Prom sparks memories of dressing and dancingMemories of prom linger in the minds of many who can describe their dresses, how their hair looked and where they went afterwards. As prom night approaches in Dickinson, several women shared their memories over the decades.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Memories of prom linger in the minds of many who can describe their dresses, how their hair looked and where they went afterwards.
As prom night approaches in Dickinson, several women shared their memories over the decades.
Kay Werremeyer, who graduated in 1955 from Madison, Wis., hasn’t forgotten her dress.
“I remember I had a lavender dress — real full with many, many layers of netting and little yellow bows all over it,” she said.
She wore her hair in a long page- boy style with bangs, and she went to prom with a friend.
The dinner and dance were held at a country club with a band.
“I remember we had these dance programs where all the dances were numbered and the boys filled in their names,” she said. “You hardly ever danced with the boy you went with.”
Afterwards, they went to a post-prom party — she believes at a skating rink — where they danced some more.
“I remember a lot of jitterbug. We had breakfast and went home,” she said. “We slept a little bit and then went to the beach — we lived on Lake Erie — and had a picnic the afternoon of the next day,” she said.
Werremeyer, an associate professor emeritus at Dickinson State University and a Kiwanis Club member, described prom as something to look forward to as a senior.
“It was an exciting day, along with graduation,” she said.
Flash forward to the 1960s.
Susan Biesiot, who teaches at Roosevelt Elementary School, recalls her prom years of 1966-67.
“It was still the most exciting thing in a girl’s life,” she said. “You got the dress. We didn’t have fake fingernails, but you got your hair done — real big curls. And you wore long gloves to go with the outfits.”
She said the boys wore sport coats, black pants and shoes with clean white socks.
She remembers the gym being covered with streamers and how everyone came for the grand march.
“We didn’t do records — probably some band. The faculty always attended to watch over you.”
“After the party, we had a big bonfire outside of town and everybody changed into Levis,” she said.
Cherie Roshau, who teaches at Trinity High School, said prom at Wibaux, Mont., was a lot simpler than today.
“We threw up a few streamers and decorated — maybe for an afternoon,” she said. “Everybody worked together.”
“It was unusual for a person to spend a lot of money,” she said. “Moms, grandmas or aunties sewed beautiful gowns together for their daughters. I believe the young men wore sport jackets and suit pants. Mom sewed my dress — it was blue.”
The girls did each other’s hair.
“We ratted it — we call it back-combing now. Back then, hair was sprayed and ratted so high— five inches taller than it used to be,” she said.
She also remembers a junior-senior banquet in conjunction with prom.
“Afterwards, we simply rented an outdoor theater in Glendive. We watched movies and they had food for us,” she said.
Roshau plans to attend Trinity’s grand march.
“The bleachers always fill up. Everybody’s got their cameras. It looks like the Hollywood red carpet,” she said.
She said the THS students are excited as prom approaches.
“It’s all about making memories,” she said.
Those memories came forward when Rhonda Dukart started looking for a snapshot of her prom.
“I hunted and hunted for hours last night and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed looking through all those old photos that I have not looked at for ages,” said Dukart.
She finally dug through the albums at her mother’s house and found one photo to share. Graduating in 1970 from Trinity, she said, “My prom date was my husband Ken. He must have been great — this weekend, we’re celebrating our 39th wedding anniversary,” she said.
She remembers that prom was reserved for juniors and seniors.
As a sophomore, she recalls, “So even when he was a junior when we were going together, I couldn’t go to prom with him. So he took someone else because I tried to be a good sport about it and didn’t want him to miss his prom, but I was mad at him for going — that’s a true story,” she said.
“My mother sewed my dress. We couldn’t afford anything other than that and maybe that’s part of the passion for the project we do for Domestic Violence,” she said. “I love to see the girls have beautiful dresses. It’s a special night — you feel like a princess.”
Dukart explained a prom-party dress exchange is held each fall, with girls being able to purchase a gown at a low price and the proceeds are donated to Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center.
Dukart remembers saving her money to have her hair done, which she had never done before.
“Mine stood up 12 inches. My dad laughed at me when I walked in the door,” she said. “I got home about 1 hour before my date was to pick me up. I hated it. I washed it and redid it. I wasted the money I had saved for so long.”
But she still remembers the feeling of having dressed up and going out.
“ It was a very fun night,” she said.
Jefferson Elementary teacher Jan Bauer, who graduated in 1968 from a small school in Minnesota, said their junior year theme was “Roman Holiday.
“Our decorating was elaborate — streamers were all the way around the gym and tables were set up for refreshments,” she said. “”We played records and danced all night long.”
The first year, she and her mother bought a dress in Minneapolis, and the second year, she borrowed a dress from a friend.
“It was common that we exchanged dresses,” she said.
“We dyed our shoes to go with the dresses,” she remembers. “We had long elbow-length gloves which we wore all night. We had wrist corsages.”
As a senior, the theme was “Summer Time.”
“We had flowers all over and bright colors. I think it was breath-taking,” she said. “Everybody took ownership. Both classes worked on it.”
Bauer also remembers going to prom as a double date. Afterward, couples went to private home parties that were supervised.
Moving forward to 1990s, Jefferson Elementary teacher Jen Jung has fond memories of her prom in 1990-91 as a student in South Heart High School.
“My dresses were both remade from other dresses,” she said. “My mom was a good seamstress and remade them so it worked for me. We did our own makeup and hair and back then, people dyed their shoes to match their dresses.”
Dressed and ready to go, she said, “We went with groups back then. We rented vans and four couples would go together.”
Prom, including the banquet and dance, were held at the Hospitality Inn. The theme was “I’ll be there for you.”
“We had a dinner and pictures, the grand march and coronation of the prom king and queen,” she said.
Afterwards, students returned to the South Heart gymnasium where parents hosted an after-prom party complete with games, prizes and food.
And Jung was given several unlikely souvenirs from her prom.
“The boys gave us their ties — it’s something they couldn’t return. They gave them to us at the end of the night.”