The Bakersfield Californian from Bakersfield, California on January 14, 1933 · Page 5
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The Bakersfield Californian from Bakersfield, California · Page 5

Bakersfield, California
Issue Date:
Saturday, January 14, 1933
Page 5
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THE BAKtiRSFIELD CALIFORNIA?*, SATURDAY, JANUARY 14, 1933 3 H.WCORLEY © 1933 NEA SERVICE, INC. CHAPTER I Most stories of chorus girls begin at the dressing room mirror. Alas for poor Sheila Shayne! Sheila hadn't been inside a dressing room for weeks. Grease paint was a memory for her. Waiting for a cue was just a phrase; She hadn't worked last week, nor the week L«fore. Nor for four weeks before that! No longer did Sheila call this forced leisure being "at liberty" or "resting." She called it the very worst kind of luck. Sheila wasn't expecting sympathy, however. So many others seemed to be having the same experience. . Sheila really wasn't a chorus girl, though she would have been glad indeed for a place in the chorus just then. Born in a dressing room 18 years ago, she had lived in the theater almost all of her short life. She had been born in a dressing room and cradled in a trunk tray because Dolly Desmond, her mother, just couldn't stay behind at the hotel while Jojmny went on with the act. Afterward the parents finally declined the suggestion of Johnny's mother (Dolly was an orphan) that the baby should slay behind in Ottumwa, Iowa, while they finished the season. So from the first Sheila was a stage baby—educated in day coaches during jumps, carried on in her first part at three months, toddling on in her second part at two years. Jhen the Gerry Society started interfering. Thereafter Sheila's knowledge of the stage was confined to the wings where she watched father and mother go through the act. Sheila knew the lines as well as her parents. • At 14 she played her first real role. It was none too soon for presently her father and mother, known as "the Dancing Desmonds," died in a train wreck. It happened during the summer when Sheila had been left behind with a friend who had a cottage at Rye, N. Y. Johnny and Dolly took their last bow hand in hand. Their'daughter was left to make the grade alone. And at 15 Sheila was known for what Johnny's and Dolly's friends had guessed all along she was to be—a dancer. Not a "hoofer" but a dancer. A bit of thistledown, a sun- bedm with little feet fluttering, stamping, clicking, weaving in perfect time. A flower in the wind. Many a poet or composer, pen in hand, could have done worse than put Sheila's dancing to music; Old troupers looked strangely grave when they saw the child, face flushed and rapt, whirling and twirling to the tuneless old boarding house pianos while some second-rate vaudeville musician supplied the accompaniment. From some remote ancester Sheila had inherited a loveliness that far exceeded good-hearted little Dolly's attractiveness. Tall, well built, slim as a sickle moon, with delicately curved, slender throat, dark .hair sleek as satin, creamy gardenia skin. That was Sheila. She herself had selected the name "Shayne." Watching her dance, one thought of blackberries and cream, marble and ebony. Sheila's eyes were set in with the proverbial sooty finger, tehe had upcurving lashes and a proud fling of the head that Ma Lowell, proprietress of the theatrical boarding house, said would take her before royalty. * * * \Vliich was all very well but Sheila had no job, very little money, and scarcely anything in the way of encouraging prospects. Today rent was due. Of course Ma Lowell would not be insistent but Ma, like everyone else these days, needed her money. The Flying Fosters were "out." So were .Sally and Joe. The Melody Trio was "resting." Timmy in the back room went to Joe Paris' place daily to pick up what he could as an accompanist. And. Myrt—well, Myrt hadn't worked -for weeks. As Ma put it, it was time for Myrt to be getting out of the profession and into some sort of a shop. Ma herself had sold lingerie while her daughter, Flossie, briefly graced the "Follies." Mrs. Lowell's rooming house would have been far more profitable is she had been less sympathetic and her memory of what it is like to be down on one's luck less strong. Yes, Shjeila certainly wanted to pay her room rent. . Her clothes were becoming shabby, even though they had b£en well cut, good clothes in th'eir time. However, her blouse was frothy and as white, as careful laundering could make it. Her gloves were worn, too, but her feet were neat and trim. Sheila's feet always were neat and trim. JThey were her fortune. Twinkling, twining, tapping, dazzling