I Loved Going to Dances

Grace and Louie wedding

Wedding in the yard

Unlike football and other sports, I did follow in Louie’s footsteps when it came to watching pretty girls at the dances. The dance Louie describes probably took place at the National Guard Armory in downtown Jamestown. When I was in high school most of the dances were there, too. It was a great place for dances, with a large stairway in the front to linger on, watching people come and go.

The first dance this brings to mind is one at the American Legion club two blocks from the Armory. The front lobby was a great place to stand and talk to friends. One particularly good-looking girl found me there one evening. Unlike Louie, I didn’t start this encounter, but the discussion led to a years-long dating experience. Some of my letters describe those days.

The other dance I think about was the one Judy and I went to in the spring of 1970. Like Louie, this dance experience led to a wedding the next year.

Louie doesn’t mention it directly in this letter, but there’s something he’s quite proud of in this letter. Since this was a short romance, ending in marriage six months later, his friends all assumed that there was a sense of urgency involved. He told me many times that I was born well beyond the statutory limit for a first-born son.

Louie writes.

I use to love going to dances when I was in my prime – the big dance to go to was the New Years Eve Policemans Ball.

The new years of 1948-49 was one of these and as usual, my roving eye and me were at their best.

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The summer of ’48

Grace in 1945

Grace in 1945

Not much happened, she says. Then the letter continues with two of the most important things that happened in her life. Was that juxtaposition intentional on her part, or did Grace decide in mid-sentence to start sharing something big from 1948?

I don’t recall exactly when I learned that Grace dropped out of high school, it may have been when I read this letter back in the nineties. I’m still amazed. Even though she dropped out, based on how she encouraged me to go to college, she clearly knew the importance of education. All four of her boys went on to college, even though she didn’t finish high school.

She says that Mama didn’t make much of a fuss. That may be because neither Fanny nor Ted even started high school, let alone finished. I believe that only one of Grace’s older siblings went for education beyond high school. Maybe she was a success by the standards of the day?

The second “earth shattering event” of the letter is the big wedding. The wedding continues in Grace’s next letter; watch for it soon.

Grandpa Guy Havelick



Grace writes:

The summer of ’48 went by with no earth shattering events that I can recall. School started and I didn’t. I became a Hi School dropout. Doesn’t seem that Mama even made too much fuss about it. Work wasn’t to available either, but I did work at a 5+10 store for a few months over Christmas and then at Preds’ for a while.

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Hanging Meat

Louie at the Jamestown College Football Stadium

Louie at the Jamestown College Football Stadium

Louie has a way of making extraordinary events seem ordinary. This letter has two extraordinary (to me) stories.

First is the story about the neighbors who had milk cows. It’s not clear to me exactly how they accomplished that, because they lived in town. On town sized lots. There were no barns and no pasture. These days some people get excited if there’s a chicken next door. Cows? Probably won’t happen here.

The second is the picture Louie enclosed with this letter. He was a little self-conscious about sharing that picture, but he was proud of it at the same time. He was in the prime of life, playing football for Jamestown College.

Louie’s photo album does have a later re-creation of this picture, taken in the early fifties when he was serving in Korea. You’ll see that one later.

Grandpa Guy Havelick



Louie writes:

Nick-names, that seems to be something that will go on forever.

My first nick name was “Snuffy.” I got that in an unusual way, learning to milk cows by hand. The Dengates, our next door neighbors had some milk cows and of course you had to milk them twice a day. If you didn’t the cows would bellow loudly to let you know it was time to milk.

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