Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.

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May 20, 2013
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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow's Ear 5-20-13


Does anyone know what the initials, POPS, stand for? A “POPS” according to a Google definition is: Noun. A concert of popular and light classical music played by a symphony orchestra. Origin: 1875-80.

Last week I attended our town’s 74th POPS. It’s always super well-attended as every band kid has a passel of relatives and friends.

I got there only in time to find a seat in the bleacher section. Sitting comfortably on bleachers is not within my physical talents anymore; in fact, it soon becomes agony. But I thought, well OK, I’ll just leave early.

The band/orchestra kids, their music stands in front of them, were all seated in folding chairs arranged on the floor of the auditorium in front of the stage. Next in order were tables decorated with wine bottles with lit candles stuck in the tops. So, when the house lights got killed, the candlelight provided a nice atmosphere. Chairs stationed around each table accommodated groups of friends.

From my position (center bottom step of bleachers), I could observe everything. For instance, the “Red Hat” ladies had secured an entire table just for themselves. Red Hats have, apparently, chosen red and purple as their preferred motif colors. The ladies wore hats in fedora shapes, sunshade shapes and even a gambler’s eye-shade shape — all of said headgear a bright crimson. Complementing the amazing head coverings were shawls of red, gloves of red, blouses of red or a combination of purple and red.

Jewelry, and plenty of it, added to the elegance. One woman sported multiple rings on ALL her fingers including the thumbs. (I don’t think she could bend any knuckles). I was awed. I’ve since learned that Red Hats dress up in red and purple and enjoy a group luncheon every so often. Red Hats don’t DO anything besides meet, eat, chatter and then go home. Like colorful birds, Red Hats — all in the mature age group — like to put on bright plumage and enjoy themselves. Good for them.

The POPS music was fantastic, marvelous, terrific, great. On stage, a pair of “emcee” kids, a gal and a guy, introduced — with cutesy dialogue — assorted musical pieces. The young man was way cool. Good looking, good voice, comfortable on stage. His gal partner was resplendent in a strapless shiny satin red dress (I wondered if she had a Red Hat relative). Think Dorothy Lamour (if you are old enough to remember her).

On one number, the stage curtains opened and there, on risers, stood a batch of guitar pickers, a mandolin picker, a pianist and a stand-up bass player. The high-school choir director conducted the group in the song, “Good Old Mountain Music.” It was a sensational presentation, although I was a bit taken aback by some of the apparel the singers thought suitable to wear. Jeans that had holes in each knee and barely held-together-almost-holes marching up both legs? And other garments that were either tacky, untidy, inappropriate or dumb-looking? (Obviously my fashion-sense is way out-dated).

Intermission arrived and not a moment too soon. My knees had seized up. I HAD to stand. But couldn’t. I applied for assistance from nearby Samaritans. A guy and another person, a gal, grabbed a hand each (my hands, not theirs) and heaved. But oh my, I was on the second step up from the floor. They pulled. It was like trying to derrick up an elephant manually. A woman seated next to me asked as I was being back-hoed up, “Can I help you?” To which I replied, “I’m so old, there’s no help possible.” (I suspect that was not a politically correct answer).

As my helpers hoisted, my back whacked against the edge of the bleacher step behind me. (The bruise healed quickly). Once vertical, I thanked everybody. Then I left. The second half of the POPS had to go on without me.

I still don’t know what the initials, P O P S, stand for. ❖




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The Fence Post Updated Oct 16, 2013 03:56PM Published May 20, 2013 11:44AM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.