it would fall into our hands and make our daring escapade doable.

My sister’s best friend was from a big drinking family. When my sister told her friend about our plan, she immediately took us to her mother, who obliged by filling a small bottle with vodka and sending us on our way.

That night when we gathered at the church, I had the bottle secreted in a blanket. Robert, Joyce and I referred to the blanketed vodka as “the baby.”

“Let me hold the baby.” “Would you take care of the baby for a while?” “Be sure to keep the baby covered up.” And so on.

Riding in the hay wagon, we giggled all the way to our cookout destination. When we arrived the chaperones (of which there were many, in an abundance of Nazarene caution) they began to set out fixings for a wiener roast, et al. To our giddy delight, we saw the Big Orange drinks opened and lined up on a table very near the edge of the dark woods.

It was the work of only a second to figure out how we were going to do the deed. We crouched behind the table, hidden by the trees and the darkness. One of us served as lookout while the other two grabbed a drink and poured some of it on the ground, replacing it with vodka. No one saw us, and after a while, we were able to give the drinks yet another shot of the booze. By the time the Big Oranges were to be drunk, we had completed our mission.

We stayed where we were in order to gauge the chaperones’ reaction. To our surprise and amusement, one of the drinkers said, “I think this orange drink is the best I’ve ever had.” The revelation caused us so much mirth, we had to clap our hands over our mouths for fear of being discovered.

We were very pleased with ourselves for pulling off the practical joke of the century. I think the hayride was on a Friday night, but I’m not sure about that. It was Sunday afternoon when Robert called me.

“The whole church knows about the baby,” he said feverishly.
“They’re going to make me apologize to the congregation.”

“How did they know it was you?” I asked, terrified. “How did they know it was booze?”

“I guess they tasted it. We put a lot in those Big Orange bottles. But I don’t know. Joyce said one of the girls told on us. She’s grounded for a week for her punishment. And listen to this. They know I had another girl accomplice. They also know she’s a Baptist, and they want me to tell them your name, so they can tell your church and your mother about it.”

“You didn’t tell them, did you?”

“I think it’s going to go worse for me if I don’t tell them,” he said. “If they know you go to the Baptist Church, they’ll find out it was you, so I might as well tell them.”

“No-o-o-o,” I stage-whispered into the phone. My mother was in the other room, and I tried to drag the phone into my room and close the door. The cord wouldn’t stretch that far.

“Please, please don’t tell them,” I begged. He desperately tried to convince me we would get off easier if he told them who I was, on the condition they wouldn’t tell my church and my mother. “Even if they do go for that, you will have to come to my church and apologize to the whole congregation.”

So, there it was. Damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. I pleaded with him. Some of Mother’s friends went to the Nazarene Church, and she would surely get wind of it. And after she heard about it, she would kill me.

There were many whispered conversations on the phone that Sunday. I was able to talk Robert out of telling them my name, and I didn’t want to even whisper about it further. That sucker had to be buried alive or dead. I don’t remember how it turned out, but I think he was forced to apologize. I escaped with my “good girl” reputation intact.

But the episode wasn’t over. I was not discovered, but I wound up confessing it to Mother anyway.

Mother had a mental list of “Boys Who May Not Be Dated.” At the top of the list was — I’ll call him –- Bob. Patricia, my sister, had been explicitly forbidden to go out with him for some reason now forgotten. But Patricia had subterfuge in her soul as well. Bob would send a friend to our house to pick up my sister. She would then be delivered to Bob, and when they came home, he would let her off at the corner, and she always said whomever he was had a deadline to get home, and he was running late.

I worried about her telling those lies, and I thought I had to let Mother know what was going on. I knew if I told on her, my sister would tell Mother about that damned “baby.” There was nothing for it but to tell Mother myself what I did, so I could then reveal my sister’s deception freely, and she would have no such power over me.

Mother, of course, had a conniption fit! She and her family were world-class criers. This time, I thought she was never going to stop crying. She wept buckets and paced the floor while I just stood there totally taciturn.

