Grandma Moses’ barn dance–not quite what we had, but close enough
I wouldn’t want to let this summer pass away without one last visit to a summer long ago, a weekday summer night. Come on–let’s go to my house.
It’s hot up here in the bedrooms. Not many houses had air conditioning, back then. So my brother and sister and I climb onto the spare bed because it’s right under a window. Besides, there’s something interesting going on outside.
This window overlooks the neighborhood school and playground. It’s all expanded and paved over now: no more space. No more children playing here.
But this is a summer night, the sun is down, and adults and teens have gathered on the school blacktop for a dance. They do this once a week, or every two weeks, throughout the summer. You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out, you do the Hokey-Pokey and you shake it all about: that’s what it’s all about… I remember them dancing to that. I remember people laughing. There’s enough light left so you can see them dancing, round and round, hand in hand. They’re still at it when the three of us get tired, and fall asleep with the faint music of the dance acting as a lullaby. They’ll all be gone home by 10 o’clock, but we’re just little kids and we can’t stay awake that long.
That’s the dance. Elsewhere, it’s fireflies and katydids, and maybe the people next door sitting on their porch with a cold drink or two, softly chatting.
There is nothing like this anymore: not around here, there isn’t. Maybe I dreamed it. No blacktop, no playground, no dancing, and no space for dancing anymore. No Hokey-Pokey. I have the feeling that if you suggested everybody get together for a dance at night, middle of the week, in a public space if you could find one… they’d think you had a screw loose somewhere.
But I’m here to tell you it was real.