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Pole Dancing

If you had asked, I’d have told you I have no memories of celebrating May Day during my childhood. Luckily, I have friends from “back then” with better memories than mine. My pal since I was four (the one whose mother was friends with mine,) set me straight right away, saying, “Yes, we DID celebrate it and danced around May Poles! Don’t you remember that night in Adams Coliseum?”

Then it all came flooding back—the memory of the gym with May Poles crowding the floor. (“May Pole” may be stretching it a bit. I think they were actually re-purposed Tetherball stands, but why quibble?) The upstairs bleacher seats were crowded with proud parents and onlookers who wanted something to do on a Friday night. (This WAS a small town, after all.)

All seven elementary schools sent their Sixth Graders to dance in uniform: navy blue skirts for the girls, navy pants for the boys and white shirts for both. That was the night I wore my first-ever 33-yard crinoline under my circular skirt. They were unheard of before Mom and I stumbled upon one at Hill’s Department store while we hunted for the required outfit.

Young girl modeling her 1950's crinoline skirt outfit

Oh, such fashion pride! Let’s just say I’ve never been known to hide my light under a bushel, and that night I was as proud as Lady Gaga wearing her meat dress. Mom even took this picture of me before I left the house. There I stood next to our trusty Philco TV, looking like an upside-down funnel. That crinoline stood at attention and above it I wore a Cheshire Cat grin.

So off to the EVENT (capitol letters on purpose.) I’m embarrassed to admit that I have little memory of the actual dancing, because I was too busy modeling my fashion statement. At least I resisted the temptation to wave to my mother up in the stands.

I DO remember music blaring from the loudspeaker as we girls do-si-doed around, taking turns ducking under ribbons held by the boy dancers coming from the opposite direction. I must have danced acceptably or one of the envious girls would have happily pointed out any misstep.


By junior high, crinolines (aka can-cans) blossomed around the school, but I was the first! Okay, so maybe I wasn’t the first person to walk on the moon and didn’t invent the polio vaccine, but this Old School girl had May Day to thank for making her a fashion trend-setter.   


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