Dresses, flowers, limos, dinner, and promposals. They all add up. According to USA Today, the average American teen spent between $700 and $1000 on... Locals Share Prom Memories Through the Decades

Dresses, flowers, limos, dinner, and promposals. They all add up. According to USA Today, the average American teen spent between $700 and $1000 on Prom this year.

Seems extravagant when you consider in 1964, this little pink number would have only set you back $24.70. Of course, back then a gallon of gas cost 25 cents and a new house just $12,700. Gone are the days when your date looked you up in the phone book (the one with the yellow pages), dialed you up on an avocado green rotary phone, and picked you up in the family station wagon. Things change!

Still one thing remains – style. Prom-goers know it, want it, and go-for-it! If it’s been a while since you took your Grand March stroll, we invite you on a walk down memory lane with people who shared their Prom memories and photos with us. Isn’t it nice to know the more things change, the more they stay the same?

1940’s Stylin’: Full sleeves. Tiny waists. Shoulder pads. Dotted-Swiss. Trim. Gone With the Wind. Humphrey Bogart. Gary Cooper. Bing Crosby. Pastels and jewel tones. Empire waists. Chiffon. Bolero jackets. Strapless. Rolls, pomps, and curls.

In 1948, Loreen Hartman, co-founder of Hartman’s Family Foods (formerly Bill’s Super Valu) attended Prom in Braddock, North Dakota. There were 25 people in her entire school, so everybody attended. Loreen said,  “I remember having a great time dancing all night with everyone. Life, and Prom, were a lot simpler then.”

1950’s Stylin’: Teen Angels. Pastels. White. Grace Kelly. Marilyn Monroe. Ballet flats. Tea-length. Tulle. Flipped bob, mop top, bombshell. Snug tops. Narrow waists. James Dean. Dark suits. White shirts. Elvis Presley. Tuxedos. Beehives, bouffants, and bobs.

Max Gonzenbach of Valley Queen Cheese, attended the Prom at MHS in 1953 and 1954. Max said, “I recall one of the themes was Rhapsody in Blue. We gathered for a meal in the gym that was decorated, but not as fancy as today. Following the dance, we went to a midnight movie at the drive-in theatre. Then, we hung out with friends the rest of the night. The Kiwanis Club served breakfast for all the prom-goers at the First National Bank courtesy room the next morning.”

Jerry Fields, retired Milbank dentist, attended his prom in 1955 in Pine River, Minnesota. He said, “I stayed out all night with a group of 10 to 12 couples on an island on White Fish Lake. We played games and danced. Of course, we were chaperoned by our parents.”

1960’s Stylin’: Innocence. Glamour. Revolution. White gloves. Ladylike. Jacqueline Kennedy. Matching accessories. Pop art. Space Age. Beehives. Bows. Kitten heels. Skinny suits, lapels, and ties. Short hair. Short dresses. Graphic prints. Twiggy. Bridget Bardot. Baby doll. Hippies. Audrey Hepburn. The Beatles.

Doug Fraasch, retired VP at First Bank & Trust and Lavonne (Dockter) Fraasch attended the Prom in 1965 as MHS seniors. Lavonne said, “We had dated and planned to go to Prom in 1964 as juniors. However, I broke my pelvis and spent Prom night at St. Bernard Hospital. The Prom meal was delivered to me, though.” Lavonne also remembered,  “Only junior and seniors could attend Prom and if you brought a date from another school, they could walk through the Grand March and attend the dance, but could not attend the dinner. There were no post-Prom activities, so we went home after the dance. I wore a blue dress my aunt, Ilo, made for me.”

Linda (Junker) Buri, owner of Linda’s Fashions, went to Prom in Castlewood. Linda said, “I purchased my dress with my own money. I paid $100 and my mother thought it was way too extravagant. It was white with pink flowers and the train on the back also included a big bow. I went to the beauty salon to have my hair done and my date brought me a wrist corsage. Our dance featured a live band.”

1970’s Stylin’: Polyester. Platforms. Perms. Joni Mitchell. Cher. Side burns. Leisure suits. Peasant dresses. Saturday Night Fever. Earth tones. Farrah Fawcett. Disco. Glitz. Straight hair, wings, and shags.

Tim Mundwiler, owner of Mundwiler Funeral Home, attended the 1976 and 1977 MHS Proms. Tim said, “I remember my dad letting me drive his Fleetwood Cadillac but I was late because I went on an ambulance call.”

Pat Raffety, Mayor of Milbank, and Linda (VanHout) Raffety attended Pat’s senior Prom in 1979. Pat recalled, “We had our prom dinner at Lagoona Beach Supper Club in Ortonville.”

1980’s Stylin’: More. More. And just more. Teased hair. Loud colors. Ruffles. Sequins. Suspenders. Lace. Crimped hair. Neon. Cyndi Lauper. Madonna. Material girls. Metallics. Miami Vice. Padded shoulders. Pinstripes. Wall Street. Suspenders. Hair gel.

Dan Snaza, MHS Principal, and Robin (Fields) Snaza attended the MHS Prom together in 1982 and 1983. Robin said, “As a junior, I was in charge of the event and all the decorating. My senior year, we stayed through the dance and then went to a friend’s cabin at SoDak for the rest of the night. I remember how expensive prom was.”

Boyd VanVooren, Milbank Chief of Police, went to Prom in 1989 at Minneota High School in Minnesota. Boyd said, “My date was named Lynn. I remember we had a DJ at the dance. Afterwards, everyone ate a meal together and went to a friend’s house to hang out.”

1990’s Stylin’: Grunge. Hip hop. Rave. Brittany Spears. Brad Pitt. Non-suits. Minimalism. Aviator glasses. Pierce Brosnan. Jennifer Anniston. Subdued colors. Off the shoulder. Side parts. Strappy.

South Dakota Senator John Wiik attended the 1990 Prom at Ortonville High School. John stated, “I was much more interested in the 1955 Chevy pickup I was driving than the prom. It snowed that night – two or so inches. We had a casino night post-Prom party and I think I got home about 6:30 a.m.”

Sheila (Tarbox) Bien, co-owner of Bien Pharmacy and a member of the Milbank School Board attended prom in 1990 and 1991 at Clark High School. Sheila said, “I  liked staying up all night but my favorite memory is of all my friends getting ready together. Our Post-Prom included games and prizes, but it was not as grand as it is today. Our event ended with breakfast the next morning. I still have both my prom dresses, but now my kids use them for school dress up days.”

Katie (Kampen) Heller, Products & Services Supervisor at ITC in Milbank, went to Prom at MHS in 1996 with Jesse Heller. Katie said, “The theme was ‘That’s Amore.’ I remember taking my dad’s 1964 Impala and other couples also driving old cars. It’s special to me I went with the person I married.”


Staff Writer

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