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Wednesday, August 10, 2011


(Tales of Senior Sneak Day) 




Dottie (Duckett) Weil
Merritt Plantz
Raleigh Emry

(everyone else sneaked off)

Misfits of '56
By Dottie (Duckett) Weil

Yes, we were the class from you know where. The year, 1956. There were some of us that possessed the daring spirit and didn't care who knew it and then there were others that possessed the daring spirit and did care who knew it, so they were very sneaky about it. I was one of the first described persons.

Mr. Holder was one of our class sponsors along with Mrs. Ross. Both were very great people and I liked them. We had a meeting of the class and we decided that we would skip for senior sneak day on a Monday. There was a 1 or 2 day track meet in Kearney on Friday before, so we all decided to make up the days work and we would leave for sneak day on Thursday afternoon, have the Friday for track meet (right) and then Monday would be our sneak day. Our class was very innovative. (Another word for sneaky).

 Mr. Mead, our wonderful (use it loosely) Superintendent caught wind of our plan, and because his daughter was in our class, sent a notice to our parents that there would not be a sneak day. I was livid. I was very good at presenting the facts and winning others to my way of thinking, so I went home and put those skills to work on my Mom. She is very difficult and doesn't at all fall for my schemes. But, just hearing me say how unfair the situation was just because his daughter was in our class, etc. etc., she wrote a letter to Mr. Mead with a copy to the Ainsworth paper. Oh, my goodness, what a mess she stirred up.

 Needless to say, we did the Senior Sneak Day, and our class set the record for going the farthest. I believe that Merle, Slim McAndrew, Jerry Lambley, Duane?? and others went to Colorado or Wyoming.

 The four misfits, of which I was one, went to Yankton S.D. for 2 cases of beer, which we put in the truck of the car and drove to Lincoln where one of us was in a speech contest on Friday. We drove very fast and it is a wonder we weren't picked up and with all that beer I am sure my Mom would have loved me for it.

 As we were driving to Yankton, (about 11 PM) we turned on a curve to find a cow standing in the road and we really had to think quick. Wow, when I think of what we did and all we were really gutsy.

A few parties in Lincoln, dropping water balloons from the windows and getting kicked out of the hotel, we were a wild bunch and today I would kill my kids if they ever did such a thing. But it was all in the name of the famous SENIOR SNEAK DAY.

Paradise Not Lost -- Just Hidden
By Merritt Plantz 

I graduated from Litchfield, Nebraska high school in the year 1938. There were all of 30 some in the class. It was still "hard times" in the Midwest. So we picked a low-key, low priced place to sneak to. I'm sure you old Ainsworth residents were familiar with such a place, yes, no other than Hidden Paradise at Long Pine, Nebr.

We left Litchfield early Saturday morning by way of several volunteered Ford and Chevrolet cars. We arrived in Hidden Paradise in fine spirits and all rushed out to investigate the hills and canyons. Some had more worldly ideas and headed for Ainsworth. Most of us were happy to just dance to the Juke Box music and drink good old Long Pine H20. I can't remember what we did for dinner but I'm sure it was not more than a hamburger. That evening the people running the Hidden Paradise park furnished live music for all of those who had "sneaked to Hidden Paradise.

We left the dance in a small caravan before midnight and headed back to Litchfield. It was still close to winter in Nebraska, so about half way home it started to snow, a wet, wet snow that stuck to the road and windshields. One or two of the cars slid off the gravel highway, but we all arrived home safely as the sun was coming up, tired and exhausted, but happy with our day in the Sandhills!

Now some of you think it is a great place to spend your summer vacation- and it is!!!!


My Memory of Sneak Day is a Bit "Rusty" 
by Raleigh Emry 


I am told that I was a good kid in my youth. Thinking back on it, I was. I had some good parents and grandparents who set me straight early in life. I certainly didn't want to disappoint them. A guilty conscience was a heavy burden and one deterrent to my occasional urges to act out. The other deterrent to those wild and crazy urges, and one that loomed larger in my mind, was the simple lack of confidence that I could act out in a satisfying way and not have someone lower the boom on me.

This essay is supposed to be about Senior Sneak Day so why should I lead off with that paragraph? Wait and see.

The Class of '61 went to the Black Hills for a Senior Trip but I don't believe that was our "Sneak Day". I recall a sneak day similar to the one Merritt Plantz described. At least a large percentage of our class also sneaked to Hidden Paradise in the Long Pine Canyons. In those canyons and on that day I had my first taste of demon booze. It wasn't the first time in those canyons that I had a fleeting, but missed, opportunity.

About four years earlier when I was in eighth grade our class had a similar outing to Hidden Paradise. You can hardly sneak that far at that young age. So the eighth grade trip was sponsored and chaperoned by parents. Some of us were swimming in the creek when someone came upon a can of beer that a cabin resident had left to cool in the creek and had apparently forgotten. That can of beer was like the gold strike at Sutter's mill! Eureka!!! One of the guys took off for a cabin to find a church-key while the rest of us guarded the prize. The girls were shocked that we would think of messing with that nasty can of beer and threatened to tattle. Sufficient threats were made to silence them and so they stood off in a group and scowled at us. The parents had apparently erred in their judgment to trust us and were not on the scene. By then the guy had returned with the church-key.

