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Visit the Menasha Historical Society

Support the Menasha Historical Society! The Resource Center (Museum) is now open every Monday from 10am - 1pm. The Resource Center is located at the Memorial Building at 640 Keyes Street, Menasha. If you'd like more information on Menasha, please email the Menasha Historical Society at or call (920) 840-4373 during their open hours.

In the meantime, here’s an excerpt concerning the Memorial Building and the nearby Smith Park from Memories of Doty Island : A Link Between Two Cities.

In the 1930's an area teenager could go to three dances a week-Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday-from 7:00 to 11:00 P.M. at the Memorial Building. Boys and girls came from Appleton, Oshkosh, Omro, Winneconne (sometimes even from Green Bay) besides Menasha and Neenah. Occasionally, on a Friday night, there would be a school dance after a basketball or football game, but otherwise it was, "See you at the Mem!"

Everyone came early, paid the required nickel, went upstairs and had his or her hand stamped. By 7:30 the popular girls (the best dancers) already had every dance for the rest of the evening promised to someone. How they kept track of when each partner was to appear for his dance, no one knows, but it seemed to work out. Imagine remembering who you had the 16th dance with!! Music was by records (with someone unknown running the machine) piped from downstairs. The Mem had a great dance floor, and the balcony doors were unlocked so anyone could go out there for a romantic moment or two. Or they could go down the steps and wander across a bridge onto the dark and secluded island. There was also a soda fountain on the first floor so thirst could be quenched, but no drinks were allowed upstairs.

About 10:30 some of the regular partners began to leave. It took a little while to get home-not via the shortest route, of course. The parents knew the dance was over at 11:00, so they allowed a reasonable time to get home after that. However, if a little ride or walk was in the minds of the young people, there would be extra time.

During the summer there was a park dance in the park pavilion every Monday. The dance floor was anything but smooth, but there was real live music! And very good music, too- not just some amateur, pick-up band. Tom Temple and Tony Winters were the next best thing to Tommy Dorsey or Glenn Miller.

Even if you weren't asked to dance, you could sit on a bench outside the pavilion and listen and talk with jealousy about the lucky ones who were "tripping the light fantastic." Maybe a non-dancing male would ask you to go for a walk into the darkness! Whatever you did that night was fun and gave the participants something to discuss until the next Monday.

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