My mother played the piano a little, my father the guitar, and we sang a little. But in that very small town we had a very small school. We were very fortunate that those teachers had a love for music and felt it was important to have children have the experience of getting out on the stage in front of people. So every year, or many, many years at any rate, they put on a Christmas operetta. They would just stop their classes at the end of the day, or toward the end of the day, like in the month of December, so that we could practice. And we would get together and it was a wonderful experience. As a kindergartener I started out, they dressed me up as a doll and I followed Santa in walking as a doll walks I was told. I don’t believe that, I’m a realist. My dolls didn’t walk like that. But anyhow, I was supposed to be a doll, a gift, wrapped in cellophane with a big, red bow, and I followed Santa in and he put me under the tree where I stood for that whole act, praying I wouldn’t breathe all the air out of the cellophane. But it went on from there that when I was an eighth grader, they put on the operetta Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. And I was thrilled to be chosen to play and sing the role of Snow White until, two minutes later, when they announced who Prince Charming was to be. He was to be my kid brother who was in fifth grade. Mr. Half-a-head-shorter-than-I-was.
[Did you do it anyway?]
Well, I haven’t finished my story. This is where I tell people I learned the power of prayer because I prayed and I prayed. There was this possibility that this family by the name of Simpson was going to move back to town. And I remembered from third, fourth grade, back in there, they had a son Charlie who tall, even back then, and dark and rather good looking. But would they get back to town in time, and could Charlie sing? I prayed and I prayed. They got back in town, and they decreed that Charlie could sing well enough to play. Anyway, so they gave my brother the role of the Prince of Death, and he got to sing this little ditty, and then beat on me, which he enjoyed I’m sure, with the plastic rose that my mother had dipped in aluminum paint and then sprinkled with sequins. And then a few years later when they had an operetta that was built around a leprechaun, he was the leprechaun. So anyhow, that was my big claim to fame in grade school, was to sing in the Snow White role.