One idea I had that kept the boys busy was to make papier-mâché. It took most of a day to tear up newspaper in strips and then we soaked them over night. The next day we squeezed out as much of the moisture as we could, then mixed in home made paste, and we were ready to make “things.”
This was in the day when soda pop came in bottles with the long neck on them. We put a square of material over the neck of the bottle, then used the papier-mâché to mold puppet heads. That took a few more days, and of course, we had to let them dry.
We had lots of watercolour paint around, so the boys each got to paint their puppets’ heads… even three-year-old Gary, who sat in his highchair for this kind of activity! He painted one all green! What fun they had!
Ra loved to make up “plays.” He would record all the different voices on our tape recorder (we only had one tape and it got used over and over). This gave him the freedom to operate all of the characters himself! My husband made a stage setting, and painted different backgrounds for the different shows, and Ra would be in behind the curtain. It had to be late evening so the light on stage would show.
We had a kind of patio at the back of the house. A trellis-like fence on two sides, up against the back of the house. That’s where the puppet shows were performed after supper for neighbourhood kids. If the show was still “on” when parents started calling their kids for bedtime, they just called, “Puppet Show” and got permission to stay a little longer.
I just realized something I had forgotten. We had two marionettes. These were the kind that were manipulated with wires and strings… made by my husband and clothed by me. The boys loved watching us operating those two… and we called them Johnny and the giant. I think that’s where JOHNNY AND MR. FREDERICKS, the bedtime stories, originated. Gary still has those two marionettes.