Flash back to the fond memories of the The Silent Years, before Elvis shook us up: A Friday night school dance in 1951 …

“You ask the girl with the grey poodle skirt and I’ll try for her friend with the maroon bobby sox. C’mon, what ayah afraid of? All she can say is 'NO'."

For 14-year-old high school greenhorns busting out of puberty, asking for a dance couldn’t have been more frightening. All the pretty teen targets were a long way off on the other side of the gym’s slick hardwood floor.

Most of us shy young men were on the opposite side, all working up some confidence; unaware that the pretty teen queens were just as reluctant. But for us, that dreaded “NO” meant a long lonely walk all the way back to the boy’s side.

There were a few cool guys, wearing maroon varsity sweaters, sharp pegged slacks and suede shoes, groovin’ to every spin of the 45 rpm vinyls. They were the exception. A faculty member had chaperone duty and upper class wheels spun the platters in the coach’s office.

“May I have this dance”? was our opening line.

A “YES” meant a 3-minute lifetime searching for conversation during Tony Bennett’s “Because of You” or Jo Stafford’s “You Belong to Me”. We preferred the Wise potato chips and bottles of Coca Cola sold in the locker room below. No rejections to anticipate if you had a quarter or two. The only negative: the unpleasant odor from the cleaning fluid used on the terracotta tile floor.

Had we joined our parents at McGuirls for fish fry, we would have been rested for the Saturday afternoon Proctor football game at Murnane Field. Now, high school football is played on Friday night. Saturdays are reserved for college games. That shift has something to do with television ratings. There were very few TV sets in 1950.

At some dances, a little floor show was held on the gym floor at the mid-way point. Varied skits offered a showcase for our aspiring show biz hopefuls to share their talents. One Friday night in November, the Tau Phi Zeta fraternity sponsored a Sadie Hawkins Dance called “The Turkey Trot”. For that, the gals invited the guys, taking the pressure off us. Not being asked, bruised the ego and left some feeling like turkeys!

We’ll never forget our first Friday night dance that fall. The Saturday afternoon prior, senior halfback George Fanelli scored four touchdowns in a Proctor victory over Watertown. He was dancing with his steady gal, garbed in his maroon varsity cardigan complete with the chenille block “P” decorated with a tiny gold football pin. The coveted initial was meticulously sewn on the left side of the sweater above the pocket by his devoted mom. The athlete’s name was embroidered in script on a panel above the right pocket. Most of the sweaters were purchased at The Sport Shop on Bleecker Street. Our thought: no long lonesome walk across that hardwood floor for him. Something for us to aspire to, as they danced to “Body and Soul”.

One Friday night, popular senior cheerleader Junie DiFiore allowed us in the gym office to select the songs. Instantly, two tentative frosh wallflowers assumed total control of the entire dance.

Reflecting, those innocent times were more than a song and a dance. Some refer to the Eisenhower era as the Silent Generation. Born between 1925 through ’45, we recall our folks working hard on turn-of-the century farms or in factories. They brought a strong work ethic into those factories of industrialized society. We learned loyalty and respect from them. Though not technologically advanced, we were taught to value tradition.

Plagued by war as a result of the Great Depression’s economic instability, we witnessed progress and saw America become a global superpower. The prosperity of the 50’s and early 60’s produced the Baby Boomers, then Generation X to Generation Y (The Millennials) and now Z. (mid 90’s to early 2000’s)

Some think Generation Z is the new Silent Generation. They’re entrepreneurial and tech-savvy. They prefer cool products versus vacations, more media consumption and edgy campaigns. They’d like to co-create culture and maybe they will.

Wow, those Silent Years suddenly got louder. Our lazy Fox Trots started to rock with Bill Haley’s Comets, Elvis and the Beatles. A bogus trinity of Sex, Drugs and Rock-and-Roll evolved.

Wha’ happened? A brand new set of values screeched in with the unbearable force of Generations Y and Z.

We can savor what we had: Body, Soul and Spirit. Love was a many splendored thing and life was cherry pink & apple blossom white. We all wanted someone we could trust to steal our hearts. Change sure is inevitable but it’s great to revisit what we can never recapture: Our youth!

Brothers Bob and Dick Chancia are native Uticans. Bob lives in New York City. Dick lives in Utica.