As part of my job here at the Star-Observer, I get to choose a Picture of the Past each week that is printed in the paper. It is my favorite part of the job. Some weeks I really have to look hard to find a good photo, I try to find one that is seasonal or relating to activities happening in Hudson that week.
This weekï¿½s photo, partially shown above, is of a square dancing group that used to meet in Hudson. ï¿½They were called the Hudson Hoe-Downers. The photo shows a group of folks kicking up their heels in the small gym of the old high school.
It brought to mind my parentï¿½s love of dancing. As a kid we got to attend many dances because they probably couldnï¿½t afford a babysitter for all of us. ï¿½Most memorable were dances held at the Grange Hall, on the corner of McCutcheon and County Road A. The Grange Hall was originally built as a school house and used from 1858 to 1874. Sold to the Patrons of Husbandry (!?!) also known as the National Grange, a farm organization, the building was used for many social and governmental activities over the years, dances being one of them. ï¿½It was eventually purchased by the town of Hudson and used as the official town hall until the early 1990ï¿½s.
As a kid, the Valley Boys or other bands would play on Saturday nights at the hall. The floor was cleared off, leaving benches around the edge and dance powder was sprinkled on the floor to make for better dancing. The old hall had a makeshift kitchen in the back where the ladies would brew up coffee to serve later in the evening with sandwiches and treats. Or, the friskier couples would sneak away during break time for a couple drinks at Josieï¿½s Bar in Burkhardt (now the Willow River Saloon).
After the band’s break was over it was time for more enthusiastic dancing and any kids left had better watch out!ï¿½ï¿½We were kind of relegated to the benches, but got to watch all the dancers in action. We always watched our parents, they were so in synch with each other on the dance floor.
In the winter, the dancers would throw all their coats in a pile back in the kitchen. As kids, we would fall asleep on the pile of coats, at the end of the night we were carried out to the car for a ride home, with the sounds of live music dancing in our heads.
With seven sisters and three unwilling brothers, some us girls learned to lead and others to follow as we learned to dance at the Grange Hall To this day we all love to dance, an activity I am thankful my parents introduced us to.
Get out and kick up your heels this winter. There is a barn dance every month in River Falls. Coming up is Twin Cities acoustic string band, the Grit Pickers, on Saturday, January 22, in the gym of the River Falls Academy (the former Meyer Middle School) on West Maple Street, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.