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TITLE: And Mama Never Found Out
By Venice Kichura

Please check to see if this story holds your interest & is told well, flows, etc...Thanks!
“…..And Mama Never Found Out”

September, 1934
Fort Worth, Texas

“But Mama,” Mary Lyn insisted. “There’s nothing wrong with dancing. Why do we have to be Southern Baptist and Daddy, a deacon? All I hear about is hard times. Doesn’t anyone around here have any fun any more?”

“You should be thankful we don’t have to stand in soup lines like most folks.” her mother, Ruth Owens said. "God has been good to us. Your father still has his job at the title insurance company, even though times are bad and most folks aren’t buying houses. We trust the good Lord and take one day at a time. And as for the dance at the Cow Palace, absolutely not, young lady! We’ve already been through this. Nice girls don’t jitterbug. Besides, that boy, Bobby Joe, is too old for you. I don’t care if his daddy is well-to-do. He’s a college freshman and you're only a high school sophomore. I’m standing my ground, Mary Lyn.”

But 15-year-old Mary Lyn Owens was more stubborn than her mother and two younger sisters put together. She already had a plan in motion.

“All right, Mama. Guess there‘s no use talking you into it. But I’m staying in my room tonight. Please don’t let anyone disturb me. The rest of you can listen to the “Jack Benny Show” without me. School’s just started and I need to get on the right track with my geometry teacher.”

Mary Lyn, in her room studying on a Friday night? Mrs. Owens couldn’t believe what her feisty party-girl daughter was telling her. But she didn’t want to spoil a good thing, so she agreed not to disturb her. She gave her a little hug and said, “someday you’ll be a mother, too, and you’ll understand.” Then she went downstairs to join the rest of the family gathered around their Zenith radio to hear Jack Benny. It was humor that helped folks to keep going during the dreary depression years of the 1930s.

Mary Lyn tacked the "Do Not Disturb" sign to her bedroom door and closed it. She looked out the window. It was 6:55 p.m. and there was her new boyfriend, Bobby Joe Hall, right on schedule. He was holding up a ladder to her bedroom window just as they’d planned. Mary Lyn winked at him, signalling the coast was clear. Ever so quietly, she carefully climbed down the ladder.

When she planted both feet on the ground she and Bobby Joe embraced and quietly slipped down the street and around the block where Bobby Joe had parked his father’s new 1932 fire engine red Ford sedan. They got in and drove off to the Cow Palace.

Mary Lyn felt just a little guilty for sneaking out, but eased her conscious by telling Bobby Joe.“ Mama just doesn’t understand.”

Stepping onto the dance floor, she never had so much fun. She’d also been sneaking around taking jitterbug lessons after school. Much to her surprise, she spied Lacy Jordan, the Baptist’s preacher’s daughter on the dance floor. I wonder how she snuck out, she thought.

“Bobby Joe, I can’t stay long. But it was worth the thrill. I need to get home soon before Mama discovers I‘m not there.”

Bobby Joe drove her the spot where he’d parked his car, originally. They tiptoed to the back of her house where the ladder was still standing. Mary Lyn climbed up to her bedroom window, as Bobby Joe held the ladder steady. Fortunately, it was still hot in September in north central Texas and the windows were open. She was so thankful that her bedroom faced the back of the house.

It was worth it, she told herself, slipping into her pajamas. She had difficulty falling asleep with all the new memories floating through her head, just like she'd floated across the dance floor.

And Mama never found out….

September, 1964
Fort Worth, Texas

“But Mama, everyone will be there. I can’t miss this opportunity. It’s the Rolling Stones! Even Amy Jo’s parents are letting her go and they’re Southern Baptist, too. Why can’t you be groovy like the other parents? This is the 60s and rock concerts are where kids go these days.”

“We’ve already been through this, young lady. I’m sorry, Betsy, but you’re’ not old enough to go out with that boy, and especially not to a rock concert! He hasn’t even had his license for a week and he is two years older than you.”

“Thanks for ruining my life.” Betsy slammed the door. But she had a plan in motion.

“Well, since I can’t go, I might as well go to the library with Jenna. We’re working on a world history project together. We have a lot of planning work to do, so I’ll need to spend the night, too.”

Mary Lyn Hall was encouraged that her fun-loving oldest daughter was taking school seriously this year. She was glad she had stood her ground about the Rolling Stones concert.

“Okay, Betsy, but give me a call in the morning. And about the rock concert, someday you’ll be a mother, too, and you’ll understand.”

“Yeah, right Mama,” Betsy said. “I can ride my bike to Jenna’s and her mom can take us to the library after supper.

“I’m off."

Betsy bicycled up the street several blocks where she saw Jenna with her boyfriend, as well as her hunk, parked in a shiny 1963 yellow Buick Skylark.

“Just throw your bike in the trunk," her boyfriend, Michael said.

Betsy jumped in and scooted up to him. He had clear blue eyes that would make any girl’s heart melt.

"Mission accomplished," the girls, said, slapping their palms together. Jenna had lied to her mother, too, telling her she was spending the night with Betsy. They took off for the concert.

“Mama just doesn’t understand“, Betsy told Michael.

And Mama never found out.

September, 2004
Fort Worth Texas

“You’re so much fun, Johnny. I bet you could really jitterbug in your day.”

