• You Are Invited!

  • Dance Schedule

    May 11
    Dark. No dance.

    May 25
    Terry Halley, caller
    Ken Prattt, cuer

    The Checkerboard Squares dance at the Rockwood Grange, located at 183rd and Southeast Stark Street between the Taco Time restaurant and the Motel 6 in Gresham, Ore. Admission: $5 for non-members.

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Club History

In 1960, 16 couples were dancing to the calling of Ralph Balzer. Warren and Doris Kelly became the Checkerboard’s first president and headed a board of directors. A spirited contest resulted in the club’s name. The Checkerboard Squares adopted bylaws, a club outfit and began dancing as a club at the O.F.F. Hall on 80th and Glisan.

Locations

In 1962, the club moved to Kendall Hall with Don Siemson as caller. He remained the club caller until 1973. The Checkerboards moved to the Rockwood Grange in 1974 when the Barn Owls with caller Bud Deputy moved to a larger building in North Portland. The Checkerboards danced the first and fourth Saturday nights each month and shared the Grange Hall with the Rose City Squares and their caller, Bob Chiodo.

When the Rose City Squares needed a larger hall because of their club’s size, they moved out, allowing the Checkerboards to change their dance nights to the second and fourth Saturdays.

In 1991, the club moved to the Boring Grange because the Rockwood Grange custodian was unable to properly maintain the dance floor. It had become so slippery that three or four dancers were falling each dance night. The club returned to the Rockwood Grange in 1992 and have danced there ever since.

Jamborees

In the 1980s, the Checkerboards were known throughout the state for their new dancer jamboree that they held in November on the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving. For six consecutive years, close to 45 squares turned out for the dance. On several occasions, the club rented the David Douglas High School Gymnasium for the jamboree. A familiar sight was the arrival of the Petticoat Junction bus from Grants Pass, loaded with square dance dance apparel for the many new dancers.

Activities

In1994, club members worked on various committees for the 43rd National Square Dance Convention held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. The club has also participated in the Starlight Parade held each June in Portland. One year, the club won a first-place trophy from the Rose Festival committee.

The newsletter, The Checkerboard Chatter, got its name in 1968 in a contest that Alice Preble won.

Two trailers of square dancers head toward downtown Portland and the Starlight Parade.

The club has experienced beach trips, campouts, picnics, early-morning breakfasts, reversal dances, Halloween costume dances, the “prom” dance, silent auctions, overnight visitations to other clubs, mystery trips–including the one where Bette Cramer, the president’s wife, was handcuffed by a state policeman in uniform (former state president Rex Anderson) and led off the bus at Bonneville dam–and Christmas parties. In earlier years, Christmas parties were with Grandpa Santa Mackin, and in later years, Mark and Bev Engerman hosted.

The club and gained and lost many members through the years, each a cherished friendship. The club’s last charter member, Helen Holen, died in 2005.

The club has many creative members, and their innovative ideas are reflected in the decorations and food for special or theme dances.

The Checkerboard Squares will turn 50 in November 2010.

by Wilma Cioeta & Ken Gaffke, Jan. 12, 2006

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