Saturday, January 19, 2013

Daddy, go on with the story

Jan. 26, 1957

Dear Folks,

This church job of mine is beginning to consume so much time, (I was out every night last week except Friday) and tonight two meetings and stake conference tomorrow. [Perry had been called as the second counselor in the bishopric.]

Stake Conference was held in Riverside, California.
We would take a picnic lunch and go to a park to eat
and relax between the AM and PM sessions.
Gene is over to Riverside practicing with the Singing Mothers for tomorrow. I have been home tending things while she is gone. I lay down and tried to tell the children a story in an effort to get them to sleep, all the time knowing I should be up writing. What happened, I suppose, is worth writing about and you may be interested in a typical Saturday afternoon at our house. It was Shakespeare who said, "All the world's a stage and its people merely players." So here is our play for this afternoon.

Act I, Scene I - This play takes place in Pomona, California, 2450 Merrywood Street. The principal characters are: Daddy, Mama, Jan, Renee and Harriet Lea. Also included are Linda, Marian and Dale.

The scene opens in a small living room. There is a sofa, a small bookcase, a chair and a piano. On top of the piano is an assortment of various and sundry things--pictures, a globe, a Bible and a stack of unanswered correspondence. Dale is sitting on the floor playing with an electric train. The tracks run from the floor over an elaborate trestle of boxes of various sizes, up on to the sofa and down to the floor again. Mama enters, stepping over a section of railroad track.

Mama: Now Perry, will you see that these three youngest children get a nap? (She is followed by Harriet and Renee. They each step over the track, Harriet with some effort as though she were stepping over a ditch.

Renee: Mama, where are you going?

Harriet: Mama, I want to go with you.

Mama: Perry, Did you hear me? (Perry enters from the kitchen, munching on a cracker.)

Daddy: Sure, sure. I'll take care of them. (Mama turns, exits, stepping over the train tracks into the bedroom followed by Renee and Harriet. Harriet knocks over a piece of the track while trying to step over it.)

Dale: Harriet Lea! (Mama enters again followed by Renee and Harriet.)

Renee: (Whimpering) Mama, where are you going?

Daddy and his little children
Harriet: Mama! Talk to me!

Mama: Now Perry, will you see that these children get a nap? I have them well trained. I just lie down with them for a few minutes and tell them a story and they go right to sleep. Will you do that?

Daddy: (Absentmindedly) I'll take care of them.

Harriet: (Crying) Mama! Why don't you talk to me?

Mama (Stooping down and kisses Harriet) Ok, baby. Mama's got to go now.

Renee: Mama, can I go with you?

Mama: No honey, Mama's going to sing with the Relief Society ladies. You stay here and Daddy will tell you a story.

Renee: (With a whine of resignation) Ok.

Harriet: Otay (The honk of an automobile is heard outside. Mama opens the door and looks out.)

Mama: Here they are now. Goodbye.

All: Goodbye Mama. Bye, bye. (Exit Mama)

Act II - The scene opens in a small bedroom. There is a double bed on one wall and a single youth bed on the other. At one end is a small children's dresser covered with various and sundry children's articles. Daddy is sitting on the bed holding Harriet. He removes her shoes and lies down, putting her down on his right. He pulls a blanket over them.

Daddy: Come on, Renee. Lie down and Daddy will tell you a story.

Renee: Oh boy. Jan, Daddy is going to tell us a story.

Jan: Oh goody, goody gum-drops.

Daddy: Well, come on. Take off your shoes and lie down with me.

Jan & Renee: Ok. (They sit down on the floor and begin removing their shoes.)

Jan: Daddy, tell us a story about when you were a little boy.

Renee: Yeah, Daddy. Tell us about when you were a teeny, tiny baby.

Daddy: Ok. Come up here and lie down. (They climb up and lie down, pulling the covers over them. Renee is next to Daddy. Jan is on the outside.)

Daddy: Well, once upon a time, a long time ago, Daddy was born.

Renee: Was that when you was a teeny, tiny baby?

Daddy: Well, yes.

Jan: Yeah! Daddy was one years old.

Renee: Was you this many, Daddy? (Renee holds up one finger.)

