Custer's Last Band

This is how Custer's Last Band, who was playing at the "splash party" described in this week's "I Know a Story," looked in 1970. The photo, from the Aug. 24, 1970, Intelligencer Journal, is from a Long's Park concert 

I still remember the way they looked, in the rearview mirror of my dad’s 1961 Buick LeSabre. Two heads as close together as teenage boyfriend and girlfriend could be.

He was a real motorhead, with his souped-up GTO always making a lot of noise in our high school’s student parking lot.

She was a sweet, quiet girl whose parents absolutely forbade her to see him.

My girl and I were in the front seat, happy to be part of a lover’s secret, even though they weren’t exactly Romeo and Juliet.

Earlier that day, my girlfriend and the sweetheart in the backseat had cooked up a double date to the local pool for a splash party with a great band.

It was a warm summer night, and a perfect way for her to see him with her parents none the wiser. My girlfriend and I picked her up at her house and rendezvoused with him at his job.

The pool was packed with all of our friends and the music was loud. Nobody swims at a splash party. Everyone is too busy checking out the latest couples.

The two of them spent every minute together in the far corner of the deck, talking and laughing. They might as well have been the only two people around.

You didn’t have to know them well to understand how close they had become.

The hour got late, the band went into its final number and it was soon time to work our way into the darkness of the pool parking lot.

Driving home, the backseat got very quiet and there may have been some tears. My girlfriend snuggled closer. We dropped the quiet one off at her home, saw my girl to her door and got back before my curfew.

I went to bed early because of work the next morning, but something woke me around midnight. It was the sound of sirens in the distance.

The newspaper report said that his car left the road at a high speed and wound up on its roof in the trees beside a really sharp turn.

You don’t really think about someone dying when you are a teenager, especially when you’re too busy planning for the future.

Whenever I drive around that turn in the summertime, I think of that night with Custer’s Last Band, the splash party and the smiles in the rearview mirror.

This story took place in the early 1970s. The author lives in Millersville.

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