IRH - The Crush

This section is to honor the works of Russ Lancaster who started the “I Remember Hamlet” web site years ago. Without his pioneering the web at that time we might not have gathered all these memories of our Hamlet, NC. We thank you Russ for what you started in 1996, may you Rest in Peace. Russ was kind enough to let me download his web site before he took it down. Thank you Russ.

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IRH - The Crush

Post by David » Thu January 24, 2019, 6:57 pm

The Crush
by: Russ Lancaster
It was the first day of school in the fall of 1955 when I saw her for the first time. She sat in the first desk, I sat right behind her. I didn't yet know her name but knew I was in love.
That was the day that all the kids from Fairview Heights Elementary School showed up as Freshmen in my class at Hamlet High School. Even in our little town, I knew none of them. We folks from our side of town had always gone to Hamlet Avenue School which at the time housed grades 1 through 12. All these new faces were now among us, new people to meet, soon to be new friends. It was a day of excitement.
The girl who sat in front of me wasn't strikingly beautiful, but definitely cute. There was something about the way she carried herself. She had a smile and laughter that were contagious. She was friendly to everyone and especially so to me.
I wanted desperately to ask her out on a date but I already had a girl friend so I decided to wait a while. That turned out to be my downfall.
My best friend at the time was Donald Harris and he beat me to the punch. He asked her out, she accepted and my fate was sealed. But that didn't do anything but enhance my friendship with her. I now had two best friends, she and Donald.
We sat in Jeter Haynes 9th grade home room class each day and I had a small advantage on Donald since I sat closer to her. We passed notes, joked and had our own secrets in a friendly sort of way. I still thought of her as more than a friend but never told her. I could be comfortable living the role as a friend but my thoughts often strayed much beyond friendship. It was my secret alone.
In our sophomore year, Donald changed his last name to McLean and moved away to Atlanta. I don't want to divulge the reason here but he had his reasons. I had now lost my best friend and again my thoughts turned to the girl who I thought was perfect for me.
But again, I hesitated too long and yet another friend, R.L. Altman, had claimed her as his "steady". Now R.L. wasn't as close a friend as Donald had been but his big muscular body made my skinny self afraid to ask her out. Not that I was afraid of R.L., he wouldn't have physically threatened me or anyone else. He was a gentle giant. I did see him get into a fight at school once but only because he wasn't given a chance to back out and had to defend himself. Even then, he defended himself as a gentleman.
R.L. and the girl of my dreams stayed together through the end of High School and I kept my thoughts of this perfect girl to myself. She and I remained friends throughout and we often found ourselves on special committees together. In the 10th grade we were both elected as ushers for the Junior – Senior Prom. We found ourselves working on floats each year for the homecoming parade. We had our times together doing things like this but only as friends.
I found I could talk with her about any subject and she was a willing listener and gave great advice. I often confided things to her that I would never divulge to anyone else and she encouraged me along the right path each time while keeping my private thoughts a secret.
Once I got my drivers license, I made it a point each afternoon or night to beep my horn as I passed by her house along Main Street. It was usually something (a ritual) that guys only did for their girl friends but I also did it for her. After all, she was my girl friend even if only in my thoughts. She was always just out of reach but yet ever so close.
In the 11th grade, I found she had a sister two years younger. Her sister (Chris) had many of my fantasy girl's traits. I entertained thoughts of asking her out too but always stayed with the one girl friend I had throughout High School either through loyalty or comfort. My girl friend could be depended on even though I could not. It kept things simple that way.
In 12 th grade, my fantasy girl was a contestant for Homecoming Queen. If I could have voted a million times she would have received them all. She didn't win the contest but if they would have had a Miss Congeniality or Personality contest she would have won hands down.
When we got our 1959 Senior Choo-Choo Annuals and started passing them around for signing, she was the first person I handed mine to. When it came back to my desk, I was astonished. She had taken two full pages to write her memories of the fun the two of us had. An act of reserving an entire page for someone was usually reserved for a best friend or a girl friend. I had not reserved a page for anyone yet she had made my day by doing so herself.
I read her words over and over and thought to myself, maybe – just maybe, I should have asked her out just once. But now the time was too late. I still have that old annual and from time to time I get it out to read everyone's thoughts as we were leaving High School and going out into the world on our own. I always read her pages first and last and wonder what kind of life she has now.
I left Hamlet for the Air Force in June 1959 and never saw her again until a high school reunion (our 20th, I think). She was now married, as was I, and she looked just a fresh and wonderful as she had those many years ago in High School. The personality was still there, the smile, the way she treated others…. Nothing had changed.
Then, after an hour or so, she walked over to my table and said, "Russell, would you dance with me?"
I didn't hesitate a moment knowing my wife would somehow understand. For the first time other than in my thoughts, I took her in my arms, put my hands around her waist and in one dance remembered nearly every day we had spent together in school and at parties and such. For the few minutes the dance lasted I knew that she WOULD have dated me back then.
I learned she had married and lived within a hundred miles or so of Hamlet. I got the feeling her marriage may not have been as good as mine even though she never said anything of the sort.
I have not seen her since that day back in 1979 but believe her to now live near the coast of North Carolina. I know she has aged as have I and all my classmates but I would bet all I own that I would still see that special smile if I saw her today. I know the laughter would be the same and that she would still be my friend.
Each of us is where we are today because that is what was intended for us. My years of knowing this special girl somehow influenced my life in ways that I will never understand. But, I like to think she had a part in my choosing the wife I have been married to for over 38 years.
You see, my wife has all those same traits, second to none, not even second to the girl I had the crush on back between 1955 and 1959. My wife has that special smile, that special laughter and special way about her that no one can replace. And I can thank the girl I had the crush on for helping me to know what to look for in choosing that wife 4 years after graduation. I am happily married to the real girl of my dreams thanks to one who showed me the way those many years ago.
Yes, I remember the girl I never asked on a date and the 4 years we spent together in High School. I still hear her laughter and see her smile from time to time if only in my thoughts. I still have her written words in my High School annual to remind me of those special years in High School.
You may have guessed by now who she was and how she may have touched your life if even for only an instant…….. Patsy Lackey.
Yes, I remember Patsy and remembering her allows me to say… I remember Hamlet

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