An Almost Magical Prom Night is the second part of  "High School Memories"

 

  Memories of the 1950s.

                                   by Maria Lanides


From the time I was in first grade through to  when I graduated  from high school, my family lived in a white two-family home on a corner, directly across the street from a bus stop.  Our house was also located across the street from a small market where my parents did almost all our food shopping.   As you can imagine, it was a great convenience having a grocery store across the street from where my parents and my four brothers and sisters lived. ,   I remember the anticipation
when I was a young child - especially during summer time - of going across the street  to the market to purchase a five cent popsicle as a daily treat.    There was also a drug store a short walk up the street from our house.   When we were young children, we thought it something special to go to the drug store on a Sunday to purchase an ice cream with chocolate fudge and whipped cream with a red cherry on top.   We were very naive and  thought this treat could only be purchased on Sunday - because it was called a "Sunday:! 

 

We lived on the first floor of our two family home.  Each flat of our two family home  had a kitchen, bathroom, three bedrooms,  a dining room,  a living room large enough for a baby grand piano and a sun porch at the very front of each floor.     For many years, my grandmother and my aunts and uncle   lived upstairs on the second floor.  There was also excitement and someone ready to offer a hug after one of us hurt ourselves.  The 5 children in our family were called the 5 P's.  Living downstairs from our grandmother, aunts and uncle contributed to a wonderful atmosphere growing up and also provided  a number of wonderful and   warm memories for  my siblings and myself.   When I was in 5th grade, one of my aunts purchased a home nearby and my grandmother, my other aunt and uncle moved in with her.   It was very strange not to see my   "upstairs" family every day.   Not long after, a close friend of my mother moved in upstairs along with her ailing husband, her mother and young son.   Soon these people  all became part of our family as well.  

My two brothers, two sisters and myself shared a very large bedroom.   We had two bunk beds in our room and a single bed for my older sister.   There was a small desk at the end of my sister's bed where she'd often sit listening to her records when she studied,  When she was older, my sister would sit at the desk and write letters to her boyfriend who she later married.  Our bedroom was large enough to also have room for five dressers with four drawers each.    I remember my mother bought these dressers unpainted and painted each of them herself.   Our bedroom closet was on the left as we entered our bedroom.   The closet was located under the staircase leading to the upstairs flat of our two family corner lot home.   My brothers and sisters would all take turns dressing inside the closet.  I pretended it was my private dressing room.  The mirrored door of the closet was perfect for checking out how we looked after dressing every morning.   One could walk in to the closet and have room to turn and walk three to four feet to the right and that was just the first section of the closet.   In addition to the four feet of closet space as you walked in, there was  at least three feet of space directly under  light. 
There was a long string attached to a single  light bulb that lit up the whole closet.  Our closet was shaped like an upside down number seven and measured  a total of seven  feet wide and another six feet deep deep.   There was enough room for me to lie down or sit under the light with my feet stretched out in front of me and enjoy a bit of quiet away from my siblings.   Many times I'd sit against the wall inside the closet  and either daydream or write short stories.

 

When we were younger, my brothers and sisters and I felt that this deep closet/storage area was “the best place to hide" during our favorite game of “hide ‘n seek”.   This closet also became the best get-away location for each of us.    As we grew older – sometimes the closet was the only place to go - that was away from everyone else!  
 

Certain school memories from the  1950s,  were various announcements which were read to students every morning  during home room after a school dance.   Before the 1980s, students mostly walked, drove their family's car or had their parents drive them to their school dances and proms.  Accidents didn't happen because a student wasn't a good driver.   Accidents happened because students would jibber jabber to each other and have fun while driving just like their parents do on New Year's Eve.  Sadly, because students often drove themselves on prom nights - most all students knew someone who died because of a horrible prom night accident. Memories of unpleasant announcements during prom season still cause me concern and sadness.   Students  used to wait anxiously every Monday morning to hear who died the weekend before because they were in a car driven by a students to and from a prom or a game.   Piercing screams and oh no's  could be heard way down the school halls when someone we knew  got seriously hurt or was killed  going to or from a school dance or prom.  This type of terrible news spread through all the classrooms and no one felt like doing their work.   Many times, teachers kept us in our homeroom so we could talk about how we felt when we heard friends of ours died in a car crash on prom night.   writer remembers one occasion where we came out of home room and sat out in the hall in small groups talking and crying with other students trying to make sense of why students died in a car crash the weekend before - on their way to or from a school dance or sport.    Every year during prom season, writer is often reminded of  sad memories especially when a parent tells me their student prefers to drive themselves to their prom!  Of course, writer speaks up to the parent and recommend the student find some other means of transportation to and from their prom.   