“Still can, Miss Mary Lyn. Hey, why don’t you let me take you square dancing at Billy Bob’s tonight?” Ninety-four year-old Johnny Templeton looked straight into Mary Lyn Hall’s big brown eyes and grabbed her hand. He didn’t care what the others at his table at the senior center thought. After 12 years being a lonely widower, he’d found his girl.”

“I’d love that, Johnny,” Mary Lyn said. “But both of us don’t drive any more. You told me your daughter took away your car keys and hid them. Kids! What can you do with them. Can’t live with ‘em…Can’t live without ‘em.”

“Unfortunately, I have to live with my mine,” Johnny said.

“Wow, Miss Mary Lyn, looks what they’re serving us for lunch today,” he said, shifting gears, not wanting to talk about his lack of independence.

“Cajun Catfish.”

“I love fish,” Mary Lyn said.

“That reminds me of a joke,” he said.
“What's the difference between meat and fish?”

“I don’t know, Johnny."

“If you beat your fish, it'll die.”
The whole table roared and dug into their lunch.

A good sense of humor was one of the many qualities Mary Lyn admired in her new friend. Just like her late husband, Bobby Joe Hall, who died ten years ago, he always made her laugh. When she met Johnny, her eyes began to sparkle, again, and she felt young.”

“Tell ‘ya what, Miss Mary Lyn, My daughter’s out of town on business this weekend and my old ‘85 Chevy is sitting out front. She thinks I can’t drive, but what does she know?”

“Yeah, my Betsy and son-in-law, Ron, took away my car, too. She even moved me down the street from her to keep an eye on me. Just because the cops stopped me and saw my license was expired, she thinks I can’t drive."

“Hey, Mary Lyn, why don’t I pick you up tonight at 7ish and we’ll go square dancing at Billy Bob’s? No one will know.”

“I’ll tell my daughter I’m tired and I’m going to bed early. This way they won’t call me past 7 p.m.”

“It’s a date then,” Johnny said winking at her.

“You got it, Miss Mary Lyn. See you tonight. I know where you live just by noticing where the senior van picks you up every morning. We’re practically neighbors.

Johnny was right on time that evening and Mary Lyn was on the phone, waiting for him, talking to her daughter. ”Well, dear, I’m tired so I think I’ll turn in early tonight. Talk with you in the morning.”

“Ok, Mama, good night and don’t forget to take all your pills. Ron and I may go out later, so I won’t talk to you before morning”

Perfect, Mary Lyn thought. This way her noisy daughter and son-in-law won’t check up on me if they’re out, too. They’ll probably grab some barbeque and take in a movie.”

“Come on in, Johnny, Just need to get my shawl and we’ll be all set.

“My but aren’t you a handsome cowboy!”

Johnny was decked out in his ten-gallon hat and cowboy boots.

They boarded the old ‘85 Chevy and reared up the engine.

“I’m glad I found the keys, he said. ”My daughter thought she’d hid them from me, but I take notes.”

“After a couple of chug-a-lugs down the street Mary started to have second thoughts.

“Isn’t that a stop sign, Johnny?

“Oh, you’re right, “ he said…”I’ll be sure to stop the next time.”

They circled around the neighborhood three times before they found the highway exit.

Mary Lyn found herself praying for the first time in years…”

“They finally pulled into the parking lot and Mary Lyn looked up and silently said a prayer of thanks.”

Maybe I should drive home, she thought. But then she remembered how she couldn’t see well at night.

On the dance floor Johnny did alright for an old timer. He could dance the Texas two-step as well as any youngster. Who would guess that this cowboy was pushing 95 and his partner was 85? Mary Lyn was having so much fun she’d almost forgotten how she was going to get home alive.

After two hours of two-stepping and square dancing, Mary Lyn's feet started to ache. Johnny wasn’t ready to quit, but agreed on just one more square dance round.

Then just as they were getting ready to go out the door, their eyes met some familiar faces.

“Jumpin’ catfish! Mary Lyn squealed. It’s Betsy, my daughter and, Ron, my son-in-law who just came through the door.

Betsy recognized her mother and ran ahead of her husband. Glaring straight into her mother’s guilt-ridden eyes, she said, “Mama, what on earth are you doing here? I can’t trust you for a second. In bed early, huh? How sneaky!”

Then her own life flashed before her and she remembered a time a generation ago when she was the sneak. Guess this was her payoff for her teenage years, she thought. She not only had a mischievous 16-year-old, herself, but a sneaky old mother as well. Yep, I’m in the sandwich generation.

“When you said you wanted to go to bed early, Ron and I thought we’d go dancing. Little did we know who we’d find you here.”

Then Betsy saw Johnny coming up beside her mother to explain.

“Oh, I see you have date,” Betsy said. “Is this your ride home?”

But as for Mary Lyn, she’d had enough adventure for one evening. She was glad Betsy had found her Mama out that evening.

Mary Lyn spoke up before her daughter could say anything.

“Look Johnny, you’re a swell dancer, but your driving is a little rusty, just like your old car. I think we both need a ride home. I’ll go with Betsy and Ron can drive your car. Next time we’ll let the kids drive us here."

She was glad this grandmama was finally found out.
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