When I was a young lass we had something in Fairview (before
the Heights) called "TeenTown." I
imagined my older brothers going to a little village set up just for
teenagers. They’d have a street where the teens in their letter
jackets and Brealcreamed hair; poodle skirts and pony tails would hang
out. They’d have a soda fountain and play "Rock Around the
Clock." There would be dancing, hand-holding, and a
I got to eighth grade, rumors of the evils of "TeenTown"
ran rampant. Sister Mary Anthony (a.k.a. Tony the Tiger) took it upon
herself to warn the nubile girls. So, into church we marched one day and
she read us the riot act. We were putting ourselves in "the near
occasion of sin" category, if we so much as thought of going to
that din of Sodom of Gomorrah. Why there were boys there who went to
(horrors!)...public high school. (gasp)
the rumor mill grist turned ugly. Some of the eight grade girls had
indeed lent a deaf ear to the good Sister’s warning and actually went
to TeenTown. I can
still see "Tony" standing in front of our class, her long
Adorer’s of the Precious Blood habit billowing from the heat radiating
from her soul saying, "It saddens me to hear that some of the girls
in this class went to…TeenTown. (spit
erupted from her teeth as she punctuated the last two words). Put your
heads down on your desk and cover them with your arms. Now, every girl
that has gone to TeenTown...stand
had my head down on my desk, but I was peeking through the cracks in my
arms. I hadn’t gone to TeenTown, but I
wanted to know who had dared to go where no "good" Catholic
girl had gone before. Oh, there were the loose girls to be sure, but the
true pained expression came when she discovered that the
goodie-two-shoes had gone. What shame! They let the Blessed Virgin Mary
down. They weren’t stamping out the serpent but letting it in!
(In?…in where? I was rather naive, to say the least) Their souls were
in mortal danger of eternal damnation….
next week I went! I couldn’t wait to see what all the hoopla was
about. You can’t imagine my dismay. TeenTown: boys on
one side of the gym - the girls on the other. Somebody played 45’s on
a small record player. For the most part, the girls danced with girls
during the fast numbers. Then, the occasional slow tune came on, and a
few of the boys shyly walked over to the girls’ side and asked for a
dance. I longed for one of the "cool" guys to come over ask me
to dance, to let me know that I was sooooo cool, but I was such a nerd.
No one ever asked me to dance except Dennis. He was a neighborhood
playmate that was also considered a fellow nerd. So, we often paired up
for the last dance - "It’s Three O’clock in the Morning"
or "Harbor Lights." Promptly at it was over. Oh yeah, it was a scene right out of
"Streetcar Named Desire" ( a “C” rated picture by the
Catholic Legion of Decency) all right.
I was a freshman (now at an all girls CatholicHigh
school), I went
Halloween Dance. I loved dressing up and especially for Halloween. And,
like Sue, I usually went as a hobo or ghost. But, this year I decided to
go as a "vamp." I found a long, slinky black dress, wore a
long black wig and had a see-through plastic mask that distorted my
face. I carried around a lantern to give me a "mysterious"
look. Eat your heart out, Elvira!
knew who I was. I got some rather provocative looks from the boys. It
was great. There was another teen that dressed up as a scarecrow. He had
completely obliterated his face and no one knew who he was. The awards
were given out at the end. It was decided the two winners, the Vamp and
the Scarecrow, would dance the last dance and take off their masks.
Perhaps, this was my coming out party. Now, I’d be dancing with the
coolest, the hippest teen. There we were waltzing around to "It’s
Three O’clock in the Morning," and we took off our masks. It was
Dennis!! I guess it was destiny.
Dennis was a "public" and after a brief romance of holding
hands, we went our separate ways. I ended up marrying a good Catholic
boy, Larry, and lost track of my old childhood friend.
Several years ago I happened
to see his obituary in the local paper. He had moved to San Francisco and was in the Navy. A pang
of sadness entered my heart. I thought of Dennis and I waltzing around
at that Halloween dance. What had he thought, when I took off my mask?
Was he expecting to see the coolest, the hottest teenage girl? Was he
disappointed or happy to see his neighborhood sweetheart? I guess I’ll
never know. But I bet he remembered that special moment when we both
wore masks and we both were accepted by the others as we won first
place. And, now, even though much time has passed, Dennis will always
have a first place in my heart.End