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Dance with my dad

In my early grade school years, while we were in the Rozet, Wyoming area, I remember the box socials the community held. For those of you not old enough to remember them, they were special. The women would put together a box lunch usually in a shoebox. They would adorn the shoe box with ribbons and bows and all special enhancements. When I was around nine, I got to make my own. There was dancing and then, during a break, they auctioned the decorated boxes off. Though it was supposed to be based on the decorations, without the men knowing whose box they were bidding on, most women would have told their special guy which one they brought.

The purpose was to raise money for some project or another, and of course, we ladies always wanted a bidding war on our box lunch. The winner would then share the enclosed picnic-style meal with the winner of their offering.

I can still remember the excitement I felt when mom and I would work on our shoeboxes while dad and my brothers were out working around the ranch. I no longer remember how I embellished it, but I know wrapping paper and my poorly tied bows were a part of it. Mom and I made fried chicken and potato salad for our meal. How we kept it cold enough so as not to poison us, I do not know. I can’t imagine doing something like that today with all the warnings of salmonella.

It was a festive occasion as we arrived at the old rock school, the one my daddy helped to build. Ladies and girls were all dressed in their finest dresses and the men, all freshly groomed in their Sunday best. I remember the anticipation as we arraigned the box lunches on a long table to display them while the dancing began. The men would make a big show of inspecting them as if they were trying to decide which box they would bid on. I whispered to Bobby Brennen, a young boy in my class which one was mine when he asked. He and I stumbled around the dancefloor trying to copy the older ones once or twice, but mostly we just watched.

Daddy played in the band. He had no musical training but could play the piano and drums by ear. He would cord on the piano and had a natural rhythm and ear to play the drums. I was so proud as I watched him on the stage with the rest of the band. As the evening wore on, the anticipation built as it neared the hour, when the auctioneer would raise the first offering and the bidding would begin.

Gliding, swaying, twirling, and dipping, the dancers would go around the floor. Laughter filled the air as neighbors, reunited with neighbors. Occasionally, dad would take a break from the band to dance with mom or some of the other ladies. I loved to watch him as he would lead his partner around the floor. His steps never faltered, and it transformed him from the somewhat stooped, hard-working man to a ‘gentleman.’ He seemed taller and held himself straighter. He loved dancing and the ladies love dancing with him. Mom was a hesitant dancer, as she had one leg just a hair shorter than the other and it took her a few minutes to find the beat. I overheard daddy saying to her, “just relax Ruth, look at me and breathe.” Such a sight, my mom and dad, relaxed, laughing together and mom’s eyes sparkled as she gazed so lovingly into dad’s eyes, trusting him to move her around the floor.

Finally, “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the bidding to begin. Don’t forget this is for charity, as well as a good meal and dinner with your favorite girl.” And raising up the first box, it began. I was getting increasingly nervous as one box after another left the table and got closer to mine. There were some rivalries, as a couple young men would get into a bidding war over some of the young ladies’ lunches. They were like the peacock spreading their tail feathers to show off to impress their heart’s desire. Mine was then in the auctioneer’s hand. What if nobody bids? What if nobody wants it? “What am I bid for this lovely offering?” I hold my breath, then a hand goes up with a bid. It’s my daddy, then Bobby and we have a bidding war, in my perception. Dad made him work for it but gave it to Bobby, telling him it was on the condition we’d sit with my parents.

Honestly, I don’t remember the sharing of the meal, but what stands out was the first dance after the lunch break. My dad stood up, turned to me, held out his hand, and with a slight bow, said. “May I please have this dance?” My heart about jumped out of my chest, I was being asked to dance by the best dancer there. Of course, I took his hand and he walked me out to the middle of the floor. After a couple of failed attempts on my part, daddy said, “step up on my feet” and I did. With a slight dip, he began to waltz me around the floor. Not the standing in one place swaying from side to side we see nowadays. No, my dad did the old-fashioned waltz, around and around the floor, we went. I was a princess, dancing with the king. Oh, what I’d give to be able to do it again.

Author: Gayle Parish

As far back as I can remember I've always loved books. I love the feel, the smell, and the way words are put together to pull me into a story. I've dreamed for years of writing a story of my own, and here at last I've done it. I hope you'll join me as I share with you some memories, hopes, dreams, exploration of a life well-lived.

4 thoughts on “Dance with my dad”

  1. Oh what a beautiful story! Of course I drooled, imagining how yummy your fried chicken and potato salad would have been. And I could see your dad, playing the piano and the drums, and then dancing with such manly grace.

    I could feel your nervousness and anticipation as the box lunch bidding ensued. And finally, dancing on your daddy’s feet! It brought back sweet memories of dancing on my daddy’s feet, as he sang along with the music.

    Thank you for sharing these memories, Gayle!

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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