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18 June 2008 @ 09:10 am
SVT #28  

These recaps are addicting! I thought I could stop when I wanted until someone requested Claim to Fame which turned out to be just loaded with snarkable stuff. Hope no one is tired of me yet!

 Sorry it's so small, the teaser cover line reads: Which twin will go down in history?

Why are Elizabeth and Jessica dressed so retro on this cover, you ask? Because, my children, in this book we travel back in time to an era of buoffants, Beatles, bell bottoms, peace signs, flowers, love beads, and doin' the twist! Oh, yeah, and we get a sobering reminder of Vietnam and how it turned grown men into post traumatic stress depressed fathers...
There’s to be an assembly today at school. Rumor has it the assembly concerns some kind of contest to be held with the upcoming 25th anniversary of Sweet Valley Middle School called Sweet Valley Junior High back then and no, I’m not talking about 
Elizabeth, Julie, and Amy speculate about the contest rumors with Jessica, Lila and the other members of the Unicorn Club aka those snobby, snobby snobs

Cool-as-a-cucumber Lila casually studies her fingernails and expresses no interest in the news of a special assembly while the others think Lila actually knows something about this contest that they don’t. They're right.   
All take their seats in homeroom class. 

Ok, quick history and math lesson here. 
This book was published in 1988 that means 25 years ago the supposed “date” Sweet Valley Middle Junior High first opened its doors to the uneducated masses of Sweet Valley was…Ok, year 1988 subtract 25 years equals…1963! 
Wow! Lots of groovy goings on in 1963! For example, according to Wikipedia, Governor George Wallace of Alabama proclaims “Segregation now…tomorrow…(and)…forever!” This sparks many protest marches and human rights movements including Dr. Martin Luther King to deliver his now famous “I Have a Dream” speech to 250,000 people on the steps of the Lincoln memorial in Washington D.C. While thousands of blacks, most of them children, get arrested while protesting segregation, police unleash the dogs and turn the hoses on them! In South Carolina’s SCLC a mass sit-in was also held to protest segregation. As we all know, sit-ins are not new either to Sweet Valley or to the Wakefield family.
In other news, a divorce between a U.K. Duke and Duchess causes a scandal.
The world saw the premiere of TWO James Bond movies that year.
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX.
C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley died.
The first episode of Dr. Who debuted on UK tellys.
The U.S. release of two Beatles singles I Want to Hold Your Hand and I Saw Her Standing There ensues Beatlemania!
Ok, on with the recap!

In homeroom Liz sits at her desk and thinks about how different she and her twin sister are...Zzzzzz
Ok, on with the recap!

Everyone files into the auditorium for the special assembly after a voice over the classroom intercom instructs them to do so. It's like something out of Brave New World. Weird.

In the school auditorium, Mrs. Arnette, "the hairnet" (why? because she always wears one, DUH!) tells the students her idea. They will honor this special anniversary of their school by burying a time capsule on the middle school property to be opened 25 years from now.
Excuse me a minute, Ok year 1988 add 25 years carry the one, carry the one, carry the one, equals...2013! Wow, folks, for us here in the year 2008, the year 2013 is only...FIVE years away! 

Along with a sixties themed dance where everyone is invited to wear sixties clothes, dance to sixties music and experience all things sixties (Yeah, wait till Liz and Jess try the "Electric Kool-Aid"!) there will be a contest to determine what will go in the time capsule. The contest will involve teams made up of groups of four and the team that can find three of the greatest sixties themed items over the next two weeks will be declared the winners. The winning team's retro items will be placed inside the capsule AND they'll get their pictures taken by news reporters and placed in the capsule too for all future Sweet Valley-ites to snark at.

This is the big news Lila knew and only shared with Jessica. Thinking only of fame and fortune for the Unicorns, they start scheming. Jessica, Lila, Ellen and Tamera immediately form a team, determined to win this contest and the photo shoot so that 25 years from now the whole world will know how important the Unicorns were at Sweet Valley Middle School.  
As if anyone in the year 2013 would care. 

Elizabeth and her friends think only how much fun this time capsule contest will be for everyone. Dorks.
I'm still wondering "Why are they putting SIXTIES items in this time capsule?" Do they think in 2013 retro-items from the nineteen-eighties will have no historical value AT ALL???

