THE SQUARE DANCE AT BIG MOOSE
By Ethel C. Robertson, 1938
Off the beaten track of the usual summer tourists to the Adirondacks is lovely Big Moose Lake; and on its wooded shore is set a charming rustic inn, or "camp," as it is called in these parts. It is a picturesque log building with wide verandahs, designed and built by the artist-craftsman who owns it, a veritable haven of rest in its peaceful setting amidst an amazing variety of evergreen trees - pine, spruce, hemlock, cedar, and fragrant balsam. To this spot kind Fortune led us one August afternoon, and we felt immediately at home and happy within its hospitable walls.
The routine of life here is pleasant and mostly uneventful. One goes swimming or canoeing, sailing, or follows an old Indian trail through the forest, possibly encountering a wild deer on the way. THe atmosphere of friendly peace and quiet is so restful that weary travellers relax and forget the cares and worries of the busy world that here seems so remote.
But one gay and lively night we had, unique in our experience. There was to be a "Square-Dance" at the inn! Now an ordinary dance has no charms for the local people, but let it be known that a "Square-Dance" is in prospect and the whole countryside will come flocking to it. On the morning of the dance, while we were paddling across the lake, we heard one rustic youth call across the bay to his friend: "Say, where did you say that Square-Dance is going to be to-night?"
At half-past seven the "orchestra" arrived: three young men, a pianist, and two fiddlers. The great living-room was cleared, and four or five "sets" were made up. The young farmers and village people, the "hired-help," and visitors all mingled together. At first our host directed the dance, but the high-spot of the evening came with the arrival of the local station Superintendent, who was known through the countryside as King of the Dance. Cheery and rotund, like his pretty wife, he was light on his feet and the perfect country dancer. Quick-witted and humorous, he called out the Figures in a magnificent voice:
"First couples right- Ladies' chain,
The "Dance-King" led with his wife. Opposite was the lovely lady from New York with the lean and bronzed Forest Ranger, both expert dancers. In the adjoining set were the odd-job man with a pretty little waitress, and visitors from across the lake. Our host danced with his little daughter and the various house-guests from all parts joined in the fun.
"Ladies join their lily-white hands," called the Dance-King.
The jollity went on till near midnight, and ended abruptly:
"Ladies in the centre," called the King.
and amid much laughter the dance was over.
After the last cheery good-nights were said, the guests trooped out, returning to their homes through the woods, some on foot, others by cars or boats to adjacent bays or to other near-by lakes. A few paddled home in canoes across the lake by the light of the full harvest moon, leaving the inn once more in peaceful quiet; only the sound of the breeze in the pine trees and the lapping of the waves on the shore breaking the silence of the night.
Source: American Women's Club Magazine, London, October 1938.
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