The Prospector and I drove down to the valley and stayed overnight, in a HOTEL, on Saturday.
Why did we leave the farm? Why did we leave the dogs in a kennel overnight and venture down to the town of Manteca in the great central valley?
Because 50 years ago, the Prospector graduated from Manteca High School and we were celebrating the occasion with a PARTY.
Yes... FIFTY years. It was 1962.
John F. Kennedy was our president. No one had been to the moon yet, but John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth. The average home cost $12,500. and a gallon of gas was about .28 cents. We went to the Drive-In movies to see West Side Story and To Kill A Mockingbird... and "make out". It was a good time to be a teenager.
We arrived at the Golf Course on Union St just in time to sign in, get our pictures taken and start meeting all the "old" folks that were walking around looking for signs of recognition. It's a good thing that they not only gave everyone name tags, but they also had the good sense to put a photo of the person on it from the yearbook. Everyone that walked up to us looked at the name tag first, then the lights would go on in their eyes. "Oh, it's ... my gosh, you look great.", and they would smile and give the Prospector a big hug or a hand shake. He was on the reunion committee so he did know quite a few people, but there were a lot of people that were total surprises. That's the fun of a reunion of 50 years.
The next day we met everyone for breakfast and then drove to the Manteca Museum. This was an amazing place.
There were all kinds of rooms filled with what life was like in the 1800's.
Even when it was a new invention, it was still a lot of work. This washing machine below, still used buckets that had to be carried, emptied and cleaned out every wash day.
There, before me, was a familiar face.
Yes, it was him.
But there were moments, years later, when he would say or do something that would make me think he was still a little boy... and his blue eyes would twinkle. I never saw him like this however. I don't remember him ever being a skinny dancer with a blond wig.
I met him 10 years later, for the first time, and life had settled him down a bit. He was a good father-in-law and always treated me with respect and love. In 1968, in a hospital room, the night I gave birth to his first grandson, he quietly put his head through the doorway and whispered "Thank you." to me. I was scared, hurting and not quite ready for parenthood. Those words made such a difference to me. That was a moment that I will never forget.
He was a good man. He died too young and we all miss him.
So... to see this serious, and sometimes harsh, man dancing in drag at 33 years of age was astonishing, to say the least. He looks like he was having a great time. The Prospector said he kind of remembers his dad doing this, but he was only nine years old at the time and the memory is vague. We all had a good laugh over the photo. It was a moment in the history of Manteca that surely gave some of the town folk a good laugh too.
The weekend is over. I'm kind of tired and have sore feet from dancing (very little) and standing for long periods of time in "fancy" shoes. But it was a great reunion and we all decided that we better not wait another 50 years, for the next get-together, because there might not be anyone left.
We drove home Sunday afternoon and picked up the dogs.
Everything is back to normal. The weather is cooling down, finally, and the fancy duds are back in the closet.
This is us... at the reunion.