Well, there I am – peasant blouse, long hair and all. My parents took the picture of me before they drove me to the church to board the bus. I managed to take that picture of the St. Louis Arch, which we visited on the way to Racine WI, but there is very little else in my scrapbook to prove that I went on the trip. I had a great little Instamatic, but I was always so busy having fun that I didn’t usually think of taking pictures.
Let’s Hit the Road
Among the people who keep up with my blog are several friends who either went on this trip or at the very least attended my church at the time, so you can rest assured they will keep me honest. At that time, Janis was my running buddy at both school and church. She ran a little faster than I did, but I tried to keep up. Janis and I attended Bryan Adams High School, while most of the other kids went to Lake Highlands. The one exception that stands out was Lenny Loud, who played football at Skyline. (Name changed to protect the guilty. Lenny became a Baptist preacher and I wouldn’t want to do anything to tarnish his reputation, but those who remember these days know exactly who I’m talking about.)
About half (and probably more) of the females in the group were either in love with Lenny or at least flirting with him for good measure. His best running buddy was Steve Nomatter (name also changed to protect the guilty). Those girls not in love with Lenny, probably crushed on Steve, but my focus was on that blonde-headed blue-eyed football player.
When it came time to request roommates for the trip, Janis and I chose each other. We had no idea who the other two roommates might be, but we were hoping for someone cool. Needless to say, Lenny and Steve also asked to be roommates. As it turned out, for our days on the road, the powers-that-were decided Lenny and Steve should have a pair of male counselors as their roommates, while Janis and I should have a pair of female counselors in our room. This will become more important as the story continues and should give you an idea of how fast Janis ran.
First Night St. Louis MO
After a day of driving and pit stops, our first official destination was the St. Louis Arch. I remember the heady experience of riding up the elevator with Lenny and being the recipient of some mild flirting at the top of the arch. Believe me when I say this was the most exciting thing that had happened to me up until that point, but things were about to get more exciting. It seems to me that we also took a ride on one of the tourist trap steamboats on the river, but my most vivid memories are at the hotel.
Do you remember baby-doll swimsuits? If so, do you also recall that some of them were actually bikinis with the modesty panel Velcro-ed to the top. Well, I had a baby-blue version of the convertible bikini/baby-doll. I was actually not happy about this, because I have a burn scar from a childhood injury and I would have much preferred to have a tank suit. There just weren’t any tank suits to be found that year and my mother convinced me to buy the baby doll. She also talked me into a baby blue velour bikini (baby blue must of have been a big color that year), but it was a year or two before I could talk myself into wearing it and I only wore it a handful of times. I have a self-induced strand of modesty that makes me very uncomfortable in a bikini.
After sight-seeing at the arch, they took us to the hotel and let us burn off steam in the hotel pool. This was quite daring, because all the Baptist camps still had two pools – one for girls and one for boys. As if that weren’t enough, they didn’t let the girls and boys swim at the same time for fear that the boys would look upon the swim-suited girls and have impure thoughts. It was a completely different time folks, and I kind of like them better than what goes on today.
Anyway, rough-housing ensued in that hotel pool and Lenny grabbed my modesty panel. As if in slow motion, I can still recall the tearing noise the Velcro made and the way every living soul at that pool turned to look at me – or at least it seemed that way. I also remember the look of horror and fascination on Lenny’s face. I nonchalantly tossed the modesty panel to the side and carried on with the fun in the pool. It was one of the first hints of the person I would become after I got over being an awkward teen. While I prefer the morals of the more innocent days of my youth, I certainly prefer my own later manifestation over the gawky girl in the babydoll.
So now you know the key players in the next episode. I’m a teenager with a crush on my way to good intentions, which often lead to the road to hell. I didn’t realize that before the sun set I’d be in danger of getting sent home. Come along and find out why.