Monday, May 15, 2006

Prom memories

It is that time of year for the high school prom, another milestone in growing up. We've all been there, played dress-up, flowers, dresses, tuxedos, danced, posed for the cameras, much ado, a rite of passage.

On the occasion of my sister-in-law Sue's 60th birthday last year a letter was sent by Jim Comer, author and friend of the family. Jim couldn't be at the momentous occasion, but sent his thoughts, and just before it was read aloud, Sue said a few words about Jim, about growing up, and old friends, and as an afterthought she turned to her longtime friend, Charlotte, and said, "He may have taken one of us to the prom, I don't remember…" But Jim obviously remembered.

About forty four years ago.
I remember a night around 1961, maybe 1962.
It was May.
Dogwoods had bloomed.
Atlanta smelled as if it had been perfumed by God.
I drove up to Mount Airy Drive in my parents' white Ford Galaxie.
I was wearing a rented tuxedo.
My father had been called on to affix the studs and get the bow tie on properly.
I was acutely uncomfortable, but thought I looked pretty spiffy for a 115 pound senior at Brown High.
And I was about to enter forbidden territory.
The Junior Senior Prom at Southwest.

I walked to the door of the Tidwell home carrying a box.
A $7 box with a gorgeous orchid in it.
Oh ye of tender years, I know $7 doesn't sound like a big deal to you, but multiply that number by at least five or more and you'll get an idea of the big bucks I'd spent.
As I walked into the living room expecting to see Sue ready to walk briskly out to my chariot, I was met by a houseful of people.
The entire family.
A few neighbors.
Aunts and uncles may have driven in for the occasion.
There were cameras and flash bulbs.
I think we had chips and dips and pigs in a blanket.
After about forty photos, Sue and I finally departed.
Ms. Tidwell the younger looked magnificent.
I wish I could tell you the color of her dress, but I'm too old to remember and not clever enough to lie.
I know it was colorful.
And I'm sure she gave me a buttonaire for my lapel.

I remember very little about the rest of the evening except that we had fun.
There was much crepe paper stuffed in wire mesh.
Low lights.
A decent band.
I recall dancing and laughing and admiring of how grown up we all looked.
I hope I took Sue someplace wonderful to eat afterward.
But that part of the evening is lost in the mist.
What I recall with clarity and great fondness is our send-off.
It was pure Tidwell.
Full of family, love, joy, food and lots of laughter.
That happy sound and that wonderful family will resonate in my memory long after I can no longer see in the mirror at all.

(an excerpt from "To Sue on the Big One" by Jim Comer)

Jim is a dear friend of the family and a very talented writer and much more, check him out here.

Prom pictures L-R, nieces Jenny (1989) and Heidi (1993), daughters Melissa (1994) and Carrie (1999), and the older generation (Buddy and Susan 1972)


TUFFENUF said...

Funny how the prom photos all have basically the same pose! You can see the fashion changes over the years.

Finn said...

Really beautiful pictures Susan, all those young people and the dreams of what the future holds.
Loved the time travel via Jim's piece too, Hugs, Finn

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Wonderful story Susan and you can see the style changes in the prom photos...but the prom remains the same.

Tammy said...

I love to be out to eat in a nice restaurant at Prom Season and see all the beautiful young people come in to have their pre-prom meal.
I do hate it for the parents that prom has gotten to be such an expense though.

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