A blog post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink.
This weekend it reached over 105 degrees in Baltimore. While many people chose to stay inside where it was air conditioned, a number of JMM staff (or their husbands) and interns (past & present) spent their time at the Druid Hill Park pool performing in Fluid Movement’s 2011 water ballet, Mobtown Murder Mystery.
JMM’s Jobi, Sara, Elena, Rachel, Rachel & Morgan relax between shows.
Nope, we don’t do synchronized swimming under water with our feet in the air.
We leave the real synchronized swimming to the York Synchronettes who came down to do a pre-show performance for us.
So then what is a water ballet? Think of a musical play. You know how all of a sudden the entire cast spontaneously bursts into a song and everyone magically knows the words? Well, instead of singing, we’re swimming.
In Mobtown Gail and Mike are out for an evening stroll, when suddenly, they aren’t alone!
The Gangsters have Mike surrounded in their circle…
And things go on from there. Gail ends up at a club called the Boom Boom Room where flirty girls (and guys) perform a USO inspired number.
Big Momma Boom Boom and the Waves
The scene ends with a live rendition of “Davey’s Little Dinghy.” I’ve had this song stuck in my head all weekend, so when I came to work today I started checking out some of our photos of old timey bathing suits.
Tintype of Moses Daniel in a bathing costume in the studios of Rau & Kidd in Atlantic City, n.d. (1983.69.6)
Black and white photograph of Isadore Mount and Barnet Freedman in bathing suits at Wieland photography studio on the Atlantic City boardwalk, c. 1910. (19220.127.116.11)
Could one of these men be Davey?
Then I remembered this wonderful wool bathing costume, complete with wool stockings!
Bathing suit made of knitted wool, and matching black and red cotton stockings with the red woven into a lacey design down the front.ca. 1916-1920. Red with black v-neck, and black felt appliqued pierced design over left chest area. Two buttons on left shoulder of undetermined material. Bathing suit belonged to donor's mother, Esther Selma Benjamin Bernstein, c. 1916-1920 (1991.188.1)
Suddenly, performing a perfect pinwheel while wearing purple and chartreuse doesn’t seem that outlandish.
Perhaps Gail Force attended the Sorority Guild Fashion show before selecting her costume?
Apparently the Gangster scene isn’t alone in wearing coats over their bathing suits.
1931-1939 Eleanor Levy wearing bathing cap, bathing suit and coat, c. 1939 (2002.79.518)
Photograph: group of young girls in bathing suits; nd. 1993.37.26
If you recognize anyone in this picture, please contact me. Maybe they want to join next year’s show?
Lining up around the edge of the pool is pretty common at the water ballet, too.
Black and white photograph of Bais Yaakov Camp, n.d. The photograph shoes the right corner of the pool where ten boys stand in the water, along the edge of the corner. One boy sits on the edge of the right side. A chain link fence covered with dark sheets runs across the photograph in the background. Trees and the top of a large A-frame tent can be seen behind the fence. (2000.57.25)
In Mobtown Murder Mystery the “sparkly and ironic” cast faces a type of “discrimination” from Sam Hoe, who believes that the pool should be used for lap swimming rather than water ballet. In reality, Jews were frequently banned from public pools.
Black and white photograph of a sign outside of the Meadowbrook Swimming Club. The sign reads: "Privileges of the Swimming Pool Are Extended Only to Approved Gentiles The Meadowbrook Swimming Club." The photograph shows the walkway up to the pool as well as what is presumably the clubhouse in the background. (1995.201.001)
A group of seven men from the Jewish Laymen's Institute in a swimming pool. Front row, left to right: Jerry Dennenberg, Frank Sigelman, Buddy Sigelman, unidentified. Back row, left to right: unidentified, unidentified, unidentified (1992.202.78)
Don’t worry! You can still see Mobtown Murder Mystery this weekend at Patterson Park Pool. Show times are Saturday July 30 at 6 PM and Sunday July 31 at 5 & 7. For more information go to www.fluidmovement.org