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Country Music, Country Dancing, and Growing  Up in a Country Town

Corky Cummings


There’s an old joke about country music that goes like this:

Question:  What do you get when you play country music backwards?

Answer:  The singer gets his woman back, his momma’s still alive, and his truck’s fixed.

I grew up listening to country singers like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, George Jones, and Waylon Jennings. This really dates me, but I also loved hearing Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours. Who from the South didn’t want to get on a dance floor when ET sang “Waltz Across Texas”? There were some friends of mine who could actually dance, but I never was able to get a good rhythm going. I always envied those people because it seemed so natural to them. I could have spent every day during my 20’s in an Arthur Murray studio and still danced like Otis Campbell (Anybody remember The Andy Griffith Show?).

The main entertainment growing up in Somerville for my friends and me was going to a dance hall on
Saturday night at some location like Swiss Alps, Deanville, or La Bahia. There was a group called the
Barons, and if they were playing anywhere in driving distance of Somerville, we were there. I always seemed to be in hot pursuit of some girl from Brenham or Burton (e.g. the Thaler sisters), and because I was not a good dancer, I got my buddy Miller Bassler to do the dancing with my affection of the week. I then would attempt to move in verbally between songs or during the band breaks. For some reason, however, the object of my pursuit always seemed more interested in my buddy Miller than me. I guess having a good personality was overrated. 

Anyway, wherever we were, the Saturday evening would end, and we would head back to Somerville with our designated driver, Bubba Neinast, at the wheel. Somewhere along the way home, our friend Jimmy Ware would usually light the wrong end of a Salem cigarette and force us to open the windows of the car because of the smell. This wasn’t too bad during the summer months, but it got a bit cold in the winter. When that happened, Bubba would normally pull off the road so that Miller could physically express his anger to Ware outside of the car. After the quick roadside encounter, we were “On the Road Again.” 

I’m not sure how I transitioned from country music to dancing to life in a small town, but I guess the underlying point is that all of those things seem connected to me, and they produced some of the most fun times of my life.