Memories and Musings: The powder blue suit

Published 10:17 am Monday, February 22, 2021

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By Gene Gallelli

While rummaging around the upstairs storage space, I chanced upon a photo album my mom had kept. It was buried in a frazzled cardboard box that has made at least six moves full of items that had been long forgotten.

Most of the pictures in mom’s album were of our extended family and scanned a period from approximately 1937 to the late 1960s. The black-and-white, frozen images — many fragile and faded — recalled many close family get-together along with the baptisms, first communions and weddings of every first, second and third cousin known to our family. There were fewer photos of aunts and uncles because they took most of the pictures.

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Since I have always been a dyed-in-the-wool romantic and nostalgia buff, I lingered over many of the photos allowing memories to flash back shotgun style. (There was one of my mom and dad embracing sometime in the late 1930s in a driveway in front of a vintage Ford that brought tears to my eyes.)

As I progressed through the pages of my family’s past, mom’s album became more and more flimsy and I was doing my best to keep it together when two large, eight-by-ten photos dropped to the floor. The first one I picked up I recognized as a picture from a college dance of me and a girl named Bonnie that I had a freshman year crush on. The second photo I picked up and gazed upon was of a tall, beautiful girl in a formal gown, arm-in-arm with a medium-size geek wearing — of all things — a powder blue suit and white bucks. Unfortunately, it was ME at my senior prom! How I survived the night by not getting mobbed by my classmates remains a mystery.

Actually, the reason I remained safe from attack was because my mom and dad were at the prom because I was one of the prom chairpersons, all of whom also had parents who were invited.

There was one memorable difference: Most of the parents sat quietly in the gym perimeter and watched their children and dates dance; occasionally a few danced to a slow Glen Miller tune like Moonlight Serenade.

Not my parents! My dad, who imagined himself to be Fred Astaire and my mom to be Ginger Rogers, slow danced, jitterbugged and bunny-hopped the night away. (I would hear about it in classes from all the teacher chaperones who were at the dance.) Jeannie, my date, and I danced all the slow ones because I hadn’t yet learned how to jitterbug.

After the dance, a group of us went out for burgers or hot dogs — how classy — and then took our dates home hoping to hear, “I had a great time,” and maybe get a goodnight kiss.

It was my lucky night because I got both.

Gene Gallelli was Associate Superintendent of the Dare County Schools for eight years. He received his Doctor of Education degree from East Carolina University, where he taught and supervised students studying to become school administrators.