By Pat Kovsky-Dotson
These words are heard
often in Show Biz….
And sometimes heard
in real life!
How surprised and scared could a second grader be when she heard the school was going to have an Operetta? I had never heard of the word Operetta, and I was timid enough just being in a new school. Well, all was not to fear. Matter of fact, it was nothing but show biz!
Several of the younger classes were taken across the way to the huge new auditorium. Oh my, it had many seats and a big stage with real velvet curtains that could be pulled. I had never seen anything like this, and it was very modern considering that in our building we still had potbelly stoves.
But things were moving along in the school system and it certainly was moving on with this Operetta!
My little group of girls was selected to be dressed like flowers as we were to do our song and dance. Each mother was to make an outfit from a child’s slip and cut out petals from crepe paper and sew them on. I remember mine was blue and I was told that Patty would be a pansy. Now, what more would you want?
We rehearsed every afternoon until we all were perfect. Then came the time for the real event! Kids were excited and kids were scared. I had no worry, I thought, because I knew my song and dance and had continued practice at home and even in the yard, and in front of anybody who would watch!
When the flower girls got on stage, all went well until about the middle. Suddenly my mind went blank like it still does now sometimes. I got mixed up and could not follow the group. No, I did not stop and cry or wet my pants. I just started dancing around to my own set of steps and was all over the stage, just marching along to the beat of a different drummer.
The audience probably thought I was a blooming idiot or had a bee in my bonnet for we did have on little hats shaped like flowers. The teacher thought the entire production was great and never mentioned my dance. Guess she just figured that this was show biz and the show must go on!
At home, my sister and I through our middle years thought we were great performers and would do so with our parents as the audience. In the winter there was not much to do in the house. There was no television, and the radio was used mostly to get the news or Mama’s afternoon soaps. We just made our own entertainment, and oh, it surely must have been good!
After supper we would go into the room adjoining the living room, and this was our behind the curtain part of our stage. We would make out a program on paper so we would not get mixed up. I suppose this is where I got my first experience at such for I have done many in my lifetime.
Now, when it was time for the show to go on, my sister would sing a solo. She had a gifted solo voice all her life and sang a solo in a program when she was in the first grade. She was a soloist through her adult years, so this must have been her beginning.
In between our acts, we did a tap dance together! We thought we could because we could hear our shoes click on the wooden floor which had just enough finish to scoot us along. To us, this was the height of the show!
When it came my turn, I didn’t have much talent, but that didn’t bother me. I had taken an Expression Class in school, which taught me something about my speaking voice. I would recite poems or read something out of a book.
This was surely the beginning of my future for I have done more than my share of teaching and speaking.
Throughout the remainder of my school years, I was in a few little school events, and quite often I was on the program for the Kiwanis reciting poems I had learned in the Expression Class. The teacher did this to me because the show had to get on the road! I had the leading part in both the Junior and Senior plays, but nothing much happened until I was grown and married.
My husband was mayor of our city, and he and the council decided it would be special to have a mini-Halloween event for the children of the town. We had hayrides, costumes, candy, hot dogs and anything a kid could want.
The problem with me was what would the mayor and his wife dress up like?
This went on for days until in the middle of the night, I got the idea of Boss Hogg and Enos from the TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
I finally had enough pieces to complete Boss a white suit, sprayed white a straw hat, and he sported a huge watch across his middle while he puffed on a big long cigar. He looked so authentic, even though this was not the best character for the mayor to play.
Enos borrowed an authentic city policeman’s shirt, along with a holster and my husband’s gun. He (she) had an authentic brimmed hat like the state patrolmen wear, but I won’t say where I got it!! We were so real that I laughed till I cried!
After the highly successful kid’s event, we went out to eat in another town.
A real policeman was there who didn’t know us and he asked me where I was working now! All I could do to keep a straight face. I wanted to tell him that this was only show biz.
When he found out it was a costume, he wanted to take a look at my gun.
I would not let him take it out of the holster until we went to a private place. Of course, the gun was empty. Guess he thought I was sort of for real.
All this fun continued as we went to a friend’s Halloween party where everybody had on a costume. What a day and night! Guess this is part of the reward when you are pretending to be in show biz!
The advertisement said that Minnie Pearl would be at this big event along with many other TV and invented characters. This came along years later when a group from our church had an entertainment event for the entire church.The leader (pastor, director, entertainer) told me one day just out of the blue that I would be Minnie Pearl. He said I was to entertain and announce each act when their time came on the show.
After a period of panic, I began to write a script of jokes and nonsense for each of the acts. Of course we rehearsed many times, gathered our crazy costumes and were ready to get the show on the road.
My outfit consisted of a full skirt with blouse, jewelry and huge flowery pocketbook. To top it all, I took a straw hat and covered it around with silk flowers, enough to weight down my head. The most authentic part was when I attached a huge white price tag with $2.98 hanging out for everyone to know it was really Minnie Pearl.
Oh, what a time we had. The performance was a success, so much that we did it again for a high school class reunion, and two other times for the church and community.
What was so memorable for me was that we did it once at the auditorium where I had been in the Operetta. After it was over, I told the leader (pastor, director, entertainer) that I had done my first stage performance on that very stage and tonight I had done my last. This would make my show biz so meaningful because of the location. The answer was something like, “We’ll see!”
Sometime later, the “We’ll see” came to pass; he did see that we did it just one more time at the church as some had not seen it. It was the same one, but some acts were added or taken away.
In writing the script for Minnie Pearl sometime back, I used the idea of this big bus coming from Grinders Switch with all of the actors to entertain this group of people. At the end of the show I came out with a farewell in my loud Minnie Pearl voice and certainly with her unusual accent.
“Bet you all thought I’d gone to bed and gone to sleep. Ain’t so! I’m a-gettin’ on that big bus out there. As purty as I am, I’m purty shore I can get me a feller, cause I shore ain’t got one. Now, you ain’t gonna know who I GOT, But WHOEVER I get is shore gonna know that he’s been GOT! Guess we’d all better get on that big bus out there, cause you folks might wanta go home! And, by the way, you fellers out there had better wish me luck in finding a feller on that bus, cause if I don’t, I’m a-coming out there to get one of you!”
Well, Minnie didn’t get her a feller on that bus, but folks as you know, this is show business, and so the show must go on!