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History of Hi-Dive

Mr. John Calhoun wrote this document about the history of Hi-Dive in 2004.  Mr. Calhoun died in 2006 at the age of 93.  His sons and second wife, Roz, survive Mr. Calhoun.

“I came to Mason City, IA as the YMCA Youth Director in 1943.  Our Hi-Y Club was made up of about 35 boys from the high school.  We explored service projects that would be meaningful to the community as well as the organization it was to represent and we came up with a ‘Youth Center.’  There was available space on the lower level of the YMCA building.  We approached the local Lions Club to provide the necessary funding and they accepted the challenge.  Next, came the identifying name; we had a contest for all high school youth to select a name they wanted.  The winning entry was High-Dive; this is what the organization would be known as for the next twenty years.

Decorating was next.  Each wall was painted aquamarine with brightly colored fish, marine life and divers finishing the aquatic theme.  The high school art class spent many hours on this project. 

Each home room in the high school of 1800 students would have the responsibility for supervising one Friday or Saturday evening each month.  They were to set up the operation, which included preparation of dance music on the record player, running the snack bar and cleaning up after the event. 

Two months after the inception of Hi-Dive we opened to a ‘full house’ of high school youth probably numbering about 700.  It ran nine months of the year each weekend from 7:00 p.m. - 12:00 midnight during the school year. The year was 1944.  Following football and basketball games our opponents were invited to participate in the activities at no cost to them.  Our regular youth made a contribution of fifty cents a semester to belong.  All participants signed in each evening.

My wife, Opal and I were in charge the first four years.  Opal led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening; this was during the war years and no one questioned this practice of patriotism.

Soon we were able to secure our own dance band by persuading the high school band director to use the musician from his band once a month.  New stands were made for each member of the band and they added a new dimension to Hi-Dive.  The favorite music of the day was from ‘Glenn Miller’ and his orchestra.

Four years later I moved to the Executive Director position and we hired two couples to assume the responsibility for the operation each weekend.  Hi-Dive ran those twenty years and I still receive comments from those young people who remember what good tunes they had on Friday and Saturday evenings.”

Yours Truly,

John Calhoun


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Logo copyright © Mason City Community School District.  Artwork by Barb Grunklee.