I remember how shocked I was when the great-aunt of one of my friends said things one day that suggested she had more than a passing familiarity with marijuana. Later on, once I learned she and her husband were part of a traveling jazz band in the 1920s, it began to sink in: Not only was she young once, she did some things my generation assumed her generation was too stuffy to imagine, let alone do. This free spirit of the 1920s now stood before me as a respectable, old lady!
I mean, I watched “Reefer Madness” when I was a young adult at university, and laughed at how naïve people “back then” must have been to see that film and fall for it. I almost hoped they laughed, knowingly, too! Little did I realize I knew anyone from that period who enjoyed recreational drugs, whether weed or distilled spirits!
This great-aunt was a grand person, full of fun, able to break out in song for the pure joy of it, very young in her outlook, and comfortable around people like my friend and me who thought we understood how the world worked because we were university students by then. She was possessor of some secrets that made her almost dangerous to know it seemed then. Ha!
Today, I came across a video of a flapper doing something so outrageous and dangerous, I immediately thought of this great-aunt again, now long dead:
It also reminded me of “Flying Down to Rio”, a 1933 film featuring Fred Astaire in this scene:
I doubt my friend’s great-aunt ever tried this sort of stunt. I like to think she gave it serious thought though. Remember, she was a free spirit in the 1920s! The more I got to know her, the more I realize she still was a free spirit, and remained so as long as she lived.