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Tales of parties at an idle Grange Hall — and kisses that might have been

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Posted: Monday, April 27, 2009 10:00 pm

When we were kids, we really did have a basic respect for the law and the people who were responsible for the administration of not only the law, but good manners and polite deportment.

I suppose I could stop this story right here, because if what I have thus far written were as honest as the average politician says he is, I would have been sitting home every night in front of the mirror making certain that my halo was on straight, and there would be no story to tell.

One of the places kids in my age group held parties was in an unused Grange Hall a ways out of town. I was never privy to when and where those parties were to be held, but the Internet has nothing on how lightning-fast party information made its way through the teenage population here in Lodi. We were all there before the Pepsis were cold.

I have a hunch one of the kids at the Grange Hall party had access to the key to the joint, because of the two I attended, both were populated by kids from a couple of snooty cliques here in town and there was no evidence of a break-in at the hall. Besides, the electricity was on and that seemed odd, even then. The last thing anyone at that kind of party wanted was any kind of interference and/or attendance by people with badges on their chests, not to mention a possible early evening trip home escorted by a couple of guys who either didn't have a dental plan or simply smiled as much as a Doberman tracking a serial killer. Either way, the way the gendarmerie functioned in those days was to lecture the hell out of you as they were escorting you to your house with the intention of becoming better acquainted with your parents - not a pleasant way to end an evening.

The average high-schooler in those pristine days did have his heart set on a good-night kiss, but being escorted home by a cop sorta took away all the fun, much less the possibility of osculation.

I did get a ride home one afternoon during my junior year on Senior Ditch Day when I took a couple of "wet paint" signs off the new parking meters Downtown, was caught red-handed (well, silver-handed) and was invited into the back seat of the black-and-white and queried for what seemed like 10 hours about how much the cop grilling me thought my dad (a good friend of the cop, by the way) would enjoy getting silver paint on his new Sunday suit, because there was no sign on the parking meter since he was destined to brush against it some time that day before the paint dried, yada-yada-yada.

The second party I attended at the Grange took place some time later, and it was there that I became acquainted with a certain cutie pie, Miss Esmeralda Eloise McGillicuddy (not here real name, but she did share a real name with another real young lady, but that real lady didn't resemble the cutie pie even on whit). It turned out that Esmeralda was going steady with a guy named Bob, who was really big and would have frowned on my (so far) tacit plans to take her home and get the aforementioned heart-melting kiss.

So, I might just as well have gone home with the cop escort, because I ended up kiss-less yet again. Robert Burns must have been thinking of me when he wrote that business about the plans of mice and men "gang oft awry." Once in a while was OK, but getting aced out every time? Geez!

Let's talk about salt in the wound. I very quietly developed a soft spot in my heart for Esmeralda, and it didn't help that I saw her in school again and again. The end of the school year came around and she signed my year book with not only some sweet talk, but a direct reference to that Grange party and how much she would have like to have been given a ride home with me and another "Bob" and his friend in his 1931 Model A Ford.

Ah, well. She married that first Bob and they lived happily ever after. Well, if six months is what you call "ever after." I don't remember being invited to that wedding, come to think of it.

Bob Bader is a writer and a practicing chiropractor. He can be reached at bobyo@softcom.net.

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