Influence of Friends

Professor Baker's Dancing Class

Fitzgerald’s friends were a fifth  major influence on his writing.  All his life he kept a notebook or ledger recording his observations about friends.  Later, he would draw material from this diary for his short stories such as the Basil Duke Lee series.  He had a rating scale listing his favorite girl friends: Marie Hersey, described as MORE ATTRACTIVE; Margaret Armstrong as the BETTER TALKER.  (Turnbull,30)

Fitzgerald and friends met in Professor Baker’s dancing class on Saturday afternoons in Ramaley Hall near Grand Avenue and Dale Street.  Former students described William Baker, the dancing teacher, as an apple-shaped little man with a bald dome and a gray-white mustache.  He also moonlighted as a bartender at the White Bear Yacht Club.  All agreed he was light on his feet.  Jean Ingersoll and Betty Ames rated Scott as an EXCELLENT DANCER.  For Philip Stringer, another student, the class “completely ruined our Saturdays.”  Fitzgerald is on the extreme right in the top row during an end-of-the-year costume party.

Professor Baker's Dancing Class April, 1910  N6.5/ml