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When Mennonites didn’t dance, not even at Homecoming

September 29, 2016

Last weekend my husband and I were both exhausted so went out for dinner (well, just pizza, but at a homey Italian place we enjoy in the town where the kids all went to high school).

The small restaurant was filled with high schoolers all decked out for their homecoming dance later that evening. We enjoyed checking out what was in, what was out in terms of boutonniere, wrist corsages, lacy short short dresses, and cute bow ties and suspenders. I was thrown back to my Senior Homecoming weekend in 1969 in Blountstown, Florida. Oh my.

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Your truly with my homecoming escort, Garland. He actually looks like he was smiling!

You may recall my history of moving with my family to north Florida which was my senior year of high school. I didn’t mind the move because I had always wanted to be “the new girl in school.” Well I got my chance, and with it, was nominated to be on the homecoming court. I know that happened only because I was a new girl and some of the other girls were being snubbed by classmate votes because of … who knows … but somehow I lived the dream of many young teens–to ride through town on the back trunk of a convertible, waving. To walk on the field at a homecoming game, smiling. To walk up to be on stage in the old gym, heart beating out-the-kazoo over who would win. Along with most others in the school, I expected the queen to be the drum majorette who dated the star of the football team, but you never know.

My dress (above) was the dress I wore for my oldest sister’s wedding earlier that year, before we moved. My mother hurriedly sewed me a beautiful green corduroy suit to wear to the game. And for the parade, she remade another formal dress we had on hand. More-with-less.

But the reason I’m sharing this is my delight in this past year at being able to reconnect with two of the girls who I got to know much better by being on the homecoming court, Suzanne Knight and Sandra Stokes. I first stumbled on to Sandy through a mutual friend on Facebook, and then Sandy got me connected with Suzanne (not knowing who either married prevented me from doing searches before.)

The three of us got dressed for the homecoming ceremony together at Suzanne’s house. And while I was not allowed to go to the dance (Mennonites did not dance in those days!) I loved going to the homecoming football game, which was actually the very first football game I ever attended. Imagine my chagrin in telling the shy but handsome young football player I asked to be my escort that I couldn’t attend the dance, but would he be my escort for the other festivities anyway? (We were allowed to go to football games, but at my small Mennonite high school in Indiana, the fall sport was soccer, not football.)

Going to a public school that year ended up being a hard, lonely year; I’m thankful for the few friends I made, Suzanne, Sandy, Delilah, and Becky among them, and for the experience of being lonely. Moving into a town and then leaving a year later for a church voluntary service program and then after that college meant I never put roots down there. But I treasure the girls who did reach out to me that year and am overjoyed to follow their lives a bit through the technological homecoming “dance” that is Facebook.

***

Did you ever have to sit out some activity everyone else got to do?

What difference did your church or faith make in your activities as you were growing up?

For the full scoop on what I did the year after high school, read a copy of my old “memoir” of a year spent in Voluntary Service in Kentucky, titled On Troublesome Creek. Published by Herald Press.

 Check for used copies on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

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From → Faith, Family Life

4 Comments
  1. As a take-off on your title: I didn’t wear a mortarboard at my high school or college (EMC) graduation. My prayer covering sat affixed on my head instead.

    I appreciate all the dancing and fancin’ that has happened in my life since then – amen , sister!

    Thank you for introducing me to a new title. You have been a writer from way, way back! I’m glad I didn’t miss the chance to “dance” in this unique way even though it’s happening in my Third Act.

  2. Oh wow, you couldn’t wear the mortarboard at either high school or EMC! That “tops” my embarrassment. Actually, I have a feeling my escort didn’t mind not having to go to the dance, but I can’t remember hearing if he went or not. I do wonder what he told his parents, if anything. He was rather shy.

    Even though the book was written about my voluntary service year which was 1970-71, I did not write and get the book published until 10 years later, 1981, the same year our first daughter was born.

    Thanks for checking in and adding your twist from your “fancy” side.

  3. Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler permalink

    The timing of this post amuses me: I’m going this evening and tomorrow evening to my 45th high school reunions. I’ve never gone to any in the past, and part of the reason is that early reunions included dancing. “If I didn’t dance with you in high school, why would I dance with you now,” I would think to myself.

    Instead of ‘dancing’ I made scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings about my classes, and I still have them!

    • Dolores, I hope you had a great time at your high school reunions this weekend! I had pondered doing this post for awhile and decided to save it for homecoming season. I’m guessing that if you took any of your scrapbooks to your reunions, they were popular! Thanks for commenting!

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