The RHS Letter Club Picnic      

by Betty Boellner - Jones

Out on the highway twelve miles east of Roswell, up and over the formidable Commache Hill, a right turn at the signpost took you to it. The site of the RHS Letter Club picnic, the long awaited event in May before graduation.

Bottomless Lakes State Park, even the name held mystery back then, nights where chalky silent roads smooth as velvet angled searchingly between hidden lakes like some other world landscape.

On that afternoon it was the exciting place to be, ‘letter guys' were at their best, swimming and diving in a tiny pool walled off from the huge Lea Lake,-- who knew then it was 90 ft. deep way out there? Girls were watching the boys play touch football in the sand while the smoky scent of hamburgers being grilled by those dedicated Roswell mothers made everyone remember it was ‘the picnic of the year.'

Girls had to change from their swimsuits into something more decent before the marshmallow roast at dusk. Otherwise there were those disapproving frowns from the elders. Little groups stood around smoking fires singing to songs on a car radio tuned to KSWS ‘request time.'

What? HE dedicated that to HER? And she requested, Les Paul and Mary Ford's, "Just One More Chance," to HIM? A dreamy tune– anyway, he wasn't listening to it now, he was with someone else. No more chances.

Teacher chaperones have been busy policing couples straying off by themselves into clusters of mesquite and salt bush,-- the air is cooling, the sunset brilliant across the Pecos Valley below,–mixing shades of mauve, gold and scarlet. It's a soft night with a full moon edging up over craggy rocks surrounding the lake. Maybe if you shiver a little, he'll offer to let you wear his letter sweater on the way home. But you'd have to give it back to him then.

Coach Corn is blowing his whistle, time to be packing up and heading home. And no one wants to leave. Now which car did you ride out in? Don't want to ride back with them,-- ask around and find another ride home with a couple more exciting. Found someone who has room, so let's go with them. A long ride back, you hope.

The caravan of departing cars leaves a chalky wake in the moonlight, you don't drive fast, you want to linger. Another year,-- and another picnic,-- and memories.