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‘Taking Grandpa to prom’ — and other prom stories

By Janice Thompson

My mother passed away in January 1997. My parents had been married for over 50 years and my father was having difficulty dealing with life in general. My daughter, Elizabeth, was a senior at Pine Island High School that year and missed her grandmother terribly.

Elizabeth had been to the prom her junior year and was wondering who she would go with to her senior prom. She decided to ask her eighty-year-old grandfather, Harold Sheldon. At first "crazy Grandpa Harold" did not want to go, but Elizabeth has always been close to Grandpa and Grandma and they would never have disappointed her. Grandpa finally agreed and with the help of my sister, Grandpa Harold got all "decked out" in a tuxedo.

It was time for the Grand March in the school gym and I had concerns that Grandpa would get lost behind the curtains, or stumble on the stairs in the dark, or just get lost. But the Senior High "guys" (Joey, Scottie and Mike) all made sure Harold was ready to go when it was his turn. As Grandpa appeared from behind the curtain to escort Elizabeth for Grand March, the guys started chanting "Harold, Harold, Harold." Soon the whole audience started the cheer and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

Grandpa and Elizabeth went out to dinner with all the other youngsters but Grandpa came home before the dance. Elizabeth continued on with her friends to prom and post prom but will always remember fondly "taking Grandpa to Prom."

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... a little rain must fall

My prom, in 1993, was almost rained out by the worst flash flood in Sioux Falls’ history (5 - 7.5 inches in 3 hours). We knew it was getting bad when neighbor kids began floating through our backyard on innertubes.

Our plans to eat at a nice restaurant were quickly re-routed to McDonald’s. The road to it was only half a foot under water rather than one to two feet further down the road. Fortunately we lived on the same side of 41st St. as the school, so we did make it to the dance.

— Steve Fox, Rochester

Double-duty dress

We lived just outside a small town in Wisconsin, population 501. A family of five boys and one girl, me! This was back in the early 1940s. The king for the prom won by a voting process. He could ask whomever he wanted to be queen. When he asked me, I couldn’t give him a direct answer. I knew I didn’t have anything to wear and I knew I couldn’t dance! I was supposed to be happy for the invitation, but what to do?

My older brother and I had gone to southern Wisconsin for my sophomore, his junior, year. There were no buses where we lived in the country; we had no way to get to school. During this time, we met several very special people, one in particular. Her name was Betty. She was chosen queen in her school so she could, and did, purchase a lovely formal.

Their prom was one week earlier than ours, so she wore the formal to her prom, packed it in a box and mailed it to me. It arrived in time for me to wear it for our big day. Everything went well. But today, as I see the frenzy of young people searching for just the right dress for this occasion, it brings back memories of the past. We did what we had to do to make it!

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— Beth Bergstrom, Rochester

Will I see you again?

I didn’t realize that my actions were so improprietous until just recently — 45 years since the event. I broke up with my eleventh-grade high school sweetheart at our prom. While dancing on the John Marshall kitchen floor — which was where we held the prom then — I realized that she was psychotic and I HAD TO take action.

Half-way through the prom, I drove her home and she weepingly asked, "Will I see you again?"

"Of course," I lyingly told her.

Within weeks she was the eleventh-grade high school sweetheart of my best friend! (I told you she was psychotic!)

— Paul Davis, Rochester

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