No doubt, details of dating days date me

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, September 28, 2011

During my high-school days, I did my share of dating, especially after I got my first car.

She was a beauty — the car. My dates were lookers, too. I paid $100 for a candy-apple red, 1963 Dodge Lancer. It had chrome rims, a push-button transmission and was previously owned by a man who used to race it. I don’t know for sure, but I believe his wife persuaded him to sell it and use the money he would have spent on it to make home improvements. Because he lived next door, I would see him look longingly at the car when it was parked in my family’s driveway.

During high school, I dated two sets of twin sisters, but not at the same time. Two of the girls were the daughters of a state senator. The other two girls lived a block from me. Both sets were identical twins, but each girl in each set possessed distinct qualities that made them easily recognizable.

Those were some interesting times. Not only did the sisters share information about the boys they were dating, the two sets of twins also shared information about their dates, which included me, my cousin Randy and other boys at Paul M. Dorman High School.

Then it happened. I met a girl from James F. Byrnes High School just down Interstate 85. I lived in Spartanburg, S.C. She lived in Duncan, S.C. She thought my candy-apple red, dripping-with-chrome Dodge Lancer was “cute.” If anyone was able to discern “cute,” this girl had the qualifications. She was beauty-pageant gorgeous and about as country as it gets. She knew the words to “Please Help Me I’m Falling” and “Silver Wings.”

Sad to say, I cannot recall her name. I do remember her face. She was the upstate South Carolina version of Cybill Shepherd.

In those days, most high-school students in Spartanburg ate at the Beacon drive-in at some point during their dates. I took my share of dates there. I wouldn’t mind a “chili cheese a-plenty” right now. For the uninitiated, that’s a chili cheeseburger with mounds of fried potatoes and onions on the side.

Well, this cutie-pie preferred to eat at the Steeple drive-in, which was less than a mile from where I lived. I knew it, and its menu, well. The Steeple had a daily special — fried chicken livers and gizzards, a roll, fries and iced tea — that cost about $2 (perhaps a bit less) in those days (early 1970s). This girl loved that special.

She preferred it to a steak at the Piedmont Steak House, a visit to an all-you-can-eat buffet at a fish camp or a chili cheese a-plenty at the Beacon. And on those occasions she did not get the special, she usually opted for a toasted pimento-cheese sandwich, onion rings and iced tea, also for under $2.

I tried to persuade her to order whatever she desired and not to worry about the cost. I was working a part-time job and making about $50 a week, with benefits (I was entitled to one free soda each time I refilled the soda machine in the office of the nursery and landscaping business where I worked). I could afford to buy the girl a fancy meal.

When the girls at my high school found out I was dating a girl from a rival high school, they branded me a traitor. But what did I care? I was becoming cosmopolitan. I was dating a “foreigner,” testing the waters beyond my little corner of the world.

Besides, if they hadn’t had such expensive tastes and if they knew the words to “Silver Wings,” I probably wouldn’t have looked elsewhere for female companionship.

The Duncan Delight and I parted ways after our senior year in high school.

It doesn’t take much for me to remember her, just seeing someone eat fried chicken livers and gizzards or hearing Merle Haggard croon “Silver Wings.”

Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. His soda of choice when refilling the soda machine at work nearly 40 years ago was … Brownie chocolate soda, with Fresca his second choice when there were no Brownies to consume.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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