Have a Part in the Class Play

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, January 20, 1913: Our class expects to have a swell blow-out one of these days. We’re going to give a play. I am Chloe the negro servant. That was the part I really wanted.

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Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Hmm—I could go a lot of directions with this post, but I guess I’ll just leave it with this:

I’m glad Grandma got the part she wanted, but I wonder why she really wanted the role of Chloe. Was it a large part . . . or a relatively minor one? Did she think that it would be a challenging role . . . or an easy one?

34 Responses

  1. Indeed, this entry in your grandmother’s diary could lead to an interesting discussion — especially at a family reunion with multiple generations.

    • It would make an interesting discussion! One of the things I enjoy about doing this blog is the wonderful opportunities that it’s given me to get to know some of my relatives better.

  2. Maybe they were putting on Song of the South.

    • Your comment sent me to doing a google search–and it definitely seems like various Uncle Remus and Br’er Rabbit plays were around back then.

  3. Hi, Cheryl,
    I am in awe of your blog! How special to have your grandmother’s diary.
    I’m subscribing to future posts, and although it will take a lot of catching up on my part, I hope to (eventually) read all your previous posts.

    Thanks!

  4. Oh I wonder what the play was! Did they make it up or was it something already published? Wouldn’t you love to read it now?

  5. I wonder if the part would require her to put on a black face, which would get her notice. I think Helena might like the attention.

    • I also thought the same thing. Even though I know that the times were very different back then, I really struggle with the use of black face and the way African Americans were often portrayed in plays a hundred years ago.

  6. I wouldn’t have guessed ‘blow-out’ was part of the vernacular back then…ha! kids hey?

  7. She keeps us wondering, doesn’t she? :)

  8. I did some research on the internet, and there is a play called “Self” by Sidney F. Bateman that featured a servant named Chloe – that might have been the one.

  9. It sounds like everyone was arguing over the parts they wanted to do, I am glad Helena got the part she wanted. I hope she posts more on the play. (oh look at me… posts!! I meant write…, Sheryl it is like she is writing this today!)

  10. She is such a cool kid!

  11. “Swell blow-out”! I am starting to know where the flappers’ slang is coming from…Helena!

  12. Well, Sheryl, I’ve come to bestow another blog award. (Except maybe you’re an awards-free blogger?) This award is
    the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award and you’re receiving it because you often comment on my blog posts. I want you to know that I appreciate that. It means a lot to know my posts are read. You can read my post about it at http://nancysfamilyhistoryblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-favorite-award-to-give.html. (I finished the post late last night and was too tired to contact the recipients.) Thanks again for being such a great supporter of my blog by reading, visiting, and commenting. I appreciate it!

    • Thank you for nominating me. I am greatly honored that you think this blog is worthy of the award. As you suggested, I don’t accept awards–though I always really appreciate the nomination. I want to keep this blog focused on my grandmother’s diary–and I’ve never been quite able to figure out how I could accept awards without shifting away from the blog’s theme.

  13. [...] a class play and that the cast members were students who would be graduating in the spring.  On January 20, Grandma [...]

  14. [...] Grandma plays the role of Chloe, the servant, in the class play. [...]

  15. [...] Grandma (and probably her sister Ruth) would have walked a mile and a half from their farm into McEwensville for a play practice that didn’t take place. Grandma had the role of Chloe, the servant, in the play. [...]

  16. [...] was in the class play. Did some of the cast members show up for practice? . . or did everyone independently decide that [...]

  17. [...] played the role of Chloe, the servant, in the upcoming class play. The play was less than two weeks away. I suppose that the cast still had a lot to do to prepare [...]

  18. [...] characters were funny. Grandma probably enjoyed hamming it up as she played the role of Chloe.  (Back in January when the play was cast, she’d written, “I am Chloe the negro servant. That was the part I [...]

  19. [...] bet Grandma in blackface, playing the role of Chloe the servant, made quite a splash—and that she enjoyed every moment of [...]

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