“No wonder Mrs. Young won’t speak to me,” she wailed. Mrs. Young, a Nazarene, was our next-door neighbor. “I’ll never be able to hold my head up again. I’m ruined. You’ve disgraced the whole family.”

When the tears slacked a little, I broke the news to her about my sister.

More tears. More anguish. More consternation. But what was this? She wasn’t upset about the Bob lies. She was still furious with me.

“You should be so ashamed of yourself to say those awful things about your sister. Don’t you tell your daddy that, and don’t confess your own sin to him. It would kill him. Oh, where did I go wrong?”

A deluge. More tears. More threats. More accusations. More everything.

On further reflection, perhaps I should have fessed up to the Nazarenes with Robert. It might have gone down better, and by then I would have come out smelling like a rose.

But it was not to be, thanks to my postponing my just desserts; it was my lying, no-account sister who was smelling like a rose. I was stinking to the high heaven, into which my mother said I would never see.

Sinners of my ilk were drop-shipped directly to the devil himself.

“OKAY. WE’LL GO.”

        I planned another story for this week when I happened upon this one, and I wanted to share it with you. I am in the process of organizing hundreds of stories kept from my newspaper days. It is an awesome task, but I hope it will be worth it when I finally see them once again in print. I shall never forget the man I interviewed for this story. It was originally written in 1994 on the 50th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, which was the beginning of the end of World War II. It is an interview with Robert L. Mathias, who insisted on my calling him “Bob.” He was one of the one million soldiers who invaded Normandy on the morning of June 6, 1944.

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It was the worst weather in four decades. Rain pelted the region for days on end, and the heavy seas of the English Channel were a watery death trap.

The army meteorologist in England forecast a 36-hour break in the weather. It wouldn’t be clear sailing, and at best the Channel would be treacherous.

Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, called the leaders of all the armies together and asked their opinions. They stared at the table in front of them and said nothing. Eisenhower knew the final decision rested only with him.

“Okay, we’ll go.”

Those three words spoken on June 5, 1944, launched the most massive invasion by any army in the history of the world. This week is the 50th anniversary of that invasion.

Beginning in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, the Allied Army landed forces on the beaches of Normandy; they would number a million men by July 1. The attack marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

One of those men was Bob Mathias from Granville, Ohio.  He was detached from his tank unit to the invading army as a chemical warfare expert. “We didn’t know what we would run into,” says Mathias, remembering The Longest Day.

“They wanted a man in each unit who understood chemical deterrents in case the Germans were using mustard gas or something like that.” Mathias worked in a chemical plant before he was drafted in 1941, and the army made use of his civilian training in assigning him a military job.

As it turned out, there was no evidence of chemical warfare in Normandy, but Mathias saw plenty of action anyway. His tank unit rolled onto Omaha Beach, where the bloodiest battle of the invasion took place.

“The first troops landed at 4:30 in the morning on June 6. My unit came ashore at around 10:30. After six hours of fighting they had only pushed inland about a quarter of a mile. There were bodies everywhere. The mortuary crew hadn’t even had time to. . . .”

His voice cracks and he looks away. The gruesome picture seen by the young technical sergeant is still sharp, now seen by the mind’s eye of the aging veteran 50 years later.

After a moment he continues. “They had to remove the bodies from the beach, so the tanks dug a long ditch five or six feet deep and pushed them, Germans and Americans together, into it. They put the soldiers’ dog tags in their mouths. It wasn’t until much later that the mortuary crew could get in there and put them into caskets. They notified the German Army where to find their dead.”

By the next day, June 7, Mathias said the Allies had managed to advance only four miles inland. The beach was fortified with miles of steel and concrete barriers and bunkers. To disrupt enemy communications, Eisenhower dropped paratroops inland behind the reinforced beachfront embankments. Along with the 5,000 Allied ships that pushed onto Normandy that morning, airplanes towed gliders that were released to float inland and deposit more troops behind the lines.

The Germans, led by Field Marshall Gerd von Rundstedt, had foreseen such a strategy and erected tall metal posts just behind the barriers. As the wide-winged gliders were set free from the aircraft, most of them crashed into the poles.

