I wrote this story in 2012 and one day The Official Esther Williams Twitter Page ‘liked and shared’ this story. I will remember the honour forever.
Growing up in the small town of Cowansville, Quebec you did what you could for summer entertainment. My limited picks were the local swimming pool, neighbourhood kids, and the Princess Theatre for movies. Because the town was small we seemed to get the big movies later than the rest of the world – but 50 cents and a bag of popcorn was a sure fire way to put a smile on your face.
The Princess Theatre was where I first saw Edgar Allen Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum, which scarred me for life. Seeing The Sound of Music was the closest I ever came to seeing my Grandmother enjoying her own personal hootenanny while caterwauling along to the songs in the film.
The small-town theatre was the first place I saw Gone With the Wind and rumours circulated for weeks about the local minister being told not so laugh so loud at the risque antics in the film Carry On Doctor. Summer romances began on the second level, and there was more steam coming out of the balcony than there was outside sometimes.
Drive-Ins were illegal in the province of Quebec as the Catholic Church deemed them pits of sin that could take you half way to Hell. Had they only looked at the balconies of the Princess Theatre I swear that place would have been shut down in a Cinerama moment.
The movie that everyone wanted to see in the summer of 1956 was Trapeze and my mother sat down at the piano after seeing it and we sang the beloved song The Man on the Flying Trapeze repeatedly.
Then it was Esther Williams and her swimming extravaganzas that had me hooked making me want to create my own musical number. One day after seeing Jupiter’s Darling I stopped at the local five and dime (The Ritz) and bought one of those flesh coloured nose plugs. Arriving home I dragged out my wading pool in anticipation and went to work.
The hose would then hauled out from underneath the porch, pool filled, and I would sit and wait patiently until the water warmed up from the sun. Once ready I would don my one piece bathing suit, bathing cap and nose plugs.
I always seemed to entertain the afternoon passersby on Albert Street as I would kick my legs up in the air and do my personal version of synchronized swimming. Once most of the water had left the pool from overuse I would get out and bow to no one in particular. Seeing the pool was no more than 3 foot around and barely ankle deep I must admit it was quite the MGM presentation. In my mind I was presenting The Greatest Show on Earth! to the world! Well the neighbours anyways.
From Esther Williams, my interests grew to the tap dancing styles of Ann Miller. I had never mastered a cartwheel or become a talented swimmer in my childhood, but each time I watch an Esther Williams movie I remember. Now I have a fear of water so I write, but then again writing is like swimming under water and holding your breath. That’s Entertainment!
One of my favourite shows I used to watch over and over.. Miss Esther Williams!
Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place