Saturday, April 7, 2012
Camden Corners' Ladies Auxiliary is having their monthly meeting in the basement of Trinity Church. Martha Wharton has called the meeting to order.
“Before the reading of the minutes, Mary Agnes Brubaker has some exciting news for us. Mary Agnes , the chair recognizes you”
“Madam Chairwoman” the excited Miss Brubaker began. “My cousin, Elmer T. Brubaker of New York City, New York has been able to obtain the services of Miss Beverly Sills, the world renowned opera singer to perform in our very own Camden Corners Opera House. Miss Sills will only be available on Tuesday of next week. I am to let him know our decision by this evening.”
The room was filled with enthusiastic chatter.
“What a coup this is for Camden Corners.” exclaimed Hattie May Carlisle. The auxiliary voted unanimously in favor of having the famous opera singer entertain the good folks of Camden Corners .
They had just enough money in their bank account to cover the $24 for Miss Sills' concert and Elmer T. Brubaker's fee. Martha Wharton offered rooms in her boarding house at no cost to Miss Sills and her entourage.
Diana Taylor, who had been sitting quietly, raised her hand to speak. “I'm no expert on the subject, however that seems like a very small amount of money for a performance by someone of Miss Sills' stature.”
Diana's words went unheeded and talk began of how to get the word out. Evelyn Keys, the principal of Camden Grammar School suggested the students make handbills to be distributed through the village and all of the surrounding towns. All of the shops in the village would place posters in their windows. This concert was going to be a huge success. The meeting was adjourned early because the ladies had so much to do if everything was to go off without a hitch the following Tuesday.
Mary Agnes was grinning from ear to ear as she made her way to the post office to send a telegram to her dear cousin, Elmer T. On her way down the street, a black cat crossed her path but she was so busy patting herself on the back she didn't notice.
Within hours, the whole town was busy preparing for the celebration of the arrival of Miss Beverly Sills. The High School Band was practicing in full dress uniform just to make sure their performance welcoming the special guest was flawless.
Mayor Horton had his best suit cleaned and polished the key to the city himself. He had written a short 40 minute speech and was practicing in front of his secretary as she was dozing off.
The vicar rode his bicycle from town to town delivering handbills as soon as the children colored in the last “S” on Miss Sills' name.
Finally the day of the concert was here. Miss Sills' train was due to arrive at any moment. The children had been let out of school early and all the shop owners had closed their stores for the day. The band started playing. Everyone was waving a handkerchief in the air. The train pulled in and the doors opened. Several passengers disembarked and the crowd waited in anticipation. Finally the conductor stepped off the train and said there were no more passengers inside.
“Miss Sills must have taken an earlier train,” a disappointed Mary Agnes exclaimed. The crowd broke up and went home to dress and prepare for the concert.
In the meantime, a buxom blond was checking into Mrs. Wharton's boarding house for the night. Someone very special must be visiting Camden Corners by the looks of the reception they are getting, she thought to herself.
The concert was set to begin at 7:30. Elmer T peeked from behind the curtain.
“What a glorious crowd tonight. I wonder if I mentioned to Mary Agnes that my cut of the ticket sales would be 20%? I wonder why that orchestra is warming up. Beverly usually doesn't have such a fine accompaniment.”
Martha Wharton stepped center stage to introduced the special guest for the evening. Elmer T had given her an introduction script. Martha welcomed everyone to the Camden Corners Opera House. “On behalf of the Camden Corners Ladies' Auxiliary, I now present Miss Beverly MILLS??? world famous VAUDEVILLIAN star. With that, Elmer T wheeled out a baby grand piano with Miss Beverly Mills perched on top.
Martha felt her knees go weak. In the audience Mary Agnes fainted into the lap of her escort, Milton Mellon. Mothers covered the eyes of their children. Gasps could be heard all around the room.
Beverly belted out Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home.
The children were trying to peek through their mother's fingers at the fancy lady on stage. The single men were whistling and carrying on while the married men were trying to hide their pleasure from their wives.
Diana and her good friend Maddie were giggling along with Emma and Lily. Even Nettie was getting a kick out of the spectacle.
Beverly realized there must have been a misunderstanding. She promptly buttoned a couple of buttons on her blouse, told Elmer T to cut the piano music, spoke to the orchestra leader and began singing family friendly songs in a beautiful, soft voice. She wasn't Beverly Sills by any means but she was a fine entertainer.
Martha's knees started feeling stronger, Mary Agnes came out of her stupor, mothers took their hands away from their children's eyes and everyone sat back and enjoyed the show.