Marcus Larson/News-Register##Stephen and Gladys (Pyne) Cone slow dance during the weekly get-together at the Grange. They met there May 2, 2014, and married May 2, 2015 -- one of many couples who found romance at the Grange.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Stephen and Gladys (Pyne) Cone slow dance during the weekly get-together at the Grange. They met there May 2, 2014, and married May 2, 2015 -- one of many couples who found romance at the Grange.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Cristy Carlson and Joe Meissner make their way around the dance floor at the McMinnville Grange. Dancers say they like the venue because of the beautiful floor and the friendly, family atmosphere.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Cristy Carlson and Joe Meissner make their way around the dance floor at the McMinnville Grange. Dancers say they like the venue because of the beautiful floor and the friendly, family atmosphere.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Ralph Bowdle and Jackie Dornon, center, and other dance to country music during a Friday night get together at the Grange.
Some just enjoy dancing; others find romance at the weekly events.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Ralph Bowdle and Jackie Dornon, center, and other dance to country music during a Friday night get together at the Grange. Some just enjoy dancing; others find romance at the weekly events.
By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Dancing and romancing

John Jones asked Marjorie Prettyman to take a spin at one of the Friday night dances at the McMinnville Grange Hall. They soon became regular dance partners. And it wasn’t long before they became partners in life as well. 

Cindy Buxton went to the Grange looking for some social contact. She was new to McMinnville and loved to dance.

She didn’t plan on meeting Doug, whom she married last year. That was a bonus.

Gladys Pyne didn’t even know how to dance when she first visited the Grange. When Stephen Cone approached, she offered conversation rather than a two-step or a waltz.

But now they dance together all the time. And for the past nine months, they’ve been husband and wife.

For these couples and many others, dancing has led to romancing. 

Maybe it’s the genial, family atmosphere. Maybe it’s that everyone dances with everyone else. Maybe it’s the music by Dennis Brutke and other country musicians.

Whatever, it happens every Friday night in the Grange, located at 1700 Old Sheridan Road. Live music starts at 7:30 p.m., with a potluck following at 9.

Dancing resumes afterward, continuing until 10:30. Admission is $5 per person.

Everyone is welcome, dancers said. But once in a while, they joke, people get scared off.

“I told one man about all the couples who’d gotten together at the dances,” said Jan Nugent, who met her partner, Dennis Brutke, at the Grange. “He said he’d better leave.”

He was kidding, though. He stayed and had a great time.

Here are the stories of some of the others who didn’t run from the prospect of a little romance.

Mary Foix regularly danced at the Grange with her husband, Mel Trammel. In fact, they organized the Friday night dances for 10 years.

After Trammel died, she began spending time with one of their Grange friends, Harold Foix. They invited other dancing friends to their wedding on Sept. 1, 2005.

“Harold started helping me and we ended up married,” Mary said. “We’re still together and we still dance.”

They enjoy the Grange because it has a beautiful dance floor, she said, with a stage for the band and benches at the side for resting between dances.

In addition, like many of the other couples, they appreciate the family atmosphere.

There’s no smoking or drinking during the dances, said Mary, 88, who hasn’t missed a Grange meeting in more than 20 years. “I think of the Grange as my second home,” she said.

She especially likes spending Friday nights there with Harold.

“I love to dance with any smooth dancer,” she said. But she said, “Harold won’t dance with anyone else but me.”

Jan Nugent wasn’t much of a country music fan the first Friday she attended a dance at the McMinnville Grange.

She is now, though. She enjoys not only the music, but the musician behind it.

Jan and Dennis got together about five years ago. He had lost his previous girlfriend and she had lost her husband.

“Dennis stood out to me not just because he was in the band, but also because he was in the church directory,” she recalled, remembering how she noticed he also attended the Hopewell Church. “He was a nice Christian man.”

His twinkly blue eyes didn’t go unnoticed, either. And she liked his friendly smile and willingness to “talk to everybody as if he knows them.” 

Jan doesn’t get to dance with him much, as he’s usually playing guitar and singing. While he’s busy, “I dance with anyone who’ll let me,” she said.

Once in a while, she said, guest musicians take the Grange stage. “Dennis will come down and we dance a song or two,” she said. 

She accompanies him to his jam sessions and sometimes to other gigs, too. And they go to the Elks Lodge for dinner and dancing on Saturday nights. 

