Photograph of party at Pat Blashill’s house.
Party at Pat Blashill’s house.
  1. Beth Burke (’80)
  2. Roberto Corrada
  3. John Barger (’78)
  4. Jamie Burton
  5. Vera Bockelman (’80)

This Polaroid photograph was taken in early 1977 at a cast party at Pat Blashill’s house.

Richard Petty:

About this photograph — It’s special to me because it includes two important people in my life. The girl sitting front and center is Jamie Burton. Jamie and I had become a pair back at Dobie junior high and she was my girlfriend through the summer before my sophomore year.

By the time of this party, Jamie and I had broken up and she was dating John Barger, sitting next to her in this picture. The girl sitting to Jamie’s left is Vera Bockelman, my eventual wife and ex.

It wasn’t until after Vera and I were married that I realized that this picture existed and that both Jamie and her were in it. I was pretty blown away by this because I’d never seen them anywhere near each other. Vera claims that this is her photograph and for this reason I believe her.

A funny story — John Barger was a very funny guy. The funniest thing I ever saw him do ocurred on Halloween evening in 1976 when he and Roberto Corrada stopped by my house. I was watching TV (the original Dracula, with Bela Lugosi) and was playing with a butane cigarette lighter. I showed them how I could trap the gas with my hand cupped against my chest, then quickly remove my hand and ignite the gas, creating a small, brief fireball.

Then Roberto told John and I about how he’d seen some guy fill his mouth with butane, then blow it out and light it and John volunteered to try it himself. We did not pressure him into trying this!

John took the lighter, placed it in his mouth, and discharged butane gas. Then, with his lips closed, he positioned the lighter in front of his mouth, ready to ignite the gas. But instead of blowing the gas out and lighting it, he opened his mouth and paused.

The invisible gas drifted out of his mouth, went up his face, and then he lit it. A huge fireball erupted right in front of his face. He jerked his head back slightly with a surprised look.

Roberto and I almost died laughing—we were crying. John’s eyebrows and eyelashes were singed and burned hair fell out of his nose.

There are no creatures more reckless than teenage boys.