Dance Recital

This film was made of the dress reharsal in the afternoon of the twilight recital. Jackie is the littlest girl: seen most clearly prancing and twirling through frames 1:47-2:36. We see Vera for a split second at 1:28, and that's Joan flashing a grin at 2:37, with Craig on his trike. The infamous bunny sequence starts at 3:02.

Jackie, Patsy and Jo as Wooden Soldiers

Jackie, Patsy and Jo as Wooden Soldiers

—from Chapter 8: ACIDOPHILUS MILK

One more thing is needed. Lights. The recital will start at twilight; most of the sunset will be blotted out by the backdrop, and the trees' shadows will cover the dancing area. Long before the program is over it will be dark. Mother has some regular floodlights on poles, but she especially fancies blue lights, to light up the little girls in their tutus, the older girls in their diaphanous white gowns, and the tumbling white waterfalls of bridal wreath blossoms during the Chopiniana. She wants it like fairyland.

But where to get blue lights? Christmas tree lights are the obvious answer, but it's June. No Christmas tree lights are available in stores, and even if there were, to buy enough strings would be more than Mother and Daddy can afford. Daddy has an idea. The city has miles of Christmas tree lights! Every December, all over downtown, they are strung across the street, back and forth. They twinkle brightly all during the weeks of evening shopping hours, and even on Sundays. After New Years, city workmen on tall ladders take them down. They must be stored somewhere, until the next holiday season.

Daddy goes to see the city council and makes his request. Yes, they agree, he can borrow all the Christmas tree lights Mother needs. Daddy tracks down the lights. He discovers they're kept in a small storeroom off the Community Room, which is a meeting hall in the basement of the Beloit Savings Bank.

One hot June morning Daddy goes down to the Savings Bank. He walks through the Community Room and into the little storeroom. He turns on the light, closes the door. The Christmas tree lights are there, in great tangled masses. He settles down to untangle them. Once he has a string free he plugs it in to see if it works. He then switches all the red and white and green and yellow light bulbs—which are considerably larger than regular Christmas light—to other strands, and replaces them with blue. He plugs in the strand again, to make sure all the blues light up properly. Finally he coils the the finished strand on top of other finished strands, and goes on to the next. It's a long, laborious job. It takes hours. Daddy sweats a lot.

At last he has enough. He stands up, stretches, mops his brow, slings the great coil over his shoulder, turns off the light, opens the storeroom door, and goes out into the community room. A dozen heads swivel, a dozen pairs of eyes stare at him in astonishment.

When he went in, the Community Room was empty. Now there's a meeting going on. He recognizes the man conducting it. He's the head salesman from the Brook Hill Farm. He recognizes the bottles on the table, and the word "Acidophilus" on the blackboard. He recognizes the people attending the meeting. They're the officials and milkmen of Merrick's Dairy. They all recognize Daddy, too. The salesman glares at him, the Merrick people glare at him. He gives a word of aplopgy for interrupting their meeting, nods to the assemblage, and leaves. He stops at the Rosman-Uehling-Kinzer Funeral Home to pick up folding chairs before returning to the farm.

—from Volume I, Book 3
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