1959: The Common Year

Ethan Dickinson, guest writer


            1959 was a common year, it started on a Thursday, that’s what they say, but for me that year was anything but common. The only truth in that statement was that it started on a Thursday, the best Thursday of my life. My name is Matthew Collins and I live in the small town of Mount Vernon, Ohio. My life consists of marvel comics, doing my school work at the Corner Diner on Fifth Street every Sunday, and monopolizing the juke box so I can listen to Frank Sinatra. My life was pretty routine until that fateful Thursday.

            I guess my story begins on Wednesday, December 31, 1958. My friend Michael came bounding up the stairs and crashing through the door ending up on the floor in my room. I turned from my desk to see who or what had just crashed onto my floor, not expecting anything less than Michael. He looked up at me from his lowly state and smiled and then re-realized his urgency and immediately jumped to his feet “Matthew! You will never believe what I have in my pocket!” He stated excitedly.

            Being an avid reader of the Lord of the Rings(hyperlink) I replied, “what has it gots in its nasty little pocketsess.”

            Unshaken by my brilliant reference he continues, “I have an invitation to none other than Joe Scarmory’s New Years party!”

            With sarcastic excitement I replied, “good for you!”

            “Oh, but my friend,” he opens the envelope and reads aloud. “This voucher is good for one person and his boring, queer friend.”

            I turn my chair to face the desk and continue reading my limited edition X-Men issue 3(hyperlink).

            “Oh, come on, man . . . it says right here that I have a plus one; you never do anything — live a little. Plus you’re kinda my only friend, so if you don’t go you would be sentencing me to a night of no fun. Please go!” He begged.

            I entertained the thought of going to a party for the duration of two seconds before swirling my chair around like a Bond villain and giving my response, “I will go on one condition — I drive.”

            He didn’t even need to think about it: “Yes! A thousand times yes!”

            “I’ll pick you up at 8.”



            We stood there like a couple of sinners at the gates of heaven, or rather a couple of nerds, in front of Joe Scarmory’s house. The sounds of Elvis Prestley  whiney voice echoed from the open door before us. The one thing I hate more than physical activity has to be Elvis — everyone loves him, but I think he is way overrated.

             As we entered the belly of the beast my senses were flooded with sights and smells that I had never experienced before. We were greeted by teenagers of social power way above ours that were making more body contact than a litter of puppies. As we walked in, a football flew right in front of us, stopping us in our tracks. Joe Scarmory jumped to catch the ball landing on an armchair that I almost felt bad for. “Wooo hooo!” Micheal exclaimed and ran toward the nearest source of alcohol, of course inevitably leaving me alone.




            It was around 10:30 and Michael was completely and totally drunk. I had been sitting in the same armchair, that had unfortunately suffered the blow of a full grown Joe Scarmory, for the entire night up to this point.

            And then, unexpectedly, another guest walked in the door. My heart skipped a beat in time with the Elvis record when I saw her. She was a caramel-haired, pink-lipped goddess dressed in a black full circle skirt and a white collared blouse. She walked in and immediately took to the crowd, swallowed by a group of girls. I immediately stood up, and to my unfortunate displeasure was immediately grabbed by the arm by a senior that I had never seen before.

             “Looks like we have our first volunteer!” The senior said as he threw me in the closet and shut the door. I could hear mumbled voices outside of the closet, the strange thing was that I enjoyed the closet  more than the actual party. The very second I got comfortable, the door opened again and a figure was tossed in — the sound of laughter flowed through the door as it closed.

            The figure sat on the opposite end of the closet in a huddled mass; I couldn’t quite make out who it was on account of my eyes still adjusting. I stood and grazed my hands along the wall, desperately looking for a light switch, when my head hit a beaded string falling hanging from the canter of the room. I pulled it, which immediately filled the small space with light. I glanced at the figure, who was still huddled on the floor, and saw that it was her — the angelic figure who had graced the party with her presence, and even more surprising was the fact that I was in the closet with her.

            We sat on opposite sides of the closet for what seemed like an eternity. I tried to avoid eye contact at all cost; I couldn’t help but glance at her. All of a sudden she looked up and our eyes met for a split second, just before I shot my attentions toward the wall.

             “Oh, man, she probably thinks I’m stupid,” I thought to myself, but just as I thought that I felt a hand on my arm. My whole body went numb as she sat down next to me and lifted my arm around her shoulder. She nuzzled into my side like we were two puzzle pieces that fit perfectly. All thought went out the window; I dared not say a word.

