Square Dancing … in Gym Class?

Sandra Boynton writes some of the best children’s books. They are perfect reads for Ella right now. They have great pictures, fun verses, and many of them are actually songs. I would say that they are just as fun for us to read as they are for Ella to listen to! This week, Sam was reading “Barnyard Dance.”

She came to the lyric that read “…with a BAA and a MOO and a COCKADOODLEDOO, everybody promenade two by two.” She looked at me and asked me what “promenade” meant. I told her it was a term used in square dancing. She looked at me funny when I answered. Without her saying a word, I knew her facial expression was asking, “How in the world do you know that!?”

(In square dancing, and in particular modern Western square dance, when a promenade is called it is understood to be a “couples promenade” involving all four couples. The couples assume a promenade position, each turn to the right as a unit, and walk counter-clockwise around the ring.)

Promenade

I explained that i knew what it meant because in high school gym class we had a few weeks were we danced. This led to an even more baffled look from my wife. I looked at her and said, “You didn’t have to square dance in gym class?” Matter of factly, she said, “No. We did things that you normally do in gym class!” I was surprised and angry at the same time.

We were the only students forced into promenading, circling left, allemande lefting, and do si do-ing with members of the opposite sex?! Of all the things we did in gym class, this was the ONE thing that every one (at least everyone I talked to) hated! We were teenagers and we were being forced to hold hands and stuff! It was SO uncomfortable. I remember Mr. and Mrs. B (our gym teachers were husband and wife) making us “rehearse” these square dance moves over and over. It was torture!!

They would play the music for the dances off of an old turntable with a microphone placed by the speaker so we could hear it. The one song that I remember square dancing to the most was Dean Martin’s Houston. I am sure that Dean was not singing on the song that they played. Instead, the lyrics were changed to give the various square dance calls. When it was time to promenade, that was where the chorus (“Going back to Houston. Houston. Houston.”) would be sung.

For years, I tried to block the traumatic weeks of square dancing from my mind. I eventually succeeded, until a day in 1993. I was filling in on Honey Radio for Richard D and doing his Top 12 at 12 show which focused on the year 1965. In the countdown that day was Dean Martin’s Houston. It all came back! The Do Si Do’s, the Promenades, and Ladies In, and Men Sashay! Who square dances in gym class?!?

To this day, whenever I think about square dancing, three things immediately come to mind

First, the 1950 Bugs Bunny cartoon Hillbilly Hare and the famous Square Dance number in it.

Hillbilly Hare – 1950

Second, The Dean Martin Show with Roy Rogers. (Funny how there is another Dean Martin connection to square dancing, huh?) Dean never rehearsed his show. So when they taped this square dance number, the dancers are literally pushing and pulling him around and showing him where to go. It is just awesome to watch….

Dean Martin, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans Square Dance

And finally, Gym Class!!!

For whatever it is worth, I learned how to do the Hustle and the Bus Stop in gym class. Thanks to Mr. & Mrs. B, I can line dance at wedding receptions….well, the Hustle, anyway.

Bedtime Books

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Today’s blog comes from a “Daily Writing Prompt”. The prompt reads: “Do you remember your favorite book from your childhood?” This prompt comes after I stumbled on a set of books that I had as a kid in a used book store.

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The Charlie Brown Dictionary was a set of 8 books that had definitions of words. I remember my parents ordered these from somewhere and every month a new volume would arrive. I loved when a new volume would arrive. They had the entire set at this book store for the bargain price of $2! How can I pass that up?!

The writing prompt also comes a week or so after the baby shower. One of the things we want for our baby is a good library of books to read. We did receive some books at the shower, some of which I recognized, and some that I didn’t. Some of the books we received were books that I had read to my boys, and I am excited to share them with our daughter, too!

As I thought about the prompt, I don’t know that I can actually recall my “favorite” book as a kid. There are, however, many that I do remember vividly. I thought it might be fun to sit and off the top of my head, write about some of the ones I remember. I am sitting down to write this blog knowing that it will be incomplete. It will be incomplete, because I know I am going to probably miss a lot of them. Here goes:

The Poky Little Puppy

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When I was growing up I think I had every one of the “Little Golden Books”. Of all of them, this is the one that immediately comes to mind when I think about my childhood. I remember buying it when my oldest was a baby and reading it to him. I really didn’t remember the story up until that point, but for me to remember it for so long, I am just guessing it was a favorite. I remember there being many Disney stories that were in the Little Golden Book collection.

