Thursday, December 22, 2011

Excerpt from the one-man play "A Slight Limp -- The Later Life and Adventures of Tiny Tim" by Steven Korbar

This an excerpt from a short, hilarious one-man play that features Tiny Tim as a grown man who has not fared well with his famous childhood.

"Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if people could at least get the saying right, but I'm constantly getting requests for things like "God bless everybody all the time."  But wait, it gets even balmier, sometimes they ask me for, "Please sir, can I have some more." "It is a far, far better thing I do."  "Out damn spot!"  "Oh Heathcliff!  I'll meet you in the Heather" and occasionally even, "Looky there, Gretel!  I think I sees me a gingerbread house!"  Bloody uneducated dolts.  And you know, if you really want to get the quote correct, what I actually said was, "God bless us, everyone."  No "all."  I was referring only to members of me immediate family, and if I recall properly, at the time I was excluding my older brother Peter, as he was a bit of a git and had the habit of repeatedly tying me in a flour sack and trying to throw me into the Thames . . ."

From page 67 of the collection titled "Stage This! Volume 3: Monologues, Short Solo Plays and 10-Minute Plays" published by E-Merging and Fn Productions, 2009.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Postcards from another world

What if someone in the future found my personal correspondence worthy of purchase?  Some people -- like Jane Austen -- give deathbed directives to destroy certain correpondence and I've actually never thought anyone but my kids might someday check out my old letters and cards that have somehow managed to survive repeated winnowings. But after two recent trips to an antique store in west suburban Chicago, I've changed my mind: if cards are pretty enough, they have the power to move someone to part with a few dollars and send said purchaser on a momentarily trip back in time.

Here's the first one:
No apparent reason for this card being sent, just some wishes that are the best.  But wait, there is a message on the back:

Uh-oh, Lena Falk's friend missed church on Friday and wanted to let her know!  Obviously, there wasn't emailing or texting back in 1910 and possibly not a plethora of telephones either.  After all, Minonk, IL, was a central Illinois farming community founded only six decades before this card was sent so perhaps these people didn't own personal telephones yet. So "Anna" (I think that was her name), who was probably separated from her friend by vast stretches of farmland, let Lena know about her non-attendence via a pretty little card.  Very charming.
I bought this one for four dollars because it was so beautiful that I thought I could start posting it on FB friend's pages for their B-days.  People in the 21st century still do send B-day cards but crickey, it's SO much easier to send and receive these greetings via FB, a phenomenon that nearly makes the entire crazy, weird, addicting, marvelous, maddening application worthwhile for that aspect alone.  The one drawback is that one cannot save and store FB greetings in the same way that Lena Falk was able to save this one.  Here's what it says on the back:

Speaking of celebrations worthy of involving the post office, the rest of these cards, with various addressees, are Christmas/New Years themed:

This one was sent at 5PM, December 24 (can't make out the year), and addressed to Mrs. Eva Jennings, Streator, Illinois, Box 25.  As far as I can tell, most of it says the following: "Mrs. Jennings: Will send you a card.  Received the present you sent and was so glad to get these pictures was just fine.  I hung it on the tree this morning.  How are every body up there?  We are all well.  We were in Varma last night and about 8 oclock Mr. Johny Murphy was killed with the train.  It was a terrible sight to see.  He was all cut to pieces.  Yours as ever, "

The top, upside down, reads "Wish you all a merry Xmas, answer soon." 

It seems to me that the violent death of Johnny Murphy might possibly have deserved a separate missive.  This card doesn't have a legible date but it seems odd in any time period -- aside from wartime when death unfortunately becomes commonplace -- that the violent death of a human be announced as a footnote in a holiday card doublling as a thank-you note.  But perhaps this is where the card-substituting-as-a-phone-call idea comes in: yes, it's odd to place all three of these items in on one card but it wouldn't be strange at all if they came up in a single phone conversation.

Next, a Christmas/New Years card addressed to Miss Lena Falk and postmarked December 22, 1909:
The back is difficult to read but here's what I can decipher:

"Dear Lena, Received your kind letter and was glad to hear from you [then something about a "building" and a "barn"].  We are all well and I hope the same of your Folks. With a merry Christmas and a happy new year, Mrs. Falk Falk"  I had to look up Minonk on the web to discover that it was a farming community but if I hadn't, the occasional RR number in the address portion and this mention of a barn would have been dead giveaways.

The next one was also addressed to Miss Lena Falk, was postmarked December 31, 1910, and contained a lengthy, mostly-illegible, pencil-written note on the back.  The addressor obviously wasn't trying to create something for posterity:
The next one, addressed to Miss Lena Falk, postmarked December 23, 1909, 230P, with nothing but "From Ella Ahlers" written on the back:
The next one was addressed to “Miss Lydia Metras, 37 Mt. Pleasant, Lynn, Mass” and postmarked December 31, 1906, 10 AM.  A fairly normal address that takes up the entire back of the card: there's no missive.  Perhaps people in New England of 1906 had more frequent access to phones -- unlike those in central Illinois -- and they didn't have to cram all their non-facetime communications onto the back of a card.  Or perhaps this person just wanted to send a New Years Day card to Miss Lydia.

Spoken words evaporate on the spot or are kept in the memory of the speaker and hearer.  Written words last much longer than mere mortals which is why some writers do what they do: to leave behind something significant, words that will continue to speak long after those who placed them in a particular order have passed on.  These missives to Miss Lena Falk and others may not be worthy of inclusion in a literary collection but there is something infinitely charming about these little cards that were written, addressed, and mailed over one hundred years ago in a world that no longer exists.