My daughter recently unearthed two missing picture boxes from her attic that I had given her “for safe keeping.” As you know, that’s the kiss of death for anything you hope to find later. But after a lot of scrounging in her attic heat, find them she did, and returned them to me.
Among the hundreds of photos my mother took of me, labeling each one meticulously, is a photo from my fourth grade school year of an apparent Thanksgiving play. I say “apparent,” because I have no memory of it, even though, based on the picture, I was the star. Or rather, I was the co-star, along with my future boyfriend, Donny. He was also the poor sucker who got roped into sixth grade ballroom dance lessons with me and jitterbug practice sessions to his basement juke box.
So there sit Donny and I, alone on the stage with a fake fireplace between us. My mother noted on the back of the picture that it was taken on Nov. 23, 1955, and we were portraying Stephen and Elizabeth Hopkins. While I’m sure they were important people in the pilgrim hierarchy, I’ve never read their names in any history book.
Donny and I are in fetching pilgrim costumes, probably put together by our mothers. Donny wears a dark shirt and pants, with a wide, squared-off white collar and matching cuffs. Below tall white socks, his shoes hold big buckles which complete the outfit. Meanwhile, I also wear a dark outfit, with my skirt covered by a huge white apron, another big collar, tall white socks, and a white hat, similar to what you’d find on a baker. Donny is speaking to me as I listen intently, the way many husbands think we should. What he’s saying is lost to time, but I’m hoping it was something interesting, although I’m not optimistic.
Our school plays had three performances, due to limited seating capacity. The first was early in the day for the lower grades, including the Kindergarteners, who were there only a half day. The second show was in the afternoon for the older kids, and the third one was at night for the parents. It may not have been Standing Room Only, but I’m sure my mom wasn’t alone out there in the audience.
I must admit, I miss those corny school plays, even those Old School ones romanticizing the clueless newcomers who needed survival help from the "natives."