 

However, for the rest of the year  writer assumes not much has changed over the years regarding homeroom announcements.   Teachers/students/principals still make announcements  every morning to grade school and high school students.   In the 1950s teachers and students looked forward to listening to  the daily announcements which  offered information on upcoming events at our high school as well as elsewhere.   To those of us lucky enough  to have an extra twenty to forty cents in our pockets.....there was always eager  anticipation  to hear what the cafeteria was offering on any particular day for lunch.   Most days, if we didn't bring our lunch and didn't have change in our pockets, we had to be content enjoying the wonderful aromas that would fill the hallways hinting at what other students were enjoying for lunch in the cafeteria that day!  

Back in the 50s, hardly anyone ever heard  of "free lunches" and  if we didn't bring a lunch or have the forty cents in our pocket  that day  - we went without lunch!   Today - most schools send home a monthly cafeteria menu and include various pertinent announcements on the back of that menu  even though  daily menus are often still announced.    Announcements during home room also told us which activities were scheduled during home room periods and when certain after school clubs would meet.  

Morning home room announcements also informed students as to the next date for the ever-popular 8:50am school dances which were held in a small gym at our high school!   Can you believe it?   Yes, way back in the 1950's - schools really did schedule  early "morning before 9am dances"  for students.   These dances would last 40 minutes to an hour!   Quite often teachers would attend and show us  steps to many popular new dances.  Yes, as  you might have heard - the boys stood along one wall watching the girls stand against the opposite wall.    As expected, yes, the girls never let the boys notice they were watching them as well!   Teachers were astonished to see the new dance steps students quickly learned from watching Pat Boone's American Bandstand which started in the late 1950's.


At first, most students couldn't believe the school was pushing a dance in the morning.  Our reactions were all the same.  We all felt it  very peculiar to schedule  a "dance" at 9:15 in the morning.   Students all  felt a dance was weird so early in the morning.  Nevertheless, on the day of the first early morning school dance, all the girls made  b-lines for the girls room to check our lipstick, pinch our cheeks so they would look "rosy"  and to make sure the ribbons or scarves  around our pony tails were tied "just right".   Our home room teacher knew many of us complained we didn't want to go and planned to sneak away on the way to the gym,  but our teacher was one step ahead of us.  She actually had us line up, gave us each a number and marched us down to the small gym for the first early morning dance.  Most of us couldn't believe our teacher kept  trying to keep us in a straight line walking along the wall as if we were back in grade school.   We quickly changed our tune and voiced no complaints  after we attended our first morning dance!  Yes, after that first time, whenever the teacher announced it was time to leave for a morning dance, we all quickly lined up against the outside wall of our homeroom and were surprised when our teacher  let us go by ourselves down the long hallway.    Attending a dance so early in the morning was actually a lot of unexpected fun!    We all looked forward to attending the next "morning dance" with great expectations!    

 
In the 1950s, high school students didn't have as many outside activities  as students have today and it was not uncommon for high school students  to attend football, basketball and baseball games at other schools.  One school always scheduled their games on a Tuesday, another school always on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday.     In the fall,  daily announcements informed students of when and where high school football games would take place.  AHS and other school students  attended many sporting events at other schools.   It was an inexpensive  fun  way for students to get to meet  other students.   Today - as well as back in the 1950s - there was much excitement leading up to the day of a big football game.    In the City of Albany where I lived, Albany High's biggest and most important football game of the year was when AHS  played against  Christian Brothers Academy (CBA).   On game day, students from both schools (as well as from many other schools)  filled every stadium seat when this annual spectacular and exciting game took place.    In the 1950's, the   Albany High - CBA game was played at Hawkins Stadium  which was located on Broadway  a few blocks past Mid-City Pool  - just before  the tall Montgomery Ward's building .    Once inside the stadium, I remember looking up in to the stands and realized I had never seen so many high school students gathered at one location ever before.   Students from different schools sat together and wore the same color shirt or scarf and held signs stating their school name.  The  AHS and CBA annual football game  was a huge day for players, coaches, parents, teachers and students alike!

