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Reminiscing on memories of proms long past

There were not many events in high school we looked forward to more than the junior/senior prom. Everyone from their freshman year up looked forward to the year their class got to attend. The junior/senior was exactly that, and only juniors and seniors or invited guests could attend. So we had to wait!

Our sophomore year was the first year we could attend and then only as waiters and waitresses. There were 18 of us dressed in a costume and we did exactly as our title described, we waited tables. Selected by the junior class, waiters and waitresses did a dance during intermission that had been rehearsed over and over again. Then after the intermission we headed for the cafeteria to serve the juniors and seniors their meal.  First it was the seniors because the event was for them and then we served the juniors.  Serving juniors there was always a lot of teasing because of the outfits we were wearing. Never forget Ross Boyer, Phil Edwards, Joe Stalls, Tommy Langley and Lee Drake wanting more and more just to get me to their table so they could tease me. That went with the territory and we were just glad to be there. Our junior year, it was our turn to treat the then juniors, soon to be seniors, and we did just that. Like the junior classes before us had done.

Everyone can remember their date to the prom and I invited May-I Dudley (Taylor) our junior year in high school. We had been friends for years and she had not started dating Joe. May-I was fun and we always had fun together. The boys started thinking about their date in January because the prom was usually in April and you had to ask early, unless you were dating someone steady. We practiced what we would say up until the day came when we asked and then we all held our breath, hoping for a YES.  

The prom brought out the best in us all!  We polished our cars and shined our shoes and dressed to the “Nines”. May-I was as pretty as ever. Pictures were taken at the home of your date but I do not remember many being taken because the use of cameras were not that important in our day. We had a great night and after the prom we were treated to breakfast at Eleanor Rollins’s home in Washington Park. The Turnage had a movie for us to see hoping to keep prom goers off the road. We all had a ball!

In our senior year my date was the late Claudia Gardner (Parvin) who at that time was dating Leon Mason. Leon was playing football at NCSU and had spring practice that year so Claudia and I attended the prom together. Like May-I, we had been friends for years and I was fortunate to have her as my date. We danced the night away and then I took her home to change clothes into something more comfortable so that we could attend the movie at the Turnage. That Saturday we left for the Gerard’s home at Blount’s Creek.

Walter and Virginia Gerard had invited a group to their summer home for a sleepover and all we had to do was bring our steak. I went to Mr. Paul Leggett’s and Mr. Leggett cut me two steaks that he thought would be appropriate and the Gerard’s furnished the rest. Just good friends having a good time but the whole week-end, I worried about Leon. Claudia told me that there was nothing to worry about but I knew how fast he was and I could never out run Leon. Nothing happened, Claudia was exactly right, so we had a ball from Friday through Sunday.

Looking back on my days in high school that was one of most enjoyable weekends we as juniors and seniors had during our high school days. Thankfully, I had two of my best friends as dates and would not have asked anyone else. Could not have been more fun!  We all remember Claudia with her big smile and friendly face!

I am sorry that the Class of 2020 missed such an important event in their years as a high school student. There are memories made that they will miss and for that I am sorry. It is my hope that the Class of 2021 will not be denied the junior/senior prom but with COVID-19, I can certainly understand. My fingers are crossed for you!

They were the best of times and with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, N.C.! The Original Washington!

Harold Jr.