Field trip: a visit to a place (such as a museum) made by students to learn about something. Webster Dictionary

Just when I thought life couldn’t be any better than Hobo Pies and S’mores, Mrs. Bradley took my Brownie troop to a ballet.

We followed her inside Ford Auditorium downtown on the Detroit River and sat toward the back. I gawked at the grand, high ceiling and hundreds of cushioned seats about half full of people all dressed up.

An empty stage lay a distance in front. A ballet had to be a wonderful thing for all these people to show up and watch. My fellow Brownies and I asked Mrs. Bradley, “When does it begin?”

She smiled. “Soon.” Nothing ruffled our leader.

Lights dimmed. Voices hushed. Slow, soft music began and swelled in volume from some invisible place. My skin tingled like it did when Dad played his Rhapsody in Blue album.

Dreamlike, ballerinas wearing fluffy skirts danced onto the stage–on their toes!

They all moved the same way at the same time like someone was pulling a cord attached to their legs, arms, and heads. They turned, leaped, and twirled together to the music, their thin, white arms like graceful waves.

When the ballet ended, the audience stood for long applause while the ballerinas bowed.

“Time to go,” Mrs. Bradley said.

I learned about the orchestra pit that fecundate visit to Ford Auditorium. I thought pit the wrong word for such an elegant thing and experience.

Sixty-plus years later, when cloudy days dominate January, or the world’s become too complicated, or I’m on the hunt for a rare book (or all three), I remember Mrs. Bradley and my first field trip.

In her spirit of adventure and appreciation of the fine arts, I drove to Almont last Friday. There, I met Janis Grant, proprietor of ReLiteration Bookstore.

Now, something like you’d find in a Dickens novel, Janis’s bookstore is a destination Mrs. Bradley would’ve approved for our Brownie troop.

Although Janis didn’t have The Russians by Richardson Wright in her Russia section, in good time she added my total for three books: Lord and Peasant in Russia, Beloved Friend, the story of Tchaikowsky and Nadejda VonMeck, and An Einstein Encyclopedia.
“I can’t believe I’m buying three books when I have several bags in my car to drop off at my local library,” I said.
Janis looked up from her calculations. “You have books in your car?”

“Seven bags.”

“Oh, I can apply those toward your purchase.” Like a Dickens character, Janis pointed to a room with a chair. “Put them in the middle wherever you can find space.”

On my attempt to exit for my books, displayed to the left side of the door, Great American Speeches snagged me. I handed the book to Janis. “Please add this.”

Dear Reader, I didn’t last long as a Brownie Scout for lack of transportation to meetings.

But oh, how Mrs. Bradley influenced my life with her field trip to the ballet.

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