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What's Cookin'? Dancin' George Giffin

Patch stopped by Fairwinds today to find out the most popular menu item. It was Mr. Giffin and turkey. You know both of them. Tell us your favorite Giffin moment.

What was cookin' at in today? Turkey and George Giffin!

When making the rounds for our new weekly What's Cookin'? column, Patch found out a couple of things: Turkey was the most popular menu choice for lunch today; and, Mr. Giffin, legendary retired R-FH teacher, is still cooking with his dance moves and anectdotes.

There they were — turkey and Mr. Giffin. The turkey, as sandwich-maker Tom told us, was and is a best-seller, because it's roasted and mighty good. And, Mr. Giffin (as all call him), is still about town, at "83 or so" now, and still cooking up some great dance moves.

You really don't even have to ask him about anything. Just say, "Hi, Mr. Giffin." That's enough for him to launch into a few moves and tell you, sporting an ear-to-ear grin, "When you get that beat, you gotta move your feet!"

Five, six, seven, eight ... One, two, cha, cha, cha ... Any old (somewhat old) R-FH grad could tell you that the Ballroom Dance class with Mr. Giffin was a required class back in the day. And the man is still dancing George. Kids today just don't know what they're missing. Yet, no one's missing Mr. Giffin's absence quite yet.

Right at the register at Fairwinds, there he was ... telling tales about how he's "had to teach at least 40 or so R-FH grads how to dance at their own weddings. I go out there and show them the moves. You have people trying to dance — bridesmaids, grooms, family. The bride is crying 'Oh, they're going to ruin it.' I teach them how it goes ... Hey, when you get that beat, you gotta move your feet!"

Well, we got the beat from you, Mr. Giffin! Sort of. At least one R-FH grad out there (yours truly) is still struggling with those dance moves.

You're still a valued commodity in these parts. Though, Ballroom Dance is no longer a required class, judging from you and all those you taught, it probably should be.

Other than dancing his way around Fair Haven, still his hometown, Giffin said he's "trying relentlessly to teach these kids the English language. It's a daily battle. Sometimes I couldn't wager a guess at what many of them are trying to say."

We know what you're saying, Mr. Giffin. Get that beat. Move your feet and speak ... properly.

Everyone knows Mr. Giffin — everyone who's anyone, anyway. Tell us your favorite story about this iconic teacher of the English language and dance in the comments section below!

Dana Richards May 26, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Taught all my sisters and I how to dance at RFH. He came to my wedding. My sisters didnt know. What a wonderful suprise and oh the fun we had dancing!
Fred A. Blumberg May 26, 2012 at 12:37 PM
He was also famous for his coming of age 'talk' we would get in junior healthclass. Im glad to see he is still with us, a very nice non pretentious man!
Candy DeFalco May 26, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Giff would lead the Friday afternoon pep rallies doing cartwheels across the gym floor! My favorite chant he led was "Purple Wave Hit Shore"! What a guy!
Kathleen Bradley Cavallaro May 26, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Loved Mr. Giffin's dance class, and he was the greatest Drill Team leader. Such a kind soul.
Patty G May 26, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Also my JV Basketball coach. Dancing and dribbling at the same time. Love him!
Elaine Van Develde (Editor) May 26, 2012 at 03:47 PM
He is still as priceless as ever! It was such a treat to see him, hear a couple of stories and watch him dance around Fairwinds. The best! ;)
Melissa Gabel Morse May 27, 2012 at 08:07 PM
To this day, I can recite the term which he coined for the left hind leg of a mosquito: "mitsigoo". He asked us that on every exam during the year and then, after the final exam, he admitted that it wasn't necessarily so. Some things are embedded for life.
Margaret Richter May 27, 2012 at 10:57 PM
And then there was a very risky one... How do you make a hormone?
Brian Drastal May 29, 2012 at 04:25 PM
He had one of the greatest impacts upon me in RFH. I learned to Jitterbug in his AP Bio class in 1980 and to this day I cannot look at a cat or a fruit fly and not think of him! I hope to see him @ the Fair this year!
Jacqui Foster Reynoso May 29, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I graduated from RFHRHS, class of 1963.... Mr. Giffin and I ran into each other in one of the stairways.... from that time on we greeted each other with " I'm going to sue"... G R E A T G U Y !!!!!
David Giffin June 04, 2012 at 09:12 PM
My Mother was kind enough to send me the link to this article which allowed me to read all the nice heartfelt comments about my Dad. He has been a man I admired and continue to look up to. And although he taught both my sister and myself, as well as many others, a lot in school, as well as in life, oddly enough, at least for me, dance was not one of them, as I have 2 left feet. Sincerely, David Giffin
Elaine Van Develde (Editor) June 04, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Thanks so much for sending the note, David. Please send my regards to your mom and sister! Your dad is and will always be so fondly remembered. I also have two left feet, but treasure that experience. I had to remind him how nobody wanted to dance with me in class ... I was so uncoordinated. It was so much fun to run into him and chat. He's a piece of work ... I should do a "Where in the Two River area is Mr. Giffin?" piece. Don't forget, "When you get that beat, you gotta move your feet ..." ;)
Lori Saker-Tanner June 18, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Lori Saker-Tanner class of '74...will never forget learning to dancing on the stage during lunch and AP Biology ....Henrietta Hydrogen and Dashing Dan Oxygen...and the famous question "What does an Indian live in??? "ATP" LOL love that man!!!
Melanie (Reed) Woods August 23, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I believe I had your mother at 8th Grade in Knollwood, and your father at RFHRHS. I have fond memories of them both. Mr.G placed me & my partner in the very front of the stage to perform our Lindy Hop/Jitterbug routine at the 1972 Variety Show - he adored our choreography & dance moves. Please extend my best wishes to them both.
Germaine Sherman Costner August 27, 2012 at 07:43 PM
I took his dance class, Class of 1976. I learned how to hip flip. Long live Mr. Giffin!!!
Steve Lamm October 19, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I was on the Giffs golf team 83-87, he is the best!
Charlotte Van Vechten McGee February 06, 2013 at 01:15 AM
Charlotte Van Vechten McGee As a member of the class of 1974 I spent every free moment dancing with Mr. Giffin in the auditorium with Sue Jeffers Carter, Debbie Bergman Very and Leigh Beatty Siebert. Four to one odds. Mr. Giffin NEVER stopped. No wonder he was/is so darn skinny. Thanks, Mr. Giff, for wonderful memories. Long live the Mitsigoo!
Janice Holton February 14, 2013 at 07:23 PM
I was in the class of '73, and would spend lunch dancing with Mr. Giffin in the auditorium, with Lisa Heath and others. These lunch-time dance sessions were one of the highlights of my high school experience. I also remember Dashing Dan Oxygen and Henrietta Hydrogen. By far, my favorite science class ever. So glad to know that
Janice Holton February 14, 2013 at 07:24 PM
Mr. Giffin is still dancing his way through life!

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