NEWS

Pageant brings history to life with humor

PAT FRIDGEN
The entire cast of the Old Home Week pageant, from many eras of Greencastle’s history, gathered for the finale, ‘This is My Country’.

An estimated 200 people were turned away Tuesday night for the first performance of the Old Home Week pageant, "Those Were the Days". The popular event featuring historical lore and laughter fortunately had a second run, so the disappointed could find seats the following night.

As usual, the eight scenes revealed information about Greencastle's past, some of which is in the history books. The rest has made the newspapers or is part of the oral tradition of the citizens. The stories were factual, peppered with conversations that could have occurred. And playrights Dody Clever and Sharon Baumbaugh proved once again that people are funny, no matter when they lived.

The tales the duo wrote, based on research and interviews, spanned over 100 years. They used 150 local people onstage, in the band and chorus, and behind the scenes, to tell their stories.

"It's great because of all the talent," said spectator Jack Hays. "They have only a few weeks to put it together. That's outstanding for a small town."

One scene was set in 1863. The house at 168 S. Washington St., now owned by Dr. William Thorne, was rumored to be part of the underground railroad. The Greencastle citizens didn't take lightly when southerners came up to take back their 'contraband'.

At the turn of the century shenanigans went on during a dance contest with biased judges. As fate would have it, people involved in adding girls softball to the Little League organization in 1974 were available to make cameo appearances - Paul Strausner, Tom Dracz, Janice Bartles and Lorraine Hess. And the crowd applauded wildly when the 2009 Greencastle-Antrim High School girls state softball champions made an appearance, proof that early fears girls would cry and run off the field if they got hit by a ball were unfounded.

One line caught the audience off guard and resulted in tremendous laughter. Men in a typing school were disturbed that a woman had enrolled. One fellow could not fathom that women would even consider taking jobs dominated by men. "Can you imagine a woman ever working at the Echo Pilot?" he crowed. "Or Carl's Drug? Or running a business on Baltimore Street?"

Gladys Griffith enjoyed the show. "I come every year. I learned a lot."

So did Linda Schur. "It's interesting because of the story of Dr. Thorne's house. It's always interesting to hear about the history of the town."

First time attendee Sarah Wolfe, 9, couldn't pinpoint a favorite part. "I like all of it.'

Clever credited director Toby Harvie for a successful 2010 debut. "She was the first one at practice and the last one to leave."

She also made sure the audience knew where her cohort Baumbaugh was during final remarks. "I want you to know who she is, so if you want to throw tomatoes, you can go after her."

No tomatoes, no boos or hisses. The audience left the high school auditorium in high spirits, rejuvenated with memories, the sense of community strengthened.

The high school auditorium was packed for the Tuesday performance of the Old Home Week pageant ‘Those Were the Days’.