It’s prom time again, and I’m always reminded of Marty Robbins’ song, “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation,” though I doubt many students will be wearing that ’50s-era attire.
As I hear the annual buzz associated with high school students readying for the big event, I recall several proms from the past.
When I was a high school freshman, I was thrilled to be asked by an upperclassman to his senior prom. I wore a frothy yellow tea-length gown, and he was decked out in a white sport coat, accented by a plaid cummerbund and matching bow tie.
My date did wear a carnation — yellow, not pink — in his lapel, and he presented me with a wristlet of matching flowers to go with the color of my dress.
The occasion took place in a high school gymnasium, bedecked in crepe paper, and I wouldn’t have thought an elegant country club venue would have been any better — not that that was ever an option.
After the dance, we usually went to a restaurant considered by high schoolers to be pretty fancy. There were a string of them in the surrounding Baltimore area — Goetz’s, Buell’s, Desi’s, The Wagon Wheel and Peerce’s Plantation — that, to my knowledge, are no longer in existence, except for the latter one. Peerce’s was reopened in 2010 as The Grille at Peerce’s, located in Phoenix, Maryland.
Skipping to the next generation were my son’s and daughter’s proms, accented with just as much fanfare, though the costs were now on our shoulders. There was the rental of the light blue tuxedo with ruffled shirt and the cost of the boutonniere, corsage and dinner, to which our son contributed, a result of his part-time job.
Prom dresses could be somewhat pricey, though within reason. During the ’80s, the designers of the day were Gunney Sax and Jessica McClintock — both demure, lacy-type creations that my daughter and all of her friends had to have.
Of course, hair styling, manicures, shoes and purse were added to the cost, but nothing broke the bank. Most of the time, the proms continued to take place in high school gyms, though one year the senior prom was held in a country club.
Both children went to their proms with a group, sometimes in a limousine, later dining at a restaurant close by.
Prom traditions continued as the next generation fast-forwarded.
I experienced, once again, the same excitement when my husband and I took photos of our grandson dressed in his tuxedo, prior to picking up his date.
Later we were shown pictures of a well-dressed group of young men and women, sporting their fashion finery. Many black tuxedos were accented with brightly colored vests and ties. (No white jackets here, either.) Prom dresses were sleek, sophisticated cocktail dresses — a far cry from my frothy number.
To top off the occasion, our grandson and his group of friends rented a bus limousine.
That was about five years ago, and high school proms continue to live on, never ceasing to lose their aura of excitement, creating memorable moments with dates who are rarely seen again after graduation.
Except for those — like me — who married their prom date.
Dolly Merritt writes from Westminster.