Madura’s Danceland PART II: Romance and Danceland
Probably the greatest legends about Danceland are romantic ones. It seems everybody met at Danceland and this was true for Henrietta Kaminski as well. Henrietta who was from Hammond joined three girlfriends for her first dance in Whiting. Mickey Madura took Henrietta’s ticket and she evidently took his fancy because he asked the young redhead for dance #12.
“I didn’t know him at all. He was just a ticket taker but about an hour later, the twelfth dance started and I danced with him,” she laughed. “I told him he couldn’t take me home because I came with my girl friends and I didn’t want to leave them alone. Perhaps he could see me some other day.”
And he did. When Henrietta first started going there, she said she’d dance with everybody but as she and Mickey really began to date, “he didn’t want me spot dancing,” she laughed. Spot dancing was standing in one spot and just moving to the music and talking. She remembers the gigantic beautiful chandeliers and how the lights would change color from song to song. All the lights would change to a romantic blue for the waltzes.
“But even later when he was working, the twelfth dance…..that was always our dance,” she smiled. “It was always a waltz.”
Mickey and Henrietta (his pet name for her was Hank) were married in June of 1937 and had two daughters Patrice and Marcia and a son whom they also named Michael.
“We have Mike Maduras galore,” she laughed. “My son and my grandson are Mike Maduras. There’s always a Mike Madura coming up.”
And Henrietta says that “It’s the old story….everyone I talk to…..everyone met there.”
Ironically the only Madura who didn’t meet a future mate at Danceland was Evelyn. She met her husband Mickey in school.
“He invited me to the senior prom and we went together for four years,” Evelyn said. “We’ve been married 66 years on June 3rd.” Their marriage produced three daughters, Bonnie, Patty and Lynn, all of whom later worked at Danceland.
Evelyn’s sister Doris followed the family tradition and met her husband Art Borg there. Both Evelyn and her sister held their wedding receptions at the beautiful ballroom.
One reason Danceland did so well was its constant publicity. Besides announcing and helping his dad manage the ballroom, Mickey Madura threw himself into the advertising. One of the patrons’ favorites were his Newsettes. It had a “Have you Heard” column where he’d write items such as “What this we hear about Ginger J and Jack?” and “Petite Catherine Burke of Hammond isn’t so shy once you get to know her!”
“He was a good writer,” said his sister Evelyn.
Henrietta remembers the whole family sitting down to write out publicity cards that they sent to their crowds.
Besides the Newsettes, holidays were big at Danceland. Santa himself appeared there on Christmas night.
But before Christmas would be the big Thanksgiving raffle where giant live turkeys were crated and on display at the November dances. The turkeys were home grown from great-grandma Madura on her farm, recalled Henrietta.
“We gave away live turkeys at the ballroom. And the guys got the biggest kick out of it if a pretty girl won one because then she needed help taking it home,” she remembered fondly.