In 1968 in Greensboro, North Carolina, I was a senior at James B. Dudley High School. I loved weekend parties! On the weekends, someone at my school - at least one person, would be giving a party on a Friday night or Saturday night. Sometimes there'd be several parties on Friday night, as well as several parties on Saturday night on the same weekend. I made it my business to be at all of them! Now, I was not necessarily invited to all or any of them. However, I made it my business to be at all of them.
In 1968 in Greensboro, North Carolina, I was a senior at James B. Dudley High School. I loved weekend parties! On the weekends, someone at my school, at least one person, would be giving a party on a Friday night or Saturday night.
Sometimes there'd be several parties on Friday night, as well as several parties on Saturday night on the same weekend. And I made it my business to be at all of them. Now, I was not necessarily invited. In fact, I wasn't invited to all of them, but I made it my business to be at all of them. Now the parties were given by people that I went to school with, so I felt comfortable showing up. If there was a person, giving the party that I didn't feel comfortable with. Then I would skip that party.
But for the most part, I just went to every party that I heard about and as I said, I would hear about them because I was not necessarily directly invited to them. But I justified that by saying, "Well, they know I'm coming, I'm coming to the party anyway, so it would be redundant to invite me when you know, I'm coming, I'm coming. I'm going to support you - I'm going to be there." So I would show up.
There was only one time when I was not allowed, I was turned away from a party and I was recently talking to a friend of mine, Doris, we went to high school together, and we were recently just talking about the time we were turned away from the party. And that was because the girl's mama was on the door. The girl's mama was on the door with a list, and she would ask you your name and look at the list. And if you weren't on the list, she'd say, "You can't come in, you're not on the list!" Embarrassing! Turned away from a party! Usually, nobody's momma was on the door like that.
Usually, you would arrive at a house, knock on the door or ring the bell. They'd say, Come in or open the door. If you looked decent. Nobody cared. You just stayed and you partied. Now the food at the party usually consisted of chips - various types of chips, Kool-Aid, and or some types of punch. And if it was a birthday, of course, a cake and other times, maybe cookies or something like that.
These were what we called house parties. They were in the house and or basement parties because they were in and your finished basement. If it was nice weather in spring, sometimes they would be the backyard parties. Most of the time they were house and/or basement parties that I attended.
My mother worked the graveyard shift at L. Richardson Hospital, which meant that she went in at midnight and she got off about 7:00 in the morning, which meant that the car was free for me. I had my license by the time I was a senior. So the car was free in the afternoons and the evenings so that if I needed to drive myself somewhere - for a theater rehearsal or if I needed the car for a party on the weekend - as long as I had the car back in time for my mother to go to work if she happened to be working on the weekend of a party, then I was good to go.
She did say, you have to come with your own gas. Gas was somewhere around $0.35. I think the average was like 35, maybe 45, but I think it was more like 35 cents. I do know that there were some places where you could get a gallon of gas for $0.25. Now here's what is embarrassing is that sometimes it was hard to come up with 25 or $0.35 for some gas. But whoever I was riding with, usually it was a girl named Frances. She was my party traveling buddy. Usually her and sometimes it was just different people. But mainly I remember Frances. But whoever was riding with me, we'd pool our money together and try to come up with at least a dollar. If we got a dollar, we knew we were good to go!
One of the reasons why I liked going to parties, too, was because you got to wear your best skirt, the best shirt or sweater - you just got to do something a little extra. Maybe you'd wear your hair a little different than you would normally wear it at school or wear an accessory in your hair that you wouldn't have worn to school. I like the idea of just getting a little fancier.
We would go to a party and we'd look around and see who was there, and basically, it was kind of like, we looked for the guys that we had crushes on. Now, these guys didn't know we had crushes on them, but they were just guys that among ourselves, we had talked about.
So we go to a party and we hang out, dance for a little while, see who was there and if we didn't see the guys or a guy that we felt we wanted to see. Then we'd say, "Let's go to the next party." And, so we go to the next party and then we do the same thing - dance a little bit, have some chips. Look to see who was there? And, that was our thing - that was fun to do, and we would go to all these parties. I loved to dance and there was fast dancing, and then there was what they called a slow drag. It wasn't really a 'drag'.
It was just kind of like moving side to side or sometimes just even standing still close to that person who had invited you to dance slowly with them. Now I love love love most any song you can name from that era. However, I'll tell you one song that I didn't love. It was a great song, but I didn't like when they played it at parties, and that was a song called. "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers.
It went, "You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips. . ." OK, now that was a good song! But I'll tell you why I didn't like that song at parties. As I recall, that was a very long song.
So to be, slow dragging with somebody that you weren't really that into, and sometimes it would be hot because we were into our sweaters - now we all had our wool sweaters and then in the fall and winter - in those wool sweaters in a hot basement and leaning up against somebody, and you trying to slow drag - and you're trying not to get your freshly pressed hair to, as we used to say, 'go back'. (That means get kinky again from the sweat.) I just remember that song being so long that when I heard that song was coming on, I would just get up and go to the bathroom because that song was just too long.
Now, I don't really remember having parties myself. I may have had small gatherings, but I don't remember having a party except for one time.
I remember there was a game at my high school on this particular night. It was a spring night. The weather was amazing. It was just a perfect night and there was a game at the high school stadium and I was there.
And then I remember telling somebody, "You know what? I'm going to have a party after this is over at my house." I'm thinking, I'll just go by the store, get some chips, get some Kool-Aid, and we're just going to have a party. So, I said, "If you want to party, just come by my house." Now, this is when I first started finding out what 'payback' was because I was just trying to have a small gathering at my home.
Well, what ended up happening is word spread through the game as the game was going on. By the time the game was over everybody - it seemed like everybody at the game - even the other team showed up at my house.
Now I only lived in a small two-bedroom house with an unfinished basement. My basement was good for only storage. There were people in the living room, people in the den, people in the kitchen, people in the front yard, and people in the backyard.
There were people everywhere! Now my father, who worked for the post office, got off from work at midnight, and when he came into the house, he was looking around like, "What just happened up in here?" And I was looking at him as if to say, I don't know what happened either.
That was one of the things that I really enjoyed in 1968 in Greensboro, North Carolina - I loved a good party!