            Eventually, the moment was broken by someone fidgeting with the door handle. The door swung open and with it Michael stumbled into the closet. “Matt, I . . . I think I’m sick.”

              Just as soon as he said it, he was barfing in my lap, and the mystery angel was up and out of the room as fast as Michael had fallen into it.




            The first day back to school after winter break was a jovial time for most people, as they enjoyed seeing all their friends again; for me it was always hell. The jocks were always on the lookout for a human punching bag, and the car junkies, with their hair greasier than fried chicken, only required someone to glance in their general direction to initiate a beating.

            It was a geek’s worst nightmare to go to Mount Volcano Academy. However, this year it was different — I couldn’t help but wonder if the mystery girl went to school here. I mean, it is the only high school in Mount Volcano, so she has to go here. I looked all day, in every period I had, and there was no sign of her. I walked into my last period class, Music Appreciation, with low expectations of finding her. It was usually my favorite class, but today I couldn’t seem to appreciate much of anything.

            “Is anyone sitting here?” A melodic voice asked.

            “No, you can sit here,” I replied as I turned around. It was her, and she was going to sit next to me! She grabbed the back of the chair and pulled it to a group of girls on the opposite end of the room. My heart couldn’t catch up to the events that had just taken place. I crossed my arms and put my head in the nest they formed.




            It was a Saturday afternoon, and as routine commands I headed to the Corner Diner, the only place besides the school cafeteria with a jukebox . With school books in one hand and a cup full of quarters in another, I walked to my usual booth. After setting all my stuff down, I took to the juke box and put in my first quarter. The disk slid into place and Frank Sinatra’s beautiful voice started to sing The Night We Called It a Day (tic-tac-toe). I sat down and started studying, humming along to the genius jazz artist.

            Suddenly, my ears lost the sweet sound — someone had turned off Frank Sinatra! I turned around to yell at the person who had committed the heinous crime, but my throat collapsed at the sight of my mystery girl.

             “Are you the one playing this crap?” She said, and I was suddenly too angry to think about the fact that she was my mystery girl — no one disrespects Sinatra!

            “Frank Sinatra is a genius! He creates feelings and emotions with his voice that you can’t even begin to understand. Plus, he is a thousand times better than any Elvis or Flamingoes song out there!” I was out of breath and immediately regretted every word that had come out of my mouth. By this time she had already migrated into the booth I was in.

            “You can say anything you want about how good Mr. Sinatra is, but do not bring Elvis into it; you cannot say Elvis doesn’t make you feel anything!” She got up, took a quarter from my cup and walked to the jukebox.

            As I watched the disk drop onto the player, she walked back to the booth. She stopped right in front of me, took my hand, and dragged me to the middle of the diner. The alien music that filled the diner was different from the Elvis the kids at school listened to. This Elvis had love, but not just love — a love that he couldn’t have; that he couldn’t get away from.

            I looked down in surprise to find that she was holding my hands. Her eyes were closed and she was humming to the tune of the song. “but I can’t help falling in love with you ,” (Presley) she sang it loud and proud as the song ended.

            She opened her eyes slowly to find me gawking in amazement back at her. She pulled her hands away and sat back down in the booth; I cautiously sat down across from her and pulled out my books for chemistry. There was a brief moment of tense silence.

            “So, why haven’t you talked to me at school?” she asked.

            “I thought you didn’t want me to . . . I mean, I thought you weren’t talking to me!” I said, amazed that she thought I was the one ignoring her.

            “Why would I ignore a guy like you?”

            We talked for hours about pretty much everything — we even talked about Alaska becoming a state, and how there will be an uneven number of stars on our flag. We talked about music and how excited both of us were for the very first Grammy awards, and how of course Frank Sinatra would win (she didn’t agree).

            Before I knew it I was walking her home, and we were still going on like we had always known each other. We got to her door and we both new it was time for her to go.

            “I had a really good time, Matt,” she said, “we should do it again some time.”

            “How’s next Saturday?” I responded.

            “Sounds great! By the way, my name is Bridgette.”

            Before I could give her my own name, she stood on the tips of her Mary Jane flats and kissed me on the cheek. As soon as she had appeared, she was gone — up the stairs and through the door.




            1959 was a common year, it started on a Thursday, but for me it was anything but common, and for me it is just starting; who knows where it will take me.


Presley, Elvis, and Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley – the complete ’59 & ’60 sessions every                                    recording made during 1959 & 1960. In-Akustik, 2011. CD.


“Tic-Tac-Toe.” Paul’s Video Jukebox contains songs from the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s with                         over 12,000 selections and over 1,000 playlists. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.