I Danced With John Travolta Tonight

Well, maybe it wasn't exactly John Travolta.
But he sure looked like the handsome guy who danced into my heart in the movie "Saturday Night Fever."

Tonight, my own Disco King PKR and I were part of a fund-raiser for the Kellogg School District Choir Department. It was called "Dancin' With The Stars, Valley Style". It was organized by Joy Persoon, the district choir director.

PKR and I danced to the BeeGees song "More Than A Woman" from Saturday Night Fever.

Other contestants were:

Scott and Amy Hall dancing the Texas Two Step.

Chuck and Judy Lewis dancing The Polka.

Ed and Mary Ruth Butler dancing Freestyle Swing. They were the winners!!

Cherri Bartle and her granson Colton Peeler did Swing Dancing.

Scott Peterson and his daughter Chloe did the waltz.

Ken Bartle and his daughter Bradi Zeigler also danced a waltz. They toook second place.

The judges gave us a "9", and we ended getting third place out of the seven couples.

It was a lot of fun, and a great way to earn money for a wonderful program.

A big part of the evening was honoring Betty Damiano, who has taught dancing in the Silver Valley since 1947. I took dance from her when I was five years old, in 1968-69, tap dancing and ballet.

Here is what the program had to say about this wonderful lady:

Betty Menzel Damiano arrived in the Silver Valley on August 3, 1946, a 22 year old girl who came to learn how to teach dance. From that time until today she has touched thousands of lives, young and old, in a way no one could imagine.

She was born in Bozeman, Montana into a family of music lovers. There were six boys and one girl, and Betty managed to keep up with her brothers. The entire family played instruments that would one day benefit their lives in one way or another. At the age of 18 Betty was living in Seattle going to college and working as an airplane mechanic at Boeing. She was so small that she could crawl inside the winds and tighten or replace bolts. She was an official member of the international Machinists Union, earning 96 cents an hour. Most of the money Betty earned paid for her dance lessons. She studied with some of the best; Ivan Novoktf, Mary Ann Wells and George Barclay. She eventually worked the dance circuits in Hollywood earning money to continue her lessons.

Coming to the Silver Valley to assist as a dancing teacher, Betty met Ernie Damiano and on April 6, 1947 they were married at the Federated Church in Kellogg. They raised four daughters, Rita, Anita Jo, Vicki and Joni. They all were raised to love music and dance, two of which own and run dance studios to this day. Anita Jo has the Anita Damiano Kennedy School of Dance in Nampa, Idaho, and Joni Damiano Bartel has the Joni Damiano Bartel Dance and Performing Arts Studio in Osburn.

(Just a personal sidenote, my daughter The Princess takes dance and voice lessons from Miss Joni, and is preparing for her senior recital. Down in Nampa, our niece Gabriela takes dance lessons at Miss Anita's dance studio. Gabriela's mom is a Damiano, so Anita Jo and Gabriela are cousins.)

For over 20 years, the Damiano School of Dance gave all of their proceeds to community needs including the Lions, Kiwanis, and Parent-Teacher Organizations. They bought a resuscitator for the fire department, wheelchairs for those in need, fencing for the cemetery, microfilm for the library and the Opportunity Bus. For the schools they provided many lights, matching funds for stage curtains, and the tripod for the grand piano. Ernie insisted that they donate all of those earnings; that way they could walk away feeling good.

Of all the things Betty and Ernie have donated to this valley, none is greater than teaching the love of the arts. Dance and music was and still is, near and dear to Betty's heart. Her eyes still gleam and twinkle as she talks about the need for music in one's life. At the age of 84, Betty still goes over to Joni's studio to play the piano and encourage old and young alike taking lessons. Betty loves this area and says, "The gems in the valley are the people, not the gems in the ground." Her presence will always be felt in the Silver Valley, because what she has taught stays in the heart and doesn't ever leave. A lady of grace and charm, there will never be another Betty Damiano. We say thank you.


Go Figure said...

A 9 and third place? You need a recount. I demand a recount. It looked like a great time...

Cedar Street Kid said...

Nice post-good to see real dancing.
Congrats on your "9". Damianos were indeeed a class act. and added so much to all of our lives.

GAV said...

Looks like a wonderful night.... Thanks again for sharing.

Katrina said...

How fun! And you look beautiful! (I'm glad to see your partner had the required chest hair to pull off that open-butterfly-collar look!) What a great event!

Silver Valley Girl said...

GF--Well, we got 9's from the judges, but there were also 30 audience members putting their votes in, too. We felt pretty lucky to get third.

CSK--Yes, the Damianos were and still are a wonderful family. I'm glad we are still associated with them.

GAV--Yes, it was a wonderful night.

Katrina--Thanks!! Yes, he does have the chest hair, much to his three daughter's chagrine!!

MarmiteToasty said...

oh it sounds like such a great time was had.....


Inland Empire Girl said...

What a great post. You will have to have a talent night for us to perform all the great things your family has been participating in recently. Very interesting information about Betty. Another great all roads lead to the Silver Valley story

stacey said...

What a lovely article about a wonderful person, Betty. She's a first cousin of my Grandma Marie Stucky who also came from the Papke family in Bozeman. The memories of them playing piano and dancing anywhere are precious to me. When I was a young girl, I thought Joni was the coolest person on earth. Thank you for sharing!

Silver Valley Girl said...


Thank you for sharing your comments. Yes, Miss Betty was and still is a remarkable lady. I took dance lessons from her when I was five, and she still remembered me when my oldest daughter started taking lessons from Miss Joni. They are wonderful people.