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Identity of 'Mystery' Dancer revealed
Lifelong Fredericksburg resident Elizabeth Young Hicks sparkles in a 1930s portrait.
Visit the Photo Place
By Jennifer Strobel
By JENNIFER MILLER STROBEL
Plenty of little girls point and plie their way through ballet classes, but after the thrill of the pink tutu and leotards wears off, most move on to other pastimes.
Few stick with it as adults. Elizabeth Young Hicks was one of the few.
"I can't remember a time in her life that she didn't dance," her son Ben Hicks said, remembering his mother, shown in this photo as a young teen.
The occasion for the portrait is lost to time, but the charm and verve of the young model is as fresh today as it was in the 1930s, when she posed.
Dancing in all its forms was immensely popular when Elizabeth--also called "Beth"--was growing up in Fredericksburg.
The daughter of A.B. and Ellen Young, she spent her childhood in the spacious brick house with a wrap-around porch at 1301 Caroline St.
She was probably all of 4 years old when she met the boy, DuVal Hicks Jr., who would become her husband.
"I never forgot that she was an invitee at my fifth birthday party," DuVal Hicks wrote years later in a memoir.
He left no record of whether they danced at the birthday party, but his memoir did trace the steady development of the romance (see sidebar). He also saved a program from May 7, 1936, in which Elizabeth Young, 14, was one of the dancing daisies in a musical comedy, "Mixed Pickles," performed at the Fredericksburg High School to benefit the Ladies Auxiliary of the Bowen-Franklin-Knox American Legion Post 55. DuVal Hicks played a role as one of the play's "hotel guests."
Between acts, the high school orchestra performed, and students did toe, waltz and tap dance routines. Elizabeth Young was among the tap dancers.
She advanced her skills under the tutelage of a Fredericksburg dance teacher, but somewhere along the way--possibly about the time the portrait was taken--she had to abandon dance lessons.
Years later, she told her daughter-in-law, Catherine Hicks, that she and other dance students had been invited to perform in Washington, but her father forbade her to go, saying, "No daughter of mine is going to be dancing there."
He apparently associated public dancing in the city with the "whole showgirl scene," Catherine Hicks recounted by telephone.
Catherine Hicks believes he withdrew his daughter from lessons shortly after.