St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In the Heat of the Night

It is a summer night in long ago. Forty members of the High School band have traveled to Duluth to march at the Port-A-Rama parade, coming a day early to prepare. Two young men are standing on the long open balcony outside their hotel room door on the 3rd floor overlooking the city streets, the lights of the big city extending down to the waterfront.

They are country boys who are in wonder at the brightness of city lights, thrilled at staying in a hotel, excited at being away from home. It is curfew time; soon they will have to go into the room and try to sleep, but right now that is the last thing they want to do.

Above them, the murmurs of many girls drop gently on them in the hush of the night. The boys are on 3rd floor, the girls on 4th floor directly above with parents and teachers carefully guarding the connecting stairs. A school field trip is successful if no one gets hurt, no property is damaged and no one gets pregnant or arrested.

Chatter from both floors permeate the lazy warm summer evening as everyone takes a last look around from the balconies. The two young men recognize the musical voices of two pretty classmates right overhead. They stop and listen to the girls who are excited about what they bought downtown that day; then yawn and decide to go to bed.

The last thing they hear: from the girls:

“What are you wearing?”
“Just this”
“I mean underneath?”
“It is just me, see.”
“Me too.”

The two young men look at each other with wide eyes. Their night is restless; their dreams better left unspoken; they are left with a permanent memory of a hot July night in 1964.