 

Today programs like Dare and Mad  are readily available in most schools.   However, in the 1950s there were few programs to discourage underage drinking and drugs.    It didn't matter which school you attended -  there  was still bad news of serious accidents to report  every Monday after a big dance or prom.    Whenever there was a homecoming dance/ prom the Friday or Saturday before  - most of us would especially listen attentively to the Monday morning announcements.   
 
We all dreaded those Monday morning school announcements because we learned which  students  were injured or died in a car accident while driving themselves to or from a dance or prom.   Reasons for the car accident were varied.  Accidents occurred because the teenage driver had been drinking or  because the  high school students were chit-chatting while having a good time and weren't paying attention.   Many accidents occurred because a student was speeding.        It didn't matter which school you attended - most likely one of your classmates  knew the student  that was either killed or seriously hurt.  

 

 Statistics today show talking on cell phones and texting are causing even  more and more accidents for  adults and students alike.    Today - students rarely have to face hearing  sad news after a dance/prom because  most students arrange for someone else to drive them to dances/ proms rather than drive themselves.     Bus-coach  use for proms and homecoming dances has dramatically increased  nationwide  the last 5 years because bus-coaches offer low cost transportation. Students nationwide use Bus-Coaches,  Limos, SUVs, Sedan and Vans (of all sizes). 

However, the problem still exits where young, immature thinking students and young adults feel  drinking beer or liquor  is necessary  in order to have a good time.    Nonsense - people have wonderful times without drinking beer or liquor.   The more confident and mature student realizes one can have a terrific time   celebrating without consuming  beer or liquor.    On occasion an immature thinking student will both drive to their school prom and  feel they need to drink beer or alcohol to celebrate the event.    If you know that student, please  "speak up" to them!   Try to dissuade them  from driving to the prom  and also from drinking beer or alcohol.
 
 It is better to stay alive and wake up the next morning without injury rather than to drink and drive.   It's too late when families learn of their teenagers injuries or death.    Young people in the 1950s didn't seem to know better but teenagers today  have more guidelines available to them and need to seriously rethink their need to drink.    Albany County Stop-DWI Program in 2010 promotes  the slogan  - "Create memories, not regrets.  Celebrate sober." 

 

The writer still has a vivid memory of always  hurrying from class to class - much the same  as students do today.   The hallways were filled with constant chatter and  if I close my eyes I can almost hear the sounds of students talking and laughing along with the loud sound of classroom doors being slammed shut one after another.   Students used the time between classes to check out what everyone else was wearing and to make plans for after school as well as for the weekend.    

 

Cell phones weren't available in the 1950s -so we weren't interrupted with calls or texts during school.   Nevertheless, every time I hear about a high school basketball, football or baseball game or go by my high school,   I once  again enjoy  past memories of all the good times experienced.

 

Everyone remembers their high school experience.   My face radiates with smile after smile every time  I think about many of my high school experiences.   As individuals grow older, we seem to  remember more and more details of past events.   As the years go by - these memories always become more and more precious! 

 

One such memory was  my prom night.

 

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 An Almost Magical Prom Night

                                         By Maria Lanides
 

Most all high school students remember their prom night.   It was a time of wonderment,  excitement, sadness and laughter.   Memories of  events leading up to my high school prom are still especially clear for me -  because the evening became an almost magical prom night!

