What, for heaven's sake, led that pretty lady of mature years -- part of a group of well-groomed contemporaries -- to break into a Scottish jig in Union Station on Saturday?
Betty Light Shadaker, now of Xenia, Ohio, was celebrating a return to Washington. From 1938 to 1945, she was one of the Roxyettes, a troupe of lovely young ladies who danced daily at the Earle Theatre, now called the Warner. Union Station was one stop on the sentimental journey she took with some other former Roxyettes.
For some reason, at the station, she couldn't resist. So she danced.
Ten Roxyettes, of between two and three dozen young women who performed for varying periods in those eight seasons, held a reunion over the weekend, coming from as far away as Texas for the brunches, tour, group chats and a dinner at Dominique's.
Metro Scene brought them together -- by the sheerest of journalistic chances. Last August, after reeling through this newspaper's microfilmed files in search of glimpses of Washington life on V-J (Victory over Japan) Day, I discovered and recounted the disbandment of the Roxyettes.
This column asked if any of the dancers still lived in the area. Several affirmative calls followed, the first from Babs Robertson Shankman of Somerset, Md., now the wife of a Washington lawyer. Clippings of the column found their way to former Roxyettes in other cities. The idea of a reunion took root.
In all, 10 came. Shadaker remembered living for a time in non-air-conditioned quarters above the aromatic kitchen of the Occidental Restaurant next door to the Willard Hotel. Eileen Ritter McDonald, now of Granbury, Tex., who roomed (for $10 a week!) in the Willard, recalled that the police officer directing traffic at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW would routinely halt traffic for her to cross the street -- and one morning, tripping at curbside, she fell flat on her face. Ann Foster Britt, of Fort Myers, Fla., reminisced about taking cabs for dinners between shows at Arbaugh's, the now-closed (sob!) rib house near the Shoreham.
Several lamented the loss of O'Donnell's Sea Grill, then next door to the Earle, but one -- Ruth Minroy Lynch, now of Richmond -- was overjoyed to find O'Donnell's still flourishing across Wisconsin Avenue from the motel where she stayed in Bethesda. She lunched there on Saturday.
Until he entered the Army in World War II, Richard L. Coe, now The Washington Post's drama critic emeritus, reviewed the Roxyettes' shows, and he was so fondly remembered by the ladies that he was an honored guest at the dinner at Dominique's.
Afterward, most of us went to the home of Wini Nine Kaufman in Potomac where reminiscences were the order of the day and individual scrapbooks were perused. And half the ladies present, despite high heels and wall-to-wall carpeting, did a precision routine that belied the fact that it was last performed at least 41 years ago.
For the record, others at the reunion were Nancy Raden Mullen, Pensacola, Fla.; May Petersen Hamelin, Verona, N.J.; Anna Lisa Larson Moag, Jupiter, Fla., and Dorothy Probey Bauer, Bethesda.