Sunday, February 08, 2009

Ecdysiasts and Chicago

You would not think that there could be another remembrance that could combine strippers with the city of Chicago in my repetoire. Ah, but then you would be wrong. This story, however, does not come from my childhood. It comes from my father's.

My father's side of the family, the Fausters, liked nothing better when getting together, to sit around and reminisce. It could have been at a Christmas gathering or perhaps at Thanksgiving. Those were the occasions for the big get togethers, usually at Aunt Marg's, if it wasn't at our house. My mother was never interested in just sitting around and talking. Probably because she was doing the majority of the work in the kitchen and getting crabby about being left there. I'm not sure when I first heard this story, but it was repeated several times over the years, so of course, I accepted it as gospel.

In 1933, Chicago had a World's Fair. My father was 9 years old. His Grandfather Fauster, or "Gramps," decided to drive to Chicago and take it in and also to take his grandson, "Johnny Bill," with him. So they arrived and wandered all over and ate good things and viewed the sights, when Gramps decided that he wanted to see Sally Rand, the fan dancer. She apparently was quite the sensation at the time. So he paid the admission for he and Johnny Bill and they wandered into the auditorium and sat down. Eventually the lights dimmed and Sally Rand appeared with her trademark gigantic boa feather fans, doing whatever she did with them.

Johnny Bill, according to the story, got more and more outraged as he watched the performance. And he started insisting to his grandfather that there was something very wrong going on on the stage. Gramps tried to shush him which only succeeded in making Johnny Bill more agitated. Finally Johnny Bill stood on his chair and shouted down to his grandfather, "But Gramps! She hasn't got any clothes on!!!" At that, thoroughly chastened, Gramps picked up Johnny Bill and removed them both from the venue.

I imagine the ride back to Defiance was pretty quiet most of the way.

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