ROPE TWIRLERS
When did West High School first have Rope Twirlers and why?
The following is from the 1948 yearbook.
Mr. E. T. Stone, who was in charge of the rope twirlers stated, "Since West High School has started we have been known as the Cowboys, but there was nothing to identify us as such." He, with the help of Mr. Young and some of the other teachers, decided to start a group of boys and girls who were willing to learn some of the tricks of cowboys. Thus, the rope twirlers were started in May, 1947!
New costumes were shown at the Variety Show. Through the brains and management of Miss O'Harra, clothing instructor at West High, new outfits were obtained. The twirlers were arrayed in striking costumes of green and white. The girls' costumes consisted of frontier blouses and short ballerina skirts of emerald green shantung, white rangerette hats (cords tied under the chin), wide leather belts with white lacings and white rangerette boots. The boys wore green frontier shirts, burnt sherry trousers, white rangerette hats (cords tied under the chin), brown rangerette boots, and wide leather belts with white lacings.
Those who participated in the Variety Show were Donna Fledderjohann, Barbara Gordon, Nancy Miller, Marcia Patridge, Mary Ann Amos, Roland Sunker, and Jim Harter. All the students this year were new at rope twirling and Mr. Stone stated: "They are all very clever."
Those were were members one year and could do the eight required tricks received an award. When they were members for two years they were required to do at least twenty tricks and also received awards. By the time they were twirling for three years "they will be able to create some real competition for the cowboys out "West."

The last year Mr. Stone 'coached' the Rope Twirlers was in 1961-62 when there were three, down from eight the previous year. We recently found a newspaper picture of Rope Twirlers from the 1980 -1981 era. We are still trying to confirm when this group was 're-organized' and for how long it lasted. The last picture (which isn't very good) shows this group.
The pictures below have been taken from old yearbooks.
We invite all former Twirlers to contact us to relate some history about their time as a West Twirler.
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(This article was in the April, 2007 Alumni Occident publication.)

JANET HARVEY HUSSONG '58 and her twin sister, JANIS HARVEY HAMRICK '58

By Janet Harvey Hussong 58 (Per a request by Dean Potts 59 an.)

JANET HARVEY HUSSONG and her twin sister, JANIS HARVEY HAMRICK, of the West High June 1958 graduating class, have never lost their enthusiasm for rope twirling. As recently as 2004 they attended a workshop featuring the world famous Eddie Rossco and Doug Smith. Doug was last year's national winner of the "Skip" competition. He also performs in the productions locally of the "Will Roger's Follies." Per Janis, "All we need is lots of practice to learn and perform these new tricks that they showed us. Also, as I remember, we had to perform twenty-one tricks for Mr. E. T. Stone - our first director and founder of The West High Ropers.

Some may recall that Mr. E. Thoburn Stone, a West chemistry teacher, was also a professional magician. Some of you may also recall this story: "In 1942 there was nothing on the football field or anywhere else that reminded anyone of "Cowboys." With a solution in mind, Mr. Stone took a book about Will Rogers, showing pictures of his roping style and tricks, and had a student learn the open loop, or wedding ring, then stood him on a barrel, at football half-time, with a 25ft. Rope. I told the crowd it was a 50ft rope being spun and the crowd loved it."

The twins twirled with a group of six to eight girls throughout their West school years, 7th to 12th grades, with daily practice sessions after school. The rope, a #9 cotton sash, was purchased by Mr. Stone then taken to the Shop for the students to wire a small loop on one end. After that there was nothing to keep the rope under control but keeping the loop open and moving. "It still is not easy!" Janet said.

We have done some recent shows for retirement parties, mother-daughter banquets, school classes (2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades) and county fairs. "The peak of our career was in 1963 when we rode on horseback and then on a float in the rodeo in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Espanola." We hope some of the girls in these pictures will look us up so we can plan a reunion. In the pictures, Janet is usually on the left (as you look at the pictures) and Janis on the right. Janis' favorite trick is the "sunrise" and Janet's is the "merry-go-round." Our husbands say the only reason we keep roping is to buy new cowgirl clothes and there may be some truth in that, the twins admit. It has always been fun and challenging to try to keep up with the old and the new. Rossco said "Old ropers just keep on roping."

In an effort to keep this old west spirit alive, Janis' youngest granddaughter, now age 10 (Chenoa Kessler) has been performing with us for the past few years. She can twirl three little swivel ropes at one time. One in each hand and one in her teeth. She steals the show!

In September 2006, Janet and Janis performed in two shows at the Wild West Festival in Urbana, OH. As a result, they were invited to do a similar presentation in Piqua, OH. Until next time - Janis and Janet.

Friends can e-mail Janet at jjhus@woh.rr.com and Janis at jdhamrick@columbus.rr.com.


1947-1948 Rope Twirlers - the first year!

 


1948-1949


1949-1950


1950-1951


1951-1952


1952-1953



1953-1954


1954-1955


1955-1956


1956-1957


1957-1958


1958-1959


1959-1960


1960-1961

1961-1962 Rope Twirlers - the last for several years!

 

We believe this to be around 1980-1981.
The members are Vanetta Anderson, Laura Scott, Kathy Gochenour,
Captain Marianne Swank, Co-Captain Tina Valentine, Tracie James,
Corin Bentz, and Denise Merz.

Homecoming 2002
The West staff designated Homecoming 2002 as the 75th Anniversary Parade. They contacted some former Rope Twirlers to march in the Homecoming Parade in 2002. They stayed to twirl during the Homecoming Game.
Sorry, we only got the names for two of the ladies, who just happen to be sisters - who were in the 1961-1962 squad -
front center, Patty Chapman '63 and right, Jean Chapman '63.