The Night I Saw Johnny Cash
I worried over what I might wear, what I would say, and what my impressions would be. To say I was nervous—my hands were sweaty. I was a bundle of nerves. I laid everything out for the evening. I got dressed. Twirling in front of the mirror, I pulled my new pink cashmere sweater down, straightened my Pendleton pink and gray pleated skirt and adjusted my shoelaces.
I held my head up high. My date arrived. This was my third date with Terry. My parents liked him. I was nervous and tended to be shy and when my near—debilitating shyness subsided I tended to be awkward. We were going to see Johnny Cash at the Harmony Park Ballroom. I was told it was like going to American Bandstand.
Pat, Clay, Terry and I arrived at Harmony Park about 8 pm. Goose bumps were up and down my arms and my stomach churned. I was talking fast running my words together asking questions about Harmony Park. I couldn’t wait.
We walked in holding hands. I tugged on Terry’s arm while anxiously asking, “Do you really think Johnny Cash will be here tonight?” Just then we entered the ballroom that smelled of whiskey and stale beer. The smoke was so thick you could hardly make the people out. People were standing around with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other. Guitar music and country western singing was playing loudly in the background.
Did anyone recognize me as I scanned the room from the doorway? Hands shaking, I pulled my sweater down, twisted my skirt around at the waist and slumped down behind Terry, while brushing my hair back as we entered the room. Next I heard loud clapping as Johnny Cash came out on the stage strumming his guitar and singing I Walk the Line. Everyone was stomping their boots and yelling loudly.
I don’t know how we made it past the entrance without being carded. Pat was seventeen and I was sixteen and a half, a senior in high school. Terry and Clay were nineteen and twenty. Quivering and trembling, I tugged at Terry my date, pulling on his arm. “Please, we have to leave. We’re going to get arrested. What am I going to tell my parents when they find out I’ve been in a bar?” Sweating profusely, I started to cry, “Please, you gotta’ take me home.”