Black Tie Mandatory

As a certain segment of Westport high school students gets all excited about tomorrow night’s Red and White Ball (invite-only; senior girls ask boys) and next Friday’s County Assembly (juniors), here’s a preview photo:

Okay, it’s from 1959 or so.  But don’t Linda Gramatky, Tim Richards, Midge Santis, Nick Monserrat, John Widmer and Judy Hand look smashing?

The shot is a reminder that the “County Assemblies” have been around a long time — since 1938, in fact.

Mrs. Willem C. Schilthius of Westport organized the 1st formal 73 years ago “to promote inter-town friendships, instill social graces, and provide financial support to organizations benefiting adolescents.”

Most teenagers today — and probably their parents — have no idea it’s a charity event.  And the number of inter-town friendships made, and social graces instilled, is probably on the low side.

Still, it’s an event some Staples students look forward to for a long time.  That, and the after-parties.

Click “Comments” to add your memories of Westport’s winter formal dances.  Don’t worry — the statute of limitations is up.

18 responses to “Black Tie Mandatory

  1. What happened to the Holly Ball?

  2. They are still working to “instill social graces”? Yikes! They were tryng to do that in the 1950s when I escorted Boston debutantes to the Cotillion…

  3. I remember the Holly Ball and the Cranbury Ball but am blanking on the County Assembly. Linda, you look great. Judy Hand had a younger sister, Maggie ’65, who was also blonde and smashing. I don’t recall learning any social graces at any of these events, except for learning to drink from a flask in the parking lot.

    • Judy Hand Demarest

      Tom, I wish I’d had a sister, but I never did–just three brothers, AT, Jeff, and Jon. wonder who Maggie was?

      • Judy Hand Demarest

        Hmm. Not AT–AJ!

      • Judy, Maggie lived in Weston, looked very much like you and graduated a year ahead of me. Your bros. Jeff and Jon were soccer stars and a year and two years behind me, respectively.

  4. Eric Buchroeder

    As I recall, when my older sister and I were kids (she in the ’50’s-60’s and I in the ’60’s-70’s) the Holly and Cranberry Balls were by open invitation to all 9th and 10th grade girls, who then asked the boys, the County Assemblies were “exclusive” (code for if you came over on the Mayflower) and based on having “the right connections.” In all cases, the girls invited the boys. I went to the Holly and Cranberry Balls but was never asked to a County Assembly and that was OK with me.

  5. Me, too, Eric. No Mayflower connections here.

  6. Eric Buchroeder

    Strolling down Memory (Repressed Nightmare, I mean) Lane with Danny Woog:
    Last month it was dancing class. This month its pseudo debutante events we guys wouldn’t have been caught dead at (but were anyway). What’s next? Are we going to have to deal with the piano lessons I was forced to take? How about square dancing in PE class with Coach Pollack at Kings Highway? Anyone want to discuss Mr. Ready at Greens Farms School? Ohhhh the Humanity!!!!!!

    • Eric, I took piano lessons with Mrs. Roskin, and stopped as soon as I could. A huge regret, 40 years later. And square dancing was 3rd grade, with Mr. Melillo at Burr Farms (your mom’s school). He said it was a “Friday afternoon treat.” I thought it was a Friday afternoon nightmare. As for our principal, he was of course Lenny Metelits — with a most unfortunate nickname.

  7. Eric Buchroeder

    Some of my mom’s ideas about “required culture” would be called child abuse today 😉

  8. The Dude Abides

    Attended the Cranberry Ball in ’62. They stopped asking after that. What about the beloved Confirmation classes on Saturday mornings?? Even with Papa Ogilvy (“Mr. Tennis”) as a teacher, certainly a drag. Got stabbed by a gal with a pencil in class once while dueling. Rushed to Doc Beinfield to remove the lead where my mother passed out in the operating room. The good times.

  9. I am one of the “girls” (Midge) in the photo. I now go by the name of “Margarita”. I remember this evening well, my dress & my date. I loved those dances. Yes, the girls asked the boys & bought the tickets. I’m still in touch with Linda & Westport. I have returned to Westport many times as I design & make glass jewelry which I have sold at the Westport Craft show. Growing up in Westport holds special memories for me for which I am thankful.

  10. I think square dancing for us back in the ’60s at Greens Farms School was in the fifth or sixth grade. Things kept rotating, we eventually danced with every member of the opposite sex.
    I was something on an athlete and I remember in junior high we had dancing of some sort in PE and I was displaying a recalcitrant bad attitude. Coach Benedetti, whom I liked a lot in spite of everything, came over and yelled at me “how can I trust you on the football field if I can’t trust you on the dance floor?” I failed to see the connection and I doubt it was a question ever asked of Gene Kelly. In any case, I only went out for basketball.

  11. Eric Buchroeder

    There seems to be a recurring, haunting theme among Westport older (who were once younger) men of PE teachers hustling recalcitrant boys into square dancing classes (“Hey, champ, its a Friday afternoon treat!”) Yeah, right!. Oh! the disillusionment!!! “Anything Coach is selling can’t have anything to do with demasculination, can it?” ‘If you’ll con me onto the dance floor then how can I trust you to call a play on the field, coach?”

  12. The Dude Abides

    Coach Ed Hall at BJHS was okay. He recruited guys to his trampoline center next to the hockey rink.

  13. Tracy Robinson

    This discourse has me thinking about a couple of my favorites from the 60s and 70s: That wonderful librarian Mr. Rudd – I think he was at Burr Farms; and the music/chorus teacher, whose name escapes me, but her hair piece used to bounce off her head when she tried to “conduct”.

    • Mr. Rudd was indeed at Burr Farms. Definitely a great guy. He had a whole second career as a jazz musician in New Haven, I learned later.