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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published April 24 2011

Halgrimson: Prom memories: Stuffed animals, ‘smooching’

When The Forum asked readers to share memories and photos of their proms, I took a trip back in time and remembered my senior prom – in 1958 – at Fargo Central High School.

It started in a bed at St. Luke’s hospital where, the day before the prom, Dr. V.G. Borland had removed my appendix. Borland’s daughter was not only a classmate but also a good friend of mine.

As I recall, I wanted to draw a diagram on my belly to indicate where the incision should be so as not to go above the line of a bikini I had gotten in France a few years earlier. My mother wouldn’t let me do it.

Regardless, prom customs were a little different then.

At that time, the guys often gave the girls a stuffed animal rather than a corsage for prom. The day after my surgery, my date, Bo Jarfors, came to the hospital with a fuzzy little dog. It had a music box inside and when you turned the dog’s tail, it played, “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?”

Since my memories of my prom were not the usual ones, I emailed a few questions to about 10 of my classmates to collect their pre- and post-prom anecdotes.

No one responded.

So I called six of them. Their memories were dim and dimmer, to put it mildly. So much for some once-in-a-lifetime recollections. Fairy tales? I don’t think so.

However, I did garner a few flashbacks.

My old friend Barb Hoaby said her date was classmate Ray Smith, and when I asked her what they did after the dance, she said they parked and smooched.

Margaret Hamilton in Minnesota went to the prom with classmate Gordie Aamoth.

Sue Bohlig in Michigan remembered her date was Brad Ansley and that her dress was strapless and pumpkin-colored with a white eyelet in which the zipper got caught. She has children and grandchildren and said that what she likes about proms today is that girls can go in a group without dates.

Jim Teigen in California said his date was Bev Forsberg and that after the dance, a bunch of them went out to El Zagal bowl, turned on their car radios and danced some more. Jim had a 1938 Chevy.

Norm Wolseth didn’t remember anything, but he thought “How Fargo of You” by Marc de Celle was a great book and that I should read it.

However, when I called Dave Williams in Iowa, I hit pay dirt. Dave not only remembered his junior date, Mary Weible, but his senior date, Susan Akeley. He said Susan wore one of the most beautiful dresses he had ever seen. It was emerald green.

For both the junior and senior dances, Dave bought a white sport coat and wore a pink carnation. Classmates will remember the significance of that.

Best of all, Dave fished through a box of memorabilia and found the following announcement from the Fargo Central High School Cynosure, Thursday, March 20, 1958:

“Dinez Vous? Dansez Vous? Rendezvous?

“Committees are buzzing with activity as this year’s Junior Senior Banquet and Prom creep nearer and nearer. The theme for the event on April 26 will be Parisian Rendezvous.

“The banquet will be held at Concordia with the dance following at Ben Franklin. Francis Colby will provide music for the dance. The Parisian theme will be carried out in the decorations.

“The entertainment and decoration committees are working hard to make this prom the biggest and best ever. Gary Hunt is chairman of the entertainment committee and Marianne Stafne and Kay Hulebak are heading the decoration committee.”

I went to my first formal dance with Dave Williams at the Tree Top when we were freshmen at Ben Franklin. When I talked to him, he remembered the color of my dress, too. What a guy.


Readers can contact Forum columnist Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at ahalgrimson@forumcomm.com