feet! She flew down the stairs now and paused at Myrt's door. "Come on, Myrt, I'll blow you to breakfast. I'm lonesome." Myrt's door opened cautiously. One eye peered out and the crack widened to admit Sheila. "Oh, it's you," Myrt said rather unnecessarily. Within the'room was dark, close, disordered. As Sheila dropped into a chair, quickly unburdened for her use, her hostess raised the shade, clutching a thin blue crepe kimono about her sparse figure. "We-can have bi'eakfast here," Myrt offered listlessly. "I've got coffee and crackers—" "Oh, let's go out," Sheila answered. "It's my treat and it will do you good. You stay here all day." "Well, no manager is going to chase you to the corner picture show, either," Myrt returned tartly. Sheila said nothing. Myrt had been out of a job so long that no one could remember her last engagement. "Going the rounds?" Myrt ventured, glancing at Sheila's suit and gloves. "Gee, you look fine. No matter how slim the old pocketbook gets you always look like a million dollars. O, well—you're young." Her thin arms, from which the wide sleeves had fallen, .^•ose in the air as she twisted her faded hair into a bun and jabbed it with hairpins. ••*«•« , 4 " Dressing was quick work. Stockings pulled on, then scuffed shoes, a dress slid over-the head and jerked smooth about thin hips, dark hat shoved down and scollops of hair pulled out to outline the forehead. Reaching for a polo eoat, seizing worn gloves and a 'flat puse, Myrt announced she was ready. The air outside was brisk.und. sunny. Spring was in its warmth and iii the voices of hucksters shouting their wares a block beyond. Children h6me from school played hop- in the theater J don't like it—much." She leaned forward. scotch. Messenger boys bicycled'smoothly. Job or no job, "I'd give it up now—" it was good to be alive. - Myrt eyed her almost in fright. "That would be all right "But spring isn't the best time to get booked, either" for a 'hoofer' to say, Sheila," she admitted finally. "But— Myrt reminded her companion as Sheila remarked on the you're a dancer! The real thing!" beauties of the day. * * * ' "Maybe not, but I love it." * , ( Sheila nodded. "Yes, I know. I'm supposed to have tal- They seated themselves at a little white tiled table in the cn t. Daughter of Johnny and Dolly Desmond, troupers. \ Coffee Shop. Other late breakf asters were there. Sheila But there are too many dancers these days.. Good ones. You/ nodded to an acquaintance or two and Myrt bowed once or »have to be a topliner to get any attention at all. And then twice mournfully. they soon forget you. Look at Marion Merlton I The hit of "Somebody leave you a fprtune?" Myrt asked as Sheila the town two season ago—and where is she now?" ordered fruit, cereal, coffee, toast and eggs for both. She "Maybe she married and went home," suggested Myrt. "And maybe she didn't. She's sitting in some rooming house this minute or out looking for a job. And Marion If I had the demurred no further, however, and Sheila was glad that she had invited Myrt. A few square meals' were what she needed. , "You're out of a job, Sheila," Myrt reminded her. nevertheless attacking the golden eggs when they arrived. "I know. But you never can tell.. This coffee is good, isn't it?" It's the lucky break we're hoping for just around the corner that keeps all of us in this game, Myrt observed reflectively. "Well, there are breaks. Look at Hazel—" "For every one who gets a break there are a dozen who could really dance, Myrt! She's still young, too. What'II it be when you're old?" "You can open a lingerie shop the way everyone else does," suggested Myrt practically. Sheila laughed in-spite of herself. "I'm not going to open up a shop for anything," she said vehemently. "I'm going to get married and settle down and have a a'small town where there are neighbors and lawns and red geraniums in the kitchen windows. I want checked gingham curtains and copper pots and pans! DICK STANLEY ** don't. The trouble"—the other had warmed to her subject —"is that none of us know when we're licked." "Well, we aren't all like Hazel," Myrt sighed. "Just imagine happening to be there in the office when the manager got the wire that Erna Dresser had eloped! That was luck." "It certainly was." "And look at Dean Randolph. In pictures now I Why, he never had anything but butler parts until this horror thing came along. Now he's one of the biggest." "Yes, he's a star." * * * The glow of the warm coffee and the good food had set Myrt to thinking of better days. It was a little sad. In any other sort of work Myrt would still Have been in her prime —this side of her