Over a year ago, at Brimfield looking for props for an event, we came across this autograph book from the early 1900′s. Beginning in the late 1800′s, it was common to have an “Autograph” book which you had your friends and family sign when you graduated from high school or college. These books were similar to what we do today with our high school yearbooks. Since I especially fell in love and was so drawn to this little book, I decided to research the woman who once called it her own.
After a bit of research, this is what I found:
Helen O’Brien was a professional dancer who passed away on June 4, 2010 at the age of ninety-six. She was a beloved wife of fifty-two years to the late Walter J. O’Brien.
At age nineteen, Helen danced as a Roxyette, a precursor of the Rockettes, at the Roxy Theater in New York City. For over thirty years, she owned and operated the Helen O’Brien School of Dance in Quincy and Braintree. She was the oldest student at Cape Cod Community College until age eighty-nine, taking classes for ten years. - South Coast Today, Obituaries.
Helen left a message on the last page, stating “If by chance; This book should roam, spank it good, and send it home.” At first, I wanted to send it back ‘home’ but after some thought I figured that however this book ended up at the flea market was intentional. Probably a part of an estate sale.
When I read through this book, I imagine the her friends and loved ones signing sweet poems and notes to wish her well on journey through adulthood. She was quite beautiful and apparently talented and bright. She lived a long fruitful life, which continues to be remembered by more than just her family. I hope if anyone who once knew her comes across this post, will send me a message. Until then, I’ll make sure to keep it safe but I would love to send it back home. . .
A little the history of the Rockettes: The Missouri Rockets formed in 1925 by Russell Markert in St. Louis. The troupe was discovered and purchased by Samuel Roxy, where he brought them to New York City, when he doubled their size and renamed them the Roxyette’s. They first appeared in New York on December 27, 1932, which was opening night for the Radio City Music Hall.
Read her full obituary [here]
More information on The Roxyettes [here].