|Susie Cannell and Ron Tipton - 1959 Bucktown Pennsylvania - Official Owen J. Roberts High School Prom picture (her prom)|
Time for another trip down Memory Lane folks. (Note: in the banner photo - I'm sixth from the left in the back row - Sophomore class photo taken 1956 Downingtown High School, Pennsylvania, and by the way folks, I can still identify EVERYONE in that Sophomore photo! How sad is that?)
This morning I read a long blog post from my longtime good friend (65 years and counting) Larry Meredith.
I met Larry in third grade when we were both ten years old. Larry had just outed me in our third grade teacher's class (Miss Ezrah) as having plagiarized a book report for a Scrooge McDuck comic book. Yes folks, even at the tender age of ten years old, I was already a manipulator.
I was giving the book report in front of the class when Larry, unprompted, said "I read that story in my Scrooge McDuck comic book!"
|Me, third grade photo - already a Little Manipulator|
I didn't remember this particular incident until Larry recounted it in one of his blog entries. But what happened afterwards sounded exactly like something I would do. Larry was worried that I would beat him up at recess because he exposed my source for my book report. Larry said I approached him at recess and said "You have Scrooge McDuck comic books?" Now that sounded like something I would do. Every the opportunist, I had just found a fellow comic book collector. I asked him "Do you want to trade comic books?" Thus we began a long friendship that has lasted even to this day. Oh sure, during the intervening sixty-five years there were gaps in which we didn't see each other for years, as is the case with all of us when life goes on. But from 3rd grade until I graduated from high school, Larry and I were best friends. We were especially close from 3rd grade until 9th grade when his family moved away from Downingtown. But even then we stayed in contact and double dated.
And this leads me up to the subject of today's blog posting - "Suzie Q". The "Suzie" is the young lady with whom I have my arm draped around rather reluctantly in our official high school 1959 Prom Date picture. This is the photo that has appeared at the end of this blog for years and which many of you have probably wondered what the history is of that photo. Okay, maybe most of you haven't wondered but I'm going to tell the story anyway with the help of Larry's latest blog posting.
|Larry's sketch of me - 1959|
A little background first on Larry's blog posting. He first writes about a double date I had arranged with him and a fellow band member of mine at Downingtown High School. More manipulation by me in securing a car ride because I didn't have a car. By the way, nothing much has changed over the years. Remember my stay last week in Philly? Pat rented a car to pick me up here in Delaware for the ride to Philly. And Larry picked me up in Philly to return me to Delaware. If nothing else I'm consistent not only in securing car rides but clever manipulation. Even after all these years. But I digress. Back to the story I've been teasing for numerous paragraphs now. By the way, this is a long blog. Lots of words from me and even more from Lar. Like me, Lar can be and is quite verbose but he does write well. So hang in there for a good story for the adventures of a couple of 50's teenagers embarking on their romantic adventures. By the way, Larry is straight and I am gay but of course back in that day Larry didn't know of my sexual proclivities. Heck, I didn't either except that I knew I was DIFFERENT. Sure, I went to the Senior Prom but I was looking at the guys. And funny thing, I thought I was the only one who was DIFFERENT. Hard to believe in this day of no privacy and everyone's innermost feelings exposed for all the world but back in the Fifties, "gay" wasn't even applied to my "condition." I was a HOMOSEXUAL. Which I equated with dirty old men spying on other men in public urinals and I knew I wasn't ONE OF THEM. So I was unique, a good boy who was turned on by some members of my own sex. And no, Larry wasn't one of them. Larry and I were just friends. Contrary to what some straight people think, not all gay men (or women for that matter) are attract to ALL members of their own sex. But I'm going on way too long this morning.
|Me - 1951 at a fishing rodeo - which I won!|
So what I'm going to do now is post part of Larry's blog recounting our mutual teenage dating history up to me taking his classmate Suzie Cannell to her and Larry's Senior Prom.
From No Sparks and a Bitten thumb to Sparks Gone Wild
light. Peggy is a blond with pale skin and blue eyes. Carmella’s skin is very tan, her hair almost black and her eyes brown. This girl captivated me. I pay more attention to her during the evening than Peggy. I do nothing to convince Carmella she is Ronald’s date. I dance with her more and I talk to her more and I have feelings toward her I never felt for Peggy.
At first I wasn’t sure about this aspect of our going out. I was afraid of height, now I was on a runway in this tiny plane about to go higher than I had ever been. I was in the rear set. I could see the prop spinning as the plane gained speed down the runway. It was like a wavy yellow line. The plane rose and I gripped the edge of my seat tightly. It is a wonder I didn’t pull out the stuffing. I peeked out the side window and I when I saw the wheel below hanging over nothing I felt fear in the pit of my stomach. I found if I stared ahead I lost that terror. I stared straight ahead.
Ron was six foot four and Suzy was four foot eleven. Does this look like a guy comfortable with his date? Or he may have been uncomfortable because of other secrets he was carrying.
There was a post prom party we attended and when that ended sometime around 2:00 AM we joined some others from my class and went bowling in Reading. There we were in the wee hours of the morning with the girls bowling in their gowns and we in our tux. We certainly brought elegance to the lanes. It was after dawn when we got the girls home. I didn’t get back from dropping Ronald off until 7:00 AM.
At our fifth class reunion I went to the bar to gets drinks for my wife and I. There was a studding blond sitting on a stool. She was wearing a black dress that barely covered her curvaceous body, and as they said about a character on Seinfeld, “they were spectacular!” I ordered my drinks and nodded at her. She smiled and said, “Hello, Larry.”