Last August, Mom and I attended a fundraiser dinner in the Powers High School gymnasium.
Even though I never attended high school there, something was very familiar about the room. Especially, the stage.
I now know why.
While cleaning out some old boxes, I ran across a script and its associated program. It turns out the Power High School stage was my big dramatic breakthrough.
Sure. I was in a few church plays. A shepherd if I was lucky. A sheep if I was not.
But those were the small rooms. The high school gymnasium was the big room. Where the entire town turned out for Christmas plays. And I had a leading role.
Ok. The lines were a little stilted. "And my presents are all wrapped and ready for my taking them around tomorrow."
The play was long in the tooth when we put it on in 1957. It was copyrighted in 1936. Who knows when it was written.
My fear is that I may have been cast in the part because I sounded like an Edwardian-era child when I was 8. The same type-casting that plagued Jane fonda in Klute.
What strikes me now about the play is that it is a Christmas play in a public school. And presented to the entire community.
There is Mary. Joseph. Shepherds. Angels. Wisemen. The Innkeeper. And the baby Jesus -- present in every original song of the play.
Mexico, officially a secular nation, would have no trouble today presenting a play with the same characters in its schools. And Oregon in the 1950s had no qualms.
It never occurred to us that a holiday named Christmas could have no reference to the Messiah. An assertion, if made now in an Amrican public school, would result in hand-wringing and pink slips.
The little play did not launch me on a stage career. Unless you count trial lawyers as auxiliary thespians. I guess they are. I certainly know I was.
Without Jack and the intoxicating sound of applause, I may never have had an opportunity to tread the boards in court.
Thanks, Jack. I had forgotten all about you and your reminder -- "No wonder you asked us if our hearts were ready for Christmas. They weren't at all."