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"Misty Voices: Lady Godiva"
Millville, Pennsylvania, has never been the same since my wife ran through the firehouse
in that surprising condition.
We had just come from one of our better bookings at a large midwestern fair, and were
looking for the town shown on our next contract: Millville. We bought three different
maps. Two of them had completely overlooked our destination, and the third showed TWO
Millvilles, several hundred miles apart!
After some grumbly long distance calls we found out that ours was the farthest Millville,
so we began the long tedious job of weaving through the world's most comprehensive
collection of potholes: the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
When we finally saw a sign pointing to Millville we were skidding around in a sea of mud.
At the end of the mud was the tiny town of Millville, where we learned that we were to
play at the Annual Firemen's Picnic.
At the picnic grounds, a Don Knottsish gentleman showed us to our stage: a pile of logs
with plywood laid on top. The spotlight was a bulb hung on a pole. There was no tent or
cover of any kind and the sky threatened rain. We agreed to do the show only on the
condition that someone stand by with tarps to throw over our instruments in case of a
Everyone seemed surprised when we asked where our dressing rooms were. They opened up
the firehouse for us, about a mile down the road and said we could use the back room.
It was hot and humid and we had to leave the doors and windows open to survive. This
meant dressing in the dark as the sun was already dimming. That didn't keep the mosquitos
from finding us.
There were hot dog stands, games, a merry-go-round and a few other amusements on the lawn
and a goodly crowd was there. Hundreds of people gathered around the makeshift stage as a
metallic loudspeaker barked about "show time". An elderly dwarf, who called himself
"Shorty ," jumped up and down in front of the bandstand ordering the audience to "Shut up"
and "Stand back, there"! He had no official capacity but the crowd didn't know that and he
kept it up throughout our show.
The audience made up for the rest of the day and after the first show (there were to be
two) they gathered 'round for autographs. We sold completely out of records, pictures,
and booklets. They really ruined our sulking.
We were eating a chili dog when I felt a drop of rain. I looked up, horrified, waiting
for another drop, and got a bucketful! We ran to the stage and tried to get all of the
equipment under the canvas. The rain never let up and eventually we had to load everything
back into our trailer in the rain; the second show was canceled.
All the firemen tried to help and everyone was running into everyone else. We were all
soaking wet and the mud, now ankle deep, was spattering everywhere. Misty was wearing a
brand new dress which she was trying futilely to protect with a small plastic umbrella.
To her embarrassment the dress began to shrink up right before our very eyes.
The "long" ruffled sleeves were creeping up past her elbows at an amazing rate of speed.
The skirt, formerly a mini, was now getting ridiculous! She held the umbrella with one
hand and frantically tugged at her hemline with the other. She begged me to stand in front
of her, as the crowd was re-gathering. We made a mad dash for our car, not looking back.
Meanwhile, back at the firehouse, the troops had gathered and were already drinking beer,
playing cards and counting the day's take. I went in and explained the situation and all
present agreed to turn their backs as our heroine ran the length of the main meeting hall
to the back room where she had her other clothes. Firemen are real gentlemen.
Later, when they offered us a beer, you'd better believe we accepted. We stood in the
doorway by the fire engine, looked out into the dark, and waited for the rain to stop.
Copyright © by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved