Monday, October 6, 2014
No Dancing Allowed
Her mother, Elizabeth Woodhead, had been raised in a strict fundamentalist family in Bury, England. This family had no books other than the Bible and the young Elizabeth was in trouble whenever she was caught dancing. The young girl believed in fairies and loved to dance in her stocking feet in the attic.
At the age of eighteen, Elizabeth left England and went to Rosebud, Texas to visit an older brother who had settled there. While visiting, Elizabeth met George Roper, a widower from Alabama who was gaining a fortune in the cottonseed oil industry. He was also a principal force in the Baptist community.
During the early years of the marriage, Elizabeth shocked and outraged some of her more religiously strict neighbours when they peered into a barn while a square dance was in progress and saw the young Mrs. Roper dancing. The indignant neighbours insisted on her excommunication but George threatened to remove his financial support from the church so that discouraged any action.
Among the fundamentalist Christians of the American South, dancing was loathed. It was thought to be the principal trigger for immoral and criminal behaviour. Dancing was said to lead to insanity and incarceration for life in a mental hospital.
June's enthusiasm for riding was encouraged when she saw the "little girls in big tutus, riding on ponies in the circuses" Travelling acts would set up the tents for shows in remote towns in the Southwest and it appears that the community allowed it even though they were against most forms of theatrical entertainment.
When June was five, her sister Madelyn was sent to a sanatorium in California for galloping consumption - tuberculosis. Elizabeth Roper moved with her young children to the west coast and stayed for a little while with her older brother, David Woodhead. The Ropers liked Los Angeles and within a year had moved into their own apartment. George travelled between L.A. and the south but the family's spiritual guidance was continued under the strictly Baptist Uncle David.
However, in 1916, June's oldest sister, Anne, took the young girl to an event that would change her life forever. Ann and June went to a performance by the Russian prima ballerina, Anna Pavlova. June was transformed by what she saw.
I hope you find the beauty around you.