Longtime friends enjoy 'Geezer Prom'During a version of “Let Me Call you Sweetheart,” Lloyd Mattson slipped his arm around his date, swayed a bit and pulled her in for a kiss on the cheek.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
During a version of “Let Me Call you Sweetheart,” Lloyd Mattson slipped his arm around his date, swayed a bit and pulled her in for a kiss on the cheek.
You can forgive the guy for getting a little fresh. It has been 72 years since Mattson dated Barb Halligan — briefly his high school sweetheart — and, on Monday night at the Lighthouse on Homestead, she was his date for Geezer Prom.
Mattson orchestrated the event at the restaurant between Duluth and Two Harbors. He invited a bunch of friends. He bought Halligan a wrist corsage of roses and reserved a spot close to the music, which was provided by his son Kevin Mattson. He requested Halligan’s favorite song, Charlie Pride’s “Crystal Chandelier.”
“Oh, this is fun,” said Mattson, 87, after accompanying his son on harmonica for “Tennessee Waltz” in between greeting longtime friends who had stopped by his table.
Mattson and Halligan dated for about a year when they were students at
Duluth Central. He said Halligan eventually ran off with his best friend. They graduated in 1941.
Mattson met Halligan again when Elsie, his wife for 66 years, was a resident at Chris Jensen Health & Rehabilitation Center. Elsie died in February 2009. Mattson, who worked as a minister and continues to minister to people even after retiring, still visits the center.
He’s especially keen on teasing his ex-girlfriend, whom he says gives away hugs more easily now than she did back then. He sends Halligan Valentine’s Day cards and Christmas cards from his home in Arizona, where he spends his winters.
Halligan seemed to be having fun. She tapped her hand on the table and laughed when Mattson grabbed a microphone and referred to himself as a geezer and his date as a geezer-ette.
“I’m still in shock,”
Halligan said of the prom.
The couple sat with Mattson’s daughter and son-in-law, Sally and Dale Rogers of Duluth. Sally Rogers described her father as ecumenically minded with an appreciation for people and life.
“I have a heart for the old people,” Mattson said. “Especially now that I am one.”
Bob Gilmore wore a tuxedo to the event. His wife, Gayle Gilmore, wore the black dress from their son’s wedding. They’ve been married 43 years and this was their first prom together.
“We thought we’d come in our formal blacks and make it an occasion,” Bob Gilmore said.
Mattson’s son played “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “You Are My Sunshine.” There wasn’t actually room for a dance floor, which was fine with Mattson, who claims to have two left feet.
The two-hour event promised to have a chaste ending for the old friends.
“Nothing romantic is allowed to happen,” Kevin Mattson joked. “He’s my dad, and he lives at my house.”