“Uhhh…what are crumpets?”
As soon as I saw this clue on the crossword puzzle I was doing awhile back, I knew what I was going to call this post. April 13 of this year, as you may know, is the sixth anniversary of my husband Mark’s passing. In memory of his life, and his love for Sunday school puppetry, this post features two of his most “famous” puppet characters.
But what are crumpets, anyway? I had always imagined them to be sort of like scones, but I looked on Pinterest and they seem more like a cross between English muffins and pancakes. There isn’t much sugar in the recipe, so they aren’t that sweet. And what do crumpets have to do with this post? Read on, and you’ll see! Actually, you’ll hear, as this will be more of an audio than visual post.
You already know that we have quite a history with puppets and Sunday school.
We were alternately called the “skit class”, the “puppet class” or the “drama class”. Our purpose was to occasionally bring puppets and skits to the other classes. Every Sunday morning for years, our “team” went over lines, made up dialogs, laughed, practiced, and had an overall great time, usually with our class leader, Kathy, trying to keep us all on task. Sometimes it got so crazy that we wondered what the Sunday school class next to us must be thinking.
However, if our pastor or another person in authority came in, we were known for being able to switch into “spiritual mode” in record time. To my knowledge, this never fooled anyone.
We did, however, strive to make all of our skits and puppet shows as Biblically sound as possible. Except for “Look What the Lord Has Done”, in which we combined about five Bible stories into one, but I digress.
So now to think about puppets. We had animal puppets, fish puppets, bird puppets, people puppets, and even Mr. Mozarelli, who took two people to operate.
Mark and his “right hand man” John were the ones who brought Mr. Mozarelli to life.
But surely (this is where Mark would say, “Don’t call me Shirley!”) the most memorable were the iconic Matilda and Oglethorpe. Mark developed their “personalities” and their easily recognizable voices. Matilda was about as self-controlled as she was pretty. Oglethorpe was the typical goofy kind of guy who was actually the “common sense” of the pair.
No matter what the puppet show was about, Matilda could turn it into a major drama. The slightest thing could send her into an emotional tailspin. “Alas and alack” were favorites in her vocabulary. She overreacted to just about everything. If it hadn’t been for Oglethorpe’s steady calm, patiently getting her back on track, any Biblical lesson we had managed to put into the script would have been lost on everyone.
Matilda and the Lost Coin
Speaking of lost, “The Lost Coin” has gained the distinction of being the classic Mark Tracy puppet dialogue. It was written by Kathy, with who knows how many lines spontaneously added by Mark at the time of the recording. He recorded this one because we wanted to use Matilda and Oglethorpe for a puppet show he wasn’t able to attend, and we “had to have” the right voices or it wouldn’t be the same. The recording is 3 minutes and 41 seconds long, but I have broken it up into smaller clips so I can give you a bit of background prior to each one.
Our story begins with Matilda in despair at having lost one of her ten silver coins. She is beside herself, and Oglethorpe does what he can to help her. Click below to hear “scene one”.
After a bit of questioning, Oglethorpe manages to get to the bottom of Matilda’s crisis.
Matilda recovers herself sufficiently to hear Oglethorpe’s suggestions about cleaning her house. In this part, we have the typical “puppet-looking-for-something-backstage” scene, where socks, hats, and other items get tossed above (and sometimes over) the curtain.
Finally, Matilda’s hard work pays off and she finds her lost coin. She can barely contain her happiness, joy, and “wonderous wonderment”. She decides she wants to invite all her neighbors over for tea and crumpets!
Matilda and Oglethorpe were given a place of honor at Mark’s memorial viewing, and we had them up on the pulpit for the funeral the next day. At the very end of the service, we played the Lost Coin recording in its entirety. The last sentence, which I’m sure had been an ‘ad lib’, seemed particularly appropriate in that setting. “See you later, alligator! I’m through, let’s get on with this!”
Matilda and Oglethorpe now occupy a place of honor in the top of Christy’s closet. And I think it’s safe to say, in all of our hearts as well. If you would like to hear “The Lost Coin” in its entirety, without interruptions, you can click below. Feel free to enjoy some tea and crumpets while you listen!