An Event: Dancing with Lela May

I fulfilled one of my fantasies last Saturday when Tam and I went to the Twin Bridges High School Alumnae Association all-class banquet. These are unusual affairs where you can see three generations of the same family—all TBHS alumnae—telling stories about when they were in school.

You might hear about the Class of ’42 and their hand-made yearbook. When World War II shut down commercial printing, the students went to the typing lab and painstakingly assembled an annual for every one of their classmates.

You might hear a member of the Class of ’56 complain that the last Montana Class C high school state football championship was stolen from them. The team won the game on Thanksgiving Day, 1955, in a blizzard so bad officials discontinued Class C football championships. They also took back the trophy because there was an overage player on the team—not a key player, you understand.

You probably would hear someone from any class of the 60s recall the time a portly fourth-grade teacher got stuck in the chute fire escape during a drill and the extra recess that resulted while a janitor extricated the poor woman.

About 120 people feasted on a simple lettuce salad, baked potato and slabs of prime rib. (Twin Bridges is beef ranching country.) The oldest alumna was from the class of 1934. The honor classes were from years ending in zero.

The honor graduate was Ray White of the class of 1942. Ray came to the state orphans’ home in Twin Bridges as a boy and attended TBHS from there. He says the bookkeeping classes he took in high school launched his successful career as an accountant. Ninety-year-old Ray now shows his gratitude by providing scholarships for college-bound students from his alma mater.

None of my classmates (Class of ’63) showed up, so Tam and I sat at a table with one of my brothers (Class of ’59), his wife, and a friend, Jon (Class of ’60). Because Jon was three years ahead of me, I didn’t know him well in high school, but when I was at the University of Montana, Jon came there for a masters and joined my circle of friends. He dated Tam for a while and I think their relationship was serious.

When the festivities at the school ended, we went downtown with Jon for a comprehensive Twin Bridges pub-crawl (both bars). I had promised Jon’s wife that I would protect him from the widows and divorcees in his class.

While Tam and Jon drank beer and fought mosquitoes in front of the Blue Anchor, I went inside to the restroom. That’s when I saw Lela May (Class of 60). When I was young Lela May was the fuel for my adolescent fantasies—raven black hair, flashy make-up and tight black pants that bulged in all the right places. She was three grades ahead of me—way out of my league—and I knew it.

“Am I blocking your way,” she asked when I stopped in front of her.

“No,” I replied, “I’m getting up the nerve to ask you to dance.”

She smiled and waited for a new song from the over-amped cowboy band. Then she offered her hand and I escorted her to the dance floor.

I still have unfulfilled fantasies, but I can tick one more off my list. I danced with Lela May.


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