 

During the 1950s,  we didn’t have Shopping Malls as we know them today.  The main shopping areas in Albany, NY were located uptown on Central Avenue between Lark  and Partridge Streets and downtown on South and North Pearl Streets.    My description of these tree lined shopping areas could probably describe any city in the United States.   If you wanted to find someone –  students from most area schools  knew where to look on Thursday night or Saturday afternoon.   On both Thursday nights and Saturday days, students and adults alike - always wore their nicest clothes to go out shopping.     Central Avenue was considered uptown shopping and high school students would walk down one side of the street and up the other side every Thursday night until 9pm.   After 9pm - student shoppers were all like a bunch of squirrels scrambling to get quickly home so we could arrive before the curfew our parents set!

 

Saturday afternoons was when high school students shopped  downtown on Pearl Street – again walking up one side of the street and down the other.    Today, students don’t dress up as often as we did in the fifties but they certainly follow the same ritual as we did.    We walked back and forth in the 1950s  - up and down the main shopping areas with constant squealing and laughter whenever we saw someone we hadn't seen in awhile.   Today students still walk up one side and back down the other side of their suburban enclosed malls.   The echoes of the squeals  and bursts of laughter can be heard throughout  the malls as students still run to hug someone they haven't seen in awhile!   This walking up and down a street or mall by teenagers – has got to be a hormone thing!

 

If you were lucky enough to have bus tokens, you rode the bus to and from shopping during the 1950s.   

 

On Thursday nights, when weather was good, most of the time students would eat an early dinner at home and then walk the 2 miles to Central Avenue and take the bus back home.   On Thursday nights as well as on Saturdays, students looked forward to walking together to get to popular shopping areas.   It was a lot of fun wondering who would join the promenade to go shopping!    On the way down Washington Avenue - it was especially fun because on Saturdays - many, many more students would join in on the 3+ mile  walk to Pearl Street in downtown Albany!    We often had groups of 20+ students meeting up with each other on the way downtown!

 

In the 1950s, individuals of all ages did a tremendous amount of walking to where ever they were going so it was stylish for women to carry a shoe bag.     Students and adults would walk to their destination in comfortable shoes and then quickly change to more stylish shoes when they arrived at their destination.   Students would change their sneakers for more stylish shoes once they arrived at the shopping areas and place their sneakers inside their shoe bag.    Today, many students  ride a bus to and from mall shopping.   However -  since so many individuals own vehicles today -  most students drive or get rides from other students or their parents and don't walk even half as much as teenagers did in the fifties.   
 

In the summer of my sophomore year, the last Saturday in June to be exact – my friends and I went downtown  to check out the newest fashions that were almost always displayed in all the store windows especially just before school was to start.    We always walked up one side of Pearl Street and down the other – just walking and chatting incessantly while we admired all the items  that were attractively displayed in the store windows.     Once we arrived downtown, our first stop was  the cosmetics section of  either Meyers or Whitney's Department Store.   Visiting this department always made us feel more grown up and if any of us were lucky enough to have enough money on us to purchase either a lipstick or perfume - we could count on getting enough samples to share with our friends.     It was during this fun outing with my friends - almost seven months before our annual school prom - when I saw the most gorgeous formal gown in a store window.   Right then and there, it was love at first sight and I knew I had to buy this amazing gown for the annual winter Prom at our high school. 

 

The  Blue Moon Prom was "the event" of the year  at Albany High School.   The Blue Moon took place every year in February when I was in high school!!    The gown that I saw was in David’s Department store window and I just knew the gown was waiting for me to take “it” home.   Actually, I knew right then that the gown was going to be mine, even though there were at least seven more months to go before the date for the Blue Moon Prom.  

 

Hopefully I can do justice to the gown with my description.   As my  friends and I placed our hands on the delicate netting of the long skirt we couldn't believe how soft the material felt.   The color of the gown was a light two tone yellow and no one in my group had never seen such a beautiful gown.    The gown was on my mind all the time and I talked about it so much that I probably bored my friends.   Every Saturday our ritual was to ride a bus downtown  and before my friends   went in to look through the cosmetic departments - we now made it a point to stop at David’s Department Store Window to make sure the gown was still in the store window.    My friends and I would all stand in front of David’s store window and look dreamingly at the gown.   I remember moving  to the left and to the right so that I could look at the gown from all angles.   Sometimes we’d go inside the store and when we thought no one was watching - my friends would dare me to step up and stand by the mannequin.   Yes, one time I accepted their dare and stepped up on the window platform and pulled the skirt in front of me.    Of course, we all squealed with delight but became very quiet after we were very politely - but strongly - asked to leave the store because we weren't supposed to be in the window area.  

