Seems like my sails are setting

Published 3:00 am Saturday, April 1, 2017

Several of us “girls” were trying to conjure up memories of different significant events in our lives. Some things were remembered rather vividly. Others were hazy and some things we could hardly remember at all.

Giving birth – vivid. The Hangout at Panama City Beach –  sort of hazy. High school proms – hardly at all.

Perhaps, if we had gone to the prom dressed in  $500 evening gowns, been chauffeured in a stretch limo, dined on prime rib, danced to a live band and had a buffet breakfast before boarding a cruise ship to the Bahamas, we probably would have remembered.

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My memories of my junior and senior proms go beyond hazy to cloudy. 

The one memory that stands clear is that my grandmother came from Eufaula on the Greyhound bus to make my prom dresses. She stayed a week or more and for that entire time I was tortured. She wrapped me around and around and up and down with measuring tape. She measured my arms, my waist, my shoulders, from my nose to my toes and my ear lobes. When she got the dress put together, I was in the trying-on phase for three days while she turned me and twisted me and pinned me. By the time, my granny had finished the prom dress, she didn’t like me and I didn’t like her. Mama was ready to take her to the bus station and was wishing she could send me with her.

My senior year, Daddy thought we could splurge for a store bought prom dress. Mama knew he would rather spend the money than have my granny spend the week. We didn’t splurge.

A Lilt home perm was a must for prom night. Mama gave me mine about three weeks before the prom so it would loosen up and look a little better and so it would have lost the aroma of permanent wave solution.

From there, the proms get hazy. Tuxedos had not made their way South, at least O.K. Ramage Clothing Store didn’t carry them. Our dates wore sports coats – often white sport coats, a carryover from Marty Robbins’ country song. And, of course, a pink carnation was the boutonniere, a.k.a. button ear, of choice.

I did remember that Mama took our black and white picture – mine and my date’s – with my Brownie camera. The flashbulb was so bright that it blinded us and we saw spots for half the night.

Back then, we had a banquet and prom. The lunchroom was decorated with crepe paper and that’s where the banquet was held. We walked from the lunchroom to the auditorium where the prom was held my junior year.

The janitor put sweeping compound on the wood floor so our feet would slide when we did the box step. We had one chaperone for every two couples – that was standard procedure for the times. We danced to music on the record player. If we had any refreshments, I don’t remember nor do I remember any decorations. We danced the last dance to Tab Hunter singing “Red Sails in the Sunset” and, if that was not romantic, we didn’t know what was. From the prom, I went directly home, lest Mama would come looking for me in her robe of many colors and her in hair rollers.

As for my senior prom, things were much the same, down to my date. Mama took our pictures again with the Brownie camera. My aunt brought me an “evening bag” that matched my homemade prom dress. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with a pocketbook at a dance. I left it in the car.

I don’t remember a banquet. But this was a very special prom. It was held in the National Guard Armory on the schoolhouse hill. The theme was Japanese. Different tables were set up with Japanese wind chimes hanging over each table. Every girl wanted a wind chime but only the ones with the “fittest fellers” got one.

I had a steady beau so I’m sure I wished the night would never end. But, I can’t remember if I got a wind chime or if I danced the last dance to “Red Sails in the Sunset” or if I got home before Mama came looking.

I think my sails have set.