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A Brief History by Don and Jeanne Wilson
March 10, 2005

The Rafter Rockers Club was organized in 1955 by Jack and Neva Johannes, with Neva as the first club caller. Available information indicates that membership was about 17 couples, and (through sponsoring beginner classes) soon grew to about 30 couples.

The Club held it’s first hoedown in the first year, and has sponsored at least one in every subsequent year. No record could be found of a theme for the first hoedown, but themes in other years have included, “Lil Bit of Hawaii”, “Honolulu”, “All Singing Calls”, “South Of The Border”, and in 1979 and subsequent years “Circus Circus”. Our “Circus Circus” hoedown has for many years been famous both for the extensive decorations (most made by club members) and for the exceptional quality and quantity of food provided.

Neva Johannes retired as caller in 1967, and was replaced by Herb Jackson, who, in turn, was replaced by Bob Tripp in 1974. Bob, who had previously called for the Krazy Dazys, is credited for pioneering the all-singing-call hoedowns. When Bob retired in 1980, he was replaced by Ken Kenmille, who called for the Club for the next 20 years. When Ken retired in 2000, he was replaced by our current caller, Gary Carnes. The Club has been truly fortunate to have had this outstanding array of talented callers through the years.

The Club Banner, in its present design, first appeared in 1974, and was extensively refurbished in 1986. In 1978 the “Barn Outfits” were designed and sewn by the ladies of the club, and adopted as the club dress. Later (in the 90’s) the patchwork skirts were adopted as an alternate club outfit.

The Club continued to grow, reaching nearly 100 couples and maintaining that level through much of the 80’s and 90’s. Like many square dance clubs of this era, the Rafter Rockers has a rich history of social activities that have continued to the present time. These activities have included campouts, picnics, mystery trips, theater parties, progressive dinners, house tours, sailing on the bay, hiking, whale watching, ice cream socials, and more. The Club has also been very active in supporting square dancing. In addition to attendance and participation at local hoedowns, these activities have included membership for many years in SCVSDA, participation in festivals and special events such as the Jubilee, Winterfest, Silver State, Napa, and the Nationals at Anaheim and Portland, and demonstrating square dancing at the Fair and other locations.

The Club has also been involved in many charitable activities over the years. These have included, a Rafter Rocker booth at the De Anza Flea Market to raise money for the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Marathon, volunteer nights at Second Harvest Food Bank, and annual visits to (and performance at) local convalescent homes.

Ordinarily, a history should mention individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the success of the club; however, in this case, the list is too long to be practical, and the risk of leaving very deserving people out too high. Suffice it to say that, over the years this club has always been composed of very warm, fun loving people who had the willingness and talent to keep this club great.

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Last updated October 13, 2005
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