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ArlingtonOpinion'Old School' column: Party creatures great and small

‘Old School’ column: Party creatures great and small

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by CAROL McEWEN, for the Sun Gazette

A classmate recently sent me a photo of her birthday party during our elementary-school days. There we were, smiling and eyeing that cake like Imelda Marcos at a shoe sale.

But those weren’t the only parties we had. There were parties for no reason, like the grade school one in my family’s empty two-car garage. A photo shows it festooned with crepe paper streamers and balloons while my 45 rpm record player, a stack of records waiting, rests on my mom’s card table.

We weren’t old enough yet to be self-conscious, so we were dancing up a storm. Boys and girls. TOGETHER. Most of us girls (myself included), were a head taller than our dancing partners, but it didn’t bother anyone. We took our cue from Bill Haley and were rockin’ around the clock.


In sixth grade, several of us took ballroom dancing lessons, where Donny, my boyfriend, and I learned to jitterbug. Between classes, we’d practice in his basement, playing his juke box, which lit up like a fire truck headed to a fire. We two chubby kids chose favorites with the best beat, having a blast.

By high school, the dancing ebbed, even as the number of parties grew.
My sister and her husband, ever generous, allowed me to host a party at their house. All the cool guys came, attracted not by us girls, but by the bumper pool table in the basement. Music played in the background, but no dancing happened. That table was just too tempting.

I can’t remember the Beatnik Party, but I have pictures of it, so I must have been there. The host, Jim, our class president and later the town judge, invited us while his parents were in Florida. As Jim so succinctly put it years later, “Promises were made and promises were broken.”

The pictures show my high school pals wearing sunglasses and berets, while one of the boys plays bongos in the background. Cool, daddy-o.

Another favorite party was the Luau, given by one of the girls in the group. My mother whipped up a mu-mu for me, under which I wore a discreet slip. I was afraid my dad wouldn’t let me and my date out of the house, thinking it looked too much like a nightgown.

Any weekend party was the talk of the school on Monday. We Old School types thought it terribly racy, and I guess, for the times, it was!

Reach Carol McEwen at carolwrites4fun@gmail.com.

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