Mind the time

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by an Almonte ‘Native’ , yes, born and raised in Almonte as were my parents.

To stimulate discussion and relive memories……

It’s a hot summer Saturday night in the mid 1950’s in Almonte and the cars and trucks are heading up Water St. to the ‘Red Hall’ known by those new to Almonte as the Agricultural Building located at the south end of the Fair (Agricultural) Grounds.

Tina and Eddie Lyons (who ran the small canteen at the beach) have had their ‘gopher’ deliver by wagon, many cases of soft drinks (Ottawa Valley term for POP) up to the Hall. The drinks are loaded into the water filled beverage containers early in the morning to get cold by dance time. Chips and snacks will also be sold. But, there will be no alcohol sold in the Hall.

Mr. Waddell (who lived in the house that used to be at the entrance to the grounds) has the hall spick and span and the hardwood floor is glistening before dance wax is spread over it.

Yes! It’s Saturday night and Charlie Finner and his band will be providing tunes, mostly country, and the hall will be packed. The floor is always filled with dancers. They will start to dance anywhere on the floor and the whole group will circle as one around the complete hall as they dance. Sometimes there will be a singer, sometimes a trumpet solo or a musical piece. The music is heard up and down Water St. and across the river – but there are no complaints about noise….never heard of one! People, who do not attend the dance and are in hearing range, sit on their verandas enjoying the sounds.

“Square” is called and there will be no difficulty getting enough people up. After each set ( 3 in all ), people will take a short break to get a drink and then back on the floor. ‘Square’ may be called 2 to 3 times during the evening. If you were new to square dancing, every and anyone would encourage and assist in your learning

As the night plays on, the windows and doors are all open and people retreat outside to catch a cool breeze off the river to cool down before returning for more dancing. Yes, they may have found, outside, some other refreshing drinks to also help cool them down. Bottle collecting Sunday morning on the grounds was as lucrative as payment for work inside on Saturday.

My job ( the ‘gopher’ ) will be to collect the empty bottles and keep the tables that surround the floor clean of garbage and on Sunday return everything back to the canteen at the beach. And then the next Saturday it will all repeat again.