Sam Bauman: The good old days of the Maypole



Seniors may well remember the pre- and post-war days of the Maypole dance in high schools across the country. It’s a tradition that goes back to Medieval times celebrated largely in Germanic countries but after World War II in the United States.

I remember the ritual shortly after the war when my high school in Dayton, Ohio, marked May 1 with a Maypole dance. The senior girls, dressed in flimsy white dresses, would gather around the decorated tall Maypole and holding long ribbons attached to the top of the Maypole dance about as the school band played. The girls followed intricate patterns that wound up the long ribbons woven about the Maypole.

A May Queen an Court would be elected and punch and cakes passed around. May 1 coincided with the Pentecost in those days.

The dance has continued in Europe, largely in Bavaria, and in Scandinavia. It was considered and still is as folk dancing.

In Europe May 1 had long been a day for workers to celebrate with political parades celebrating labor movements.

The Soviet Union seized on May 1 as a day to demonstrate military might with a parade of tanks and troops for dignitaries such as Josef Stalin and other Communist leaders such as V.N. Molotov.

East Europe also adopted May 1 as a celebration of Communism.

In the United States some areas marked May 1 with the custom of filling a basket with presents and hanging it to the doorknobs of friends, ringing the doorbell and running with the hope of being caught and kissed.

The only Maypole Dance in Nevada will be in Goldfield High School.

Maybe the Goldfield event will spur some enterprising schoolteacher in Carson City to stage a grade-school version of the Maypole Dance to remind the kids of history and maybe dancing beauty.

Incidentally, May 1 is generally regarded as the end of frosty nights and that it’s safe to put the basil plants out on their own without fear of cold.

Limited Seating available

It’s unfortunate that my balcony looking out on the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Nevada can only accommodate three guests. That’s because my view of the construction of the “Big MAC” multi-use athletic center is endlessly fascinating. Every day the scene changes; towering mounds of dirt rise and are taken down or moved to another sector. The big earth moving machines ponderously shift around, smoothing, shifting and sculpting the earth.

Work starts at about 6:30 a.m. The front loaders pick up dirt and move it. Trucks deliver plastic wrapped cement blocks that are stored to the west of the building site. It’s too early to get any idea of the eventual shape of Big Mac, but deep ditches have been carved and various utilities laid down.

Perhaps a dozen workers on foot are out there measuring, moving surveyor sticks about. Occasional conferences bring them together.

And the big water truck endlessly patrols the site, sending out water to keep the dust down. And the big dump trucks cart earth away, who know where.

It’s all a ballet of big machines doing puzzling things, moving dirt and building materials around.

Yep, too bad I can’t have more than two guests on my balcony. It’s a fascinating experience where taxpayers can see their money at work. They’re are getting a lot for about $8 million.

And the kids from the Boys and Girls Club can still cavort on their big grass playground. Just have to come in from the west gate. The kids are always fun to watch as they dash about with casual but watchful supervision.

Every time I stop to watch the kids I long for the days when I could do cartwheels and somersaults. And maybe run fast enough to play tag.

One thing I can still do is sing out loud. Maybe the tenor will be a little thin but it’s certainly loud. The new car seems to amplify the volume. Car is nice but it has no place for a ski rack and it looks like so many other cars I have to wander about to find it. The old ski rack in my old car made it easy to find.

Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.


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