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Looking Back to 1971-Our Senior Prom

It was a pivotal night for me in so many ways...

Ah, June, that poignant month for graduations and proms.  What teenager doesn’t fantasize about going to the prom, decked in their finery, ready to splurge on a night of fancy?

I was seeing a fellow that year named Alan. He was a colorful character, very bright, witty, and a real iconoclast. In fact, he wore suits to school during a time that bell-bottoms, tie-dye and love beads were all the rage. Maybe he was the real rebel?

Naturally, Alan asked me to the prom. I accepted.

Back then; I don’t remember people renting limos. At least, in my circle of friends they didn’t. The guy just borrowed the parents’ car, and promised to have his date home by midnight.  Right! Like that’s really going to happen when hormones are raging, and the evening is filled with promise.

The prom was held at the Odyssey Restaurant in Granada Hills, overlooking the San Fernando Valley. In fact, that’s where we had our 40th reunion last year, which was so memorable.

Since I was sort of a hippie, I think I wore my red Indian print dress, along with my leather sandals, no bra, and love beads.  I doubt I even had a corsage. I probably didn’t even know what that was. I’m sure I thought it was some sort of exercise regimen.

I probably would have preferred something like a lilac wreath around my head. Alan probably wore a tuxedo.

Alan’s family car was a Plymouth, a sci-fi looking boat-sized sedan with lots of buttons on the dashboard. As I recall, it looked like that car Christine in that Stephen King movie, the green hue of the instruments always giving off that eerie hue. The car was large enough for make-out sessions, since it didn’t have bucket seats, so it was perfect for dating, or hauling other kids around on double dates.

I don’t remember much about the prom, except some fancy food, slow dancing, and enjoying the company of my twin sister Teresa who was dating Alan’s best friend, Steve. 

After dinner, someone came up with a bright idea to go to the beach.  Leo Carrillo was the destination of choice, as it had many caves, and could shelter us from the elements.

Soon we were headed over the Sepulveda pass and onto PCH. It was probably close to midnight when we arrived, the waves cascading their iridescent foam all over the rocks.  Romance was in the air.

I’m sure Alan thought he’d get lucky that night, but that didn’t happen.

Another classmate brought a fellow I hadn’t met before named Daniel.  Daniel was very different than any fellow I had encountered at NHHS. He was quiet, spiritual, artistic and seemingly wise beyond his years.

His outlook seemed far above the pedestrian antics exhibited by most high school boys.  I was immediately drawn to him. He played the flute, practiced meditation, and was a vegetarian.

Although I was there with Alan, my mind kept wandering over to Daniel. I was swept under his spell, much like those who followed that Jim Jones character. And look what happened to them...

Daniel and I saw each other for several months until his life took an unfortunate turn a few years later. Thankfully, at that time, I was no longer seeing him.

But that night at Leo Carrillo was a pivotal one for me.

Maybe that’s what proms are all about. 

teresa mcgrath May 22, 2012 at 02:14 PM
nice article mary....i recall we didn't care whether we went to the prom, and alan and steve asked us at the last minute...we said sure, not knowing what to expect during those turbulent times...i remember wearing my old standby dress, the dark blue velvet number i would wear while working at the reaniassance fair in agoura. i didn't wear dresses or skirts then, but there was a dress code i think, and we had to be lemmings. steve and alan were outcasts like us, so we had a fun time. the beach was fabulous too.
Mary McGrath May 22, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Oh, thanks for filling in the gaps Teresa! I'm glad you remembered some of the details...
teresa mcgrath May 22, 2012 at 02:37 PM
not many, as those were dazed and confused times...wink wink
Linda Sellers May 22, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I would love to see pics of your Indian and Renaissance dresses. I had mine made at the same prom/bridal shop as my big sister and it looked so 60's that all that was missing was the bouffant. Plus the umpire cut made me look pregnant. We all went to the beach with a group to watch the sunrise. We all should have been denied our diplomas after that. I wonder how many guys actually got lucky on prom night, certainly not mine.
Andy Steiner May 22, 2012 at 10:56 PM
My date was a girl who went to Poly. She majored in horticulture and asked if I would allow her to make her own corsage. She did and also made me a unique boutonniere which I proudly wore. I even pressed it and kept it for a few decades but it seems to have been lost in the recent spate of moves. I borrowed my father's car, a brand new Dodge Challenge. Even though it had bucket seats, she sat on the hard plastic center console just so she could be closer to me. As proud as that made me, I put her back in the passenger seat and fastened the seat belt around her. After all, I had made a promise to get her home safely. My favorite memory of the night was ending up at Farrell's after the dance. Maybe 25-30 of us. Scott Pollard was there too so when the check came and the waitress wanted to know who wanted it, we all pointed to Scott. I was honestly worried that he was going to get stuck paying a good portion of it from his pocket, but as it turned out, we were all an honest bunch. Scott handled all the money and didn't even have to reach in his pocket to cover his share.
Mary McGrath May 23, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Hey Linda, I don't have that dress anymore....nor do I have a photo of it...We wore our hair long, parted down the middle, but I'm sure many went to the hairdresser. Hey, some of the guys had hair as long as mine!
Mary McGrath May 23, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Andy, your memory always astounds me. Thanks for sharing your story. And I do remember Farrel's....
teresa mcgrath May 23, 2012 at 01:44 PM
great stories andy and linda...linda, i'll try to locate the photo and post it to fb....i think i got it at a thrift store....hated those umpire waist dresses...ugh...thx for the memories
Mary McGrath May 23, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Umpires should be reserved for baseball.
Mary McGrath May 23, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Just uploaded a photo of my sister and her prom date! Thanks for sharing Teresa...check it out!
teresa mcgrath May 23, 2012 at 05:24 PM
loved that blue velvet dress...i recall the big metal adornment on the shoes..thx mary
Mary McGrath May 26, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Probably would have preferred to wear tie-dye bell bottoms and tennis shoes...

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