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170515 May 15, 2017

The Fireball - Part 2
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

    Last week our story left us with...    

    The crushing experience left an impact on my young mind.  I felt like a fool, dazed beyond words.  I just stood there, with the two of them together.  I didn't even get a second-place hug.  I was so embarrassed by the event that I didn't stay long enough to see if she would hug me when she finally let go of him.  I didn't really want to know.  I dropped my head and must have looked like Eeyore as I skated off feeling sorry for myself, as the band played "Should auld acquaintance be forgot ...."

    To continue the saga

   It was not in the cards she would ever be my girlfriend, but still remains a Facebook friend even today. I did not lose my best friend over that either, but later we parted ways over another girl. I am happy to say time heals all wounds and he is back to being a friend today. Later in my future I finally found the girlfriend and skating partner I had looked for in my thousands of revolutions around the wooden skate rink floor. It was more than puppy-love, but too rocky to survive a commitment. Still, we would spend many wonderful hours together on wheels. By my senior year in high school we had gone steady and broken-up at least four times. The last time had been in the beginning of the year.

    By my final year of high school roller skating had become less frequent for me though.  The local teen dances at Bradley's Cafeteria and the National Guard Armory had replaced its attraction in my existence.  It was purely physical. You never could get as close to a girl when you were skating as you could in a nice slow dance to a song like "Theme from a Summer Place" or "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."  It wouldn't be fair to say you never got as close on skates because sometimes you did.  Sometimes you got a lot closer, whether you planned to or not.  There were times when you ended up on top of your partner when your wheel ran over a piece of discarded chewing gum on the floor or you tumbled over other skaters who had already fallen in front of you. It took great reaction skills to stop in time. 

    So, that special night in 1964, on one of my final nights before graduation, I felt a compelling draw to a make a final pilgrimage to the skating rink.  None of the males in my current crowd were skaters and knowing my final days in my home town were numbered I wanted no opposite sex commitments to leave me heart broken when it came time to depart.  I was feeling melancholy and the memories of my earlier days were strong and because of them, I found the urge to go back to the skating rink, even if it was a solo trek.  The girls of my past would not be there.  They had all moved on to other boys and other activities. For that reason, I spent the evening rolling around in circles alone and thinking of the past.  I remembered skating with Carol Jean Williams, Sarajane Steigerwald, Barbara Seeley, Sherry Adcock, Pam Grooms, Carolyn McCutcheon, Dianne Hughey, and Ginger Cagle.  I even remembered other nameless girls who wouldn't skate with me when I asked.  I watched the ten and eleven-year-old boys and girls with whom I now skated and wondered if they were aware of what they had ahead of them.  It made me smile.

    Yet, whether it is in search of lost youth, old friends, or who knows what, we seem compelled to return to those places which hold fond memories of our past.  It's like the lost dogs we read about who cross several states to return to their old homes and masters.  Whatever steers them must affect humans in the same way sometimes.  A voice keeps calling us back, but when we arrive, the voice belongs to a stranger.  In reality, the stranger is not the stranger we see, but us instead.  We are strangers in an un-strange land.  The places are the same.  The people were there and they all seem to know each other, but not me.  They were having a good time.  I was the one who no longer seemed to belong.  A strange time-warp seemed to have me trapped, keeping me from returning to the fun I once knew. My skating partners for the night were my memories.

    Yes, a strange force drew me back to the skating rink that night.  That same force is a constant in the changing universe of our lives, and it is strong.  The force seems destine to draw us back to the good times of our lives and compels us to remember when things were not quite as complicated and worries were not as big as today.

    That force is our own memory.

        Memphis, TN -


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