Kenneth Avery is a Southern humorist with well over a thousand fans. The charm and wit in his writing span a nearly a decade.
Even Sha Na Na Loves Sock Hops!
Words Are Cheap
especially when they can only describe possibly one-quarter of these iconic teenage rites of passage. A sock hop is a lot more than socks and hopping. sock hops began as early as 1944 by the American Junior Red Cross to make money during World War II. They in 1948, sock hops came on the scene and were usually held at high school institutions, often in the school gymnasium or cafeteria. The term came about because dancers were required to remove their hard-soled shoes to protect the varnished floor of the gymnasium.
Teenagers "dressed to the nine's" because the sock hop was "the" event where the guys asked fr girls' phone numbers, dates, and their middle names for good measure. At sock hops, a chaperone was visible, but these cool cats knew a thing or two about having a good fun with some "clean, dirty fun," by spiking the punch bowl with their favorite liquor to make this event a lasting memory, bad or good. But . . .drinking by teenagers was not for everyone. No. The ones who drank became nauseated and were taken outside and emptied themselves on the ground and said the next day, what a time we had!
We could sit here and throw cute, sweet, superlatives all night long about how a sock hop was appreciated by both the parents and teenagers of 1950 and earlier. It was a novel idea. Young adults attending their high school had little of nothing to do by way of fun without the sock hope. All they had for entertainment was hoping someone would devise some good fun after their football team's home games. But as some learned quickly, teen's can only ride aroud and burn gas for so long. So the sock hop was welcomed like a breath of fresh air.
The Girls' Dresses, Oh, Those Dresses
swinging round and round with white poodles, smiling Teddy Bears, and more crinoline than you could wrap around Brooklyn a good 30 miles. Stolen kisses with older sister's borrowed lipstick, an "evil" puff or two on an unfiltered Camel in the girl's room, and advice given from the older, more-experienced girls to the younger fireflies, lest we forget a solitary nip from an aluminum flask only trusted by best friends alone. These pin-up girl wannabe's made up a section of the hallowed things heard in the girl's rest room.
But oh, those dresses that hung like silk fanning-out the crinoline wide and soft mesmerizing wondering teenage guy's eyes, and never taking the time to have a real talk by those who grew-up to be leaders of industry, ministers, and house wives who loved their husbands so long ago. But oh, those dresses once worn by "Sock Hop Queens" and now the dresses are hung in a prim fashion inside the house wives' closet.
The Boys' Hair and Hip Clothing
to be the center of attention. A sock hop was a beauty contest, dance contest and singing by the area's best-known quartets and some groups only used one guitar. Still, this was the music that ignited the boys on the side of gymnasium floors to snap fingers, wink their eyes, and swing-back their duck tale hairdo's. If a live band could not be afforded, a foursome of senior boys got up and gave it their all--"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "The Great Pretender," "Ohly You," "Won't You Stay," "Mack The Knife," and lots more.
The nervous quartets might have lost a few notes, but the girl singers took over to give the guys some needed-competition. "It's My Party," "Then He Kissed Me," "The Rebel" and who could forget "My Boyfriend's Back" and this is not a half of the fantastic songs performed by the girl groups that did and did not become famous.
Wanted to mention the number one wardrobe by the boys in yester year when they attended socks. Duck Tale, Butch, and Greased Back were what the guys wore. Well, those who thought themselves to be cool. And guys like this all drove hopped-up Mercury's with loud exhaust pipes, so yes, get attention.
The boys wore regular tee-shirts and some of the older boys who had dropped-out of school, wore their cigarettes in one of their sleeves to just look sharp. Jeans were not for the cool guys. Motorcycle and street gangs went for the blue jeans in order to make a statement. Tee-shirts with a tear in the side was a hit with a few girls who thought that the torn tee's made the boy more-confident and that is what drew girls to them.
The Little Things That Made Sock Hops Memorable
carving each other's initials underneath the bleacher seats, carving a favorite girl or boy's initials into that one big oak tree that stood a foot outside of the school campus. Places where the boys found a secret place to light-up a favorite cigarette. No. There were no girls who wanted to be seen with such guys, so they smoked in the girl's rest room.
Cutting school was more of a ritual than it was a crime. Sure the school had truancy laws, but the budget did not have a full-time guard to keep the law. But if a student did get caught, he was paddled by the principal and the girl who cut class was called to speak to her mom and dad and told to come right away and pick her up to go home.
You could always tell when a student class was bored because when they turned their books back into the school principal, most of the books had vulgar sayings in them, but no one took credit for the profanity. Plus the bored students would draw on the photos in history books and make the people in the pictures a team of circus clowns and so it goes.
Summary of School Days--So Long Sock Hops
always was a sad affair. When the graduating class service was over, the classmates stood around and cried, hugged necks, and talked for hours because some of them would not see their friends again. And that is what made the senior students grab the last rung of their Ladder of Learning . . .about their 12-year studies and knowing that the tears shed at the last of graduation night was not sadness, but a newly-found joy at knowing that all of the seniors had finally made it.
Not only graduating from school books and silliness, but becoming adults with harder challenges that lay ahead.
March 29, 2021_____________________________________________________
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© 2021 Kenneth Avery
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on April 05, 2021:
Man, your sock hops were different from ours. But maybe we just had harder discipline in the Ozarks. Live bands, ya gotta be kidding. Booze and cigarettes, even the "wild childs" knew better than to participate. Well, cigarettes outside, perhaps, but only the school drunk dared drink at them.