Memory Lane: One Summer Night

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.

2 comments on “Memory Lane: One Summer Night

  1. How much things have changed! If there was a high school dance these days I’d want to be as far away as possible. Nowadays almost any gathering is expected to feature music at mind numbing volume levels and it would be expected that drug and alcohol abuse would be part of the party. Innocent fun is routinely ridiculed and marginalized as archaic behavior.

    (Let me pull up my soapbox.) 🙂

    It is my belief that the Times of the Nations ended in 1967 when the IDF took East Jerusalem. It seems to me that the pop culture started moving away from decency around the same time. Being a musician, I saw it in real time, when distorted garbage replaced the clear sound of electric guitar artists such as Chet Atkins, the Ventures and Duane Eddy. To this day, distortion generating devices are probably the most popular guitar effect and guitarists have more names for distortion than Eskimos have for snow. But I digress.

    Badness is glorified as liberated behavior and good is called bad. There have been, of course, islands of sanity, but even wholesome entertainment frequently betrays a degree of badness either hidden within its content or in the duplicitous behavior of its purveyors.

    Anyhow (putting soapbox away, now), thanks for the pleasant memory Lee. Our Creator will defend the last vestiges of decency in time to save us from this monstrous, wicked world.

  2. My daughter picked me up at work the other evening – it was just getting dark – the air was cool (finally) and we both remarked on how magical the evening felt – like “Summer Magic” (remember the film?) and Dandelion Wine. Reminded me of that knowing inside that is usually suppressed, that knowing that life is truly a grand adventure and the possibilities – well they are profound. And I was grateful that the wonderment from childhood is still alive and well inside.

    Thanks for the article.

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