FOR ALMOST A CENTURY, Nashville High School seniors have put on a non-Christmas play at Christmas time. They did it again this year, for the 23rd time since 1920.
I’m talking about ‘Under the Mistletoe Bough,’ a short, odd play with singing and dancing but not a single spoken word except by the narrator. It is a tragic wedding story.
Before the play began, the narrator asked anyone in audience of about 200 to stand if they were in one of the previous productions. There were more than a half-dozen who stood, including myself.
I was one of the ‘wedding guests’ in the production of 1960. The lovely coed who sang the lead role was also there this year, and in the lobby before the doors opened, she and I talked about how many of our fellow cast members are no longer with us. She recalled how she and the male lead went to the home of Miss Virginia Buxton to practice under the demanding eye and ear of that community legend. What? You’ve never heard of Miss Virginia?
I think that our bunch may have been the first to put on the play in the ‘new’ Sixth Street Auditorium. Before that, I guess the play was performed on the creaky old wooden stage of the long-gone NHS campus on Fourth Street. I don’t remember seeing the play before the year I was in it. Maybe I did. Daughter Julie was in the cast of 1988.
My congratulations to the school administration for supporting the effort, and to educators Holly Couch and Fran Strawn who staged it and have thus kept the tradition alive. As our newspaper story pointed out last week, NHS is the only high school in the world with this tradition. Most of the time, there have been gaps of only a few years in productions. Once there was a 14-year break (1963-77), but some wonderful, determined person in the school or in the community must have said: “Come on, let’s not be the ones to let this tradition die.”
This year, the kids did really super. I’ve always said that singing in front of a group of people requires a giant amount of courage. It also helps if the singers have talent. I liked the way newer songs have been added.
By participating in ‘Mistletoe Bough,’ those seniors have joined the school’s river of history. In the printed program there was a list of students who have portrayed the bride and groom since 1920. The list includes some people who went on to become very accomplished after high school. I am very, very sorry that the program did not list the outstanding male minuet dancers of the 1960 cast.
Nashville High School is unique in other ways. The school’s wonderful alma mater, for instance. A student composed that sweet tune and wrote the lyrics. You can go to football games or school events all over the country, and you’ll not hear that music anywhere else.
I have some tips to share with you just in case you’re around to see the next production of ‘Under the Mistletoe Bough.’ Don’t sit in the side rows, you’ll miss too much because of the curtain.
And, gents, please take your caps off inside the auditorium. No one teaches us anymore that it is bad manners for a man to wear a hat or cap indoors. Luckily, no one was wearing a cowboy hat.
Thank goodness no cell phones went off during the presentation, but it might be a good idea for future narrators to request that phones be silenced.
Thanks again to the school and the students for providing a fine afternoon entertainment and for passing the torch.
HE’S DONE THE RESEARCH online, my classmate Jack Lovelis sez. He was curious about the number of big, black railroad tank cars sitting around for a long time on rail lines in Nashville.
I believe Jack because he and I are Scrapper band alumni, and great musicians never lie to each other. Well, almost never.
Jack sez there are 100 tank cars stashed at various places along the rail sidings here in town and at Ashdown. Yes, 100.
I have seen, and wondered about, the long rows of tanker cars parked here and on the rail line on the west end of Millwood Dam. And, by the way, these are all on tracks of the former GN&A Railroad. Lord knows where else cars are parked. Maybe even on a lonely siding on the banks of the Antoine River upstream at Graysonnia.
Jack sez that we are seeing the results of the controversial pipeline now carrying Canadian oil across the midwest on its way to refineries in China. Those abandoned rail tanker cars are no longer needed to haul oil therefore their owners are forced to ‘rent’ space from small railroads to store them until needed again.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Jack was a good trumpet player, not a great one. I, on the other hand, am STILL the third-greatest trombone player in the history of the Scrapper band.
But, back in the day, Jack and I both enjoyed being in the marching band and flirting with the majorettes. Alas, there are no majorettes anymore. Maybe they’re parked on some forgotten railroad siding on the banks of the Antoine River at Graysonnia.
THINGS I LEARNED from opening (and believing) email: “The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.
WORD GAMES. More twins: Rhyme and Reason, the Neither-Nor family of illegal immigrants.
HE SAID: “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” Calvin Coolidge, 30th U.S. President
SHE SAID: “Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” Dale Evans, cowgirl
SWEET DREAMS, Baby