... various memories of prom time
Publisher's Note: The recent SilverStringer binge of collective writing including this poetic piece based on the memories of senior proms from half a century ago. Ironically, there were no submissions from the male members. The resulting four short stories, however, provide a special insight into human nature as it was in the '40s.
The High School Prom
At that time in my life, I was a tall, slim, young (both in age and maturity) girl who had transferred from St. Mary's School to public high. Most of my classmates went to either St. Mary's High School (girls only) or Malden Catholic High School (boys only). I was shy and not ready for a prom. Besides no one asked me.
My High School Prom
In February, 1946, I was a senior in high school and this handsome, blond veteran of World War II, who had returned to finish HIS senior year after winning the war in Europe, asked me to go out with him. Within a month we were "going steady" and in another month he had a difficult situation to tell me about and hoped I would understand. (OF COURSE, I would!)
He had made previous plans to drive two of his male friends and their dates to the Senior Prom and drive them out somewhere afterwards. Since he was a veteran of the BIG war, he saw no reason for attending a "kids" dance and would I mind his not taking me? "OF COURSE not," I assured him and convinced myself that I was being very grown up.
Fifty-four years later, after thirty-seven years of a happy marriage, raising two wonderful children and sixteen years of widowhood, a longtime friend of mine told me about her trip to the Senior Prom in 1946 and that "Your husband didn't have a date so he acted as chauffeur for us. Afterwards he drove us up the Pike for hamburger and fries. The boys paid him five dollars each."
Memories of a Small High School Prom
The biggest problem the class of 1944 faced when Senior Prom time came around was Whom Can I Invite? The majority of the boys our age had already enlisted in the Army, Navy, and Marines and were not available.
You must realize that we lived in a different world than the teenagers nowadays. Not only did we not have a "steady" boy friend but any sort of regular dating was discouraged by our parents and society in general until we were 17. Added to this was The War - the Second World War, that is. There were only 15 young ladies in my graduating class and by working diligently with our mothers, older sisters, friends of our mothers who had sons, and even two of the nuns, Mother Mary Alice and Mother Mary Patricia, we all managed to find a date.
Some of the nuns did not share in the search for male companionship, assuring anyone who would listen, "You'll have a much better time if you come with your brother - or even your father!" But one girl in particular, Ann M., was adamant that everyone would go to the prom. She found a date for every girl who needed one and would even call the boy up and pretend to be the bashful one if the girl was too shy to do it herself. One of the girls had just begun to suffer from what would turn out to be a life-long muscle disease but her older sister saw to it that she had as pretty a prom dress as any of the rest of us. She brought her to the dance so that she shared in our memories of a happy time to end our school years.
The night of the prom we were all required to bring our dates to the convent to meet the nuns. We thought of it as a penance never realizing that the nuns were not as critical as we thought they were and probably enjoyed seeing the girls doing the same things they had done in school. However, we all knew that, if our prom gowns had bare shoulders or a low neckline, you had better wear a sweater or a shawl until you left the convent. I was lucky in that my Aunt Peggy had been a bridesmaid that Spring. So, I borrowed her beautiful spaghetti-strapped yellow organdy gown with a Bolero which passed inspection at the convent.
The dance was held in Convent Hall, a small building on the school grounds, complete with not even a juke box but a record player. We did not have to spend money on orchestras, or tickets, or limousines, which was very fortunate since none of us had any money! As I remember it, the refreshments were punch and cupcakes provided by some mothers.
A few of the boys had their license to drive but had to borrow a car for the night. Most of the couples were chauffered by someone's mother or father, who came back and picked us up at 11:00 and took us home. No after hours dinner or driving or drinking up on Route 1, no accidents, or embarrassing moments brought on by liquor.
It sounds primitive and childish now but the important thing is that we all had a good time. The anticipation was just as intense as it is now and was a big part of the enjoyment. We knew it was the beginning of the end of our school days. There were 15 girls in the senior class and 8 of us had been together since the first grade. The dance led into Class Day, then Graduation Day, and then we all went off to jobs and college. We have never had a reunion of all 15 girls, the most has been 9 or 10.
Remembrance of Proms
By Ella Letterie
I graduated from high school in 1945 and at that time most of the young men of our class had left school to serve for our country fighting World War II. This was not a time for fun and laughter, but most of us were merely 16 years old, and we were really not aware of the horrible things that were happening in the Atlantic and Pacific areas. We only knew that we needed "coupons" to buy clothing and food and fuel for our cars.
Nevertheless, this was our graduating year, and we had Class Day and a Prom. I purchased a prom dress, (I thought I looked real spiffy), and my date and I went to the Latin Quarter in Boston. I remember having a club sandwich and a soda. After the "Big" night in a night club, we then got on the subway for a ride to Revere Beach.
I must confess that my high school prom was a real DUD. Maybe later, I'll write about my College Prom that was a WILD AND CRAZY TIME.
September 1, 2000