The annual Christmas Program at our one-room country school was the highlight of the year for our farming community. Everyone in the neighborhood attended. Parents, grandparents, cousins, folks from town, bachelor farmers. Everyone was there.
I remember fondly the year a trio of girls stood on the rickety plank stage and sang Away in a Manger. Mrs. Jenks, our teacher, played the accompaniment on the piano and could only see the stage out the corner of her eye. As the girls began, Away in the manger, no crib for his bed, a little field mouse that had taken up residence in the old piano was awakened by the clatter of piano hammers pounding against wires.
The trio continued, The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head, as the mouse crawled out of the piano, where Mrs. Jenks could not see it, and proceeded to prance across the stage in front of the girls. They abruptly stopped singing and rushed off the stage. The audience of course saw it all and began laughing loudly. Mrs. Jenks, not knowing what had happened, was furious. Why were people laughing during Away in the Manger? And then she saw the mouse and joined the crowd in their merriment.
A Christmas program that no one forgot, and fondly recalled as the year a field mouse stole Christmas.
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Sometimes the harder you look, the less you see.
January 14, 9:00 AM, WTMJ 4 TV, Milwaukee. Old Farm featured.
January 19, 6:00 PM, Portage (Columbia County) Historical Society dinner, Old Farm featured. Call 608-742-1445 for further information.
January 30, Viroqua Public Schools.