The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Olden Golden Rule Days - Part 4 of 6

By Virginia Webb Mitchell © 1985

Issue: December, 1985

The Christmas play was the highlight of the school year. The back of the room served as a stage and bed sheets were strung on wires for stage curtains. We rehearsed for weeks with the singing of carols and much memorization. Then, when the big day came, some of us became so nervous we forgot our lines, or "drew a blank." Hidden in the wings, our coach fed us the forgotten lines in a "whisper" that could be heard to Chicago.

In addition to presenting plays (a favorite was the reenactment of the flight of Mary and Joseph into Egypt), we would recite poems and readings (some, obviously, our own originals). We delivered these in such a barely audible, sing-song monotone that no one ever accused us of sounding like Charles Laughton or Ethel Barrymore. Our presentations met with such an exhibition that their acting ability surpassed ours.

The favorite money raising project was the pie supper. It was considered the social event of the school year. These were held in the evening at the school. Girl students and girls from the neighborhood were expected to bring pies to be auctioned off to the masculine gender. The auctioning price began at twenty-five cents and the pie's owner was obliged to eat a slice with the man or boy who paid the highest bid for her pie. Boy students were at a disadvantage because some of the older boys had jobs and enough money to place higher bids on the pies. Sometimes one of these older boys would arrive at the event in a semi-inebriated condition. The very thought of his bidding on our pies would send cold shivers down our spines. I don't recall that my pie was bought by one of these older "pie-eyed" boys, but it did seem that my pie was never bought by the boy of my choice. If I appeared reluctant to partake of my pie with its purchaser, glints of steel from Mother's blue eyes was all the encouragement needed to help me regain my poise and be courteous.