SWINGSTER: that girl can dance

My long lost cousin of sweet childhood memories recently contacted me. She had been reading my blog and of course related to the “characters” since many are her relatives as well.

What I didn’t know is that over the past decade, she has been steadfastly researching our family’s history through the U.S. Census. She just sent me bookoo specific family history (more accurate than my recollections). 

What I found most interesting was a page she found in ancestry.com from my mom’s high school yearbook.

I want to give this a big “TA-DA”. It is SOOOO Sonny. And yet surprising too.

In my mom’s yearbook, they had a page of “Celebrities”. Most likely to succeed, tallest, most helpful student. Sonny was on that page as “Girl Swingster”. That was cute, but what I found most endearing and just darn heart twisting (in a good way), was her senior quote. The students must have been told to say something about how the youth of today could impact the future. There were many lovely quotes. Here are several you can skim through:

The nation’s destiny depends on its youth

Youth today must strive for a better tomorrow

Educated youth will build an enlightened, educated world

Youth will set the pace in new achievements

Tomorrow’s fate depends on today’s youth

Then I read my mom’s.

Youth of tomorrow will be more swing conscious

LOLOL! What I really love about this was my mom did not try to set herself apart. She went about her business, but she just was so zesty and full of life that I can imagine when asked about the future of the youth, she innocently and disarmingly came out with this.

By ‘’swing conscious”, she meant swing dance. As many know, back in the ’30s and ’40s, swing dance was the big thing and my mom (and dad) could dance! My mom taught me the basics. She’d lead me through the lindy hop moves in my little teenage bedroom; it is one of my favorite memories.

 
RABBI LEVI: I have another memory of my beloved Rabbi (Rabbi Levi Deitsch of righteous memory), who passed away several years ago. He was a young man with a beautiful family and he spread so much joy. The last time I heard him speak at an event, he told a story about dancing. It actually was a sad story where, as best as I remember, two Jewish men were forced to dance as a cruel form of entertainment for their captors. At this time, Rabbi Levi was very ill and his physical condition was dire. I remember at the story’s conclusion, Rabbi Levi said, “We have to keep on dancing…We’re going to dance the night away.”
 

I didn’t quite understand. I knew he would not give us any message but one of trust and encouragement. If Rabbi Levi chose this message, it was filled with gems. However, I felt sad because I was focused on the cruelty in the story and concern for his physical condition. I didn’t see past my own limited perspective.

Now I realize my lens was clouded. At that time, I was sad over a life circumstance, and even with Rabbi Levi’s clear message, I focused on the difficult. I didn’t see how someone could choose joy amidst pain.

Today I see something very different. These beautiful messages, like seeds in the ground, grow and blossom over time. Reflecting on Rabbi’s words, I am uplifted knowing that even if something seems “bad” or even, G-d forbid is intended to hurt, we each have the personal power to reinterpret it for ourselves. No-one else can control the inner personal meaning with which we view our experience. Rabbi Levi took a sad story of oppression and gleaned the spark; despite illness, he lived every ounce of life and continued to give light to others.

Sonny, the swingster and Levi the Rabbi. Finding the dance.

My mom taught me those lively steps all those sweet years ago, and Rabbi Levi showed us how to bring those steps to life.
 
To us all, I hope we dance
 
Love, Vivi
 

p.s. Here are a couple of fun videos to watch: One of swing dance in the ’30/’40s, and the other…well welcome to the joy of flash mob USA 21st century. There’s a special place is in heaven for those that struggle and dance anyway.  ©

💖 Have you ever discovered something happy and surprising about your family? I’d love to hear, you can add your comments below. And if you know someone who might enjoy this, please share. 💖

 

Cover photo by joshstyle.com

6 thoughts on “SWINGSTER: that girl can dance

  1. Susan Bodley says:

    I’m loving these posts, Vivi, and the videos were a lot of fun. I don’t really know how flash mob dancing works but those folks did a great job.

    • Vivi says:

      Hi Susan, I picked this flash mob because a lot of the people dancing looked like you and me, meaning every day dancers. Some flash mobs are fantastic. The people look like they might be professionals dancers and give an awesome performance. I love the one you saw on the blog post because it goes with the idea that anyone who wants to can join in – everyone can dance!

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