Sunday, June 16, 2013

Teen Idol

               Teen Idol


 Frank Baldani first showed up at our high school as Linda Barstow’s steady date. She
was really pretty and peppy so she could attract boys from all over, even out of town. Frank was from Manchester as I recall and attended the local high school, Burr and Burton Academy. He was a year old that us juniors but one look at him and we couldn’t have cared less if he was ten years younger. Frank Baldani was gorgeous. Tall, handsome with dark hair and eyes, he was friends to everyone and you just knew he was one nice guy. He and Linda came to our Friday night dances in the high school gym, and Frank would say hello to the teachers chaperoning the dance, to the janitor who worked overtime without pay, and then he’d dance with Linda and every girl there, even Anna May who had “ten left feet”.  And he was really nice and genuine.
  After a couple of months, Frank began dating Mandy Overton when Linda found herself another guy, this one from North Adams. Frank and Mandy dated for months, right into our senior year. Again, they’d come to our Friday night dances in the gym, Frank would say a friendly “hello’ to everyone and then he’d dance the night away with Mandy. Frank never complained as he threw in a dance with one wall flower after another while Mandy smiled from the sidelines.
  Then, all of a sudden, it was June of our senior year and time for graduation. Most of the guys in our class were going into the Army and from there, right over to Viet Nam. The fun of our senior year dances was just a memory. It was 1963 and things were really heating up over there. We girls were headed to college or to nurses training at Bennington Hospital and the months began flying by all too quickly. President Kennedy was assassinated and that dampened everyone’s spirits. After that somehow things seemed to change.
 Linda Barstow became, of all things, a “hippie” and went to live at a commune somewhere southwest of Burlington. A couple of the kids who were close to Linda, grew their hair long, began smoking cigarettes that smelled different from Chesterfields and Camels, and went to live with Linda and her group, growing their own vegetables and living in tents year round. Somehow most of them still are up there, just cut their hair a bit shorter, live in regular houses as their bones couldn’t take the cold.  I hear they got too old for marijuana and “hippie” living. 
   Mandy married a local fellow whose family owned a grain business and they went on to a good life together, surrounded with children and then, in time, grandchildren. When I saw her last, she still looked like she could ‘dance the night away’ as she did all those years ago.
  When we college kids came home at the holidays, we caught up on gossip about classmates and people we knew. Someone asked about Frank Baldani and all that most people knew was that he’d fought in Viet Nam as a Marine. One kid thought he’d heard that Frank was killed over there in the Mekong Delta while he was on a scouting mission, but nobody seemed to know for certain about Frank’s whereabouts. That was sad, as we all liked Frank. 
  The years began passing and suddenly we were middle-aged, our parents old and ailing. My husband and I went to the local bank in Bennington to get a mortgage for my mother so she could live in a nice home for seniors located right in the middle of town. We were ushered into the bank president’s elegant office. He sat at his desk but smiled when we entered and rose to greet us warmly, shaking our hands and offering us something cold to drink. Something about him looked familiar.
“Welcome to Bennington Trust. I’m Frank Baldani, the bank president, and anything I can do to make this paperwork easier, believe me, I will do just that.” My God, he was the same guy as years before, nice as pie and agreeable to everyone. Just older and grayer. Mr. Nice Guy, Frank Baldani.


1 comment:

Caroline said...

Great post, and it happens to all of us. The question is, can it be said we're still as nice, or even, has he/she grown nicer?