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Kate Dudding: Voices From the Past: April, 2012

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This is the sixteenth issue of Voices From the Past. My goal for each issue is to publish some highlights of one of my historical stories as well as an update on my activities.

Below is a new story of mine.

Mary Martin – An Unforgettable Peter Pan

In your childhood, were there things you did every year? For me, one of my annual events was watching a show on our black and white TV - Peter Pan staring Mary Martin. Every year, my brother and I watched Peter listening to Mrs. Darling tell stories, Peter teaching her children how to fly, all the adventures in Neverland where Peter and the Lost Boys thwarted Captain Hook. Every year we would clap for the poisoned Tinker Bell: “We believe, Tinker! We believe in fairies!”

I remember the last time my brother and I watched Peter Pan together. Even though we were both teenagers, when Tinker Bell was poisoned and Peter begged us to clap, we looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and clapped, perhaps a bit half-heartedly, but we clapped. Other people remembered Mary Martin playing Peter Pan.

One day, Mary was walking across Fifth Avenue in New York City, in an elegant outfit – in real life, she always dressed in haute couture. Suddenly a manhole cover rose up and out came a big strong stevedore type man wearing a hard hat. He looked Mary straight in the eye and asked, “Peter, will you crow for me?”

“Certainly,“ Mary replied, stopping abruptly and crowing as loud as she could in the middle of Fifth Avenue.

The man smiled, said “Thank you,” and disappeared back down the manhole.

In 1979, over 20 years after Mary played Peter Pan, Sandy Duncan starred as Peter on Broadway and then on a cross-country tour. Mary saw the show in Los Angeles and thought Sandy was marvelous.

Mary said, “By that time, Sandy could fly out over the audience, which I always wanted to do and never could. Sandy didn’t know I was coming to see her performance. When I walked into her dressing room after the show, she went white and broke into tears.”

Sandy said, “You’re the only Peter Pan I’ll ever know.” Mary replied, “But you see, you are my Peter Pan.” I thought Mary was very kind and generous and gracious to say that.

Three years later, when Mary was 69, she was in a horrific car accident. Her manager was killed. Her dear friend Janet Gaynor, a movie star in the 20s and 30s, was in critical condition for weeks and never fully recovered from the accident. Mary’s pelvis was broken in three places, two ribs were broken and her lung was punctured. Amazingly, Mary was in the hospital only nine days. As she was leaving hospital using a walker, doctors and nurses hung out of windows clapping and crowing and yelling: “We believe, Mary! We believe!”

The next year, Mary headed a benefit for that hospital. She did something she had always wanted to. She got her Peter Pan costume from the Museum of the City of New York and contacted the fellow who was then making performers fly in Las Vegas. During that benefit at age 70, Mary Martin flew over the audience all the way up to the third balcony, crowing wildly and sprinkling the astonished audience with fairy dust. Afterwards she said, “I proved that you can overcome anything if you try.”

Yes, many people remembered Mary Martin playing Peter Pan. Many, like me, never ever saw her in real life, yet she still is a real presence in our lives. I hope Mary realized that when she played Peter Pan, she flew into our hearts.

Mary Martin – An Unforgettable Peter Pan

Here is some more information about Mary Martin.

News about me

At the end of April, I'll be in Wisconsin at the 30th Northlands Storytelling Conference. I've been selected to present my workshop "People Who Made a Difference: Stories that Nurture Our Spirits" and also to tell one of my stories at the Friday night concert

I am very pleased to be telling stories with three good friends of mine:

Sun. April 15, 5 pm Certainties: Other than Death and Taxes with Margaret French
Story Sunday at the Glen Sanders Mansion, 1 Glen Ave., Scotia

Do your taxes early, then come enjoy Margaret and me telling stories of the gutsy, klutzy, amazing, hell-raising, resilient human spirit.

Story Sundays is a storytelling dinner series for adults in its 13th season. Over 6,300 people (family and friends, book clubs, Red hat ladies, people celebrating birthdays or anniversaries, etc.) have enjoyed our special banquets which combine splendid stories with fabulous food. The Glen Sanders Mansion is an historic home which is now one of the finest restaurants / hotels in the area.

Entree Choices: Brisket of Beef; Chicken Francaise; Pasta Primavera

$31 per person (includes entertainment, dinner, coffee/tea, tax and tip)
Bring someone new and you each save $3 (only one discount/person).
Pay at the door using cash or checks made out to "Story Circle" .

Fri. April 20, 1 pm People Who Made a Difference with Alden (Joe) Doolittle)
Riverway Storytelling Festival, Voorheesville Public Library, 51 School Rd.

We'll be sharing some stories that have touched our hearts about real people who made a difference.


Sun. May 6, 2 pm Inspirations with Gert Johnson
Word Plays at Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady

Come hear Gert and me share moving, touching and uplifting stories from around the world and through time.

At Word Plays, superb performers tell rarely heard contemporary and traditional stories about being human. You will discover that Word Plays is a shared experience between the audience and the performer, combining the intensity of a solo performer with the intimacy of a face-to-face conversation.

Each show has its own theme where each story told relates to that theme.

$16 CLICK HERE FOR $4 OFF COUPON (redeemable at Proctor's Box Office)
NEW GROUP RATE: groups of 8 or more pay only $8 per ticket at the Box Office

Thanks for reading this issue. I’ll be sending you some more story highlights in a few months.

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Copyright 2012 by Kathryn Eike Dudding. All Rights Reserved.


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