Elizabeth, Amy and Julie decide to form a team and enter the contest but find themselves short one person. Mrs. Arnette comes over with a new charity case for Elizabeth (and friends) and his name is George Henkel. No, it's not "Adopt-a-Senior-Citizen-Day" at school, and he's not some escapee from an old folks home either, George turns out to be a young, normal looking, sixth grade boy who awkwardly agrees to join this all girl group (I feel sorry for him already) and participate in the contest after some awkward intros. Since Elizabeth has never heard of him (me neither) this makes him a loner. He's a shy, quiet boy who's already carrying around some major issues: his mom died so he's lived with his aunt and uncle since he was a baby and NOT his father, they haven't spoken in years. George's dad, Howard Henkel, won't have anything to do with him and when you're stuck with a name like George Henkel and estranged from your immediate family, you're pretty much asking for Meddler-from-Hell-Elizabeth Wakefield's assistance. What's wrong with this boy? Liz wonders. Indeed, Elizabeth.

The next day is Saturday. Jessica comes to breakfast and learns Saint Elizabeth has already eaten and left to begin her day of spreading sunshine and good deeds, this morning she's off to Howard Henkel's place. We're told Elizabeth often goes over there to meddle help out, like doing chores or running errands for him. Jessica is totally grossed out. Apparently all Mr. Henkel does is sit in his wheelchair all day and practice looking mean in front of a mirror. Jessica declares him to be "creepy". I picture Howard Henkel looking like 

At the mall Jessica, Lila, Ellen and Tamera hunt for anything sixties. They have some trouble since the Valley Mall is surprisingly running short today on classic time capsule nineteen-sixties items they could buy for the contest. They browse a poster store and suddenly Jessica gets an inspriation. They had movie posters way back in the Sixties! And, yes, the store actually carries old classic movie posters. Luck has smiled on the Unicorns today, the clerk brings them one sixties poster from a movie titled Bikini Beach Party, which I've never heard of. After a quick internet search I found Bikini Beach starring Annette Funichello and Frankie Avalon which was made in 1964. (but where's the Party, Ghostwriter? Come on!) Anyway, the girls can't believe their luck, apparently this is a classic sixties item because this is the very poster that once hung in the actual Sweet Valley Movie Theater lobby advertising the actual movie when it premered in 1964. It's very expensive, though, how can they ever afford it? AwesomeLila to the rescue who plunks down Daddy's credit card for the  
Now the Unicorns will live in infamy because this time capusle item is just made of win. Everyone do the watusi! 

Lila suggests to Jessica that she should spy on Elizabeth and her team by snooping in her twin's room and reporting back on the competition. This makes Jessica feel a little funny until Lila reminds her "It's for the Unicorns." 
Well, when you put it that way, Lila...

At the Fowler mansion Queen Lila accepts the housekeeper's offer to prepare sandwiches and sodas for her guests without even a thank you. Housekeeper rushes to do Lila's bidding and the girls wander into the den. Jessica mentally notes that if she talked that way at home to HER Mom, she'd never see those refreshments for HER guests. Lila rules.

Jessica flips through stacks of old records, when she finds Meet the Beatles Lila gets excited "Hey, the Beatles! They were big in the Sixties, weren't they?" (Gee, I dunno Lila, WERE THEY??) The classic Beatles record is promptly added to their time capsule collection. Now they're sure to win! 
Um, I played my parents Beatles records all the time growing up, should someone tell the Unicorns just because they found a Beatles record in Daddy Fowler's record collection, it's really not that special?

Meanwhile, St. Liz is over at Mr. Henkel's house, precariously perched on a ladder, placing the last of his books in his newly installed bookshelves. Since Mr. Henkel lives alone and apparently doesn't hold a job, I wonder where he got his money for all those books. Besides always looking mean, Mr. Henkel also sits around all day and reads and feels sorry for himself. Elizabeth wonders why his own son George isn't here to climb around on ladders and fetch books for him instead of her. Like the saint she is, Liz refuses to take any money from Mr. Henkel for today's work. Instead she brings up George's name, "you know, YOUR SON? I'm his new best friend," she informs him. 
Mr. Henkel tells her not to slam the door when she leaves. 
"Strange." thinks Liz, "not even interested in his own son!"
Liz, stranger things have happened in Sweet Valley.

