Sunday, December 15, 2013

Grandma was a dancing machine

One thing I’ve learned from going through my grandmother’s scrapbook is that she loved to go out and she loved to dance!  Well, I’m not 100% sure that she loved to dance but I do know that she went to a lot of dances and fortunately for me, she kept a lot of mementos from those special events.

The invitations, bids, and dance cards just amaze me.  Now I realize that by today’s standards these items would be pretty boring but in 1912, these were amazing!  Look at the beautiful writing on this dance card.

Ball 5_17_1912

Someone must have spent a lot of time putting this together.  It took me a minute but can you see the 1912 in the ‘block’ of green ink?  Here’s the inside that shows the dance program.

Ball Inside

Some of these names, Carleton Best and M. Pugh, are familiar to me.  She danced with Carleton three times – wonder if she (or he) was smitten?  And here’s her description.

Ball Description

So we know the date was May 17, 1912 and we know she didn’t go with anyone.  But it looks like she danced the night away!

And then there’s this one.

Madeline Work's Dance

These are hard to read but I can pick out Elbert (dance #3) who was the brother of her BFF, Hallie Hitchcock.  And again, a few dances with Carleton (#1 and #9) and even Howard (#2 and Extra #1).  What in the world would Extras and Extra Extras be? 

Madeline Work's Order of Dances

And here’s her description:

Madeline Work's Description

Ooooohhh, she went to the dance with Carleton.  I sure wish I knew the date of this dance – was it before May 17, 1912 or after?  And just what does “had a pretty good time considering” mean?  Did she not like Carleton after she got home?  Did he not pay enough attention to her?  Come on, Grandma, inquiring minds want to know!

And then there was this dance given at Eleanor Phelps’ house.

Eleanor Phelps Dance

Now this one really took some time as the blue paper was cut out and glued to the front.  That’s a lot of detail and must have required a bunch of patience.  And the inside:

Eleanor Phelps Order of Dances

Oh boy, looks like Earl was penciled in a lot on this dance card and poor Carleton was only on there once.  But wait – what’s this?

Eleanor Phelps Description

What?  She didn’t go?  So how did this dance card get filled up?  And none of these names are in my grandmother’s handwriting so did she have them sign the card after the fact?

Grandma, just about the time I get you figured out you throw me a curveball!


  1. There is something so sweet and romantic about those dance cards, a reminder of the days when social graces and etiquette ruled. Today a dance card just wouldn't work for people who just dance alone in a jumble.

  2. What wonderful treasures these dance cards are Debi! And I like Wendy's comment above. I wonder what would happen if we gave the youth of today a dance card to fill out as they entered a dance, explained what it was and how it was used, and told them they must use it or no dancing.

  3. Debi, I have heard of dance cards but never saw one before. They tell quite a tale,

  4. Debi,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. These dance cards are wonderful, Debi. Thank you for sharing.