It is hard to believe that Mother’s Day and Prom are both coming up this next weekend. Prom begs many questions: What was it like that year? Is it still in your favorite memories? What did you wear? Where did you go and how was the gymnasium decorated?
In my mother’s time, there was a junior-senior banquet, with no music or dancing. The girls wore formal dresses, and she believed the boys got "dressed up," but not in tuxedos. The banquet was held in the gymnasium, because back in those days, there was no school cafeteria.
The mothers of the junior students prepared the meal and the dinner was then served by the sophomore students. Eventually, the banquet became a tea or luncheon, which soon disappeared from the Prom scene.
My mother also remembers a theme selected for the banquet. She doesn't remember fine details, but does remember there was a make believe radio station, appropriately with the "call numbers" being Korn.
Most of the boys were obliged to drive the family car; I would wager few young people owned their own car back in those “good old days.” This annual affair served as a great way to perform an overhaul cleaning of the family vehicle. If anything, the car had a good re-polishing.
At that time, only junior and senior students from Ellendale, no "outsiders,” were allowed to attend. That eventually changed when juniors and seniors started seriously dating sophomores. Actually, it became a "big thing" to bring a date from a different community, especially if they were particularly stylish, beautiful or handsome.
Attire changed through the years. Many of the earlier dresses were designed and made by the girl or her mother. Some were extravagantly bought at about $39. The dress was worn for both the junior and senior proms.
My mother remembers her favorite dress, with bold colored flowers worn by Alice Richards. It was the talk and envy of all the girls. Through the years, the Misgen girls had some spectacular dresses, probably made by their mother or Aunt Audrey.
I would guess that tuxedos became the “thing” to wear over time. A brave soul may have tried something new, and then the next year, there were more followers. One year, "tuxs" trended more towards white, but then tapered off to just a few.
Vests matched dresses - garters were worn by the guys on top of their suit coat sleeves. Corsages were worn on the left shoulder and went to the wrist. One year, the fashion statement was black, and another year slinky and sequined was all the rage. Bouffant dresses were trendy in the early progression of proms, gave way for awhile, and now this style is coming back with billowing skirts, tucks and layers. The original pink, blue and yellows of yesteryear are in style again, but cost a great deal of money.
Back then, one put their own hair, which was usually long, up with bobby pins. A few got "waved" at a beauty shop. Now most girls frequent the beauty salon for a style they hope will wow their date and the spectators. Many are given the works from pedicures to manicures, facials, and of course you have to have a wonderfully tan to go with the new dress.
Shoes have gone up and down to the highest and the lowest of styles, including "flip flops," but not the $1.98 kind you find at the dollar store. This silver and gold footwear are found more at expensive department stories, and are more comfy for dancing.
Every year brings its own trends and individuality. The same goes for limousines that ran their course and sort of faded out. This faded fad is probably due to the fact that the guy eventually had more ability to buy their own vehicles as the years went on.
Somewhere along the way it became important to "go somewhere" after the prom. Now it’s usually the security of the "After Prom Party," which is probably the most fun for all. Every year, Dan Nelson works with the parents of the junior and senior students to get the whole event planned.
Dan and Terry Jensen have probably hosted all of the parties held at the Geneva Community Center since it began years ago.
A long tradition that had been held in New Richland was students obtaining their prom tickets at the New Richland Care Center. This allowed the care center residents to see the "pretty couples" decked out in the finest of attire. Some years, the juniors and seniors came to the care center to have a Senior Citizens prom. I am sure that it was a thrill for those elderly folks who probably never experienced a prom before.
It has been fun rooting through old Ellendale Raider annuals to try and piece together that era in the lives of many of our area residents. My best bet is that the first prom started in about 1951. The first ones had a banquet too. What was eaten is hard to tell; with that excitement for such a big event at school, who could remember.
The annual Junior-Senior banquet in 1947 was "The Circus." In 1949, the theme of the banquet was "Southern Plantation.” The 1951 "The Raider Howls" annual stated that a great number of the previous year’s activities centered around the purpose of raising money for the Junior-Senior Banquet.
