|Me - 1957 - at a crossroads|
|My Mom, Betty Hadfield - 1939|
|My Mom in her only schoolgirl photo - 1939|
|Me wrapped up in my Sousaphone - 1959|
|Vivian - voted "Quietist in her class" - Ironically she's pictured with a Sousaphone, my band instrument - 1957|
|Last picture of me on my bike - 1955|
Vivian and I went out on dates but they were always double dates with my friend Larry. I remember once when we went to the Exton Drive-In. Larry and his Paramour of the Moment were in the front seat of his '54 Ford steaming up the windows and Viv and I were in the back trying to see the movie through those same steamed up windows. I think I did slide my arm around her shoulders and she cuddled in a little closer to me but that was as close as we came to petting (look it up) that night.
|Vivian - far right - 1957|
Then came the time of Vivian's senior prom. Of course I was expected to ask her to her senior prom, since we were boyfriend/girlfriend. What to do? I didn't have a car. I would have to ask my father if I could borrow his car. He never loaned me his car before and I didn't think he ever would but this was a DATE to the SENIOR PROM.
|My senior prom - 1959|
I finally gathered up enough courage to ask him. Even though this was my father I was always intimidated by him. Just ask any of my friends, he intimidated them also.
|My dad, The Intimidator - no, this isn't a mug shot - it is his employee ID at Lukenweld when he was 21 years old|
I thought I chose a good time to ask him to borrow his car. Two of his younger brothers were visiting him and they were joking around in the living room. I was cleaning the bathroom (cleaning our house was my responsibility and I did a great job). As I exited the bathroom to empty a pail of dirty water I casually asked him "Pop, can I borrow your car to take Vivian to her senior prom?" He immediately said "No!" and then continued his joking around with his brothers. I don't know what I said but it was very disrespectful, the most disrespectful I've ever been to him in my life at that point (and since actually).
As I was returning to the bathroom, he turned me around and gave me a solid punch to my jaw and said "Don't you ever talk to me like that again or I'll kill you!"
I lost my balance and fell part way into the bathtub. My uncles heard what happened and all went silent in our little ranch style living room. I was going to cry but decided not to, I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he hurt me. My father had beaten us before (my brothers and I) but never with his fist. Always with a belt and never any real damage. More fear and noise of that swinging belt than damage. He never used the buckle side like his father did on him which left permanent scars on his back. My father didn't leave a physical scar that day but he left a big emotional scar. I had embarrassed him in front of his brothers and that was an unforgivable sin. I never asked him again to borrow his car.
Then I did something for which I have been forever ashamed of myself - I stood up Vivian for her senior prom. What was I thinking? How did I think I could get away with doing such a dastardly and cowardly act? Needless to say I was at my most self-absorbed, selfish, adolescent self at that time, feeling tremendously sorry for myself and not thinking of Vivian's feelings.
|Me - 1958 - my Junior year in high school ( I hated this picture)|
That Monday when I went back to school I was peppered with questions from some of my bandmates and class members:
"Where were you?"
"Why didn't you take Vivian to her senior prom?"
I don't remember exactly what I told everyone but I'm sure it was some lame assed excuse. I think I called Vivian and told her I was sorry but I couldn't get the car. I know, lame.
Much to Vivian's credit, she didn't hold my selfishness against me. She said she "understood."
For the next few months we continued to be boyfriend/girlfriend. I did take her to her Senior Graduation Party at St. Joseph's Lodge in Downingtown.
I remember us walking outside on that June night, holding hands. I informed her that I was going to join the Army because I couldn't find a job. Now here's the thing, if I could have found a job I would have married Vivian. Yes, I would. Remember, this was back in the Fifties when peer and societal pressure was so great there was no alternative for a burgeoning gay guy to come to gripes with is life situation. Yes, I would have been one of those gay guys who got married and proceeded to ruin two lives by living a lie. Thank God I couldn't find a job or else I would have traveled down that dead end road.
|Ron in the Army! - 1962|
|Me with a Senior Prom date I did keep - Susie - 1958|
Only able to keep this date because I double dated with my friend Larry and his date Sonja
Larry drove his 1954 Ford - Don't I look thrilled? Body English folks, body english