prime, perhaps. But in the show business, where youth and loveliness, so transient, are required, Myrt was in the discard. Sheila shivered a little. Youth was so short. "I worked at a soda fountain at home," Myrt went on. "Before I got stage struck. You know how it is. People telling you that you should, be on the stage. Going around with a mechanic, I was. Movies, dances, and all that. It was a nice little town. Bill had a nice little car, too. Not anything elegant, understand, but a car. It would take you places. "Mother and I lived in a pretty nice house.'too. It wasn't anything like this life! Big rooms. You know—cook in the kitchen, eat in the dining room, sleep upstairs. We weren't cooped up in one room all the time the way we are here." Myrt sighed heavily, her eyes fixed on a distant object. "And yet you wouldn't give this up for all that," remarked Sheila, smiling. "You're right. I wouldn't!" Myrt straightened. "A can 6f beans heated over the gas jet may be all I'll have for dinner tomorrow. Who knows? But I wouldn't go back. Jim owns the filling station now, too!" "Why don't you write to him?" suggested Sheila. She was sorry for Myrt. Perhaps going home would be the very best thing for her. But Myrt shook her head. "I couldn't. I'd rather eat once a day and be near Broadway, hoping for a break, than at home married to the richest man in town." "I wouldn't," said Sheila. Myrt stared in amazement. "You what?" she asked as if unwilling to believe her ears. Sheila was all composure. "I wouldn't rather be here Hum in a small town married to the richest man there, or even engaged to. the second richest one. Even if I was born SHEILA SHAYNE "We never had a house, you know—my mother and father and I. I remember my mother carrying things around with her in her trunk to fix the dressing room up pretty. Pumpkins and witches at Halloween, wreaths and holly colored paper at Christmas. We never had a home. Just trunks, Myrt. Everything had to go right back sooner or later into a trunk! "I used to look out the car windows when we made jumps and s'ee the lighted houses, the bedrooms, maybe with kids going to bed.' I,used to see the dining tables set and mothers bustling back and forth in aprons. I used to see fathers coming home and children running to the front doors to meet them. "Sometimes in the mornings I'd see express wagons and fire engines or doll carriages cluttering up the front walks. Clothes blowing on the lines on Mondays. Girls having little parties. The other girls in maybe and chocolate and cakes—" "It's a lot of bunk," said Myrt steadily. She buttered a bit of toast and took a generous mouthful. "You'd be sick of it in a week. It's silly for you to talk that way. With your career! You have the makings of a real dancer. A musical comedy star like Marion Merlton. I don't see why you couldn't be as good as she was. All you need is a break. Tilings can't keep up the way they are forever. They're bound to change." Her voice shook. "I'm old, Sheila. I'm 30, but you're young." She smiled through sudden tears. "Thirty isn't old," Sheila said uncomfortably. It hurt her to think of Myrt as old. "You'd have a good time in a small town," Myrt decided after a moment's thought. "You are pretty. You'd have beaus. Everybody hus a car—" "And the moon—and maybe fireflies." "And the mosquitoes! And the beaus from the local garage! No—Broadway is the place for you, Sheila. Broadway needs you." . * . Sheila laughed a bit mirthlessly. Certainly Broadway's need for her talent today was hardly apparent. "I think it's a mistake to marry just to have a home," Sheila wont on after a moment. Myrt looked at her sharply. "You aren't thinking of getting married, are you?" "To whom?" "Well, I didn't know but what some of your beaus hud asked you." "I don't mean marrying anyone here, Myrt," Sheila went on, looking off into space. "I mean marrying someone in a little town where living means something. chance tomorrow or today I'd do it!" "You're crazy," commented Myrt. "If you must marry, pick out some rich guy and get a home on Park Avenue—" "Those aren't homes, Myrt! The only home I dream about is one on the ground with a porch and grass and clothes lines. A home that is paid for—not rented by the year or month. That's the kind of home I want!" Myrt's eyes were dreamy. "I've seen homes right here at Ma Lowell's. Third floor back, maybe, Just one room. Love. Sunshine. Funny little dewdabs, chair pillows, bureau scarfs, maybe. And your red geraniums in a pot in the window. A girl fussing around in a little apron cooking something on the gas burner." Sheila nodded. "Sure, I know. You're thinking about Bee and Walt. But