Wutzit Club

September 15, 1967

 

September 15, 1967Statistically, I had a miserable time at the Wutzit – or any other dance venue – far more often than I had a great time. A line from Buffalo Springfield’s song “Everybody’s Been Burned” always made me think of the Wutzit.

“Anybody in this place – can tell you to your face – why you shouldn’t try to love someone”

Not exactly “I Could Have Danced All Night”. This night in 1967 was an exception. I’d met Lewis a couple months earlier but hadn’t seen or spoken to him since. This time we connected instantly and dated for the next six weeks, until he broke up with me. As usual, we promised to stay friends but we didn’t follow through.

Lewis at Rio Del Mar beach
Lewis at Rio Del Mar beach

Occasionally, over the next four decades, I wondered what happened to Lewis – where he went, what he did. I didn’t hold out much hope for internet searches since his last name – Bell – is popular. To my surprise, I got lucky in 2014 and happened upon something he posted to encourage someone dealing with cancer. Despite the odds – he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in 1996 – he survives, in large part due (IMHO) to his relentlessly positive outlook on life.

Lewis 1967Even though we haven’t set eyes on each other for almost half a century, we became FB friends and we know each other better today than we did in the sixties. He’s still a brilliant pianist and it turns out he’s a composer too. He also has an eye for art and gift for graphics that I lack and has graciously shared some of his free time in retirement to help me with these diary-blogs (when he’s not volunteering at his local SPCA, something else I admire about him).

Only photo of Lewis and me together in 1967.
Only photo of Lewis and me together in 1967.

I’m grateful to Facebook for making some of these re-connections possible – and grateful to Lewis for being such a great friend.

July 21, 1967

 

July 21, 1967

Wutzit Club

LEWIS IN 1967
LEWIS IN 1967
ME IN 1967
ME IN 1967

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s amazing to me after all these years is that I’m still in touch with three out of the four people mentioned in this diary entry (all Facebook friends now and tagged as such). We all live in different cities and we’ve lived vastly different lives but thanks to the internet (and, I guess, FB) it’s relatively easy to stay in touch. It’s been gratifying to get back in touch with – and in many cases, closer to – a great many people from Wilcox and Santa Clara that otherwise I would have lost touch with forever.

MARY CANOPA EVANS
MARY CANOPA EVANS
SANDRA WALKER HEGWOOD
SANDRA WALKER HEGWOOD

Not a lot of my relationships that began at the Wutzit worked out, at least not for very long. Lewis and I went steady for six weeks in the fall of ’67 before he broke up with me and we went our separate ways.

THE ONLY PICTURE OF LEWIS AND ME TOGETHER IN 1967
THE ONLY PICTURE OF LEWIS AND ME TOGETHER IN 1967

Years passed without further communication until the miracle of the internet led to “Hello! I don’t know if you remember me, but…” and the start of a beautiful friendship.

Beautiful Friendship

I also need to give kudos and thanks to him for the invaluable help he’s given me with my domain site and the graphics on a lot of these diary blogs.

I've heard it said...

The above Stephen Schwartz lyric from the musical Wicked applies to Mary, Sandy, Lewis and so many more of you I haven’t mentioned by name or written about – yet.  I’m especially grateful to those of you who’ve left comments to let me know this whole diary-blog endeavor means something to you. There’s something special about hearing from people I knew so many years ago.

MARY, SANDY AND ME AT 25th WILCOX HIGH SCHOOL REUNION
MARY, SANDY AND ME AT 25th WILCOX HIGH SCHOOL REUNION

 

May 13, 1966

 

5-13-1966

 

Sandy_edited-1Kathy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Catholic priest created the Wutzit Club to keep teen-agers off the streets. In 1966, it was on Newhall Street. It was open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights and featured a ballroom, stage, game room, television lounge and snack bar.  Dances were strictly chaperoned and a dress code was enforced. No alcohol – and nobody 21 or older – was allowed. Live mostly local bands performed; Buckingham and Nicks played there in ’68, before Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac. Dues (admission) was fifty cents – a small price to pay for the chance to meet the love of your life.

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wutzit club 1_edited-1

Wutzit Card Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For people like me and my friends, who weren’t part of the Wilcox High “In Crowd,” the Wutzit offered an opportunity to meet non-Wilcox guys who didn’t know we were dorks.  Males massed on the right side of the room. Girls milled on the left and waited for some brave boy to cross the great divide and ask us to dance. Our popularity – which in those days meant success – depended on how many times we danced.  Higher mathematics were not required in my case since it is hard to miscalculate one (1).

Truth at seventeen

At the Wutzit, beauty got you asked to dance. (I suspect being under 5’9” helped but I can’t prove it.)  While it’s true other values – intelligence and persistence – are rewarded in the real world, it’s equally true that real life tends to be easier for those born beautiful.

Today, girls don’t need to wait by the wall. No social stigma attaches if they dance alone or with their friends. I applaud their freedom but can’t help wondering if underlying values changed too.  I hope I’m wrong but I suspect more than a few millennials dancing alone still relate to the words Janis Ian wrote in 1975.%22The valentines....%22


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