How We Beat the End of Summer Blues: Jitterbug Style

 Posted by on Aug 25, 2013 at 9:20 AM
Aug 252013
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40s Couple Swimsuit Ad~ How we beat the end of summer blues ~

As another summer comes to an end, my mind reaches back to a wonderful end of summer when we were still living in San Diego, California…

My haunches rested on cold asphalt, my son slept on a vintage wool blanket, another atop him. It must have be past midnight. My daughter, husband and friends were down by the water’s edge, searching for the lost key. It was strange that my husband had lost it, he never lost anything. If this was a novel, I wondered what it would foreshadow? The last glow of summer ebbed from my bones, the official end of long days and warm nights; this was how we once beat the blues.

We arrived at our usual Lindy by the Bay spot, (a once-a-month beach-side dance venue) no swing tonight though. My husband and I were clad in our best beach vintage attire, I in my midriff tie-top and skirt with Pendleton for later, David in a wonderful 40s 50s Barkcloth Tiki Shirt. My daughter and son matched me in home-sewn outfits.

They sped ahead as I made my laden way to the fire pit. I was greeted by new and familiar faces. Children spread across the beach like lost pearls, my kids among them, fostering friendships which seemed more worn than a single summer’s eve. I was introduced to Sarah’s cousins and acquaintances. She was vintage fabulous in her Freddies and cherry print blouse. Our friend, Brian lazed under his big straw hat like a quintessential Mexican Caballero sans a saguaro cactus.

40s Beach Girl Redhead

The sun sat low, purple and pink clouds kissed the water. A fish jumped and the children squealed as a black duck and snowy egret put on a dinner show. Another of our group, Mikey came breezing in, grinning his dimpled smile and harassing my husband for not having set up the horseshoes. Mikey’s 1950s crew-cut hair and gray gab shirt, sleeves rolled made him look like the perfect retro-man specimen. He came to play. David busied himself pouring yummy, dark, fragrant beers. It had been a long day and we were eager for alcohol and beach to rub the edges off our muscles and mind.

Metal horseshoes clinked between the clatter of men. Latecomers and swing buddies, Spencer and Ali, breezed in bringing a much needed folding table. Ali glowed in her gingham Rockabilly half-shirt, flat tummy and tight jeans. She was at an age where youth sheds its innocence for the deeper beauty of full bloom. All I could do was watch and remember when I felt the way she looked. We organized the food into an artist’s palette of delectable delights.

Vintage 40s Girl in Swimsuit and hatSpencer practiced air-steps deftly flipping Ali, sand dusting the sea air. My husband and I shuffled lindy through six and eight count rhythms. Dean and Susan, in vintage beach fashion, sandily shredded the shore with Balboa Swing. How do you beat the end of summer blues? With dance and laughter of course.

I shifted the blanket over my sleeping babe and breathed in the last smells of summer. My memory dimmed and narrowed struggling to remember conversations about dancing, gardening, music, movies and sewing. Both Sarah and Susan loved vintage patterns like me. We dissected the merits and difficulties of working with antique ephemera.

Individuals rotated around the fire like clock hands. Periphery people peeled back and disappeared into the night, a rocket freeing itself from earth’s gravity. We cosmonauts held steady for the finale explosion. An entire pallet was thrown onto the fire. My daughter said it looked like a waterfall, a fire-fall; we each sunk into a private solace.

30s 40s beach bonfire

Flamed licked round the wood, an unseen force pulling them under and around, fascinating and hot, really hot. Our sandy chairs immediately raked back as the fire brightly illuminated everyone’s features, a joyful sight. The light show faded, we inched forward filching the last bits of warmth, of friends, of summer.

As if a bell sounded, we jumped up, folded chairs, packed food, and dumped ice, all done like a rehearsed dance. We shook the sand from bodies, blankets, tables and chairs. Our beach paraphernalia scooped and ferried to silent cars. I sat with sleeping son in wait of the searchers return.

My daughter bounded upon my thoughts, “He found it, he found it.”

The key to summer was put away for another year.


Do you have a special summer memory or a way to beat the blues? Ever been dancing outside, what did you like or not like about it? For more personal stories like this one, check out:  Casbah, Swinging BlindParty, Confessions

Tam Francis, authorTam Francis is writer, blogger, swing dance teacher, avid vintage collector, and seamstress. She  shares her love of this genre through her novels, blog, and short stories. She enjoys hearing from you, sharing ideas, forging friendships, and exchanging guest blogs. For all the Girl in the Jitterbug Dress news, give-aways, events, and excitement, make sure to join her list and like her FB page! Join my list ~ Facebook page


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  6 Responses to “How We Beat the End of Summer Blues: Jitterbug Style”

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  1. Love it all, your blog is great! I was born in 1951. My dear late Dad taught me to Jitterbug when I was just about 7 yrs.old. My parents were great dancers…having parties at our house or going to dances a lot! I remember when he would wax the basement floor, before they finally installed a dance floor. He would get me on the floor and show our family and friends how he taught me to dance. It was so much fun!

    I loved my sweet late Mother’s party dresses and her high heel dancing shoes! I still have a few of her outfits. My favorite one is a black velvet circle skirt with a blue glittery flower design near the ankle length hem. She wore it with full petticoats and different pretty tops. Lol, I remember wearing those petticoats with dresses and Church on Sundays, or shopping downtown at O’Neils Dept.Store, always a hat, gloves, black or white patent shoes and a little-girl patent handbag.

    For Easter and Christmas we (parents, sister, brother and I) were all stylin’ in our dressy clothes. Yes, it was a bit fussy, but it was really fun! I did the same with my three kids too, just not quite as fancy as it was in 50-60s. Even though I’ve always liked ‘dressing up’ the worst thing I remember, when beginning in 7th grade, was having to wear nylon hose with that darn garter belt! Before pantyhose or thigh highs were available, Lol, I wore knee socks or trendy tights whenever I could!

    Oh, the memories…it was still fun growing up in the 1950-60’s! From some of my Moms and Grandmas shared memories from the 1920-40s, times were kind of tough during a good part of those years. Of course, all eras have there troubles…things haven’t been exactly rosy recently. May God help us all!

  2. Hi Tam! You left a few comments on my WW2 blog, The Best of World War II, so I wanted to stop by your place and check it out. I LOVE the banner on your website. So cool! And another writer who loves vintage and the 1940s – yay! I’m following you on Twitter right now, too. I’m over on Twitter – @WW2HistoryGal.

    Great to connect with you!!!

    • I follow you too! Thanks for taking the time to check it out. Not quite as historical as your site, but lots of fun :) Great to connect with you too! I added you to my fave links page!

  3. Nice job.

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