The Significance of September 8

After 61 years, I still think twice when I see the date September 8.  My father hadn’t allowed me to date in high school, but in 1951, I had graduated from school and was a secretary at Procter & Gamble.  I had been dating a little bit – never more than one date with the same person and never feeling it was a successful outing.  On September 8, 1951,  my sister suggested I come along with her to the neighborhood St. Rose Bingo.

We didn’t go to St. Rose Church, but my sister was the best friend of a girl named Cecilia who was a member.  I didn’t really want to go but it was Saturday night with no plans and I gave in.  Besides, there was a possibility that a boy who was being suggested as a potential date might be there.  Cecilia’s boyfriend Peanut had a pal who had moved away while in the 6th grade at St. Rose – Buddy – and everyone thought we would make a great couple.  So, I went to the bingo and sat at a long table with the rest of the group and sure enough, in came Buddy, dressed in nice slacks and a maroon corduroy jacket.  He sat across the table and was very sober and serious but he had pretty green eyes and seemed pleasant enough.  There wasn’t a word of conversation between us that night but it was an introduction and later in the week we did meet again, made a date and on my birthday on September 30, we agreed to go steady.

“Buddy” told me immediately that he hated the nickname and wanted to be called Frank and his pal “Peanut” also insisted on being called Rich.  We double-dated with Rich and Cecilia all the time – mainly because Rich had a car and Frank didn’t have a license (or a car) yet.  We had some really nice times – Rich and Cecilia were both outgoing and funny and they usually made the plans on where we would go.  We went to football games, drive-in movies, Frisch’s for Big Boys (which were really huge then and I had never tasted one, plus they were served by car-hops on trays that hooked to the car door), a hayride in the back of an old farm truck, lots of house parties, and many, many evenings playing poker with Frank’s family where the only outlay of cash was for a jug of beer and whatever money we might lose playing cards (Cecilia and I nursed a soft drink for the evening).

We even went to one of Cecilia’s high school proms which was good for me since I hadn’t gone to my own.  I picked out heavy gold satin fabric and Mother made the dress for me.  Frank wore his standard blue pinstripe suit.  The prom was predictably boring but at least I could say I had been to one.

Dating came to an end pretty quickly when Frank left for the Navy in February.  By the time he came home on leave in May we were getting married and dating was over, but for a short time I experienced what the kids talked about all through high school – going to movies, eating hamburgers in the car, watching football games, going to parties and proms – some of it was nice, some was boring,  but at least I got to try it.  And it all started on SEPTEMBER 8.

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Lillian Applegate Westfelt was a mother of 4, grandmother of 6, and great-grandmother of 3. She was an 86-year-old widow living in a nice little bungalow with her oldest daughter and a beagle-dachsund named Addie. She passed away in November, 2018.

13 thoughts on “The Significance of September 8”

  1. Lillian, this is such a great story. It does my heart good to hear this. And, your photos are wonderful–your smile… Thank you for sharing. What wonderful memories! Take care and have a great weekend!

  2. Oh, what a lovely story… what wonderful memories! And what a babe you were… I see those platform shoes peeking out from under the hem of your prom dress! Your husband was a handsome and lucky man…

  3. Such a lovely memory and story! I’m so glad you include us in all of them. He looked so handsome in his uniform. I have pictures of all my uncles taken somewhere in Germany with their uniforms on – My Uncle Dub was a sailor….I just love a man in uniform! 🙂

  4. What a handsome man and beautiful young woman. Thank you so much for sharing this. What wonderful memories you have.

  5. What sweet memories, especially when triggered by a specific date. Such a beautiful prom dress you wore, and you both made such a handsome couple. My 11 year old daughter has been talking about going to a prom for a few years ALREADY! Funny, I never had the desire to attend a prom, and in the end I never did go to one. The photographs alone would probably have made the event worthwhile! Oh well….
    Love looking at your photographs, for sure.

    1. My parents didn’t let me date in high school and then were surprised that I wasn’t asked to the prom. I really didn’t want to go and after going to my friend’s prom, I could see it really wasn'[t such a big deal. I hope your daughter gets to go, though, and has a wonderful time. Not that many years from now, is it? Lillian

  6. Forgot to mention about your memory of playing cards. Whatever happened to that type of fun gathering? I never hear of people doing that anymore. I vividly remember my grandfather, grandmother, and many of her sisters…sitting around the dinning room table playing cards for pennies, nickles, and dimes. I think they called the loose change the kitty, or the pot. Anyway, they would have glasses of beer and of course some of them had their cigarettes at their side. 😦 I was just a little one then, but would look up in awe at the smiles, laughter, and general ribbing that was going on. They would gather together for these card nights about once a week. A tradition sadly missed!

    1. I enjoyed hearing about your family’s card games – it sounds exactly the same as my husband’s Irish family (including the cigarettes) and they also called the loose change the kitty or pot. Every occasion meant a card game for them and although I never completely converted, it was never boring. Thank you for writing. Lillian

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