Rick Houser: The showboats must go on

I was talking with a friend from the days when we went to school at Moscow and he brought up a play that we put on when we attended there. I have since then been thinking on that topic a good bit. We were in the seventh grade and one part of that year I wasn’t too happy about was that my mom was my teacher every day for a half a day. She always thought that to be such a nice arrangement but it was safe to say I was in total disagreement to this situation. Today I will have to say that it wasn’t all as bad as I have made it sound over all these years but it wasn’t the best set up either.

Marc Hoover

Mom taught Ohio History, government and Math. All were subjects I really liked so I had to learn even though she was the teacher. (The thing was she knew these were my favorites also.) As the year moved on and we entered winter my mom decided it would be better if we got to visit some of the historical sites of Ohio if we could get the chance. Now in my mom’s view on things was that if you felt you really wanted or needed something then you better get off your backside and get busy in obtaining your goal. Now I should have known that from her just being my mom but I forgot that she wouldn’t stop at the edge of the school grounds in her strong drive. Oh no she came to class one day and stopped teaching and called the class to a meeting.

A lot of the kids looked at me thinking maybe I might know what she was about to meet with us on. With my mom I seldom knew what was about to be brought up. Mom asks the class if she could figure out a way to raise the money would we like to go on a field trip in the spring to a few historic sites. We all agreed that this was of interest to us but just what did she have in mind? For some reason I had a feeling I might know but felt this was her meeting and I might as well be just as surprised as the rest. Mom turned to the chalk board and wrote in big letters (put on a show!) Everyone looked at each other with a questioning look in their eyes. This was when I thought to myself that this was just what I figured she was up to.

You see my mom loved to write, produce and direct programs. She had done it many times for the PTA and the church and even the Eastern Star. Immediately the question arose as to what kind of show. She was ready for that and answered right back. We will put on a show where the stage is the stage on a showboat and we would do songs and tell jokes just like they did on the original showboats. At this point in her explanation was a room full of blank looks as we really had no idea of what this was about. Her bottom line was she would teach us how and we would earn enough money to travel by chartered bus an entire school day in the spring. (Now that was a big carrot to dangle in front of us so we listened to her some more.

The following Monday we got to go to the gym for one period and there my mom laid out how this show was going to happen. First she wanted to have six boys that were the guys who got to tell the jokes throughout the show. They were kind of funny but for the most part they were corny. Now these guys had to deliver their conversations through just one man who was the master of ceremonies for the show. This was the center of the show but every kid in the class had a part of some kind as my mom didn’t believe in a child left behind. She put it this way. If we are all going to take that trip we are all going to earn that trip so learn your part. I know you all will do well.

So some of the kids would do some dancing and some would pantomime songs. Now believe this or not but as we practiced our parts we began to feel like this wasn’t such a bad idea at all. With practice we got stronger in our rolls. Those who were pantomiming became more into it and those dancing were stepping out a little faster and the guys telling the jokes got to thinking they were funnier than ever.(but they weren’t.) By the time we were to put on the show we were as ready as we were ever going to be and I don’t know about anybody else but I was excited to get in front of a crowd just as much as all the class was.

So on a Friday evening in the spring of the year we performed for the community of Moscow and we did so to a sold out gym. The master of ceremonies kicked it off with a question to one of the comedians and got a joke in return and the audience laughed loud and hard. Next was a song and the crowd applauded. The truth was we couldn’t do a single thing wrong and the longer we went the better we got. By the end none of us were ready to stop. I think we could have gone all night. I will say it here and that is I was one of the joke tellers and my friend Charlie Marshall was the master of ceremonies. The best part of it all was that we all became just a member of the cast of the seventh grade.

After the show ended and we were getting out of costumes the money that was paid to see a showboat performance and right there on the old Ohio River we learned we had taken in much more than was going to be needed to go on that trip. I have to admit it now but even though she was my mom and she had given all of herself for us and by shows end she looked exhausted she had become the most popular teacher at Moscow school. On the morning when the chartered bus pulled up to the school to pick us up we were all present and accounted for. With the extra money mom had ordered us all box lunches so we would all be fed properly and treated like the stars we thought we were. We went to Fort Ancient, The Rankin House and finally Serpent Mound.

We got our wish and that was to get out of school a day and mom got her wish which was for us to learn some Ohio history first hand. I am not sure but I saw mom deliver so many stage shows I got accustomed to seeing her put them on. So as we traveled down the Ohio that night we relived our history on our very own showboat. We had the greatest view from that stage that night!

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. If you are interested in reading more of his stories they can be found in his books ‘There are Places to Remember” and’ Memories ARE from the Heart.” He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.