Tuesday, May 26, 2009


A half a century ago, when I was in junior high school and had just discovered which sex was opposite, I was badly smitten by the prettiest girl at Central Junior High School, Cecile Mayrand. I wasn't the only one though, as I think half the boys at Central felt the same way. I tried all through the eighth and ninth grades to get her attention but never could.

During the ninth grade Cecile's family moved to Winston-Salem but she stayed in Greensboro to finish the school year. During that summer we palled around some and by the end of the summer she seemed to notice me a bit--at least enough for me to start writing her in Winston.

We corresponded for the full year of the 10th grade. I'd write and wait anxiously for a response. In 1957, for a kid without a driver's license, Winston-Salem might as well have been Timbuktu--that 26 miles was a long way away.

I didn't see Cecile until I got my driver's license the next summer, and my first road trip was to see her. I drove to Winston and we dated several times that fall, but that was also the time I started dating Ann Winchester. After Ann and I began dating, I didn't go back to Winston but once or twice. Ann and I dated all through high school and college and got married when I graduated from Clemson in 1964.

I lost track of Cecile after high school, but I often thought of her. She sort of played the Suzanne Somers role (the mysterious blond in the Thunderbird) in my personal American Graffiti. When I asked old friends, of folks from Winston, about her, no one knew much about her after high school. Someone said they thought she had married a doctor; someone else said they thought she was living in Hawaii. I often wondered what happened to her.

In the late nineties, things looked up for finding out about her when Google came along, but not knowing her married name was a real drawback. Googling for "Cecile Mayrand" brought up a lot of references for various French-Canadians, but nothing about the correct Cecile

Then last year, after Glenn Reynolds wrote about Will Lavender's mystery Obedience, which has a very intriguing prologue (see it here) I tried Google again, and there, thanks to Google Books, was a reference to Phillip Mayrand and his sister Cecile Broadhurst in a book about the history of Topsail Island where the Mayrands owned property. So with a current last name, it was easy to find her current address

I wrote her the first of the year to see if she remembered me, and she did. She answered my letter and filled in some of the details of her life: She had married a doctor, and had lived in Hawaii, but had moved back to NC when she and her first husband separated a number of years ago. She remarried in 1987 and has moved to Topsail Island where she and husband Ed Broadhurst live next to the Gold Hole there).

While visiting some friends in Morehead City over Memorial day, I made a side trip and had a very nice lunch with Cecile and Ed in Topsail Island. We renewed old friendships and talked about our lives over the past 50 years--a very nice day. If Garrison Keillor were writing this, he'd find a nice poignant heart-warming ending, but real life is a little different. It was just a very pleasant lunch and chat. I hope we can see each other again.

Here is another picture of Cecile in junior high school, with some other friends of the period: Cecile, Mike Thompson, me, and Ann Kluttz on the first row and Scottie Troxler, Mike (Tom) Cribbin, Martha Watson, Cricket Conner, Laurie Lamb, and Charles Howell on the back row.

Here are two pictures from this weekend, of Cecile and Ed and of Cecile and me. I don't think either of us has changed much, do you?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for these memories Peston. You write a very nice hand and are an unusual man for remembering all the small details of a relationship over 50 yrs ago. Very sweet.

Tinker Stack Dalton

Anonymous said...

Very nice, Preston. I was just thinking of Cecile a few days ago. I came across a photo of Cecile and I, in "dress up" clothes, on the way to a school dance. She was, and obviously still is, one the pretiest girls I have known.

Thanks for the memories.

David Wells