Square Dance in Tacoma, 1940–1960
A collection of seven photographs from the collection of the Tacoma (WA) Public Library. It's likely that similar collections of photographs and-- we hope!--old films exist in libraries and historical societies around the country. Please call such resources to our attention!
It may indicative of the surge of interest in square dancing, and then its subsequent decline, that the library's collection includes six photographs from the 1940s, one from the 1950s, and none from subsequent decades.
Captions (from the website)
1. Date: 02-05-1948
Evening school recreation activities, Tacoma School District #10, Tom Lantz. Couples are performing the moves of a folk or square dance. One couple of each set of dancers holds their arms up forming an arch while the other couples of their set dance through the arch.
2. Date: 02-17-1949
Four couples are seen square dancing in Jason Lee Junior High School's gym in February of 1949. Beginning at left and working around the wheel are: Sandra Burrows and Jay Grimstead, Sara Lovell and Bob Lang, Pat Holmes and Billy Redfield, and Shirley Boyle and Fred Thomas. They were dancing to the music of Bob Hager's records. Folk dancing gained wider interest among Tacoma's schools during the late 1940's. This followed a national trend and clubs formed among adults as well as school-age individuals. (T.Times 2/20/1949 p.29; T. Times 2-6-49, p. 19-article on square dancing interest)
3. Date: 11-24-1949
Informal square dancing at Tacoma Athletic Commission, Metcalf. Several couples are enjoying being on the dance floor learning square dancing steps. Several others are lined up in the back for refreshments.
4. Date: 12-16-1949
Tacoma Athletic Commission, Square dancing and style show, Elliott Metcalf. Four couples, wearing skirts and shirts of matching fabric, are demonstrating one of the forms of dancing to members of the Tacoma Athletic Commission at the Top of the Ocean as part of the square dance revue. Square dancing fever was catching at this time. (TNT, 12/22/1949, p.20)
5. Date: 12-16-1949
Tacoma Athletic Commission, Square dancing and style show, Elliott Metcalf. Bob Starkey was the caller for the square dancing revue put on for the members of the Tacoma Athletic Commission at the Top of the Ocean. Couples are dancing with arms around each other and the men have crossed arms in the middle. Several couples watch from the side lines. (TNT, 12/22/1949, p.20)
6. Date: 12-16-1949
Square dancing fever was spreading through Tacoma in December of 1949. Members of the Tacoma Athletic Commission put on a dance demonstration at the Top of the Ocean, 2217 Ruston Way, in appropriate dress. They announced that they were sponsoring a city-wide square dance festival to be held in February in the College of Puget Sound (UPS) fieldhouse. Dressed in contrasting blouses topping skirts in a rick-rack pattern - all worn over pantalettes - are: (l to r) Mrs. John Richards, Allyne (Mrs. Kenneth) Hopper, Gail (Mrs. Melvin) McKenney and Mary L. (Mrs. David) Collier. (TNT, 12/22/1949, p.20)
7. Date: 03-27-1956
Description: Mr. and Mrs. Leonard High of Fife stand in position ready to "dosey-doe." She wears a full and flounced frock and he wears a embossed western style shirt with a string tie. The couple will take part in the Rainier Council Festival Dance in April. The square dance groups are very closely knit. On March 31, 1956, a formal square dance wedding was held at the Titlow Beach Lodge. Mrs. Elizabeth Faithfull and Norman T. Miller were joined to the strains of a dancing song, surrounded by friends the couple had met through their square dancing organizations Boots and Bonnets, Parkland Squarenaders and the Starliters Round Dance Club. The couple had appropriately met while dancing in Steilacoom a year before and had been a steady pair since. Mr. Leonard High served as groomsman and also called the reception dance. Mrs. Miller sewed her formal square dance wedding dress of 29 yards of gray floral embossed fabric in seven tiers over three fluffy white and turquoise net skirts. (TNT 4/1/1965, pg. D-4, TNT 4/8/1956, pg. D-2)