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PILGRIMS and INDIANS

~ Thanksgiving 1946 ~

Maybe my next big break in life would be on the stage.  Maybe it wouldn’t.  But it promised to be a hallmark moment for Havenwood . . .

To entertain our parents, siblings, other family, friends of family, friends and family of their friends, teachers, older students and their entourages and anyone else we could recruit, my classmates and I scrunched together on a platform stage in the school cafeteria —  under a huge, hanging, paper mache’ cornucopia stuffed with eight hundred pounds of real vegetables — and put on a Thanksgiving play . . .

CLICK HERE to Attend the Play 😉

~ Excerpts from the coming novel HAVENWOOD Tales Beginnings

Funny Holiday Stories – Fantasy Fiction – Historical Fiction Books – American Tall Tales

Copyright©2010, 2012 D.J. Houston. All Rights Reserved.

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PILGRIMS and INDIANS

~ Thanksgiving 1946 ~

Maybe my next big break in life would be on the stage. Maybe it wouldn’t.

But it promised to be a hallmark moment for Havenwood.

On the Friday night before Thanksgiving, to entertain our parents, siblings, other family, friends of family, friends and family of their friends plus teachers, older students and their entourages and anyone else we could recruit, my classmates and I scrunched together on a platform stage in the school cafeteria — under a huge, hanging, paper mache’ cornucopia stuffed with eight hundred pounds of real vegetables — and put on a Thanksgiving play.

The invitations read:

~

You Are Cordially Invited

To Attend

The First Annual Thanksgiving Play

Havenwood School Cafeteria

Fourth Friday of November

The Year Nineteen Hundred Forty-Six

Seven O’Clock in the Evening

~

I was cast as a Pilgrim woman cradling a baby doll that was swaddled in an itchy Indian trading blanket.

I even conceded to wear a Puritan dress with a huge, white, stifling collar and a bonnet tied under my chin, just to please Miss Greenlee. It was completely out of character for me, of course, but at least I didn’t have to pretend to have a husband.

I wished she’d just let me play Squanto, though. Nobody else came close to looking like him. And thanks to Miss Greenlee’s research, we’d grasped the sense of honor it must have taken for Squanto to persuade all the tribes to help the Pilgrims, considering how he’d been tricked away to Spain to be sold into slavery and then had to escape, and finally returned to America only to find his own people gone.

But his was another story . . .

Nobody played Squanto, we just said good things about him. So I sucked it up, tucked my braids inside my bonnet and held my tongue . . .

Clifford Buck wore some beaded moccasins and his granddaddy’s fringed-sleeve buckskin jacket, beating a ceremonial tom-tom while the audience gathered, to pay his tribute to Squanto and the Indians. I was grateful to see that.

Little Betsy Alcorn played a Pilgrim child standing next to a lanky farm boy named Percy Miller, who was happily dressed as a minister, collar and all.

Clayton Cox played a turkey posted next to the cornucopia. He’d been stuffed into a burlap sack filled with tissue paper, and had a red-beaked mask on his face and tree twigs sticking out the back for an avante-garde tail feather look. Since he couldn’t see with his mask on, his not-so-secret admirer, the Indian Princess Prissy Schwartz, kept inching closer to center stage, trying to get next to Clayton despite his bulky costume.

Other classmates wore more Pilgrim and Indian costumes. And Miss Greenlee had even let Bobby Blackstone and Teddy MacDougal be Indian braves, so long as they agreed to wear pants, left their tomahawks at home and checked their war cries at the door . . .

And when the lights were dimmed, we knew we’d waited nervously and long enough.

It was SHOWTIME !! 

As we streamed single-file onto the stage, the whole place erupted in cheers and applause, so when I crossed through the glare of the spotlight, I forgave Miss Greenlee completely for not casting me in such a prominent role as Squanto.

Since she hadn’t let Bobby and Teddy wear war paint, none of our Indians looked particularly savage, and I didn’t see any old veterans in the audience to get riled up about it if they had. I figured the churchgoers could favor the Pilgrims, regardless, and nobody would be reluctant to bow their heads for the Thanksgiving prayer. Surely family and friends would still like us, no matter what happened.

Prissy and Minister Percy served as the narrators. Others had their lines. All I had to do was to not drop my baby doll, say “Dear Lord, we appreciate all the help these fine Indians give us,” on cue, and remember to smile at the end when Bobby and Teddy started dancing to Clifford Buck’s tom-tom.

We were good to go . . .

Most of the vegetables stayed in the cornucopia. The cornucopia stayed more or less where it was, except for when blind turkey Clayton got his tail feathers caught in the rope while he was wiggling around trying to scratch himself.

But the audience finally quit gasping and holding their breath as soon as the cornucopia stopped swaying, and nobody ran from the stage. Nobody got hurt and nobody sued, nor would they have thought to back then. And hardly anyone forgot their lines — if they did, Miss G was right there in the wings to remind them before they ever had a chance to feel embarrassed.

The show was a hit! Our Thanksgiving play would be remembered, hands down, as the highlight of Havenwood School’s Novembers for years to come.

And as teachers go, I wasn’t the only one who wondered that night if Miss Lucinda Greenlee might be the best kept secret in America.

~

From HAVENWOOD TALES Beginnings 

Magical Mystery by D.J. Houston

Copyright©2010, 2013 D.J. Houston. All Rights Reserved.

Funny Stories – Social Commentary – Historical Fiction – American Literature Treasures

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