Sergeant Bob Mathias saw it all, being constantly on call to inspect each German stronghold for lethal chemicals as it fell to the Allies. Ironically, he only found poison gas one time during his four years in the armed forces. “It was two days before the war ended,” says Mathias. “We were making our way across Germany. They knew we were coming, and they abandoned the towns as we approached.

“We came into one village that was full of green canisters marked with three rings around them. There were pipes running all over town hooked up to the canisters. The German army had left one officer behind with instructions to turn on the gas when we pulled into town. He couldn’t do it. He said he just couldn’t bring himself to kill all those people.

“We didn’t know what the gas was, so we named it Three Ring Green. Some of it was sent back to the states to be tested, but we dropped most of it a mile deep in the Blue Danube. I guess it’s still there today.”

By this time, Mathias was back with his old tank unit that was part of General George Patton’s famous Third Army. He was a gunner in one of the Sherman tanks that rumbled from the beaches at Normandy to the Rhine River, liberating Europe and conquering Germany. He was with Patton at the Battle of the Bulge.

He was wounded once when the turret was blown off his tank. “I was the only guy who made it out of that one alive, and I just broke 11 ribs. I had the straps off my helmet and wasn’t buckled in my seat. When the explosion happened, I was thrown out the top of the tank. The other boys were strapped in;  it broke their necks.” He pauses again, and looks away as he takes a deep breath before he goes on: “I was lucky.”

Bob Mathias was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism and outstanding service. He came home just before Christmas in 1945. Listening to his graphic descriptions and heartfelt memories of World War II, one feels a strong sense of being incapable of grasping even the faintest notion of what it was like for Bob Mathias and the million soldiers who fought on the beaches of Normandy.

“Yes, I was scared,” he answers when asked if he was afraid on that morning so many years ago. “But you can’t think about it. You know you have to keep going and do whatever you have to, or you’ll wind up like all those other boys lying around you.”

Or as General Patton put it in a letter written to his grandson on the evening of June 6, 1944, “The most vital quality a soldier can possess is self-confidence, utter, complete and bumptious.”

Robert L. Mathias had all that and more. He was truly an American hero. Mathias died in 2002 at the age of 90.

HORSES ‘N’ HATS

Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote, “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”

At the risk of butchering Lord Tennyson’s romantic sentiment, I will paraphrase it like so: “In the spring an old lady’s fancy bombastically turns to thoughts of horse racing. It is, after all, Kentucky Derby week. I’ve been crazy about the Derby since I was a mere stripling. But more about those good ol’ days later.

The Kentucky Derby is as much about hats as it is the “fastest two minutes in sports,” as the news pundits put it. I love to watch the pre-race activities to see the hats and the stables where the horses peer out from their stalls. They obviously don’t know or care which of them will wear the roses and will become famous just after those two minutes. Right now, California Chrome is the favorite. But who knows? I carefully study the horses and pick my own favorite.

It’s actually a two-day event for me. The Kentucky Oaks is on Friday just before the third Saturday in May. It’s for fillies only, and it’s almost as exciting as the Derby.

I love hats. Some of the hats I see on ladies strolling through Churchill Downs are intentionally silly and fun, but I’m partial to the truly beautiful hats. Come to think of it, I suppose that’s subjective.

My favorite hats are those auctioned off in that most unique of Derby events, “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby.” The hats are sponsored by Maggie Mae Designs and are designed by Sally Faith Steinmann. The woman is a genius. Each hat is inspired by a thoroughbred at Old Friends. It’s a charity event that benefits one of my all-time favorite places to visit: Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm.[See Links Page] in Lexington, Kentucky. I know many of the horses retired there, mostly by reputation. It’s a special thrill for me to reach over the fence and pet one of my many horse heroes.

Another of my heroes, who is very active in the race horse business is Rosie Napravnik, one of the few female jockeys working today. Rosie distinguishes herself every time she races. She is pictured wearing several of the hats in the portfolio of auction hats on the Old Friends web site.

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Rosie Napravnik wears a hat that would be perfect for the Kentucky Derby. (Equisportsphoto.com) But on Derby Day Rosie will wearing a different hat. (photo timesunion.com)

Now, hold on.  I didn’t forget. I promised you a good ol’ days story.

