Memories and Musings: The school locker

Published 3:47 pm Thursday, July 7, 2022

By Gene Gallelli

It’s safe to say that almost every student had several “crushes” while navigating the four years of high school and I was no exception. However, none of them was the catalyst for physical harm until one in particular my senior year. Her name was Rosemary.

Most of the girls I had a crush on in ninth grade were cheerleaders and going steady with someone on the basketball or football team, so even asking them to dance in the gym after a ball game was considered dangerous and irresponsible. I don’t believe I ever took the risk.

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My junior year (11th grade) I actually had several dates with a sophomore who was a cheerleader and even took her to the junior prom. But when she didn’t want to “go steady,” I got the message and we became just friends. Usually when that happens, you can expect her to begin signing your yearbook, “To a really nice guy!” or “To a great friend!” Oh well, it could be worse.

Then my senior year, I made the mistake of having a heart-pounding crush on the most popular girl in my class: Rosemary.

She wasn’t a cheerleader, but she was the drum major of the high school marching band. Actually, we were good friends, primarily because we loved music and the same musical artists, especially The Four Freshmen.

Rosemary and I would almost always have one dance in the gym after all the ball games. They were “friendship” dances to her, but heaven to me.

During those sometimes wonderful, sometimes dreadful high school years, when confidence was difficult to come by, relationships could be fragile. Peer pressure was too often the basis for making bad decisions, even when deep inside you knew they were bad. I made one of those decisions.

Over a chocolate sundae (vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and salted peanuts) at Sweetland, our hangout, I let it slip to a “friend” that I had this big crush on Rosemary. It was all over the school early the next morning before the first bell. Rosemary ignored me and her current boyfriend confronted me, but not belligerently. Whew!

Just a few days later, one of the most embarrassing moments of my high school life occurred.

It was early in the morning and I was getting the textbooks I would need for the day out of my locker when I heard someone call my name from the end of the row. It was Rosemary and she was smiling. But, since my ego had been shattered by her ignoring me, I had decided to play it cool.

In high school nothing could be cooler than leaning your elbow against your locker and whispering, “Hi!” I did that, but forgot my locker door was open and fell clumsily into the locker, banging my head on one of its unforgiving hooks. I had to go to the school nurse’s office to get the small gash cleaned and bandaged.

Can you guess what was all over the school before second period?

Rosemary and I remained good friends throughout our last year in high school, then I heard she married a musician and was the vocalist in his band – she had a great, jazzy voice.

At our 50th class reunion, I looked for everyone who had been in our small class and she was among the several that did not attend.

I must admit while writing this, that locker incident came vividly back; not as a horrible embarrassment, but as a wonderful, laughable memory.

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.

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