File puptcrit/puptcrit.0801, message 51


Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2008 18:44:09 -0700
To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] School Tours


All this talk of school tours has brought back great memories and a question
to me.  Somewhere around 1955 or 56, I saw a wonderful marionette show by a
traveling puppeteer (whom I suspect was with a national school assemblies
program) at Alameda Jr. High School, in Pocatello, Idaho.  I had been
interested in puppets since I was very young, but this was my first
experience with a live marionette show.  I wonder if any puppetcritters
might know who this artist was.  I obviously don't recall his name, but I
vividly remember the following about him:  He had a trapeze clown, a great
Elvis, and  a Minnie Pearl marionette.  Elvis was pretty new then, but this
puppet's "Hound Dog" stole the show with his gyrating hips.  I still
remember one of the jokes the Minnie Pearl figure used:  "Here is household
tip for you.  Have you ever gotten  postage stamps stuck together so badly
that you can't use them?  The next time that happens to you, simply run a
hot iron between them.  You can then mail that iron to anywhere in the
country!"    Funny how I still remember that over 50 years later (especially
since I often forget where I laid my glasses 5 minutes ago)  Anyhow, if
anyone has any idea of who this performer was, I would really appreciate
hearing from you.  Thanks, and Happy New Year
Steve Millward
Pocatello, Idaho.

On Jan 6, 2008 5:42 PM, Jim Menke <jim99jr-AT-gmail.com> wrote:

> No one can imagine what it is like to do those school assembly tours until
> they have done one. I did 4 years of them back in the 50s and early
> 60s.Twowere in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, one was in the southwest -
> Florida, Georgia,
> N & S Carolina and Virginia and New York State (I was drafter in the
> middle
> of this last tour. All were with a full marionette stage and a partner.
> They
> were 45 minute story shows - Hansel and Gretel; Snow White and Sleeping
> Beauty.
>
> The agents had no concept of what it takes to do a full marionette show
> with
> the setting up, doing the show, taking down and then travel to the next
> school. We would be booked for 2 or 3 schools in a day, some times with a
> 75
> mile drive between shows. One agent told me that if we were running late
> to
> simple stop the show, go out in front of the stage and tell the audience
> how
> the story ended. I simply could not do that. The shows were done live - no
> tape recording except for music - so I worked up a short version of each
> show to fit the schedule.
>
> It was wonderful training for a performer, but was difficult on the body
> and
> social conditions. We were seldom in one town for a day. After the last
> show
> of the day we drove to the next town to be ready to get to a school at
> 7:30
> or 8 AM for the first show of the day.This made a social life impossible.
> The only rest was on a weekend and ofter we were booked into somspecial
> circumstance on a Sat. or Sunday. This would go on from September through
> the following May with a week and a half off at Christmas - 12 - 15 shows
> per week.Travel was difficult especially in bad weather. There was one
> time
> when the grear shift handle (it was a manual transmission station wagon)
> broke off and we had to drive to the next show in first gear with no
> backing
> up. I got to a garage where the man drilled a hole in what was left of the
> shift handle and stuck a rod in it until we got to the show and then a
> repair shop.Anoother time in Florida we speent the weekend in Ft. Walton
> Beach while a hurricane blew around us. The agane insisted that we be
> there
> for Monday morning in case the school opened.
>
> Because of the physical hardships and hotel arrangements (we often got to
> a
> hotel and only one room would be available), it was not practical to have
> a
> female as the other puppeteer.
> This was the 50s and 60s so sharing a room was unthinkable.
>
> Of course working that closely and being with each other constantly led to
> some verbal fights and then we would have to do a show as if things were
> wonderful.
>
> Finally, I decided that I wanted a home life and no real travel. It was
> training I could not have gotten any other way so don't really regret it,
> but living at home was wonderful too.
>
> --
> JIM MENKE PUPPETS
> open your mind
> fantasies unwind
>
> www.jimmenkepuppets.com
> _______________________________________________
> List address: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
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>
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