We got acquainted with Buzzy Hood while caring for the Memorial Patio Garden at Shepherd of the Valley, Howland, several years ago. We learned quickly how enthusiastic he was about dancing.
While we didn't know Gladys, his wife, we heard many stories of their dancing days. After her death, several times he invited us to his home to show off Gladys's prize-winning quilts hanging on the walls. She wasn't just a quilter, she was a good quilter! He was proud of her talent and skill. Buzzy's talent was athletic, being a marathon runner numerous times. While he was in the Navy, he was an athletic director at the Great Lakes Naval Training Support Center in Illinois and later in Okinawa. He was also proud of the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren in the corporate world and in community service.
Buzzy once gave me Gladys's account of their dancing days, which I enjoyed reading and some of which I will excerpt here. They were both equally enthusiastic about their activity, often dancing three or four times a week. She told how in the early 1930s, a group of friends bought the Klan Hall in Champion from the Ku Klux Klan. They round and square danced there every Saturday night. All the kids went along and either slept on the benches or slid along the floor between tips - Buzzy included. So, he knew square dancing from his childhood days.
In the 1940s, county schools held round and square dances to raise money for senior class trips. Gladys says, "That's where I met my husband, at Greene School, and a month later at Johnston School. That's where he asked for a date. Then came World War II."
Gladys wrote, "In 1954 Lou and Ann Perunko vacationed at Kirkwood Lodge in Missouri where they did western style square dancing (which is more complicated and disciplined than the hoe down style done here). Lou came home all excited about this new style of dancing He bought every record available and a sound system. We rounded up four couples and danced in his basement on Adelaide Avenue. Eventually we went out to Grange Halls in the county and put on demonstrations. Through this and word of mouth we enlisted more dancers."
Square dancing's popularity grew. The Hoods' group outgrew the Perunkos' basement and then their garage. They moved to Howland Grange Hall. They organized a club called "Circle Eights." Gladys kept their club badges for the rest of her life. Surrounding areas formed clubs, another Circle Eights in Warren, Pa., Salem Square Wheels and Chardon's Squares. The Hoods' club outgrew the Howland Grange with about 80 couples and moved to Vienna school gym. Eventually this large group broke up into smaller clubs. Some of the members became callers. Dan Cross became a well-known caller in this area.
In 1976, Sally and I moved to Warren and Jim and Katylu Herriman soon invited us to join the Hoedowners Club that danced at St. James' White Hall with Dan Cross. Years later, Dick and Gloria Gibbs invited us to learn Western Style dancing at First Methodist Church in downtown Warren. That was a nice group of people but we had so many interruptions that we weren't able to finish the the mandatory one year of lessons or master the 50 basic calls necessary to become certified Western Dancers.
It was about this time, Gladys writes, that she and Buzzy were dancing at the Ravenna Arsenal on Monday nights and with Dan Cross at a Howland school on Tuesday nights and somewhere in the area every Friday and Saturday night and often on Sunday afternoons too. She says, "Buzzy and I enjoyed square dancing for more than 45 years. We danced in just about every state in the U.S. We made many friends and had a lot of interesting and sometimes funny experiences. We still think it's great!"
Buzzy was an interesting friend, and often funny. We enjoyed getting to know him as we worked together in the Memorial Patio Garden. He and Gladys provided all of us with a good example of what common interests and activities mean to a good marriage.