Baby boomer echoes - The twirlers

by Teresa R. Zaverl

Ely’s been host to many fine parades and Boomer kids remember quite a few of them. <BR><BR>Who could ever forget the much-celebrated Roaring Stony Days with all the marching bands from around the region dressed in their finest uniforms complete with plumed hats. <BR><BR>Ely’s high school band and the Dillonaires drill team usually led the way - and those were the years of precision marching and formations.<BR><BR>Many Boomer kids aspired to one day don the uniform, play an instrument, beat a drum or do the fancy routines with flags and fake rifles that the drill teams entertained us with.<BR><BR>The majority of the townspeople along with visitors to the area once again lined the streets of the parade route on Sunday - the 4th of July. A downpour of rain didn’t dampen the spirit either because Elyites take their parades very seriously.<BR><BR>Any Boomer kid appreciated the display of decade cars and trucks rolling by. You could pick your favorite or picture most of those models driving up and down Sheridan St. in a certain 10 year span.<BR><BR>Credit is due to one of Ely’s newest parade participants, the Bagpipe Band, giving locals a new twist in musical talent. Just picture yourself holding the bagpipe, blowing into and squeezing the bag, plus trying to keep in step. That maneuver isn’t for the amateur!<BR><BR>Ely’s Klown Band is sure to pep you up or shake your booty while taking in all the comical and colorful characters.<BR><BR>Kudos to everyone from kids to clowns and some fine-looking dogs that participated in this year’s parade route.<BR><BR>If there was anything that could give you that old nostalgic feeling during the parade, it was the appearance of the “Twirling Sisters,” Margie and Kathy Kromer, now Rosandich and Hanson. What a treat to see them performing together where we knew them the best - on Sheridan Street, in a parade marching and displaying their talents of the now dying art of baton twirling.<BR><BR>I can’t help but envy anyone with enough determination and dexterity to perform amazing visual displays involving a hollow rod weighted at rubber ends. <BR><BR>The Kromer sisters were special to me not only for their talent as twirlers, but because they grew up in my neighborhood. I lived two doors away, and as a young Boomer spent many hours watching them practice in their back yard. Fascinating. Could I or would I ever be like them? I believe they inspired many young gals’ minds to strive for that goal, especially after viewing them leading the band in parades and school games and homecoming festivities.<BR><BR>Back to the neighborhood. Most of us are proud of any talent or success that derives from our area of town. I couldn’t help my heartstrings pull as I watched the “Twirling Sisters “ perform during the All Class and 4th of July 2004 celebrations. <BR><BR>So, the roving reporter in me got the idea of contacting these gals just to reminisce and share their secret of still keeping up on their talents. I met with them at Mom Ag Kromer’s home (still in the neighborhood) and shared a few hours of information and laughs. <BR><BR>A lot of things have changed through the years but asking the sisters what inspired their art hasn’t. Prepared to note-take long trilogies of their inspirations, I received short, to the point answers. Margie replied, “In those days, girls didn’t have athletic and sports options. I began lessons in elementary school from Carol Gustafson and proceeded on.” <BR><BR>When asked, “What does it take to master this art?” The ever quick reply was “Self discipline and lots of practice.” And practice the girls did. I witnessed all of that from my backyard watching their batons gleaming in the sun as they whirled and twirled, tossed high in the sky and caught on target. Watching the spinning of the baton as it waved in and out of one’s legs couldn’t have been more awe striking. <BR><BR>According to Margie baton is also a great form of exercise and something you can do by yourself. She informed me most baton twirlers now perform for big bands and parades and competition events. I guess, gone are the days of the local high school twirlers. Too bad.<BR><BR>As a young Boomer gal, I couldn’t help but admire the costumes these gals wore. So I asked a dumb question. “Did the school provide your outfits?” <BR><BR>“No!” chimed in mother Ag, “I made them.”<BR><BR> Sister Kathy joined in with her desire to partake in many school activities and twirling just came along with the package. She kiddingly reminded sister Margie of her preaching to practice more. But Kathy insisted she had other things to do. Those activities didn’t stop Kathy from accomplishing decades of baton teaching and coaching - right up until 1988. <BR><BR>So, Margie, Class of ’56, and Kathy, Class of ’60, it was great to be with you both and share the past. I applaud your talents and efforts through the years and the old neighborhood pride.<BR><BR>You both gave us something to aspire to even though some of us had no manual dexterity, two left feet and no hand-eye coordination. That’s what you call a “wannabe” today. The gals that could follow your teachings had the best of instruction. Thanks for being part of Ely history and an important part of being a Boomer!