For The Good Times

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

I’m back to the Legion Show Group, thinking about the cast and the funny stuff that happened. It was a special time in the history of the Legion. The old guard are gone now. We will not see the likes of them again.

I can’t forget the dancers, or as I used to call the ladies when I introduced them, The Grandma’s High Kick Line. They were in every show and the members were part of the comedy sketches, sang in the chorus, as well as being good dancers. I was going to say at least none of them fell off the stage but I forgot the time one of them did. At the end of the dance number in Klondike Days, the ladies all ended up on the lap of some seedy old prospector sitting around in the saloon. Barb McEown ran over and jumped on Brian Roker’s lap. Not a good move, the two of them went off the side of the stage and onto the floor. They survived as I recall, but I noticed Brian’s chair was almost centre stage the next show.

Bob and Joan Cottrell were long-time members of the cast. Once the show was supposed to be set in Mexico and Bob was dozing up against a wall with his sombrero over his face. Joan was strolling by and he said “Senorita, your pants are coming down.” Joan said, “They certainly are not.” And he said “, Yes, they are. I have decided.”

I don’t know if we could get away with doing the Boomerang skit nowadays. I’m sure that it would be considered racist. It wasn’t, well maybe a little bit. A British comic, Charlie Drake, sang a song about Max, a poor Aboriginal lad, whose boomerang wouldn’t come back. The men in the cast acted it out all dressed in costumes from the Australian Outback, complete with warpaint and feathers. The paint was fluorescent and they did it once with just the regular spotlight. Then they did it again with no lights except for a purple fluorescent overhead, the result was amazing. It was a tragic skit really because the local witch doctor, George Alfred Black, taught him how to throw it and he did. I can still see them cowering around the stage as the imaginary plane roared down crashing in the middle of them and Max saying, “Omigod, I’ve hit the flying doctor.”

There was an odd thing about the purple lights that no one knew, or I suppose, even thought about, until we opened one night in the dark. Once the cast was assembled, the lighting crew turned on the purple fluorescents. All the bras the ladies wore came out stark white. It never occurred to anyone to check that out, although the audience thought it was a scream.

In one show I was supposed to be married to Muriel Butt. It may have been the show when we were supposed to be in Mexico. I was supposed to be ogling some senorita and Muriel took a swing at me. For some reason I stepped forward and got it full force on the side of my head. My ears are still ringing.

We used to put the show on once a year for the Lions Club. I remember my doctor, Don Richardson, was there and after the show he bought me a beer. The following Monday I was in his office and he told me I should cut down on my drinking. I said, “But Saturday night you bought me a beer.”  And he said, “Saturday I was enjoying a show, today I am your doctor.”

I mentioned the show, Klondike Days, a few paragraphs back. You must remember this was at the Legion.  Bobby Bruce, the Labatt’s salesman at the time, picked up the tab for several jugs of real beer for the saloon scenes, which, now that I think about it, was the only scene. I was supposed to be a drunken horse doctor and by the third act I was.

So many funny things happened over the years, A couple of times we performed for the Sarnia Legion and stayed at a hotel-motel. Bob McEown and Ron Janes brought a cow into one of the ground-floor rooms – not a good move. Elsie did what cows usually do when nature calls. We were never invited back.

Most of the cast are gone now with only a few of us left to remember the shows and the good times. I should have written a history of the Legion Show Group years ago, but I never did. Now it’s just a memory and not a very clear one at that.

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