Depression Era Barn Dances

Kansan remembers barn dances in a big, white barn when she was a child during the depression era.

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Grandpa and Grandma lived in this two-story small house about a quarter of a mile south of the big white barn where upstairs of the barn dances were held.

I can remember sitting at Grandpa's feet out on the big rock and cement slab along with some other family members. As the music would begin Grandpa would call my grandmother, who was usually finishing up the daily chores after a busy day.

The sweet music would drift across the orchard and Grandpa would sit tapping his foot, and sometimes would point out the big and little dipper and other star wonders, to my delight.

On occasion we would all attend, but it cost $1 for a couple, dad tells me, and the money wasn't available. I think for a quarter a hamburger could be bought and cold drinks and coffee were a few cents. Sometimes there was homemade pie and cake for just a small charge.

Along one wall at one end there was a couple of old iron beds and small children were placed there as they got sleepy.

No liquor was allowed in the building, but I am sure there were those who went out and returned. Curt (the owner) would ask a person to leave if he felt they were any way out of line.

On some occasions, groups of entertainers from station WIBW in Topeka, Kansas, would be there to sing and play.

There was the outdoor movie where the backs of two buildings and wood and canvas stretched to keep out the freeloaders. When you purchased your ticket you got a numbered ticket and a folding chair. A drawing was held at the end of the serial, movie and preview of the next week's show and groceries would be given to those lucky stub holders.

Also a favorite place when the movie was over you could go to was Burke's and get a three-dip ice cream cone with a cherry on top for like seven cents.

Wanda I. Smith
Garnett, Kansas

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