C. Michael Davis By C. Michael Davis, 22nd Jul 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Relationships

Cookie was just a little girl of fourteen and I was a young man of seventeen, but we had a powerful three years together as steadies. The real power was in the lessons learned during those years. The biggest lesson came through a broken heart and shattered trust.

Growing Up Lessons

After the summer of 1957, I could hardly wait to get back to school and my friends to hear about their experiences and to tell them about mine. I had been to “The Hut” out on the edge of town once where the older kids go on Saturday nights to dance and I wanted to go again. This time I wanted to dance. I was not allowed to single date until I was sixteen, but I was allowed to go to school and church events, that were chaperoned by adults. There were always teachers and other adults at “The Hut”. My life was now centered on school and my friends. The girls that I danced with during those two years between fourteen and sixteen were the girls in my class and the ones I met through horse shows and other horse events. We had a lot of fun, dancing and growing as friends, but I had yet to feel that magic I had felt with Bambi that summer at Tybee Island.
In October of 1959 I reached another mile stone in my life. I turned sixteen. I was allowed to have the family car alone for the first time. I wanted to date a certain girl that I met at one of the horse shows, Lou Anna. So, I asked Daddy if I could use his car. It was Friday evening and I wanted to go out Saturday night. He said, “Let me sleep on it and we will talk tomorrow.” He didn’t say no, but wait!
Saturday morning I was out working with my horse, Flash, when Momma, called me to come in. I was told that Daddy was in the den and wanted to talk to me. My heart was racing. I had never asked Daddy for the use of his car before. The anticipation was almost over whelming. I had already asked the girl if I could get my Daddy’s car would she go out with me. She had said yes.
Now, at our house in the den was a big brown leather chair. It belonged to the man of the house, my Daddy. When he was out of town it remained empty, until he returned. I was a psychological thing, not a rule. I am sure Daddy would not have cared one way or the other about someone sitting in his chair.
When I walked into the den, Daddy was sitting on the couch. He pointed to that big, brown, leather chair and said, “Sit down.” I hesitated as I glanced first at the chair then back at Daddy. He said, “That’s right, in that chair.” I sat down and was swallowed up by the leather and the overwhelming realization that I was about to be introduced to a new experience, beyond just getting the family car.
He looked into my eyes for a moment with a serious look before speaking. He then spoke in a slow, soft tone, “You need to pay very close attention to what I am about to say.” He reached down and picked up a box from the floor beside the couch. He sat the box on the coffee table between us. It was a Revell model of a ’57 Chevy. He said, “Last night you asked me for the car. I want you to understand that the car I just placed on the table cost me about $3.00 and it is made for a kid.” He then leaned a little to one side and got the keys to his Mercury, from his pants pocket, laying them on top of the box. In a deathly serious tone he said, “That car cost me over $6500 and it is made for a man.” With that he stood up, tussled my hair and smiled as he said, “You decide which car you are ready for. Remember I use that Mercury to make a living so I can support us.” He walked out shutting the door behind him, leaving me sitting in that big ole leather chair to think about what he had just told me. Mixed emotions swept over me like a spring tide! Lord, I hate ’em. I knew I wanted the Mercury, but the way Daddy put it to me I wondered if I could be responsible enough to measure up to his expectations.
I now had to decide if I could be responsible enough to drive the family car and not be led astray by friends to do something dumb. I promise you it was no snap decision, because I had already learned that responsibility meant leaving behind a little of yourself, like a snake shedding his skin. Releasing and risking is what growing up is all about. A little of you must die to make room for the new growth; the new you. I took Daddy’s car that Saturday night. My social circle now increased to take in new found friends in Orangeburg, South Carolina. My world had become much bigger with the freedom of having my Daddy’s car occasionally on weekends. I was no longer tied just to West Middle Community and Bowman, South Carolina. I had proven to both my parents and to myself that I could handle the responsibility of my new privilege.

Boy meets Girl.

I had experienced some good relationships with girls over the last two years. I had grown with each dating experience, but the truth is, I still had not come close to what I felt with Bambi. That is not until a week after I turned seventeen. I was about to have my heart turned wrong side out by another freckle face girl.
It was a rather chilly night for October. I was cruising with three buddies, Jimmy and Lee from Orangeburg and Ozzie from Edisto. The cruising circuit, was to circle the A&W Root Beer place, drive about a mile along Calhoun Street, turn right onto Russell Street and drive another mile and circle the parking lot of the Shanty, which was another hamburger drive-in. WORG radio station which played top forty music had their DJ in a booth on the second floor of the Shanty. When we ordered anything we could write out a request and check one or two songs of the top 40 hits listed on the back of the ticket. Then we would drive back up to Calhoun Street and turn right driving about two miles to the Piggy Park and circle it. That completed the cruising circuit; then we would just circle around the same route again. It was during this circuit that we spotted a girl that Ozzie was seeing, Jane. Riding with Jane, was a young friend of hers named Cookie. She was fourteen. The other guys were talking to Jane and pretty much ignored Cookie. She was shy and stayed in the car. I walked around to her window to talk. When our eyes met, I knew my Daddy was right. It was back! This time I was the older person. I would be the one introducing Cookie to love as Bambi had introduced me back in 1957. I was to feel love in a different and deeper way than I had with Bambi. This time it lasted longer than two weeks. This time we would enjoy making memories for almost three years. We would dance our way into the hearts of a lot of other people. We were seen as more than just dates and steadies. We were seen as a couple. We were one of several couples that stood out because we were always in the middle of various school activities. In Orangeburg Cookie’s Daddy, Emmett was fairly well known. He owned an Esso station and Marine repair shop. Mr. Emmett raced hydro-plane boats and tested new outboards for Mercury Outboards. Cookie and I often dated in her daddy’s Chevrolet El Comino which had professional lettering on it for his business. I thought I was somebody when I was cruising in this vehicle.
After we had dated for a year I just knew that this would continue all the way down the isle to, life happily ever after. I thought she would be the mother of my children. We would grow old together and rock in matching chairs on the front porch, watching the sun set, laughing about the memories we had made over the years as we played with our grandchildren. That is not how it turned out.
We danced together like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Often we would be given the dance floor at the Sock Hop. We moved like one with the music. Cookie was tall and smooth as butter milk on the dance floor. Together we were magic. Often we went to the “River Pavilion” down by the Edisto River in Orangeburg. Many times Jimmy, would be playing the drums and Lee, would be playing the trumpet in a band made up of anyone who could play an instrument. On Saturday nights we would go to the skating rink, for the “ Sock Hop“, and dance to the music of Earl Dukes and the Rebelairs, under the reflecting ball flashing lights of different colors. It would spin, moving the lights around the floor. Cookie and I danced in almost perfect sync with each other and the music. She was beautiful and moved with such precision to the music that she made me look good! It was all her.
Once, during the three years, we split up for the summer. Cookie, wanted to be free to meet other boys at the lake where she spent most of her summers. Her family had a place at Beggar's Ridge on Lake Santee. I didn’t get the feeling of hopelessness that I did the night on the pier at Tybee Island when Bambi told me she and her family were moving to California. I was certainly disappointed, but felt that Cookie would be back. She was only fifteen by this time and wanted to be free to see some other guys before settling down. I agreed with her hoping all the time that she would return to me at the end of the summer.

