Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Ah, 'tis a day for the wearing of the green! And for celebrating Irish heritage. May you not be pinched today, and may all the blessings of the Irish be with you.
I remember one of our many programs at Calvert High School, on stage in the auditorium. This one was for St. Patrick's Day. As usual, most of the town turned out to see anything that went on at school, or elsewhere in town. No tv back then and I doubt that many would stay at home and miss a community gathering and experience, to hear a radio program.
My mother, and other mothers, bought packages of folded green crepe paper at Fink's Variety Store, then sewed costumes of green crepe paper on the sewing machine. That was quite a challenge, to sew on paper with an old treddle sewing machine. And that paper scratched and rattled when we wore them.
I worried about wearing paper in front of people. What if it should tear! And there I would be on stage, in just my panties! Horrors! Mama had to show me how the crepe paper would stretch, but I was still uneasy about it.
We sat in little chairs in rows on the stage.
The piano was in place on the floor at the side of the stage. I can't remember if my mother was playing that year, or if it was Miss Stella, who also taught piano lessons and played for community events. My mother taught piano and played for many community events, and there was a bit of rivalry between the two ladies. Miss Stella played at the Baptist church and my mother played at the Methodist church.
My friend, Kathryn, sang a solo, our little choral group sang, I may have also had a solo as I remember some of the words, and how scared I was.
"Sure, a little bit of heaven fell from out the sky one day, and it landed in the ocean in a spot not far away. And when the angels found it, sure it looked so peaceful there."
I think that JoNell also sang a solo.
Even at my young age, I could picture men in bowler hats and old fashioned suits, in a bar, heavily decorated in dark wood, in New York, gathering to harmonize and sing of the old country. In this case, it was of a diamond shaped island, covered with green shamrocks, and rocks and leprechauns-all surrounded by a beautiful, sparkling blue ocean. (I saw a lot of movies when I was growing up!) Angels in gossamer gowns with glitter, darted and floated above the emerald island.
Our group of dance students tapped away in our crepe paper costumes. I'm sure that there were poems recited and probably something given about Ireland.
I think we were about 5th grade, maybe younger, in 3rd grade. (Our class got to skip the 4th grade, if our parents would let us, so I know it wasn't 4th grade!)
My little sister had not yet started to school but, for some reason, she was put into the program. She was very blonde, dainty, and cute as a little doll, but she was also not going to do little girl things. And she didn't want to talk much, so everyone thought the thing to do was to get her to be involved in things, with other children. And to insist on frilly dresses, dance lessons, and dolls and such things that the rest of us girls were involved in.
So, my mother made a green crepe paper costume for her, too. And she was to be the big finale of the program. We all made it through, and it came time for my sister to get up and do her dance.
She would not get up out of her chair!
People were urging her to do her routine, but she wouldn't budge. They also tried to get me to make her perform. So, I got up from my place in the row of chairs, and tried to pull her out of her chair. She hung on as I pulled, and the chair moved across the stage. One determined little girl just would not get out of that chair.
I begged, I pleaded, I promised a treat, I threatened, but nothing worked.
We reached the edge of the stage by the footlights, with her still holding on to the chair, and her mouth firmly pressed together. And me pulling with all my strength.
The curtain came down, and, only after everyone started to leave, would my sister get out of the chair. She ran to Mama and went home.
I thought that the teachers who arranged the program, my schoolmates who were in the program, and the people in the audience were all mad at me because I couldn't get my sister to do her part. I felt that they would blame us for ruining the program. But, then, maybe I wouldn't have to get up in front of people at the next program! They would just leave us out of the next ones-I hoped.
My sister probably got more attention that day, than any of the rest of us, without having to do a thing.
After we got home, I fussed about being so embarrassed, and, my sister went about doing her routine that she was supposed to have done on the stage. And then she went on to play with her toy John Deere farm implements and to ride her trike.
Whenever we had the various programs at school and in town, in honor of some special day or culture, I (not wanting to have to get up in front of people) would complain that I couldn't be in the program, because I was not in that group, or that I just didn't want to (which never worked!).
And, years later, when Mama was working on genealogy, she said that, on her side of the family, we were English, Scottish, and Irish. I've found a lot on the English side, and several leads to the Scottish side, but I haven't found that Irish connection, so far. Miles and related families were English, Arnett and Vann are probably the Scottish families, but the only families that I think may be Irish were Davis and possibly Day. Haven't found that far back to the old countries, yet.
I have a special pair of ear bobs (no clips, not pierced, but they are the screw on type) that I got for high school graduation, that I have worn for all these years on St. Patrick's Day. They have 4 leaf clovers in them. I got two pair like that, which I still have, although one earring has a clover that has begun to turn brown. I guess that air got in it somehow. Keeps me from getting pinched-especially when I was in college and teaching. I got a pair that is similar, also at graduation, but this pair has a tiny mustard seeds in each piece. Those came with a printed story about the mustard seed.
I don't have a picture of our St. Patrick's Day program. I'll have to do one. I certainly remember that program! There are many memories, many stories, many pictures that we should gather while we can. It seems that in the past couple of weeks, we have lost about 5 schoolmates and friends from long ago. I am so shocked and saddened to hear of their deaths. My thoughts and prayers, and memories, are with them all, and their families and friends.
I have drawn a couple of memories of two of them, so far.
With our thoughts of green today, we can add the green grass that is sprouting outside. (No shamrocks, and few clovers around here.) Bluebonnets are poking their way to the surface and soon should be in full bloom across the fields. Pear trees are blooming.
And, as "spring has sprung", Spring Break has ended here. Kids went back to school today. But, at our house, we seem to have spent Spring Break passing the second round of flu around. This kind started with the stomach flu, then developed into upper respiratory type of things. So far, the oldest grandson has escaped it. Knock on wood!
I've heard that people are getting this flu several times, or it seems to move into upper respiratory problems, ear infections, and the like.
The Brazos Valley Art League Juried Show is still on display at the P.David Romei Art Center in College Station, if you haven't seen it. Pick up day is March 28th, so you still have a little time to view the art work. You can see a couple of the winners online at the BVAL website. I have a link to them in my sidebar under organizations.
Congratulations to Virginia Vaughan and Melanie Nistad on their book sales. You can contact them to order the newest printing. If you would like a copy of "Mechanicsville", you can contact me, and I'll put you in touch with Melanie.
We aren't celebrating St. Patrick's Day much at home. Youngest grandson got up and put on a shirt with green stripes, in anticipation of going to the doctor. I don't think that his mother was able to get an appointment, although she called Friday and was told to bring him in today if he wasn't better by Monday. I put on a shirt that has crayons and paper clips on it, and that has green in it. But, we don't have green beer, green streams or rivers, no parade, etc. I think that some pubs or beer joints might be celebrating with their own green beer, or whatever they do. We don't even have Irish songs or harmonies going on in our house. Maybe I'll have to croak out what I can remember of "Sure a little bit of heaven", just for the occasion, while we get ready for supper tonight.


Ciara Gold said...

happy St. Patty's Day, Cecelia. Yeah, Things were a lot simpler and kids knew how to entertain themselves better than they do now. Now, they get bored so easily. The St. Patty's Day celebration sounds fun. Thanks for sharing your memories.


BC said...

Oh...little sisters can cause problems for big sisters without even knowing it! Sorry... I was/am what I are! B...