This weekend seems to be the peak of the prom season around here. Facebook is alive with the pictures of youngsters scrubbed squeaky clean and all decked out in their finest, ready for their big night out. Everywhere you went around town, you could see the stretch limousines speeding off to the dance venues filled with formals and tuxedos. My informal survey indicates that royal blue was THE color this year for formals.
Pale blue, not royal blue was the color my senior prom date, Elaine Whipple, chose to wear. I can tell you, she was just stunning as she came down the hall to the living room when I came to pick her up. Next came the obligatory “pinning of the corsage” moment. She stood there right in front of her mother, father and brother beaming in expectation and I’m sure a little trepidation. For you see, corsage wrist bands were not yet in vogue and the straps on her gown were the size of #12 threads. That left only the bodice of her gown as the target. Somehow I got the corsage attached without sticking her or grabbing something that I shouldn’t have.
Left: The Lobster House in 1960, courtesy The Jacksonville Historical Society jaxhistory.org. Then off we went to a pre-prom dinner with friends. The year before at my Junior Prom, diner was the Lobster House but we could not return because it was destroyed in a fire a few months before the Senior Prom. That was a shame because I will never forget the sight of my classmates dressed to the nine’s bathed in the late afternoon sunlight bouncing off the St. John’s River through the windows of the clapboard enclosed restaurant set on a pier. If you saw the movie, “Creature From the Black Lagoon” you saw that restaurant. That is where the monster grabbed the pretty lady played by the actress Lori Nelson from a riverfront hot spot. So we chose Aboud’s Steak house, another long gone establishment. What the steak house lacked in riverfront scenery it made up in good food.
The night was filled with dancing, cups of punch dipped from a bowl filled with ginger ale poured over orange sherbet, cake and finger sandwiches. There was a rumor that somebody was going to spike the punchbowl but the chaperones apparently got wind of the threat and successfully intervened. Lordy, I couldn’t eat like that today, but we all had young metabolisms back then and we were spending a lot of energy on the dance floor. Tunes by Elvis, Buddy Holly, Connie Francis and many more rang through the hall. But the best were the slow songs by Paul Anka, Jimmy Velvet and Bobby Vinton. The room grew quiet and intermixed with the crooning you could hear the sounds of crinoline and lace as the women whirled around their men in time to the music.
These were the early sixties after all and before we were ready, the call for the last dance went out and we all packed back into our cars to take our dates out for a burger, fries and chocolate shake at the Krystal or Penny Burger. We made it home just in time to beat Elaine’s midnight curfew!
We still had about a month of classes before the end of school, and I must admit that seeing Elaine in band class, sitting there in her uniform, she never looked the same as she did before that magical night. Come to think of it, those last band rehearsals where as drum major, I stood in front of the concert band, baton in hand, no one looked the same. I had a vision of the changes that were about to come over us all. We were about to embark on the adventures of our lives. The world was bright and exciting.
Elaine and I lost touch as I started my college career in another state. I certainly hope that life has been as good for her as it was for me. Oh MY!