April 19, 2024

**Do Not Use**

New Director's Dialogue available now in ARC Event Library

You Had Your Chance!

By Tom Watson

Just before the first game of my junior year at Bay High (1949) the new cheer leaders were announced. One was a freshman named Peggy Hutchinson. Her dad, Joe E. Hutchinson, was an oil company distributor and one of Panama City’s leading citizens. Peggy was cute and enthusiastic, and I decided to ask her for a date. Our first (and only) date was for the Saturday evening after the football game with Valley Vocational of Fairfax, Alabama. That was the game when I got my face crushed while recovering a fumble. By Saturday night I looked awful; the right side of my face was yellow and blue, and badly swollen. My right eye was completely red. Mr. Bresee’ said I looked like I had been in an Australian bar brawl.

The date was a triple date to the drive-in movie in Carl Brown’s car. Tommy Doss had a date with Gwen Anderson, Carl was with Carole Driggers, and I of course was with Peggy. We had already picked up Gwen and Carole when we stopped at the Hutchinson’s to pick Peggy up.

I went to the door and Mrs. Hutchinson answered my knock. She said Peggy was almost ready and she wanted me to meet Peggy’s dad. Mr. Hutchinson took one look at me and shouted, “Peggy, you are not going out with this man!”

Mrs. Hutchinson said, “Oh, Joe, he got hurt in last night’s football game.”

“He is not going out with my daughter!” Joe yelled.

Peggy joined me then as Mrs. Hutchinson pulled her dad into the kitchen for a confab. In a few minutes she came out and said Peggy could go, but she asked which drive in we were going to. I told her, “the Isle of View.”

Peggy and I joined the others in the car and we went on to the drive in theatre. I think we’d been there for about a half hour when we heard a knocking on the car roof. It was Peggy’s mother. “Peggy,” she said, “Your daddy wants you home.” Of course, Peggy left with her mother and I was literally “the odd man out.” It was total humiliation. I never asked Peggy for another date, though we were pretty good friends for the rest of my time at Bay High.

Several years later when I was at the University of Florida, I was at home working at a summer job. I began dating a girl named Gretchen Nelson. One night when I went by to pick Gretchen up, she invited me in to see her parents (whom I knew) and meet their guests. Upon entering the Nelson’s living-room I was introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Joe E. Hutchinson. They acted as though they had never seen me, and I tried to act the same. For the rest of that evening, I said nothing to Gretchen about having ever met the Hutchinsons.

The next time I picked Gretchen up for a date, she told me that she had heard a compliment for me. When we had left the previous evening, Joe Hutchinson had said to Gretchen’s father, “Hugh, you are lucky that Gretchen is dating a nice Panama City boy. Peggy only goes out with those young lieutenants at Tyndall.” (Tyndall AFB)

My thought was, “You had your chance, Joe!”

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