Lee and I were friends in high school but she has lived in the Dallas area most of her adult life, so we only see each other occasionally when she is home to visit family.
When she was in town for Christmas a year ago, we had lunch and then came back to my house to talk. Talking (and laughing) is something we were both verrry good at as teens — and apparently we’ve still “got it” — evidenced by the fact that when we finally felt we had said just about everything we needed to say, it was 8 in the evening!
So, when she called this year and we made plans to have lunch, I had an idea for an option she might enjoy for our visiting time. When we had finished lunch, I proposed two choices — we could go back to my house for a marathon talk like last year OR we could take a drive and revisit the old neighborhoods and gathering spots from high school!
She chose the “drive” and I’m glad she did. Even though I live in the area, I myself had never really done a tour like I was proposing.
So, for the next couple hours we drove around “looking at our past” and talking about the memories associated with each place.
We drove past where the high school was then. It’s now the junior high. But, you can still see the addition on the end of the building that had been added just the summer before we started as freshman. It was the Girls’ Gymnasium and its entire interior was trimmed in pink tile! I don’t imagine that they would build a “girls gym” on a school today, especially one done in pink — so not PC. But, at the time everyone thought it was really neat.
In addition to being used for all the girls’ phys ed classes, it also gave the school a place where dances could be held without removing your shoes (!) because it had an easily maintained tile floor. Also, it had an outside entrance onto a side street, so students could come and go from the dance as they pleased (long before administrators would have thought about any special security at a school, other than some stern-looking teachers).
Before this gym was built, any school dances had to be “sock hops” (you left your shoes at the door) because they were held in the main gym that had a hardwood basketball floor that street shoes with hard leather soles would have damaged. (Gym shoes were seldom worn for anything but gym class or basketball back then.)
When I think of the dances in the girls gym, I remember the “cool guys” (including hubby-to-be) all standing in groups along one wall, working at their coolness and only venturing over to ask a girl to dance on the slow dances.
Thank goodness for our friend Denny Z. He was a guy in our class who was a verrry good FAST dancer. Denny managed this and was still “cool” so I’m sure he was secretly envied by the other guys. And, because he was one of the few guys who actually enjoyed fast dancing, he could dance as many dances as he wanted — all of us, even those of us who had non-dancing boyfriends, enjoyed a fast dance with Denny.
There was a small park in front of the high school and on the other side of the park was a drug store with a lunch counter. (It’s now a chiropractor’s office.) If we didn’t feel like eating lunch in the cafeteria, we would dash through the park to get a seat at the counter in the drug store. If you didn’t get there fast enough and there wasn’t a stool available, you would stand behind someone who WAS seated, more or less “in line” for that stool next. Needless to say, no one lingered over their lunch — someone was always breathing down your neck, waiting for your seat. But, also, I remember the lunches we ate there many times being just an order of french fries, drenched in ketchup, and a coke. Doesn’t take long to eat a “meal” like that!
One of our favorite pasttimes when we were in high school was called “buzzing,” so on our tour we drove to the drive-ins where that activity took place. Only one of them is still standing, and even it is no longer a drive-in with car hops — too bad — we could have stopped for a coke for old time’s sake.
Anyway, in high school “buzzing” went like this. In the evening, we and our friends would pile into a car and then drive to the three popular drive-in restaurants in town and “buzz” them. “Buzzing” involved driving through the parking lot that circled a drive-in verrry slowly, with the windows down if at all possible (the better to see and be seen), waving to people we knew (and sometimes my flirtatious friends would wave to cute guys we DIDN’T know — but never going-steady me!), looking to see who was there and, most importantly, who was with who, and sometimes actually stopping at one of the drive-ins and BUYING something. But, let me just say, I don’t think those drive-in restaurants made much money on the “buzzing” crowd, because we were also the mostly not-gainfully-employed crowd, so most of the time, if we ate at all, each of us in the car would buy a coke and then maybe SHARE an order of onion rings. A car hop brought the food to the car and I don’t remember if we tipped — I like to think we did, but at that age, we were pretty clueless about things like that.
On our little tour down memory lane, we also drove through the neighborhoods where our friends had lived. We could always drive right to the block a friend’s house was in, but sometimes we were rather surprised that we couldn’t remember exactly which house it was. Memories get a little fuzzy after 40 some years.
In the case of my old house, it was a cape cod in a neighborhood of all look-alike cape cods. Thank goodness, our next-door neighbors had painted theirs a dark red, so I could always tell people we were “next to the red house.” I’m not sure my friends could have ever found me if it hadn’t been for that landmark.
As an adult, when I worked for the truck manufacturer, I actually worked not too far from my old neighborhood, so I had driven by this house a couple times, and I was amazed each time at how tiny it was and that now the tree in the front yard appeared to be larger than the house. But, looking at it brought back many great memories of my parents and some of the great times we had. (The living room was so small that when Daddy leaned back in his recliner so that his feet were elevated, his feet were the first thing someone saw when they walked up to the front door! Well, at least they didn’t have to wonder if someone was home!)
The farm house Lee had been raised in had been torn down. That had happened several years ago, so it wasn’t a surprise to Lee, but it was still a little sad when we drove past the spot.
We talked about the time I had literally dropped her off in front of her house. I was driving Hubby-to-be’s standard shift car, and I was not very good yet at the standard-shifting part. So, I didn’t want to come to a complete stop, because I had trouble getting started from a dead stop. Well, teenage logic said then, I should slow way down and then she would jump out — made perfect sense to us two rocket scientists! She did it and, by the grace of God, she wasn’t killed, in fact didn’t even fall down. What’s the saying? “God takes care of fools and drunks?” Welll, we weren’t drunk, so you know what that made us!
We had a great afternoon of “buzzing” the old haunts, and remembering some of the events and people who made up our high school years.
Memories are especially fun when you’re reliving them with someone who shares those memories.