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A Children’s Party That Wasn’t for Children

The very dapper George A. Ball dressed like a child for a party at his home! How could that be and why? According to Emily Kimbrough, in her delightful memoir of early 20th century Muncie, not only was George dressed in young boy’s clothing, Frances dressed like a little girl.

Emily Kimbrough and Elisabeth “Betty” Ball
Emily Kimbrough and Elisabeth “Betty” Ball 

In How Dear to My Heart, Emily tells the story of her parents, Hal and Charlotte Kimbrough, attending a party at Oakhurst celebrating the anniversary of their dear friends George and Frances Ball. Emily says, “I knew it was a party that Betty’s mother and father were giving, and I had heard them talking about its being a children’s party.” When her mother called her into the room to see their costumes, Emily was shocked. Her mother was dressed “in a white eyelet embroidered dress, just below her knees, with a Dresden sash and a hair-ribbon to match” and her father wore “short, black velvet, tight pants, above his knees, a white blouse with a great big sailor collar…and a pale, flowing blue tie….”  Emily “was so humiliated and disgusted at the sight of them that (she) had nothing to say.”

George A. Ball

Unfortunately, Emily doesn’t tell us how George and Frances were dressed (if she knew). Perhaps they were dressed as Alice in Wonderland and Hans Brinker or Peter Pan and Wendy. Maybe little Betty Ball sat on the stair landing and watched the party. Was Betty as mortified as Emily was? Did George’s brothers and their wives also attend the party? I don’t know, but if I ever find out, I’ll let you know.

Frances Woodworth Ball 

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