“The course of true love, never did run smooth.”…William Shakespeare My first kiss was most memorable. I was about fifteen I think. I met William P. Mackey, III, better known as Booga, at Camp Cheraw. I was attending the Methodist Youth Fellowship gathering there for two weeks. During that time, he followed me around like a puppy dog. He was going to be a Junior and I would be a Sophomore when high school began in the fall and I had a gigantic crush on him. He was a good looking tall, well built boy with brown hair and big brown eyes. He was the epitome of “the jock type” that I liked back then . He was from Columbia, South Carolina, but had an aunt that lived in Charleston. He called one day late in the summer after we got back from camp and said he was in town visiting his aunt. He asked me if I would like to go to the movies. and I jumped at the chance. He was adorable, so much cuter than any of the Charleston High or Bishop England boys, and he was a Southern gentleman. This was my first real date. We went to the movies and had a great time, talking and joking around. After a bit he sort of slipped his damp hand into mine, slowly but surely. My heart was pounding and I was tingling right down to my toes. I got all tongue tied. My mouth was dry and I could barely answer him when he spoke. In the darkness of the theater, I could see his Adam’s apple as he tried to swallow. I could barely remember what the movie was. I believe it was Mrs Minerva. After the movie ended, we headed to the local teen hangout, Mr Mike’s on St Phillips Street across from Memminger High School for shakes. Momma’s words came into my brain. Don’t let your young man think you were a hog, so I ordered a cherry coke instead. I was starving and prayed that my stomach would not start growling. I watched as he gulped down his hamburger, fries and shake. We left when he was done and I arrived home well before my eleven p.m. curfew.
Our front door on Beaufain Street was painted Charleston green and you entered right from the street. You opened the door on to our piazza which was located on the side of the house. It was typical of a Charleston single house. We stepped onto the piazza and sat on the porch swing being careful not to wake my parents. Momma’s ear was tuned in to the squeaks of the porch swing. We talked softly for a few minutes when he admitted that he had a curfew and had to get going. “I’d best be getting home or my Aunt will have the Charleston police looking for me,” he said. I walked him to the door. By then, he had gathered up the courage to kiss me good night. I wanted my first kiss to be perfect just as I had dreamed about, not like when you played Spin the bottle at a party. Those kisses didn’t count. They were just little pecks on the lips if the boy could muster up the courage to even do that. I dreamed that his lips would be moist and slightly opened and I would feel a thrill beyond one’s imagination ( I read that in a Romance novel). Just as we embraced and Booga’s dry lips met mine, as if on cue, my Daddy burst through that Charleston green door as if he had been outside waiting to spoil my magic moment whenever it might occur. Booga about jumped out of his drawers, (if he had, Daddy probably would have killed him). He was quivering and could barely speak. “Mr Welling, sorry sir, it won’t happen again sir.”
“Indeed it won’t boy. Boy, get yourself home, NOW.” He looked at me and grumbled, “And you missy (as if he had forgotten my name), you go straight to your room.” I didn’t even see Booga’s shoes hit the pavement he was running so fast. Momma said that Daddy probably scared him into becoming a Presbyterian as I never saw him at any MYF events after that. I never heard from him again. He made sure that he would never incur the wrath of Daddy again under any circumstances. I did hear that he had gotten a football scholarship to the University of South Carolina to play football. Carolina had one of the best teams in the nation.
When The Citadel beat Carolina in 1950, I caught a glimpse of him in his Carolina uniform after the game. He was trying to high tail it off the field. When he saw me, he winked.
“I’m still running,” he said. “I knew it was a bad omen for me to come back to Charleston.”
“Good to see you too, Booga.”
When Booga was a senior at Carolina, he was chosen Honorable Mention All American.
One day, I overheard my Daddy tell some of his business associates, “My daughter, Annie, dated that young man. Good boy, nice boy.” What I didn’t hear was that he had scared the bejibber out of him and ran him out of town on a rail.
I always secretly hoped that I’d bump into Booga when I was with my boyfriend, Jack.
Jack played football for The Citadel and during that fateful game, he blocked Booga and caused him to fumble the ball. That fumble cost Carolina the game against The Citadel. The Citadel Bulldogs would score on the next drive for the 19-7 win.
I sometimes wonder where old Booga is these days.
I could look him up on the internet but I think I will just let sleeping dogs lay.
But in my mind, I think, I’d like to see what he looks like now that he’s an old man and I always meant to ask him how he got the nickname, Booga. I bet he remembers my husband, Jack, who blocked him to win the game. Old football players can recall every play that they have ever been in. But I wonder if he remembers my Daddy?
*Booga’s name was changed to protect the innocent real William P. Mackey, III