Dance Of A Lifetime 1959

Dance Of A Lifetime 1959

Memories of first impressions still strong after 58 years

Spring happens suddenly in the Rockies. One day the whole country is covered with a blanket of dirty-white snow. The next day there are rivers of water mixed with dirt running in the ditches, along the roads and in every crevice of this mountainous land.

After long months of winter, even this grey sludge is welcomed as a sign that soon there will be lime green promises of things to come, covering trees and shrubs and meadows.

Two young men walked along the path of my parent’s garden. A large poplar grew at the start of this path, shading a whole corner of the closely cut lawn. Spring birds sang their eternal songs praising their Creator and hoping their melodious trills will sound inviting to a potential mate.

Each of the men carried a suitcase. Peter, the shorter of the two, had been living in a cabin on my Dad’s property for the past two years. The other one was taller and carried himself with visible self-assurance.

I watched with interest, noticing the long legs of the one whom I had not met. He wore tapered black slacks and a white shirt with a skinny black tie running down to his waist. A sports coat was casually slung over his left shoulder. The stylishly cut, long black hair caught my attention. I saw a profile, reminding me of the current teen idol, Elvis.

They disappeared into the cabin.

My friend Irene called, asking if I wanted to go dancing that evening at the Bluebird. She was a little older than I and already owned a small car in which she flitted here and there.

Although it was early May, the warm sun promised long, lazy, hazy days of summer.

Cranbrook, nestled in a valley resembling a bowl, surrounded by rows of hills behind which rose the majestic Rockies. Fisher Peak soared above the others to a height of over 3,000 metres. In its centre lay a deep hollow, filled with eternal snow. Not even the heat of summer melted this accumulation of many winters.

I was hoping to meet the stranger who was in Peter’s cabin. He had previously told us his brother John would be coming from Germany so I assumed this handsome stranger was his brother.

Later in the afternoon I saw Peter leave in his 1948 Ford jalopy.

Shortly after that John came out of the cabin and sauntered into the backyard, sitting down on the ground and leaning against the fence. Seeing this as my opportunity, I went to him, introducing myself as I sat down beside him.

I saw sadness in his large hazel-green eyes as he told me that his brother had gone out on a date leaving him alone for the rest of the day and evening.

Impromptu, I asked him if he wanted to go dancing with us. He smiled that somewhat slanted smile, so reminiscent of “Elvis.” My heart missed a beat or two as I ran inside quickly calling Irene and asking if she would graciously allow me to bring this stranger to the Bluebird.

Promptly at eight o’clock she appeared in her little green mini and picked us up.

The Bluebird was a circular log structure with a high centre criss-crossed by huge naturally-coloured logs. The large dance floor was surrounded by a fence with several openings to a 12-foot wide area around the perimeter. This area was intermittently filled with benches. The whole building seemed to be divided somewhere down the middle. The one side was filled with giggling young girls and women and the other held large groups of men. A band was seated somewhere between these two halves.

John watched in great fascination as one man after another stomped across to where the women were sitting, taking the lady of his choice by the hand and then waltzing with her onto the dance floor.

The whole thing was reminiscent of history book pictures, showing cavemen dragging their women by limb or hair into the openings of cavernous interiors inside mountains.

John impressed me greatly by solemnly bending his head in my direction while politely asking me if he may have this dance.

I happily stepped into his arms while he expertly led me onto the dance floor. I became the centre of his attention for the rest of the evening as he whirled me around the floor, dance after dance.

We spent much time gazing into each others’ eyes as time fled into oblivion.

Thus began a love affair that has lasted a lifetime and will last far beyond this life.

Christa Stegemann is a Saltair resident.