Written By Lisa Breslin

May 1978

Lisa Kulick and her best friend Janet Slayton enter their prom at Old Mill Senior High School in Millersville, MD, decked out in to-die-for dresses that they had made themselves.

Lisa’s dress is a gold satin clingy number; Janet’s is blue and white with big flowers and also quite tight for the times. They are looking good.

Their dates? Of peripheral importance.

What matters are the dresses. Their dresses, after all, include the new rage in the sewing world – invisible zippers, which are tucked into a seam and touted as the zippers that are “virtually unnoticed.”

The zippers remain unnoticed until early into the evening when Lisa and Janet realize that their dresses are getting looser. In fact, they are not just loosening; they are falling apart. The invisible zippers have come undone.

After a quick trip to the Ladies’ Room and a few swipes with the needle and thread stashed in Janet’s purse, the two friends sew each other back into their dresses.

“And those dresses stayed on until we cut ourselves out of them at the end of the evening,” Lisa explained.
Flash forward: Lisa Kulick is now Lisa Spence, a New Windsor resident who is a few classes away from becoming a licensed acupuncturist. She is the mother of two daughters and happily married to Bill Spence, whom she met in college. Prom memories still make her smile.

Like Lisa, people all over the county have wretched and joyous prom tales to tell.

Their stories are punctuated with similar images: the awkward date, the McDreamy date, the wrist corsage, the boutonnire, the family car polished and shined, or a long limo packed with pals, powder blue tuxedoes, over-protective-photo-happy parents, award winning frugality, or over-the-top grandeur.

“The essence of proms has not changed. Students look forward to a formal affair – a magical, memorable social experience,” said Jay Freedman, executive director for Milestone Media Group, Inc., an Eldersburg company that tracks and writes about Prom trends for the magazine Proms Plus.

Many people are eager to share their prom moments. Others hope that their ill-fated day, or date, is nothing more than a distant memory chronicled in dusty yearbook at a second hand store.

The Yellow Brick Road

Lynn Rill’s fondest thought about his junior prom is that 28 years later he is still with his date, Joanne. In fact, his date is now his wife.

Joanne and Lynn had known each other since elementary school, but they had always just been “best friends.” It wasn’t until their junior year at North Carroll High School that it dawned on either of them their relationship could be so much more.

“We worked on the Prom Committee together,” said Lynn, now a senior loan officer for Westminster Union Bank. “The theme was ÔThe Wizard of Oz,’ complete with Tornado and yellow brick road – and neither
of us had a date.

“Time was running short as the prom neared, and so one day as we were finishing some committee work I asked the fateful question: ÔYou don’t want to go to the prom with me, do you?’”

To his surprise, Joanne said yes; the junior prom was their first date and afterwards they dated exclusively. Lynn jokes that he had enough self confidence not to propose the way he popped the prom question. And thankfully, again, Joanne said yes.”

This August they Joanne and Lynn Rill will celebrate their 25th Anniversary.

The Date From Hell

“My junior prom was the date from hell. I wanted this guy to ask me, but he kept fiddling around. So when a different guy asked me during lunch, I said yes,” said Stacy Shaffer, a Westminster attorney.

“The big night arrived and I was sick. So I went to the prom with a box of Kleenex, a runny nose, an eye infection – and my second choice. My hair went flat and my dress got muddy around the hem. I couldn’t wait to get home. In fact, when my date pulled up to drop me off at the end of the night, I leaped out of the car secretly hoping I’d never see the guy again.”

Shaffer not only saw the prom date again, she spent years dodging him.

“When I entered Western Maryland College [now McDaniel College], there he was, and I spent the next three years of my life avoiding him,” Shaffer said. “My junior year, the dreamy guy really missed his chance. My senior year, I went with the guy I was dating. I had a blast. I looked good. No eye infections my senior year.”

Three Proms A Charm

Eldersburg residents Mona and Jay Freedman’s prom story is still in progress. More than 30 years ago, when Mona was a junior and Jay was a senior at their Massachusetts high school, they attended three proms together. Mona proudly wore the same dress to each dance and Jay sported a powder blue tux with a white shirt to one, a white tux with a blue shirt to the others.

Mona remembers that “every prom was magical for different reasons.”

Jay remembers going home to get some sleep senior on prom night so that he, Mona and “a ton of friends” had the energy to drive from Boston to Cape Cod for some post prom beach revelry.

“I won’t give any details, just that we went to the beach and we hung outÉand we had lots of fun,” Jay said.
The prom fun continues for Mona and Jay Freedman. The high school sweethearts married and now work together to publish several annual planning and resource guides, including one for proms, called Proms Plus which is distributed free to more than 60,000 teens and families in Carroll and surrounding counties. Filled with information about everything from “tux tips” to prom etiquette, the guide requires that they watch prom trends.

“After-prom parties have been the biggest addition to the prom scene,” said Jay. “Some of the parties can be quite elaborate to keep kids safe and entertained all night. They rent Hummer limos and roll into places like Planet Hollywood or ESPN Zone and they give door prizes; everything from cash to flat-screened TVs. I wish we had had that.”

“It’s fair to say that proms are still part of our lives,” Mona said.