Memories that helped shape a baby boomer

We’ve all succeeded at some things and we’ve all also failed. That’s what this story is about from Doreen Frick of Ord, Nebraska. By failing, she found success.

My sister and I are going over old photos. She asks me to tell her about the time I lost my voice. I go back in time.

I was preparing to sing a solo in Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera, The Mikado. The day before the production I stayed overnight with my friends and we stayed up late, sitting on a cold drafty wooden floor playing Monopoly. I woke up the next day with no voice.

Doreen as Yum Yum in her school production of The Mikado.

Mom got me home and to bed and warmed up honey and lemon juice in the hope I would recover by showtime.

I was to play the role of Yum Yum, the little woman in The Mikado, and as I dressed in my kimono and my big black wig and heavy rouge and red lipstick, I squeaked out a few lines of “The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze.” And knew I was in big trouble. To be more specific, my solo was in big trouble, but my music director, Mrs. Dickens, decided that if my voice completely failed she, who would be just below me in the orchestra pit, would sing along as though this was the plan all the time.

Just as I got ready to leave for the show, my uncle called to encourage me and sang “A Wand’ring Minstrel I,” because it turns out he was once in the same production. That cheery voice singing across the miles from New York City to my little sickroom in Northeast Philadelphia made my heart jump and a little of my voice returned as I tried to sing along with him. Oh what a dear he was. And still is.

Doreen with her father and siblings in 1967.

And no, I didn’t win any awards for my performance, and my voice was barely heard by the audience, but Mom and Dad thought I did great, and I came home and left my makeup on because I was in sixth-grade and wanted to be grown up.

My older brother had just gotten engaged that night, so it was a double celebration in our little home, and my voice returned the very next day, of course, once the stress of “the moment” was over, and the funny thing about my voice leaving me in the first place was that the very next year, the exact same thing happened.

I gave up performing, and began writing instead. And that has served me well …

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