Sunday, June 9, 2013

Provincetown's Last Prom Brings Back Memories for Many

Last evening I felt like having a little something to drink. You know me: I wanted to taste something new, so I headed over to Vorelli's to see Connie. She's been tending bar there since 1978, and she will always come up with a tasty drink that I've never heard of. She made me a Dark and Stormy, with Goslinger's dark rum and ginger beer. Delicious. Connie has this wonderful way of making people feel at home, bringing strangers sitting at the bar into conversations with each other and making everyone feel welcome, included and comfortable. She soon had me chatting with a couple at the bar who were on their way to the last high school prom ever to be held in Provincetown.
Gerard and Kathy Menangas, on their way to PTown's last prom.
Having such a small population of students these last many years, we've done things a bit differently in Provincetown, as you might imagine. The prom has been an event that's celebrated, and attended, by all kinds of folks of all ages, making it a fun, annual event for the whole town. Folks would line up along the walkway into Town Hall and applaud the students as they pulled up in their limos, dressed in all kinds of finery for the occasion, and then they would all go inside, three or four generations together, and spend the evening dancing and celebrating, which made it great fun for all and a memorable event for the kids. You gotta love a town like this!
Sadly, the dwindling population of high school-aged kids in Provincetown has led to the closing of Provincetown High at the end of this school year, so this year's prom will be the last. Talking at the bar with Gerard and Kathy Menangas I learned that Gerard's senior class, in 1969, saw some 60 or 70 graduates receive their diplomas. Kathy said she thought this year's class had perhaps only 9 members.
Gerard and Kathy pose for their original prom photo.
Kathy was a Provincetown High School junior and Gerard was a freshman when their prom photo was taken at 11 Alden Street, where Gerard had grown up. He played football, baseball, basket-ball and ran track for Provincetown High, and, of course, he wore the requisite letterman's jacket.
Kathy played on the basketball and softball teams and was a member of the first-ever girls field hockey team. Kathy said that being an athlete was what had made Gerard notice her. This was long before the Title 9 federal law, passed in 1972, required all US schools to provide equal opportunity for girls to participate in school sports. Provincetown was way ahead of the times.
When Kathy's family moved away the two were separated, each going on to marry and live their lives, with Gerard remaining in Provincetown. Kathy returned alone to PTown for the 2009 high school reunion in June of that year, her husband having passed away. Gerard had also lost his wife, and when the two met again at the reunion, each knew this was their destiny. Within four months they were married.
Talking with Connie after the two had left the bar for this evening's final Provincetown prom, we wondered if there would be anyone else attending with their original prom date after all these years.

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