Thursday, April 13, 2023

K is for Kiss


#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter K

My very, very first concert was John Denver. My second one was Kiss.

It was in the fall of 1977, and my best friend Jane and I bought tickets, along with what seemed like half of our high school. We decided Jane would drive (her hot ride was a 1965 Nova) and I would navigate.

The concert was held at the relatively new Kemper Arena, which had been built on the site of the former stockyards in the West Bottoms area of Kansas City. My dad, who had been a meter reader for the gas company and knew pretty much every inch of the city, gave the girls from the suburbs directions for getting there.

We had to take three different freeways to get there, but we made it. As previously noted, we saw many, many friends from school there as well, one of whom was wearing a wineskin under his jacket. We may or may not have had contraband of our own in hidden in our socks. It was a fabulous concert, we found our car in the massive parking lot after it was over, and we headed back to the 'burbs.

This could be the end of a nice little story, but how memorable would it make that concert if it were?

As we were driving on surface streets out of the parking lot, we realized that, while my dad told us how to GET to Kemper Arena, he didn't tell us how to get back HOME. I believe that HE believed we would have enough sense to reverse what we did, but he was quite wrong about that. We made it onto one highway, then I saw a sign for 71 highway.

"Take this!" I said, because we actually lived right off of 71, so obviously, this was the way to go. But when we took the exit, we were not on a highway after all but on a surface street called Prospect. And it was going through an area with bars on the windows and men lurking around in groups and abandoned buildings and we knew we had done something terribly wrong when we saw the name of the street, but we didn't know how to fix it.

We had enough sense to make sure the doors were locked, which meant I climbed over the backseat to check the backdoors, because this was WAYYY before power locks (hell, the car didn't even have power steering) while Jane drove, and we whimpered and cried at every stop light.

"If anyone comes up to us, we run the light," I said, and Jane agreed, but no one did and we kept driving and driving and driving until finally, FINALLY, we started seeing street names that were familiar and we found our way back to our neighborhood.

My parents were in bed when Jane dropped me off at home, but they were still awake and listening to the police scanner that they had on every night (because my dad liked to listen to it as he fell asleep).

"What took you so long?" they exclaimed, and I told them we may have accidentally gone down Prospect as we tried to find our way back home.

"PROSPECT?!" they cried out. "How did you do THAT? Didn't you follow the directions we gave you? There was a SHOOTING on Prospect, probably just as you were driving down it!"

"You didn't tell us how to get home," I said in a small, frightened voice. 

"You two are ninnies," my mom said, and she was right, but we made it and it certainly made for a night I've never forgotten.


  1. Scary. I've driven down some of those streets here, you have to be very, very careful.

    1. I had another such experience when I first moved to Nashville. It might show up on the A to Z!

  2. Replies
    1. We were very naive girls! The rest of the evening was sure a great time, though!

  3. Locking the doors, planning to run the light, and maybe most important -driving a 12 year old car helped. Strange how returning is never as easy as reversing directions.

  4. I've accidentally driven in some pretty sketchy neighborhoods in Los Angeles before, and it is scary to find yourself somewhere you didn't mean to be! Glad you made it home safely!