Another Little Golden Book that I had, and eventually shared with my sons was a Sesame Street book.

The Monster at the End of This Book

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As a child of the 70’s, I watched a lot of PBS. Sesame Street was a show I watched faithfully. Mr. Hooper was still alive when I was watching Sesame Street! The adventures of Ernie and Bert, The Count, Big Bird, Grover, and Kermit helped me learn letters and numbers. I mentioned in a previous blog that I had an Ernie hand puppet. I also had a stuffed Grover. I liked him cause he was always so silly. Grover is the star of this book. It is such a fun book to read and I am sure that it made me laugh as a kid, as much as it made my boys laugh! I can’t wait to share this one with Ella.

Dr. Seuss Books

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I probably had every single Dr. Seuss book ever written! They were very popular with my generation. I have found that people either love or hate his books. I had a friend who just loathed when her son would pick Green Eggs and Ham to read. I could never figure out why.

I remember I was doing mornings on B95 and it was Dr. Seuss’ birthday. We had one of the contestants from American Idol (Phil Stacey) in town to do a show for us. We were talking about Dr. Seuss books with our newsman, Hal Maas earlier in the show, and he couldn’t remember half of them (which we razzed him about often). We actually had Phil Stacey read “Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?” on the air! The book has all kinds of silly noises, and Phil played it up on the air! It was so silly to hear him reading this, but he told us how much fun it was!

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I am sure I will be reading Ella many of his books.

Three Little Kittens

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This was one of Dante’s favorite books. I think he loved it because of the cat noises I used to make while reading it to him. I am almost positive that this was another book my mom read to me. This is a must for me to read to Ella, especially since we have two cats at home.

Like I said, I KNOW I am forgetting others that were probably read to me as a child. I am hoping that those of you who are close to my age will offer us some of YOUR favorites. By doing that, maybe you’ll refresh my memory about other books from my childhood.

Books I Read to the Boys

The books above were books I loved growing up, and read to my boys. The following books are some of my favorites that I remember reading to them at bedtime. These will all be in Ella’s library, because I love them all!

Goodnight Moon

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This book is so simple. I loved saying goodnight to all of the objects and having the kids point to them. Dante’ would always make a “Squeak” noise when we said good night to the mouse.

Rainbow-Fish

This book came in very handy when trying to teach about sharing and being selfish. The moral of the story and showing how sharing with others can make everyone happy is a great lesson that even adults need to remember.

The Kissing Hand

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This one was voted one of the Teacher’s Top 100 Picture Books for Children. I read this to both boys especially as it got closer to when they were going to preschool. It’s really a great book to help children deal with the “separation” issue of going to school. Our book came with all these little red heart stickers and I think Dante’ used to put them on his backpack or pencil box.

The Going To Bed Book

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Sandra Boynton has so many great books for kids! I loved reading this one every night. It was so fun and her characters are just so cute! This is just one of MANY of her books that I loved.

I’m Thankful Each Day

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Probably one of my top 5 books to read! One of my favorite bible verses is I Thessalonians 5:18 which reads: “In every thing give thanks”. Raising children, we want them to be thankful! We tell them to say “please” and “thank you”. What I love about this book is that you see this little boy who is full of gratitude. He is thankful for big things in his life, as well as the small things. He is so grateful – and happy! It is a must for Ella’s bookshelf!

Snowmen At Night

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I love this book for so many reasons. Remember when you were a kid and you’d make your snowman? Then the next day you’d come out and he’d look a little different? It always made me wonder what he’s been up to! That’s exactly what this book is about. What do snowmen do at night?! This book is just so much fun to read and the illustrations are a hoot, too!

This book was a favorite of both my sons! Caralyn Buehner wrote a few sequels to this too (Snowmen At Christmas, Snowmen At Play, Snowmen At Work, Snowmen All Year)! My goal is to have all of these in Ella’s library.

Reading Dads Rock!

Reading is SO important! The great stories that are found in books will fuel a child’s imagination for years and years! A parent reading to their child is one of the greatest things in the world. It is quality time together. It is bonding time. It is something that I cannot wait to do with our daughter. Bring on the bedtime stories!!

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