Columbus School in the 40’s was a kindergarten to sixth grade school. Mr. Kirschbaumer was the principal, Miss Ferguson was the dreaded sixth grade teacher and her friend, Miss Elliott, was the kindly science teacher, and Miss Urbanic taught gym. I don’t know if they call it gym today or not, but in the forties gym meant exercise, team games, and even dance.
Miss Urbanic really liked dance. She taught us to fox trot, square dance, and do these funny little group dances. Dancing always seemed more fun to me than sports, because I wore glasses and either you have to take them off or play very carefully. Glasses in those days did not have plastic lens so I suppose there were real concerns let alone the cost of replacing the glasses which my folks would not have been happy about.
In sixth grade Miss Urbanic told our class about a special dance program she was asked to teach. There was going to be a special meeting of the Board of Education for the City of Pittsburgh and she was to present a dance program with her student she told us that she would pick the dancers from the sixth graders. If my memory is still serving me, I think it was soon after January that she began to teach the dances to the entire class, girls only of course. We were all to learn the dances and then in March she and her committee would pick the six girls who would be in the program.
I wanted to be in that program so much I could taste it. Our mothers had to be willing to sew the outfits and I know I nagged my mother to the extreme over this project.
One of the dances included these giant colored beach balls which we girls danced with and positioned to the right and left above our heads in dramatic ways. We just wore colored socks that matched our short colored dresses.
Another dance we were dressed like Mexican girls with colorful skirts and white blouses that had an eyelet ruffled collar. We wore beads and well, it was really glamorous, to me at least. I even remember the melody of the dance music. I practiced day and night. I wanted to be picked too much and was determined to do what ever it took and low and behold I was chosen to be in the program.
I vaguely remember dancing at the performance program. It was more exciting and memorable preparing for the program. That’s the part I very much remember. Maybe we even did a performance for the school but it was the preparation that I remember most. I don’t think that anyone in our class took dance lessons. First of all there were not that many places around that taught dance and second, my parents would never have paid for such frivolity as dance.
Yes, Miss Urbanic, had us dance right into spring with my glasses and all. Oh and did I mention we wore lipstick and face powder, too. What a wonderful time it was and what a happy memory.
Well, hold in there folks. Spring is just around the corner. Put on some good music and dance. Remember what Katherine Murray used to say in those early television days? “Put some fun in your life. Try dancing.”