At the corner of Memory Lane and Route 66, you would have found the Oak Bluffs Public Library last Friday night. Wearing bobby socks and saddle shoes, poodle skirts and ponytails, more than 125 people strolled back to the ’50s for the library’s Sock Hop. Guys with candy cigarettes rolled up in white T-shirt sleeves walked hand in hand with gals wearing pastel chiffon scarves.
Library staff members Lagan Trieschmann and Carolina Cooney greeted guests at the door. Ms. Cooney’s bad-girl vamp costume complemented Mr. Trieschmann’s leather jacket, slicked-back hair, and don’t-mess-with-me attitude. In full character and full of fun, the two set the stage for the evening.
First stop: Dewey’s Diner, a.k.a. the Circulation Desk. The simple but perfect menu included cherry and vanilla Cokes, root beer floats, and banana splits. Soda jerks Jonathan Burke and Nate Luce looked very much the part in crisp white shirts, black bow ties, and paper hats. The two kept up a frantic pace with help from poodle-skirted Amber Hunt and greaser bad boy Eric Alexander.
Creating a different time and place isn’t easy. For weeks the library staff worked on props to recreate the 1950s. Library assistants Andrea Figaratto and Anna Gandara’s craftsmanship and imagination brought Dewey’s Diner to life. The switch from circulation desk to diner had to take place in under 30 minutes, and Dewey’s Diner was open for business right on time.
The meeting room became Sock Hop central. In preparation for the event, library director Sondra Murphy put out a call for old, forgotten records, and people donated them by the boxful. Library step stools were used as small tables. When covered with ’50s pink fabric and a LP record for a tabletop, the ordinary item became extraordinary. Other LPs were recycled into snack bowls and filled with popcorn, while still more were used to decorate the walls and doorways.
Local oldies and Motown band Serendipity played almost nonstop for the two-hour party. The set included an a cappella version of “So in Love,” and the memorable final song “Goodnight Sweetheart.” The dance floor stayed crowded with couples who remembered how to Twist, Stomp, and do the Mashed Potato.
The festive event was made possible by the fundraising efforts of the Library Friends of Oak Bluffs (LFOB). When asked about funding an event such as the Sock Hop, LFOB treasurer Ron Zentner said, “Our donors tell us over and over again how much they love the library, the staff, and the programs. We have a library staffed with creative people who want to provide the community with useful, informative, and fun events. We value that, and understand that some events cost more than others.” The annual direct-mail appeal is the main source of LFOB funding. The July book sale (July 23–25); books purchased from the library lobby; and money from an online bookseller provide additional revenue.
The Sock Hop was the second concert in the OB Live — Music Series sponsored by the LFOB. Two more concerts are scheduled: the Martha’s Vineyard Spirituals Choir on Thursday, July 30, and the D Major Jazz Band on Friday Sept. 11, with other concerts in the works.
By Anna Marie D’Addarie
Anna Marie D’Addarie is program coordinator at the Oak Bluffs library.