Uncle Dallas lived to be one hundred and three years of age. He died recently and his niece in-law told me a true story about him that is very interesting and I can say, yes, about dancing. He lived in North Carolina and Cheryl and her husband who was Uncle Dallas’ nephew visited him there many times. When he was a young man of about twenty, more or less, he sneaked out one night and went to a dance hall and danced for a nice amount of time. He was of the Baptist religion and dancing, alcohol and smoking was banned. Someone in the community saw him dancing and reported it to the church. The pastor came and told Dallas it was either dancing or the religion. That was the ultimatum. He chose no dancing and stayed with his family. He did not dance again.
When he was ninety-eight, his niece Cheryl told him that when he had his hundredth birthday in two years, she would dance with him at the affair. That she did three years ago. Cheryl Conrad and Uncle Dallas danced and everyone applauded. Uncle Dallas moved about and used his arms and feet and did a wonderful dance with niece Cheryl to a disc jockey’s music. The pastor got up and told the story I mentioned above and said times have changed and the Baptists can dance, drink and smoke now if they want to.
I can picture Uncle D. dancing and prancing and being happy to be one hundred and to be able to dance, at last and not have to choose between dance and family. This is a real cute true story and I heard it today when I went for my physical therapy session with Cheryl.It is a sweet story of a young man back in 1929.That was the year my brother Herbert Marshall Sohmer was born and I was born five years later. So Uncle Dallas was twenty then and he had a big choice to make for a twenty year old in those days.
Things were so different in those days. Drugs were what we took when we got sick. Smoking was accepted and drinking a drink or two was also not taboo. We never smoked in our house, though Dad once in a while would have one cigarette a week after dinner. He took a small wine glass with some red Kosher wine on Friday night which was the beginning of the Sabbath weekend and said the blessing for it before drinking it.That was it, no other smoking, no alcohol drinking and people did not dance much in those days other than at a wedding.
Someone this week said “ Live your life and don’t be restricted. Life is great.” When I was growing up in the forties as a young kid, you never talked back to your school teachers, to your parents or even your relatives. You may not have cared for some of your aunts and uncles, but you were always pleasant to them and respectful in their presence. Your school teachers would not put up with the kind of behavior that goes on now in public schools. You knew you were a kid and kids had to honor and revere their parents, family and even their teachers. My brother was seven years ahead of me in school and five years in age ahead of me, because he had been what they called skipped in those days. He was smart and so they moved him up two grades to be in with kids of his intelligence. He warned me when I went into fourth grade that if I got Miss Hodges for classes, my life would be very restricted in school. She was known to be mean, strict and a no nonsense teacher. The rumor was that she had no children of her own and she really hated children. One would think she was in the wrong profession. I dreaded having her the whole summer of my ninth year and lo and behold, I did have her for homeroom and every class in the schedule. In those days, your homeroom teacher was your all around teacher. She taught everything except a sewing class and I was so happy to be rid of her, I even thought I loved to sew.
She demanded respect, honor and everything else she thought she deserved and we kids had to abide by her wishes or school would have been miserable.
She did not give us a choice of one thing or another like Uncle Dallas got from the church. The one thing bout Miss Hodges was that when summer came and you were rid of her; any teacher that came after her was considered an angel.
Uncle Dallas chose family and that was the right decision and then when he was one hundred years old, he chose to dance with Cheryl and so by then he had the best of two worlds; his family,his religion and now dancing one long dance with his nephew’s wife coming all the way from Baltimore, Maryland to see his dream come true. He danced at the ripe old age of one hundred. He deserved his dance and he surely waited a long time to do it and I am sure he felt it worth the long wait and that his decision was the right one for the times of those days around 1929.
We ballroom dancers from now starting lessons and me from 1977 when my husband and I started lessons know that we would probably have done the same thing as Uncle Dallas and would have chosen family over a terrible and bad thing like dance.
We are lucky we never had to make the decision as Uncle D. did over eighty years ago. I think most of us would have chosen family, but we would have found a way of having both of our wishes. We do not believe someone would have ‘told’ on us because to know that, they would have had to be there too and we could have told on them too.
So here is a bravo to the late Uncle Dallas and to the good health he had at the age of one hundred where he could dance with his young niece and finally, finally, dance as he wanted to do eighty years before.This time the pastor was there to help celebrate this man’s advanced age and to watch him dance and to enjoy it as much as Uncle D. and the whole group of guests and family did.I
If I had known you Uncle Dallas, I would have got up and danced with you myself, because you would have been Fred Astaire to my being Ginger Rogers and I would have been so proud to dance with you and to know your desire to do it was still there at age one hundred. Fred Astaire was in his late eighties, not one hundred, when he was stll dancing. You see, Uncle Dallas, you beat Fred and were dancing at one hundred. You saved the best for this time in your life and even Fred would have honored you if he had been here for your birthday party. I am glad Cheryl Conrad told me this neat story and it only goe to prove, that we ballroom dancers or dancers like Uncle Dallas who waited, know what they want and even waiting such a long time, it was a wonderful and everlasting experience.
There was a song years ago that was called “I Could Have Danced All Night.” You Uncle Dallas got to dance that one night and it was as if you had been dancing all those many years.I know you could have danced with Cheryl ALL NIGHT.