Saturday, September 29, 2007

September Song

September Song
8.5"x 11"
Saturday night in a dorm room on the campus of a small college, Sam Houston State, in Texas. A night for dates, parties, dancing, celebration of a win of the big football game in the afternoon. There is bustling activity as girls put on their formals for a big dance, anticipating a perfect evening. Others meet their dates in the lobby/dining area. One young man slips his date's wrap over her shoulders as they leave for a party.
There has been much primping, borrowing, changing clothes, asking for opinions and help from other girls as the young women work for the perfect look. They hope that their dates from Texas A&M University will show up in their uniforms, especially if they are seniors and can wear the prized senior boots. But, if they are not in the Corps, or even if they are from the local college, the girls hope that their dates will arrive, dressed up and using their best manners. They hope that they can go where they can show off their dates, as well as their outfits. And, they hope that this date will be the best ever, and something that will be permanent.
Spirits are high around the town after a football win, so everyone prepares for the big night with lots of energy.
And, then, there are those without dates. There's casual dress, jeans and a large shirt, shorts, or even a housecoat and slippers around the dorm. Books might be brought out, and some might make a trip to the library, or a few might go with another group of girls, to a movie and out to eat. Those would be the ones who still had money left, and whose boyfriends were too far away to come here and take them out. It might be time to catch up on laundry, cleaning, homework, or a group might get together for a card game.
On this Saturday night, late in September, in the 1950s, she sits alone in her dorm room while activity goes on outside of her little world. She has on jeans and a shirt, she is barefoot, and sits at her desk with books on the shelf, unopened. The little 45 record player is ready with some popular selections. A Coke sits ready to be sipped on during the evening. She has pulled out a couple of sheets of blue stationary from a box on the shelf. Fountain pen and a bottle of blue ink wait to be used. She will write a long letter as she listens to the record player and the radio. She hopes that the boy won't mind getting a letter from her. She really likes him, and he has asked her out several times. But, when he gets away from her, is she just a joke to him? After all, he is older, going to a big university, he's smart, and oh-so-good- looking. She writes a guarded letter, in her best handwriting, hoping that maybe he will ask her to one of those big football games at his school, to a dance, or, even, that he will ask her to go anywhere again. Before the letter is mailed, she will ask her friends to read it, to be sure that it is alright and that there are no mistakes. After all, like other girls, she came to college to meet her Prince Charming and live happily ever after. To her, he was that one. She had turned down dates with other boys she knew. And, so, here she was, on a Saturday night, listening, and writing, with tears in her eyes, while others went out to celebrate the big victory.
It was September, and, as "September Song" played, she envisioned a landscape outside of her window, with colorful leaves drifting down to fill the parking lot below. The weather would be cool and all those fall clothes she had brought to school would be comfortable. There would be the fragance of apples and sugar cane in the air. She would wear a soft, cashmere sweater, a felt circle skirt with lots of petticoats, a wide belt, a neckerchief or a cashmere collar, pearl earbobs, and ballerina shoes, and she would carry a matching cashmere sweater or poodle cloth jacket in case it got cooler. She would wear red lipstick and a hint of mascara on her eyebrows. She would have liked to have a long pony tail that would swing when she danced, but she lacked the patience it takes to let her hair grow that long. Instead she had ducktails and swept the top in a soft swirl. When her dream date would come to take her out, she would be ready for dancing, a movie, going out to eat, or even just riding or walking around.
But, this was Texas. It was still hot in September, so it was more practical to wear cotton clothing, although girls did wear layers of clothes and those tight merry widows. The leaves didn't change or flutter to the ground. Apples didn't grow in that part of the country. You would have to go to a store or fruit stand to find them. Sugar cane was brought in to the stores. Music didn't play all the time, and Prince Charming never did arrive on his big white horse to whisk her away to an enchanted life.
The only time she got to go to one of those big football games was when she went with her grandfather and her father. She never got to go to a dance at the big school.
The boy did come back, a few times, but he moved on, and so did she. But, she still remembered. And, one day not long ago, she wondered where the time had gone and knew that her dream never would come true.
She did go out, and go dancing, and to other big dances, with other boys, over the years, and went on with life.
Back then, it did truly seem like a long, long time, from May to December, and through the rest of the year. The days have grown short, now that it is Semptember. Time to watch the young ones, and remember. As I watched the A&M-Baylor football game today, I couldn't help but remember.
"September Song" is done in pencil and shows a memory of college days. Except for football and tv programs and ads, and the stores decorated with pumpkins and Halloween objects, it's a bit hard to get in the mood for what we think of as traditional autumn around here. Often, what happens is that leaves on some trees start to change, then a norther comes through and knocks all the leaves to the ground. So, we go from summer, to a few days that look like we are going to have autumn, then we go directly to winter-for a few days. Soon, it's hot again, and summer-like.
As September comes to a close, I hope that it has been a good, memorable month for you. We look forward to the promise of October.
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