Liz meets up with her team. George is totally unfazed when Liz tells him who she just spent her morning hanging out with. They check out a secondhand store aptly nambed The Olde Junque Shoppe and get scavenging for winning time capsule items. Elizabeth mentally makes note to self: hunting on their own is more fun than just having the clerk hand '60's things to them. Very profound, Liz. 

They pick through magazines, old clothes "Dang, why don't these skirts come with dates on them?" Liz wonders. (DUH, LIZ!) and old books. As the store has a great collection of bell bottoms and Day-Glo wear, they decide to patronize this store for their sixties dance outfits. Elizabeth begins digging through a box of old books and finds a real diamond in the rough, an old American Literature textbook. She blows away the dust and lets out a yelp. This textbook has SVJH stamped inside the cover, and it's exactly twenty-five years old! The kids buy it for a whopping one dollar! 
That's not a bad contest find.

They next go to Amy's house and chat over cookies and milk with Mrs. Sutton about what was special in the sixties. They explain about the contest and how they hope to get more ideas for winning items. Amy's mom tells them about writing a letter to President Kennedy when she was twelve who sent her an autographed picture of himself in return. Mrs. Sutton shows it to them and graciously lets the team have it for the time capsule contest.
Sweet! Now they just need one more item. All agree to talk to their parents, drag them up to the family attic and go down memory lane together. Er, all except George, who blushingly says he'll talk to his aunt and uncle. He's a charity case, you know, and this is all very awkward for the other SV kids who all come from "normal" families!

Elizabeth catches Jessica as she's snooping in her twin's bedroom for any contest items she can steal. Elizabeth smugly tells her they're keeping all their items over at Amy's and no, she won't tell her what they are. Jessica's all "Well, our team's stuff is better than yours anyway." 
Hmmmm, a SVJH textbook and autographed photo of a U.S. president vs. a movie poster and Beatles record. Uh-huh, real winners your team's got there, Jess.

At school Team Elizabeth discusses ways to find even better sixties stuff for the contest. Liz says she'll go to the local library and see if they have any old newspapers she can read for ideas. The very thought of Liz spending hours pouring over old sixties newsprint FOR FUN gives me a headache. 
At the library, Liz can only stare blankly at the little boxes handed to her by the librarian, she duhs, "I don't understand, where're the 1960's newspapers?" 
Liz, meet microfilm reader.

Whirring back through time she reads an article about the opening of Sweet Valley's new junior high but Liz thinks that's not special enough. Then she sees an article that makes her jump out of her seat! Twenty-five years ago a student caught the winning touchdown for Sweet Valley Junior High and won the state championship and that young, strapping lad was none other than Howard Henkel! 

Wow! If George's dad kept the football that won the first school championship maybe George could ask him about it. Father and son could have a tearful reconciliation and Team Elizabeth would have their third winning item because nothing screams nineteen-sixties and "let's put the past behind us" like a football!

Liz calls George all excited about what she read. How proud George must be and could he ask his dad about letting them have the football for their team so they'll have the best three winning items? George says "No. Dad and I don't talk, EVER!" and hangs up on her! 

Dejected, Elizabeth goes downsairs and talks to Ned. She learns why Howard Henkel is a bitter, reclusive old man in a wheelcair who never sees his own son and hasn't spoken to him in years. Once upon a time, Mr. Henkel had big dreams of coaching football then he went off to fight in 'Nam, got wounded and then he lost his wife and estranged himself from baby George. (It's obvious the man is suffering from post tramatic stress disorder and depression.) He now lives alone and refuses help from everyone. In a rare moment of parenting, Ned gives Elizabeth some good advice-she should let George and Mr. Henkel work out their own family problems and not get involved. 
"I know," says Elizabeth, "I should mind my own business."
Liz, dear, did you hear what you JUST SAID? DID YOU?!!!

