As we move through our lives there is always a moment, a time or an event that from time to time will pop up in our mind as a good memory. A time when you achieved and succeeded at what you want. We think about that for a bit and smile to ourselves or even make mention of it to someone and move on. That happened to me just the other day.
When I was in high school Ron Ramey, my Vocational Agriculture teacher and Mike Define, the general business teacher had formed a Fellowship Club. We met two Tuesdays a month and for three to four hours we learned to square dance, polka, and even slow dance. We were learning social graces and for that time our parents approved as we had somewhere to go and they didn’t have to worry. Mr. Ramey was from the Lancaster area and was deeply involved in 4-H. Being in this organization led him to learn that at the Ohio State Fair there was a square dancing competition held each year. My freshman year he formed a group to enter the competition. The dancers were picked from the group who attended and excelled at being the best at square dance. To me I felt that to be a major honor and put them on a higher level to be respected and I did.
In my junior year of high school I learned that a majority of the dancers had graduated and new dancers were being looked for. I had learned the steps and could follow the callers’ requests and even though I was and still am far from being very coordinated or an exceptional dancer I wanted to make that team and compete for a chance to win it all. Sometimes desire wins out over talent. At the end of the school year an audition was held for those interested. Surprisingly there were more who tried out than I thought would try. As I recall a couple would dance with the experienced ones while the rest waited in another room. When my turn came I was ready to go at it and show I deserved it. Only problem was my hands were so sweaty I might lose grip with the other dancers.
When the tryouts were over I was one of them to make it. I had made the group I had looked up to. All I could do was smile.
That summer we practiced maybe twice a week and I mean we practiced. Same tune over and over until we were smooth as silk. Even though we would get tired or cranky we never took it out on each other. We formed as a group. That is until one evening Mr. Ramey told us the caller they had always used couldn’t make it. Out of the group Jim Jennings said “I will give it a try sir.” Jim was good at it and he became our caller. The team was picked to have 10 dancers and the caller. Jim I have already mentioned. The rest of the team was as follows: Jenny Trees, Debi McClanahan, Bob Dunaway, Judy Weber, John Fisher, Gloria Kabler, Kathy Nickell, Joe Liming, Barb Metzger and I. Each team had to have a substitute in case of sickness or injury. Along with the practice we all had to be dressed the same. The boys wore black and white checked shirts, black slacks, and black dress shoes. The girls wore a white top with a black and white skirt and petticoats that flared the skirts out and black flats. We looked like we had just performed on the Midwestern Hayride!
Finally the weekend in August arrived. We all met and loaded up and headed north to the Ohio State Fair! When we got there we learned the competition was almost 50 teams. The order in which we performed on stage was a draw that Mr. Ramey did for us. We drew a number more toward the end of competition. In a way this was good as we could see a lot of what we were going up against. On the night of the contest we arrived at the James Rhodes Convention Center which could and did hold a lot of people. As we watched, the conclusion was if we did what we knew we could we could win this thing.
Finally our team was called to come to the stage. Let me just stop here and say that no matter how much you practice or how good you feel your fellow dancers are, if allowed fear will creep in and take over. We squared up and we all nodded to each other good luck. After this I prayed to the Lord please just don’t let me trip or stumble. The song was “Walking the Floor over you” by Ernest Tubbs. About three moves into the dance I never looked back and fear was gone. I smiled as we were the best they had seen and the applause acknowledged! Sadly the next group to dance was a group of second graders dressed in sailor suits. Since the judges kept carrying on about just how cute they looked, dancing quality didn’t come into play. They came in first and we came in second! Out of all this I excelled at something I really aimed to achieve. I got to wear the checkered shirt and I made it onto a stage in front of the largest crowd I had ever seen. Bottom Line is I got to be with some of the best people I knew and still know to this day! So with that said I‘m gonna promenade on out of here.