Mendon May Day— 1967
Picture Caption: Youngest Members of the Mendon May Day court are Steven Max Baker, son of Mr. and Mrs. Max Baker, crown bearer, and Cindy Lou Kidman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Kidman, flower girl. The one-hundred year old tradition of crowning a Queen of May will be enacted again this year on Saturday, May 6th, at 10:30 a.m. on the square.
May Day Plans Include Traditions— Plans for the traditional May Day celebration scheduled for May 6th have been made by the Mendon ward superintendency. Merlin Yonk, Lemuel Earl, Sr., Fred Bowen and officers and teachers. Becky Yonk, daughter of Superintendent and Mrs. Merlin Yonk, as queen of the May Day events. She has chosen Scott Hiibner as her consort. He is the son on Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Hiibner. Twenty-four girls have been practicing the maypole dance under the direction of June Bowen, Margene Willie and Lorna Ladle with Mozelle Sorensen playing the music. They will perform the dance on the program. Maids of honor for the occasion are Deborah Bartlett, Melanie Sorensen, Janet Larsen, Debera Larsen and LaJan Richards.
Picture Caption: Members of Mendon’s May Day Court are, crown bearer and flower girl, Steven Max Baker and Cindy Lou Kidman. From the left are Melanie Sorensen, Dale Andersen, Debera Larsen, Steven Krambule, Queen Becky Yonk, [Consort] Scott Hiibner, Deborah Bartlett, Paul Willie, Janet Larsen and Kim Gittens. Following the crowning of the queen at 10:30 a.m., there will be a maypole dance and program. During the afternoon there will be a children’s dance and a dance for adults in the evening. Everyone is invited to attend this traditional celebration.
Picture Caption: Becky Yonk, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Merlin Yonk, will be crowned Queen of May on Saturday, May 6th, at 10:30 a.m. in Mendon. Her maids are Janet Larsen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leland W. Larsen; Melanie Sorensen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Allan Sorensen; Deborah Bartlett, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ross Bartlett; Debera Larsen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Larsen; LaJan Richards, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jay Richards was absent.
Picture Caption: Mendon Sunday school superintendency is in charge of the annual May fete to be held Saturday, May 6th, with the crowning of the queen at 10:30 a.m., are Fred Bowen, second counselor and Merlin Yonk, superintendent. Lemuel Earl, Sr. first counselor was absent for the picture. The public is invited to attend.
Printed May Day Program: May Day Celebration, May 6th, 1967, 10:30 a.m. Under the direction of the Sunday school officers and teachers. Singing will be led by T. Kay Sorensen. Queen’s Court: May Queen, Becky Yonk; Consort Scott Hiibner; Flower Girl, Cindy Kidman; Crown Bearer, Steven Baker. Maids of Honor and their Partners; Janet Larsen with Kim Gittens; Deborah Bartlett with Paul Willie; Melanie Sorensen with Dale Andersen; Debera Larsen with Steven Krambule; LaJan Richards with Gary Bird. The 24 Maypole Dancers for 1967—
|Susanne Jensen||LuAnn Baker||Carolyn Barrett||Angela Cheney|
|Karine Ladle||Linda Sorensen||Tamera Gittens||Karla James|
|Jean Sorensen||Annette Yonk||Marsha Leishman||Kathy Maurer|
|Shelly Maurer||Kaylene Jensen||Cindy Larsen||Donette Christiansen|
|Brenda Hardman||Mary Jean Barrett||Nicolie Bowen||Natalie Hardman|
|Julie Muir||Tresa Quinlan||Jenae Baker||Sharon Hardman|
May Day Program: To be held in the Mendon ward chapel. Queen and Court will be introduced by T. Kay Sorensen. Joseph A. Larsen will be the featured speaker. Afternoon Events: Children’s dance, 2:30 p.m.; children’s races, 3:30 p.m.; Little League ball game, after races; adult evening dance, 9:00 p.m. Maypole Dance Accompanist: Mozelle Sorensen. Dance Directors: Margene Willie, June Bowen and Lorna Ladle. May Day Dresses: Nan Earl and Blanche Yonk. We sincerely thank all those who took part today and helped in any way to make this a successful May Day. Merlin Yonk, Fred Bowen and Lemuel Earl, Sr.
