I saw a saying that said “Do not follow your dreams, chase them.” We all know that life is a journey and we are the participants and we travel it every day in every way. When I was a kid of ten years old in 1944, we thought of life as going to school, going to the library, shopping for clothes when the money was there for them, being warm in the winter, trying to keep cool with a fan in the home in the summer, if we were lucky to own one, eating delicious food Mom made from scratch and going to the movies on the weekend, when there was money to do so. We did not have television because it was not available to most families due to finances. When we went to see a movie that probably cost about less than fifty cents apiece, we were in the world of the theater which was dark, draperies that opened up and then the screen appeared and the world of fantasy occurred
There was a short announcement where the exits were, where the rest rooms were and then they showed you the coming attractions of the next movies coming there in the following weeks. There was a cartoon with Daffy Duck and other cartoon characters and everyone laughed at their antics. Then the words Feature Attraction appeared, everyone was quiet and the long awaited movie ran. Everyone was polite and you heard the sounds of popcorn being eaten and we laughed or cried at what was going on in the movie. They usually lasted for two hours and then everyone filed out. We always tried to come in at the beginning of the movie and if you came in between, you stayed to see the beginning. If it was going to be thought of as a popular one, sometimes you had to wait in line to make sure you received a seat. It was a polite time and a respectful time and everyone in those days was there to experience a pleasant two hour respite from daily living.
Across the street from the main movie we attended known formally as The Metropolitan and we called it The Met, was a restaurant that featured seafood and was very popular with the neighborhood crowd; and above the movie was a small dance studio or it may have been in the building next to it, I am not sure, was The Ella L.Banks Dance Studio. Ella was my first contact with dance.
She taught us little girls, I was about eleven or twelve then, to learn a bit of ballroom dance. She taught us the Waltz, Foxtrot and maybe the Jitterbug. It cost two dollars a half hour, which was a lot of money in those days. Mom sent me for ten lessons and wow, did I think I was on top of the world. It was fun and gave me a tiny taste of what I love now, ballroom dance.
It is interesting how our lives are shaped, sometimes in small ways as a child and then it comes back to become an important factor in later years. Others will say do not let anybody tell you that you can’t, just because they can’t. I always try to steer all my readers of my ballroom dance articles, never to let age deter them from trying to learn to dance. I have had an eighty year old woman many years ago who started to dance then because all her life she had desired to do so. She was depressed because her husband was in a nursing home for twenty years and she had always wanted to dance. She read my articles monthly at that time in a magazine I wrote for called Amateur Dancers. She did not know me or I her. She tried one day to do like I advised; and lo and behold, she found a new mission of joy in her life. She took lessons, went to social dances and even competed with her teacher as a couple and won some awards. She also danced before the studio’s other students and was a big hit. Life began again for her and her journey was one of complete joy and her ego soared and her grandchildren came to watch her dance sometimes.
This is a true example of an elderly lady, of which I am now in that group and she excelled at that late age. She had a smile on her face all the time and life became a fantastic journey of happiness, good health, fun and delight. She proved to herself and everyone else that she is a trouper and a darling grandmother, who shines now late in life as a star. A bright star right here visible to all who know her. I was honored when she wrote me that she got her inspiration from my articles that were written monthly at that time and then every other month later on. She wrote me to tell me all of this.
This made a nice mark in my journey of life and perhaps I can thank Ella L.Banks for inspiring me, a little eleven year old girl spending twenty dollars way back in 1945-46 and she loved this new event in her life. It sometimes is the small happenings in one’s life that continues on forever and as age approaches, we try to continue on any way we can still accomplish this feat. In the case of dancing the feat is achieved and fulfilled with our feet being the major component of the occasion. Our age is not a deterrent doing this activity and there are dance competitions that feature age divisions for the competitors of up to age ninety.
So I look at it this way, I still have twelve years, hopefully, that perhaps I can go back to be a competitor with my teacher.
Every one of you reading my articles, realize that there are many things you can try and do, even new events at your ages of seventy, eighty and even ninety. In the old days, people if they were lucky to live that long, usually sat around a lot. The women maybe knitted, cooked and the men read a lot and if able, did things around the house. My parents only lived to be seventy-two and seventy-seven, so they were active as they could be at those ages. I have passed their numbers and hopefully will be able to be productive, up to my nineties.
Go out there and be active as much as you can, it need not be ballroom dancing; there are so many activities out there, more than when I was a kid, for older people. You can sign up for college courses, no test taking necessary, for seminars, for speeches given by people in particular vocations, dancing light courses, and social events at a senior center of which there are many.
Mom went to a few senior center events and said to me “too many old people there.” I gently said to her “Mom, you are one of them and be proud that you do well.” She had traveled in her late sixties and her early seventies to foreign countries: Spain and Israel and a nice cruise too.
My friend via email, Jeanie did well taking dance lessons at the advanced age of almost eighty, Mom did some traveling and I, now at their ages, try to ballroom dance.
OK, Ella, thank you for inspiring me to dance when I was a little girl. I shall honor you by continuing on as long as I can and I will motivate myself to do what I try to stimulate others to do. My journey has been a long one and hopefully will still be longer.
I will be chasing them with all my thoughts and my “feet.”