Toritto and Judy at my senior prom – May 1959. I was 16. She just turned 12.
The years went by between my 6th grade elementary school and my 12th grade high school graduation. Leaving P.S 187, I attended Edward B Shallow Junior High and then New Utrecht High School. During the Summer before my junior year our family moved to our own little house on a dirt street in the outskirts of Coney Island.
I continued to attend New Utrecht until school authorities learned our family had moved out of the district. I was transferred to Lafayette High, which in some ways was a superior school.
My problems in high school, to the extent I had any, revolved around my age. I was a year younger than everyone else. I had completely skipped the 8th grade (clever boy!)and was now a 16 year old senior. I was a kid in everyone’s eyes. Additionally, I had transferred in during my junior year and didn’t have the long term friendships I had previously enjoyed at my old school.
Graduation was approaching and it seemed everyone had a prom date except me. There wasn’t an 18 year old girl/woman alive that was going to attend her prom with a 16 year old too young to drive, drink or go to night clubs after the dance.
Judy was my best friend Billy’s younger sister. Judy had just turned 12! Billy and I spent half our lives at each other’s houses so I knew his sister well. When kicking around my date difficulties I thought of his sister. You can see she had blossomed quite nicely and quite early. So I asked her casually but then had to ask her parents because, after all, she was only 12. She had never been on a real date and only knew the boys in the neighborhood, including me.
“O.K. she can go but it’s only because we know you so well. There is to be absolutely no drinking or clubbing! Do we understand each other?”
So Judy and I went to my senior prom, held at a fine Manhattan hotel. I was 16, She was 12.
Obviously there was no getting a 12 year old (or me for that matter) into a night club afterwards. So Judy and I went to Coney Island in prom dress and tux and to cheers, applause and congrats of the crowds rode the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel and the great Parachute Jump. Mostly we were waved on any ride we chose to go on for free.
I graduated high school on a Thursday and went to work on Monday at what is now Citibank. In the mail room. Suddenly everyone began treating the 16 year old as if he were a man – a working man – including my father.
I learned during the holiday season that Judy passed away last year. She will live forever in the ether of the internet. Always my date to the Senior Prom.