February 13, 2020
After attending a musical concert called “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” it made me go back to a more care free time in my life. I may be giving away my age but as the three women belted out songs like “Be My Baby,” “Twist And Shout.” “My Boyfriend’s Back,” and “Soldier Boy,” I found my lips moving as they sang. I knew every word to those songs. The women performers were the appropriate age to remember those songs when they were popular. They danced around in their poodle full skirts with pink can-cans, pink collared blouses, bobby socks and, of course, saddle shoes.
It took me back to the halls of Burr Oak High School, my teen decorated bedroom in our comfy and safe farm home, rides in a certain ‘55 Chevy and the many slumber parties where we girls giggled and shared stories into the wee hours of dawn. It seemed like our biggest worries back then were getting home from a date at the exact appointed hour, keeping grades up at school, hoping a certain boy would ask us out on a date and wishing for a chosen new dress from the latest Penney’s catalog.
Poodle skirts were full skirts supported by fluffy net can-cans popular in the late 50s into the early 60s. My Aunt Ruth made my sister and me matching poodle skirts when I was a pre-teen. But, Aunt Ruth being a horse enthusiast, instead of applying a poodle near the bottom of the skirt as was usually done, she attached a rearing horse. The skirt was made of a light blue fabric and the horse was made of white satin. We loved those skirts, especially when we could wear our can-cans underneath. If my memory serves, the last time I wore a can-can was under my beautiful chiffon white, eighth grade graduation dress.
Can-cans were not the easiest thing to wear. They may have been popular at the time but they made it hard to climb into the back seat of a two door car, or even just sitting down in a chair as it would force the top of the dress or skirt to rise. Not sure where the name of the net underskirt came from, maybe from the “Can-Can Dancers” in France.
Pre-teen and earliest teen memories of those late 50s, early 60s songs also made me think of the years of the popular Burr Oak Teen Center dances on Saturday nights. The center was an old store building on the main street. Popular songs on 45 rpm records were played on a record player at the back of the room. Chairs were placed across walls on either side of the large room. The original pine floors were sprinkled with saw dust making for smoother dancing. Of course there were adult sponsors, at least two couples. One of the sponsors would not allow the popular dance of that time, the Twist, to be done calling the dance moves too suggestive. The girls stood in groups on one side of the dance floor while the pre-teen boys were usually seated on the other side.
The girls would wait anxiously to be asked to dance. Soon, the first boy would bravely approach a girl to go out on the dance floor and then soon, one by one more would follow suit. The boys were not allowed to dance too close with the girls and if this happened the sponsors would soon intervene. As the dance ended, parents would begin to show up to take us home, and the lucky town teens all walked back to their homes. Sometimes I considered myself a “town kid” when I stayed the night at the Johnson family home and could walk with with my friend. That night my friend and I would review that evening at the teen center and who danced with whom, and who were the best dancers.
It was great to be taken back in time by those four performers. It sure was a happy, safe and simpler time in my life.