It's prom time again and oh how times have changed! Between the prom gowns and the events, today's proms are a world away from those in the late 1950s.

Our gowns were something out of Gone With The Wind, with crinolines and tight waists. The fuller the skirt, the prettier we felt.



Most of us were able to find a beautiful gown and crinolines that the local merchants had stocked especially for our proms, or sometimes, if we really got lucky, we could talk our parents into driving to Pittsburgh to go shopping at Kaufman's or Horne's Department Stores.

Our proms were held – OMG – in our gymnasium. No big bucks to rent a fancy catering hall-we did it ourselves. Themes like Krystal Kingdom and Isle of Dreams and we would jitterbug and romantically slow dance to local bands like Bobby Vinton.

My junior prom had a Paradise Island theme, a crate paper dream with palm trees and all of the things that a teenager would think of finding on a tropical Island minus Sandra Dee, Annette and Frankie.

The probability that most of us in the late 1950s living in a small blue collar steel town had never really been to a tropical island, except perhaps in the movies or our dreams, was almost certain. And that the local merchants would be solicited each year to let us borrow their window dressings was also almost certain. Without support of our business community our high school paradise could never have happened. Basically, our whole town was involved in our big night.

Our dates didn't rent chauffeured limos, but borrowed the family car and gave it a lot of teenage testosterone elbow grease to be sure that it was polished to a high shine.

And fathers gave strict warnings when handing over the car keys to their sons, and daughter's fathers gave strict warnings to be sure that his prize was brought home safely and at a decent hour unless they were allowed to go to the "After Glow", a place where we could go after the prom where our parents felt we would be safe.

We didn't stress about renting fancy limousines, asking our parents to come up with hundreds of dollars so that our prom venue would outdo all others and so that we could have the best designer short sexy dress. We were so happy to have what we had.

All we dreamed about was a date for the prom, a beautiful dress and a gym decked out to the max by our classmates. We were not a materialistic generation. We had aspirations, but knew we had to earn our future. That was the 50's generation, my time, and in my opinion, looking back, and although we probably didn't think twice about it then, those really were the best of times.


Sandra Hart Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.