Hello stranger!

Not seeing Cookie all summer made time go by so slowly. I spent most of the summer working with a livestock vet named Dr. Blalock in Sylvania, Georgia. About the third weekend after school restarted, there was a Jackie Wilson Show at the township auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina. One of the star singers of that show was Barbara Lewis, singing her latest hits. I had gone with several friends; none of us had dates. The place was packed. After several acts there was a break for intermission. I was elected to go get drinks. By the time I returned, the house lights were being turned down. The first act to start the second half of the show was Barbara Lewis. I worked my way toward my seat, stepping sideways down the row until I got to where my friends waited. At the very moment I turned to hand the cardboard tray of drinks to one of my friends, I looked directly into Cookie’s smiling face about three rows back. At that very moment, Barbara Lewis, sang out, “Hello stranger, seems like a mighty long time.” Cookie winked and said with quiet lip movement, “Call me later.” My heart filled with joy.
I called Cookie the next day. She wanted to see me again. This time moved us through almost two years of going steady. It would also lead to our last year together. I graduated from high school in May of 1963. After graduating from school I went right into basic training at Fort Jackson, for the summer. I guess it was during this time that someone else moved into Cookie’s life. She gave me several hints that it was over, but I didn’t want to believe it.

The pain behind a shut door.

After basic training I had a two week break before I would have to report to Fort Polk, Louisiana. I went to Cookie’s house one night to pick her up for a date. She wasn’t dressed to go out. She said, “ Don’t sit down, you wouldn’t be staying long. I have started seeing some one else.” Like the night Bambi broke off our short relationship, I couldn’t speak. I felt a hurting I had never felt before. I just turned and walked out. I got in Daddy’s car and just drove around for about an hour before returning home. I knew that I would not see Cookie again. I was right. She later got married and had a family.
That night, I got home earlier than I normally did when I was out with Cookie. Unlike it was with Bambi, I wasn’t crying, though my pain was far worse. I went straight to my room. Daddy followed shortly and knocked on my door and asked if he could come in. I really wanted to be alone, but I said yes. He knew. He just stuck his head in the door to my room and simply asked, “Are you okay! I nodded yes. He understood and didn’t push for more conversation, but just shut the door. He made sure I was not disturbed.
I look back on the times my Daddy was there for me and I’m amazed at what an impact he had, yet said very little. I knew he loved me and that when I was hurting, so was he. He always knew my pain and came to me in just the right way, at just the right time. Making it through my teen years was difficult, but no more than that of any other teenager I am sure. I had given up my heart twice during my teen years. Both times I had my heart broken.
The experience with Cookie caused a hurt so deep that it left a scar, a bitter sweet memory that I never completely got over. Until this day I still have flash backs of different moments we shared. With Bambi, it was just she and I. With Cookie, it was us and our friends. The dance floor was our magic place. That is where we shined and stood out from the crowd. It was there that I felt like someone special. This memory would one day help me understand something about my own son, Kris. Why he felt special in a pool room, because there he is somebody special.
Bambi was one thing, I’m not quite sure what, but Cookie, was my first true love. I’ve never danced again with anyone like I danced with her. I still enjoy dancing, but it has never been the same and I am now sixty-six years old. After Cookie I would certainly have strong feeling again, but I don’t think I really totally surrendered my heart again until this past year when I met Lizzy who is now my wife.


A Broken Heart, Life Experience, Love, Risk, Teen Dating

Meet the author

author avatar C. Michael Davis
I was raised on a cattle farm up to the age of 19. After Daddy died in 1964 mother sold the farm.
I greatly dislike the hatered between the races and how the media and certain organizations keep that hatered stired up to justify there existence.
I ...(more)

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author avatar rajaryanme
22nd Jul 2010 (#)

A good write.

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author avatar Euphonos
23rd Jul 2010 (#)

awesome piece of work with your feeling so well-articulated.Ofcourse, sad too

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author avatar Pink&Blue
15th May 2011 (#)

I loved the way your dad dealt with the car situation C , very admirable parenting. A good write thank you for sharing.

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