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    Sunday, December 03, 2023

    The Good Old Days: A meeting at midnight one summer goes awry

    The Blue Sands, one of the nightspots at Misquamicut Beach that young people frequented in the 1970s. Photo submitted

    In a few short minutes, the class of 1971 graduation ceremony at the Norwich Free Academy will come to an end. When the last word from the commencement speech follows a round of applause, we throw our caps into the air, and our hearts leap with joy. Now, we have our whole life ahead of us, and can do as we please.

    But first, a special summer looms in the distance. This is the last summer before having to work full-time or attend college. We need this summer to remind us that we are still children having fun.

    At the time, I had a partner in crime; a sidekick, so to speak. She was more than a friend; she was my cousin, and her name was Barbara Ann. We were the same age, and our fathers were brothers.

    Both brothers were strict and ruled with a heavy hand. Even at age 17, I knew the consequences each time I stepped off the beaten path. However, having such a sidekick had advantages. One could give our fathers one story to our whereabouts, while the real story lay hidden underneath a lie.

    Sometimes we got caught; other times we escaped unscathed. And sometimes, like the story I am going to tell, may sound humorous, but the pain still lingers. For the teenage years are interlaced with the beauty of the first robin in spring, and the fragile deer trying to survive the dead of winter.

    Almost every day since school ended, my cousin and I went to Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island. We also went to the dance clubs at night (unbeknownst to our fathers) such as The Wreck, or The Blue Sands.

    It wasn’t an easy feat to get there, since Barbara’s old car had holes in the floor by your feet, and my Volkswagen Bug was in serious trouble when the brake pads fell off. Sometimes as adults, we resent the frivolousness of youth. The truth of the matter is teenagers remind us of who we used to be and the pain we left behind.

    On Friday night, I and a group of friends were going to the clubs. When a gang of teenagers arrived, my dad was still at work.

    Upon arrival, I questioned the driver about departure time. He promised to meet us at midnight for a ride home.

    The hours passed quickly.

    At midnight, we waited in the parking lot for our ride. An hour later we knew we were stranded. We walked up and down the beach thinking of what to do next. And that’s when I stepped on a board with two rusty nails. I felt both nails go right through my flip-flop.

    Another hour passed. Finally, I recognized two friends, who took us back to their home. Their parents drove us all the way back to Bozrah.

    I knew what I was about to face, so I had them drop us off a few houses down the road. I could hear my father yelling two houses away.

    The next day, I could not walk on my foot and had to go to the hospital. My father carried me all the way. I still believe youth is not wasted on the young.

    Yes, teenagers can be impulsive and annoying. Nevertheless, can you remember the days when you only needed the sunshine and the air you breathed to be happy? I can.

    Concetta Falcone-Codding is a 1971 graduate of the Norwich Free Academy and the author of “The Lonely Nest.” You can contact at: concettafalconecodding1@gmail.com.

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