First kiss and the first smell of love |

First kiss and the first smell of love

Summit Daily file photoBiff America

Jeffrey Bergeron, aka Biff America, is avoiding Summit County during mud season. He’ll be back some time when there’s snow on the ground. So, while we wait, we’ll run some of Biff’s Greatest Hits. This one last ran on Feb. 6.I kissed Gail Baker behind the waste-water treatment plant. She was a younger woman; she had just turned 12; I was almost two years her senior. Other than the odd game of spin the bottle and a few elderly aunts with bad perfume and mustaches, that was my first kiss.Though she was younger, Gail seemed to have had more experience than I. For one thing, she knew enough to spit out her chewing gum as we walked from the party at Teddy Casey’s house to the nearest vacant lot. For another, she did not wait for me to make the first move. If she had, we might still be sitting there. Fright, bliss and uncertainty flowed through me like electricity, that night I was in uncharted waters.Gail, not being Catholic, was less burdened with a strict code of conduct of what was considered a sin -this was a good thing. But she also had an older brother Johnny who I worried might resent me mauling his little sister.

Those fears fell by the wayside when our lips met. She assumed I shuddered because of the cold.It was late November in South Easton, Mass. She wore a heavy wool coat and jeans, and we sat on my leather jacket spread over the rocky ground. The faint smell of sewage did little to lessen the romance, but in retrospect, my lightheadedness might have been caused by hypothermia.Now that I think of it, cold weather is a good preventive measure for teen sex. I would guess there are fewer teen pregnancies in Minnesota than Mississippi.But on that night in 1967, sex was the farthest thing from our minds. On my part there was years of Catholic indoctrination, on hers there was her several layers of wool and cotton coupled with near freezing temps.Both of us were content to sneak a few kisses and hold each other in a manner that might bore teens of today.

From that night Gail Baker was my “steady.” She wore my I.D. bracelet, and I wore her zodiac ring around my neck on the same chain as my Saint Christopher medal. Due to our large families and lack of privacy at home we seldom spoke over the phone. Rather, we wrote long, childlike, passionate love notes that we would leave for each other in a secret place we both would pass by on our way to our respective schools.Our biggest fear was that those notes might fall into the wrong hands. To this day I’ve never revealed our letter-drop; I’m betting she hasn’t either.When we weren’t pledging our life-long devotion in notes, clandestine conversations and kissing on secluded park benches until our lips swelled, Gail and I were simply friends – a friend I could grope. Though she was younger, she was more intelligent and worldly. She didn’t gossip or giggle like other girls. She had no desire to become a cheerleader, but rather aspired to be an athlete and good student. While my father liked to sit on the porch in his undershirt and drink beer, her father listened to jazz and smoked a pipe.After about 18 months of near explosive yet innocent love, Gail Baker dumped me for some guy who had his driver’s license.For me that was OK. Though she never seemed to mind my teenage acne, when hers arrived I wasn’t nearly so forgiving. Plus I was on my way to becoming a high school hero and thought I might be able to get an older woman who was less a friend and more a lover.

Gail Baker married that guy with his driver’s license. They had a few kids and opened a restaurant in our hometown. She and I remained friends until I graduated from high school and left my hometown.I did indeed go on to become a high school big fish in a small pond. I dated lots of girls, older and younger, with much less honorable intentions then I had with Gail. After leaving home and moving west, I continued to look for love, eventually marrying my best friend who became a lover and partner.I haven’t seen Gail Baker in almost 30 years. I hope she is happy and has had a good life. Like me, I’m sure she has had a lifetime of joys, challenges as well as some pain and hardships since we first kissed on that cold night in November.I can only hope that, occasionally, when she smells treated sewage she remembers me.Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of “Biff America” can be seen on RSN television, heard on KOA radio and read in several mountain publications. He can be reached at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User