 

The skirt of my  dream gown  was a very light pale yellow.    Best of all was that the very full long skirt was made up of  many layers of very thin and delicate soft tulle fabric which felt as soft as cotton balls.     The material on the bodice was lace and  color of the bodice was a little deeper yellow than the skirt material.   Today I can still remember exactly how the gown looked.     All my friends agreed that this strapless gown looked like a dream Cinderella gown. 

 

I watched the gown for months on the mannequin in David's Department store front window on S. Pearl Street in downtown Albany, NY in 1956.  I visited the window so much that when the sales people did see me they would joke and ask me if I wanted to put my name on the gown!   Even though I knew in the back of my mind I couldn't afford to  pay for this dream gown - I still wanted it!  For months, all I could think about was the very expensive gown in the window and hoped that no one else wanted the same gown!

 

At the end of September, I saw large poster sale signs on David's Department store window advertising “Dollar Days” for the Saturday Columbus Day sale!   My heart jumped!   My friends heard that sometimes store sale prices are just a few dollars for a $200 item during Downtown Dollar Day Sales!  When I saw a sign on  my dream gown which said "Columbus Day selection" I felt extremely excited and hoped that the sale price would be low enough so that I could afford to purchase it.   I had a little over two (2) weeks to try and get enough money together!   I knew the gown cost was over $200  and by today's standards - the same gown today would probably cost more than  $800.      I'd have nightmares all week leading up to the Special Dollar Days Columbus Day sale.   How much would I have to take with me on Saturday - that was the question constantly on my mind.   This would be my only chance to possibly afford the gown.

 

I woke up very early that particular Saturday morning – without even an alarm clock!  I quickly washed and dressed.  My brothers and sisters were all still sleeping and I  cringed many times as I bumped in to chairs or dressers trying to get ready without turning on a light  so that I wouldn’t wake up anyone in the house.

 

It was important to me that I be first in line for the Columbus Day Sale at David’s Department Store so that I could be sure to get the gown!  Looking back and remembering that morning - so long ago -  I can't believe  I was already standing and waiting at the bus stop by 7am.   At 7:40am still no bus and I knew on school days buses  usually went by every 15-20 minutes.    I kept looking  at my Mickey Mouse watch (yes, these were in fashion even for high school students) as  I wondered if buses came this early on a Saturday and thought maybe I should have asked my parents.    Today I wonder what I ever did with my watch.  Wearing a Mickey Mouse watch was quite the fad then and  my friends had a Mickey Mouse watch.   No one thought, way back then to save things – waiting for Mickey Mouse watches and other items to become priceless in the future!

 

Just as I arrived at the bus stop, it started to sprinkle.   I took out the brightly colored kerchief which I always kept  in my raincoat pocket and tied it neatly on my head.    In the fifties, adult women, as well as young girls, all wore kerchiefs which actually complimented our hair.    We either had bangs like the movie star June Allyson or a little wave above our forehead that stuck out of the kerchief.  It was OK if the kerchief flattened the rest of our hair!   In the fifties, we wore a kerchief to keep our heads warm and dry – and none of us thought we looked like old ladies.   Today hardly anyone wears a kerchief when it rains or when it is very windy - because they know they would look like little old ladies!  On this subject, not too much has changed over the years.  

 

While I was waiting what seemed to be a very long time for a bus to come that Saturday morning, I noticed my socks weren't folded just right.   I bent down and folded down my white socks in the accepted manner – not too low on the ankle.     On rainy days, we always rode the bus down to our high school but on most all other days, we walked to school.   Since my loafers didn't look as clean as they did when I left my house,  I looked in my purse and found a small white embroidered handkerchief .  In the fifties, no one would go anywhere without a clean handkerchief tucked away in their purse.   The rain had stopped and I wanted to clean my loafers.   Even though  I knew I’d get in trouble for soiling this handkerchief - this day was an exception - so I proceeded to wipe my loafers clean while I waited for the bus!   

