WAY BEYOND ME
She was way beyond me, I thought as I looked across the room at the cutest little girl sitting on one side of the Hanover (NH) dancing school. I was with a group of Cardigan Mountain School students who’d signed up for the dance-lessons. I was fourteen years old, short for my age, skinny, and wore glasses. As my twin sister Mercy says, ‘One of the first nerds.’
Cardigan was founded by a group of Dartmouth College graduates who were connected with prep schools in the New Hampshire area thinking there was a need for a pre-prep school for boys to feed into these prep schools. Since Canaan was close to Hanover (where Dartmouth was located) Cardigan took advantage of activities offered in a college town, including skiing, their library, and dancing lessons—yes, dancing lessons.
I had never danced before and was very shy, especially around girls. My Cardigan friend, Fred Lippert, grew up in New Canaan, Connecticut and was more gregarious than I was. I visited Fred a couple of times in New Canaan where he introduced me to his girl friends. They taught me how to play kissing games, i.e.‘spin the bottle.’ Fred was a musician who played the trumpet and loved dancing. Fred assured me, ‘You’ll be ok, Hank. It’s fun. Just relax.’
We lined up with the boys on one side of a small gym and the girls on the other side. The dance instructor was a woman who seemed to know the girls, who were well dressed and attractive—undoubtedly the cream of the young Hanover girls at that time. Our instructor asked each of the Cardigan boys to introduce themselves to the girls and the lessons started.
We took dance lessons for about six weeks and I gradually got over my shyness and began enjoying this. I still remember some of the girl’s names including two sisters who were daughters of Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey.
One of my favorite girls in the class was especially cute. She was about my height, had a nice little figure, particularly in her cashmere sweaters and she seemed to enjoy dancing with me. She also had lots of personality and dancing with her was especially easy as she knew what steps to take and guided me. She told me her father was a doctor in town and she loved to ski.
Cardigan boys skied weekends at the Hanover Golf course and she and I agreed to meet there one Saturday. Fred and I were driven to Hanover, put on our skies and headed to the rope tow. As I looked up the hill I saw a girl who looked like my dancing partner skiing down. She was wearing a neat ski outfit and skied the medium hill with ease and beautiful parallel turns. Wow, she really was a great skier. Although I certainly wasn’t as skilled as she was, Fred and I skied together with her and her friends all afternoon. We set up bamboo slalom poles and skied the course. She was a pro, fun to be with, but probably way beyond me!
Unfortunately dancing school had ended so we returned to Cardigan and I never kept in touch with her.
Forty years later, I served on the Board of Trustees of the girl’s prep school, Dana Hall in Wellesley, Massachusetts. It was a great experience for me to serve eight years on this board during which our daughters Margaret and Tina were students. The board consisted mostly of outstanding professional women and some men, most of whom were Dana Hall parents.
At my last meeting serving on the board, another attractive and bright woman joined the board and happened to sit next to me at the meeting. I introduced myself and when she said she was originally from Hanover, New Hampshire, I told her the story of one of my ‘first girl friends’ at dancing school in Hanover.
She didn't say anything at first but later she turned and whispered to me, “Hank, I think I was that girl!”
 I have refrained from using her name to save embarrassment.
 I returned home to Pickens, South Carolina and told my story to my next-door neighbor, and friend, Dave Griggs. Dave grew up in Hanover, NH where his father was a biology professor. Dave said, ‘Oh my God, Hank, I knew those girls, and dated your friend’s sister while I was in high school. I believe your friend was a high school slalom champion for the state of New Hampshire.’