The Community House in Red River has been providing entertainment for tourist and a place to gather for locals since about the 1940’s (I was married there in 1977). It started out as a one room log building, but expanded over the years to accommodate more people. On Sunday mornings the CH had a simple church service. Sunday night they held a "sing-song." Monday nights were movie night where they set up a screen and showed Disney-like movies. The rest of the nights were for square-dancing. During the daytime, there were square-dance lessons on some days and card games on others. It was a gathering place for us kids for as long as I can remember. Craig and I were square-dancing with the adults by the age of eight. There was a whole group of us little kids who came every night to dance. Usually, I danced with Craig. We were exceptionally cute back then, although Craig would tell me he would only dance with me if I did not smile. Laughing out loud was out of the question. Someone once told my mom how cute Craig and I were out on the dance floor, but then she asked, "Why does Lou always look so sad?" I remember standing in the square waiting for the dance to start and the adults telling us we could not dance with them – that this was for adults. The Laney’s, who ran the CH, would assure the adults that we could dance. The adults would be duly impressed after the dance.
There were several other kids who also danced at the CH with us and became our lifelong friends. Angela and Kathy were two of my friends. Both girls were beautiful and popular with the boys. Although Angela and I were close friends, it was Kathy whom I loved. She was one of four sisters. Her parents came to the square- dances and dressed the girls in matching dresses. I didn’t really own many real square-dance dresses, but Kathy’s dad would compliment whatever dress I was wearing as if it were the most beautiful dance dress – I loved him for that. Kathy had a little sister named Kim, who was the cutest little girl with blonde hair and big blue eyes – that was in the day when I wanted a little sister and prayed nightly for one. They had a cabin in the Upper Valley where they had horses, and a dune buggy and lots of fun things for summer playing. Her parents drove one of those station wagons with the rear seats, and it had sort of a moon roof – very cool! I thought Kathy hung the moon. In fact, when my baby sister was born and I was allowed to name her, I named her Kathy.
Angela was also beautiful with long dark hair and very chic clothes. She was special, too. Janetta joined us when her parents opened up Texas Red’s Steakhouse across the street from the CH. Janetta was gorgeous with long blond hair. She was suppose to be the "muffin girl" at TR’s, but she would sneak off to the CH to dance most every night. There were only a few guys for all of these pretty girls, my brother being one. Usually when partners were chosen, I would be left out – the one without a partner. It is just the way it was. But there was a man who worked the concession stand at the CH named Gary Pendly. He was a big man, but boy could he dance. When he would see me without a dance partner, he would come out of the c-stand, take me by the hand, and would dance with me. When it came time to twirl your partner, he would often lift me off the ground and swing me around. I can remember just squealing with delight – laughing out loud – something Craig would have been embarrassed over, but not Gary. I loved dancing with Gary!
We danced so much and so often at the CH that we developed our own style of square-dancing. We had "special" moves that only we did. When we had a square with just us kids, we were really something to watch. We also did other dances like the Salty Dog Rag, Put Your Little Foot, and other polkas as well as some round-dances. There was also a dance called the Hully Gully, which was a line dance before line dancing was popular. In between dancing, we played out on the huge porch of the CH. There was a grass area out front where we often played tag or other kid games when we weren’t dancing. I am sure there were some first kisses exchanged as well as some cheap rings to show that you were "going steady." It was a wonderful place to grow up and hang out, but we eventually did out-grow the CH. By the time we were in high school, we no longer hung out at the CH, but our new hang out was the Play House, which I will write about some other time.
Just a funny story that sticks in my mind: On Monday nights at the CH when they showed a movie, all us kids would wait until the lights went out, and we would go sit in the floor in front of the screen. I was chewing gum one night, but I accidentally dropped it. I looked and looked, but in the dark, I could not find my gum. When the lights came on, I looked some more, but still could not find it. I was worried that someone may have sat in my gum, but being embarrassed, I did not tell anyone about the lost chewing gum. When I got home and was undressing for bed, I found the gum. It had fallen down my shirtfront and stuck to me and to my little training bra. I thought it was very funny that my bra was stuck to me when I went to take it off. I still laugh at such stuff. My brother would have been mortified.