HUDSON — Buddy Calvert was a typical young man of the late 1940s and early 1950s. He went on chaperoned dates, the only kind his parents would allow, and kept the slopes of his hair in place with Brylcreem.
He wore taps on his shoes, which he gladly slipped off several times a week for black roller skates.
For years, the Cotton Bowl Roller Rink in Dallas was the center of his life. Mr. Calvert thrilled to the sounds of a Wurlitzer organ perched 6 feet above floor level.
He would go on to join the Marines, work as a bookkeeper and raise a family. But he never forgot the rink or the magic it created.
Mr. Calvert died Aug. 11 after a long respiratory illness. He was 85.
At its peak in the 1940s and 1950s, the Cotton Bowl rink was the largest of many in Dallas, said Nick Bert, whose father owned it.
"During wartime, it was loaded. Sessions were always full," said Bert, 75. "A lot of people met their sweethearts there and got married."
In 1948, Mr. Calvert met Lou Jordan, who like himself had learned to dance on roller skates. They danced the waltz and the two-step across a maple floor.
"It was fun," said Sarah Calvert, his daughter. "It was a chance to get away from the depressing conditions at home. The war had depleted everybody."
They married two years later.
Mr. Calvert served two years in Japan with the Marine Corps, where his duties included unloading coal from rail cars. He worked at the Frost National Bank and as a bookkeeper at the Warwick Melrose Hotel in Dallas.
But a chronic respiratory condition was worsening. By 1969, he could no longer work. Authorities suspected tuberculosis, then blamed his exposure to hazardous chemicals while in the military, his daughter said.
Mr. Calvert was placed on permanent disability. He lived in Boston, then moved to Hudson in 1983. He cared for his wife, who had multiple health problems, until her death in 2006. He was active in the Beacon Woods East Homeowners Association, but his favorite neighbor might been a Shih Tzu.
"Jamie used to go to his house every day and paw on the glass (door)," said Jean Kelley, Mr. Calvert's next-door neighbor and Jamie's owner. Mr. Calvert sang to the dog in his lap, who howled along with him.
Even under hospice care three weeks ago, he led Jamie in singing Home on the Range.
"It was YouTube-worthy," said Sarah Calvert, 57, who recorded the video but did not post it on the social website.
Over the last decade of his life, he tried his hand at more serious music, too. A neighbor gave him a Hammond organ with dance rhythms and instrumental sounds. Eventually, he taught himself to play.
Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.