Reflections of Ponoka: Remembering our 1950’s and 60’s Ponoka Teen Towners

There are many of us who grew up in the roaring 1950’s and 60’s, and will always manage to recall the fond memories

Members of Ponoka Teen Town took part in a rip-roaring Western dress-up event in the 1960’s. Shown from left to right are: Wayne Wright

Members of Ponoka Teen Town took part in a rip-roaring Western dress-up event in the 1960’s. Shown from left to right are: Wayne Wright

There are many of us who grew up in the roaring 1950’s and 60’s, and will always manage to recall the fond memories of those flashy fashions, rock and roll, drive-in movies, sock hops, and just plain hanging out with a bunch of fun-loving gals and guys who only wanted to learn, have a good time, and survive in a fabulous new era. This was when the ‘in things’ were white bucks and bobby socks, pony tails and sideburns, hopped up cars with fender skirts and Hollywood mufflers, the magic arrival of television,  and parents who were strict with a whole lot of patience on the side.

We will fondly look back at all the great times we had together in school, somehow earning a B on a tough test and getting a sports letter all in the same week, the crushes, the outside games we played, and how many times we were grounded. We will always enjoy sitting back in our comfortable chairs and telling our grand-children how shy we were, as well as  our favourite adventures of growing up, about our best and true friends, and how somehow we managed to get through 12 grades of school and raging hormones  by just being ourselves, and never being alone. Along the way we learned how to jive, to do the limbo and the occasional waltz, as well as the importance of playing as a team, being fair, and having lots of buddies.

All about Ponoka Teen Town

I fondly remember that the Ponoka Teen Town Club came into being in the mid- 1950’s with the encouragement of popular Recreation Director John Zahara and his wife Sandy. Active member Don Sutherland recalls having the first meetings upstairs in the old Ponoka Town Hall, which also housed the local police station, court room, fire department, dog catcher, and jail cells.

The spacious upstairs of the town hall was perfect for the Teens to hold their executive and regular weekly meetings, as well as a great place to gather with friends. Occasional dances were also organized, with members supplying the goodies, as well as a radio or record player and their favourite choice of ‘hot discs’ to spin on the turntable. When enough funds had been raised the quickly growing Teen Town planned and hosted a big gala dance at the Ponoka Elk’s Hall on Chipman Avenue or the I.O.O.F Hall (also known as the 100 foot hall), and a good time was had by all. The young Ponoka and district teens did a lot of work to put these events together, putting up posters around town, and hiring hot area bands such as Wes Dakus and the Club 93 Rebels, Den and the Dimensions, and many others. On many occasions the Ponoka Teens would pack their cars on the weekend and head out to support district dances at Pigeon Lake and other roaring community halls.

As well as being involved in many school social and recreation activities the members of the Ponoka Teen Town really enjoyed volunteering their time to help out with many year round community events. One of their favourite activities came around Christmas when they assisted the local John Deere Dealer (H.H. Roberts) to host the annual Christmas movie at the Capitol Theatre, handing out goodie bags with good old Santa.

Once every year, Teen Town would sponsor their own gala event in the form of a glitzy Teen Queen Ball, with dignities from Town and County as well as parents and family members receiving an invitation to join in on a super evening of fun. Long before the function nominations had been accepted from the club members for their choice of Ponoka’s annual Teen Queen and Most Outstanding Teenager. In the evenings these enthusiastic young ladies and men would gather at the home of Mr. and Mrs. (Mike and Babe) Prediger to learn proper social etiquette in preparation for this fancy formal affair. All members would also take this opportunity to learn ball room dancing and the correct manners that would allow them to dance and mingle on this very special evening with their parents and other quests.

Don Sutherland fondly recalls that in 1962 Kristi Young was named at the Teen Queen of Ponoka and he was declared as our most outstanding teenager. Through the kind sponsorships and support of parents and community the winners each year were able to attend the annual Provincial Teen Conference in Olds, where they also had the honour of representing their home town in the coveted selection of the Alberta Queen and Most Outstanding Teenager.

Ponoka Teen Town continued on until well into the 1960’s, but unfortunately slowly fell from grace and was discontinued. Those of us who were lucky to have been members will never forget the keen camaraderie and the friendly involvement with the community. As our Town and County grows and progresses it will always be vital that our youth be encouraged to get involved in the planning, the activities, the amenities, and the future successes.