Items Of Historic Interest— Becky Yonk was crowned Queen with Scott Hiibner as her consort. Her attendants were Janet Larsen, Kim Gittens; Deborah Bartlett, Paul Willie; Melanie Sorensen, Dale Andersen; Debera Larsen, Steven Krambule; LaJan Richards and Gary Bird. The crown bearer was Steven Baker and the flower girl was Cindy Kidman. A program was held, and the former May Day Queens were asked to tell what year they were crowned and by whom. Those participating on the program were LuAnn and Jenae Baker, Cindy Kidman, Afton Quinlan, a double trio consisting of Doreen Sorensen, Karen Hiibner, Janette Kidman, Gloria Richards, Koya Baker, and Loryn Baker, accompanied by Debera Larsen. Also there was some guitar music furnished by the sons of Don Shelton: Brent, David, and Scott. Also participating was Joe Larsen, Tawna Bartlett and Mozelle Sorensen, Julie and Stephanie Muir, Clyde Muir and Bishop Zeno Andersen gave a few remarks. In the remainder of the day there was a children’s dance, races, Little League and the adult’s dance.
Community Celebration, Mendon May Day— The Mendon May Day celebration seems to have its link to the festivities in honor of Flora and is celebrated on the first Saturday in May. This has not always been the case, especially in the early years. Very often the town waited for good weather and it is reported to have been held in June on some occasions. In 1965 the selected queen [Lelia Kidman] had appendicitis and it was held at a later date. It is my personal opinion that I developed as I was growing up, that the festival originated from English settlers. This was based in part on the discussions I had with the elderly Mendon citizens. The Mendon May Day is said to have started around the 1860’s. The exact year the Mendon May Day began could not be determined factually. It is interest to note that at this time an Englishman, Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote a poem entitled “The May Queen” and also makes reference to “Maying” of Guinevere in “Idylls of the King.” It does seem the popular notion of maying, May queens, and so forth was an accepted norm at the time. It would seem fairly natural then, that the English settlers of Mendon would find it reasonable to celebrate the arrival of spring with similar kinds of festivities.
My first remembrance of Mendon May Day is in 1957. When I was five years old I was asked to be the flower girl to the queen. This is an honor to be one of the two youngest people to participate. I wore a frilly white dress and carried a lovely basket of spring flowers. The crown bearer [Scott Hiibner] walked by my side. The flower girl and crown bearer lead the procession of queen and consort, queen’s court and the maypole dancers from a designated area to Mendon Square. The designated area usually is the queen’s family home. It is significant to me that the youngest members participating lead the procession. It seems to signify the beginning of life as does spring. The flowers that the little girl carries seems to signify rebirth and freshness. The little boy carries a satin pillow with a crown of flowers on it which the consort will use to crown the May Day queen.
I was dancing the maypole in only a couple of years after I was flower girl. All the girls from first to sixth grade danced. At one time the maypole dancers danced beginning when they were in first grade until eighth grade and now it is until fifth grade. This corresponded with the number of grades in the elementary school at the time. The girls dancing the maypole are in their adolescent years. They are not preschool age, nor or they adults. The dance starts off with couples of girls in complementing (or contrasting) colors of dress simply walking around the maypole. They then sing a few songs between some of the dances. The dances become increasingly more difficult and faster. The maypole dance is a series of simple dances composed of repetitive easy-to-learn steps. Most of the dance emphasizes the foot work or stepping patterns and has little upper body movement. This is suggestive of a European-derived dance pattern. Of course, the girls are holding onto the streamer and therefore little upper body movement could be involved. It is important to note that the climax of the dance is with all the girls skipping quickly as they weave the final part of their streamers, completely covering the pole. At the end there are bows given and the girls join hands and skip off. When I was young, it felt like we exited at a dead run! It was not easy to master the dance at a young age, but as we got older the whole thing began to seem infantile. We were growing up. To my knowledge there has been only one year (1951) in which the grade school boys were included in the dance. Its ending appears to have been a case of the boys revolting and the dance instructors protesting. It seems to have been a mutual agreement not to try it again. Prior to this and since, it had been an entirely female dance.
Eventually I became fifteen years old and it was my time to be chosen queen. The queen has been selected various ways at different times depending mostly upon the whim of the Sunday school superintendent. Sometimes they have been voted on, occasionally simply selected and more often than not they were merely drawn from a hat. The year I was chosen it was by a vote of the boys and girls my age. It was an honor to be selected. I chose as my consort [Scott Hiibner] the young man who had been the crown bearer when I was flower girl. The other girls my age made up the queens court and they each chose their own escort. It is an unwritten rule that the girls choose boys from Mendon and from their own age group if available.
The male that the queen chooses is not called the king, but is always called the consort. I had wondered about the meaning of the word consort but had never bothered to find out about it. I think this is the attitude of most who participate. I believe that Mendon citizens have done May Day for so long that no one questions it and that is just the way it is. I did find out that the consort is simply what it says he is. He is less significant that the queen and is there merely as a figurehead. I am sure there are parents of consorts who feel he is quire a necessary part of the celebration, but one must admit the day belong to the queen.
