If it hadn't been
for the Optimist Club, growing up in Ellis County wouldn't have been much fun
at all. But as it happened, this group provided a swimming pool, ballpark, annual
carnival and Youth Center to keep us busy and out of trouble.
personally put these resources to good use, especially the Youth Center.
Long before I became a teenager, my parents served as chaperons many a Friday
night at the Youth Center. There was nothing quite as "cool" as watching those
real teens spin around the dance floor in their poodle skirts. They formed lines
and commenced to do the "stroll" for hours on end, and when it was time for a
break, there I'd be ... selling candy behind the snack bar under the watchful
eye of my parents.
longing to be a teenager spurred me on to an interest in dancing, music and fashion
long before my time. After everyone was gone from the Youth Center and my parents
were closing up, I'd put on a few records and mimic those smooth dance moves,
having the dance floor all to myself.
Once I moved on and entered high school, it was particularly meaningful when my
friends would yell out across the crowded school corridor, "See you at the Youth
Center!" To be sure, I would be there. Almost every Friday night after the football
game, I'd join my girlfriends as we gathered, poised and ready, for the night
wasn't any central air conditioning at the Youth Center, so in the winter we'd
congregate around one, lone space heater during the early evening. However, it
didn't take long before we were warmed by the gyrations from the twist, monkey,
hully gully, swim and pony.
dances were somewhat more challenging, though.
Back in those days, we teased our hair which we then plastered with Aqua Net
(hairspray). After a few bounces around the dance floor, both boys and girls had
pretty much worked up a sweat. We'd walk away from a slow dance with our hair
flattened on one side while the boys would wear what was left of our hair-do on
the side of their heads.
didn't seem to bother us, though. Such appearances were the benchmark of a good
count the intermittent fights in the parking lot or the coolers of beer scattered
here and there, we were by all counts good kids. Boys were the only ones who got
away with smoking, drinking and fighting. As for us girls, our focus was perfecting
our dance techniques and reeling in a good dance partner.
if ever, did we have a live band. And when we did, it was a local group of friends
striving to make a name for themselves. We played records, albums and finally,
I think, we got a real jukebox.
my favorite dance of the night was the "last dance." It didn't always happen that
I got asked, but when I did, I loved to sway to "Goodnight, sweetheart, well it's
time to go." That's probably why slow dancing remains a favorite of mine after
all these years.
Every so often, my husband and I will take a twirl around the kitchen floor to
the sweet melody of Johnny Mathis as he sings "You ask how much I love you ...
until the twelfth of never" and in my mind I'm back at the Youth Center, poodle
skirt and all.
©2001 Jeanne Moseley
Central Texas Towns