Friday Night Fun

In a more innocent time, Oswego students had simple fun.

“We used to have a dance in the gym every Friday night and once in a while there was a formal,” said Denham Griffin ’47. “And we would put up drapes all the around the gym and it would hide all the ugly walls.”

Ernie ’47 and Liz Grieve Leal ’45 courted at those dances. “We did a lot of dancing. We had great music back then: Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey records,” said Liz.

Bill ’47 and Betty Reid Gallik ’45 share a similar story. They loved to attend the dances and other activities set up by the SRA, the Student Recreation Association.

Lucky girls had their dance cards filled with willing partners.

“He was in a fraternity; I was in a sorority,” recalled Betty. “We were sort of privileged. We went to six formals.”

They didn’t meet at a dance, however. Their courtship had a bit more bounce to it. “Pingpong tables were set up in the hallway and that’s how Bill and I met,” Betty recalled. They would play the game during their breaks and something happened that made her realize he cared. “We had lockers on that side and Bill said, ‘Why don’t you keep our pingpong paddles in your locker so we don’t lose them?’” Betty recalled.

The romance that began over a game of pingpong would be kept alive by letters overseas during Bill’s service and the couple were married when he returned home. They celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary in July .

Norma Sutherland Church ’45 recalls the dances well. One cold, snowy night she went to an Arethusa formal at a hotel on the eastside of Oswego. “All the girls were dressed in beautiful gowns, silver slippers and velvet evening coats,” she said. When the dance ended, the plows had not been out and they would have to walk across the town and up the hill in their finery. Art Professor Aulus Saunders came to pick up his wife, who was the house mother, and gave the girls a lift in his car, so they didn’t have to walk all the way back.

“The best thing I got out of Oswego is right here,” said Denham Griffin, gesturing to his wife of 62 years, Sylvia Norton Griffin ’47. “We met on Halloween night 1942; our favorite joke is: I’ll take my mask off if you take your mask off.”

— Michele Reed

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