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Peggy Horton: Proms change, from '47 Plymouth to limo

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I won't say I'm getting old, but when my husband and I went on our first date, he picked me up in a 1947 Plymouth that was several years old. Stick-shift, of course. His hair was bleached blond, which was a fad in our high school days, and he sported white buck shoes. I don't remember for certain, but I probably wore a full skirt with a crinoline petticoat underneath and brown-and-white saddle oxfords. And I'm sure my hair was in a ponytail.

Gasoline was 25 cents a gallon and movies were just 50 cents. It doesn't sound like dates were very expensive until you learn that minimum wage was only $1 an hour.

You could buy a brand-new car for around $1,500, but who had $1,500? According to statistics, middle-class Americans had incomes between $3,000 and $10,000 per year.

That seems so long ago. And it was, but the vast changes that have taken place since then boggle the mind!

Fast-forward almost a half-century: Several Saturdays ago, our young grandson escorted a lovely young lady to a high school prom. Dressed elegantly in coordinating outfits, they smiled and posed for an hour or more while pictures were taken of them and the couple with whom they were double-dating. Then they were picked up by a shiny, black limousine and driven to an upscale restaurant for dinner before being delivered to the prom.

We could have had at least a year's worth of dates on what was spent on that one evening. She wore a beautiful, long gown with accessories to match and had her hair done professionally, while he rented a harmonizing tuxedo, bought a wrist corsage for her and a matching boutonniere for himself, made reservations for dinner, and, last but not least, rented the limousine!

When the young man I eventually married and I went to our senior prom, I too wore a long gown with matching accessories, and he bought me a corsage, but that's where the similarity ends. I did my own hair; he wore dress pants and a white sport coat and picked me up in the '47 Plymouth. My mother took a few pictures of us with her Kodak camera. We went straight to the prom. After it was over, we and some of our friends went to a restaurant for a late snack and then went home.

The most exciting event of our high school days was over!

I wonder if there'll still be senior proms 50 years from now. If so, how different will things be than they are today?

Obviously, I won't be around to see for myself, but my imagination conjures another grandmother -- perhaps one of my granddaughters -- writing, as I have, about the astonishing changes she's seen in her lifetime.

And, like mine, her heart will swell with emotion as she recalls the sweetness of her youth.

Peggy Horton, of Nitro, may be emailed at pegylu@suddenlink.net.


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