Archive for January, 2013

I SAW THE 1st ICE FOLLIES SHOW

Hello! Is there anyone else out there who also attended the first Ice Follies Show? It was 77 years ago in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when the spectacular show of ice skaters opened for the first time. That was 1936 and I was five years old. (Okay, do the math.) My love for skating was born that night and has never gone away. I saw the Ice Follies every year until I left for college in 1949. By that time, the Ice Capades was also coming to town. It began in 1940. And, do you remember Sonja Henie?

We have an excellent ice rink here in little Santa Fe and a very professional program that offers training and shows. That’s what set me off this morning while reading the paper, drinking my tea and eating my cookie. The young skaters are putting on a show.

I began ice skating when I was about six years old because my dad was in charge of ticket sales for the big venue where they also had hockey and other large events. I could skate for free but I didn’t skate too well until I was 36 years old. At that time, I took skating lessons in an adult class run by an Olympic speed skater who was also a figure skater. A lot of top skaters used the rink where I skated in Los Angeles and I was able to watch them up close. What fun!

My Dad knew Sonja Henie because she had her own show and she was such a smart, hard-headed business woman, as well as the leading skater in the world, that she went to the ticket office at the end of every show and supervised the show’s “take.” This did not endear her to my father, but she became extremely wealthy.

She made a famous movie, “Sun Valley Serenade,” and skated on an outdoor rink at the Lodge in Sun Valley, Idaho. As an adult, I got to skate on the same rink and loved it.

I owned a Sonja Henie doll when I was a child. The Sonja doll had her own ice skates. I never played with her; she sat, beautifully, on my bed together with my Shirley Temple doll. They were Stars, not like my huggable Teddy Bear.

There are quite a few websites on the subject of figure skating. A good history of Sonja Henie is in the New York Times archives–sadly, her obituary.

COMING NEXT: Some Yarns About Knitting

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I SAW THE 1st

OUR AMAZING WORLD

Whew! I have been all over the world in the last few days and it was really fun. But I’ve finished looking for the most incredible structures made by man. Now I’m about to drink my herbal berry tea and eat my very chocolate chip cookie while telling you all about what I found on the internet.

I was putting together photos and information for the class I do with second graders after school at our local Boys and Girls Club. The class is called “Our Amazing World,” and I cover all kinds of things. My mission is to open up the world to these kids in our small city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, to all the world out there that most of them have never seen.

Some of these kids have never even been fifty miles away to Albuquerque. One has been to New York City. One grew up in Alaska. One went to Disneyland in California. That’s about it. And in case you are not familiar with the architecture of Santa Fe, we do not have a single skyscraper and most all of our buildings, including homes, are in some shade of brown. In this case, the lack of bright colors makes the city beautiful.

I’m not new to traveling around on the internet because I’ve been teaching kids reading after school at the Club for sixteen years, but this is the first year I have done this geography/travel/social studies class. In looking for the material I need, I have spent hours of enlightenment and fun checking out websites and blogs.

I’ll be covering all the usual things–The Pyramids of Giza, The Eiffel Tower, The Great Wall of China, Mount Rushmore, etc. I don’t do the many ruins of antiquity because it takes too much explanation for eight and nine year old kids in the hour I have. But, I found some other things that they will really enjoy, such as the Ice Hotel near the Arctic Circle, and Burj Khalifa in Dubai as well as the Aquaventure Park and Wonderland Theme Park in Dubai.

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore will excite the kids because of the park and swimming pool (the length of three Olympic pools) on the top of the building and with no roof.

Of course, there is the Space Station and, at the last minute, I found the Basket Building in Newark, Ohio, advertised as the world’s largest basket. It is really unique and quite beautiful. 

I have no idea how anyone with the internet available could possibly be bored. Since you are reading this blog, you are probably just like I am and web surfing all over the place. If you just stumbled on to this blog, I hope you will at least look up the amazing buildings in Dubai, The Ice Hotel, and The Basket Building.

