“[After the end of the Spanish American War] Mt. Savage resumed its gay pleasures, which led to many courtships. There was nothing better to further this cause than a long bicycle ride.
“The Sunday afternoon ride up to Allegany, pushing up Moss Cottage Hill; stopping at Paul’s Store to buy peppermints and licorice candy; resting in the shade of the big oak trees along the straight; sometimes watching the gypsies in their bright costumes camped there; sometimes having their fortunes told; speeding homeward before supper.
“The swift wind carrying a marriage proposal over his shoulder, but her keen ears caught it despite the noise.
“… But the nights belonged to youth. The day’s events were only to warm up for the square dance at night. How we helped big sister pull the corset strings tighter and tighter. One would die if one’s waist was over 18 inches. Mother helping to button up the blouse in the back and sister fluffing out the ruffled front and all the girl friends collecting at our house and admiring each others’ clothes.
“This evening of fun was only equaled by the Saturday night dance at Locust Grove. The fiddlers tuning up and the figure caller strutting around and announcing ‘the first dance is free Ladies and Gentlemen.’ How disgusted the young ladies and men were to see all those kids crowding on the floor taking advantage of the free dance.
“The daring young man who swings his girl completely off her feet and she didn’t mind too much because she had on her new ruffled petticoat. The Saturday night fights over the best looking girl. The insects danced just as merrily around the torches stuck on polls and nailed to the locust trees. And the music! Has there ever been anything written to better dance to than Oh Dem Golden Slippers or Climbing Up De Golden Stairs?
From a speech written and presented to the Homemakers Club by Mary (Miller) Bowen, wife of William Anthony Bowen of Mt. Savage, Allegany County, Maryland. April 29, 1953
In 1994, square danc ing was designated the Maryland State Folk Dance. This dance integrates the Morris and Maypole dances of England, ballroom dances of France, Church dances of Spain, and folk dances of Australia, Ire land, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Poland, Russia. Square dancing has been a popular Maryland folk tradition since 1651.
Source: http://snipurl.com/2y0a7 [www_msa_md_gov]