Memory of 4th Grade Play

Now she’s gone and done it!
Over at What Was I Thinking?, Susie put up a post with a request for a memory from your childhood.
Somewhere in the middle of the column is my rather long comment about being in the Angel Choir for the Christmas pageant when I was about 3 years old.  As she so accurately observes, this was not a case for me being type-cast as an angel, since I clearly remember, and ‘fessed up to, kicking my mother with my patent leather shoes, and refusing to allow her to put the halo on my head.  My Sunday School teacher Mrs. Pettit saved the situation.

That was my first memory of being on stage.  There were other times, mostly at church, some at school and Girl Scouts, but I was not ever comfortable having to memorize lines, being up front in the bright lights.

This is me in 4th grade.  Cat’s Eye glasses and hairband.

I have many memories of 4th grade.  Mostly that I wasn’t there half the year because I had spent much of the summer before in the hospital with rheumatic fever, and then had a tutor and my mother doing home-school until Christmas.
The day they were taking class pictures, my mom got me dressed like I was in school, drove me two blocks, I got to move to the front of the line, this photo was taken, then I was chauffeured home and I fell asleep on the couch in my nice blouse and jumper because I was so tired from the excursion.

After the holidays though, the doctor thought I might be able to handle being in the classroom.  I pretty much stayed at my desk all day, I went to the bathroom using the little one in the Nurse’s Office because there were stairs involved with the regular rooms, and even ate lunch at my desk, carried to school in my lunchbox with The Munsters pictures all over it.

When it came time for the Spring Play, the teacher wasn’t quite sure what to do with me.  Then she realized that I could read very, very well.  All the months I had been on bedrest, I did two things.  Crochet and Reading.  In 4th Grade I tested at a 9th grade reading level, even though I had missed class time.

The Play was The Three Billy Goats Gruff.  The obvious role for me would be as the Narrator.  I could sit on a stool and read into the microphone.
We practiced.  We rehearsed.  There were costumes designed and sewed.  We all learned our parts very, very well.
Our relatives were invited.

The big night came and the gym cum auditorium was jam-packed.
I peeked out from behind the curtain while the other 4th grade class was staging its turn.

I heard a slight cough.  Of all the coughs of anybody in the place, I knew that cough was my dad’s smoker’s cough and he would soon be needing a cigarette.
I looked the direction of where the sound had come from.  Sure enough, there was dad way back by the door, with my 3 year old sister squirming in his arms.

Then it was our class’s turn to be on stage.  I stepped out and took my place on the stool by the microphone.
All the other kids were shuffling into position, and when the curtain opened, the choir and the wooden bridge with the troll sitting under it looked fine.
I did some reading, then the goats started moving and speaking.

About the time the middle goat was halfway across the bridge, I was to do another reading part.
I got out about 3 words, then the microphone did one of those loud horrible screeching noises and QUIT.
I stopped reading, got down off my stool, stepped around the holding stand and cord, raised my voice, then went on reading as if that was all planned.
Considering how nervous I was, I believed I carried on quite well.

We got through the rest of the play with all of us kids speaking louder and our teacher and the man in charge of the sound system in a panic.  He got it working again just as our class finished, so the other classes’ performances were fine.

After the event, I went to the place where my parents would be waiting.  My dad was talking to another dad as I strolled up.  He was saying “Yeah, that narrator with the big mouth is my daughter.  She talks loud enough that she don’t need a microphone.”
He wasn’t paying attention to my little sister and she went running off into the crowd.  I chased after her.
I was back to my regular routine as the dependable oldest child.

These days, I don’t do so well using a microphone, as anyone who listens to me giving an announcement in church service knows.  That early experience might have something to do with it, but I can remember being ill-at-ease in front of a big audience long before 4th grade and my dad’s remarks.

There’s going to be a play over at ISU sometime after Spring Break.  This one will have a piece of me in it.  It seems that someone read my blog post written last summer a Personal Experience, which is actually about a crocheted baby afghan, but she picked up the fact that I had lived for some months in a home for unwed mothers.  Since the play is about women’s choices, I was asked to do an interview and a bit of writing to help with the background setting of the drama.

My perspective now is that, for me, a play is much easier as consultant than as narrator.  I can hardly wait to see the performance, and of course, I’m gonna blog about it!
~~love and Huggs, Diane

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