Ode To My High School Gym


Home to . . .

blue onesied teenage girls
delicately batting badmintons,
and pimpled boys man-upping
in raucous dodge-ball games.

Crew cuts and ratted Aqua Net dos.

School assemblies.
Seats assigned by homeroom,
alphabetical misery.

Six-foot hoopsters.
ball gown under-frames
and the tall gangly ball-shooting kind.

Hand-wringing game-ending cacophony,
and teenage clutching
sock-hop last chance
he-has-to-be-the-one dance.

Crepe paper.
Gathered in strips,
duct tape hand grips
bouncing in pompom cheers.
transformed to ceiling
with hanging mirrored ball
above parading bouffant heads.

Embarrassed girls
side-lined on folding chairs
watching nervous girls
lined up in pretended calm,
waiting to learn
if they would be the one
adorned in prom queen crown.

Fifty years later,
we stand on your creaking boards.
Is it possible? Is this the space?
Old age does not become you,
our once hallowed place.


Frank hosts dVerse today, the virtual pub for poets, asking us to write an ode (poem of praise). No required form, meter or content. Photo: from my 1965 senior year high school annual, Waukegan Township High School in Waukegan, Illinois. Prom court….I was on a folding chair 🙂 And yes, there’s a metal hoop skirt under that second gown. You had to be really careful when you sat down! In the actual photo, you can see the basketball court lines on the gym floor. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time.

19 thoughts on “Ode To My High School Gym

  1. kanzensakura November 9, 2017 / 3:08 pm

    I went back to my high school ages ago. I did not return. Everything still looked the same and though the fashions were different, the kids all looked the same. I wonder if we all find past places so diminished?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) November 9, 2017 / 3:15 pm

    I have never gone back to my highschool… and so different in Sweden, I feel that everything is more fancy now… in the seventies it was just walking on to the next step discussing politics.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. kim881 November 9, 2017 / 3:18 pm

    Your school was so different to mine. I love to read about it and that photo is amazing, Lill! My grammar school was turned into a middle grade school and the high school I went to, when the new comprehensive system was introduced in the late sixties/early seventies, was turned into flats many years ago. We didn’t have school dances or proms and both schools were girls only. If only we could time travel, I’d come and visit you at your high school.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Frank Hubeny November 9, 2017 / 3:22 pm

    I am surprised women can sit down in those metal hoop skirts. I get the same “Is this the space?” feeling when going back to places I remember as a child (if they are still standing).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Grace November 9, 2017 / 3:31 pm

    It always looks different isn’t it ~ Times have changed but those gyms were the nerve center of our high school events too ~ Love also your photo, smiles ~

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Glenn Buttkus November 9, 2017 / 4:42 pm

    I graduated in 1962–when the Worlds Fair was in Seattle. I went to my 10 & my 20 year reunions; silly waste of time. I never stayed in touch with any of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. alisonhankinson November 9, 2017 / 5:00 pm

    We just had the school disco- nothing grand….the boys sat around the edges on chairs…I would have loved to dress up. You look so beautiful. What a memory. XX

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Candy November 9, 2017 / 6:50 pm

    places are never the way were remember them. waht a wonder reminiscence.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. adda November 9, 2017 / 8:20 pm

    Ah, high school memories. Some positive memories and some not so much (hmm). I wasn’t one of the “in” kids, not always a follower……painful. You were by far the best positive.. thank you, 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Anna November 9, 2017 / 10:43 pm

    A wonderful ode that captures the feeling of place very well; I was transported.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jane Dougherty November 10, 2017 / 6:26 am

    Nothing like that for us. My old school doesn’t even exist any more. Consolidation with the other Catholic high schools. So sad. It was a brilliant school.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Mary (tqhousecat) November 10, 2017 / 8:08 am

    Mine would be an ode to having it end. High school was not pleasant for me. All bad things come to an end, in this case anyways. Love the poem though. How things have changed!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Kathy Reed November 10, 2017 / 11:42 am

    This resonates with me as I was in the 1965 graduating class here in Washington….that old gym is still in existence today, I believe. Good memories, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Laura Bloomsbury November 10, 2017 / 11:48 am

    we did not have proms or school dance at an all girls boarding school but I can visualise these moments so well with your words- high jinks in the high school gym 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  15. nosaintaugustine November 10, 2017 / 5:16 pm

    I knew you must be the same age as my mom when I read the line “crew cuts and ratted aqua net do’s.” 🙂 Does that time feel mythical to you, I wonder? My era seems sordid by comparison.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. nosaintaugustine November 10, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    By the way I loved this. The words gave such clarity to the scene that the photo was not even needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Frank J. Tassone November 11, 2017 / 3:42 pm

    I remember the high school events at Don Bosco Prep all too well! What a cascade of nostalgic images you pour out! Wonderful work!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. flightministries November 13, 2017 / 3:22 pm

    Beautiful post, great to here all the wonderful memories in the gym! flightministries.com


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