SAD NEWS: A day after writing this blog, I had to cancel the program. The problem was that the parents would have to take the one day, that I do this program, to help their kids at home with the homework they have just begun to receive at school. The kids otherwise get their homework help from the staff at the Club. (I am a volunteer.) The parents say they don’t have time to help their kids even one day a week. That was sad news to me. Parent participation in school work is so very important and I think my program was, too.

COMING NEXT: I promised you something about the Ice Follies next but I wanted to tell you about what I just told you right away. So, the Ice Follies will come next. Stay tuned!

FAMOUS GROUPS OF WOMEN

Hello, again. Remember the time that I talked about Spam and spam–one you eat and one you delete? I also mentioned that there was a famous group of women named Spam Girls. As best as I can find out, they were a group of 60 women hired by the Hormel Company to publicize the Spam luncheon meat. It seems that they were a drum and bugle corps and also danced. They toured the country around the late 1930’s.

About this same time, the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes was formed. Today,they still dance there, showcasing some 36 dancers. They are most famous for their high kicks and precision.

Then there were the Harvey Girls who worked in the Fred Harvey hotels located next to the railroad lines. They existed as a group from around 1900 up to 1960. Their history is a big part of the railroad story in this country.

In the 1920’s, a less formal group of women brought a huge change to this country. They were known as the Women’s Suffrage group, and fought to bring the right to vote to American women. Our recent Presidential election would make them happy seeing how many women were elected to Congress.

Yet another brave group of women was the Women’s Army Corps or better known as WACs. That group was formed in 1943. Those women covered many of the important jobs that needed to be done during World War II, not including actual fighting. However, much of the work they did required bravery as well as skill.

In the realm of sports, women also took over during the war since most of the young athletes were fighting overseas. Women’s softball was very popular beginning in 1930 but really picked up in the 1940’s. One team won five titles; it was the Jax Maids from New Orleans. Most of the teams at that time had names that indicated they were female, often including “girls” or some other female word in the title.

If you recall any other really famous groups of women somewhat like those above, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments section below. Meantime, I’m going enjoy a cup of peach tea and a chocolate cookie.

For more about women’s softball, go to Livestrong.com

COMING NEXT: I Saw The 1st Ice Follies Show

IT’S SNOW MUCH FUN

My snow-covered backyard was so smooth and pristine on Christmas Day. Today I’m at my kitchen table looking out at the yard, while drinking my hot passion peach tea and eating a chocolate chip cookie, and the yard looks like a herd of elephants ran through it, many times. There’s also a pathetic snowman with a head that is now about the size of a baseball.

My California born and bred, young grandsons have been gone two days after spending five days with us over the holidays. The nine and twelve years old surfer-country kids created the waves of snow in the yard.

I watched them, from the same window that I’m peering through now, as they ran and rolled, scooped and threw snow, and attempted to build the snowman out of fluffy, not sticky, snow.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, I’m trying to set up for explaining to you what unbridled joy looks like. What I saw was not a pair of happy kids having fun. What I saw was the almost uncontrollable emotion one might feel when experiencing complete freedom, while eating a chocolate chip cookie. Way
beyond happy.

Snow is not inherently enjoyable. In fact, as we all know, it can be a real nuisance and also dangerous. But humans discovered how to make snow cones out of icy water (like lemonade out of lemons). People began to slide on the slippery stuff on purpose with skis and sleds. They found they could mold it into shapes, such as snowmen. And when it is not a problem, we love its beauty.

It’s not always extremely cold when it snows, but here in New Mexico this year, we have had record low temperatures, so along with the snow, we have stunning icicles. My grandsons loved looking at those, too. Their mother grew up in snow and freezing weather and she tells the story of how she and her brother got their tongues stuck while trying to lick icicles. No doubt a very common story for young children in the northern latitudes.

My idea of a great activity on a snowy day will come as no shock to you as it involves cookies, tea or better yet, hot chocolate and a nice warm room.

However, that white stuff can be SNOW MUCH FUN.