1946 Chickens’ Ball – An Eduring Tradition is Being Built

1946 Program

The Ball was led again by the successful 1944 team which had gathered fame and fortune for the city. Beverly Wheeler, Jack Kemp and David S. Painter, Jr. dreamed up entirely new ideas for the 1946 production.

The Central Gym was decorated with life size figures depicting a story about two girls going into Diamond Jim’s office. Hired as chorus girls, one meets a Stage Door Johnny and the wedding scene soon follows. Still later comes the “Mother, Father and Baby Makes Three” tableau. Each figure was made realistic with three dimensional crepe paper effects. Adding that all important touch of authenticity were genuine pieces of antique furniture, tandem bicycles and even an antique piano.

Thirteen clubs performed skits in 1946, which required the grand total of 141 participants. Lyle Mewhirter assumed the duties of Master of Ceremonies and that well-known ne’er do well, Mr. Newell Sharkey wandered through the audience with his portable microphone, flirting with the ladies. Mr. Sharkey insists that this honor was forced upon him by production people who hoped to add a bit of spice to the show. Mr. Sharkey also says that only his unswerving devotion to a Worthy Cause, persuaded him to take on the unwanted task.

“They told me to go out there and be funny!” he exclaims. “I had no idea how to go about it!” Other reliable sources claim that although San Carlos’ unofficial photographer may have been a reluctant performer, he was the hit of the show and undoubtedly had more fun than the audience, which was soon roaring at his jokes. Perhaps it is once again time for Mr. Sharkey to come out from behind the birdie, to give us newer folks a chance to view his unique talents.

Prizes were awarded for the first time in 1946 to members of the audience for the best costumes. A prize was also given to the lady with the smallest waist (eighteen inches was said to be the desirable measurement for fashions of the ’90’s) and the Messrs. Mewhirter and Sharkey, as self-appointed judges took their jobs quite seriously.

Once again, civic dignitaries were given box seats and His Honor the Mayor, E.R. Burton and his lovely wife charmed the audience when they attended in full regalia.

Highly entertaining were the Gusto Girls, Lois Powell, Norma Orth and Ruth Gass, who sang and romanced the audience between acts. The Masonic Club took top honors and the Faculty Club, the Garden Club and Junior Matrons and Scout Mothers were prize winners.

One unique concession – “At the Sign of the Lantern” featured authentic 1890 menus showing prices of the times – twenty cent steaks, ten cent fish stews, and the specialty of the house – Pigs’ Feet – Soused, which sold for a mere dime.

Source: 1968 Reflections

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