 

My bus finally arrived at 8 am and by the time I finally arrived down town across from David’s Department Store - it was nearly 8:30am.    When I was in 2nd and 3rd grade – I tried to be first in line to get in to school.  I would proudly and confidently stand at the front of the line knowing I arrived before any other student.  Yes, that was indeed an exciting time but not as exciting as getting in to David's Department Store before anyone else.  

 

This time, I was the first person in line at David’s Department Store but I wasn’t confident at all – in fact - I was very nervous.   My gown was no longer in the front window and I knew I had to be first to get inside the store so that I could run and find my gown.   I still had a very long wait until the doors opened at 9:30am.   No one else joined the line outside of David’s until 9am and then from that point on -  the bedlam started.   I had heard talk on how people rushed and pushed to get ahead in line on a sale day and now I knew what they meant.  It got to be a little scary especially when I could feel myself being pushed up against the door and couldn’t move!

 At that point, I wasn’t so sure I liked sale days.  
(It wasn't until years later that I again had the occasion to stand in line again at a store.  As a young Mother in the late 1980's, I stood in line for almost 3 hours just to make sure I could get a Cabbage Patch Doll for my daughter and a few other young girls I knew.   Believe me when I say  - while waiting in front of Caldor's Department store in Albany - in line with scores of others who wanted to purchase this same popular doll  .....my thoughts went back to that morning  many years before when I once waited in line in front of David's Department store  for my yellow prom dress.   I guess it is a girl/woman thing.....we don't easily forget these moments!)

 

I remember constantly checking the time on that Saturday morning - waiting for the door at David's Department Store to open.   It seemed forever, but finally the door opened - the guard moved aside so no one would topple over him.    I ran up to the register and told the sales lady I came to the sale today so that I could buy the yellow gown that used to be in the front window!    My emotions were caught up with the crowds of women pushing and yelling to get where they wanted to go!    By now I was in tears and  looked at her and looked around at the crowds.   I finally blurted out  “where is the yellow long gown?   Has it  been sold?”  She answered with a laugh…. “Don’t worry yourself about that gown” and in the next breath stated, “It was about time you got here”.    All of a sudden, she quickly turned and disappeared into a back room.    I felt terrible.   I thought she was reprimanding me.  Now I was beside myself with worry.  In just a few moments the sales lady returned with my gown in her hands.    I remember seeing two of the other sales ladies that I talked to on my many, many trips to see the gown.    They were peeking at me over the tall racks of sale dresses.  As the one lady was hanging  my gown on a rack behind the check out counter………..the two other sales ladies were all smiles ear to ear.  I realized that were all excited about bagging my gown.   These remarkable sales ladies  even made a large sign that they pinned to  the front of the bag containing my gown!    The sign simply and correctly stated "Maria's Prom Gown".  

  

When the sales lady told me that the original asking price  for the gown was brought down to a Special Columbus Day Sale price of only $17.00 -  I screamed and began to cry all over again.  I only had $35 dollars with me, and that was a huge amount.   Shoppers went to the Columbus Day special sales day because  dresses and gowns were often offered  at ridiculously  low prices.  I  couldn't believe this was all happening to me!   All three sales ladies hugged me and after I paid with a ten dollar bill and seven one dollar bills....they  told me to quickly get out of the store before someone takes the gown from me!   One lady said, “People act crazy on big sale days - so hold the hanger tightly and don’t let go until you are home”!   After I thanked the ladies, I immediately turned and left the store.   The buses were all crowded but I was able to get a seat and was able to place the hook of my gown bag on to a window that was partially opened.   Everyone who passed by my seat had to notice  the sign  stating "Maria's Prom Gown" - and they smiled and nodded.  As soon as I arrived home, I hung my yellow Cinderella gown in my closet – way in the back, so no one would touch or see it.  I wanted  to keep it as a surprise until Prom Night! 

