1958 Chickens’ Ball – Gay ’90’s

Central’s gym was magically transformed into the Palm Court of the old Palace Hotel in San Francisco this year. The outdoor midway became the beach and Sutro’s complete with its old statuary. Wielding paint brushes instead of wands to accomplish the transformation were Mr. and Mrs. Carlos Robles and their committee. Paper mache “marble” statues, iron grille work, a crystal chandelier and six foot live palms all blended together to create the fairy tale scenery.

Under the imaginative direction of Wiff Cox, Audie Justus and Yvonne Ryan, the entr’actes came into their own this year. A boat, emerging shakily from one side of the stage amid the blowing of whistles and the ringing of bells was the delivery vehicle for the entr’acte personnel. Hugh Malley, Noel Rayburn, Gay Harding and Hal Wood were outfitted in old-time sailor suits as they sang and danced to a clever hornpipe number which featured original lyrics by Wiff Cox.

Phyllis Rickleff, Helen Kambic, and Norma Bundsen as the three little maids from school, danced to another Wiff Cox adaptation. Norma is another lady who deserves a “Show Must Go On” deal for heroism, as she filled in at the last minute for Louise Kilday who had rehearsed her can-can number so enthusiastically that her back gave out before the performance.

1958 marked the birth of the Flip Cards, an adventure carried off admirably as the exhausted crew composed fo Dr. William Hornyak, Hugh Malley, Nathelle Taylor, Thelma Fritz, Bill Ritchie and Irene Simon made new Chickens’ Ball history. The fact that the paint on the cards was still wet on opening night didn’t help matters any. So busy was Hugh Malley with his many costume changes that at one point, he dashed into the wings and ran head on into the lighting panel, almost knocking himself out. Being one of the old troopers (or is it ham?) the blow didn’t stop him and even though he was half ill, he finished the show.

Jean McGann starred in the Junior Matrons skit as the irrepressible Eva Gangway. On opening night, she went through her paces somewhat inhibited by two broken straps – one on her shoe, the other on her shoulder.

The was the year that the Squires made their debut, staging a skit entitled, The Marriage which starred George Mosle, Hal King, Nick Weber, Dr. Tom Pardoe, Dick Berg, Dr. Fred Sepp, Gerry Johnson, Al Barber and Cliff Riley.

Sadly, the Granddaddy of them all, the Masonic Club staged its farewell performance in ’58. The renowned Floradora Sextet sang its swan song to friends who had come to appreciate the very special talents of its members, which this year included one of the all-time favorites, George Ybaretta, who provided much spontaneous hilarity when his knees gave way while trying to balance himself on one of the other “girls'” gargantuan bellies.

The San Carlans’ production of Pity the Poor Working Girl, took place in a pants factory with Doris Tonsager proving to be an effective boss and Madelyn Burley as the heroine. The heroine’s final dramatic announcement of her “delicate condition” brought down the house as she held up a tiny pair of britches which she had stitched on her sewing machine.

1958 was the first year residents enjoyed the Laurel Street Chickens’ Ball parade. Complete with old-fashioned cars, a band carrying on by the fire department, everybody got into the act and as proportions of the Ball grew, greater fun was had by more people than ever. General Chairman Irmgard Dougherty and her assistant, Betty Atkinson were in charge of a show which everyone believed had reached the pinnacle of professional-like entertainment standards. Roy Nott and his lighting crew had more than 150 cues to meet and Dorotha Rogers and the band played more than 100 pieces of music.

Source: 1968 Reflections

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