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Girls of summer II (02/20/2005)
By Janet Lewis Burns

Kids, don't try this in your hometown. After all, it was a different world back in the mellow 50s and 60s. Strolling the streets of "Smallville" USA was common back then. Today folks power-walk and jog, but seldom stroll, especially after dark, and not young girls just fooling around.

The two friends, who thrived on heated discussions, instigated cat fights with the Catholic girls (because it got someone's dander up). They bragged that they didn't have to fasten lacy veils to their hair with bobby-pins to go to church and weren't subjected to sweaty-palmed Catechism classes during school hours.

They had Sunday School, with cookies, Kool-Aid, and action stories. Just for further agitation, the instigators dropped powerful names like Oral Roberts, Martin Luther, Lawrence Welk, and the Holy Ghost.

The Arches Farmer's Park was a vast playground with no rules - "BB" (before boys). These two were tough, tackling the park's rapids as they ventured across frigid, rushing waters. Foliage-thick, foreboding hills, inundated with rattlers and skunks, maybe Big Foot, were no obstacles.

Beyond tended grasses, where thorny, tangled brambles had to be flattened by hand, there looms the hidden arch, more mossy and sweaty than the popular ones folks drive through. There the tomboys encountered blue racer snakes and skipped frogs across murky waters. Up into steep hills, on stone sharp paths, mud often made for some quick ascents.

Open wounds, grass stains and muddy behinds were par for their course. Their bottles of Spring Grove cream soda and root beer, warmed flat, were retrieved from the squirrel hole high in the truck of a tree. Swinging, breaking through familiar spaces, shifting skies seemed more within grasp, at an age of transition.

There was no drug peddling on the streets of Lewiston, neither in deep, lashing shadows of mammoth trees nor in alleys tucked between downtown businesses - not today's variety, anyhow. The only "drugs," under lock and key, were purchased with prescriptions, at Rose Neumann's Drug Store.

Word on the street had it that if one was to drop a couple aspirin in a bottle of Pepsi, that you could get quite a buzz on. The rumor was proven unreliable.

During noon hours, high school kids were allowed to bring their rock ‘n roll records to accompany those with pent-up energy, as they reeled and rocked to such spinners as Chubby Checker's "Peppermint Twist," "Rock Around the Clock," "Great Balls of Fire," and "Wipe Out" (a personal favorite). In the era of carefree abandon, it was common for a girl to boogie woogie with another girl.

Neat guys danced up a storm, with their slicked-back hair and sideburns, and unrefined mannerisms. Girls swooned to their smooth moves, as they slow danced and stole whispers in halls between classes. There was always that "latest scoop," shared in notes passed during study hall.

The two friends stuck together through seasons of camaraderie. It was discovered, however, that the "buddy-system" doesn't work well with dating. A couple blind dates were a strain on their relationship. "Ah, please, it's his friend. He said his acne problem is under control. You'll dig him!" Yah, right!

Because the parents of the nearly-country gal, living on the outskirts, were so "with the program," the class of 1963 decorated, and otherwise blew off, all of their homecoming floats out in their shed. Go Cards go! A great excuse to get out of supper dishes for at least two weeks, it usually became a last-night's frenzy of chicken wire and tissue, a shortage of crepe paper, floppy signs, and a good share of tiffs and pranks.

Those girls of summer, 1960 something, had not imagined, as yet, that they would ever go their separate ways...but as their worlds grew larger and more dissimilar, as Lewiston High School became but a fond memory, the impact of "graduation" sunk in.

Today's streets of their hometown no longer preserve and shelter what had been their innocent exchanges and sugarcoated dreams, the enthusiastic glow of possibility.

Later dates... 


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