Saturday night fun in Saginaw

Published 5:03 pm Friday, July 8, 2011

Emily Marsh, Emilee Roberson and Haley Carlisle attend a recent Saturday night dance at the Saginaw Community Center. (Special/Sandra Thames)

By SANDRA THAMES / Community Columnist

On a pretty, but rocky, little hill, sits the Saginaw Community Center, built more than 80 years ago. Originally built as a county elementary school for grades one through six, it was composed of four classrooms, a stage, or auditorium, a storage or cloakroom and teachers room.

Mrs. Nannie V. Durden was the longest serving principal. There were outdoor toilet facilities for the boys and the girls. At that time there was no ball field behind the building, but rather a playground consisting of bare spots of dirt to play marbles and kickball.

Locals Lynn Lee, Bob Lee, Charles Seales, Jeannie Hardwick Bubbett, Jane Hardwick Riley and the late Red Walker are just a few former students of the Camp Branch Elementary School. From the day the doors opened until 1968, the building was a grammar school.

Upon its closing, the decision was made to give the building to the community. Grants were applied for and received in order to put central heating and air, a new roof and have siding installed. Local fundraisers were held, Country Boy Eddie put on a show and a promo by Little Jimmy Dickins all helped bring this building back to life from the desecrated, half-destroyed landmark. Under the leadership of Charles Seales, Dot Crim, Ruth Finley and dozens of others, the dream became a reality. The Saginaw Community Center can be rented or leased through its managing board for reunions, parties and other private functions. No shenanigans.

On a recent Saturday night, I was delighted to see young girls learning from some senior citizens the moves of round dancing, two stepping, waltzing and boot scooting. A family oriented, friendly atmosphere prevails — sort of like stepping back into the ‘50s. A small concession stand is on site, and tickets are sold at the door. At 7 p.m., the band Country Boys begins their gig. D. Paulk, who sings and plays rhythm guitar, is boss of the band.

He has enjoyed this type of sideline for 15 or 20 years with the Country Boys. On steel guitar is Jack Williams of Roebuck, drummer Al Picarelli hails from Pelham and on bass is David Finley of Brierfield. Attendance usually runs 60 to 85 people, and $4 admission for three hours of entertainment is a bargain nowadays. There are no rowdy people, no drinking, no cussing and no problems according to those in charge.

Regulars Tom and Edna Walton encourage the newcomers and the children to come on out onto the floor. I asked if lessons were offered and was told just to “do your thing — nobody’s watching.”

Some couples had on matching outfits, but most everyone had on jeans and shirts with several pairs of well-worn cowboy boots showing. One of the regulars who just recently turned 99 was the first on the floor when the music started.

Whether you’ve ever tried this or it’s been years ago, this is an inexpensive step down memory lane with some mighty nice folks. I’m going again and am going to sing along with “Hey Good-Looking,” my brother’s favorite song in the world. Be on the listen for future events.

Community columnist Sandra Thames can be reached by email at