My father was a school teacher. He taught English and Speech and Theater. He was a good teacher. He was a consummate professional. But the thing that made his soul sing was directing theatrical productions. When he was in college his plan was to prepare himself for a career in New York on Broadway. He tailored his degree so that he would have the credentials necessary to obtain a teaching certificate.
When he graduated from college, he gave his degree to his father and told him “There you go.” He had gotten the teaching degree to show his father that he could do it. He was drafted soon after that and sent to post Korean War Germany. He was assigned to headquarters company of a training battalion and ended up directing a touring special services variety show that played various American military installations in Europe.
When he got out of the Army, he returned to school studying for a masters degree in Theater. Only now he had a wife and baby boy. He found a position teaching in a High School in Waterloo, Illinois. The next year he took a job Junior High School in Springfield Illinois. After a couple of years there, he was offered a position at Paducah Tilghman High School in Paducah, Kentucky.
He had always done plays at the schools where he taught but Tilghman gave him the opportunity to mount high quality theatrical productions with a school population large enough to supply enough talented actors to pull it off. I remember He produced everything from Shakespeare to musicals. It was a magical time. It got into my blood.
When I was eight and nine, I was an extra in a summer stock musical titled “Stars In My Crown”. I played one of Job’s children in his production of Archibald MacCleish’s J.B. when I was in fourth grade. In sixth and seventh grade, a friend and I performed a one act play in several talent shows.
I was active in high school plays throughout my high school career. And then when I graduated from High School I got a job at Guntown Mountain in Cave City, Kentucky. I was a gunfighter and I played guitar in the saloon show. The next summer I did the same thing at Kaintuck Territory in Aurora, Kentucky near Kentucky Lake. The next summer I was back at Guntown Mountain for my last season in western theme parks.
It has been forty years since I have been a professional actor but it is still in my blood. I think I would love to do it again. I enjoy performing, whether it is playing the guitar of acting on the stage or in videos. Perhaps I should act upon this urge. My father found a way to integrate his dream into his professional life. Perhaps I can circle back to my theatrical origins.
Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.