Do an internet search for "Dancing hoes," and you'll come up with some interesting things indeed. However, for a brief period in 1952, the phrase was used in a much different, and entirely literal way. From the "Columbia Commercial Mail," December 12, 1952:
Norfolk, Neb.--The proprietor of a seed store said today visitors have failed to solve the mystery of the "dancing hoes," which swing back and forth on the wall without any apparent reason.
Dale C. Ford promised he would not touch the two implements which have been drawing patrons to his store since the swinging was noticed about two weeks ago. The hoes are among several new ones hung side by side for display on steel book.
The others are just plain hoes. But the "twins", move in a slow sweep 24 hours a day. "They've started slowing down during the day and speeding up after store hours," Ford said. "I don't know the reason and apparently no one else does."
One theory was apparently shattered over the weekend when Ford peeked in the store when no customers were around. The hoes were still dancing.
"They were swinging as much as two or three inches," he said. "That would seem to dispute the theory that vibration causes it. There would be more vibration when more people are around."
Ford says each of the curious visitors has an idea. Some think it might be humidity changes and others believe the swinging is caused by something in the new wood in the handles.
Ford is content to let the patrons keep guessing.
"I'm not going to touch them as long as they continue to perform," he said.
On December 23, the "Penascola News Journal" reported that our little mystery was over, if not solved.
Norfolk's "dancing hoes" have stopped dancing and their owner said he doubted if anyone would ever discover what caused them to swing back and forth.As far as I can tell, the hoes remained well-behaved farm implements from then on.
Dale Ford, manager of a feed store, said many persons tried to solve the mystery of the hoes which swung back and forth in a pendulum motion for almost a month.
Among those attempting to explain the mystery were three "well-witchers."
Ford said the hoes stopped Saturday noon after gradually slowing down for a week. He said he will leave them "right where they are" for a while to see if they will start up again.
Ford said the "well-witchers" tried to prove the motion was caused by the presence of water under the store or by some peculiar property of the handles themselves. This would tie in with the trade of the "witchers" who pace a section of ground holding a forked stick until a jerk of the wood supposedly indicates a likely spot to drill a well for water.
The hoes are mounted on! a display rack in the front of the store. Until Saturday the handles moved back and forth more than an inch-and-a-half at peak periods.