Monday, December 22, 2008

Marlene's Dance Studio

Marlene's Dance Studio
Originally uploaded by kristinafh
There were many reasons why I loved living and growing up on the south side of Fort Wayne.

Things were not so (I'm looking for the right word)...'corporate' and 'big'.

There were many small business owners not only for retail but also for services. I don't know if my parents consciously patronized small business owners, but it seemed like we did a lot of that thing back in my childhood.

One of my stories from last month ( explained how me, my sister, and my friend Erika, became interested in stuff like tap and gymnastics.

And sometime in 1972, we began lessons over at Marlene's Dance Studio.

Who was Marlene?

I didn't really know back then. When I started to look into writing this blog entry, I became curious and I looked through a lot of stuff, trying to piece things together.

Unfortunately, it was her obituary that gave me the most background information about her. Marlene Huntley died in March 2002 at the age of 63. She was originally from Bay City, Michigan and had worked at Hall's on Bluffton Road as a waitress for several years.

I don't know if she had a professional dance background or how she decided to open up her own dance studio. I also don't know when her studio shut down or how her life played out (with the exception of what the obituary told me). I guess yet another mystery that will go unanswered...

Marlene's dance studio was located - get this - on West Dewald Street.

West Dewald is perhaps - not the hot, happenin' area that it once was, but back then, the neighborhood was clean, safe, and full of kids who rode their bikes and played kickball and dodgeball in the street. I haven't been back in that area for over 30 years - I wonder what it's like today???

Marlene didn't have a fancy dance studio. Nope. She used her house for lessons. It looked like the area that would have been her living room was completely ripped up/redone to look like a dance studio. There were hardwood floors, a mirror that stretched from ceiling to floor and covered an entire wall. There was one of those ballet bars fastened to the wall where the mirror was. She had tons of vinyl and one giant/loud record player that was quite awesome to six/seven year olds...

Note: Thanks to Scott Howard for locating Marlene's house on google street barely resembles the place I used to visit 2 times a week.

My mother signed me and Patty up for tap and acrobatics (aka gymnastics). Tap was my thing. Gymnastics - not so much. I think it was because I was tall and lanky and not very bendy :).

After school, my mom used to make the three of us (me, Patty, Erika), practices our new hobby on our enclosed front porch. During the winter time, it was really cold so we would start out with our winter coats on.

I think if anyone would have seen Erika doing a back bend with her big old parka coat on, they would have had a giggle. She was challenged with the hood (always) and we had quite a debate on whether the hood (with the furry stuff on the outside of it) should be up or down. Down guaranteed major repercussions including accidentally smacking yourself in the head (with the hood) on the way back up from the back bend or with it up, you risked major static cling (thanks to the Indiana winters - dry dry dry climate).

I guess if my parents would have just heated the area - this would have taken away the whole parka dilemma :).

We knew that when it was time for Gilligan's Island, we were done practicing on the front porch and we could come in to watch Marianne, Ginger, and the Professor.


colz said...

Do you remember Mrs Gates' School of the Dance? They taught ballroom and etiquette--I think it was a 7th grade thing. White gloves and all.