What we boys wouldn’t have given to have a Dream Girl Espresso stand near the park in northern Illinois where, over 60 years ago, we played baseball and football all day, sans parents who had better things to do than supervise their children’s play. We didn’t have espresso or even plain old coffee. Coffee was for boring adults, and we wanted no part of it.

But boy worlds always have some version of a Dream Girl, and we had ours.

A kid in our gang showed up one day at the park, breathless with excitement, hardly able to talk. What could have possibly been so urgent that he missed a chance to fatten his batting average? We were not long in finding out. He led us downtown to a poster, forever frozen in the amber of our boy imaginations.

The picture was of an absolutely gorgeous, black-haired woman leaning back against a bale of hay. She had one arm provocatively resting on her hip and the other thrown back against the hay.

She was wearing a low-cut, tightly fitting dress that revealed “everything,” which in those innocent days was quite enough to fix us to the spot long enough to get an eyeful but not long enough that some nosy parents might drive by, leading to never-ending lectures on proper boy behavior.

Our boy dream was the mesmerizing Jane Russell, starring in a movie called, appropriately, “The Outlaw.” The movie, apparently, was too daring to be shown in our town, but would be appearing, oddly, in Zion, Ill., whose streets all had Biblical names and where the Passion Play had been appearing regularly since, well, the first Passion.

Despite days of scheming (at which, like most boys, we had become experts), we couldn’t find a way to get to Zion without being noticed by our always nosy parents, so we never got to see our dream girl, nor did many others, since the nation’s censors kept the 1941 movie out of general circulation for five more years.

Besides, we found out later, you had to be a boring adult to see the movie and we had no interest in being either boring or adults, though seeing the movie would have provided a glorious one-time exception to the rule.

Adults were always making life difficult for boys. To us, that seemed to be their sole purpose in life.

Some things don’t change. The current Dream Girls might be dressed more provocatively than gorgeous Jane Russell on the poster (or in the awful movie), but the adults are still protesting. Being an adult and grandparent, I can sympathize. But the boy memory lives on, not yet extinguished by the passing years and profound change in our culture: “Come on, guys,” the words echo in my memory, “you can see everything.”

George Evans lives in Forest Grove.

Contract Publishing

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