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I was a skinny 11-year-old girl going from store to store in downtown El Dorado Springs looking for work. Being tall, I could pass for thirteen but they had a way of asking my age first thing, so I had to admit to being only eleven.  I was usually told they’d had kids thirteen years old but never eleven.  No employment was found.  Not even at the drugstore I loved so much with its amazing smells,  paddle fans, ice cream, and comic books.

Later, when I was old enough, I did find employment at the 4-Corner Diner.  Then I could buy the black and white saddle oxfords, can-cans for underneath my dresses, even those hideous hoops that were in style.  How on earth did we manage to sit down!  I seem to remember that they went out of style pretty quickly.

The three-story school building that we attended had concrete steps and I don’t recall ever using a handrail – or even if we had any.  I just zipped up and down them, no problem, and never stumbled.  Now I would have a hard time with them even with a handrail.

I met my soulmate,  Bob Johnston,  in the northeast eighth-grade classroom in the basement level.   We didn’t figure that out until we were seniors, though.

Life was such a gentle, pleasant thing, back then, generally speaking.  We had the whole world before us, and most of us had grand ideas.  We couldn’t have had better years to grow up in or a better town in which to do it.  Perfect  for dreaming dreams that only youth can.

The park in downtown EL Do was a special place, it still is, but as so often is the case, when you grow up with something you don’t appreciate it until you don’t have it anymore. I have so many fond memories of that park. 

The Old Rock Wall along the east side of the park has comforted thousands of weary mothers with babies.  Apparently, the old men sitting there never got all the world’s problems solved because they are still working on it, and I’m sure the old ladies are still trying to solve all the problems involving old men!

Downtown El Dorado Springs became a magical place each year during The Picnic.  I am so thankful to have experienced that event every July of my growing up years.  The excitement:  music, games, and vendors of all kinds, brought us entertainment.  If we hadn’t seen someone all year, we’d see them at the Picnic.  Just the fact that the streets were all blocked off for the activity was pretty exciting itself. 

It still takes place every year, but it wears a different face now with professional entertainment in addition to our local talent performing in front of the bandstand.  My older sisters used to sing in that bandstand. I must have been adopted since I can’t carry a tune.

Our high school building, unlike the Picnic, did not stand the test of time.  It was razzed in 1966 following an explosion and was replaced by a new, much more modern school building.  I haven’t been inside it, but I expect it has carpeted classrooms and is air-conditioned throughout.  We had concrete floors and open windows with no screens.  We sat in those windows and watched the activities going on outside.

The high school building did not survive – but the Bulldog did.  We still have EHS and its Bulldog mascot with the black and red colors. 

Bob and I were engaged by the time graduation rolled around in 1958. There were around eighty of us in that class, and our history teacher, Ferol Jackson, arranged it so that Bob and I could walk down the aisle together.    We thought that was pretty nice at the time, in retrospect, it was very special, as was the painting of a dog that our art teacher, Mrs. Fisher, painted for us as a wedding present. I had an art gallery and frame shop in Evanston, WY for about ten years before retirement and I framed the painting during that time.  It hangs in my home office now and is one of my finest treasures. 

Everything changes with time, at least to some degree.  The class of ’58 lived its life, whether that was short or long, and made its mark in eighty-something different ways.  As we found our way in the world we transformed and became the butterflies we were meant to be.

We are all now in the winter of our lives and our memories are dear to us.  You can still walk the streets of El Dorado, stroll through the park, drink the amazing spring water,  and watch the goldfish in the same pond in the park.  If you listen carefully at the end of May, you may hear the jubilant shouts of new graduates across town, or in July, the music of the dance the Picnic made.

There is nothing quite like the ghosts of EL Do past.


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