By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – The 60-year relationship between Hudson residents Linda LeSage and Jean Beddow-Arnth continues to evolve.
In 1961, the 6-year-old LeSage began taking dance and gymnastics classes from Beddow-Arnth, better known as “Miss Jean.” They ultimately became close friends, business partners and travel companions. Now, LeSage is healthcare proxy for Beddow-Arnth at age 96.
“Jean is like a second mother,” LeSage shared. “I oversee her care. This expresses my love for her.”
Entertaining from London to Hudson
Originally from England, Beddow-Arnth began performing in the 1940s as a ballerina and acrobat at London theaters. She came to America while traveling as an acrobat with the Cole Brothers Circus in 1953.
Soon afterward, she opened Jean’s School of Dance in the basement of her Hudson home where she still resides.
“Jean taught us a sense of discipline and to value our creative abilities,” LeSage recalled.
As a favorite memory, LeSage cites the annual recitals based on classic fables that Beddow-Arnth produced with elaborate scenery at Hudson Town Hall.
“Her end-of-the-year dance recitals were unlike anybody else’s in the area because of her huge entertainment background in London,” she relayed. “Jean worked at all the big theaters.”
LeSage learned to teach dance and gymnastics as a teenager, assisting with classes. While attending Salem State College, she participated in its gymnastics team.
Upon graduating in 1977, she and Beddow-Arnth opened Jean’s Gymnastics in downtown Hudson. It expanded in 1986 with a move to Marlborough.
Jean’s School of Dance continued in Hudson until 1988. When they sold Jean’s Gymnastics in 2009, Beddow-Arnth retired from teaching at age 85.
“Jean never lost her grace and her balletic ability to teach,” LeSage noted.
Traveling locally and globally
With Beddow-Arnth retired and LeSage working as a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist, they continued their mutual interest in traveling near and far.
They discovered this shared interest when LeSage was a Hudson High School sophomore and ski team member. Beddow-Arnth chaperoned the team’s trip to Germany.
“I remember saying to Jean at the time, ‘When I get older, I’m going to travel the world,’” LeSage recalled. “The summer that I graduated from college, we went to Kenya. After that, we’d take a big trip each year in the summer, and we’d go to the Caribbean in the spring.”
In 2012, LeSage accepted a colleague’s offer to join him in his box seats at Gillette Stadium. She brought Beddow-Arnth as her guest to the AFC Championship game with the Patriots versus Ravens. The Patriots won and advanced to Super Bowl XLVI.
Also in 2012, the pair traveled to England to visit Beddow-Arnth’s hometown, Surrey. A highlight of their trip was attending a performance at the London Palladium. There, in the 1940s, the then 20-year-old Beddow-Arnth performed before King George VI.
Unbeknownst to Beddow-Arnth, LeSage arranged for the Palladium’s red-coated butlers to royally welcome her.
“They all lined up and made a corridor for her to pass through,” LeSage recounted. “They brought her to box seats and served her champagne. Her face lit up with joy.”
In 2021, the two returned to Gillette Stadium – this time, for COVID-19 vaccines for Beddow-Arnth.
“Jean was enthused to get the vaccines,” LeSage noted. “She kept complimenting everyone for being so kind.”
Sharing intergenerational quality time
LeSage and Beaddow-Arnth now regularly view photo albums of their past trips together.
“It brings back memories for Jean, so she has a basis for conversation,” LeSage explained. “It’s been a huge gift for her.”
LeSage appreciates not only learning dance and gymnastics from her mentor but also life lessons.
“Regardless of age, we’re all the same,” she said. “We all have the same wishes, dreams and needs.”