Polygamist Prance

by Ruth Henderson Darrington '46

It seems that with the war years many girls had decided to wait until the end of the war to attend college -- "until the boys come back," they said. However, the girls in the year just ahead of me assured me that there were some boys on the campus, the naval air cadets. These boys took classes each day, and that sounded pretty promising, but during the summer of 1944 the program they were in was discontinued, and I had already registered and made plans to start fall quarter. Well, it was bleak to say the least. Oh yes, we had a very active pep club or Whip Club as it was dubbed. I was a member of that group, and we practiced cheers and marches, but before long there were no ball games, so the Whip Club took up crocheting sweaters for the servicemen, instead! I was also a member of a social club, but that too needed the male gender to help us carry out our social responsibilities, and there were very few men on campus. School dances became a thing of the past as they were expensive fiascos. I remember a dance for which a $300.00 dance band was hired and only ten couples showed up! I found myself, as did the other girls, longing for some male centered activities. We were suddenly tired of each other and the artsy craftsy things we did to stay busy. Our classes were small, and our professors, who were in danger of losing their jobs for lack of enrollment, treated us as very special. I will always be grateful that I remained in college because I feel that our education was outstanding. I studied and learned a great deal in those two years. You see, I ve always felt that boys go to school to get an education while girls go to get a husband. With no available boys, we really had to hold things down until the fellows returned to the campus.

The war in Europe ended in the spring of my second year, and spring quarter saw many boys coming back to school. A group of the girls approached Dr. Dixon and asked him if it would be possible to have a dance before we graduated. He said he would think about it for awhile and get back to us. In about a week he proposed to us that we could have a dance under the following conditions: (1) It would be a girl s choice affair, that is, the girls would ask the boy of their choice; (2) No boy would be allowed to turn down any girl; and (3) No one would divulge whom they had asked. We girls readily agreed to the conditions. (Of course at that point we d have agreed to anything!) He then called all the boys together and told them of the stipulations, and they agreed. We were eager and excited to get our dates for the dance. I asked a boy whom I had known for a long time, and I assumed I was probably the only one who had asked him. Other girls were asking around, and it was all very secret and very exciting as we helped each other with ideas about what to wear, etc. Came the night of the big dance. My date had told me he would pick me up at 6:00 p.m. as he had to pick some others up as well. I was a little disappointed that I had to share him with others; nevertheless I was ready on time. When he came, I was astonished because he drove up in a milk truck he had rented from a local dairy, and he had put ten little stools in the back for his"wives" to sit on. You see, President Dixon called this dance the Polygamist Prance! We had to drive to Hooper, Plain City, Roy, and all parts of Ogden to get my date's other"wives." When we arrived at the Weber College Gymnasium, others began arriving in hordes. Some fellows had five dates, some had fifteen, one had twenty girls! And all these girls were trying to hang onto their fellows for dear life. After all, we hadn't had a date for over two years! We didn't want this one to get away. I must say that some of the more unpopular boys had only one or two dates, but in the end they were the lucky ones. When the band struck up the first notes of music, the fortunate girls danced first, Then the fellows started working their way through their many dates. Something was wrong! I found I had to wait out nine dances before I could dance again, but the poor fellows had to dance every dance and even in between the dances. At intermission, someone put a quarter in the juke box, and the poor fellows were dancing even then. The girls spent the evening waiting around while the boys never once got a chance to sit down for a breather or even leave to get a drink of water. Those girls who had a less popular boy were getting to dance far more often than I was. I could see it wasn t working. I was as bored standing around waiting for my turn as I had been for the past two years. When Dr. Dixon noticed all the girls standing around, he suggested a tag dance. This would at least give the girls more opportunity to dance. Well, in the melee, the poor boys were not just tagged. They were slapped, hit, punched, dragged around, and I think a couple of the girls pulled each other s hair. It was mass slaughter, and I ll bet the boys thought they were back on the battlefield! We then formed a long"Conga Line" and did the"One, Two, Three, Kick" thing all the way down 25th Street, along Washington Boulevard, up 24th Street and back to the college, where the dance ended. Well, my "husband" took all the"wives" out and bought them a hamburger and a milk shake before he took them home. I will tell you that my date was my dear friend from grade school days, Laurence Burton, who later became a member of the United States House of Representatives. I will tell you that much, but I ll never tell whom he took home last!