Wiggles Not Classic; Hula Gets
Mepham Prom Cold Shoulder

By James E. Jenkins

June 6, 1944
Bellmore-fears that Mepham High School students might become too enthusiastic over the wiggles of a classic hula dance as performed by shapely Jane Miller of Wantagh in traditional grass skirt and leis yesterday brought down a faculty ban on her appearance as chief entertainment feature at the Junior Prom set for June 16.

"It has been decided by the principal that the hula dance is not a type of entertainment suitable for Mepham students," the entertainment committee, headed by Dorothy Caruso of Merrick was informed.

The faculty decision caused a considerable upset to student plans inasmuch as they had gone to some trouble to prepare plans for a tropical beach setting to provide atmosphere. The hula dance was to be a key element of the tropical theme.

Hula Dancer Arrangements had been made to rent palm trees from a florist, the art department had painted a mural of an ocean scene and boys had volunteered to bring sand from the beach for a touch of absolute realism. Bob Urban's Melody Masters were hired for music. The students had gone to extra effort for this Prom because a considerable number of boys in service were home and planning to attend the affair and they wanted to make a special showing.

The hula dance, students pointed out, was a strictly classic dance performed by an artist who learned it directly from native Hawaiian girls. Miss Miller lived in Hawaii prior to the outbreak of the war and learned the dance there.

Unless the faculty ban is lifted, the committee said, they will substitute a singer, Shirley Preston, a member of the alumni, for the dance number. They will go ahead with plans for the "Tropical Island Paradise" setting but admitted ruefully that something will be missing if Miss Miller is forbidden to perform.

Eugene E. Hallenbeck, school principal, told Newsday last night he had given no edict forbidding the hula dance.

"As a matter of act, this is the first I have heard of it," he said. Someone else on the faculty might have authorized the program change before it reached him, he surmised. William Perrine, social studies instructor, faculty advisor for the Prom, could not be reached. Paul King, class president is general chairman.
1944 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission