Rick Houser: Put your hand in mine

Clermont County's Rick Houser has released a second book, this one titled "Memories from the Heart."

I really don’t know just why but in the spring of the year I get a thought that seems to come to me. It has been over a half of a century ago but to tell you all the truth I can close my eyes and look back and see clearly what was. I’m standing at the entryway to the old school gym at Felicity. The strangest part is that the gym doesn’t look anything at all like a place where basketball would have been played.

No as a matter of fact I am standing at the entryway in a white tuxedo. Beside me is a pretty young girl all dressed up in a pink gown and wearing a sharp corsage that is the color of the gown so as to match. No matter how hard I try to adjust my eyes the scene stays just like that. The student body of the school is all there in attendance and the gym is decorated in a theme entitled “A Parisian Night”. You are all right in seeing that it is indeed Prom night at Felicity High School!

There are couples at tables scattered around the gym and on the stage is a live band that in all honesty is playing good songs. We had all just come from the multipurpose room where we had enjoyed the Proms evening meal and now were entering to the main event of the entire year if it was rated by importance and the Prom was the most important. I know as the band began to play I could feel the evening coming to life. Maybe the second song played was “ Don’t let the sun catch you crying” Even though I was not Fred Astaire I still wanted to take my date out onto the dance floor and to some extent impress her that I could slow dance. Not only dance but at no time did I step on her feet. As couples began to dance the floor slowly filled until almost everyone was out there just having a good time.

Slow dancing is not so very hard as a couple join hands with one hand in another and the opposite hands holding each other. As this is happening the couple take a step forward then back and rock from side to side so that a couple can feel they are in a motion that is theirs and theirs alone. I really did enjoy slow dancing. The motion gave a feeling that we were in a gliding motion. (In reality couples barely moved yet they were convinced they did.) I think the band would play a fast number and then a slow number and keep this up for the entire dance. The next slow dance might be “Oh Donna” or “Stand by me”. One thing for certain and it could not be declared an official dance unless “The House of the Rising Sun “was played. I think it was the state law or something.

I learned how to two step from my sister Peg. On a few summer nights she put Dean Martin records on the stereo and encouraged me to dance with her. With her help I enjoyed many dances. Also Mr. Ramey and Mr. Delfine worked with the high school kids so we developed a few social graces and learned there was another way of having fun. Who knows but maybe the band would be able to play “unchained Melody” If they could you learned that that song is a long playing song and you are gonna be on the dance floor way past your abilities. (At least I know I was.

When you got prepared for the Prom you put a couple of hours at least into preparation. Like I said I was wearing a white tuxedo with a ruffled shirt with a boutonniere. I had polished my shoes twice to a point where you could see yourself in the shoe. I had also waxed my car to as shinny as I could make it. With a fresh haircut and a good dash of English Leather behind my ears I was dressed to my best. As a matter of fact this was the attempted goal of every person in attendance that night.

When you attend the Junior/Senior Prom it is the first real chance we got to come forward and get to carry out an entire evening being the one who is the adult and in the lead. It is the first time one of us feels really grown up and have any feeling like a grown up. At least that was the feelings I got. I think the issue here was that just like Cinderella that after midnight we were going to return to being a child in school again. Growing up was going to have to wait for a couple more years when it takes us over to become a grown up even if we don’t feel ready for it yet.

The thing was that as the night moved onward the band would play another slow song. Maybe this time it would be ‘fools fall in love”. Also even though we all began the evening looking our best all the activities of an evening well spent would cause us to begin to unravel and maybe we didn’t have the shirt as tucked in or the hair had every strand in place. So we came undone a little. We were having our first best time of our lives. Why as the evening moved on we would even venture out onto the dance floor and try out hands at a fast song. I learned that the secret to fast dancing was NEVER stop and look at how we were dancing. Just a small glance could be enough to embarrass you back to the table for the remainder of the evening.

With the clock moving steadily toward midnight and the Proms end none of us really wanted to see our night off the leash so to speak end. The band gave us fair warning that it was the last dance. With us all ready to do that last dance we might of herd was “all I have to do is dream.” With that last dance another prom ended and a year of thinking back on what occurred or might have but didn’t and then the wait for another year began. To this day when spring rolls around and I guess my age really doesn’t enter into the event I think back on how it was and I am only going to say this once. I am going to think back as to how I thought it went. “Why do fools fall in love:”

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.