 Citation poses for the camera. He was a beautiful bay.


Citation poses for the camera. He was a beautiful bay.

My favorite Kentucky Derby winner as well as Triple Crown champion was Citation. He was three – all Derby horses are three — and I was 11 years old.  It was 1948, and the Derby was to be on the upcoming Saturday. I was wildly excited about it, so I was horrified when Mother announced that my sister and I were invited to Patricia Murphy’s  birthday party on Saturday. When I told her I couldn’t possibly go, she further indicated attendance at the party was mandatory. Saturday came and because Mother was never one to suffer rebellion, I kept my disappointment to myself. I also made secret plans that I dared to hope would work out. The party was indoors, and the house was full of both kids and grownups milling about. Mind you, there was no TV in 1948. I searched the house for a portable radio, but found none.

In a corner of the living room there was a huge floor-model radio. I was happy to discover the Derby’s call to the post time coincided with the time for the opening of presents, which were stacked on the dining room table. I figured I could easily sneak away when no one would notice. Feeling both confident and hesitant, I silently sidled up to the radio, and selected the station on which I knew the race would be broadcast. No one was aware I had left the celebrants.

It was almost time for the Derby when the birthday girl, Patricia, decided the presents should be piled on the coffee table and the overflow on the floor. She would open them while seated on the sofa as everyone watched. That made things a little iffy. Their backs would be turned to me, but I ran the risk of them hearing the radio.

I positioned myself with my back to the radio and a hand behind me grasping the knob. I would wait till there was a loud exclamation about the presents, and then I would turn the knob to a barely discernible volume. Suddenly, everyone decided to sit on the floor, which would leave me standing at the edge of the crowd. Why did it have to be this hard? Didn’t these idiots know it was time for the Derby?

I had to go for broke. I waited for a shout of delirious astonishment over the unbelievable present, then I slid down to the floor, and as I did so, I quickly turned the knob to what I thought would be super low. No one seemed to hear. So far so good! Leaning against the radio, my ear on the speaker, I listened to the race. I held my breath as Citation came from behind to win.

I forgot all about being quiet, about the party, about the crowd, about Mother, about everything. I leaped up and shouted, “He did it! Citation won! I knew he would!”

There was an immediate silence. Not a sound. All eyes were on me. I looked at Mother. She was staring daggers. I sat down and waited for the din to resume, which it did after what seemed like hours.

On the way home Mother delivered a stern lecture about being unfriendly and rude, not to mention my unrelenting determination and sneaky behavior. I was to call Patricia and apologize for my unseemly actions. In addition, I would write a heartfelt note of apology to her mother.

I knew I had it coming, but to this day I consider it a small price to pay to hear Citation win the Derby. People who know about horse racing named him the third best horse of the 20th century. Man ‘o’ War is first and Secretariat second.

But Citation will always be first in my heart. I’ll never forget him.

TIMES HAVE CHANGED

Peter, Paul and Mary recorded a song that went something like this:

    Times have changed. All the good times that we had are gone now
     Passed this way. Only mem’ries will remain tomorrow

I can relate. If you are as old as I am you know that time zips by so fast it takes your breath away. If you’re not as old as I am, take my advice: don’t blink. You won’t recognize your world when you open your eyes again.

My grandsons and I tried to relate to each other for a while. Many times they would bring me a song on one of their ever-changing electronic devices: “Listen to this one. I think you’ll like it.” I listened, but alas, it just didn’t do it for me. I told them I kind of liked it, but they could tell I was just trying to be as cool as they hoped I would be. We were so close when they were little, but it too soon became evident we were drifting apart. As PP and M sang:

We thought our dreams would be enough for a while and all the plans that we made             Hey, we had loved, that was all that we had. Now even that don’t seem the same

But, thank goodness, I got over it. I finally stopped trying to see their sweet baby smiles when I behold their grown-up handsome faces. I still don’t like their music. I still marvel at the activities they take part in, the TV shows they watch, their must-have cell phones that text, take pictures, play music, communicate with satellites, their adoration of Dr. Who, the clothes they wear….ah, the clothes they wear! Nowhere are the changes so eye-popping evident than in the apparel they choose for the prom.

