Write Again … Once upon a pea patch

Published 5:18 pm Monday, December 28, 2015

Thanks in large measure for being provided access to an important historical document — a bit of Americana of truly significant archival value — I am now better able to understand the origin of my almost life-long love of performing, singing, MC’ing. In front of people, the more the better, of course.

For uncovering and sharing such an important record of yesteryear, I wish to publicly recognize and thank my friend Blount Rumley.

You ask, inquisitive reader, just to what I refer, which is only natural, of course.

So. I’ll tell you. Blount showed me a copy of a printed program, which read: “Operetta Peter Rabbit — Presented by Students of Saint Agnes Academy — May 31, 1948 — Saint Agnes Auditorium — Respass Street — Washington, North Carolina.”

That, of course, was the cover page. Inside were listed the three acts and locations of same.

The major players were then listed at the top of the next page. These included Peter, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, Mother Rabbit and Mr. McGregor.

Inexplicably I was not cast in any of these starring roles. An enigma.

Underneath were the names of those who were Carrots, Peas, Lettuce and Beans. In all, there were 65 of us who made up the vegetable “players.”

Do not jump to conclusions, kind readers. Even though my memories of this awesome production have long been murky at best, one would probably be wise to assume that we peas, at least, were integral to the overall success of this operetta. Indubitably.

Would that I could list the names of all who made up the cast. Alas, space constraints make this not advisable.

Let me put before you just a very few of my fellow thespians.

Blount was a fellow pea. Some of the other peas were Billy Carter, Emmanuel Whitley, George Kelley, Howard Whitford, Preston Whitford, Jimmy Silverthorne, Billie Pittman, Mike Willis and Larry Windley, et al.

Among the carrots (being a redhead then; auburn, actually, I probably should have been cast as a carrot) were Anita Cahoon, Frances Farmer, Jane Page, Mary Long Daniel, Frances Tankard, Josephine Tankard, Martha Ann Williams, John and Joseph Whitley, Tommy Buckman, Doc Kugler, Rufus Knott, Harry Gurganus, June Grimes, Rusty Hodges and Eugene Garris, et al.

The lettuce (leaves?) section had Sandra Harrell, Barbara Jean Jones, Jane Hardison, Punkin Pike, Camilla Rodman, Ann Peters and E-Bette Kugler, et al.

Beans (don’t know what kind) were Troy Campbell, Sam Grimes, Samuel Nicholson, Tom Nicholson, Tommy Lackland, Jerry Paul, Eli Saleeby, Drew Taylor and Charles Parker, et al.

Among the “stars” were Jerry Morrow as Peter, Robin Hancock as Flopsy, Dorothy Saleeby as Mopsy and Nell Credle as Mother Rabbit.

I’m sure it was a grand evening of delightful, stimulating entertainment. Under the aegis of the beloved Father Gilbert, and stern and all-seeing eyes of Mother De Shontel, how could it not be? Other nuns did the real nitty gritty in preparing us. God bless them all. They have each made their final journey home, as have numerous cast members as well.

Perhaps some great gettin’ up morning in that better place, when we’re together again, we can reprise that historic production.

This time, I want to be Peter Rabbit.