My younger sister and I were always pressed into attending some sports activity or Boy Scout ceremony in support of our brothers. And since those older brothers both attained Eagle Scout (highest) rank, that meant many ceremonies.
So, we girls shivered at bean hole bakes in the winter or sweltered through hot Sunday parades at Camp Yawgoog in summer, where older brother, Peter, an Explorer scout, led his troop. Our family visited on Sundays—Parade day.
At one of the Bean Hole Bakes, I recall trying to determine why a new girl in town caused such a stir among my brother’s friends. She’d come to witness her own brother’s attempts and the boys were all much more concerned with impressing her than they ever were in winning the “Best Beans” competition.
To me, she was nothing extraordinary. Short, dark hair (all right—it was lustrous), skinny…a doll-like face. There was just something about her combined assets that took the entire young male lot and turned them into fawning jackals. She reminded me of Disney’s Mouseketeers’ Annette Funicello who every girl wanted to be and every boy fantasized about. Annette wasn’t a great beauty but there was just something about her, an unequaled attractiveness. This girl had that same quality, too. But enough about that.
For my own extracurricular activity, Mom put me in ballet class, presumably to give me poise. Lessons were in the upper level of a 3-story brick corner building in Phoenix, a neighborhood of West Warwick (the building is gone today, razed many years ago). It was expected that I’d learn skills “at the bar,” bending, sweeping, foot placement, etc. Only then could we dancers get the padded front ballet slippers that allowed us to “toe,” balancing on the front end of our feet.
Our instructor was the mother of one of my brother’s friends, an older woman who wore her silver hair swept up in a bun (dancers don’t allow their hair to flop around). I thought her magical as she arrived for the lesson, wearing her black body leotard and crossstitch net stockings. No other mothers looked like her.
She’d do the floor exercises and then pirouette, gracefully, on her toes to the sound of music from a nearby record player. This was all to show us what we could aspire to.
So we practiced….and practiced.
But I’d appear in only one recital where my costume was the heavenly layers of tulle skirt, set off by a sequined top.
Why? Mom yanked me out of ballet. She’d gotten a look at one older girl’s seriously muscled legs, attesting to her many practice hours on the bar.
Mom said “No more ballet for you. You’re not going to have Betsy’s legs.”
My budding career as a ballerina came to a crashing halt. I wouldn’t be performing “The Nutcracker,” or mimicking the lovely girl in a tutu twirling around the top of a music box, either.
For all its limitations, I thought my abbreviated career better than bean hole bakes in winter and marching parades in August heat.
But my 2 brothers were never required to attend my performance. In my era, brothers supporting sisters in dance –or sports– wasn’t even a consideration.
Or was that just my family?
PS…In the above photo, that’s me in an adult tutu, given to me by a person I met in Asheville, who makes all sorts of costumes and outfits. I loved her generosity of spirit. You see, in Asheville, an adult woman can walk around in a tutu and nobody is ready to whisk her away to the Looney Bin. My tutu allowed me to revisit a girlhood dream! But I’m sure my meeting Dawn and having her gift me with such could only happen in Asheville!!!