Maypole

Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?  I’m so happy the answer was “yes”!

We waltzed to that song in 1981, the year we graduated from high school, the year we knew we wanted to get married, the year we wound Maypole together.

For those of us who graduated from PHS, hearing the word “Maypole” is music to our ears.  It’s a grand and beautiful tradition which dates back to 1929.  For families who have lived in Portales for years and years, it means that parents and grandparents, aunt and uncles, cousins and brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, daughters and sons… even grandchildren have all been part of this lovely night.

Oh how we danced!  The girls in our pastel gowns with hoop skirts, the boys in sharp white tuxedos.  My mother sewed my beautiful baby blue dress, and I wore the locket Gary had given me for Christmas.  We had prepared for weeks and weeks, learning the box step waltz, just how to twirl under our gentlemen’s arms in beautiful unison, winding that ribbon over and under making a perfect braid.  It happens every spring, just as it has for over eighty years.  The basketball court is converted to a ballroom for the queen’s court… and the evening begins with her pronouncement, “May merriment and happiness reign over this evening’s festivities”.

That year I sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with our friend Paul.  Gary played his trumpet in a duet with our friend Jack.  I can picture our classmates, singing more songs, so formal, feeling so grown up.  We’d had our last day of school, we were off to the prom, and we would be graduating in days.  I love to go to Maypole every year.  I know exactly how they feel down on that wooden floor.  Many have been friends since kindergarten, and everyone knows it’s a moment of change.  School days are over, and this is one of the final times for the class to be together.  A special moment in time they’ll always remember.

It’s such a pretty night. I’m thrilled the tradition is alive and well.  When I was seventeen it felt like I had stepped into a fairy tale.  I was dreaming that I would dance with that boy for the rest of my life.  Thirty years later, he still sweeps me off my feet.


15 Responses to “Maypole”

  1. Marcea Clive says:

    Love this blog……..

  2. Sandy says:

    Thank you Marcea! You can’t imagine how much I love being able to share my little stories!

  3. Cheryl says:

    OK, now I have tears in my eyes. So much feeling in your stories. Sometimes I can relate so closely and sometimes I just pretend I can relate because I love the feeling the story gives me. Our small town in AL where I graduated from high school had no such grand traditions. But I did marry my childhood sweetheart 35 years ago!

  4. Robin Green says:

    Now that’s romantic!

  5. Margret Jonsson Evangelista says:

    I just found a link online with video of the 2008 Winding of the Maypole (and your Field Days came up on the first page of the search !!!). The dance music included “Could I have this Dance” and the song from my 1982 year, “Open Arms”. Classics continue on! Thanks for sharing this memory. I’ll be there in spirit (and I remember you and Paul singing together – a very special moment). Enjoy the evening!

  6. Mandy Welch says:

    Oh Sandy, you have taken me back. I loved Maypole and can still hear the song playing (Last night I waved goodbye – 1980), can still see Barbara George getting us “just right” at practice and on the night. I was amazed by the dresses (having never seen Maypole before)and how mature everyone looked in their finery – it really was a “rite of passage”. I am SO pleased that Portales still holds on to this tradition, many schools seem to want to modernise everything. I wish the schools in New Zealand had this kid so tradition, I would love my children to have the opportunity to experience this. Thanks for reminding me Sandy

  7. Sandy says:

    Isn’t it just a delight that PHS is still winding Maypole! I believe at this point we are the only place in the nation with this long standing tradition.

    So thrilled you came all the way from New Zealand to be part of our lives here in Portales!
    Thanks for commenting today.

  8. michelle pond says:

    Wonderful and sweet post. My elder daughter Hillary wound the Maypole a few years ago and I am eager to see her sister Charlotte, dressed in a lovely gown, follow the tradition.

  9. Michelle says:

    Man, you just made me want to live in Portales again. What an awesome post this is! Thanks for the smile.

  10. Katie Howell says:

    This is great! And what a beautiful dress!

  11. Glenda Wilhoit Cross says:

    Harold & I wound the maypole in 1961. We will be married 50 years in Nov.

  12. Sharon Rountree says:

    I wound the maypole in 1966 with a friend. I have read in the New Mexico Magazine, that Portales in 1 of 2 in the nation that still winds the maypole. That was several years ago, so Portales may be the only school that continues to do so.
    I moved from my hometown years ago, but I will return again.

  13. Miles says:

    During a warm summer night in 1980, I pulled out my father’s guitar and I sang a song written by him called ‘Pieces of Me.” I sang the song to Sara Swenson. After hearing the song one time, she exclaimed “If you don’t sing that song at Maypole next year, I will.”

    I told her I would only sing it if SHE sang it with me.

    We sang it at our Maypole event in 1981–the same one as Sandy & Gary, Jack and Paul.

    The yearbook captured that moment in time as we looked at each other and sang a song of love & giving.

    We too waltzed the box step with our classmates, but to this day, I only remember seeing her.

    “All these things, that I hold dear–I give them all to you.”

  14. Sandy says:

    What special memories that night holds for us all. Thanks for sharing this Miles!

  15. Marietta says:

    Awwwwww…LOVE this. Nothing like growing up in a small town with such poignant traditions. Good job Sandy!

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