Dating and Dancing

Last month Lucy wrote about her first date and the dances she and her best friend Evy went to. One does not go to a dance alone, especially in the thirties.

Duke Ellington's band at the Crystal Ballroom in Fargo

Duke Ellington’s band at the Crystal Ballroom in Fargo

The dance Lucy describes in this letter was at the Crystal Ballroom in Fargo. The first time I read this letter that fact didn’t seem to mean much. There were little ballrooms in every town, but this one was in Fargo, and Lucy had to drive 24 miles from Gardner to get there. That fact alone means the Crystal Ballroom was something special. Over in Kidder County, Grace lived in a boarding house in Steele because the 23 miles from the farm was too great a distance to travel every day to get to school.

The Crystal Ballroom hosted some famous bands, demonstrated by an album recorded in 1940 by Duke Ellington and his band, live at the Crystal Ballroom. Such a high-class place as that certainly wouldn’t let in the likes of people who dressed like Lucy and her best friend.

Lucy writes:

Dancing was the big thing in high school. If you weren’t dating and dancing you were considered a “wall flower.” My brother Lewellyn (Lew) taught me how to dance by standing on his toes when I was small. Loving music added fun to it of course – some times. Evy Malen (my best friend) and I would have 5 + 6 dances ahead. Guess that is not done now.

Evy and I went to Fargo with two men and we went to the Crystal Ballroom to dance. While we danced a big fat lady with a badge on her shoulder said we had to leave the dance hall because we were wearing anklets. She was a deputy and we were the talk of the high school. We thought it was fun.

Kragneses had an out door dance floor called the “Bowery” that was during the summer and Big Bands were brought in. Men would stand outside with big “Picnics” of beer to pass between them. ND was dry.

Many times we would all pile into a pickup. No one wanted to sit by the driver if one particular fellow drove. “Gear Shift” we called him.

Saturday night was fun time. I really loved being in High School and being in all the activities of school.

Lucy Letter 019