Boomer Times January-February 2019 - Page 6

Square dancing was a fun social event for many By Beth Scott ac Co ntributed| Be on to right: Carl ound 1978. Left arol Adams ar ly ab ob pr , icians itar, C e groups of mus partially hidden on electric gu andolin, Kenneth th of e on is e g Her en on electric m Ray Berry sitt in Griffi th, banjo; ob Dixon sitt ing partially hidd Rose on fi ddle in back; Bobby B ud at microphone, one, Larry Stahl on fi ddle, B ss. t on electric ba ph ro gh ri ic m ck ba d an Stahl at ol P guitar, Gene Bickel on steel ● Community Hospice Services Physicians Team Specialized in Hospice Care Skilled Nursing Care & Hospice Aides Social Services, Spiritual Care & Volunteer Services Nutritional Counseling, Massage & Music Therapy Bereavement Services & Grief Counseling Services Available 24 Hours/ 7 Days a Week Community Hospice of Coshocton County 230 S. 4th Street, Coshocton, Ohio 43812 740-622-7311 ● 0029_101718 6B THE BEACON COSHOCTON COUNTY – For those who grew up in Appalachia Country, square danc- ing was a favorite pastime of dancing the night away with friends while listening to the country strains of a fi ddler sawing to the tunes of “Little Brown Jug”, “Red River Valley” or “Oh, Susannah”. Every Saturday night, granges and popular dance halls at the time would be the center of entertain- ment in any given country town as teens gathered for a good old-fashioned square dance. “I used to really enjoy it,” said Gene Poland who played bass in the JR and Country Echoes Band. “Square dancing was a family aff air. You got to see family life you don’t see too much anymore.” Square dancing can be traced back to several European countries with roots coming from England, France, and pos- sibly Scotland, Scandinavia, and Spain. French dancing styles became popular after the American Revolution when many people rejected all things British. Many terms in square dancing also come from France including “promenade”, “al- lemande” and “do-si-do” is a mispronun- ciation of the French “dos-à-dos”, which means back-to-back. In the early 1900s, square dancing went out of style until Henry Ford revived the tradition in the 1920s. In the 1950s, callers started developing square dancing stan- dards allowing dancers to learn a variety of steps and patterns. Square dancing is a dance where four couples form a square and follow a pattern that is announced by a caller that leads the dancers through various steps while music, usually a fi ddle, is performed. In older square dances, music was not per- formed and only voice was used. “Square dancing was a social function back when we were mostly rural,” said Larry Stahl. “It was a great way for people to visit and interact. It was an accepted way for young couples to get together in a time when morals were much stricter. I know several married couples who met at a square dance.” Th ere are three types of categories for square dancing. Th e older style consists of a caller telling the dancers what to do with music playing in the background. Another style of square dancing is when the caller sings the tune to a well-known song, but changes the words to refl ect how the dancers should move on the fl oor. Th e more modern version is a caller playing pre-recorded music where dancers move in advanced, more modern patterns. “Arnold Clark was in a class all by himself,” said Stahl. “A singing caller, his best-known call was ‘Beverly Hillbillies’. No one else does that that I know of, other than me, and I learned it from Archie. Also known for owning feed mills in Warsaw and Bakersville as well as being a Coshocton County Commissioner, he called for many years for many bands. Archie was fun and he would really inter- act with the dancers, sometimes teasing them, joking with them. He would always go out of his way to work with beginning dancers.” Other callers around this area included: John Guthrie, Junior Broadwater, Jimmy Durben, Linn Mizer, Jim Patterson “Big Jim”, Paulin Leavengood, Don Fenton, Carl Hinds, Bruce Geese, Harold Smith, Bill Dietrich, Gary Woods, Larry McClary, Larry Fontana, and Larry Stahl. “I remember square dancers back when I was a youngster,” said Poland, who is in his 90s. “Th ey used to call them barn dances. I can remember playing in the hay when I was a kid while the adults danced, and that was back in the 1930s.” Other than dancing, Poland and others remembered that there was never a short- age of food. “Th e Frogtown Music Hall in the west end of Newcomerstown was really pop- ular,” said Poland. “Th ere were covered dishes and we’d always take a break at around 7:00 to eat. Th ere were fi ve of us, including the caller, and we used to play at the Guernsey School House once a month. Th ey always had hot dogs, cream of chicken sandwiches, and pies. Th ere was always a variety of good food.” Lu Ann Fox used to attend dances held at the Plainfi eld School, which were most- ly fundraisers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She also commented on the food that was served. “If you were lucky enough to have your mom working in the kitchen, you could even get by with sneaking in the usual forbidden place to watch them make shredded chicken sandwiches and maybe help put out the Conn’s potato chips. Th e sandwiches were served on a napkin and I can still smell and almost taste the memory.” Poland also remembers playing for some of the benefi ts and the generosity of others. “Th e generosity of people at some of those benefi ts we donated our time for were extremely outpouring,” said Poland. “I had a lot of fun doing it. Th e men would grow beards and auction off the right to cut their beard off . Just a lot of fun things like that.” Cake walks were also a popular event during square dancing benefi ts. “Th e cakes for the cake walk were delivered to the cafeteria kitchen and we drooled over which ones we wanted to win,” Fox said. “Th ere was a secret door from the gym to the kitchen where they SEE DANCING ON PAGE 7B JANUARY 23, 2019