Shall We Dance?

Just the other day, I told one of my nieces about watching my parents learn how to do “the twist.” Chubby Checker’s version of the song by the same name, coupled with his appearance on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand in 1960, created a dance craze that became popular among young and old alike. Mom and Dad were both in their forties, Dad probably closer to fifty, when this incident occurred.

They had just finished a night of bowling for their league and were getting a couple drinks with friends at the bar. (I was only about 10-12 years old, but I was the team’s scorekeeper.) I remember the adults demonstrating “the twist” by pretending to hold a bath towel across their backsides, then pulling it to the right, then the left, back and forth, while twisting their body, pretending to dry off. Looked right to me, but maybe they were just mocking the teenagers. Nah, they would never…

My father loved to dance. He had music in his soul, just like me. When he left home in 1930-31, at the beginning of the Great Depression, he headed west with a friend. The two young men ended up in Las Vegas. They enjoyed going clubbing and dancing with the women they would meet. Maybe that’s when he learned to dance so well, and to play blackjack (but I digress). Later, as he told it, he worked as a dancer for Lawrence Welk, getting the audience “warmed up” before the show. Haven’t completely verified these tales, but I can imagine them happening.

I am not sure Mom loved to dance as much as Dad did, but she seemed happy when she danced with him. They were the perfect partners. He guided her across many a dance floor, and she followed him step by step. They were smooth dancers, gliding or bopping to the music depending on the beat, and made it look so easy. What fun it was to watch them on the dance floor! It was even more fun whenever Dad took this little daughter of his onto the floor and let me dance on his toes. I felt like a princess at the ball!

Dancing is a special part of my parents’ tale, but it is also a huge part of mine. I went to my first school dance 52 years ago, seventh grade, met my first boyfriend, and we danced almost every dance, at almost every school dance after that, for six years! (That’s a whole nother story.) Then, there were the years of dancing with my husband when we were dating and in the early years of our marriage. Later on were the years of putting on school dances as Club Live advisor for middle schoolers, or as Activities Director at our local high school, showing off some moves of my own on occasion, or chaperoning church dances. The music is still in me and finds ways to express itself–tapping a foot, the occasional dancing for exercise, or moving to the beat while cooking and cleaning.

Dancing may not be a part of your tale, but it is just another example of how we can show our tale or that of our ancestors. Do you enjoy dancing, or do you think you can’t dance? Have you or any of your family members learned a cultural dance from the land of your ancestors? What dances were popular as you grew up? Was square dancing a part of your P.E. program in school? Think about how dancing has been a part of your life, and don’t be afraid to show your tale.

A Lifetime of Music

How important is music in your life? Does it help you get through your day? Does it inspire you? Does it make you smile? Or, does it help you cry when you really need to let it go? Does it bring back special memories? Does it take you places you have never been? Music can do all of that, and more.

I am sort of a music addict. I have to hear music wherever I go, whatever I do. And, since I love to sing along, lyrics are important to me. When there is no music playing, then I can always turn to the music in my head. I have quite a playlist. Everything I have heard since I was born–big bands, Sing-Along-With-Mitch (Miller), pop, country/western, folk, American classics, Broadway, rock (not too electric, though), Disney, Christmas/holiday, easy listening,  rock opera (not so much classic opera), new age, hymns, jazz, gospel, and more. Every kind of music imaginable.

I used to break into song when I taught middle school, much to the chagrin of my students, I am sure. “There is a song for everything,” I would tell them. It got to be sort of a game–they would challenge me with a word or an idea, and I would search my memory bank for just the right tune and lyrics. Mr. Holland’s Opus came out about that time. I used the theme from that movie, “a lifetime of music,” to teach history, music appreciation, writing, and more. I used music in my classroom to teach relaxation and superlearning back in the ’80s. One year, my high school calculus class, mostly guys who were big into sports, picked the music from Disney’s Mulan, especially “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” as our theme music for that year. All their own idea! It was great!!

Music is in my soul. It is an inseparable part of my being. It came from my parents, who probably got it from their parents, and on and on back through many generations and cultures. I have passed this love of music on to our daughter, who I see has passed it on to her daughters.

We can show our tale, the story of our life, in so many ways. What is the music of your lifetime?

52 Stories

In 2013, Steve Anderson posted an article on the Family Search Blog entitled, “52 Questions in 52 Weeks: Writing Your Life Story Has Never Been Easier.” ( There is a link at the bottom of the article to twelve printable pages, one for each month, each with a different theme, that expands on the 52 questions idea. Each printable has 12 questions relating to the theme of that page, giving a total of 144 questions. What a great way to help our elderly family members and friends write, record, or share their life story!

I have recently spoken with an aunt (about 88 years old) and a neighbor lady (about 90 years old) about writing their life stories. I wasn’t surprised when they told me they hadn’t started this yet. Pretty common story, unfortunately. But they are such unique and amazing women in their own right, it would be a shame for their stories to be lost forever. Their descendants deserve to know about their ancestor. I have given the list of 52 questions to my neighbor and have told her daughters about them. Needless to say, her daughters sounded very excited about the idea and were eager to help her get it done. Now to get them to my aunt!

One of my goals as I move forward is to incorporate into this blog some, if not all, of the “52 Stories” questions with regards to my life and/or the life of my ancestors, as far as I can discover them. I encourage you to do the same. What a great way to “Show Your Tale!”

A Legacy of Reading

Reading has always been a part of my life. I remember the first books my mother shared with me. They contained pictures of birds, songs for children, stories of all kinds, crafts, and more. There was also the Bible Stories  book, my first introduction to scripture stories. My mother had a collection of novels, but I don’t remember watching her or my father read much, except the newspaper.

I was an avid reader growing up. I loved to read biographies of historical figures, like presidents, inventors, statesmen, great men and women of all kinds. My favorite childhood novels were Island of the Blue Dolphins and A Wrinkle in Time.

This past week my five-year-old granddaughter brought home her first book from kindergarten, excited to share her new skills with the family. My daughter was thrilled to share the news, and my heart was overjoyed to hear it. I had shared my love for reading with my daughter, and now that legacy was continuing with her daughter.

Sharing hobbies and talents is just another way to “show your tale.”