Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Recklessly Reelin' Through the Romance Roughs Retarded by Richard and Ronald. (Today's Letter is 'R', Boys and Girls.)


I had my first date with Peggy (pictured left) for the Junior Prom on April 25, 1958. We had dated all summer into the fall of our senior year. Peggy was a horsewoman and I had been to horseshows with her. We had bowled, played miniature golf, danced, been to the movies, and through all that time I had only kissed her good night. Our relationship jumped the shark on a double date with Richard Wilson at the Exton Drive-in, when like a shark, she attempted to bite off my thumb.

I was stunned by that action. Even though Peg and I had dated steadily for months I knew there was no magic, at least for me. I really don't know what she felt for me, but considering what was going to happen her feelings may have run deeper than my own. At any rate, shallow, selfish seventeen year old me wanted a way out, but I didn't quite know how to break it off gently and so we just kept on dating.

My friend from Downingtown, Ronald Tipton (right) unknowingly provided the solution.
It happened there was to be a dance at Downingtown High school and I got a phone call from Ron.
“I think we should double date,” he said.
“We can’t,” I said. “Downingtown doesn’t allow students from other schools in.”
“It does if they are dates of the opposite sex.”
“So?”
“So,” says Ronald, “I take Peggy in as my guest and my date takes you in as a guest and we switch inside.”
That would work, so we made the date.
Peggy and I pick Ronald up on the night of the dance. He directs me to his date’s home in Downingtown. We walk up and knock on the door. Her father lets us in. He is wearing a smoking jacket. The house is rather ornately furnished. There is a piano in the living room. Her mother rises from a chair. She has on a flower print dress. Their daughter enters the room and Ronald introduces her as Carmella. After some chitchat with the parents, we leave. As we head to my car (yes Ronald didn't drive either, so I chauffeured him just as I did Richard) Peggy takes my one elbow and Carmella takes my other.
At the car, Carmella jumps into the front seat first. I shrug. Ronald and Peggy slip in to the back and then I get in the Driver’s Side. We park at the high school and get out. I pull Ron aside and ask what’s going on. He says it is all right, I should walk with Carmella and he with Peggy and after we get in we’ll switch around as planned.
Only inside the switch doesn’t happen. Peggy sits down next to me and so does Carmella on the other side. I quickly understand that for what ever reason Carmella thinks I am her date. I am about to do another bad thing.
Carmella is quite a contrast to Peggy. She is dark to Peggy’s light. Peggy is a blond with pale skin and blue eyes. Carmella’s skin is very tan, her hair almost black and her eyes brown. This girl captivated me. I pay more attention to her than Peggy. I do nothing to convince her she is Ronald’s date. I dance with her more and I talk to her more and I barely notice Peggy sitting behind us.