Daddy: Well, no. Not yet. You see, I was just born.

Renee: Oh, I get it. Daddy was this many. (She sits up and holds up a clenched fist.)

Jan: How can you be none years old, Daddy?

Daddy: Well, you're just born, that's all. Lie down, Renee.

Jan: Oh.

Daddy: Well, I was born in a log house.

Jan: What's a log house, Daddy?

Daddy: Well, a log house is--well, it's a house made out of logs.

Renee: What are logs?

Daddy: Well, logs are a--a--.

Jan: Oh, I know--Lincoln logs. Are they Lincoln logs Daddy?

Daddy: Well, yes, something like that.

Jan: Oh, boy. They're real neat. You must have been rich, Daddy. Were you rich, Daddy?

Daddy: No. we were kinda poor.

Jan: Well, Daddy, you had a house made out of Lincoln logs.

Daddy: No, you see, only people who didn't have much money would have a log house.

Jan: Gee. You were lucky, Daddy. Well, Daddy--.

Daddy: Now, Jan, be quiet and listen to my story. (In the next room the television is heard going full-blast. Linda, Marian and Dale are cheering while Roy Rogers and other great American heros establish order and justice.)

Daddy: Linda! Linda!

Linda: What?

Daddy: Now you kids be more quiet in there.

Linda: Ok.

Daddy: Now, let's see where was I?

Renee: You was to the log house.

Daddy: Oh, yes. Well, I was born in a log house and we had a great big tree out in front.

Jan: Was it a redwood tree, Daddy?

Daddy: No. It was a cottonwood tree.

Jan: What's a cottonwood tree?

Daddy: Well, do you remember Riley's big tree? It was like that.

Jan: Oh.

Harriet: (Sitting up) Daddy, we have a twee. We have a oange twee.

Renee: Daddy, our tree has two cute little oranges on it.

Daddy: Yes. Uh, huh. Well, this tree was a cottonwood tree--

Renee: Daddy, did it have cottons on it?

Daddy: Well, sort of, I guess. Anyway--now lie down Harriet. Linda! Marian!

Marian: What?

Daddy: Turn the television down!

Marian: Ok.

Daddy: Well, anyway, we had a farm and on this farm we had some cows and chickens and--

Jan: (Singing) Old McDonald had a farm, ee--

Daddy: Now, Jan, you be quiet.

Jan: Ok--Old Manwaring had a fa--

Daddy: Jan! Be quiet! Now, we had some horses on this farm.

Jan & Renee: Horses? Oh boy!

Daddy: Yes, and we would use the horses on the farm to plow and pull the wagon.

Jan: Did they pull stagecoaches like on television?

Daddy: No. They would just pull the plow and--and--and sometimes they would pull the wagon.

Renee: Did you get to ride in the wagon, Daddy?

Daddy: Well, yes, sometimes.

Jan: Did you get to drive the horse, Daddy?

Daddy: Sometimes I did.

Renee: How do you drive horses, Daddy?

Jan: I know. On television a man sits up there and holds those things in his hands and those things are tied to the horses and--.

Daddy: Yes, that's right. Those are lines and the lines are tied to the horses' bridles. Lie down Harriet. And the bridles would have iron bits on them and we would put the bridles on the horses head over the horses ears and we would put the bits in their mouths.

Renee: What's bits?

Jan: I know. (He sits up.) I saw on television. They are two round things like this. (He holds up his fingers making an oval shape) and they put those on each side of the horses face.

Daddy: Well--yes, and between those round things there is a big, round iron thing that's called a bit and that goes in the horse's mouth. Harriet Lea! Don't sit on my head! Now all of you lie down and listen. Well, we would put bits in the horses' mouths and then we could guide them.

Renee: Well, Daddy, that wasn't very nice.

Daddy: Well, the horses didn't mind.

Renee: Well, I wouldn't like an old iron thing in my mouth.

Daddy: Well, you wouldn't have cared if you had been a horse. Lie down now Harriet Lea! Don't put your hands in Daddy's mouth. Well, anyway, sometimes my daddy would be working out in the field and my mama would tell me to go out and tell him to come in to dinner. He would unhitch the horses and sometimes he--Dale! Now you stop chasing through the hall! And sometimes he would put me up on the horses back and I would ride one of the horses to the house.

