Editor’s note: This is another column in Bill Boyd’s new series, “The Way It Was,” about growing up in Marysville. Bill continues to work with the Union County Historical Society to obtain information for his stories. With Marysville and Union County celebrating Bicentennial anniversaries in 2019 and 2020, respectively, these articles help depict what life was like in those early years.
A teenager’s senior year in high school is a pretty busy time, especially in the spring as graduation day approaches. That’s the way it was for me in 1950, and I would like to tell you a bit about it.
I think the thing that took up most of my time that spring was our senior play, a three-act comedy entitled, “Thanks to Maryann.” We rehearsed every night in the high school auditorium on West 6th Street. The play was directed by our high school principal, Ferne Mills. Although those rehearsals took up a lot of time, it was probably the most fun I had that year.
Then, there were the last track meets of the season, the Central District finals at Ohio Wesleyan and the State finals at OSU. One boy in our class, Bob Patterson, won the state championship in the long jump and the 440-yard dash.
Next on our schedule was Recognition Day, when awards were given to students for a host of school activities. Both kids and teachers gave talks about the year’s events. I talked about the basketball team that won 23 games that season. It was a very special day for all of us seniors.
But the thing I would like most to tell you about is the Marysville Alumni Association dance. It was an annual affair, in which the graduating class was formally taken into the organization. The dance was held in the high school gymnasium on West 6th Street.
As the date of the dance approached, I started to think about what I could wear. Then one day our next-door neighbors, Clarence and Ella Hoopes, called me over to their house. They told me they wanted to give me a graduation gift … a new suit. Oh man, I could hardly believe my ears. And to make it even more special, it would be a hand-tailored suit.
They gave me the name and address of a tailor in Columbus on Front Street, not far from the Lazarus Department Store. I was to go there and they would take my measurements. Then I could select a suit style, as well as the fabric, and they would make the suit for me. Oh boy, I was a lucky kid to have neighbors like the Hoopes.
Maybe a week or so before the dance, I received a phone call from a man named Joe Grigsby. He was president of the Marysville Alumni Association. He said that on the night of the dance, he would give a speech stressing our class accomplishments, and he would welcome us into the organization.
He then said he would like me to follow that with my own speech to acknowledge our membership. That was a complete surprise to me, but I had been on the debate team in our sophomore year, so I thought it would be a piece of cake. I thanked him and told him I would be glad to make the acceptance speech.
As the date of the dance approached, I realized that I needed to write the speech. But with all the other activities going on, I procrastinated. I kept thinking that I would write it “tomorrow.” But tomorrow never came.
Finally, on the day of the dance, I wrote the speech. I wrote it on index cards. Then I set out to memorize it, but there was very little time. For that reason, I developed a backup plan. I gave the index cards to my girlfriend. She would be sitting only a few feet away from where I would be speaking. If I stumbled at some point, she could prompt me. Aha, it was a foolproof plan.
The night of the dance arrived, and everything was going as planned. Instead of having the speeches first, it had been decided to do that later, when the gym would be packed. There was a large crowd, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. At some point the music stopped, and Mr. Grigsby gave his speech. He then introduced me for my acceptance speech. I arose from my chair and started speaking.
The first paragraph or so went well. I was speaking with all the confidence of a seasoned orator. Then suddenly my mind went blank. I could remember nothing about that speech. I turned my head slightly toward my girlfriend to get her prompt. But she was having her own problems.
You see, the lights in the gym were turned down low … just right for dancing, but not for reading. On top of that, my handwriting was terrible. And then she dropped all of the cards on the floor, and they became mixed up. My fate was sealed.
I hemmed and hawed for a few moments, but nothing I said made sense. I was grasping at straws. I tried to ad lib the rest of the speech, but I can’t tell you what I said. I do remember thanking the Alumni Association for the wonderful banquet in our honor. That may not sound too bad, but there was no banquet. I thanked them for something that never happened. I’m still not sure where I got that idea.
The whole ting was a little embarrassing, but when you are 18 years old, you bounce back fast. Maybe 20 minutes later I was sashaying around the dance floor as Vaughn Monroe sang “Mona Lisa.” Aahhh … life was good again.
Those wishing to contact Bill Boyd can e-mail him at email@example.com