In August of 1977, I began my freshman year at UNC by attending a special orientation program called “Freshman Camp,” sponsored by the campus Y. As it turned out, I hated every minute of it–almost. Fortunately, amid the nearly unrelenting sports-oriented activities that I despised (watching film clips of old basketball games! meeting the UNC cheerleaders!) there was one bright spot: an appearance by the Apple Chill Cloggers. They performed routines and led square dances. I had learned a few clogging steps in high school (I later found out that my teacher had been taught by Apple Chill — karma!), and this was right up my alley. I danced with a tall, skinny guy with an earring — where else but Chapel Hill! Wow! — who I would later learn was Jim Holleman. It was all so wonderful. I never dared to dream that I would someday join the team.

But join I did, in my sophomore year. From then on, Apple Chill defined my college years. The cloggers were my family and my traveling companions; with them I traveled up and down the East Coast and even across the big pond to Ireland. I learned how to play fiddle and guitar, how to do a triple shuffle, how to drive the van, and how to fall asleep in a room roaring with the noise of about 2 dozen dancers and as many musicians. Those were great years. After I graduated, I continued with the team as best I could for a while, but my core years were 1978 through 1981.

Here we are: Bonnie McCafferty, Kathy Watson, Ginny Hege, Carol Yates, and Mickie Gonzales, circa 1979. Bonnie is wearing Ginny’s dress, Kathy is wearing Bonnie’s, Ginny is wearing Kathy’s, Carol is wearing Mickie’s, and Mickie is wearing Carol’s. Evidently we were tired of our own dresses. Stuart Ellis is visible in the mirror behind Ginny’s head.

I met my husband, Bill Tobiassen, at a dance in Boone, N.C.; we married in 1988 and spent the first years of our marriage playing a lot of music and going to a fair number of dances in the northwest mountains of NC. That slowed down and eventually came pretty much to a halt after our son, Thor, was born in 1991. (Now Bill and Thor play guitar together.) I worked in the book publishing industry from 1983 till 2007; then I threw that aside to enroll in the Master of Divinity program at Wake Forest University Divinity School. I should have my MDiv in 2010, and after that we’ll just have to see what happens.

We have a happy life, and I like being older and wiser, but sometimes when I see a bunch of college students playing music or clogging, I feel a little wistful and think, They don’t know who I am. They see a middle-aged lady with short gray hair who looks like she never set foot on a dance floor. I look in the mirror and see the twenty-year-old with waist length brown hair and a clogger skirt, whirling around on the stage, or playing my fiddle, or sitting up late for what Ron Raxter called the /”drunk singing stage” of the parties, where the songs got sadder and sadder even as we all felt happier and happier in the warm circle of Apple Chill Cloggerdom. Yeah, those were the days.

I would love to hear from other alumni members of the team. Click here to send me an email message.