Renee: Daddy, what was your mama's name?

Daddy: Her name was Leona. Leona Manwaring.

Renee: Yee-yonia!

Daddy: Yes, Leona.

Renee: Well, Daddy, did you call her Yee-yonia?

Daddy: No, I called her Mama. Well, anyway, I would ride the horses to the house.

Jan: Gee! Did you ride both horses at once like on Super-Circus?

Daddy: No. I would just ride one horse at a time. then when we--

Renee: But Daddy! Did your daddy call your mama Yee-yonia?

Daddy: Yes, He would call her Leona. Harriet Lea, get back on this bed. Well, where was I--? Oh, yes, a (pause)

Renee: Daddy, go on with the story.

Daddy: Well, we would come in the house and wash our hands. We didn't have running water where you would just turn on the faucet so we would take the teakettle off the stove and pour water into the hand basin. You see, we would heat water on the stove in a teakettle.

Jan: What's a teakettle?

Daddy: Well, it's a--well it's like a big pan with a spout on it.

Jan: Oh, I know. On television the cowboys make coffee in it.

Daddy: Yes, some people used to make coffee in them and some would make tea, but we just used it to heat water because we couldn't just turn on hot and cold water from the tap.

Jan: Well then, where did you get your water?

Daddy: Well, we would haul the water from town in a big tank and put it in a cistern.

Jan & Renee: What's a cistern?

Daddy: A cistern is a big hole in the ground where we would store our water.

Jan: Well, the water would be all muddy.

Daddy: No, we would put cement all around in the hole--a like a--(pause) then the water would be nice and clean. . .(pause)

Renee: Daddy, go on with the story--Daddy! Then what Daddy?

Daddy: Oh--uh--where was I?

Renee: You was at the cistern.

Daddy: Oh, yes, well--Harriet get off of me! We would take a bucket out to the cistern and tie a rope t it and drop it down into the cistern and then draw up a nice cool bucket of water.

Renee: Daddy, I'm thirsty.

Jan: Me too. I want a drink of water.

Harriet: (Climbing over Daddy) I wanna dwink too.

Daddy: Ok. Hurry up. (All three slide off the bed and go into the bathroom. The water is heard turning on and off, on and off, on and off. They soon return.)

Jan: Now go on with the story, Daddy.

Renee: Come on, Daddy. Move over Daddy.

Daddy: Oh--uh--what? Oh, yes. Well, by our house there was a big field or a pasture. We used to walk through the field to go to school and Sunday School. There were cows in the pasture--

Jan: Was there bulls in the pasture?

Daddy: Well, yes, sometimes. My sisters were always afraid of the bull.

Jan: Did the bull ever chase you?

Daddy: No. I was just (pause) I was always afraid he was going to. (pause)

Renee: Daddy, go on with the story. Then what, Daddy?

Daddy: Oh, uh? Where was I?

Renee: You was at the bull.

Daddy: Well, to get over the fence into this pasture, we had a stile.

Jan & Renee: What's a stile?

Daddy: It's a--it's a--well, it's steps or stairs over a fence--then you can just walk over the fence.

Jan: Oh, I know. Like the story in my book about the crooked man that found some crooked money on a stile. Is that what it is, Daddy?

Daddy: (pause) uh--uh--ya, that's it. (pause)

Renee: Daddy--Daddy--then what, Daddy?

Daddy: Oh, where was I?

Renee: You was at the stile.

Daddy: (sleepily) Well, the old lady couldn't get the pig to go over the stile. (Daddy starts to snore.)

Renee: Go on, Daddy--Daddy!

Daddy: Oh, where was I?

Renee: You're still at the stile.

Daddy: Oh yes--the stile--well, the bull--or the cows-- (pause)

Jan: Daddy, did the cows go over the stile?

Daddy: No.

Jan: Why didn't they, Daddy? Daddy, why didn't they?

Daddy: (Turning over, speaking with effort.) Well, they just don't like to--they don't want to (pause) like the pig in the----.

