Saturday, December 08, 2007

We have a theatre group in town that has been inactive for a couple of years. Last Saturday night we put on an old time radio show. A few of us helped write the show including Janell from One Square Mile. We had skits, musical entertainment and of course advertisements. Yes we even had one for Butt Rub. I couldn't pass that up.
The show was produced by a very talented friend of ours who also lives on the Missouri River bottom just north of us. Her vision of what the show will look like is second to none. She gets the most out of everyone. As play directors go, she's top shelf. Or is that drawer?
We had an ice storm to contend with but still had over one hundred people show up. They sat at round tables for 8 and were served beverages from two different local establishments. Very nice. My monologue was about 'Egg and Daughter Night' that was held across America in every small town about 100 years ago. In the mid 1950's I remember the tail end of that piece of Americana. It went like this:
Egg and Daughter Night
Two weeks ago tonight I was standing on the sidewalk in front of Jack Bros Hardware.
It was the night of the Merchants Christmas Open Houses. It was to be followed by a light parade.
The town was just overflowing with the Christmas spirit. There were people everywhere.
It was chilly outside but neighbors and friends and the occasional meeting of family members made everyone pause on Tekamah’s main street to visit.
It’s tradition. It was Saturday night, Egg and Daughter night in Tekamah. The folks had come to shop some, but mostly to Visit.
The story goes that 100 years ago or even 50 for that matter, on Saturday night the farmers brought their extra eggs and cream to town… and sold them or traded for needed groceries or supplies. They brought the whole family but the daughters were the ones they needed to show off. Farming was very labor intensive back then so there were farmsteads and people spread all over rural Burt County. And it was always assumed that the boys of the family could stay and help farm unless they got some high fa'lutin idea about leaving for the city and college. But Dad only needed the one cook and Ma was doing just fine with the heavy lifting so egg and daughter night might just be the answer to what to do with little Sarah.
The country folks outnumbered the city folks by 3 to 1. Saturday night was therefore a huge night for the merchants.
As I stood there two weeks ago amidst all the people my eyes scanned across the street over to in front of Savemore. I was looking for a 1950 lime green Studebaker Champion. The Studebaker with the corn picker front end you might recall. Blanche Nelson’s Studebaker.
That’s where she sat every Saturday, late afternoon through late evening, when I was young. I had asked my Dad how Blanche always got that spot. It was after all, the number one parking place in Tekamah. It was in front of what was then the 1st Nat’l Bank. From there you had an unobstructed view of all of the activities going on in the center of Tekamah. Dad told me that Blanche would put the car there early in the day on Saturday, then Harold, her husband, would leave his Studebaker Dealership and take her home. They reversed the procedure in the late afternoon.
From that vantage point, Blanche could see, and be seen.
She was like a hunter with the highest tree stand. She could see it all. Most of all…She could see them…. The farm people. What they were wearing, what they were buying and whom they were friendly with.
Blanche and Harold were friends of the folks and we put Blanche and her lookout abilities to full use.
We didn’t have cell phones then. Nor did we need them. We had Blanche. There could have been 200 people on the street at the time but the Morrow kids could come out of the old Lyric theatre, cross the street to Blanche’s car and ask her if she knew where our folks were. Because we knew she did.
“Your Mom just came out of Jack Bros Hardware carrying a small package wrapped in brown paper and tied up with a string. She then went across the street to Kerwins. She came out of there, mailed what looked like a letter in at the post office and then went into Baileys Five and Dime.” Your Dad is down getting a hair cut and probably smoking a cigar at Walt’s”. We would run to the barbershop. Get a drink from the tin cup hanging on the side of the green porcelain sink which stood in the middle of the room. The same cup by the way, that everyone else in town always used. It wasn’t so much of a drink I guess as it was a vaccination.
It was always standing room only in the barbershop on Saturday night. Maybe twenty men or more were seated or standing along the wall. All of them talking and smoking cigars. We would ask Dad for money and we’d get it immediately with the words ‘Now scram! Kids understand things like this. The eagerness to give you money and get you out of there before you heard words that you wouldn’t hear at home.
It was a kind of extortion on our part I guess. Dad wanted us gone before we heard something that would make us ask a question in front of Mom. One like, “Hey Dad, what did that guy mean when he said, “She,s really built, ya know what I mean Art?” I think that could be the reason we got the money so quickly.
It was so that ‘what was said in Walt’s barbershop, stayed there.
Dad would give us a nickel or a dime, or on rare occasions both. Big candy bars were only a nickel back then so a farm kid with 15 cents meant we were wealthy. So wealthy in fact that it could have lead to big trouble down the road. Why a farm kid with that kind of money.
Egg and daughter night was for visiting. We’d eventually head on home. I don’t ever remember the trip home from town or how I got to bed. But somehow I did. Mom’s kitchen was stocked up for another week and best of all we were caught up with the local news.
Now folks, for those of you here in the studio audience, after the show, why not stay a while and visit with your neighbors
and when it’s time to go, just walk around the corner onto main street and ask Blanche where your daughter went. She’ll know.
It’s been good visiting with you, but I knew it would be.
It’s Egg and Daughter night in Tekamah.


Ralph said...

That is classic!
Reading this post, I am setting here chuckling. I imagine hearing it the audience was rolling on the floor. Wish we could have been there.

Anonymous said...

Wish all of you could have been at this show - it was a classic. A big "Thank You" to those involved.

Old Blue and his Mate

Peter said...

Great story/tradition and very well told Cliff, do you still have a "Blanche"in town?

Cliff said...

Nope Peter, Blanche was very, very old when this took place. Probably about my age.

Paul Nichols said...

Excellent, Cliff!!! There's something special about growing up in a small town, ain't they?

I think the difference in your town and my hometown is that half of my town was made up of Mexican people. And if us boys were out being ornery and a Mexican mom hollered at us in Spanish, we understood exactly what she meant, even if we didn't understand.

Anyway, a great piece. Thanks.

Paul Nichols said...

By the way, Cliff, have you ever seen the play, Greater Tuna? Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Tuna, Texas is a small town similar to Tekamah. It's the sister city of Pancake Flats, too.

You can order a DVD of the play from the Internet. (Blockbuster and Netflix will get you one for a ka-jillion dollars over the retail price.) Let me know if you...

Oh, and can I get an "Amen?" Anyone?

Sue said...

Nice story. I really wanted to go the this program, but with an inch of ice before the skiff of snow made me stay home. Right after we were married and living in Oakland I worked in the First for 3 years.
Sue (Janell's sister/blog the back nine).

Anonymous said...
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Janell said...

I agree with Old Blue - Egg & Daughter Night is a classic. And Blanche may not be around anymore, but there is always someone in town who knows who went where with whom for what and when they will be back.
Let me suggest that you record yourself reading "The Shower Stall" and post it here and on YouTube. If you don't have a YouTube account you can use mine.
And isn't it fun to have my sister Sue, visiting here? She's a good Blogospherian, and has added hitonious to her vocabulary.

Rachel said...

What a wonderful story Cliff!! An old radio show..what a neat idea! I wish I could have been there.

I like Janell's idea!!

Jamie Dawn said...

Superb post!
I'm sure the show was wonderful!!!
The only thing missing as I read this was a nice, warm cup of hot cocoa.
Congrats to you and to Janell too!!

Anonymous said...

I think Janell might be on to something here. I am learning about podcasting. Perhaps you need to create a podcast and you can add video too. We'll talk!

nora leona said...

Ohh, a Cliff podcast! I'm in.
Great story Cliff - I respectfully submit that the next theatre production coincide with Blogstock. Or maybe we could put on a talent show.
Also, do you think it is too late for Dad to parade me around for Egg and Daughter night?

LZ Blogger said...

Cliff ~ "Egg and Daughter Night" I have to admit was a NEW ONE on me. I can just imagine, some guy saying, "I'm just here for the EGGS, but thanks anyway!" Not that I would EVER be one of THOSE guys! I'm just saying... ~ jb///

Gel said...

Cliffers, This melted me. Combo of theatre and human connection so poignant! Still, you have me too well trained for the "punch line." WHile feeling all mushy inside for your town's families a small part of me was still holding my breath for you to use "standing ovulation" in some way This time I'm glad you didn't. There's a time for humor and a time for an A+ post like this one.

Jim said...

We went to town there on Saturday nights as a family thing. Yes, Mom called it 'Egg and Daughter Night' too.

I'm glad you posted this.

Thank you Cliff, for your hospitality last Friday. That was a delicious dinner (country talk for the noon meal) you made.

I'm back in the blogging world here again now, and will post for tomorrow some of our visit with the pictures I took there of you guys.
BTW, my first car was a green 1950Studebaker Starlight Coupe, it had belonged before to Elmer Cells, your uncle. I bought it used in 1952.

EV said...

I missed a great show Cliff - this really sounded like a great time. I love listening to those old radio shows on the internet, again, too (

Jim said...

It's posted, Cliff. I don't have a good e-mail address for you.
Will these off the blog be ok till later?
Most are in three sizes.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Cliff, that is amazing. I feel almost as if I was there to watch.

I've heard that Saturday nights in town were a big deal to the folks in the country around here too. But nobody has ever been able to tell the story like that.

Keep 'em coming.

Anonymous said...

I was there -- born and raised. I also worked at First for 2 years. What childhood memories! When I visit Tekamah (rarely), I 'miss' the brick Main Street.