April 04, 2009

Puttin' on my top hat

Born in early 1931, my father grew up in the era of movie-going. Every Saturday afternoon, he and his mother went to a neighborhood theater in Snowstorm City. My mother, who grew up outside of Big City Like No Other, would walk to the theater with her older sister and their friends. The theater would show two movies, usually, and a newsreel.

That’s what people did in those days, to take their minds of economic hardships, the harsh realities of life. In dark theaters, they watched their favorite movie stars sing and dance in glamorous costumes.

This winter, my parents decided to expose their grandchildren to some of the old movies by instituting movie night at their house. I was out of town for the first movie night, but I went over with my kids on the night they showed Top Hat with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. The plot was even more ridiculous that I had remembered, but there was lots of singing and dancing, beautiful costumes and funny dialogue. I sat on the couch between my daughter and Shaggy Hair Boy, snuggling under a quilt, and eating popcorn as we watched Ginger Rogers twirl around in dress that swirled with her. Then we gathered in the kitchen for cider and dessert.

On the way out to the car, I started tapdancing on the frozen ground, twirling around as if I were wearing a filmy, floaty dress instead of a winter coat and hiking boots. Those old movies have that effect on me.


BlackenedBoy said...

I love that your playfulness has stayed fully intact even into your forties, and that your own college-age children still enjoy doing things like this with you.

red-haired sister said...

Next thing we know, you'll be out doing a dance in the driveway,showing off everytime a car passes by ,like you did when you wore the First Communion dress (dyed yellow) to school that time

jo(e) said...

Red-haired Sister: Oh, you're just jealous that you only got to wear that dress once, whereas I got to wear the dyed version of it many times. It was the one time that being the youngest of three girls in a row paid off.

I think that is still the prettiest dress I've ever owned. Aunt Seashell used to say that most Catholic women remember their First Communion dresses in greater detail than their wedding dresses, and I think it's true.

jo(e) said...

Blackened Boy: Oh, let me assure you that my college-age children are sometimes mortified by my behavior.

kathy a. said...

family movie night sounds like a blast!

adult children still sometimes mortified: check. i'm not nearly as embarassing as i was a few years ago, though. ;)

the passing down of the dress is cracking me up! i'm the oldest, and my sisters had some serious resentments about hand-me-downs -- but none were as pretty and swirly as yours. you probably remember spending a few hours with Rit dye, too, to make it something special and new again.

susan said...

I loved Rogers/Astaire movies when I was a kid (and still do, in fact). I used to dance around the living room when no one was home. I can totally see you dancing in the driveway at any age!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun.