My First Dance
(Editor's Note: We have had such a good response to the Virtual Jukebox feature, I thought I would use it as a springboard for another topic. This week I will be launching a series of stories about the dances we did and the ones we went to before we graduated from high school. What would be more fitting than to start out with a story about a Valentine dance? This theme will be continued for several weeks to come. Please share your own stories with your classmates.)
I was in the ninth grade at Lee Junior High when I went to my first real dance.
The first dance I ever went to was also my first real date. It happened on Valentine's Day of 1961. It was through a twisted web of circumstances I was invited to go to the Huntsville High School's Valentine's Day dance. The web was a long and complicated one. My grandmother (who was born on Valentine's Day of 1899) rented an apartment from a family living across the street from me. The family had a seventeen year old daughter who was going steady with a boy who was taking her to a dance at Huntsville High School. She invited her younger cousin to go along. Why she wanted to do that is unknown, but Connie (Name Changed for Personal Reasons) didn't have anyone to go with. Through some scheme, known only to Venus or Cupid, I was the one invited to go to the dance with her.
Even though it was my first date, I didn't even initiate it. I was very shy, and it probably would have taken me years before I got up the nerve to ask a girl for a date. For this one, I was the one who was asked and even then I wasn't asked by the girl. It was through an arrangement made by the cousins, and parents, and aunts and uncles, and grandmothers and who knows who else. Maybe the milkman was in on it for all I knew. If I hadn't known better I would have thought that it was an old-world arrangement. How such a date was settled is beyond belief, but it was and I was invited to go to the Valentine's Dance with Connie.
As I mentioned, it was 1961. I was fifteen at the time; and my date was twelve, almost thirteen. I bought flowers and everything and even wore a suit and tie. I lived across the street from the cousin, so when the time came, I took the flowers out of the refrigerator, tried to get the butterflies out of my stomach, and walked across the street to meet my date. It looked like the Academy Awards show when I arrived at the door. There were people and cameras and flowers and me. There, behind the crowd, was Connie in her nice party dress. When I gave her the flowers she opened them and handed the corsage back for me to pin on her.
That posed the first problem of the night. Just how do you go about pinning a flower on a girl's shoulder, or lower, without touching something you were not supposed to touch? The older cousin, her date, the aunt and uncle and her parents got quite a giggle out of watching me struggle with embarrassment. The obvious way to do it was to scoop your hand down inside the front of the dress to hold it steady while you pinned it on her. Obviously what was practical was not the proper way to do it. After a few seconds, which seemed like hours, of fidgeting and trying to pin it on without touching anything, and after the adults had all the giggles they could get out of watching me, I was rescued by the cousin who completed the task. A smart fellow would have taken that as a hint and left and waited until he could date a girl without an audience. That was not to be on that night. I was committed to the date.
We rode in the cousin's date's car to the dance, hardly speaking on the way. I just barely knew the girl sitting beside me in the back seat of the car. We had met once before when she was eight and it never entered my mind that someday I would be sitting in the back of a car on the way to a dance with her. We sat in silence, glancing ever so often at one another and then out of the windows to watch the street lights go by.
The dance went rather well, except that at the time, neither I nor Connie knew how to dance, and we spent most of the time sitting and making busy talk or not talking at all. When we did try to dance, all that I knew how to do was the two-step, and I spent most of the time on the floor saying "one-two-one, one-two-one" to myself as I counted the steps needed for the dance. All the dancing was done at arm's length and our bodies never touched. When the dance was over we all went to Jerry's. It was my first time to visit that establishment with a girl.
Next week I will tell you about the two-step, as I knew it.
Memphis, TN - As noted above, this week we are beginning a new adventure into memories of our past. It will be a multi-lane highway, with memories about the physical aspect of the dances we did, and the social aspect of the dances we went to and who we went with. My story this week is about the social aspect, which I plan to follow up next week on something about the dance moves mentioned.
I would like very much to have as many of you participate in this topic as you did with the virtual jukebox. Many may wonder why I am always printing stories written by Rainer and John. The simple truth is - they are the only ones I can count on to help me come up with ideas about stories to print. I would gladly include your story should you send it to me.
So, let's get on the Way-Back machine and take our thought back to those sometimes wonderful, sometimes awkward days of our early dating activities.
The Jukebox cue is empty, so send in your requests.
A special prayer goes out to Ann Pat King Fanning on the loss of her sister last week.
