First off, Happy Presidents Day! I hope that this holiday passes very smoothly and unlike my last holiday, which wiped me out and left me missing from blogland for several (many) days. However, I have returned and am happy to report that everyone in Burniland is currently healthy and has been keeping down breakfast, lunch and dinner which is why we have no food in our house and Karl practically ripped my head off this morning asking "Why didn't you buy any waffles?!" (Yes, we purchase waffles - I do not own a waffle maker. Don't judge me!)
OK, it's true, my son was very rude to me, but in his defense, he was in the process of gnawing off his arm for sustenance and if that doesn't make a boy cranky - what does?
Why being forced to dance in the annual town Scandinavian Festival, of course. (Man, what a segue!)
One lousy cinnamon toast breakfast PALES in comparison to the first weekend in August if you're a boy growing up in Junction City, Oregon, population around 5000 now, 3500 when I left in 1988. Karl should thank his lucky stars that his biggest worry in life is processed breakfast food freezer inventory and the appropriate toaster setting. (You set it too low - moist and mushy waffle. Too high - hockey puck.)
For many boys his age, life is not so easy. Boys who have (or have had) the extreme misfortune of being raised in JC by "parents with town pride" (aka "killjoys"). For these poor unfortunate souls, life is full of horrors far greater than burnt or missing waffles. (Insert creepy horror movie music right here. Violins approaching a crescendo. Clueless characters who do not seem capable of interpreting the tune of approaching demise. Something startling is about to occur. Something, perhaps, like . . .
Yikes! That is one unhappy 9-year-old!
Behold, dear readers, a glimpse of my childhood. To your left you will see my brother Brian, the oldest of our trio, who is obviously thinking something like; "Shoot me. Shoot me now. Take all of the 'cool' that you sucked from my body and use it to freeze me to death. You can club me with your camera, you can kill me with a plow. . . Mom, Dad or Stranger, will you please kill me now?!"
To your right you will see me, at age 8, just 14-months younger than Brian, and probably thinking something like; "Mom outdid herself with our costumes this year! I look like a fox! I think this bonnet might actually make my cheeks look smaller. It elongates my head, I think. Kind of a shame that she had to make the EXACT SAME DRESS for little twerp-o-rama, though. Oh I hope lots of people come to see us dance. Do I remember all the steps? Yes, I think I do. I sure hope I get to dance with Billy and not my dorky brother."
And finally, in the middle, weighing in at 4-years-old and forty pounds of glasses . . . Julie, who was obviously thinking something like; "I'm with the big kids. Tra-la-la!"
Junction City's Scandinavian Festival has been going on since 1961 and, at least in the 70's, very few kids in town escaped having to dance. Apparently all the child labor enforcement folks were off worrying about foreign sweatshops and completely ignored the kiddie cash cow of costumed children clogging their way into spectators' hearts and pocketbooks. The actual dances were pretty simple. Just hold hands and twirl around, maybe do some hand gestures to impersonate a shoemaker, possibly a partner switch here and there. The costume requirements were pretty lax, too. You were "supposed" to have a dress and an apron on if you were a girl, but as you'll see from this photo - they'd let girls wear a red tee-shirt and pajama pants just to keep the numbers up.
Now we can't see Brian's expression here, which is probably for the best, since his soul was certainly in mortal agony. You had to be a die-hard to do knickers and the hat, and, unfortunately, mom was a die-hard and a whiz with the sewing machine. I like to think, though, that he got a little revenge with the untucked shirt. Dad probably had to physically restrain Mom to keep her from rushing the stage to correct things.
My happiness of one photo ago has now been replaced with some mortal agony of my own; "Gyp! I have to dance with Brian and twerpy got BILLY! He looks so handsome with those orange pants and pointy-collared shirt. Man, he's groovy like Johnny Bravo!"
And hello?! Who decided that a four-year-old could participate? Poor Julie. She's just standing there in her saltwater sandals, lost in Candyland, waiting for a big kid to push her in the right direction. I'd like to think that her smile is stage presence, but I think she was just happy to be there, cute little twerp. (Note to Julie: to be historically accurate, I must revert to the musings of an older sister who had little use for a younger one. Nowadays, of course, I would never call you a twerp.) (To your face, I mean)
So what inevitably happened, is that around age 10, the boys would just refuse to dance anymore. They'd go on hunger strikes, climb a tree, hop a train . . . whatever was required. You know when Westley describes "To the pain" to Prince Humperdink? Dancing was like that to the boys. A freakish misery all their own.
To the girls, though, it was kind of fun. A lot of us kept right on dancing into the teenage years, getting into the more advanced polkas and such. We all dreamed of one day doing this:
(Note: this is a postcard from the 70's - photo by Jamie Hooper)
The adult groups were really cool! They had this one group (dancers pictured above) who were all youngish couples - late 20's and early 30's, who did some kick-booty Scandinavian moves! You'd catch their performance at the big stage (Festival Park) and then watch them stroll through the crowd on their way to the Beer Garden. Yes, the guys wore knickers, but they wore them fiercely. The teenage girls were, in a word, smitten!
I have not been back to the Festival since college. Most of the graduates of JC High School plan their reunions at Festival time. The Beer Garden is the big draw, I think. Nothing like sitting on a hay bale and sipping a brew to bring out the nostalgia in a person. At our 10-year reunion I was giving birth to twins in New Orleans. At our 15-year reunion I was teaching at CKU in Provo. I'm hoping to make our 20th, though. I would love to see my classmates and catch up on old times.
And maybe do a little dancing!
TPBQOTD ("You know, it's very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it's over, I don't know what to do with the rest of my life." "Have you ever considered piracy? You'd make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts.")