Wednesday, January 16, 2013


In the summer of 1952, my best friend and I took a crash course in tap, ballet, and ballroom dancing.  Our mothers sewed valiantly the costumes required, including a short-skirted white satin military tap uniform (lined in red for exposure when doing a high leg move) and matching red, star-studded cadet hat.  I looked like a nutcracker.  We were all of 11, and had triumphantly sprung out of our sedate shells, rushing toward the bright lights of prepubescent dance recitals.  Oh the excitement of performing before adoring audiences packed with parents - all convinced we were the next Shirley Temple.  We wore makeup and grown-up stockings, we were something to see!  And then we danced.  I honestly don't remember that part, but it must have gone well enough.

Imagine this is me
Brush step and step, brush step and step, brush step and step,
pickup hop step toe

The following fall, my friend Carolyn and I tried a dance duet for a talent show.  We wore white blouses and rhinestone-embellished, aqua short skirts.  I guess when you dance, something has to glitter.  We clickity clicked to the piano rendition of "Walking my Baby Back home," and all went well, meaning nobody fell down and all the clothing stayed on.

Clickity-Click, Clickity-Click

I can remember tap dancing all over the house when Mother wasn't around.  She had this thing about scratching the floor.  What was a budding talent to do?  Answer:  Practice the clarinet...or the piano...or blow my water-filled bird whistle (it looked so like a canary and was yellow too!).

I grew dizzy, but could not stop!

What my poor parents suffered in aggravation is unknowable, but I am certain tuning me out became a regular practice.  Perhaps that's why they were always encouraging me to go outdoors and blow beautiful bubbles - for all the world to see!

Beautiful pink and blue glass-like bubbles!


  1. Yep, this is your calling. Telling the stories with your drawing.

    When I first saw the title of this post I froze. For a second I thought it might have included photos from Friday night's birthday dance soiree.


  2. Ms. W.O.W.--this is an enchanting story with equally wonderful illustrations. It does capture the excitement of childhood adventures in front of the footlights. My 88 yr. old mother and her 83 yr. old lil' sis have been regaling family members with tales of their 1944 appearance in the first ever televised musical on NBC. They were chorus girls in "The Boys From Boise", and they said that they wore black lipstick, and their hair smoked from the hot lights used on set. Mom was seated on a wooden porch and the floor boards pinched her in the tushie. Ah, Show Biz! Check out the sizzling plot of this show:

    "The Boys From Boise
    (DuMont) Sept. 28, 1944
    Songs by Sam Medoff
    Cast included Audrey Sperling, Jack O'Brien, Judy and Cecile Turner

    A troupe of wartime showgirls get stranded on a ranch, battling rustlers and herding cattle to earn their way home. Neither the songs nor the cast made any lasting impression. This two hour special suffered from technical limitations, and did not inspire any similar projects for several years."

  3. i wanted to tap dance .. i wanted those fabulous shoes with the clickity clackity taps .. took one lesson and after the teacher spoke with mother .. 'she's likely to do better at ballet' ... years and years of ballet class and still a klutz ... and still wishing for those tap shoes and a little bit of élan ;)

  4. Daryl,
    Ballet was sooooooo painful (we had those wooden toes with bunny fuzz to cushion the bone-crushing pressure of all your weight on ten unprepared digits! Birdhops (I forget the French) but ouch, ouch, ouch, etc., would suffice. And don't even mention fourth that even possible?

    (Sigh) I wish I could do it all over again.

    The Boys from Boise was before its time. Hope your mom has pictures from that. My uncle had one of the first TV's with a porthole shaped screen about 9" across.

    CBW and Thomas, thanks.

  5. Oh, what wonderful memories. Brings back memories of my early dance lessons, only mine WAS ballet, and I was in toe shoes at 7. Danced for close to 30 years, and loved it, although I was too tall to go pro. Every once in a while I think I would like to take a class again, until I get down on the floor for something and have to find something to hold on to to get back up.
    Your drawings really make your stories come to life.

  6. This explains a lot to me about your daughters;) I miss you!

  7. Love the story and love the drawings! You should meet my mom. She used to peep into the back door of the theater and watch some tap dancing or other - don't know if it was shows or lessons or what - but she claims she taught herself to tapdance based on just those furtive observations. Many years later as a senior, she took an Elderhostel trip and - you guessed it - spent a week tapdancing. Of course when I was a kid, I too was smitten with sparkly attire and noisy shoes, but the only dance teacher in town named her troupe Dixie's Darlings, which of course everyone called Dixie's Dumplings, and my mom didn't want me to be thought of as anyone's dumpling, so she carted me an hour down the road for gymnastic lessons instead. Which is was not good at, but at least nobody called me dumpling.