My last show before adulthood
In 1959 I was 16 years old. I spent the greater half of the summer of ’59 in Accokeek Md. The person who taught drama at Suitland Jr. High School, Howard Millman, also produced and directed plays in Accokeek. The actors he used came from his classes at the Jr..High. I was among those students.
Accokeek is about 12 miles out of Washington on MD Route 210 or as I knew it Indianhead Highway. In a lot of ways it was worlds away from Washington. The “theater” sat in the woods and was a slab of cement about the size of a small stage. The year before I had done the play there “The King and I” This was my second season of summer stock
Rehearsals started around June 15 and ran to about Aug. 10. I don’t remember the exact dates. From the start the days were made up of swimming at the local pool, which was close to the house, where we stayed. The rehearsals lasted most of the afternoons, which would follow by dinner. At night, those of us who could not sheep would roam up and down the empty road in front of the house where we were staying. Sometimes we would play card games. There was no stores by the pool or the house. To get to a store was a two or three mile hike.
The show we were doing was “Damn Yankees.” There were dance numbers and the blocking of the show took time. Since I played three small roles, I had a lot of time on my hands though I have to admit I enjoyed watching the rehearsals.
We worked in the hot sun and soon most all of us had deep tans. The people in the neighborhood had cookouts for us. Those cookouts provided us with plenty of food and leftovers; there was never a lack of food. Time passed quickly and soon we were ready to open the show. There was only one hitch and it was a big one. About a week before the show opened one of the main characters had to drop out. That meant that the person playing the devil had to switch parts and learns the part of the Joe Hardy the ball player. The director Mr. Millman took over the part of the devil. We had gotten uniforms from the then Washington Senators. The uniforms were made out of wool and during dress rehearsals wearing them became quite a challenge. The uniforms were hot and itchy and we all sweated so much that we had to take salt pills.
The play went well and was well received. I remember the let down we felt after the last show. It was like saying goodbye to good friends. I did not know it then but it was the last show I would do for nearly 10 years.
My birthday is in November. Due to a lot of circumstances which I will not mention here, I joined the Army not long after my 17th birthday. In January of 1960 I reported to Fort Knox, Ky. to start my Basic Training. That cold day in January, the first day of my army hitch, we were woking at 5:30 a.m. It was the first day of what has become my fairly long adulthood.