Sixth-grade proms were relatively uncommon, but not at Westbriar Elementary in Vienna. In June 1977, I had been with my classmates for seven years, and we would be celebrating with each other and our parents. One of the highlights of the prom was the parent-child dance.

I spent several evenings at Tysons Corner searching for a dress. I spent another evening designing the cover art for our class menu. It would be a French-themed dinner, and I had drawn the Eiffel Tower with a hot-air balloon floating next to it with several children in its wicker basket shouting: “Au revoir, Westbriar!”

As I finished the drawing, my mother had the startling revelation that she and my father would be attending an event at Wolf Trap on prom night.

At the prom, I sat with friends enjoying our French meal. The parent-child dance was announced, and my 22-year-old brother, Jerry, walked into the cafeteria.

He was dressed in his tan leisure suit, and, at 6-foot-4, towered above us. He was handsome, fit and, unlike most of the fathers, had a full head of thick blond hair. I was so proud to be escorted to the dance floor by him. Eighteen years later, he would reprise that role, walking me down the aisle to be married.

Ellen Klemm Feeney,


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