Some people may wonder who George Henwood is, they have heard the name and some may have seen him on the dance floor but do they really know who the real George Henwood is. Well those who are close to him know him and well and will tell you a little bit about who he is.
George Henwood has been a member of the dance activity as a whole for close to 65 years now. When asked a recent dance to stand and tell how long he has been dancing he rattles off a number and chuckles about his time on the dance floor. An original member of the Elm Tree Square and Round Dance Club, Charter Member of the Oromocto Pioneers, long time member of then the Capital City Rounders under the leadership of 3 different couples in his time, member of the Harvey Honeybears in his current home town and hard to say how many other clubs he danced with while being in the Army and travelled abroad.
George and his late wife Norma were at every dance they could be in their life together. George once recalled a time they were serving in the army living in Germany – we were as he used to call it a Jack of all trades & Master of None for the RCEME of the Canadian Military in his day. He and Norma was dancing with a club in the town they resided and had set up a dance by bus with members of the club to dance in 9 countries in one 24-hour span. George will tell you with a great chuckle in his voice that they almost made it – if it had not been for that one horse’s ass of a border guard who would not let them through! George and Chick as he referred to Norma wouldn’t let that bother them that was just a speed bump in the road.
George and Chick would be found at just about every dance there was around. The both of them had a passion for dancing that could be seen by all who watched them. Acting foolish was always part of the game when the two of them danced. As years went on and Norma suffered health issues their square dance time together was fewer and fewer but when the round dance come on they were there together smiling, gazing ever so loving into each others eyes as they twirled and swung to the music. A love for dance and for each other that not only was on the square dance floor but even at fiddle doo’s as George refers to them. The two of them never left the floor dancing was their love of life beyond their love for each other.
George always used to say that when it was their time to go – it would probably be on the dance floor. For Norma that was a reality. While attending a Saturday night special at an Elm Tree Dance just having left the floor from dancing one of her most beloved round dances she had requested and was listening to the caller sing her favorite singing call When the Saints Go Marching In she quietly passed amongst the family that they both had been part for some time. A loss that was felt by many that evening.
George has never been one to break away from tradition. Even though losing his beloved chick he returned to dancing to find comfort in a life he had shared with his greatest love. He continues to dance today when it doesn’t interrupt with his fiddle doo night of course.
George along with Norma like many held every position within the executive of most of the clubs they danced with over the years. Always willing to lend a hand whenever it is possible he is the first to step up.
As a friend of George and Norma’s I have heard many a tale over the years. I recall when George was a member of the Don Messer Jubilee in it’s hay day. George still pays tribute to Don Messer each year with the aiding in the organization of the Don Messer Dance held during Harvey Community Days and I believe he is also part organizer of the Church Service that takes place not too far away from the old homestead of Don Messer. The stories of when he travelled with the Islanders from show to show on his old motorcycle. He talked one night of him and old Charlie (Chamberlain) were travelling from one town heading to the next gig and he could feel this weight on his back. George being who he was thought nothing of it at the time till he turned around to see how old Charlie was only to find he had fell asleep right there on his back. George still chuckles as to how could one ever sleep through a trip like that – the roads weren’t too smooth nor was the ride of his old motorcycle back then either!
George he remained active every day. He considers himself one of the last of the old timers of the original RCEME group here in Camp Gagetown. Still well respected like he was in his earlier day the group looks up to him for his guidance. George has been the organizer of the Remembrance Day Services at the old Camp Petersville cenotaph out in the middle of the training fields of Base Gagetown.
George is very busy within his community life as well. He is an active driver for those in the village who need to go to Fredericton or Saint John for Doctors Appointments or treatments, he is always the first one to his bi weekly fiddle doo in Upper Kingsclear helping set up the chairs and help the guys set up the sound system and putting chairs away each week. He can be found down at the local pewter shop at Atlantic Pewter helping the owners with pieces of their work or even could be found constructing one of his favorite pieces the railroad spike with full train and tracks on it. He could even be making some nifty square dance jewelry to sell periodically at a dance if you ever ask him so nicely.
George always has an open door policy at his place. The door is always open to visit whenever you want. The teapot is always ready to fill and a laugh or two to be had. Lordy knows some may even know how to get into his house when he’s not home he has returned home to some crowds of people having a good time. He will always tell you when in Harvey and you see the Charlie Little Road, swing in just look for the barn with the orange roof sit a spell and visit.
George is what square dancing is the life of the party, always willing to lend a hand even if you don’t think you need it. The first to donate, the first to help, the first to joke and he might even convince you that you need to exchange money at the Nova Scotia border “cause we don’t accept blue nose notes in NB”
We at Elm Tree are privileged to offer up one of the greatest friends to the activity we know it to be and know that in some way for many in the Fredericton Oromocto area know that he had a small part in shaping the activity into what it is today.