The queen and her court all dress formally or in their best dress. The boys usually wear a suit. The May Day procession leave from the queen’s home and walks to Mendon square. When I was queen, I lived too far away[in Petersboro] and so we walked from the west side of the Mendon church building to the center of the square. The procession arrives at the square and as the queen and her court take their places the maypole dancers sing, “Oh May Queen” as they assume their positions around the maypole. T. Kay Sorensen, grandson of Isaac Sorensen who wrote many of the songs, leads the crowd in “Maying and Straying.” The queen is crowned by her consort. The audience then sings, “Come to the Woodland,” which officially recognizes the selected female as the Queen of May. The maypole is danced. All are dismissed to the program held in the church.
I have participated in the program by doing a reading, reciting a poem or telling a story. Mostly it is music rendered by instruments or by voice. There is always a featured speaker. Most often all of this is done by members of the community. The queen and her court are introduced. The program is completed. The queen and her court are dismissed. The maypole dancers leave and the rest of the audience is dismissed. The program I think is another manifestation of community spirit and togetherness.
In the afternoon food is sold, games like tug-o-war, baseball and foot races are played. There was a time when there was a children’s dance and the Mendon Jazz Orchestra played but by the 1970’s too many of their members had died or gotten ill. For a couple of years records were played, but it just wasn’t accepted and the children’s dance became a thing of the past. In actuality it was the parents, who came and visited while the children ran wild, that enjoyed the children’s afternoon dance. The afternoon is still certainly a time to relax, enjoy each others company and visit. I can visualize in the early years of Mendon that the community members wanted and needed a day free from the daily stress of a hard pioneer life. The Mendon May Day provided an opportunity for that much needed release.
For the queen and her court the afternoon begins with a dinner usually provided by the queens family at her home. For me, at age fifteen, this was like my first real date. The boys were extremely polite and we all tried very hard to act grown up. In 1979 the queen and queen’s court age group was changed to seventeen years old. It was decided by the adults in charge that we were too young probably because it was encouraging the youth to break the “wait until you are sixteen years old to date” rule! Later on the queen and her court end up back at Mendon Square for the afternoon games and visiting.
In the evening there is an adult dance in which a live band provides the entertainment. The queen and her court are to be at this and all the other adults are invited to attend. The dance has since been moved to Friday, the night before. The dance signifies that the queen and her court are of age to participate in adult activities. There have been several queens and members of the queens court who have ended up getting married to the male partners they selected. I think in the early years of Mendon that this had courtship and marriage motivations behind it. It seems less significant in today’s mobile society, but still provides a certain amount of socializing.
On occasions during the May Day programs, the former May Queens have been honored. Usually we have been asked to stand during the program and then presented with a single flower or a corsage. Even though many of the former queens have moved away, many of them still come “home” to Mendon on May Day. I think this is another important part in the feeling of community spirit that seems be shared by all who have ever participated in a Mendon May Day. A former May Queen knows that she belongs to an exclusive and select group.
I have also helped provide the dance instruction for the maypole dancers. This is now a time consuming and an enormous task. When I danced the maypole, we had one pole that we all danced around. It now takes three, and may soon take four. The practices are held when the girls get home from school right off the bus. The practice lasts about an hour and there are three each week for the month prior to the first Saturday in May. The colors of the dresses and the patterns for the dresses are chosen by a committee that may or may not consist of the dance instructors. The girls have always worn white socks and shoes for as long as I can remember. My mother said that during the depression the girls wore dresses made of paper because cloth was so expensive. Even as late as the 1940’s the dancers wore paper dresses. For two years following this period, the dresses were sewn from plastic. Subsequently, they have worn cloth dresses. With the help of the older girls who have previously danced the maypole, it does not take too long for the young and the new girls to learn the songs and the dances. “My Aunt Sally,” is typically the hardest one to learn and does have the most difficult footsteps. The women who teach must have a strong sense of community to be willing to put forth so much personal time to teach the dance. My sense of tradition and community spirit is solidified. May Day has gone on for so many years of my life, I can’t imagine spring ever arriving without it. It seems that without the Mendon May Day celebration the dismal winter would go on forever. Mendon people now consider this community celebration a declaration of spring and our understanding of life. They also appreciate the sweetness, merriment, newness, and promises for the future of the youth who participate. Perhaps that is what it was simply about all along!
Queen’s procession lineup, (walking from her home to the town square): The queen is on the right side of the consort. The flower girl is in front of the queen and the crown bearer is in front of the consort. The queen’s court, which is make up of the maids of honor are behind the queen and their escorts are behind the consort. The maypole dancers (tallest to shortest in partner couples) follow behind the queen’s court. The tall girls are on the right and the small girls are on their left. The dance instructors follow behind them. The procession enters the outdoor arena to the music of “Pomp and Circumstance” in a smooth, stately step-touch rhythm. The entire procession circles the maypoles counter clockwise. The queen and maids of honor stand in front of the line of chairs provided for them and the consort and escorts stand in back of the line of chairs. The dancers stand to their right in a line. The pianist plays a cord on the piano and the queen and maids of honor sit down.
The chorister then leads the crowd in singing, “Straying and Maying.” The chorister or leader in charge announces the crowning of the queen. The consort then gives one of the two traditional crowning speeches or may even give one he has made up himself. After the speech he places the crown on the queen’s head. The chorister then leads the audience in the song, “Come to the Woodland” which officially pronounces her queen. The chorister or leader then announces the braiding of the maypole.
The maypole dancers march in singing, “Oh May Queen” to the tune of “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.” Three chords are played. On the first chord, the tall girls step towards the maypole. On the second chord they pick up the streamers and on the third chord they step back to their original places. They walk around the maypole as they hold their individual streamers to the music “Marching Thru Georgia.” The “Minuet from Don Juan” by Mozart is danced next. So far on braiding has been done. The instructions for this dance begin with all dancers going in towards the pole starting with their right foot they take four steps and point with the right foot and again point with the right foot. They then change their weight to their right foot and back out beginning with the left foot. They then curtsey down and up with the beat of the last measure. On the chorus they begin with the right foot and run toward the maypole with eight little steps backwards quickly and point with the right foot. They then step right and point with the left foot and then step left and point with the right foot. Step right again and put the left foot behind and curtsey, down and up again with the last measure. Single braiding is next with the shorter girls beginning. The dance partners face each other and the tall girls stand still while the small girls go under for the first eight steps. The small girls stand still while the tall girls go under for eight steps. They go around the maypole twice while they do this. The next dance is to the music, “Le Secret” by Gautier. The dance itself is referred to as “Step Point.” The tall girls stay in place while the small girls take three steps into the maypole and turn to face out on the fourth step. They then step and point, and step and point. Then they take three steps out and turn on the fourth and all the girls step and point, and step and point. Each time the small girls go into the maypole they go under the streamer of the tall girl to the right and come out to the right side of that tall girl. Each time the tall girls go into the maypole they go under the streamer of the small girl to the left and come out to the right side of that small girl. The tall girls repeat what the small girls have already done. This will take the dancers around the maypole one complete time. Now the girls will face each other as partners and sing the song, “’Tis A Merry May Day.” The music next to be danced to is “Glow Worm” by Linke, but is referred to by the dancers a “Point, Beat, Beat.” There is no braiding done to this dance. All the girls go one step right and then with the right foot they point and then hit the right foot to the left heel for the beat-beat. They then reverse and do it on the left side. They step and point right and then step and point left. They turn around and repeat the entire dance in the opposite direction. To the same music they then skip around the maypole with partners going in opposite directions twice and this is referred to as double braiding. The “Four Steps into the Pole” is next. This is performed by the small girls first taking four steps toward the pole, going under the tall girl’s streamer to the right and back out in four steps. The tall girls do the same, but go to the left of the small girl. This is single braiding and they go around the maypole two complete times. “My Aunt Sally” is what the dancers traditionally call the next dance, which is really the “Highland Fling.” This is single braiding and the dancers will go completely around one time. All the dancers face away from the maypole and all dance together. The dancers put their weight on the left foot. With the right foot they point and cross the left leg and point and swing the right foot back. They then reverse the footwork. They do this three times and then fade back and go under to complete the single braid. The partners again face each other and sing, “Hail to the May Queen.” The small girls kneel down on the chord after the song and the tall girls skip around twice to the music, “Glow Worm.” The tall girls then kneel and the small girls skip around twice weaving in and out. They all stand and skip doing a double braid twice around to “Glow Worm.” When they reach their partners again they sing, “Apple Blossoms.” To the music, “Rustic Dance” by Howel they march to the beat of the music around the maypole twice doing double braiding. They sing “May Breezes.” Three chords are then played. On the first chord the dancers drop their streamers and take a step back. The second chord they bow to their dance partner. On the third chord they bow to the audience. The dancers all join hands and circle to maypole counter clockwise twice while skipping to the music, “Glow Worm.” The lead dancer breaks the circle and they all skip off in a long line still holding hands.
The dancers line up again to go into the church building for the May Day Program. There are seats reserved for the dancers and the small girls sit in the front rows and the tall girls sit in the next rows. After the program the queen and her court leave first to the music of “Pomp and Circumstance” and then the maypole dancers leave.
The words to “My Aunt Sally.” The dancers do not sing these words out loud on May Day, but have sung them as they have learned the dance. I have never seen them written down.
My Aunt Sally
My Aunt Sally’s
Just as good as anybody’s.
My Aunt Sally’s
Just as good as yours