Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Oh, Johnny

Old friendships…

Near the end of every school year, Mrs. Justice, our music teacher, would direct a themed musical production featuring first through sixth grades.  Every grade level would perform song and dance numbers in the gymnasium while our parents looked on. Huge illustrations drawn by one of Mrs. Justice’s daughters adorned the cement walls of the gym, giving it a festive feel.
It seemed I was often chosen as a dancer in these productions.  I think that says less about my dancing prowess and more about how little my singing was missed in the choir. The dance I remember most vividly was a square dance titled Oh, Johnny!
My partner, James Howard, was about as thrilled to be square dancing with a girl as any eight-year-old boy would be.  Like most square dances we had our main partners, but by the time we had do-si-doed and allemanded left a few times, we had danced our way through the entire troupe.  We then rejoined our original partners and danced the final portion of the dance with them.
The linking arms and moving through partners in the square dance closely resembled the evolution of friendships throughout the different phases of our lives.  I remember the little eight-year-old girls who shared my friendship all those years ago.  We grew up.  Some of us grew closer over time; some more distant.  New friends from new places moved in and out of the friendship circle as though dancing to the commands of some unseen square dance caller.  I remained aware of my friends from long ago even as time and distance made it harder for them to move freely within  the friendship circle.

Now, here we are in middle-age.  The rhythm of the dance has slowed somewhat, but we still link arms from time to time moving in and out of each other’s lives when we hear that familiar call.  And just like as we did in Oh, Johnny we make our way back to the original partners, the friends we’ve had for a lifetime.  We work our way back into the circle to the spots where we feel at home, the same spots where we danced so long ago in a gym filled with song.


  1. Oh, I love this. You've captured exactly how it is and taken me back to Mrs. Smallwood's second grade classroom where we square-danced in just the same way.

    1. I don't think they square dance in schools any more, Rita. Another relic of the past. It makes me sad how different childhood is today. We have lost so much goodness.


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