The next day at school, Elizabeth immediately blabs all she learned to Amy. Amy is also shocked that father and son don't even speak to each other. Family estrangments just can't happen here, not in Sweet Valley! George arrives and apologizes to Liz for what happened on the phone. Liz invites him to come to the dance with the rest of the team because he'll be the only boy there with THREE DATES. I hope George brings a paper bag for his head.

A mistake by the mail carrier sends Elizabeth over Mr. Henkel's where she takes advantage of this golden opportunity to bring up the football story herself instead of just giving him his letter and leaving and letting George talk to his father on his own time since it's really NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS, LIZ! 

Mr. Henkel gets misty eyed recalling the memory of winning the championship and getting to keep the football, but flatly turns down Liz's request to give her the football for her team. He takes it to bed with him every night and just can't bring himself to part with it. Liz says she understands, she secretly keeps Ken and Barbie in her bed, too.

Liz promptly goes home to call Amy and tell her it's true, there is a football, BUT Mr. Henkel won't let them have it. They decide to try asking George again to talk to his father about giving it to them. St. Liz thinks it's just the thing to get father and son speaking again. Liz, what part of George's "No." did you not understand?

It's Friday, the day of the sixties dance. Liz and Mrs. Wakefield find Jessica in the laundry room trying to iron her hair, literally, because we had to wait another twenty years for the flat iron to be invented. Alice tells her to put the iron and ironing board away and she'll help them do their hair sixties-style for the dance. The result is what you see on the cover. Liz got a headful of huge, prickly rollers which, when taken out and ratted and teased with hairspray creates a big bouffant hairdo while Alice wrapped Jess's hair so it would hang perfectly straight. Liz is described wearing a pale yellow (my God, I just typed shitwaist! *clutches pearls*) shirtwaist dress while Jessica wore a purple miniskirt and white patent leather go-go boots. Groovy!

The gym is decorated with streamers, balloons, posters of sixties celebrities on the walls and sixties music blares over the speakers while a large table holds refreshments (all LSD-free, darn it!) Kids are dressed in bell-bottoms, peace medallions, long wigs, and love beads. Nora Mercandy arrives late but makes a totally awesome hippie. A teacher has just shown the kids how to do the twist. Liz spies George looking at Nora and blushing. She pushes George to go over and ask Nora for a dance. He can teach her to do the twist with him. Everbody does the twist! Oddly, none of the kids have ever heard of Chubby Checker.

Seeing George is in such a good mood: dancing, talking to other kids, opening up, and being more social,  (and all thanks to pushy St. Liz!) she decides to push her luck even more by pestering George to ask his father again about the football. This time George says "What a great party! Ok, sure, I'll do it." Elizabeth jumps for joy!

Elizabeth wakes up with post-sixties hair the next morning and sees George walking down the street to his dad's house. He's going to do it! Later that morning the doorbell rings and after pulling her hair spray matted post-bouffant hair back into a ponytail (gross, Liz, you totally had time to shower this morning!) she meets George at the door who is NOT happy with Elizabeth. He went to see his father about the football. BIG MISTAKE! Mr. Henkel basically told him, "This football is the most important thing in my life right now, so get lost kid!" George apologizes for not getting the football (which is sweet of him) and leaves. Liz realizes George is sadder than ever now. Yeah, and it's ALL YOUR FAULT ELIZABETH!

There's a twin mix-up later that day when Elizabeth gets Jessica to take some library books over to Mr. Henkel's for her. A penitent Mr. Henkel mistakens Jess for Liz, says he's seen the light and gives her his treasured football along with a big smile. "Wow, what a nice old man!" thinks Jessica, who knows a winning contest item when she sees one. Doing her best Liz impersonation she promises to pass this treasured football on to George with all his father's love and apologies and...takes it for her own team instead! Henkel family problems be hanged. With this football as their third contest entry, Team Jessica is sure to win!

At school Monday Caroline Pearce, gossip-girl extraordinaire, overhears Jessica showing off the football that she got "fair and square" from Mr. Henkel to the other Unicorns. She explains the history behind it and they're all impressed. Jessica basks in the admiration of her friends at her daring twin switch. 

