CORRECTIONVILLE, Iowa | There were days long, long ago when a young man took two deep breaths, punched himself on the arm and dialed the number of the girl he wished to take to prom.
As the phone rang he said a quick prayer: "Please, God, do not let her father answer the phone."
My, how things have changed at River Valley High School in Correctionville, where prom-goers pop the question in a variety of ways.
Some ask before dozens of spectators who gather in the parking lot. Others put their prospective date on a hunt that ends with "the question."
No, this isn't your father's -- or your mother's -- prom pitch.
Sam Briese, a senior at River Valley, was picked up by his buddies and held sideways in the school parking lot on a sunny day in January. Other pals held cardboard signs that spelled "P-R-O-M" with a question mark and an arrow pointing to Briese.
The object of his affection? Junior Gabby Todd, who was led into the lot by a friend.
"I was taking a long time getting to the parking lot that day and a friend told me to get there," Todd says. "Finally, they told me that someone had run into my car."
That got Todd hustling outside to meet her prom pitch.
"I laughed about it," she says, smiling. "And I went over to tell him, 'Yes.'"
Colton Gray, a River Valley junior, knew he couldn't simply ask sophomore Chrissa Deeds to prom or send her a text.. He had to come up with something creative. He used his connections in the automotive and baking worlds to get the mission accomplished.
Gray borrowed a sharp, big pickup from his pal, Shane Beesen, of Kingsley, Iowa. He drove it to school on Jan. 28 and hid the vehicle from Deeds. He also made -- or had help in making -- a sign that said, "Chrissa: Will You Go to Prom with Us?"
It's the first time I've seen a truck ask a girl to prom.
"My grandma, Marlis Gray, makes great sugar cookies and I know Chrissa likes them," Colton Gray adds. "So, Grandma make cookies that spelled out 'Prom.'"
The way to a date's heart, I suppose, is through four wheels and several sugar cookies.
"I walked out of school with a friend that day and there Colton was, standing in the truck with his sign," Deeds says. "I knew it was for me. I said, 'Yes.'"
Carre Stevenson, a junior at River Valley, had to ask her friend, Keith Keleher, to prom. Why? Because Keleher doesn't attend River Valley. He's a West High Wolverine.
It's a wonder Stevenson and Keleher didn't meet a wolverine on their way to this prom date proposal. Stevenson started her trail at the start of a dead-end road south of Correctionville one night. She posted a sign that read, "I've been hunting for a while..."
The next sign read, "So don't shoot me down..."
And the end of the road, in a public hunting area, Stevenson stapled the letters, "P-R-O-M" to four posts.
"And then I had him shoot his arrow through a target that said, 'Yes,'" Stevenson says.
The marksman nailed the target. He answered as Stevenson's sign directed. Bullseye.
All three couples are now making preparations for their prom at River Valley High School on April 25. Following the grand march and meal there's a dance at the school.
And then? Everyone changes clothes and boards the bus for an after-prom adventure to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo.
Apparently, the after-prom venues also have changed greatly since the days of rotary phones, bruised biceps and dads who answered.