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Prom night memories

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CATHERINE ANN VELASCO Journal Times

To celebrate the prom season, doctors, nurses and staff working in the emergency room at St. Marys Medical Center pulled out photos from the past and taped them to their prom wall.

There, a Saturday Night Fever tuxedo and a lime green dress takes viewers into a time machine and into the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and early 90s.

And, theres some photos you cant help chuckling at.

The dress and date Ive had for 36 years, said Marcia Zabel, a registered nurse, who went to prom in 1966 with her future husband, Larry Zabel.

The color of my dress is the hot color this year lime green, Zabel said.

To pizzazz up the photo display, Zabel took out the dress and hung it over the pictures on display in the emergency room.

It was my first party dress that I bought at a store. My dresses were either hand-me-downs or my mom made them, she said. It cost $35. That was a lot of money to a farmer with five kids.

Zabels prom was in her Nebraska high school gym, featuring dinner made by the mothers of the junior class and served by the juniors.

I remember we were excited that we got to stay out all night. We ate breakfast and then went home, she said.

To celebrate the 43rd annual Post Prom in Racine, Journal Times readers were asked to submit their prom memories. Heres the time machine jump in and enjoy!

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Kay Rhyner, night supervisor at St. Marys, attended three high school proms from 1955 to 1957 in Schofield, Wis. with Richard Rhyner, now her husband.

It was a brand new high school and consequently the sophomores got to go to prom and thats why I went to prom three years in high school, Rhyner said.

In 1955, my husband had on saddle shoes, isnt that funny? The only guys who wore tuxedos were the prom king and the court. None of the other guys rented tuxedos, and of course, the girls had formals, she said.

Instead of going to dinner before prom, Kay and Richard attended Coketail parties which were like cocktail parties, but they served Coca-Cola and hors doeuvres, she said.

We always went out to dinner after the prom. We would drive a long way to Rhinelander far, far away for dinner, said Rhyner who will be celebrating her 35th wedding anniversary in two weeks.

After we went out to dinner, we would ride around and that was probably every parents nightmare. When the sun came up, we went to someones house for breakfast, and it was over. Now, I think prom goes on for days and days.

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Joe Nosalik, a registered nurse who went to prom at Bradford High School in 1962, remembers driving aroundall night in Kenosha before going out for breakfast at Petrifying Springs Park.

It was special fun. We didnt have to rent a hotel room. We did everything a lot easier and it was just as fun. These days, prom is a big expense. Now it costs $500 to $600, he said.

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Lori Samarzea Neu, felt like a celebrity when she went to her prom on June 12, 1963.

I remember sitting for the customary Rotary picture with my date at 3 a.m. We no sooner had finished with the sitting when a Journal Times photographer caught my arm and asked that I wait for him to return. He wanted to find another girl in the crowd who undoubtedly would be from a different school and photograph us together, she said.

When he returned with the girl, I had to chuckle to myself; he not only found someone I knew quite well, but we both lived on the same street, went to Horlick, and were even in the same homeroom! He laughed when we told him this and said, Oh well, and took the picture anyway, which made the newspaper.

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Dr. Steven Koenigsknecht, who went to prom in 1969 in Lansing, Mich., remembers when the event was a lot cheaper.

It cost $100 to go to prom to rent the tux, buy flowers, go to dinner and buy gas for the car, said Koenigsknecht, medical director of the St. Marys emergency room.

I wore a yellow brocade. You had to match your date then, said Koenigsknecht as he admired his yellow tuxedo and his wifes yellow dress.

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Mary Nissila Sorenson, who went to prom in 1972 with her future husband, Stephen, wore the bridesmaid dress she wore only a week earlier to her sisters wedding.

The prom was going well until the first band finished its set, and the second band didnt show up on time because they thought they were the third band. After waiting until 2 a.m. without any music, the couple signed out at the door and headed home.

We did make one stop on the way home. We stopped at the only place in Racine that was still open at that time of night, Dunkin Donuts. We must have made quite a picture sitting there on those stools, me in my bridesmaid dress, my steady in his tux. But, I must admit that has got to have been the most romantic doughnut I have eaten, before or since Prom 1972, she said.

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Dr. James Soyka, emergency physician at St. Marys, did the John Travolta look for his 1977 prom in New Jersey.

I had the Saturday Night Fever look with bell bottoms and a velour collar and bow tie, he said.

It was fun. I went with my high school sweetheart at the time. We went to dinner and then to prom. After prom, the thing was to go to the shore. It was an hour away. We go down to the shore and eat breakfast and then come back the next day, he said.

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Marcia Veltus, a Case High School graduate who went to prom in 1977, will never forget the morning of the dance.

That morning I was in a car accident. I hit a 12-year boy the day of prom. He just shot out in front of me. I thought he was dead, but I was only 16. He was OK, she said. It happened right after I got my hair done. I was on my way back home and wham.

Despite the shake up in the morning, Veltus, a health unit clerk at St. Marys, had a wonderful time.

It was fun. It was my second dance and my first prom. It was at Memorial Hall and we drove in a Mark IV Lincoln Continental, she said.

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John and Julia (Kowbel) Gonzales will never forget their prom in 1978.

A group of us were going to rent a limo for the evening, but I said it is not fair to the king and queen who are honored with a limo ride to Memorial Hall from Park High. Then when we were crowned the other couples were miffed because we got to ride in a limo anyway. These were the days before a limo was standard transportation for the evening

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