Unseen Mystery at The Square Dance
I Wish That I Could Tell You
where I learned to square dance. I think it was during my 10th year of high school. I mean, my P.E. class and I were doing something called dancing. We really didn’t care. Just as long as our teacher, the now-late L.C. Fowler, the head coach of our high school, the Hamilton (Ala.) Aggies. One thing can be said about Fowler. He was an excellent foot ball coach, but square dancing, not so much.
On a metropolitan note, the new gymnasium was built by the State of Alabama Dept. of Education and then-Gov. Lurleen Wallace, wife of former governor, George Wallace. Now George was stern and fiery about Alabama politics as Coach L.C. Fowler was about the shiny hardwood floor of the new gym. I have heard tell that when Fowler caught a new student (who was ignorant about his stern rules about walking on the gym floor with regular shoes instead of sneakers) and after warning the student, the new student (who was from California and knew a lot about hippies) only laughed at Fowler and then the student was thrown from one side of the gymnasium to the other. That was the last we ever caught glimpse of the new student from Californa.
I was unfortunate (or stupid) enough to be a member of his P.E. class, third period, and then introduced us rural rednecks and all-night partiers who looked barely decent in pubic, and we we walked to the new gym floor (built by the Alabama State Board of Education) and Fowler instructed us from a book, “How to Square Dance: The Easy Way,” from the look on his face, it looked as though his mind was occupied on the next Friday night’s game. Good thing though, our team was not having a stellar record at 5-6-0. No where near Play-off talent.
I am not going to sit here and try to convince you that “I” had a swell time of square dancing, but I did bring back with me the new high school sym was made possible by Lurleen Wallace, wife of George Wallace and Lurleen, whom I loved, was the only and best governor of my dear Heart of Dixie state of Alabama.
As Third Period Slowly Slowed Down
to a crawl, we grinned and bore the sissy square dancing and to make things worse, Coach Fowler had arranged for us guys to do the square dancing thing with the girls from third period P.E. class coached by: Sandra Howell, a fine P.E. coach and person you can lay your money down on this one.
You have to grasp a mental photo of this scene: we pupils from Alabama had not really been indoctrinated on the White and African-American races. The what little of tension we had was because the African-American students were put with us Alabama rednecks here in Hamilton, Ala., Hamilton High School. It was one of those sink or swim situations.
My point? Many times we are thrown into both serious and social situations. Both have underlying meanings for those who are there, but cannot figure why. There are those who do not take the time to think these situations deeply enough to get a sensible answer. I want to be the first to confess my lack of sensibility when it came to my third-grade P.E. Class in not knowing how to square dance in the correct style. I did try to do good. I am also guilty of not being very graceful and it was not long until I bumped into my friends and those I did not bump, I stepped on their feet. To complete this social debacle, I could not understand the Official Square-Dance Calls and briefly-explained, I looked really stupid.
And ended-up feeling really stupid, beaten-up and humiliated over it all. My point? I was thrown into a tense situation and even with my thinking about the square-dancing and the facts surrounding this social venture, I did not go home at school day’s end with a positive feeling.
As The Years Went
by me, I did a whole lot of thinking first before I got myself mixed-up with another “different” interaction. Some worked. Some did not. But would you know that “the” number one, main question that I kept thinking about in that short time of learning how to square-dancing, and it occurred to me that there are “Two Most-Useless People in Square Dancing.” Did you grasp that statement? Good. I never claimed to be a grammar guru.
Looking now at your typical square dances, you have the square dancers (men and women), the square dance facility preferably a local civic center or a barn (in earlier days) and of course, you have the band who plays square dance music behind the square dance caller. Now you have a complete night of square dancing. See the people smile! See the people laugh! What a time they are having. Throughout my time of studying and researching square dancing, I have yet to discover one sad square dancer. All of the square dancers are more than happy from a natural response which I cannot name. But these folks are happy and isn’t that the name of the game in life?
Look behind the band. Do you see the lead guitarist; rhythm guitarist; drums; stand-up bass fiddle; the accordion; the electric guitar (without amplifier due to some jinx in the budgeting); and the guy, we do ot know his name, but he man’s the Refreshments and Eats Table. It can be a sad game and it is. The only social interaction he gets are those made-up, “how’s it going? I’ll take two pineapple drinks for my girl and me,” and . . .”Buddy, I need a bag of pork rinds and a glass of tea.” And with each request, the guy running the table fills the orders and watches the dancers walk briskly to the square dance center of action in the center of the civic center or barn.
And what about the guy who manages the Refreshment and Drink Table? What about him? We do not even know his name. Well, how did he get this job? Was related to one of the band members? Or did one of the dance promoters give him a job because he (the promoter) is seeking the office of mayor after the square dance is history. The guy at the table is wearing a “Win With Willard,” pin, but no one ever remarks about the identity of Willard. And about the Refreshment and Snack Table man’s name. Sad. This, my dear friends, is sad beyond sad. It gives a new meaning to dark depression. The poor guy could walk away from the packed-square dance barn and no one would notice. Or care. Sad, I tell you.
I’m not finished. As I was describing the band who are playing for the square dancers, did you notice that there is one guy playing an electric guitar (with no amplifier)? Well, this happened because the square dance promoters could not afford the poor guy who needed an amplifier as every electric guitar picker knows, but the square dance promoters did not have that much in the rental budget for the barn, but the guitar player, a single man, was happy to just sit, pick, and smile as if he was laying-off those hot licks from his electric axe.
Axe? Did I say axe? Hold it! I am becoming a bit too cool. I meant ‘guitar.’
But the two poor souls, the guitar player with no amp, and the Refreshment and Snack Table manager, also with no name, could team-up to do a show that they can take on the road. What would be the name: The Quiet Men! You may not hear a lot of entertainment from the duo, but I am sure that you would “eat like a king.”
April 16, 2020_____________________________________________________
© 2020 Kenneth Avery