The high school in the Ohio town where I live had its prom this weekend. I couldn’t help but think of my own prom at good ol’ East Nashville High in 1954. Wait a minute. Can that really be 60 years ago? Of course “Times Have Changed.” In all that span of time the horse and buggy evolved into the internal combustion engine.

I scrounged around and found some pix of my prom days. Please excuse the quality. All I could do is scan the photos of the queen and her court from my annual. I couldn’t find my own prom picture, but a frantic call to my friend, Corinne, in Nashville, turned up a photo of a picture taken of her at her boyfriend’s 1956 prom. Close enough. Corinne can always be counted on. The woman is disgustingly organized.
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If you should be as old or maybe as southern as I am, you might recognize the bouffant skirts on our dresses.  In addition to making us look like we belonged on top of wedding cakes, they were hideously uncomfortable. We selected wide hoops to wear under or over (I forget which) multiple crinoline petticoats. These monstrosities scratched our legs, driving us to distraction. Even worse, if our mothers made us wear hose, they were hanging in shreds from our legs at the close of the evening.

Sitting down was impossible. If we were about to pass out from the vapors (we were southern ladies, after all) we had to remember to hike up our hoops in the back before we sat. Forgetting to do so forced the front of the hoop to leap up in front of us, sometimes high enough to expose the equally uncomfortable Merry Widow long-line bra and combination waist cincher. It was seriously boned and gouged us unmercifully wherever the bone tips ended.

It is little wonder the girls of today, and probably the girls of long-ago yesterdays got smart and elected to wear much more comfortable and elegant dresses than we wore. There is also a wonderful tendency to aspire to different looks, whereas we elected to wear only pastel tulle and netting in near-identical styles.

PROM_1956_250The boys at East High were also Twinkies. They wore white dinner jackets, tuxedo trousers and black bow ties.  I noticed in Corinne’s photo, her boyfriend had on a standard satin lapel tuxedo. My friend, Dave, sent me a note with pictures about our prom. It’s a more personal viewpoint. I had to scan it and I hope it’s readable. I placed it at the end of this blog.

The boys at our 2014 prom wore tuxedos and their accessories were carefully selected to match their dates’ dresses. It’s become the fashion for a few friends to gather at one of their homes to meet and take photos before leaving for the prom. Many families in our town pay for limousines to make the event even more special. I have included some photos of my grandson and his friends all dressed up in way more comfortable, but equally gorgeous prom outfits than my friends wore.

Daughter Mandy and her boyfriend, Steve, at their 1978 prom. Steve wore a “bamboo tux.” The lime green and blue tuxes of the early 70s were calming down by 1978. Both Mandy’s dress and his tux were inspired by Saturday Night Fever. It was disco time!

Below is grandson Evan and his girlfriend, Ariel, before their 2014 prom. Ariel is so beautiful. I guess we’ll have to wait a few years before this era is named.

 

The before and after prom activities have also changed. After our proms, we went out to dinner in the most expensive restaurant our dates could afford. Because it was a special night our curfews were set up to 1 am. No curfew the rest of the year was that late.

The 2014 activities were very different. After picture-taking, the groups went out to dinner at a nice restaurant, then on to the prom. They danced to a dee jay, whereas we had an orchestra back in the day.  After the prom the modern day celebrants went for a casual meal, then to one of the homes to change into their everyday clothes. Or maybe I have the order mixed – never mind. The rest of the night was spent bowling, or watching a movie or just hanging out until they split up: the girls into their slumber party (if that’s what it’s still called) and the boys into theirs.

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I hear a good time was had by all, but because it is so uncool to be very effusive, they said something like, “Yeah, it was okay.” Being an ordinary, usual, everyday grandmother, I had a great time because they were all home safely. So…

      Peace of mind, peace of mind, where’s the happiness we should be having?
      We can’t find all the answers in the good times we had 

Maybe it’s not such a sad song after all. Maybe the message is we shouldn’t seek the happiness in our long-gone good times, but in the good times our kids are having and our own good times now and in the future.

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