I'm sure you have all seen those nature films of the Serengeti Plains. The ones where the hyenas are feasting on an ugly scrap of wildebeest? One will grab the scrap and go wheeling and cackling off into the bush and then another will steal it and go loping off in a cloud of dust, laughing like a hyena, in another direction. Well, that's the way it went with the beer. It was survival of the fittest. The guy with the church-key wanted first dibs for getting the church-key. The guy holding the beer wanted dibs for guarding it so closely. Two or three other guys wanted dibs for other reasons... and so it went. The tangled mass of skinny kids in swimming trunks went wheeling down the creek cackling like hyenas. By the time the beer was opened it was all foam and not fit for human consumption. I believe one or two guys took a sip and bragged that it was really good. I had to wait four more years for Senior Sneak Day and another dangerous opportunity in the Pine Creek Canyons.

So there we were at Hidden Paradise in 1961. I had just turned seventeen. It was a fine Spring Day. We were playing pinball in the Pavilion, dancing to the jukebox and having a good time. Then two or three of my friends gathered at the soft drink machine. One tugged my arm to join them, whispered and nodded excitedly toward the parking lot. We each bought a bottle of Coke from the machine and skulked out the door. We gathered around a car. A fellow reached under the seat and pulled out a half-pint of whiskey.

We each took a sip from the top of our Cokes to make room. The owner of the whiskey directed a few precious dribbles down the neck of our bottles to spike our Cokes. Although I'd had a few underage beers by that time, I had never experienced whiskey before. My sip to make room for it was small and thus the mix of Coke to whiskey was probably 99 to 1. But I presumed it was a dangerous brew indeed and I treated it with respect. I had seen many western movies where greenhorns had gulped down shots of whiskey and then gagged from the burning effects of the firewater while John Wayne laughed and said, "Wah..hah.... Pilgrim! Listen and listen tight! Yah better learn to hold yer likker if'n yer gonna be a man!". I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of my friends, so I sipped ever so lightly but pretended they were manly gulps.

We didn't want to look suspicious around the car so we all drifted back to the Pavilion. I sipped another time or two and wasn't impressed. But unlike Bill Clinton who didn't inhale, I cannot tell a lie. I swallowed the sips and boasted to my friends that it was mighty satisfying and the best whiskey I had ever tasted... which it was. I went back to playing pinball.

A hush fell over the crowd and I turned to look toward the doorway. There, bigger than life and more impressive than Matt Dillon himself, stood the Brown County Sheriff, Rusty Davis. His son, Jon Davis, was in my class. But Rusty didn't look like just a father of a classmate that day. Standing there in his khakis and ten-gallon hat he looked awesomely "all business" and on the hunt for the likes of me! He squinted into the darkness of the Pavilion. Was that a knowing sneer below his big walrus mustache? When he shifted his gaze in another direction, I quickly set my nearly full bottle of Coke and WHISKEY on the floor against the leg of the pinball machine.

I went back to playing pinball. "Clomp... clump... clomp... shuffle... clomp." I could hear the slow saunter of Rusty's boots on the plank dance-floor as they homed in on me. One ball after another fell straight down the machine and into the hole. "Clomp... shuffle... clump...CLOMP"! The Brown County Sheriff had arrived and was now looking over my shoulder. He had a nose the size of a bloodhound's and I was certain that he must have sniffed my sotted, whiskey-soaked breath from thirty feet away. I directed my breath toward my feet as best I could without being obvious.

I pulled the plunger and sent another ball into play. I had to look sober and in command. But alas, I had had a few sips of 99 parts Coke and 1 part WHISKEY and it had done nothing to calm my nerves. As the ball dribbled down the machine I bumped the machine left and right to keep the scores ringing. I hit the sides of the machine too hard and the machine responded with "TILT" and shut down. I fished into my pocket for another dime. Rusty stood just behind my right shoulder.

Then slowly, ever so slowly, he bent over and picked up my bottle of Coke and WHISKEY!!! and passed it under his nose. By then I was so nervous that finding the coin slot was a challenge. I had yet to look at him. Rusty spoke in a quiet but ominous voice, "This your Coke?"

I turned and tried to look innocent, "What Coke?"

He smiled and slowly, ever so slowly, stooped again and set it back down at the leg of the machine. He stood and his big old paw reached out and lightly, caringly, tapped my shoulder. Nonetheless, it felt like the collective stings from a swarm of bees. He quietly said, "Be careful son." He then sauntered, "clomp... clump... shuffle... clomp...", and the sounds of his boot heels drifted off to the left.

If you are ever in the Pavilion at Hidden Paradise and see a nearly full bottle of Coke and WHISKEY!!! sitting by the leg of a pinball machine, leave it alone. It's mine. Someday the fear of Sheriff Rusty Davis might subside sufficiently that I can return home and drink to my good fortune... the good fortune to have a caring family, a caring community and a caring Sheriff to look out for the likes of me.

Ib-a-dee ib-a-dee ib-a-dee
thas all folks

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