At BTC I’m sometimes guilty of being a bit too earnest: my patronymic first name is, after all, Ernest. This is a useful trait in the trade not unappreciated by Tom, but if it causes me to spend too much time cataloging an unworthy book, he rightly sees it as an enthusiasm to be discouraged, or, when not properly curbed, then punished. Thus Tom had me catalog this week a Souvenir program for a 1942 benefit performance on Broadway for the Tiny Tim Society, a Ladies Auxiliary of the House of Saint Giles the Cripple in Brooklyn.
Needless to say, not much is known about this virtuous auxiliary. After my initial shock and awe at Tom’s genius for compelling me to catalog this hilarious piece of ephemera, in five minutes no less, I immediately warmed to the tiny tots and their instruments, who reminded me of my stint playing the clarinet at Public School concerts in Philadelphia. There am I with my clarinet squeaking out Alouette:
Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette, je te plumerai
Je te plumerai la tête; (Je te plumerai la tête)
Et la tête; (Et la tête)
Certainly this item symbolizes the end of an era. The Tiny Tim Society in 1942 had an executive board of seven married ladies, an executive committee of eight married and two unmarried ladies, and 125 Patronesses, only one of whom was a Doctor. And the April benefit performance that Tuesday evening was “Blithe Spirit,” Noel Coward’s Best Comedy Hit, at the Morosoco Theatre on Broadway:
A daughter fair, So buxom, blithe, and debonair.
Of course Coward did not have Milton in mind but The Blitz, and the play was a hit. When I look again at the tiny tots balanced in twos on the steps of The House of St. Giles the Cripple, arrayed before the Hospital’s heavy Georgian façade, I see the specter of Texas Governor Rick Perry in his cadet uniform hovering above.
Off with his head!