did West High School first have Rope Twirlers and why?
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
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.
article was in the April, 2007 Alumni Occident publication.)
HARVEY HUSSONG '58 and her twin sister, JANIS HARVEY HAMRICK
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
and Janis at email@example.com.