1973: My First School Dance – an epic night

Port Elgin Regional Memorial Junior High School

Port Elgin Regional Memorial Jr High

My Junior High in Port Elgin, NB, was having a dance and I’d never been to a school dance before. I was 13.

Neighbor kids who went on the same bus as me were going to go – their older sister who was all of 16 (and promised my parents she was responsible) was going to drive them and they asked if I’d like to go too.

Surprisingly my parents said okay. It was June and pretty mild outside.

Giant 1970s car

The car we went to the dance in was giant like this one.

They showed up in the early evening to pick me up in a huge 70s car with no seat belts (at least none in use). By the time they finished picking up everybody the car was packed with kids – at least 5 of us in the backseat some sitting on laps and at least 4 in the front.

I was new to all this and had never done anything like this before. The responsible older sister drove us to a place near a lighthouse and parked and we all got out and she opened the trunk and out came bottles of really cheap wine – Baby Duckling or Gosling or something awful.

Port Elgin Lighthouse and Fort Gaspareaux

Port Elgin Lighthouse and Fort Gaspareaux

We slid down to the bottom of the grassy earthworks and the bottles were passed around. When everyone was feeling tipsy and it was getting dark we piled back into the car and went off to the dance.

The parking lot of the school was full of muscle cars and big 70s cars – some guys just sat in or on their cars all night smoking and being cool… some revved their engines continuously.

1973 Pontiac Trans AM-Super Duty

1973 Pontiac Trans AM-Super Duty

1973 Dodge Charger

1973 Dodge Charger

Inside the gym was where the dance was happening. I hung around and danced with my friends.

Towards the end of the evening a guy asked me to slow dance with him. I’d never seen him before – he was either a drop out or in high school  and he had no front teeth – no doubt from some fight he’d been in at the local pool hall. Well here’s where it gets interesting… we were slow dancing and he kissed me.

My first kiss – my first kiss with a guy who smelled and tasted of cigarettes and who had no front teeth (maybe that’s why I stopped liking the hockey player Daryl Sittler when he lost his teeth – too many memories). In fairness to this guy it wasn’t a bad kiss at all.

Luckily it was the end of the dance by then and the teachers turned on all the lights and ushered us back to the parking lot where a frenzy of cars were revving up. All of us got back into the big car with the responsible girl driving and for some reason we went for a speedy drive around the area.

I am taking the edge off this – she was driving REALLY FAST and probably more than a little drunk – the car was flying over bumps in the road like some 70s car chase in a cop movie.

train at night 2All of a sudden we were zooming across train tracks and as we looked to the side we were blinded by the brilliant lights of a train – its horn blaring…. everyone screamed and the rear end of the car bounced off the tracks just as the train went by behind us… it was that fast…

At least it was a sobering experience for the driver – no more terrifying racing around… it was a quiet ride home for everyone.

I never told my parents anything about that epic night because I knew I’d never get to do anything ever again (think about it parents: teens piled into a car driven by a wild teenager and no one wearing seat belts; drinking wine in a ditch; kissing a strange boy; nearly getting killed and only 13).

So because I kept my mouth shut, I got to go to more dances and go in more crazy cars (unintentionally I might add)- but there’s never anything like the first time you nearly die and get a first kiss all in one night.

And in case you were wondering – apparently me kissing this guy meant that we were going out and practically engaged. He showed up at the school the following Monday and held my hand and I had to explain that I really didn’t feel the same way – sorry

Betty c 1973

Betty c 1973 (badly damaged photo – I didn’t have blotches and black spots all over me at 13 – that came later in my 40s – just kidding)