“Pretty girls in pretty dresses”

I drove up to my office on Saturday afternoon, which I often do when I am in town.  There is no one around, no phones, very few emails, and most importantly no interruptions. The perfect time to catch up on overdue tasks.  
I was surprised to see the parking lot full, including the overflow parking lot.  There must be something going on at the nearby Olive Theater, I thought to myself.  When I saw a limousine, I remembered what was happening that evening; Prom 2017.
Some of the area’s finest young men and women were decked out in the latest, greatest fashions. They were accompanied by parents, grandparents, nieces, nephews, and any other family or friend that wanted to see their loved ones all dressed up.
It has become somewhat of a tradition for pictures for Prom to be taken at our Home Office.  We are happy to share the gardens, deck and porch of the beautiful old home with Seminole County’s best young people.  
There were professional photographers on site, along with more iPhones than you could find in an Apple Store. I snuck in a side door, and for the next several hours quietly worked at my desk while being treated to a show, a rite of passage, happening just outside my windows.
Things have certainly changed in the 45 years since my Senior Prom at Dothan High School.  Dothan High was so large at the time there was only room for the Seniors to attend.   The only way a Junior could go to the Prom was to be asked by a Senior.  
I was lucky enough to be asked by a Senior, Linda Covert.  We had a nice time.  The next year, I asked a Junior who had been a good friend of mind for years, Ronnie Kay Douglas. We also had a good time that evening.
The dance was followed by a breakfast, then a movie at Northside Cinema Theater. We were out late, but everyone was safe and in hindsight, things were somewhat controlled.  
There is only one picture taken that I can recall, as we did not have cameras on our phone. In fact, we did not have phones.  There was no way to call and tell your parents you were going to be late, so it was just better to be home on time.
I drove to at least one of the Proms in my trusty old blue Plymouth Fury I, with the dent in the trunk. I don’t know if it entered my mind about a limousine for the evening.  I know we didn’t go to Panama City, at least not for dinner.
Parents were not allowed to come to the dance, unless maybe they were chaperones.   I remember the teachers being chaperones, but not so much the parents.  I had never seen a “Lead Out” attended by the town folk until I moved to Donalsonville.
The fashion has changed over the years.  Not so much for the guys, although the tuxedos can be as dramatic as you would like.  I wore a white dinner jacket with black trim.  Classic.
The girls, though, have an opportunity to dress like a star or a queen for the night.   The girls were beautiful, all of them.   Some dresses were dramatic, some more subtle; just like the girls that were wearing them.   Some might have been a bit shy or perhaps a little self-conscious, but they were gorgeous just the same.   
I still marvel at all the things that can be done with a girl’s hair.   All the florists work their magic in all sorts of ways with the flowers that were as stunning as the girls that wore them.
Many a Dad’s heart tugged at the sight of his little girl all dressed up.  Some Mothers didn’t want to talk too much, the sight of their little boys and girls all grown up being a bit emotional.
I hope some of the guys attending have the chance to look back 45 years from now and remember a special night with a special girl.  In any case, it was a delightful way to spend a Saturday afternoon, watching all the pretty girls wearing their pretty dresses.
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]

        

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