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Can’t dance

Dean Butler

When I was 19, I received a draft notice. Uncle Sam wanted me. Word spread quickly in the tight-knit community of Lance Creek, Wyoming, and before I knew it, my friends organized a heartfelt going-away celebration in my honor. They arranged for Rhonda (Sedgwick) Stearns to play, and we had a dance in the old IOOF hall.

It just so happened that my future wife, Linda, was staying with some friends and neighbors, Clem and Winny Mosier. They had a daughter who was friends with Linda, and the two of them accompanied Clem and Winny to the dance.

I was sitting with my buddies. Clem walked over and stood in front of me.

“Why don’t you ask Linda to dance?” he said, gesturing towards the 15-year-old girl who, in my eyes, was still a child.

“I can’t dance, I replied.

But Clem, having seen me dance, wasn’t fooled by my excuse. Growing up, my family often attended dances at Spencer Hall, by the Cheyenne River. I was a favorite among the teen girls back then, always being pulled onto the dance floor. They taught me to dance from a young age.

I went off to the Marine Corps. About a year and a half later, I came home on leave, and there was a dance in Lusk. My then-girlfriend and I had a disagreement, so I was driving up and down Main Street.

There was Linda and a friend walking down the street. I stopped and asked if they wanted a ride. We drove her friend home, then I asked Linda if she wanted to go to the dance. That was our first date. The thing that struck me was how much she had grown up; she was not a little girl anymore.

When I was released from active service about six months later, I started dating Linda again. As time went on, we fell in love, and I asked for her hand in marriage. Thankfully, she said yes.

In early September 1972, we were wed in a little church in Lusk. After the ceremony, I walked her to the back of the church, and our families stood in a reception line. All those in attendance shook each of our hands, congratulating us. Clem Mosier was coming down the line. When he got to me, he shook my hand and said, “Can’t dance, huh?”

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