First it was Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray square dancing. Then Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan square dancing. When it came to dance Barbara was down to folk. But every time I see square dancing I break out in hives. From second to sixth grades inclusive I went to ten different schools (or maybe nine schools, one twice) in I think six states and every time we moved to the next school they were just beginning square dance lessons. Everything was folk music then, autoharps and hoe downs, Michael Rowed The Boat Ashore and square dancing. I hated square dancing. I hated it so much I can still feel the tightening in my stomach when they announced that lucky us, today we were going to learn to square dance. I hated learning how to square dance in San Diego, Anaheim, Tacoma, Anaheim again and on an island off the coast of Maine. I hated it in rural Brunswick ME and inner city Woodbury NJ and somewhere outside Boston. I hated it in Placentia CA and in Virginia Beach. And by the end of my endless square dance tour I still couldn’t dosey doe without tripping over my own feet. It took some effort to maintain that sort of hapless clodhoppery from California to the Gulf Stream waters in the 1960’s. But I did it.
I learned to sing all the folk songs, though. Apparently I liked singing. I learned all the cowboy songs they taught us too. Goodbye Ol’ Paint, I’m leaving Cheyenne. Cool, clear water, Tumbling tumbleweeds, and the eerie Ghost Riders in the Sky. Though I thought it was ghost writers in the sky, and wanted to be one. Some things do come true, sort of.