I believe in puppets. Yes, you heard me correctly…I believe in puppets! You know, like Kermit the Frog, Howdy Doody, Shari Lewis’s Lambchop and my personal favorite, Beau the Crow. This obsession all started when I was about 8 years old and Rice Krispies cereal packed little hand puppet versions of Snap, Crackle and Pop in each box. Every time I went to the grocery store with my mother, I drove her crazy with, “Please Mom, just one more box. I still don’t have all three of the puppets.” When I finally owned all of these crispy kritters, I would make up stories using them , and of course I told them all of my secrets.
Later on when I became the mother of 2 boys, we would make sock puppets and do shows for their father when he came home from work. This would help chase away the summer boredom blues. It is an amazing activity: just wash an old sock and stuff the toe with cotton balls, add some buttons for eyes and a nose. Put your hand inside, and let the magic begin.
The most lasting phase of my love affair with puppets began when I became a children’s librarian for the Central Library in downtown Dallas. They hired me to help with story time and to start a puppetry program. There was a small theatre which had never been used because most of the librarians could not fit inside of it. So I was hired in part because I was agile enough to crouch down inside and give it a try. Another slim trim librarian volunteered to help me. We had one month to prepare a show for February Black History Month. She was shy, and I was the new kid on the block. So we went to the supply cabinet and found a lion whose mane was in need of an extreme makeover. Being librarians, we read Aesop’s Fables and zeroed in on “The Lion and the Mouse.” My colleague had a finger puppet mouse in her desk drawer, and the saga began. We practiced and practiced. My roar got stronger and stronger. She grew less shy, and we became immersed in the imagination of it all. The day of the Saturday performance found us to be quite nervous. I am thinking, “Is this something a 50 year old woman should be doing?” An audience of about 40 people arrived, the lights went down, and the magic began. Kids were shouting, “Don’t you eat that little mouse, you mean lion!” And so it was that two mangy pieces of fake fur came alive and became something greater that the two of us.
Fifteen years later I am still performing with my alter ego, Beau the Crow. Kids and adults of all ages love him…So do I. So do my 3 grandsons! We had a minor fire in our condo, and the first posession that I grabbed to take with me to the parking lot was Beau the Crow. When the fireman saw this, he smiled. So people of all ages, find yourself a puppet friend, and let your imagination flow. I promise it will keep you young, and it is good for the soul.
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