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Dating in the 40’s

A story by Elsie Johnson



We used to date some but most of all we had a group. I guess you’d call it a ‘gang’ now. It was a mixture of boys and girls and we had wonderful times together from going to dances to stealing watermelons. One of the boys had access to a Model A Ford. We decided to drive to Des Moines (40 miles) to hear and dance to Glenn Miller at one of the Big Ballrooms. First it was decided to drive to Des Moines to Riverview – a large amusement park. For the afternoon. We enjoyed the rides etc, but had to drive back to Perry to change clothing and pick up one of the girls who had to work that afternoon. The Model A Ford could take 6 or 8 (comfortably???) and at that time gasoline was $.20 or less a gallon. We had a wonderful evening of dancing. I even got his autograph. I wish I knew what happened to it! Dancing in large halls was the way to go then. We had Lake Robbins near Perry. It was in the middle of the cornfield – no lake or water was near. However it had a wonderful dance floor and drew good music groups. Remember this was Depression times. So if the trunk of the car that took u to the lake was large enough, some of the boys would hide in the trunk to pass through the entrance area. I think the fee was $.25 - $.50 an evening. Times were Tough. I loved to dance and had lots of wonderful partners. My mother was OK with these dances as long as I was home by midnight. I was always like Cinderella and was home by the agreed hour. It was Junior Prom time. As always my group saw to it that we all went to the Prom in style. Jimmy couldn’t dance but had permission to use the family car. Leo (better known as Pee-Wee) was a wonderful dancer but no car. They decided to take me as their date. I was escorted in style by these two young men who were dressed in their Sunday best. We had a wonderful evening which was had in the High School Auditorium with music by records. Our parents had permission to sit in surrounding seats to watch. I wore pink and blue net formal with a sweat-pea corsage which curved from shoulder to waist. Leo’s uncle was a florist. It was a wonderful evening for me! I don’t recall having a real date until my late high school period. When I was in the 8th grade, the mother of one of my male friends made arrangement for 4 of us to be driven to Des Moines to the Shrine Auditorium to see the play Jane Eyre. I had never been to a real play and was very excited. We were seated in high balcony seats. I don’t remember much about the play; however recall the date of the other girl pulling out his spy glass so we could share it to see some of the play. It was a once in a lifetime experience!!!

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 Amusement Park,Ballroom,corsage,group,Model A Ford,prom,Riverview
  Perry, Iowa
Jun 16 2024


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