It is not a fun drive from Downingtown to Bucktown that night. Peggy doesn’t speak. She leans against the passenger door looking angrily straight ahead. She runs from the car into her house when I drop her off. My dating of Peggy has ended.
My dating of Carmella Cressman or Carmella Baxter has begun. She was a girl with two names and I never did figure out which was the right one. I assume she was the daughter of her mother and another man. Her mother probably remarried, but did she marry Cressman or Baxter first? You can see some resemblance between the daughter and mother. The Philadelphia Orchestra or the Academy of Music employs Her father in some capacity. There is usually classical music playing in the home when I pick her up. They are very formal and genteel.
Carmella is warm to Peggy’s ice. I like her very much. I find her beautiful. I think this will last longer and with more fire than my time with Peggy. It might have if I had not made a fatal mistake or perhaps it was simply karma. I decided to show her off to Richard.
No, Richard did not steal her away.
I was cruising around with Richard (right). I am not sure anymore why we had come all the way to Downingtown, but since we were in the area I asked if he wanted to meet Carmella. I drove to her house and we went to the door. Her dad welcomed us inside. I introduced Richard and we were standing about chatting when Richard used some course language. I didn’t think it appropriate, but didn’t give it a lot of notice at that moment.
I gave it a lot of notice the next time I called up Carmella to ask if she wanted to go out. She wouldn’t be seeing me anymore I was told. Well, thank you, Richard!
I don’t know if he felt bad about what happened or not. It may have been his way to make it up
to me when he arranged a date with his cousin.  Pamela was a girl boys turned around to look at. She was beautiful. Not only did she look like a model, she had the grace of one. She was younger than me, but sophisticated. She had a sense of humor and she was fun to be around.
During this same period I was carrying on a correspondence with two girls whose address I got from Ronald Tipton, Dotti Juris in Philadelphia and Linda Wood in Canada. Never met them personally, but thought I'd throw it in to show I had a lot of lines out for a guy who didn't think he could get girls.
I began dating Pam steadily and would do so the rest of the year, but in the spring of 1959 it got complicated. Suzy entered my life.
I had known Suzy for a while. She was dating one of my friends, Jon. He was short and she
was short, so they got that cutest couple tag (right). They had been going steady since Tenth Grade. In the spring of 1959 something went sour between them. She was crying and I was sitting nearby and next thing you knew she was crying on my shoulder. In no time I was dating both Pam and Suzy.
There are people you like and there are people you really like. I liked Pam and she was very pretty, but Suzy touched something deeper in me. Pam was tall; Suzy was short. Pam was beautiful; Suzy was cute. Suzy was always smiling and she was adventurous.
Suzy was a pilot. She had a license and flew a Cessna out of Pottstown Airport. We went flying on Saturday mornings. Since she was only 17 she had to have an adult pilot with her when she flew. There were always three of us in the plane.
I wasn’t sure about this aspect of our going out. I was afraid of height, now I was on a runway in this tiny plane about to go higher than I had ever been. I was in the rear set. I could see the prop spinning as the plane gained speed down the runway. It was like a wavy yellow line. The plane rose and I gripped the edge of my seat tightly. I peeked out the side window and I could see the wheel below hanging over nothing. It made me feel the fear in my stomach. I found if I stared ahead I lost that terror. I stared straight ahead.
After the initial flight I came to relax more, although not totally. Still, I liked being in the air with her, even if we weren’t completely alone. It is a good thing we weren’t. One Saturday she flew south. She was following the Pottstown Pike. We were past the area of Pughtown and there was nothing below us now but trees. Suzy took the plane into a 180 bank. She took it too sharp or something. The engine conked out. Now we were simply coasting on a slight downward path over all those far away trees, which were getting less far away by the minute. Suzy was bouncing about throwing switches and so was the co-pilot. They got the engine started again and we flew directly back to the airport. Suzy stepped off the plane and threw up on the tarmac. Next Saturday we were flying again.
The Senior Prom was on the horizon. I had all ready asked Pamela, but now Suzy wanted to go
as well. I decided Ronald Tipton owed me for that mix up with Carmella and Peggy. I called him and asked if he would take Suzy to my Prom. He agreed, but explained he had a school band concert the same night. He played the Sousaphone. He said the concert would be over by eight thirty and since the Prom didn’t start until nine it shouldn’t be a problem. I figured we could make it from Downingtown to Owen J. in a half hour.
I went to Downingtown to pick up Ronald. Eight thirty came and the band played on. I was pacing the floor. We were going to be late. It was nine o’clock and finally the band finished up and Ron came out. He had to put his horn away and
change into his tux. We got that out of the way and I rushed him out the door. We had to pick up Suzy and then Pam. I was frantic. They were going to think we stood them up on prom night. As it was we were over an hour late getting to the dance, but everybody seemed to have a good time, maybe all except Ron. He was a little uncomfortable dancing cheek to belly button. Ron was six foot four and Suzy was four foot eleven.
There was a post prom party we attended and when that ended we joined some others from my class and went bowling in Reading. There we were in the wee hours of the morning with the girls bowling in their gowns. It was after dawn when we got the girls home. I didn’t get back from dropping Ronald off until 7:00 AM.
I guess it was that Jon and Suzy did make the cutest couple. She and he made up and she went back to being his steady before the year ended. I continued dating Pamela well into the summer after graduation.
Suzy and Jon did not get married. By the fifth reunion he was single and at helicopter school. She was married to someone else with two children.  Her adventurous spirit continued into adulthood. She took up motorcycles. One day she hit something on a ride that flipped her Harley and she suffered several serious injuries, including some damage to her nerves.

In 2001, I combined Suzy’s flying and motorcycle accident, Jon pilot career and Lane Keene’s hunting accident in to a story called, “Pour Out My Life at the Old German Tavern”.
Even though I enjoyed going with Suzy and Pamela there was still not that feeling of anything beyond having a fun time together. I wasn't really sure what kind of feeling I was expecting.
Then came the Russian.


2 comments:

anne marie in philly said...

it was nice to meet you at the blogger gathering. you and ron go waaaaaaaay back, it seems.

Ron said...

Lar,
How do you remember all these details? I didn't even remember that I had a band concert that night. I do remember Suzy though and when that picture was taken. I actually had a good time with Suzy. She was very nice. I also remember that after the prom dance, all of us went into the high school auditorium to watch a movie, "Written on the Wind" withy Dorothy Malone. Then I remember having breakfast at the school? We were up all night! I didn't really care for that but it was something different. And oh yes, thanks for the ride. If it wasn't for you and your car, I would have been housebound all my high school years.
Ron