The 1952 "Raider" asks this: “What shall be the prom theme?” The theme they selected was "Fairyland,” which was carried out in silver, gold and green decorations. Albert Lea Swing Band furnished the music.
The Raider in 1953 said the junior class spent a great deal of their activities raising money for the Junior-Senior prom in 1952. The theme the junior class selected for the event was "Apple Blossoms in Moonlight." The theme for the junior-senior prom held in 1953 was "Harbor Lights."
The waitresses were all dressed in sailor-type attire. The theme back in 1954 was "Hawaiian Sunset," and Lenny Wavrin provided the music. Eventually, bands gave way to disc jockeys,, as it became too expensive for the classes to hire them.
I guess I could have done some more "researching" in the annuals, but I don't think that our paper would have allowed me that much space.
So what do you remember about your prom? What comes to mind about this major event of the spring school year for you? For most, prom and graduation were the last big things you experienced in your junior and senior years of high school.
It is hard to believe that some of the people who will be there to witness the grand march this year will be seeing their grandchildren and great grandchildren making their own memories of this big high school event.
Birthdays and annivesaries:
• Thursday, May 5th: Mckenzie Lynn Jensen, her 10th; Alexis Janning, his 10th; Jeff Draayer, Shirley Jensen, Melody Krenke, Ron Langlie, Ryan Larson, Shirley Swearingen, Amber Obermoller, Dennis Sauke, Martin Whelan, Erik & Shannon Smith, their 10th; John & Lucille Nechanicky, Tim & Jolene Sorenson, Kevin & Annie Avery
• Friday, May 6th: Caleb Scott Harpel, his 11th; Tracy Haddy, Cheryl Nelson, Iris Jensen, Brandon Wallace, Bill Vavra, Tim Wilker, Jennifer & Michael Vetsch, their 11th, Bill & Judith Hatch
• Saturday, May 7th: Brody Hanson, Brian Jensen, John Snyder, Nancy Swearingen Grant, Brian Johnson, Heidi & Jason Owen, their 5th, Bryan & Diane Brighton, Heidi (Crabtree) & Jason Owen, their 6th
• Sunday, May 8th: Olivia Kay Smith, her 5th; Kristina Follien, Marguerite Christensen Nelson, Ronald Wangsness, Elizabeth Bremer, Sandy Neubauer
• Monday, May 9th: Elli Pearl Baker, Aidan Jeffrey Schlaak, his 4th; John Jensen, Sue Pence, Jake Simmons, Vi Callahan, Julie Haroldson, Sue Hohansee, Audrey Horan, Karol Carroll, Njole Aaseth, Rachelle Doran, Carolyn Greer, Karla Kelly, Jerry Westrum, Jill (Ottesen) & Cam Kehne
• Tuesday, May 10th: Tari (Walterman) Erickson, Ryan Callahan, Tina Nelson, Steve Nielsen, Christine Ingvaldson, Dave Oeljenbrun, Mary Wilker, Brody Johnson, Mark & Sara Misgen, Rande & Jamie Nelson
• Wednesday, May 11th: Michaela Ann Hanielton, Jaxon Edward Beavens and Parker Reese Beavens, their 6th; Carol Cromwell Cox, Ed Haberman, Krista Hanson, Troy Janka, Daniel Robertson, Robert Vaith, Loretta Schewe, Scott & Shannon Pacholl
• Thursday, May 12th: Everal Lageson, Richie Robinson, Dorothy Jensen, Larry & Jean Klocek
• Friday, May 13th: Brooklyn Christine DuBois, her 8th; David Richards, Rose Glienke, Troy Donahue, Curt Esplan, John Nechanicky, Holly Pence, Tracy Swearingen, Larry Schmidt, Reed Thostenson, Rose Glienke, Alan & Kathy Knudson, John & Barbara Olson
I wish you sunshine, flowers and many, wonderful days ahead.