Later that day, Liz hears about the Unicorn's football through the grapevine and confronts Jessica and demands it back. Jessica sheepishly hands it over.

When the dismissal bell rings, Elizabeth immediately takes the football to George thinking this will make everything all better now between father and son. She explains the mix up, tells him Mr. Henkel had a miraculous change of heart and wants him to have it now. George thows it back in her face! If his dad is so sorry he should go eat humble pie and apologize to him IN PERSON! Dad's a jerk who's never wanted anything to do with him, and by the way, Dad can keep his stupid football, he doesn't want it! George walks away.

There's only one thing to do. Elizabeth must go straight to Mr. Henkel's and tell him how his son really feels about him. No, Liz! Don't you remember? "I should mind my own business." *sigh* it's no use, Saint Elizabeth of Sweet Valley, dedicated to mending every broken relationship in town, is BACK!
Elizabeth tucks the ball under her arm and takes off running ignoring all the football references from everyone she passes! Like Bruce Paman's lame, "Hey, somebody tackle her!" 

Seeing St. Elizabeth on his doorstep with the football and hearing her story about what happened with George only upsets Mr. Henkel. "Oh, he wants me to get down on my hands and knees and BEG his forgiveness, eh? Well, perhaps you both haven't noticed I can't do that because I'm stuck in this FUCKIN' WHEELCHAIR!" takes back football, slams door in Liz's face. Sheesh!    
Elizabeth, you are not a psychologist, post traumatic stress disorder is WAY outa your league. Should've taken your own advice and MINDED YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

Jessica learns Team Elizabeth no longer has the football. This ups the ante for the Unicorn Team's chances at winning and Jessica is back in the Unicorn's good graces again. They were mad at her for a few days after learning she'd been pressed to give the football back. Meanwhile, Team Elizabeth franticlally hunts for one last item but nothing comes close to the lost football so they only have the textbook and autographed photo for their entry items.

The Unicorns add a 60's fashion magazine for their third item figuring their movie poster and Beatles record are sure to be enough to win the contest and get their pictures taken for posterity. Jessica takes special pains with her appearance Saturday morning, the day the judges will make their decision.

Outdoors on the softball field, competition is pretty pathetic because, apparently the only sixties stuff the other teams could dig up were Beatles memorabilia: wigs, record albums, photos, ticket stubs, ect (even Team Jessica has a Beatle's entry!). While Team Elizabeth is the only one with really original sixties stuff. The judges take the pulpit to announce the winner when suddenly, over the horizon, a lone figure appears, wheeling his chair onto the field, a football in his lap. It's Mr. Henkel! 

George is called down from the bleachers to the stage and Mr. Henkel totally embarresses him by taking the microphone and making a passionate speech about his son, George, being more important than a football. He makes a big show of presenting his treasured football to his son and George thows his arms around his father. 

Now, after reading that, if you can guess who the winners of the time capsule contest will be, go to the head of the class. Mr. Henkel's speech and the father and son public reconciliation has moved everyone to tears. The judges thank everyone for participating in the contest so twenty-five years from now everyone will know what Sweet Valley was like in the 1960's. Natch, they declare Team Elizabeth the winners: Elizabeth, Amy, Julie and George which makes no sense because we must assume the judges had picked them and their two contest entry items all along before Mr. Henkel showed up with that required third contest entry!
The crowd stupidly cheers anyway.

Team Elizabeth all take turns showing off each item to the crowd and expressing what each stands for: the photo represents leadership, the textbook represents education and Elizabeth and George solomnly hold up the football and state it stands for teamwork and belief in our parents. The audience gives them a thundering standing ovation for their brilliant observations. Go figure.

After getting their pictures taken, they go over to Mr. Henkel who, with George by his side, expresses his appreciation to Saint Elizabeth and it's disgusting, "Thanks to you, Elizabeth, I've got my son back." hearing this means more to Saint Elizabeth than all the time capsules in the world. Then there's hugs and congratulations all around. Honestly, can this ending get any cheesier? Even Jessica isn't miffed at losing. She just grins and hopes in 25 years everyone will see Lizzie's picture and think it's HER!
Sheesh, why didn't AwesomeLila just bribe the judges so HER team would win?