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Ball Gowns and Tuxedos

A great many people in this world have never worn a ball gown or a tuxedo. That goes without saying because the thought is that only the rich, those in high society and of course the stars in Hollywood wear these things. However way back when in what I will call the golden days of Latvia, my parents homeland, glamorous balls were once given. If you were an educated person and were a level above the average worker you joined societies and you attended balls. Balls were also given during special holidays like Latvia’s Independence Day and if you attended you wore ball gowns and tuxedos. My dad’s last job in his homeland in Riga, Latvia, the capital, was as an editor for a newspaper and annually he attended the Press or Media Ball held in a hotel ballroom where ladies and gentlemen danced as an orchestra played. Then came WWII and all of these people had to flee their homeland and a great many of them wound up as displaced persons in DP Camps in Germany and other countries.

When the war ended and it was time for Latvians to head to the New World where their one dream, one goal was to preserve their nationality and the Latvian language. Even though they became U.S. citizens they also created Latvian schools so their children could learn about Latvia and could learn the language. They created Latvian societies and lived among two societies – Latvian and American. My dad became the editor for the Latvian newspaper “Laiks” or “Time” in Brooklyn, New York. This newspaper was created so that Latvians all over the U.S. could find each other and would know about what was happening in their homeland and in Latvian society, in the U.S. My dad also had the honor to be voted as chairman of the Latvian Press Society and he headed the annual Press Ball. I remember how wonderful my parents looked when they headed for a ball – my mom in a ball gown, my dad in a tux.

When I got old enough I also attended many a ball in a ball gown. It was an exciting time and I loved dancing to an orchestra that played many Latvian waltzes and other popular tunes. None of these Latvians were millionaires nor were they Hollywood stars but they kept up old traditions and made the transition into a new life so much easier. I don’t think I’ll ever dress up in a ball gown again but the memories are wonderful. In the picture, you can see me with my mom who is wearing a lovely gown and all ready to go out. 

  • Question of

    Have you ever worn a ball gown or a tuxedo?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Question of

    Do you mingle in two societies?

    • Yes
    • No

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