The first sign of trouble brewing was when I spotted my older sister setting up the badminton set and pulling out the RCA phonograph, this could mean only one thing — The LJ’s would be taking over our house that night.
In the past I occasionally caught a glimpse of them though the curtain pulled across the bedroom doorway. They wore their hair in pony tails or page boy cuts and dressed in wool skirts, sweaters and saddle shoes. Sometimes they donned dickey collars or pom pom balls around their necks, and at times wore some goofy thing called a “peddle pusher”.
I had no idea what LJ stood for — it was a secret high school club my sister belonged to and it’s members swore a solemn oath to never reveal it’s meaning…never!
On the day of the LJ invasion my Dad could be found cleaning up our old red metal cooler with an attached bottle opener and white script letters reading “Drink Coca-Cola in Bottles.” He also gathered together his railroad boxcar jack and a stack of wood planks and blocks because it was almost certain that before the night was over either Judy or Vicky would back their car into the ditch at the end of our driveway — they just weren’t very good at driving a car in reverse.
Mom re-cleaned her already immaculate house and frolicked around the kitchen baking desserts and making barbecue hamburger for the evening. Every now-and-then she’d smile and toss me a small tidbit as if she were appeasing a begging dog.
My brothers were old enough to escape out into the neighborhood for the evening — I was too young and had to stay at home and out of the way.
Buddy Knox’s “Party Doll” was a popular rockabilly song in 1957. For most people it brings back memories of sock-hops and drive-in movies — for me it was the anthem that played prior to my kid sister and I being sent to solitary confinement in the back-bedroom of our small home. That room measured eight by nine and contained a full sized bed, two dressers, and one window. No chair, TV or radio.
When the LJ’s arrived they rushed into our house as if they were storming the beach in Normandy. After hearing them all rant about how cute my little sister was, the two of us were escorted into “The Hole” for the evening. My only entertainment was to sit on the bed and search the paisley wallpaper for odd shapes and faces.
I could hear them out there rifling through a stack of 45 records looking for something to jitter-bug to. “Rock Around the Clock” was one of their favorites, and as you probably guessed by now, not one of mine.
Mom and Dad mingled somewhat with the crowd and would peek in regularly to check on my sister and I. At some point during our captivity Mom would present us with a tray with sandwiches and desserts — kind of like a prisoner being fed in their cell. We lunged at the tray like dogs attacking a piece of meat. The night dragged on and on… Like a little kid in the back seat on a long car ride I kept asking, “Is it almost over?”
At some point of the evening Mom and Dad would join us on the bed. Mom took my kid sister on her lap and stroked her hair as she sat quietly and listened to the laughter outside. She had a distant gaze and broad smile as she sat there rocking her feet from side to side. She seemed so pleased, so at peace.
Dad on the other hand had been contemplating how many cars he’d have to pull out of the ditch that night. He had perfected the task and I think he actually looked forward to it.
With the party finally having come to a close, Mom would carry my sleeping kid sister off to bed as I ran to the front window to see if the beacon of Dad’s flashlight could be spotted shinning on yet another LJ in the ditch.
Fifty-seven years have passed. Most people today never heard of the song “Party Doll” and I still have no idea what LJ stands for. The club’s friendships remain strong today and when they do get together they often find themselves transformed back to that simpler time. Over the years they have laughed together, cried together and mourned together, but always together.
They say that your best friends are your oldest friends. I don’t know if that’s true in every case, but the LJ’s offer a persuasive argument.