AT A MEETING OF THE GIRLS


Germany: Ore Mountains - Seiffen Nutcracker Factory

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.

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

13 thoughts on “AT A MEETING OF THE GIRLS”

  1. The Nutcracker always has been a favorite. I saw it performed live for the first time at the Houston Ballet, and then again in Kansas City. I don’t believe I’d go again, but the music is delightful. And what a wonderful gesture your friend made, to set the table with Nutcrackers as a token of remembrance.

    One of the friends who was with me on my recent trip dates back to 1973.We lost track of one another, then re-found each other through one of my customers — that was about 20 years ago. It is wonderful to have long-term relationships, even if they’re only over 20-30 years, rather than a lifetime. Quality substitutes quite nicely for quantity — that’s what we tell one another.

    I just happen to have a snapshot of me at the height of my career as a ballerina, taken on the sidewalk in front of my grandmother’s house. Even in small town Iowa, we loved the arts!

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    1. Adorable as I knew it would be in your little tutu. I love the music, but once a year for that is satisfying enough.

      You are so right about long term friendships. When your heart connects with someone it doesn’t matter if it’s 10 hours or ten years does it? We are such unique creatures—it is useless to seek only one person to be on the same wave length, but now and then—–

      I know you must have had lots of fun on your trip and are filled with more stories for us.

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  2. Hello Kayti. I smiled at the picture you paint of you and the ladies giving your best disgruntled stares at the intruders at your favorite table. The very nerve! How very special The Nutcracker is to your friend as she looks back seventy-two years long past. I simply love how you all celebrated it.

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    1. Yes, our memories go back a long way—and as in all long term relationships, the memories sometimes don’t mesh. What one remembers is not always the way someone else remembers it! It does make it fun. And at our age, who else do you tell your secrets to? A grandson of one woman asked her what she and I did in high school, and she told him, “We played the Ouija board”. That may be true, but I don’t remember that. Two were in my wedding, which somehow sets us aside into a separate category.

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      1. Just like my sisters having distinctly different memories of our childhood experiences. Of course mine are the more accurate being the eldest! And how utterly lovely that two of your bridesmaids are still part of your life.

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