Sunday, May 8, 2016


Sometimes a never-forgotten scene is brought back by a snip of a song or an overheard conversation. For me a memory returned when I put on my blue graduation gown and cap.   

I looked in the mirror and the year shifted from 2016 to 1944, from Phoenix to Indianapolis.  

This week I will be on the way to graduate at Hoy Stadium, Phoenix College.   The scene in the mirror showed the auditorium at Shortridge High School.  The blue graduation cap was perked on a blonde 16 year old instead of the gray head of an 88 year old. 

Sixty-nine years had disappeared in a flicker of time.  Once again I floated two feet above the ground.  A sparkly engagement ring lit up my third finger, left hand.  It was huge.  When I flashed my hand around for the admirers, it could be seen across the room.  

Time kept flickering, jumping fifty years.  The rings would be handed to my grandson for his wife and the diamond had shrunk to a tiny size.   I could see only a tiny sparkle . . . and my sweetheart’s smile, his brown eyes dancing, when he asked me to wear it.

Back to the past once more.  The second World War had not yet come to its explosive ending.  Most soldiers still fought on the battlefields.  My hero arrived home early on a medical discharge and had already returned to a waiting job and pharmacy school.

At the graduation dance my handsome warrior stood out among the youngsters and the 4F’s not eligible for draft.  In this era of wartime, so many beautiful, talented young women were actively looking for boyfriends.  And yet this very eligible bachelor loved me.  He had proposed to a clumsy, gawky 16-year old who didn’t know how to cook or understand his profession or how to be a wife.  

Memories returned of walking on air, feet not touching the surface.  Does first love always give that feeling of being enclosed in a vapory cloud, nothing harmful could reach me? Or was it the wartime hysteria of living every moment today because there may not be a tomorrow?

That 1944 high school ceremony was a blur. After I was handed my certificate, I hurried to find my waiting fiancé (oh, how I loved that word). 

Duane removed my cap, giving me a kiss while doing so, and my heart could have burst.  I could still feel his hands on my shoulders as I took off my 2016 gown, his love remained strong through the years.   

 At that time I wore a white, button down the front, rayon dress.  Mom and I had searched all the stores in downtown Indianapolis to find something to fit my ten dollar budget.  We succeeded at Lerner’s.   

This dress would be worn again at our secret marriage in Martinsville on my 17th birthday.  Although my love had asked me to marry him right after graduation, I believed that 16 was too young an age to marry and so we waited. 

The graduation dance was held at a downtown Indianapolis hotel with a name band orchestra and the wartime songs.  "I'll Get By (As Long as I Have You)" , "Bésame Mucho)" and “Always.”  Yes, I’ll be loving you Always, our song for the time we had.  

 Oh, a night that belonged to once-in-a-lifetime memory.  The evening gowns that danced around us were sophisticated and expensive.  Taps on the shoulder took my partner away from me for short periods of time.  He always returned quickly to the young looking girl dressed in her ten dollar short white dress, not at all appropriate for the fancy ball.  

I was unaware of the contrast.  Dancing with others, I made missteps, inept in following.  In my lover’s arm, I swept around the floor with grace and a smile that would not leave my face.  I wanted this time to stay with me forever.    

The music ended, the stars were put away and morning appeared.  

Graduation crowds from all around the city were descending on Ferguson’s, an all-night restaurant on Washington Street.  I could barely stay awake while we ate bacon and eggs. 

Then the hour came for me to go to work.  Vacation days didn’t exist then.    Duane drove me to the trucking office where I would be pounding the billing machine. 

 I didn’t want to leave him, like a little kid pleading, “Please take me home with you.”  But we both knew that was impossible.  He walked me up the cricketedy steps to the office, met up with a couple of the local truck drivers at my company, said “Take care of her.”

My good guys piled their jackets on a long wooden bench, covered their kid typist with a coat and I slept.  I awoke, worked hard to make up for lost time and filed away the day of my graduation. 

We did marry and produced a son before the fickle finger of fate caused us to part. Destiny brought us back together to be married on my birthday once again 38 years later.  

College courses were begun at Indiana University, Bloomington, in 1945.  Stop and start, credits were added.  The graduation of a great granddaughter was the impetus for me to finish my two year college and earn an A.A. decree. 

When I wear the blue graduation cap and gown again this week, the past will be with me, a joyful time that hurts around the edges.   


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Amanda. We both understand those long ago happy days.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Chris. I'm following your adventures also. Thursday I will be giving a short talk, "Follow Your Dream" and I think we both know what that is all about!

  3. Aw Mom, you are beautiful then and now!