Ann Pat King Fanning's (LHS ' 65) Sister
Mrs. Jerry King Douglas
Mrs. Douglas (December 11, 1928 – February 8, 2016) passed away at the age of 87 in the hospital surrounded by friends and family. Mrs. Douglas was born in Cannon County, TN, and moved to Huntsville, AL, with her family in 1945. She was the eldest daughter of the late Rev. and Mrs. J. Otis King and was the church organist at Lincoln Memorial Baptist Church for many years. She graduated Lincoln High School in Huntsville, from Samford (Howard College) University, Birmingham, AL, and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, during which time she married Dr. Ernest Douglas. They resided in Birmingham, AL, Tallahassee, FL, Franklinton, LA, and Knoxville, TN. A truly gifted and talented musician, Mrs. Douglas taught piano and organ in Knoxville for over 36 years along with serving in several churches as organist/choir director alongside her husband. She had a life filled with music and love. Mrs. Douglas is survived by her son, Lamont Douglas, and granddaughter, Evie Douglas, of Greeneville, TN; Sister, Ann Pat King Fanning (Roy) of Huntsville, AL; her 104-year-old Aunt Ruby King of Woodbury, TN; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins. Mrs. Douglas was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Ernest Douglas, parents, Rev. J. Otis and Nina Lee King, sister, Marvene King Stevenson, brothers, Boyce and Billy King. Family will receive friends Friday, February 12th, from 12:30 – 2:00 at Berry Highland Memorial, Knoxville, TN. The service will follow at 2pm, with Rev. Tony Martin, officiating. The family would like to express in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the Joy of Music School in Knoxville TN (www.joyofmusicschool.org / 865-525-6806).
Published in The Huntsville Times from Feb. 10 to Feb. 12, 2016
I want to request 3 slow-dance songs. All three became popular at the same time that we were morphing our major passions from Boy Scouts to the attractions and excitement of becoming acquainted with members of The Opposite Sex.
#1 - "Sleepwalk" a guitar instrumental by Santo and Johnny that came out in 1959.
#2 - "Last Date" by Floyd Cramer
#3 - "I can't Stop Loving You," by Ray Charles.
From Our Mailbox
Subject: Tribute to Glenn Frey
On Monday night, The Grammys will be broadcast on CBS. Ordinarily I don't watch, as I am not a big fan of hip-hop or Taylor Swift. But the remaining Eagles, along with Jackson Browne, will doing a tribute to Glenn Frey, who recently passed away at age 67 due to complications of Ulcerative Colitis, a chronic illness of the digestive tract similar to the Crohn's Disease that caused our much-loved Carol Jean so much suffering. I think that when "The Eagle's Greatest Hits" album was released, it was among the best-selling, if not even Number One, album at the time. I plan on kicking back, basking in the music of Glenn Frey and The Eagles, and raising a glass to CJ. We all were so blessed that she was able to grace us with her presence at the September reunion.
Subject: A tribute to our lives and the music from our past.
We were truly blessed to grow up when we did. We played outside with little or no danger from pedophiles. We roamed much further from our homes and parents than the children of today can. We experienced a civility and a freedom that seems to be sadly lacking in today's society. We enjoyed what, in my opinion, was much better music than most of what passes for music today as evidenced by the choices submitted to you that you have included in the Lee's Traveller these last several weeks. We made lasting friendships and bonds with others from school who are special and strong role models.
To all the Lee Generals, hang in there. We have to have been tough and strong to survive what life has thrown at us to reach our current ages.
Subject: Stories Wanted
Great issue last week; as always, Rainer's contribution was stellar, and also very personal. You and I both wish that other classmates would be inspired to share some of their own unique life stories, including The Good, The Bad, and even The Ugly. Being able to share the joys, triumphs and even failures of overcoming life's struggles to reach our advanced age over the past 50-plus years is one (or should be) of our most treasured and valued brotherhood / sisterhood emotions.
For example, I would love to read about, say, John Wayne Turrentine's career as an FBI Special Agent (at least, what he can divulge), Phil Stewart's similar career as a Special Ops Officer in the military (Army, I think), Bill Beatty's heart attack>>stent, Butch Adcock's Coronary Bypass Surgery, Ken Megginson's career as an educator in Mobile County, Carolyn Burgess Featheringill's law career, J.R. Brook's taking down the Ku Klux Klan in North Alabama (I read about it in "Newsweek" many years ago; was VERY proud of his story), Jim McBride's songwriting saga in Nashville, and all the personal experiences of our classmates who served in the military.
Here is hoping our classmates are inspired to write in a bit of personal history, such as Rainer has done so well in this week's edition.