Tell Me a Story about … Musicals!

Close your eyes … no, wait, if you close your eyes, you won’t be able to read this post! Pretend your eyes are closed. I’m going to give you a line from the lyrics of a well-known musical. See if you instantly hum the melody.

“Good morning, good morning! We’ve talked the whole night through!”

What’s the next phrase? Let’s try another one.

“The hills are alive with the ….”

Did you get that one? I didn’t give you much to go on, but I’m betting you did.

What is it about musicals that grabs our spirit and won’t let go? In my childhood home, we watched Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as often as they came on Musicals Btelevision (that was pre-video days!). I fell in love with Elvis Presley as he sang, “Love me tender; love me true.” I sang along with Rodgers and Hammerstein songs from records on my phonograph.

Was it the music? The lyrics? The actors and actresses? Or maybe the dances!

Who wouldn’t want to dance with Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen to “The Best Things Happen while You’re Dancing” in White Christmas? And when the King of Siam dances with Anna in The King and I, who doesn’t want to find a partner and say, “Shall we dance?” I dreamed of being in a musical myself someday.

Well, that’s as far as it got … a dream. I didn’t have the courage or the time.

Then, we had children … who grew up watching Mary Poppins and to whom I sang, “Someone to care for, to be there for, I have you two! Someone to do for, muddle through for, I have you two!” (In case you don’t know, this is from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.) These daughters went on to make their dreams a reality. Between having roles at local theaters, performing as a vocal group with their cousins, and creating their own drama troupe, they sang, danced, and lived the dream.

Those were some amazing years. I can still hear their young voices singing through the musicals, including newer ones. “We go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong!” from Grease melted into “Open the gates and seize the day!” from Newsies. Choreography for the dance numbers in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance still fills my memories.

And yet, some of my fondest memories involving musicals come from … laughter!

Every time my maternal grandmother watched Whoopi Goldberg wiggle in the “Hail Holy Queen” number in Sister Act, she almost fell on the floor with her guffaws. It makes me laugh just remembering her. I would go upstairs to the apartment built onto my parents’ house just to watch the VHS with her, though I watched her and not the movie.

When she passed on her love of Singing in the Rain to our daughters, we bought the video. I thought sure it would wear out from the number of times we rewound it to watch “Make ‘Em Laugh.” And we’re not talking once each time, we’re talking three or four times with each viewing! Donald O’Connor made ‘em laugh!Musicals C

During the girls’ performing years, the laughter continued. Anyone who’s seen Pirates of Penzance can testify to its hilarity. However, add to that the fact that our drama troupe lacked male actors. Enter our middle daughter’s ability to pull off male roles, and you come up with a great Frederic, the young pirate who turns 21 and realizes a whole world awaits him … with females. As the only girl in the cast who could hit the highest soprano notes, our eldest daughter played the role of Mabel … the love interest of Frederic … played by her sister! And the laughs came through many … interesting situations.

Then, they began having roles in musicals at other theaters, including two of the brides in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The show itself brings much laughter in its silliness, but with one teen daughter starring as the “bride” opposite a man who had daughters her age and the other teen daughter starring opposite another teen with whom she swore, “If he dares try to really kiss me (vs. a stage kiss), I’ll deck him right on stage!” … well, you can imagine the results.Musicals A

And one of the later musicals saw our oldest starring as one of the two stepsisters in Cinderella, a role she hadn’t considered but fully embraced. (Right, in photo) Audience members were heard to say the two of them made the show. Stage actors are taught to hold the next lines for the audience’s laughter to die down. Well, if they’d done that, the show may have been four hours long!

So, yes, musicals play a huge part in my memories, but the laughter … it truly makes the heart glad!

 

What musicals ring out in your memories? Did you have a favorite? Were you ever in one? Please consider sharing your musical memories with us.

Tell Me a Story about … Glasses!

When my husband and I got married, we had so much extended family that between our shower and wedding gifts, we lacked … well, nothing. Towers of gifts included bedding, artwork, photo albums, and lots of kitchen stuff. Pots and pans, small appliances, cutlery,Glasses A dishes, mugs, and glasses.

In my previous blog post, I mentioned using my paycheck at Murphy’s Mart, a local department store, to put things I thought we’d need on layaway and pay them off. One item I recall was a set of chocolate brown, plastic cups so we’d have something to offer water or iced tea to visitors. Our wedding gifts included several sets of glasses, including floral squat ones as shown in the photo.

But those glasses aren’t the glasses I thought of for this post.

At an early age, I developed a bad poison ivy rash over 90% of my body. This caused some vision disturbances which led to a prescription for glasses in elementary school. I Glasses Bwore them as you’d expect a shy girl in the 1960s to do – not much at all. Through the rest of school, I dealt with the visual issues, but not until I was married and trying to work two jobs at once did I begin having serious problems.

After a few years, I began wearing glasses full-time. The frames for these glasses went from plastic to metal and back to plastic. The photo shows many frames available in the ‘70s. Today, I rely on my glasses more and more to see things near and far.

But those glasses aren’t the glasses I thought of for this post.

This morning, with the current ban on gatherings involving people outside our families, I decided to start a new Bible study as my trade-off for church. I’d heard of a company offering a series of Bible studies with videos for free plus a slight charge for the ebook study guides. I figured that would fit my needs well.

Since my word-of-the-year for 2020 is FOCUSED, the Bible study 20/20, by Christine Caine 005814000(of Women of Faith), jumped out at me. I paid for the ebook, installed their app on my tablet, and logged in to watch the first video portion. Besides Christine’s delightful Australian accent, the topic and accompanying Bible story brought joy as I realized what a perfect study I’d been led to.