Renee: Go on Daddy. You're still at the stile, Daddy. Why don't you go on, Daddy?

Daddy: (slowly--very sleepily) I--I just can't seem to get over the stile.

Renee: Daddy!--Daddy! Go on, Daddy. Then what, Daddy? (End of Act II)

Act III, Scene I (One hour later.) Daddy drowsily enters the television room. There is a volley of gunfire and three Indians bite the dust. Pow! Pow! Zing! A bewhiskered man, aged sixty, a stalwart defender of the wagon train, throws his hands up in helpless agony and slumps slowly, an arrow protruding from dead center. Daddy glances at the floor. Jan is asleep with feet up, resting on the couch. Harriet is lying face down, her face resting on her right hand. Renee is slumped in the chair, her head leaning heavily on the arm. Dale is sitting on the floor. Linda and Marian on the couch. Daddy reaches down and silently picks up each of the three sleeping children and carries each out. Daddy enters.

Daddy: Linda! Marian! Come now. We've got to clean up the house before Mama returns.

Linda: Ok, Daddy. Just a minute, Daddy.

Marian: This show is almost over, Daddy.

Daddy: Come on, Dale. You've got to get all of your toys picked up. You know what we said. (A trumpet sounds. Daddy glances at the television. The cavalry are arriving with flag waving. The Indians are fleeing to the hills. (End Scene I)

Scene II - As this scene opens, Dale is slowly putting sections of track into a box under the constant urging of Daddy. Marian is putting some paper dolls into a shoebox, intermittently stopping to try a new dress on one. Linda can be heard in the kitchen putting dishes into the sink. The grating of feet is heard at the door. The door opens. Mama enters.

Mama: My! This house looks like a bunch of wild Indians had been through here.

Daddy: Perhaps they have.

Mama: Where are the other children?

Daddy: Asleep.

Mama: Oh, bless their hearts. Have they been asleep all this time? They do need the rest. They go to sleep easily, don't they? I just tell them a simple little story and it seems to kinda relax them. I think so much television with so much excitement has a tendency to over-stimulate them, don't you?

Daddy: Oh, yes, yes. That's right.

Mama: And they do need a little time to relax with their parents. And it's good for the parents too, relaxing, that is. Don't you think so?

Daddy: Um, hm. It certainly is.

Mama: What story did you tell them? Harriet Lea just loves Little Black Sambo. She just begs to hear it over and over. (Mama stoops down and straightens a rug.) And Renee is just crazy about Little Red Riding Hood. Of course, I sort of change it a little--you know about the wolf eating grandma and all that. It's rather gruesome that way. Well, come on, tell me some more. Did they go right to sleep? (Mama exits into the kitchen.) Oh, Linda, that's so nice, but it seems like you should have had them all done by now. (Mama enters the living room again wearing an apron.) What story did you tell them?

Daddy: Oh, just about when I was a little boy.

Mama: Oh, that's nice. Did they go right to sleep? Then what?


So you see, nothing very interesting happens around here, but thought you might enjoy just "dropping in" for a while. Love, Perry

Feb. 1 p.s. Today we are going in to Los Angeles. I am to be set apart.

February 13, 1957 (excerpt)

Dear Perry and all,

First, let me say, we really enjoyed the short visit with you and the children on "a Saturday afternoon." You should have seen and heard Pa laugh. Hazel said "I think that ought to be kept." So June will make several copies so the children can someday take a page and go back to "When I was a little kid." Love, Mother and Dad

Elmer & Leona Manwaring
April 8, 1957 (excerpt)

Dear Perry & Gene,

We were very glad to get the three letters from Perry, Linda and Marian inviting us to come to California. That is surely a nice invitation, and Pa asked for his vacation time in June, so maybe we will accept it. We will have to arrange for someone to take care of the grass and flowers.

Your bishop, Brother Carlsen, called us Saturday night. That was surely nice of him, and it seemed good to hear from someone who had recently seen you folks. Brother Carlsen said he was going to see to it that you come next October, so you will have to plan something. All the folks here seem to think it would be a fine thing for us to take the trip there. The conference was good. I heard most of it. goodbye, with love from Mother and Dad

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