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Dancing With the Enemy or a Charliequin Romance

Story ID:9147
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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This story may be a bit long but it is the way I remember it.

Dancing With the Enemy or a Charliequin Romance
By Chuck Dishno

I was born and raised in the small Oregon town of Bly. Bly is located 53 miles east of Klamath Falls and 44 miles west of Lakeview in southwest Oregon. The standing joke was we, are about Ĺ mile from nowhere. When I grew up there, Bly had a population of about 800, mostly loggers or saw mill workers.

Bly School was a long one story building built at the edge of town. It started with 1st grade in one end and progressed though the building with 12th grade at the other. In the center of the school were the principalís office and library, which at one time was a half-court basketball gym. Sometime about 1946, the Klamath County built a nice gymnasium out in back of the school. The reason I am telling you all this is for you to get a picture of what we had.

Most of the boys played basketball and because Bly school serviced the town of Beatty, located about 13 miles away on the Klamath Indian Reservation. Kids from Beatty and Weyerhaeuser camp 6 were bused in to school each day. Those Indian boys and the tough logger kids gave the school quiet a basketball team. Because we were a small school we competed with all the other small schools in the district and surrounding areas.

Klamath had one large school, Klamath Union High School, which was out of our league but did have another school, Sacred Heart Academy, a Catholic parochial school. Sacred Heart had a good basketball team and became our archrivals. Each year, we would visit each other twice for exciting basketball games. Neither school liked the other one very much but we survived without too many fights.

Bly didnít have a Catholic church so the few Catholic people there either went to the Methodist or later the Christian Missionary Alliance church. One girl named Barbara decided to attend Sacred Heart Academy in her junior year. Barbara stayed at the academy dormitory that was run by the nuns there. I am not Catholic so I donít know too much about how the place was run. I can only tell my story about being invited to attend one of their dances.

This incident took place in the spring of 1954. In 1953, I lost my girlfriend, Mary Ann to an automobile accident. I was devastated and devoted all my time to working evenings as a projectionist at the Arch Theatre. At that time the furthest thing in my mind was another girlfriend. One evening, the door to the projection room opened up and Barbara came in with a friend from Sacred Heart. She introduced us and said that Sacred Heart was having their spring prom and her friend needed a date. Barbara was going with a Bly boy named Danny and he was going to be her date. She asked me if I would be interested to drive up to Klamath Falls with Danny and be this girls date. I was very flattered that she would ask me and promptly accepted not thinking about the ramifications that might come by dating a Sacred Heart girl. I just thought who would know or care, after all Danny was dating a Sacred Heart girl although she was really a Bly girl.

The dance was a Saturday evening event so I got my friend Doyle to take over the projectionist job for that night. I prepared for the date by getting out my suit and I probably even took a bath. Danny and I left in plenty of time to get to the academy and pick up our dates. When we got there a huge nun dressed in a full habit met us at the door. I had never seen anything like her in my life and it sure wasnít what I had expected.

The first thing this nun did was to sit Danny and me down and proceed to tell us what we could or could not do. She emphasized this by shaking a long mean looking finger in our faces I donít think she ever poked us with it but I was too frightened to remember. I felt the wrath of God would come down on me if I even blinked. All I could do was sit there, shaking in my shoes, and nod my head. Danny took it all in stride as he apparently had been there before and of course he was Catholic. That nun told us in no uncertain terms that we were not to touch or even hold hands with our dates and that we were to have them back at the academy by 11pm and not a minute later. When we had all our instructions, she called upstairs and told someone to send the girls down. I was about to run out the front door when two beautiful girls in their formals came down the long staircase. At the sight of them, all fear went away and I didnít care much what that nun did to us. I was determined to at least hold my girlís hand. I think the girls got their final instructions and then we went outside to Dannyís car. I should point out that Danny was driving his dadís 1950 Studebaker coupe. This car had a small back seat that we apparently didnít take into account and getting my girl with her full formal and me into it wasnít too easy. Fortunately the prom was held at the armory, which wasnít too far, but I think Danny drove around a little while in order to be with our girls without those spying nuns who would undoubtedly be at the prom making sure their girls were safe.

When we arrived at the armory and went in, we were greeted by something we didnít expect, at least I didnít. I was told that this was a ďprogramĒ dance and the girls were given a little card that was tied around their wrists. I had no idea what it was all about but my date told me that the only dances I was guaranteed to dance with her were the first and last. My name was written in the proper places and the others were to be filled with other boyís names. My date was very popular as her card was soon filled with a bunch of the ugliest Sacred Heart boys I had ever seen. It wasnít long before my name was added to other girlís cards so I wasnít too unhappy. All went well and the orchestra was great. I wasnít the greatest dancer but I had a good time. I seem to remember that there were refreshments served and I did get to sit down with my date and indulge. It wasnít long before they announced the last dance and my girl found me and we danced to ďGood Night LadiesĒ. During this last dance, a photographer from the local newspaper, the Herald and News was circulating and taking pictures of many of the couples, which included my date and I. I thought that I might get a copy of it someday.

After the last dance, Danny and our dates piled in his car and as we still had about 45 minutes before we had to have the girls back to those dreaded nuns and face their wrath. As before, I was packed tight into that small backseat with my girl and her full formal.

Danny decided to take a drive along the Shore of Klamath Lake which wasnít too far away. We figured we could take a short drive and maybe even park for a few minutes and still make the deadline. At this time I decided to throw caution to the wind and hold my girlís hand. As I recall, I timidly reached over and took her willing hand in mine. I know this is starting to sound like a Harlequin Romance novel but I was an honorable boy from Bly and frankly there wasnít any room to do more than hold a hand and maybe sneak a quick kiss in that cramped back seat. Before long it was time to head back to the academy and deliver our charges. Once there we walked our girls to the door and said goodnight. I think I did get a small kiss and then they disappeared through the door. Danny and I then got into his car and drive the 53 miles back to Bly not realizing what awaited us the next day.

As usual I got up early the next morning and when I sat down to breakfast, my mom asked me about the trip and dance the night before. I told her we had a great time and that I had met a nice Catholic girl. Mom said she knew I had since my picture was on the front page of the entertainment section of the Herald and News. Horrors, I opened it up and sure enough there it was. Of all those pictures that that photographer took, here I was dancing with one of the Sacred Heart girls. Dancing with the enemy, horrors! By that evening, I think every kid in Bly had seen it and I could only hide out in the projection room at the theatre that night. Since the next day was Monday and a school day, I thought about skipping and just spend the day hunting ducks, but I finally decided I might as well face the music and own up to what a no-no I had committed. Danny was forgiven since he was a Catholic and his date was a Bly girl. As for me, almost every kid in school confronted me and I had to explain why I had committed such a sin. It wasnít long though before all was forgiven and everything was back to normal. Although I wanted to, I never did see that girl again since I was about to graduate and then head to California to work in the woods with my dad.

That fall I decided to attend Reedley College in Reedley, California and I never returned to Bly except for short visits. To this day I canít remember the girls name but the vivid memory of that evening will never leave me. A few years ago I visited the Klamath County Library and went through the microfilms of the Herald and News that would have covered that time but never did find the picture. I know it exists and someday, I may have more time to search for it.

Maybe someday in the far future I will be reside in Paradise and while walking down a Heavenly Street a beautiful girl will come up to me and say, ďArenít you that cute boy I had a date with in Klamath Falls?Ē I will readily admit to it and maybe even try for a Heavenly kiss on the cheek. I, of course will be looking over her shoulder for that huge nun bearing down on us and shaking her long finger.