As the title 20/20 suggests, it involves sight. Christine spoke of focusing (remember my word-of-the-year?) on the people right in front of us. She brought up the questions of who we see and who sees us. She included a statistic on the popularity of taking selfies to the tune of one million per day! And her point? How can we see others when we’re looking at ourselves so much?

She also spoke of how we would see if we looked through our regular glasses, a pair with scratched lenses, a pair without lenses, and a pair with the wrong prescription. I must admit to losing track of what she said we’d see or wouldn’t see because a memory of long ago came to mind.

And that’s the glasses I thought of for this post!

While I was a senior in high school, we experienced an extra heavy snowfall. To go to church one day, our dad cleared some of the snow, but much was still around the car doors. My brother opened the back door to get in, and I opened the front door. I reached out and grabbed the door frame between the two doors for balance to cross the snow by my door … just as my brother slammed his car door.

Glasses CLet’s leave the rest of that part of the story for another time. Today’s memory came from what happened later (no church for us). After icing my hand, I went to my bedroom and grabbed a journal I’d started a couple days before. I’d never kept a diary, but being a writer, it was bound to happen that I’d fall in love with journaling sometime.

I remember being thankful the hand slammed in the door was my left hand, and I wrote right-handed. One of the first lines I wrote that day said something like this: “Once again, I don my ‘glasses.’” I’d started calling my journaling “glasses,” although I don’t recall why.

Years later, as I reread those journals, I saw the name for what it was – a young girl-turning-woman’s way of finding herself and discovering her God. I’d just become a Christian less than a year before, though I’d gone to church all my life. I’ve journaled for the past 40+ years, seeing myself grow and stagnate, become and change through the lens of those journaling “glasses.” I’ve also learned to see God and what I’ve been missing in His work for me.

Brandon Heath says it best in his song, “Give Me Your Eyes.” Listen to this link and find your “glasses” so you can see what you’ve been missing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5AkNqLuVgY

 

Did you wear glasses as a child? Do you remember a special set of glasses your family used for water or iced tea? Did you have a set for family and a set for company? Share your story of whichever glasses you feel led to write about. Blessings!

Tell Me a Story about … a Paycheck!

“Would you kids like to stay up until your parents get here? As soon as we hear them pull in, it’s up to bed quick as you can. Okay?”

3-16-20 DWhat kids wouldn’t agree to such a proposal? Stay up late while the babysitter takes the rap if they get caught? But, this first-time babysitter had a problem. Oh, it wasn’t the kids, though they did have behavior problems. The trouble was the creaky old farmhouse they lived in, the one which could have been from the set of some horror movie.

BUT it was my first job. I would earn money of my own. I sat for five hours with four school-aged kids and one dog which was having breathing problems because of eating a chicken bone. I even did their dishes which filled the kitchen sink, the table, and every available counter. My first paycheck: $5.00.

Although I watched those kids several times, I didn’t start earning real money until my 3-16-20 Afirst big-girl job as a hostess at the local Elby’s Family Restaurant. I don’t recall my starting wage, but that job didn’t last. Maybe because of my dislike of coring two huge mounded flats of strawberries every shift … or maybe because of my embarrassment from hanging up on the “big boss.” I’d answered the phone right when I’d gotten a $600.00 overring on my register and forgot to hit “hold” before putting the receiver on the hook.

When I graduated, I moved into full-time jobs, such as working at Murphy’s Mart, where most of my paychecks went to paying for things on layaway for my coming wedding. After that, I had a stint at the Great A & P Tea Company (because my dad worked there, and this was the only thing I could do that he did … another story someday). Again, didn’t last long … my husband yelled at the manager when I called to take off because I was sick.3-16-20 B

Finally, I landed a solid, full-time position as a bookkeeper and the die was set. For the next four years, I worked in accounts receivable, accounts payable, and accounts computerized (a.k.a. the first time a computer was used in the office).

Another job, one which I’d prepared over 50 years for, came with several paychecks of varying amounts, $0.00 being the prevalent one. Yes, I meant zero dollars. Writers are taught not to give up their day job.

But what about having to PAY to get a paycheck? That was a new one to me, but it’s exactly what happened on my first REAL sale of two articles a couple summers ago.

Preparing for a writers’ conference, I’d done my homework, studied the marketing needs of the publishers and editors coming to the conference, and wrote several articles and devotions to pitch to meet those needs. I met with an editor of online inspirational websites. She accepted one article, for which I knew there would be no monetary reward. Knowing ahead of time about the no-pay standard, the thrill came from her acceptance.

DSCF4784When it came to the second article, I met with the woman editor of an online magazine for writers. She enjoyed the humor in the article and offered to buy it for $10.00, the price mentioned on the website as their normal payment for articles of this type. Again, no surprise there. HOWEVER … in order to see said article when it got published, I had to purchase a subscription to the online-only magazine … a subscription costing $25.00.

So, those of you to whom math comes easy will see I paid $15.00 to receive a paycheck for $10.00!3-16-20 C

Fast forward to 2020 and the tides turned! I sold seven devotions to Guideposts for the All God’s Creatures 365-Day Devotional for 2021. I already received the payment for these devotions, an amount allowing me to attend a new writers’ conference. Now, that’s a paycheck I thank God for!

What about you? Tell us about your first paycheck. Where did you work? What did you do there? Was the pay worth the job? Leave your story in the replies’ box.

PS: If you aren’t yet subscribed to get automatic messages when a new story comes out, please consider doing so. If you are, thanks, and accept my apologies for the long hiatus I had from this blog. Too many reasons to spell out, but I’m back and ready to share our stories again and get to know one another! Blessings!