I wish I could show you what the luncheon table looked like the other day when the Alameda High School friends met for lunch. Going to the same restaurant in Alameda almost ensures us of the same table for eight we have become accustomed to. It is on the water overlooking the whole of the San Francisco skyline which is a treat in itself if the sky is clear and blue. On some days another group may have confiscated it and we just give them our disgruntled old lady stares until they look sufficiently guilty.
We don’t do table decorations so it was a surprise and a treat to find a small wooden nutcracker at each place, and our former ballet dancer already there with a catnip smile on her face as she chortled “Seventy-two years!”
This is the seventy second anniversary of the Nutcracker Ballet in San Francisco, and what makes it special to us is that our friend danced in it for the very first performance and for the next eleven years. She was Clara in the first performance, and said they all played every part. She was glad not to have ever played the Mouse! I asked her when they started rehearsing for it each year and she remembered it as being in October and fitting it in between school.
She danced with the San Francisco company as well as the New York Ballet before retiring and teaching other fortunate young dancers. The mother of one of the other members of our little group was her first teacher, and was herself a ballet mistress in both New York and Montreal, Canada. Coincidentally, a 92 year old neighbor took her dancing lessons from this lady as well.
Tchaikovsky composed The Nutcracker Ballet in 1892 and it was an immediate success, and of course, has spread all over the world with Christmas performances thrilling both children and parents ever since. When it appeared in San Francisco in 1962, my children and I were in attendance as well as in succeeding years until they married and moved away. It was a very special before-Christmas treat with all of us dressed in our holiday finery. Their own children were introduced to that wonderful music and colorful costumes in their own time in both Seattle and Santa Barbara.