The Richland Alumni Association had long been planning to put on a play to raise funds for their annual banquet.
I remember the months of preparation for that play. My mother, a hairdresser, and our neighbor, Sally Ann Geiss, were going to do the hair and makeup. Sally Ann had lots of experience with a theater company (in Reading, I think) and I recall my mother saying she was glad to be working with Sally Ann because she knew what she was doing. By the time the play was actually produced, however, my mother was singing a different tune, as she thought that Sally Ann had gotten the group to order expensive makeup that wasn’t really needed. La donna è mobile.
Actually, she probably had a point. Given that there would only be one performance and they were only charging 75 cents per ticket, expenses did need to be kept to a minimum.
Anyway, I don’t recall the name of the play, but by checking the newspaper archives I see it was called Ma’s New Husband.
It was scheduled to be performed on November 22, 1963.
Nine years ago I wrote about what I remembered about the day the JFK was shot and killed by lone wolf Lee Oswald.
It had always been my intention to write about my memories of the rest of that weekend, but I just never got around to it.
In light of the unexpected tragic events on that afternoon and the rapid fire cancellation of nearly all entertainment events that followed, the alumni association was left in a quandary. They had worked so hard to pull it off, they were all amateurs giving up their time, and rescheduling would be difficult and costly. Added to that, folks might just want and need a respite from the day’s news, so they decided to proceed.
Merrit Marks, an officer of the Richland National Bank, and one of the stars of the production, stepped out in front of the curtain at the Neptune Theatre before the play began to explain why the show was going on to a packed house that really didn’t need an explanation; they were happy to be diverted from the news of the day.
The only things that I remember about the play are that Merrit Marks played a character who had returned from some South American country and he had a deep tan (it looked like a tan from the audience, so I guess someone had applied some makeup), and one of the characters was a maid who was continuously complaining when asked to do something, “I only have two hands!”
The play was warmly received by the audience, and afterwards the cast and crew had an informal cast party at the local pub. As my mother told me the following morning, the woman who had played that maid (sorry, I no longer recall her name) was loudly demanding service only to be told by the barmaid, “Hey, I only have two hands!”
I have no particular memories of Saturday, but Sunday we had to go to church and Sunday school as per usual, though I don’t know why they couldn’t be cancelled with other entertainment events. I recall much grousing among my peers about the three tv networks cancelling all their shows and running continuous coverage of the JFK news.
Later that day, I was sitting in the kitchen finishing lunch by eating a creampuff, when I heard some excitement on the tv. I ran into the living room only to discover that I had just missed seeing the first nationally televised murder when Jack Ruby shot Lee Oswald.