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|The Glass Slipper, sorta|
This is clearly the place to recount Leola’s own version of the Cinderella story, as best we can reproduce it. It illustrates perfect parenting, as we see it…
Leola knocked gently on the office door (just inside the front door of their home) and her honored father, Bishop A. M. Seely, invited her into his sanctuary — an uncommon privilege. With her winningest smile, she requested permission to walk across town to a party, that evening.
Let us insert, perhaps unnecessarily, that the anxieties that immediately come to our modern minds in this context were not really a part of the scene in Brigham City, Utah, in the middle 1920s. After a bit of discussion, they agreed that she could go, provided that she returned by 11:30 pm.
Palpitating with teenage delight, Leola dressed in her party best, with her treasured silk stockings and dancing pumps, and set off. Caught up in the social excitement, of course, she lost track of time, and when she first noticed the clock, it was already past the hour appointed for her return. Making her excuses hastily, she ran home in the darkness, as fast as ever she could, calling herself the most impolite names her upbringing could devise, and picturing her father and mother huddling in tearful anxiety over a candle in the front window. She tried without much success to imagine what punishment could possibly suit her dereliction, but she just knew it would be awful. They wouldn’t beat her, but she could imagine wishing they would.
After a long and scary dash (or so it seemed to her), she finally came in sight of the Seely homestead. Miraculously, no candle burned in the window. “Golly,” thought Leola, “they’ve given up and gone to bed. If I can just get in without awakening them, I won’t have to face the music until morning. It’ll still be bad, but they’ll have had time to simmer down.”
At the end of the gravel walk, for the sake of silence, Leola slipped off her pumps and carried them, tiptoe, toward the porch steps, heedless of damage to her stockings. Remembering that the steps tended to squeak, she carefully stepped on the nail-heads at the right end of each tread. She could just barely make out the porch swing, to her left, and she gave it a wide berth, lest it betray her with a squeak or a clank. As she reached out to the handle of the screen door, she suddenly realized that her folks would doubtless have locked it, so that she’d have to wake them up to get in. With little hope in her heart, and with her dancing shoes in her left hand, she reached out her right to open the screen, ever so slowly. It turned, then opened! “Yes, but they’ll surely have locked the main door,” thought Leola. Slowly, slowly she turned the doorknob, and the heavy front door swung silently open. With a whispered prayer of thanks on her lips, she took a step into the front room, and…A HAND CLOSED OVER HER OTHER ANKLE!
Need we report that she emitted a screech that illuminated windows on several blocks of Fourth West? Or that the next sound she heard was her father’s hearty and prolonged laughter? He’d been sitting quietly on the porch swing, in the darkness, watching her starlit figure approach and proceed just one step past him.
With composure reestablished, father and daughter put their arms around each other for a long hug, and then without a word each retired to his appointed chamber. Leola always said that the subject never came up again, in their household. And that she was NEVER again late coming home from a date.
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(The Mad Seelys, circa 1940)
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Updated Sep 2020
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