Lib Finger, Mother and Caroline and Me – 1959

The spring before Caroline and Linda, Carolyn and Phyllis left for college, Mother and her best friend, Lib Finger, got together and decided to have a dance for Caroline and me. It would be held in the Morganton Community Center, and it would be formal, and we could invite a ton of friends. I remember wondering, at the time, if we’d call it a birthday dance or a party or just a dance, and who we’d invite and all the other things, including whether it would be fun for everyone or turn out like the New Year’s Eve dance where everyone felt a little odd under bright lights with grown-ups everywhere watching, as if it were a competition of some kind. And then I realized how Mother and Lib Finger seemed like school-girls themselves as they giggled over whatever plans they were making. I had asked Mother a while back if she had a best friend, or if she just had lots of friends like Lorene Litaker and Lib Waller or Iola Gaylord and Kathleen Connelly and the other teachers. She had smiled and said, “Well, I guess if I had a best friend, it would be Lib Finger. We laugh a lot together and she’s one of those people I feel easy around, like I feel with Eloise and Ione .” I was surprised to see Mother so free. And I was always happier to see her laughing and having a relaxed time, especially when she was around her friends.

Mother made me a gorgeous three-quarter / tea-length gown of soft-pink silk and taffeta, very fashionable for the spring of ’59, but which, unfortunately, did nothing for the horrible habit I had for slumping my shoulders and causing the “stand up straight” reminder every five minutes. It’s just what happens when you’re flat way after all the other girls aren’t, and then suddenly you’re not flat any more, and you wish you were again. Anyway, the styles dictated a tightly fitting torso to the bust, and then a puffy, gathered top, actually called ruching (though the form was usually reserved for collars or smaller areas on clothing.) Mother had worked too hard on it for me to ask her to bring it down a notch or two, so I just slumped my shoulders way more, and dealt with it.

Funny, but I don’t remember if or how Caroline and I participated in the planning of the affair – maybe because Mother and Lib Finger were having too good a time doing it. I do know that Caroline and I did some serious hoping that it would be a huge success, though I am rather sure her personality, bubbly as it was, kept her from worrying like I did about feeling shy while welcoming our friends and guests and making sure they were having a really good time. The thought had occurred to me, though I shoved it down really fast, that this was our last big “hoorah” before the “tier above us” (Caroline, Carolyn, Linda and Phyllis) would leave us to our own senior year memories, and that made me really sad. But again, we were having a dance, and that was a pretty big “something” to look forward to. And a “something” we’d remember for years to come.

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