In the fall of 1972, Lucy Ferriss, then a faculty scholar in California, was once getting ready for the Veiled Prophet Ball at which she was once to be offered to St. Louis society. as soon as the biggest cotillion within the nation, the invitation-only ball was once designated between society occasions not just for the legend and secret surrounding its namesake but additionally for its environment in a public, taxpayer-funded enviornment and for its accompanying parade.
within the past due sixties and early seventies, with racial tensions at a boiling aspect and concrete renewal failing, the completely white male Christian club of the Veiled Prophet Society and the Veiled Prophet’s costume—eerily similar to a Klansman’s—attracted the ire of motion, a militant civil rights workforce. prior to the 1972 ball, motion founder Percy eco-friendly, himself a local St. Louisan, despatched letters inviting the entire debutantes to affix within the protest: “ACTION is familiar with that you simply hate being a part of this upcoming white racist Veiled Prophet Ball as we hate you being compelled to take part through your parents.” The letter didn’t convince Ferriss, who felt she owed it to her father to take part. She wrote again: “Don’t you may have greater fish to fry? this can be only a silly social gathering. we're slaughtering humans in Southeast Asia. allow this one move. it's going to fall of its personal weight.”
yet motion didn't enable this one cross. at the evening of the ball, as Ferriss bowed in obeisance to the group and took her position at the degree, a girl swooped down onto the level and knocked off the Veiled Prophet’s hat and veil, revealing his identification. within the period of enormous Vietnam warfare protests, unmasking a filthy rich and strong previous guy may need appeared a feeble act of revolution, yet this act ceaselessly replaced the Veiled Prophet Ball in St. Louis.
Ferriss’s memoir blends local historical past, nationwide background, and her personal own historical past to create a fast moving narrative that follows time traces. One is the dramatic and sometimes shaggy dog story of her attending the unique ball, having eaten part a pan of marijuana cakes previously, with a Jewish hippie who smelled of “unwashed beard.” the opposite tale happens thirty years later as Ferriss returns to St. Louis from her domestic at the East Coast to trace down a few of ACTION’s central activists in addition to key figures within the Veiled Prophet Society.
Over the process this enticing tale, Ferriss undergoes her personal unveiling, as she discusses and springs to phrases together with her family members; the earlier, current, and way forward for St. Louis; and the cultural politics that body younger women’s front into society.