I remark to Nancy as we trek out to the truck to get our equipment, "Not only is this place nice, but also it's handy."
She replies, "We've never had a shorter distance to haul our stuff."
As people go through the buffet line and start to take their seats, I try attempt to gain their interest by trying out the sound system and by showing a few of the pictures on the huge screen that comes down or retracts at the push of a button. The new sound system makes my voice sound deep and rich, like a radio announcer's, and I earn a few chuckles from the audience when I remark, "I don't know whose voice that is, but I like it."
To remind audience members what the country side was like in 1950, I include in the introduction a picture of Jaffy, a peddler who drove an old covered wagon pulled by one horse down the dirt roads that connected the farms in the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's.
Jaffy was usually welcomed by the farmers because he sharpened cutting utensils and sold specialty items like cloth or buttons. Buying from Jaffy might save the farm family a trip to a distant town where they normally didn't shop. Willing to trade his goods and services for eggs or other produce, Jaffy didn't require cash, which most farmers didn't have anyway.
Audience members remember peddlers as they nod their heads in agreement to my story, and they laugh out loud when I proclaim, "He had lots of items in that old wagon, but I'll bet you know what he didn't have--electric appliances! No mixers, blenders, juicers, can openers, hair dryers, or microwave ovens." Even when the farms did get electricity, many of these items were either not yet invented or were considered nonessential when they did become available.
After I perform the Prologue and my story, County Road Picnic, I return to the picture of the farm I grew up on as I discuss why I write the kind of stories I write and how I got started writing and performing them (see my blog of 6-17-10 for a short explanation).
After I finish, the kind audience gives me a warm applause followed by many questions. People stop to chat with Nancy and me and many buy books. Susan Muelken asks me to return after my next book comes out.
We thank everyone, say our "Goodbyes" and pack up to leave.
As we load the truck, Nancy remarks how well the show went. I respond by saying, "The big screen, the great sound system, and the wonderful audience made me feel like I was in Vegas!"
I hope we go back soon.
Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson