The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 1, 2012

MICHELE M. BENDER | Reunion memories by light of dashboard

Michele Bender
For The Tribune-Democrat

— Join us,” the invitation read, “at the 45th Reunion of the Class of 1967.”

Forty-five years since high school? How did that happen?

We’re old, and we’ve mellowed. We discussed retirements, empty nests, grandchildren and health concerns, and reminisced. I enjoyed a delightful evening. It’s amazing how a gathering like that can rekindle long-forgotten memories.

One fellow entertained a group of us with a comical story about a senior year moonlight parking date gone awry. I flashed back to a bizarre parking adventure of my own.

Of course I’ll share!

First, understand that teenage girls carry everything but the kitchen sink in their purses. We were always prepared for any emergency.

I met Sid at a teen club on Route 56, “The Cage.” I called him “Silent Sid” (Not to his face!) because he barely spoke a word. Next to Sid, Harpo Marx was chatty.

But he drove a great car, a shiny orange Road Runner that compensated for his dismal personality. Shallow? Me? You betcha!

One Saturday he arrived late, driving a crappy brown Dodge.

“Where’s the Road Runner?” I asked.

“Wrecked it,” replied SS.

“Whose is this?” I continued.

“Dad’s work car.”

My fanny sank into the bench seat. The surface was damp and squishy.

“Is this seat wet?”

“Scrubbed it.” SS steered the car toward Richland. “Wanna see the airport?”

I’d seen the airport, but I hoped we could walk around up there and my caboose might dry somewhat.

“Wanna park?” SS suggested.


Because we lacked any romantic chemistry, we sat mutely while our dupas marinated in leftover scrub water.

“Wanna get in back?”

“I guess.”

After five more mind-numbing minutes, I spied my purse. I was prepared for this emergency. “I have cards. Wanna play?”

“Sure.” SS seemed relieved. After about three hands, Crazy 8’s had broken the ice.

Suddenly, a car approached. The driver hit his high beams, then illuminated his blinding red, white and blue light bar.

“Cop,” observed SS.

The officer pointed his cruiser at the driver’s side of the Dodge. He got out and shined his flashlight in the front window.

Empty! His pupils dilated as he focused on the back seat, probably expecting to see some compromising Kama Sutra gyrations.

Instead, he discovered SS, Crazy 8’s and me.

“What are you kids doing?”

“Playing cards,” SS answered.

 I smiled weakly, and waved.

“Why are you in the back?” he persisted.

“Front seat’s wet.”

The policeman opened the driver’s door and touched the soggy fabric. “It is wet!! What happened?”

“Scrubbed it,” said SS.

After lecturing us about parking and trespassing, the officer let us go.

You could say we made a “clean getaway.”

Got a reunion coming up? By all means, attend! You might discover a treasured recollection, too.

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johns­town resident and a member of The Tribune-Democrat’s Readership Advisory Committee.


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