The Slide Years: Playing Parts

By Eilene Lyon

The Slide Years is a series in which I select an image my dad took from 1957-1982 with Kodachrome slide film, then I write a stream-of-consciousness essay – a sort of mini-memoir.

“We must all do theater, to find out who we are, and to discover who we could become.” – Augusto Boal


Playing parts just seemed to come naturally to me. My first role, in pre-school, acting out a nursery rhyme, was Little Jack Horner. I had a tin pie plate with a plum made of clay. Triumphantly, I stuck my thumb in the plum, held it high and pronounced, “What a good boy am I!” Whew! I didn’t forget my line.

Fourth grade brought me my first staring role in a musical, after years of lame-o chorus parts in various school Christmas productions. Yes, I played Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and had no fear as I belted out, “Behold! The brimming bowl of meat and meal…!”

My next acting opportunities came while we lived in Guatemala and attended the Union Church. The youth group would put on Christmas and/or Easter plays, as well as musicals called Cantatas. My first church play role: Tree. According to the script, which amazingly I still have, the cast of characters describes this tree as “Alive and kicking.”

It was hard for me to kick anything wearing the burlap wrapper that was my costume, but physical humor defined this role – I had no speaking part. Instead, I got to bow, quake in fear, blush (okay, the stage lights took care of that), fold my branches in prayer, and hold my nose. My climax came when the woodsman intoned, “Cut it down!” and I promptly fainted.

Little Brother, the angel. My older brother’s girlfriend, Elizabeth, on the right. You can barely make me out in the background holding a couple branches.

This series of slides shows another church play in which both my brothers also participated. My role: Tree. Oh, the woe of being typecast! At least this tree had some lines and I got to move around the stage, as well. We see Little Brother got to play an angel; talk about a stretch! (hee hee!)

Steve played the drums for this Christmas musical. The mustache is fake, yes.

If I took that opening quote to heart, let’s see…I could grow up to be a little boy, a cartoon beagle, or a tree. Hmm. Which shall it be?

Dad managed to capture all three of us kids in this one.

Feature image: Little Brother as an angel and me as a (singing) tree in the Union Church Christmas play, circa 1976. I can see my silver pinkie ring, leather-cord bracelet and puka-shell necklace, so characteristic of that era.

39 thoughts on “The Slide Years: Playing Parts

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    1. I keep thinking someday that I should join community theater, but never do. I did earn enough points to join Thespians in high school, but mostly for set work – I never got parts more than a few lines.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. You really sewed up the market in trees! I remember playing a black cat in a furry costume, aged 4 (there is a picture of that – I admit to being cute). I also remember being an elf aged, maybe, about 7 or 8. I had one line – “Pussy, pussy, would you like a sausage”, I kid you not. There must have been others but memory has drawn a merciful veil over them.

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      1. One of my daughters was an angry tree at her elementary school’s “The Wizard of Oz”, and she was also wearing a burlap bag, but she wore it over one shoulder with a t-shirt underneath, like a toga, to make it interesting. Good times!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Just that people frequently misspell my name. Eileen is more common. I asked Mom why she spelled it Eilene and she said it looked right with my brother’s name being Steve. Spell check wants me to change it!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s so frustrating when people misspell your name. I have had a lot of that also. And at my wedding my husband’s uncle who gave the blessing and made a speech Called me Luella. At my own wedding.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. That is too funny—typecast as a tree! I guess you are sturdy and strong with lots of arms reaching out to others. Or was it a premonition of your interest in family trees? I also keep thinking of the Joyce Kilmer poem I had to memorize in seventh grade!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well you certainly have to understand that I’m dying to know your version of teenage stupidity.😁😂 I’ve been transcribing my diary and notes my friend and I wrote back and forth, mostly in our Junior year. Makes me groan! Yeah, I was in drama in high school and the teacher never cared much for me. I could not get a decent part. Never tried again after that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was a tree too! Well, sort of. I had to play a Christmas tree cookie in the second grade Christmas play, even though I desperately wanted to be an elf instead, and say, “Christmas tree cookies taste great with raspberry jam!” My one and only stage role. Yours sound more fun, especially Snoopy!

    Liked by 1 person

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