they were exceptions. Did you ever cat at Dean's Chop House, Myrt?" The other's eyes widened. Dean's was the rendezvous of the successful, the great. "You're asking me!" she exclaimed. "Well, no, I haven't." Sheila had dined at Dean's frequently, always as someone's guest. It was an excellent restaurant just off Broadway, one flight up. There was good food, excellent service. Not flashy but expensive. "I've been there," Sheila wfent on. "But I've never seen a couple there who looked happy. Remember Lily Train? I saw her there three times. Each time she was with a different husband. When you sec a married couple at Dean's you can always tell whether the husband or the wife is making the most money. You can tell when they've been quarreling. And you can tell when they think more of being a success than they do of each other. When I marry I don't want it to be like that! I want a real husband and a real house. I want curtains blowing at the windows, fresh and white. A tea table out near the lilac bushes. Little tulip-lined walks. Porches—"* Myrt shrugged. "Porches have to be swept. Walks get cluttered." Sheila's voice was eager. "I've seen 'em! Cluttered with toys and red wagons and doll carriages. Lots of people feel the way I do, Myrt!" "I know what you mean, kid," Myrt said in a softer tone. "Well, I hope you get it. Only remember this. Love is where you find it. A furnished room or a palace. The chances are better, maybe, in the palace where you don't have to stumble over each other all the time. Otherwise the place doesn't matter much. Love is anywhere you find it." * » • Strange to hear this from Myrt whom love had passed by. There were rumors—a partner in the old days, a fatal illness. Sheila wasn't sure of the details. They rose from the table and Sheila paid the checks. They went out into the sunny street again. Far down the block a wagon loaded with potted flowers moved slowly toward them, the hawker shrilly crying his wares, stopping now and then to make a sale. "Well," asked Myrt as they paused, "are you going to try the booking offices or are you hitting it straight for the country and a love nest?" Myrt's own morning was an accepted routine. She would go back to the rooming house and wait for the telephone call which never came. For weeks now Myrt had been taking the course of least resistance. "Here comes Ma Lowell," Sheila said as her eye caught a figure coining toward them. "And in a hurry!" Myrt announced. "Well, if Ma's hurrying it's a safe bet she's bringing good news to someone. She wouldn't hurry on her own account." The rooming house keeper reached them, a shawl caught over her house dress, her plodding feet still in carpet slippers. "Sheila!" she gasped. "It's a good thing you two have been gossiping over your breakfast. Otherwise—" Fumbling in her apron pocket Ma drew forth a slip of paper. "It's a telephone message," she went on, almost out of breath. "It's that Daisy Gleason. She has a dancing number with a new act and she's sprained her ankle. They want you to fill in." A job! Sheila looked at the grubby scrap of paper Ma pressed on her. "That number," Ma explained unnecessarily, "is Joe Paris' place. Brady telephoned. He'll teach you the routine. You'd better call him as quick as you can!" CHAPTER II The scrappy bit of paper meant a job and Sheila's heart leapt. A job and a pay check! It wasn't much, of course. Filling in for Daisy Gleason was rather a blow to Sheila's pride. The truth was that Daisy couldn't dance. No one except Roscoe, Daisy's husband, had ever thought she could. Roscoe, hopelessly in love with her, had given Daisy a place with his act—a jazz band, rather good, with a few specialty numbers. Then Roscoe had married Daisy. Now she was out with a sprained ankle. "You won't have the job long," Myrt said needlessly. "Roscoe won't take anybody in Daisy's place, no matter how good you are." "It's a job anyhow. It'll last a few weeks." "You'd better telephone right away, Sheila," Ma Lowell urged. "Here's a nickel—" "I have a dime," Sheila said, producing it. "Now if you have two nickels—ah, thanks." That was Ma. A nickel here, a nickel there. No wonder the rooming house didn't seem to pay. "Maybe it's the road," Sheila thought as she raced up the outside steps and entered the dark, odorous hall where, at the rear, the telephone stood amidst a regiment of brooms and mops. The road! Little homes twinkling near the tracks as the sleeper jerked along. Friendly, cozy—! She slid the nickel into the machine, gave Joe's number and then asked for Bill Brady. Bill confirmed Ma's statement. (To Be Continued)

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