Stephenson Tales


As a child I had a large collection of hats -- a policeman's hat, a world war one helmet, a sailor's cap, a fireman's helmet, a straw hat, a derby, and several others that I do not now remember. Whenever I put one on I would "be" a person of that occupation until I took it off and became Jim Bob again, and I would not answer unless I was called by an appropriate title or name (I had a name for each of these characters: I remember, for example, that when I had on the sailor's hat, I was to be called "Mate" and when I had on the straw hat I was "Clem"). I also had a bonnet of the kind that women used to wear to protect them from the sun. When I put that on, along with one of Mom's aprons, I was Mrs. Kite. I remember very well that Mrs. Kite use to call on Mrs. Stephenson as she prepared the evening meal in the kitchen. Mrs. Kite would sit in her little rocking chair, (this is the chair I gave to Toni for Miranda) holding her doll and she and Mrs. Stephenson would discuss topics of the day as well as the ailments of their children. Suddenly Mrs. Kite's doll would begin to cry, so Mrs. Kite would say, "Crying for you.." and hand the doll to Mrs. Stephenson to hold and comfort for a little while. Sometimes Mrs. Stephenson would put a "treat" on the edge of the sink for Mrs. Kite's child -- a carrot, a stick of celery and sometime (YUM!) a slice of raw potato. The child invariably ate whatever it was, helped out by Mrs. Kite, of course (who was thus conned in to eating some things that Jim Bob did not ordinarily enjoy). Then Mrs. Stephenons would say, "Crying for you" and hand the doll back to Mrs. Kite.

When I was in kindergarten I decided, one day, that I wanted to be a girl for the day. From somewhere Mom put a dress together for for me with a little apron, made me a blond wig out of a length of yellow light tan rope. She sewed the very wavy wig into the top of one of her silk stockings. My name, for the day, was Mary. The teachers at Bach school all gathered around to admire my costume, but the other children in Miss Sill's kindergarten room were more heistant, and were rather in awe. It was then I realized for the first time that a disguise ALWAYS works--at least that is true in plays to this day! No one thought it "queer" or sexually confusing or in any way a risk of my turning into a girl permanently. I sometimes think that their encouragement of my imaginary flight was the best possible thing for all concerned. Nowadays people would get very nervous about a boy wanting to be--and dressing up like--a girl. The world was more innocent then, I guess.

I only did this one--until I played the feminine lead in the Union Opera when I was in college. But then, all the female roles were played by men so I was not alone -- and everybody thought men as women was very funny. Peculiar sense of what is amusing, as my caracter was NOT supposed to be a caricature as were all of the others. I was very good, and, if I do say so made a very convincing heroine--Lucy Chase was not particularly happy about this. But I certainly enjoyed wearing that beautiful white and silver formal ball gown and (again) a blond wig!

Composed on 22 December 2008; Transcribed by Robin

© Jim Bob Stephenson 2008

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