Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Talented Tuesday: Dancing with the Angels

Signa, Frances, Dorothy, Lillian c. 1921

My grandmother, Dorothy Jackson, was a dancer. She was given ballet and acrobatic dance lessons as a child. There is one photo where she is on the beach with her mom and two sisters she is posed with her toe pointed like a ballerina.

Dorothy Jackson and
friend in their Russian
dance costumes, c. 1920

Dorothy was particularly proud of being able to do a Russian dance where she would squat as if she were sitting on a chair, fold her arms in front of her chest, and kick her legs out.

Dorothy married Vincent Adam Heinz in the spring of 1933 and they had three beautiful daughters by the fall of 1936. My grandfather left his wife and daughters in 1943. His mother disowned him and invited Dorothy and the girls to live with her in Skokie, Illinois. Great-grandmother was a widow and owner of the Skokie Inn (or Club), situated on a triangular-shaped corner on North Cicero with the house behind the Inn joined by a breezeway. Dorothy helped her ex-mother-in-law in the tavern in return for a home on the second floor of the house.

Dorothy outside the Skokie Club
The jukebox was always playing in the tavern. Dorothy and her young sisters-in-law could often be found jitterbugging with each other and with the gentlemen that came into the tavern. Dorothy’s early childhood dance lessons were an advantage to her when the jitterbug became popular – she was able to perform the acrobatic moves quite easily. It was here that she met and married William Max Mead, a recently returned veteran of World War II.

Galesburg house on Florence Ave.
The family moved to Grampa Bill's hometown of Galesburg, Illinois. Things were difficult for them at this time. The unemployment rate was high and Bill would sometimes get bumped at the railroad where we worked, or would have to work at a lower pay. But the family was happy. They would sing and dance to the tunes on the radio. Dorothy would wax the kitchen floor, then she and the girls would buff it by dancing and sliding on it in their stocking feet. Dorothy taught her daughters to jitter-bug and, when the weather was nice, she would teach them acrobatics in the back yard. They would all do cartwheels, handstands, and back-flips. As the girls grew into their teen years, the neighborhood boys and girls would come to the house and Dorothy would teach them all how to jitter-bug.

Dorothy on her 70th birthday

Even in her later years Dorothy continued to dance every chance she had, as well as do cartwheels. She was often found on the floor with her grandchildren as limber as any 20 year old. I picture her now dancing with the angels. I'm sure she is giving them a run for their money.

Thanks for dropping by.

  Talented Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers.