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High School Prom Circa 1988

Prom Before the Age of Limousines for Everything

By Susan Eileen Published 2 years ago 4 min read
High School Prom Circa 1988
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

I went to prom with my high school sweetheart, who later became my first husband. My high school senior prom was in May of 1988. One of my childhood best friends went as well with her boyfriend at the time. Prom was a much more low-budget production back in those days, while at the same time, the 1980’s had a “too much is never enough” feel to it. The 1980’s were very glam. The hair was big, permed and hair sprayed to death. Jeans couldn’t be tight enough, and boobs couldn’t be big enough. Cocaine hurricanes on the weekend were a real thing and everyone wanted to be the wolf of Wall Street.

In 1988, prom weekend in Northeast Ohio included amusement parks. We were lucky to have both Geauga Lake and Cedar Point within driving distance. At that time, there we listened to music on the radio and the local radio stations had contests for free admission. The radio station would ask you to call in and vote for your own high school and the school that got the most votes received free admission to the park. My high school did win that year, and we received free admission to Geauga Lake Amusement Park for prom weekend. When they announced the news over the speaker system at school, we were all overjoyed more about out school spirit I think than anything else.

Prom weekend was beginning to shape up. Prom night was Friday, Cedar Point on Saturday (another amusement park, but this was on the shores of Lake Erie), and Geauga Lake on Sunday. It was a curious time for drinking ages in the United States as the new drinking age had recently been instituted and there were different rules for everyone it seemed. At the time of my prom, the rules were new and were as follows (if memory serves me correctly): those 21 and over could drink liquor and beer, 19 and over could drink only beer and for 18 and under drinking was prohibited.

Of course, every girl wants to look her best on prom night. I was on a mission to find the perfect dress. Problem was, that I didn’t have much money. This was a simpler time, so we didn’t do limos or nail appointments for prom. You found your dress, your hair was already curly from the perm, and you did your make-up yourself. We were not yet a service economy, so we did for ourselves instead of hiring others.

Of to the mall I went. It was Randall Mall, actually. At one point, I believe it was the largest mall in America. Two stories, a food court, little shops and then some larger stores like J.C. Penny, arcades..where else would you want to be other than the mall? You and your friends could window shop, see a movie, and grab an Orange Julius. It was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Naturally, I went on a quest to find the perfect dress. Unfortunately, and this pattern would be repeated over and over again, in my quest to buy the perfect, inexpensive dress, I bought at least two inexpensive dresses. Did I save any money buying more than one? The dress I wore to prom was a white, lace handkerchief style dress. The bodice was snug, with off the shoulder teacup sleeves. I looked fantastic in the dress. I did splurge and have my hair professionally done that day.

Prom night was here. As it was, at the time of this writing, 34 years ago, I don’t remember much. We gathered at my friend Gina’s house. Gina had her date, Jose, and I had my date, Mark. He and I would later have a daughter together and get married. We piled into my stick shift Honda and off we went to prom. It must’ve not been too exciting, if I don’t remember much! Formal dances for teenagers seem a big illogical, but that’s just me. We ended up at a motel In Twinsburg, Ohio that night. For whatever reason, I remember that the room was thirteen dollars that night! Thirteen dollars! Curse you inflation!

Saturday morning, we geared up to go to Cedar Point on the shores of Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio. It was about a ninety-minute drive. I remember it seemed unseasonably cold that day, and a little too windy to be enjoyable. Such is Ohio weather. If you don’t like it, wait fifteen minutes, it will change. It was a very sunny day and I had a bottle of Jack for us for the day. Why we needed alcohol to have fun is another question altogether. We ventured out to Cedar Point, but our dates for the day had partied too much the night before. We didn’t last long at Cedar Point, and we only rode a handful of rides. It was back home for the night to sleep. There was still Sunday funday!

Sunday we went to Geauga Lake amusement park in Aurora. Oh the memories at Geauga Lake. This was the park that we got into for free because we had all called in out of our sense of school spirit. Sunday admission was free, the hotel was thirteen dollars, and my prom dress was purchased on clearance. At some point I knew how to cut costs! I need to remember those days!

I believe Mark and I were on our own on Sunday. We were well rested from the night before and the day was perfectly beautiful day. I could not have asked for better weather, and the fact that it happened on prom weekend was just pure luck. The roller coasters were fun if outdated, and the water park was a blast. Just writing this has brought back numerous memories of Geauga Lake and they are all good!

Amusement parks in Ohio had beer gardens, gambling, and roller coasters. The Big Dipper was the oldest roller coaster at Geauga Lake. It was a rickety wooden coaster, that required chiropractic care after riding it! Maybe that's why amusement parks went out of style! You could also pretend to ride around in old timey cars, get cotton candy and take silly pictures in a photo booth. Life was good.

I’m not sad that that chapter of my life is over. I’m happy that I have such good memories!


About the Creator

Susan Eileen

If you like what you see here, please find me on Amazon. I have two published books under the name of Susan Eileen. I am currently working on a selection of short stories and poems. My two published books are related to sobriety.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (1)

  • Babs Iverson2 years ago

    Wonderful prom weekend memories. Lovely story!

Susan Eileen Written by Susan Eileen

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