Friday, April 2, 2010

Chronicles of a Life in Linden: The Legion Hall

Sure it's "Music City" now but the Legion Hall used to be this big dusty auditorium with concrete floors, peeling paint, and musty-smelling velour curtains. I loved every inch of it.

It's where the Lions Follies, a show featuring local talent, took place, and my dad and Mr. Penny (male adults in small towns don't have first names) were the emcees. Mr. Penny always wore a red shirt and red pants and suspenders; he could wiggle his hips and feet in two different directions at the same time, which I found remarkable.

I used to perform at the Follies too. When I was little and it was OK to sing off-key, my mom dressed me up in a poodle skirt and put my red-headed boyfriend in front of me in a sailor suit and told me to sing "Soldier Boy" to him. The only thing I can remember is that his face turned as red as his hair and when he kissed me on the cheek at the end of it, the crowd started to whistle, which I didn't understand. When I got older, my mom sat me down and said, "Kacy, I have to tell you something. You're not very good at singing." Which was true. So she strapped a two-headed styrofoam dummy to my back and put boots on my hands and feet and I did a weird puppet show to a song I can't remember. That was the end of my career as a stage performer at the follies.

The best part about the Lions Follies was the underground "green room" which wasn't green at all but solid cement and cold. Follies participants would party there after the show; everyone brought food to stash in the kitchen for the celebration. My friend Lauren and I would tiptoe downstairs and steal one of Miss Billie's sandwiches, which she made with ham and crack, and my mom would always catch us and fuss at us for being the little piggies we truly were.

When I got older I watched the show from the audience, usually balancing on the yellow handicapped railing at the back of the building, practicing gymnastic flips over the bar and barely escaping smashing my head into the concrete floor. Later, when the fun of the follies was long over, the building was used as a gym, when a husky guy from out of town came to teach wouldbe cheerleaders backhandsprings. One night, he took everyone's payment for that month and skipped town without so much as a kiss-my-foot. I wonder whatever happened to that SOB.