Back at the Grange, she sometimes requests one of her favorite songs — one he was playing the first time they met, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” “That’s a very special song for me,” she said.

Gladys Pyne had never been to a dance in her life. But after she was widowed, she agreed to spend the evening at the Grange with a friend.

That was Friday, May 2, 2014.

Exactly one year later, on May 2, 2015, she married the man she met at her first dance, Stephen Cone.

They had a big wedding in the Evergreen Chapel.Family members and friends kidded them about the duration of their first married kiss.

They rode a limo to — where else? — the Grange for their reception, then went on a honeymoon cruise to Alaska.

Stephen has been a member of the McMinnville Grange since 1953.

In fact, he’s the longest continuously active member. And he helped construct the current building, pouring cement for the foundation, laying flooring and nailing on roofing.

But the widowed farmer didn’t expect to find a new love there. He said he just liked dancing and socializing with the friendly folks.

When he saw Gladys, though, he knew it was a life-changing event. “She looked at me and I looked at her and that was that,” he said.

They talked and talked that first night.

The next week, when her ride didn’t show up to take her to the Grange, she was near panic. “I wanted to see Stephen again!” she said.

He wanted to see her, too. Both agree, “The Lord put us together.”

They are very compatible, she said. They like to do things together, such as traveling and canning, or visiting their children, grandchildren, greats and great-greats.

“We’ve been gallivanting all over the country,” Gladys said.

They also have their own interests. She volunteers at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museums on Wednesdays. He is a frequent volunteer at the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center, and washes dishes at the McMinnville Senior Center on Thursdays.

Even their dogs are compatible. When they wed, Gladys and her chihuahua, Bambi, moved in with Stephen and his big red dog, Rusty. The canines get along fine.

Mostly at least.

Rusty still whines a bit when he sees his dad hug his new mom. He must not know about the dancing.

As John Jones described it, he “had been running loose four years” before a Grange dance changed his life.

Widowed after 54 years of marriage, he decided to find a place to go dancing.

He loves to dance, and he’s not shy about his dancing skills. He learned from his parents, and he’s been two-stepping, waltzing, doing the polka, the sweetheart stroll and other dances all his life.

When a friend told him about the McMinnville Grange, off he went.

“I walked in and started dancing with the first woman in line,” he said. “I didn’t know a soul. I just went down the line dancing.”

One Friday night, he asked Marjorie Prettyman to dance. “Mind if I monopolize you?” he inquired. And she readily agreed. 

When John tells the story, he drops in a joke at this point. “If I’d used my head, I would’ve kept on goin’ down the line,” he said. “So many women, so little time.”

But Marjorie turned his head. They danced, they dated, and soon John found himself saying, “Why don’t we run off to get married?” 

This time, she didn’t agree. She had to set an example for her five daughters, she said, so she couldn’t just elope.

After he won the daughters’ approval, John and Marjorie married the proper way. They rented the Grange hall, hired a band and called Judge Ronald Stone. On Jan. 6, 2007, they dressed in their best cowboy attire — big hats, boots, jeans — and exchanged “I do’s” in front of 200 family members, friends and Grange buddies.

“We’re still on our honeymoon,” said John, who’s 84, five years older than his bride.

They like traveling, talking with each other and, of course, dancing. They have a standing Friday night date at the Grange.

John likes to make sure younger people know how to dance correctly, too. He’s taught his granddaughter and some of her friends, among others.

He dances with all the women, he said. But he saves every second dance for his wife.

“I’ve always loved to dance,” Cindy Buxton said.

She noticed an ad for the Grange in the News-Register not long after moving to McMinnville 2 1/2 years ago. Her nephew confirmed it was a good place for a single woman to go alone. 

He was right. “The ladies welcomed me, and everybody danced with everybody,” she said, recalling that first visit.

Then Doug Buxton asked her to take a turn around the dance floor. They hit it off immediately as they two-stepped, waltzed and did a line dance or two.

They met and danced the next week. Fairly soon, he was picking her up on Friday nights so they could arrive together at the dances.

They married last year.

The Buxtons enjoy not only each other, but the other people who attend the Grange dances. Everyone is nice, she said, and they’ve become like family.

“We’ve pretty much never stopped dancing,” Cindy said. “And we’re not going to stop.”

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS