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The Hive Article

Memories and Article by Mary Sue Hoedebeck Wells

Music and Dancing - That's What It Was All About

This Article is Best Read While Listening to Music!  Click the arrow to start.

Video Starts Here


All My Memories are Wonderful!

During the time I was writing this, I talked to several of my classmates about their memories of The Hive.  "It was wonderful," "Man, it was a great place," "It was definitely the place to be on Tuesday and Friday nights," etc.  A few I talked to weren't allowed to go, and every one of them wished they could have.  A couple of classmates, Jerry White and John Walker, kept me twirling many nights at The Hive.  


See the Home Page where I finally got my chance to twirl them around!

For Me, Dancing Started It All

In my family, we grew up dancing.  One side of our family is German, so we danced at weddings and family gatherings.  Our uncles on the other side of our family played fiddles and guitars, and we danced.  At home, our parents literally would let us push back all the furniture in our living room, have friends over, and dance.  Our older brothers taught us, and we taught our friends, cousins, anyone who wanted to be part of it.  It was our thing.

I attended St. Xavier's Academy from first through eighth grade, where in my eighth-grade graduating class, we had eight students.  From there, I went as a freshman student to Denison Junior High, where there seemed to be a gazillion students!  I met lots of them, made my life long best friend - Judy Hughs - plus made a few other close friends that ninth-grade year.  


BFF's are just the BEST!

That same year, my older sister Patsy Hoedebeck, and her boyfriend Hairrel Durbin would come home after their Friday night football game date or from the movie at the Rialto then dragging Main, talking about what also had happened at The Hive - it truly sounded like the favorite place to go for young people to dance in Denison.  Wow, was I ready to see that place for myself.

As luck would have it, that same year, I got to start attending the weekly meeting of our Catholic Youth at the Knights of Columbus Hall.  On that one night a week, after our brief meeting, we were allowed to put some nickels in the juke box and dance for an hour.  Two of our older members were John Hancock and Paul Giacomo, both high on my bucket list to dance with someday.  Someone asked some older teens who were rumored to go to The Hive every week to come as guests to our dance hour.  Boy, did those folks know their way around the dance floor.  Although I never made it to the front of their line at the KC Hall, seeing those "older high schoolers" out there made me more anxious than ever to get to the Hive where reportedly there was a whole lot of dancing going on!

I Finally Made It

In late Spring of my freshman year, I had a stroke of luck.  My uncle, Commodore Wood, started volunteering to be one of the adult hosts at The Hive one night a week.  After much begging and pleading, and all kinds of promises to go only there, stay inside, come straight home and be on time, etc., my parents agreed to let me go that one night a week.  One of my good new friends, Nancy Kemper, had a car, and we made our plan to go to The Hive for the first time.  I'll never forget the night we climbed those steps at 309 1/2 West Woodard Street to the second floor and stepped - finally, into The Hive and onto the dance floor.  I can't remember if I even got to dance that night, but I'll always remember climbing those stairs.  We definitely made it our priority to be there that one night a week all spring and summer.  I didn't know too many of the people yet, but by some stroke of luck, I did finally get to dance with Paul Giacomo, and almost every week.  I also had gone to school with John Walker for eight years at St. Xavier's.  He was another fellow who was quick on his feet and who could jitterbug really well, and he was kind enough to ask me to dance pretty often.  Through him and a few other friends, I met and got to dance with a few of the ones I called the stars, like Dickie McConnell and Jerry White.  Jerry was definitely a "class favorite" already.  And there were those I never got to dance with.  The one I remember most was one of the seniors, Jerry Lover.  His most regular partner was his sister Kay Lover and could they steal the show!  Plus, there were always several girls ahead of me waiting to get his attention.  Another person who was mentioned in looking back on The Hive with friends was Skeeter (Johnny) Ray.  Never made it onto his dance card either.  But nevertheless, I was in heaven.... I was finally here and as the song goes, when those tunes started playing each week on that corner jukebox, "I Could Have Danced All Night"!  Out on that dance floor, doing the jitterbug, the waltz, the twist, the bop, the hand jive - anything that got me twirled around the floor was a dream come true for me.

Over time, I managed to wrangle introductions to a few elite dancers.  As long as I got to dance several times in an evening, I was happy.  Nancy and I always had fun and had lots of comparisons and observations to make on our trips home from The Hive that spring and summer.

The Hive was Always Full of Classmates

The fast dances and jitterbugs were the best, but it was also heavenly to slow dance and waltz.  Eventually I started dating, and The Hive was one of the places I always suggested we go for at least a little while on Friday night.  The guys I dated were all good dancers.  I think it was an unconscious prerequisite!  As far as I was concerned, The Hive was THE premier destination to top off a fun evening.  Coincidentally, that was where I met the person I would eventually marry after high school, Michael Nix.  Luckily for both of us, he was a very smooth dancer, so he already had a plus sign on his forehead when he asked me to dance that first time.

These are just a few of my classmates who, like me, spent a lot of time at The Hive.

Joyce Jones, Dennis Powell, June Taul, Judy Ferguson, Pat Hood and Gene Barnhill (love to watch them dance together), Horace Groff, Jerry Lummus, Gale Pruett, Carol Ann Scott, Tommy Hilton, Betty Carroll, Betty Jane Blassingame, and Bobby Rheay all seemed to have as good a time at The Hive as I did.  And those names are just off the top of my head.  There were so many more who made The Hive a regular, hopping place to be. 

Now, one comical story I was reminded of by Jerry White was when the owner of the key shop down below The Hive came up those stairs and complained that he kept coming in on Wednesday and Saturday mornings to keys that had mysteriously jumped off their hooks and hit the floor of his shop.  It didn't take too much detective work to discover the culprit - the Bunny Hop!  We still snuck that dance in fairly often, but at least not every time The Hive was open.

Top 30 Naked Bunny Dance GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

Lawrence Welk showed us how to do it!

Songs Make Memories

I have so many memories of that place, I cannot help but smile any time it comes up in conversations with my former classmates.  And it often does.  We reminisce about what a perfect place it was for the teenagers of our day.  I think we all get a little tug at our hearts when we hear any of those old songs:

"In the Still of the Night", "Only You", "Jailhouse Rock", "Poison Ivy", "Don't Be Cruel", "At the Hop", "Sweeter Than You", "Rock Around the Clock", "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", "Hound Dog", "Little Darlin'", "Mr. Blue", "A Teenager in Love", "I Want to Walk You Home" - and then came "The Twist", "Chain Gang", "Hit the Road Jack", "Runaround Sue", "The Loco-Motion", "Duke of Earl" and "Peppermint Twist"

and so, so many more.  Some of my favorites are in the music player at the top of this article.  I really loved fast dancing, so many of the selections are fast numbers.

A Little History

Until recently, I hadn't really thought about what was involved in providing this wonderful place for us to meet and dance back in the day.  In researching and talking to folks I discovered that oversight of our nights at The Hive was provided by the Denison Service League, which according to one of our upperclassmen, Horace Groff, is still in existence today, doing good things for the youth in Denison.  Did you know that it was already a regular meeting place for teenagers back in the late 40's and early 50's?  Two entries in a contest back then determined that it would be called "The Hive," which was a great name since our football team was the "Denison Yellow Jackets!"  I learned this from an article by Bob Watkins, which was published in the DHS Alumni Association's Traditions magazine.  The article also noted that the Junior-Senior proms of 1950 and 1951 were held there.  That must have provided some special memories of The Hive for a lot of teenagers at that time.

From another article by Donna Hunt, again, published in Traditions, I found that Mrs. Stella Hollingsworth, later Morrison, was in charge for a good while, and she was loved and appreciated by the youth who went there.  That article also mentioned Father David Jones, Dottie Jones' Dad, as being chairman of the Board of Directors for The Hive in the later 50's.


Dottie Jones and Sue Fehr's parents made sure The Hive was available to us.

During our time, the Board of Directors was headed by Mrs. Eloise Munson, per Jerry White.  These folks gave their time to oversee the management and expense to provide this for the young folks in our town.  I am so grateful to them for their generosity - for the hours of their personal time they gave to us.  There were several adult volunteers who showed up every week so that The Hive could be open for us.  Mrs. Wanda Fehr, Sue Fehr's Mom, was one of the adult chaperones during our time.  From what I have found, there were firemen and their wives, PTA members, business folks, several other parents of teenagers who went there, our local Women's Service League members, an Episcopal priest, and even a retired Denison Police Chief.  Firemen who are remembered are R.H. Odle and Fred Worthington. One of the policemen remembered was Gene Eubanks.

Our senior year, the Board also decided to have a representative from the senior class on the Board, and it was our own Jerry White who was asked to do this for us, which of course he did.  I think everyone in our class who went there would agree Jerry was the perfect choice!

Grateful Thanks

I salute and am forever grateful to the folks who gave their time to provide this place - The Hive - for us, as I know so many of my classmates and those in the years before and after us are also.  A million thanks to all of them!

Share Your Memories

You can add to this story by commenting in THE BUZZ forums on our website.  We would love to hear about your favorite dance partners, dances, favorite songs, funny stories, special moments - all those Hive memories - and I'm sure there are many good ones to tell!  Also, if you remember any of the other adult Board Members or volunteers, or information about the management of The Hive, please add names and information to my story.  

We've searched high and low for photos of The Hive to use in this article, with no success. If you have, in an old memory box, some photos you took back then, please share these with us.  You can share three ways: (1) send me a Private Message (go to my profile to do that or click this link) and tell me what you have and how to contact you - I'll take if from there; (2) Add photos to your Photo Gallery, or start a Photo Gallery; or, (3) use CONTACT US to send stories or photos to the website admin for posting, with attribution to you.  Whatever way you find easiest to share more memories of The Hive, I really would appreciate it if you did. 

Hope this has brought back some good memories or has given you a look at a place you'd heard of or wondered about.  We hope to hear back from many of you about your experiences there!

(Click below to add your memories or read the memories of others.)

Make your COMMENTS in THE BUZZ forum

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