  

After I bought my yellow Cinderella gown, there were many nights, after everyone was asleep, I’d open the mirrored closet door and sneak quietly in to the closet.   I would go way in to the back and lay down near my gown.  I would  pull on the long light cord, turning the high bulb light on and off  -while at the same - I imagined how it would feel wearing my gown to the Blue Moon Prom!     My imagination was very active and I pretended that my friends – once they saw me - would all think that I looked like a Cinderella Princess.  I always had a very vivid imagination and  fairy tales were an important part of my growing up years.   I often lived in a make believe world inside my mind.   My library card - middle school through  8th grade was filled entirely with books on various fairy tales, including Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm and Joel Handler Harris, an American writer,  who was famous for his Uncle Remus stories.     Sadly, the librarian at our school never tried to convince me to read something else to expand my tastes in reading.     

 

A few weeks before the Prom, I gave the Prom tickets to my date and asked him to arrive at my house at 6:30pm.   I told him my gown was yellow hoping he would get flowers that would go well with my gown.

 

In the fifties, proms were held in school gyms.   We held fund raisers in the fall so that we could buy just about any type of decorations we wanted.   By  the time the students decorated the gym……no one could recognize the room as a gym……..   In addition - we elaborately decorated the hallway from the outside door entrance directly in to the gym where the prom would take place.

 

Also in the fifties, ticket cost for a prom was low so that most everyone in the class could afford to attend.   It is most interesting to note that today, only a small percentage of students go to their school proms - because   ticket prices are very high!   All proms in the fifties were held at schools.....but proms today are most always held in banquet halls or hotels.  Prom ticket price per person is as much as a per person cost for a wedding reception at a fine banquet facility.

 

When it came to the day of my prom I couldn’t sit still!   In the morning, I went to school with many of the other students to help finish the decorating.  Almost the entire floor of our gym was filled with students sitting cross legged while gluing silver glitter on stars that had been painted earlier during the week.   We hung netting and then pinned the glitter covered stars at various intervals on the netting.   Where ever you looked - one saw bright silver stars against a dark sky!    The finishing touch was that we placed a few electric fans here and there that when they turned  - a breeze was felt from one side of   fan to  other - which also caused  netting on  ceiling to move ever so slightly.   The ultimate effect was that whenever  a breeze from    fan hit a section of   netting....it made  stars appear to be twinkling!   We had small spotlights placed in every corner of the room that reflected light on  the glitter - which made it appear as if the stars were also sparkling on and off as they moved.   

 

Twenty years would go by before I knew what the words “blue moon” really meant.   Without mentioning my question to anyone – I can still remember - (while decorating our gym for the prom) -  wondering why the paper moon someone made - that was placed high near the ceiling - wasn’t painted blue - since it was the Blue Moon Prom!  Many students were naive on many subjects in the 1950's.   I also remember......what happened after some of the older students placed the paper  moon high in the sky and turned the small fans on.   All of a sudden    paper stars we made appeared as if they were twinkling– it was as if by magic - the school gym with all the beautiful decorations was transformed  ........in to a lovely summer night.

 

The day of our prom…….my friends and I were all so excited that we seemed to be walking on air.  We went together to the hairdresser next to 5 & 10 cent store on North Pearl Street  in the early afternoon.   Afterwards we walked over to buy our prom stockings at Walgreen’s Drug Store that used to be on corner of State and Pearl Street in downtown Albany.   Of course, we found time to enjoy an ice cream Sunday at their luncheonette.

 

All my preparation getting ready for the prom was done early and I was all dressed by 6pm.   It was going to be a very special magical night!   I waited patiently on our piano bench in the living room so that I could look out  our sun porch windows - watching for my date to arrive.   I wore very soft white gloves that came up to my elbows.   I spread out skirt of my gown and the piano bench could hardly be seen.  My  hair was just perfect.  I felt like a princess!  I kept smoothing gown with my gloved hands.

