My Forty Years Scribblin's
Historical Accounts
The Country Dance

A little piece written in 1961 or '62, published in Montana's Little Legends (1963). Everyone made the most of the country dance.

Though life in this new country was rugged and often grim, an occasional entertainment helped to ease its growing pains. Whole families journeyed miles, in buggies, sleighs, on horseback and even on snowshoes, to any home that provided a room large enough in which to dance.

These frolics began early and lasted until the wee hours, and the fiddler, growing weary, often fell asleep and whittled away on the same tune until someone woke him and started him off on a new one.

Refreshments were usually pot-luck and often liquid. Men outnumbered women and it was sometimes necessary to tie a white kerchief around a gentleman's arm, thus marking him as a "lady" for that set. What mattered if he "muddled off" in the wrong direction and messed up the works? More laughs—more fun!

Mrs. Edna Lindsay recalls one such gathering at a home near Ovando when a boy fell down an unfinished well. The poor lad ricocheted from the rock walls and when rescued, his unprotected face resembled, she said, a piece of raw beef steak.

The boy's mother, who was often called to minister to the ailing of the countryside, sent the youngsters of the party with a lantern to gather cobwebs from the out-buildings. These she applied to the boy's face. The bleeding was stopped and the boy recovered. But one country dance had come to an abrupt and early end.