Published 12:00 am Friday, February 7, 2003
Special to the News-Herald
A recital? Was I crazy? Costumes, music, routines, a hall, mothers’ cooperation, rehearsals – Heaven help me! I wanted to be a big shot. Here it was staring me in the face. I vacillated between all the &uot;glory&uot; and praise. I was not 14. I told myself that if the Corbett sisters could do it so could I! The Lord should have stepped in and said, &uot;I’ve seen egos in my time but you beat them all!&uot; Would I have listened? No way!
Now begins the work. Three brothers, Dad and Mother came forward. I know they had to think I lost my mind, but not a word said except, &uot;What can we do?&uot;
Email newsletter signup
A hall, a stage and no experience. The Corbett sisters got $5 per pupil for class instruction and $7.50 for private lessons. Here’s my &uot;expensive&uot; charge – $1.50 per pupil for class, $3.50 for private lessons. Hunting around we found the universal place – the Knights of Columbus Hall. Doesn’t every city have one? I was so determined to have my recital I’d do it on a street corner! (Where would they change, ‘tho?)
You cannot even imagine the furious pace set now. Look where that ego led me! The Irish are noted for being stubborn – look at the No. 1 example. But on I went. Mother’s friend, a seamstress, was to make the costumes. The boys were selling tickets, costumes were made – nothing could go wrong.
Really? Then it stuck! My pianist was pregnant! Now, everyone in those days gave the same cry – &uot;I’m pregnant.&uot; But here it had a twist to it-sick pregnant – throwing up night and day. there goes my one chance of glory. Enter her sister unpregnant. We sat together three hours while I, a 14-year-old, explained the music. Smart lady – she got it.
Costumes ready – so were we! Where did I ever get the courage? K of C hall filled up thanks to three brothers and parents of pupils. Number after number loudly acclaimed – parents do that. The smallest ones got the most applause and everyone loved it if one got out of line or performed a different routine. They loved it and every mother saw a family star on the horizon.
Now we’re at the end and the last number is mine. Did Betty Grable feel like this? If not, she missed a good deal. Who’s Betty Grable? I had an acrobatic number called, &uot;The Mirror Dance.&uot; Such applause! Had to – it was my recital. Flowers everywhere. My triumph and I loved every minute. Next, it would be boys. I was now a worldly woman –a success. Bring on the boys!
Profit? I made $42 – a fortune to me.
Florence Arena is a resident of the Hillcrest Retirement Center and a regular columnist for the News-Herald.