Since I'm on the subject of high school, I wanted to share another story about our dances. My friends and I were into “clubs” – not school sanctioned clubs like the chess club, but a self-appointed group of kids who banded together. We had always formed clubs. Even in elementary school we had a club that got into trouble with the FBI when we tried to make a clubhouse out of an abandoned guard tower. In junior high our club was called “The Universals.” As juniors, about 12 of us formed another club: “The Senior League.”

Wanting (of course) to stand out and be noticed, we wore black shirts with white ties every Friday to school. The teachers and administrators didn’t bother us but kept an eye on us, probably wondering why a dozen boys were dressing like that...

The best thing we ever did – an incredible thing – was to save our fellow students from boredom. Los Alamos was uniquely isolated – it was hard to come and go without security passes and questioning. There wasn't much to do outside of the usual football games and basketball games. In a nutshell, we were restless.

Being enterprising young men, we came up with an idea: Let’s rent the town’s recreational hall and throw dances! We’ll get the best bands, charge admission and make lots of money! We liked the sound of that plan and began putting it into action.

We knew we could charge a LOT for admission. For the school kids up there, money was no object – their parents were highly paid physicists, nuclear engineers, mathematicians, members of the protective forces, professors/teachers…a gamut of successful specialists who were handpicked to be there. We charged $20 per person at the door, and that was way back in the 60’s! $20 for a Los Alamos kid back then was nothing - they gladly paid to jitterbug.

We got some mind-blowing talent to come and play:

  • Glen Campbell: He was in Albuquerque playing with Dick Bill’s Band. They were awesome, playing rock and roll and western music, but Glenn wasn’t in the limelight yet.

  • Fats Domino: He wore so much gold jewelry! When he played, he got all sweaty and so did the kids who just danced and danced and danced. Fats Domino's music was already on the radio, and he had several best-selling hits when we booked him. I can't believe that we - a bunch of crazy kids - hired him. He sang “Blueberry Hill,” “Ain’t That A Shame,” “I’m Walking” and a whole bunch more.
  • The Platters: I can't believe we booked them either because they had several national hits too. They played “Only You,” “The Great Pretender” and "I Only Have Eyes For You."

We also got The Ventures, Al Hurricane (legendary NM musician) and unknown or new bands by talking to Norman Petty, who lived in Clovis, NM, and managed Buddy Holly’s career. We packed in hundreds of kids! We squirreled away the proceeds in a bank account, which we divided when we graduated. I don't want to say how much, but it was quite a bit of money for young entrepreneurs like us... It sure beat working at Safeway, which most of us did... :-)