By Dianne Ballon
Simonds Park and Kemp’s — a beautiful pair
When I was on the tennis team, we practiced at Simonds Park after school twice a week and played our home matches there. Practice consisted of many warm-up exercises before hitting tennis balls. We were so out of shape, we could barely do the jumping jacks. But we didn’t care, because heaven was only a few steps away. If you cut through the woods, Kemp’s was conveniently located diagonally cross from the tennis courts. After practice, unbeknownst to our parents, we’d stop by for a hamburger. Then we’d head home for supper less than an hour later. Here’s a classic photo of my sister Jackie and David Enos at Kemp’s in 1967. (She allowed me to use this photo only if I included the photo of me as a majorette.)
“We hung out A LOT in Simonds Park,” recalls Siri Thomassen Joly, “attempting to play tennis while covertly watching some boys who, I think, played cards there. Some of the boys we had a crush on, even though one of them was our friend’s brother. Then off to Kemp’s for a cheap hamburger and fries.”
I’m sure every kid in Burlington participated in a parade. As kids, my friends and I decorated our bicycles with red, white and blue crepe paper, and attached a playing card with a clothespin to make the spokes sing. We lined up in the early morning at Simonds Park, endlessly waiting for the parade to start. Then, we took our place on the road closed to traffic, and off we went.
As teenagers, we marched with batons in hand. We were the majorettes — well, sort of. One of our classmates, Bonnie Sinclair, was a professional-grade baton twirler. In her sparkling uniform, she looked as fluid as a skater while we stumbled along in our makeshift attire: white shirts with navy blue culottes, white cowboy hats and white Go-Go boots.
We didn’t have much of a routine, mostly the figure eight and the side spin. We did have a throw that we had to perform once or twice depending on the length of the parade. The parade would stop; the band would play, and we would perform. So there was Bonnie, twirling beautifully, throwing her baton high into the air and snatching it every time, while we attempted the one throw we had practiced for months. Batons bounced off the pavement and into the crowd. If that didn’t make us want to quit on the spot! But we were thirteen, and marching in Go-Go boots was just about as cool as going to high school.
Here’s a typical photo taken by my mom, who always pointed the camera up. I am thirteen, standing in my majorette uniform on my street, Lantern Lane, in 1966. You can barely see the baton in my right hand.
Holding the French horn in these next photos is Michael Conners. Note the 1960s slim-style neckties. Mr. Vento, the band director, appears in both photos, serious but not too worried, yet. Michael’s mom and my mom worked at the Pine Glen school cafeteria and were good friends. A few years later, Michael died of leukemia. He was one of the first classmates we lost.
The discovery of this 1966 photo of my sister’s Girl Scout troop marching in the Burlington Memorial Day parade led to a few tales about their trip to Washington, D.C.
The Adventures of Girl Scout Cadette Troop #576
Aleta recalls, “We sold wreaths for two years to finance the trip to Washington D.C. The trip was led by Mrs. Putnam, Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Raske. When I reflect back, I am awed by their generosity and volunteerism. After all, Mrs. Putnam did not have a daughter in the troop; Mrs. Wilson was widowed and was the mother of four, and Mrs. Raske probably had five or six kids. Yet they took a week out of their lives to take a bunch of 14-year olds to Washington, DC, by bus!”
The troop took in the sights by day and camped somewhere in Maryland at night. Jackie remembers, “One of our friends and fellow scout had moved to Maryland, so we got to see her. She had two brothers. After a long day of sightseeing, we were settling in for the night, and she joined us in the tent. We fell asleep quickly and were woken up by a flashlight shining into our eyes, in what seemed like the middle of the night. There was much screaming and a big fright! Turns out that her brothers had figured out some girls were sleeping in the tent, and they stole underwear from one of the older girls. She cried— out of fear or embarrassment? It took a long time for everyone to settle down.”
One afternoon the chaperones suggested the Girl Scouts go to the movies. My sister Jackie recalls, “One of the girls suggested that we go see the Disney film Bambi. But Aleta and I suggested that we go see Georgy Girl. We liked the theme song and figured it would be a good film to see. We really did not know what the film was about, but we convinced the leaders that it would be appropriate for a group of Girl Scouts.
“The ticket-taker kind of looked at us, all in uniform with sashes and badges, as we paraded into the theater and down the aisle to our seats at the front of the movie house. Unbeknownst to Aleta and me, the film was about a young British woman who became pregnant ‘out of wedlock.’ Although we were on the verge of a sexual revolution, the movie was still scandalous and shocking at the time.
“We could not exactly march down the aisle and leave before the movie finished without complete embarrassment! Needless to say our leaders were not amused, and many looks of disapproval and shock were sent our way as we sank deeper into our seats. — We still liked the theme song.”
The theme song Georgy Girl was performed by The Seekers. The single topped the charts, earned a gold record, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Many thanks to Siri Thomassen Joly who remembered “the scandalous movie” and sent her photos of the Girl Scout trip— converted from 35mm slides.
Now, to get that song out of my head . . .