 

I sat a long time  looking towards the  sun porch windows waiting for my date to arrive.   My mom took a few pictures of me sitting on  piano bench.   It was very dark outside but I kept on  waiting.   

At 10 pm my mom came and stood by  the piano bench and suggested  I go to bed.   It was a Saturday night so my parents always went to bed early because they had to be up  in the morning for church.    Of course, I felt I  had to wait a little while longer. 


After 10:30 pm,   in  back of my mind  I knew it was much too late and that my date wasn't going to show.   I couldn’t understand why he didn’t at least call me and  I kept questioning in my mind - over and over again -  why didn’t he show up?  How could he do this to me?

 
About 11:00 pm - I got off the piano bench and felt an  urge  to hide somewhere where no one could find me.   I felt very alone in a house full of people.   I felt I wasn't really there.    I turned off the small lamp which was on the piano, stood up and walked away from  piano bench.   I tried walking  away from the  bench  a number of times but would sit  immediately back down.   I finally stood up - lifted my gown carefully with both hands so I wouldn't trip and stepped away from the piano bench.   My eyes were filled with tears so I wasn't able to see very well.   Either my siblings were asleep or they pretended to be asleep because I realized the whole house was very dark and very quiet.     Before I could get  very far away from the piano bench - I fell to my knees and started to cry very quietly  in the middle of  living room. 

 

I don’t know how long I stayed on the  floor crying but I finally got up and quietly went in to our bedroom .   I opened the mirrored door of our large closet very slowly - so it wouldn’t squeak.   I walked in to the closet and quietly closed  door behind me.   I walked way in to the back of our large walk-in storage closet - as I had done so many times.   I sat down on floor and thought about - how I didn't get to see  any of my friends with their new prom gowns and tuxes.   I thought about how no one got  to see me in my yellow Cinderella gown and that I didn't get a chance to dance under the sparkling stars that we hung earlier in the day.   I thought about how I'd never have a prom photo to show my friends.    I kept pulling  the long closet light string on and off, while still hoping my date would show up and bang on   front door ready to apologize with some huge and very believable excuse as to why he was so late.   


 I cried myself to sleep on  floor of our favorite hiding place thinking about what I was going to say to my friends.    When I woke up the next morning  closet light was  still on  and I realized I was uncomfortably curled up on the floor.    After I took my gown off and placed it back in the original bag  - I hung it way in  back of the closet.    My Cinderella gown never had a chance to be seen twirling around on prom dance floor - under the twinkling stars.   The gown remained hanging in  same place in my closet  for  over three years.

 

After I went in to our bathroom and began to wash my face I noticed how swollen my eyes appeared and kept splashing cold water on them.   I heard my family in the kitchen but  I didn’t want to answer any questions from anyone.   I didn't want anyone to ask   why my date didn't show up to take me to the Blue Moon Prom.    I was so embarrassed that I didn't want to talk at all!    Even though I was terribly down, I  acted like nothing bad had happened.    I'm good at  pretending nothing is wrong even when I'm hurting a great deal inside.   My family was very kind to me and never mentioned my swollen eyes nor did they ask  me any questions about my prom night.    It was many days later before I could discuss what happened that night with anyone in my family.   I was so very hurt and I felt very hurt for a very long time.

 

By Wednesday night after the  Blue Moon Prom,   I was able to muster up  enough courage to phone my date to ask why he didn’t show up.   He worked at a small grocery store so that is where I decided to call him.  When he got on the phone I asked him what happened and why he didn't show up last Saturday night.   His answer was that he thought the prom was the following weekend and apologized that he hadn’t looked at the date on the tickets that I gave him!   I didn't want him to feel bad so I pretended it was no big thing.     I never had the courage to tell my date how much he hurt me because he mixed up the dates.  

 

Interesting that it took over 50 years - before I let myself think  about what happened to me on prom night - so many years ago.    After high school ended, I never even thought about how I missed going to the Blue Moon prom at my school.    Until very recently I never thought about my beautiful yellow gown, the excitement of getting ready for the prom,  the hurt, the tears, my feelings of embarrassment ......or about ...... what should have been ...... "an almost magical prom night".