Little Black Dress, January 2014, Amy Stewart Hale PennDragon Studios at The Arts Factory, Las Vegas
To quote Amy: "The skit about little black dresses was one of Mom Jo's favorite memories ..and one she and I spoke of often. As with most women, a little black dress is wardrobe essential ..and we all have stories about our little Black Dresses -- This series is in honor of my mother in law Margret J. Hale ..or Mom Jo as she became to me.
Over the last 10 years I've heard and treasure many family stories of adventure and travel my husband and his family lived in the service. ..a memorable one is the story of the Little Black Dress Skit ...She said it was performed at Foreign Service Wives Weekly Luncheon. They felt while we were building our foreign embassies it wouldn't be appropriate and take an act of congress, literally, to ask for money for a school to train spouses of ambassadors and State Department support staff in the proper etiquette and decorum they were expected to uphold . They used the weekly luncheons as training. The State Dept. now has "The Cinderella School" to support the need for etiquette training. We lost Mom Jo last December.. she is missed deeply.
The original text was written by Alice H. Rice when she was the spouse of a young lieutenant in the 50′s…The skit’s always choreographed to different music for each era and dress.
Good evening ladies…
Today is the day we are going to present a show edifying…
The girls are just dying to bring you their graphic comment
On the unique society and stylish variety
Of the fashionable service wife.
We invite your attention to affectionate mention
Of moments highlighting her life.
A new world began when she captured her man
And married into the Corps.
When she was a bride she trembled inside
At the glory and glamour before her
In traditional gown of satin white as swan’s down
She’s fresh as the flowers she carries
With a veil of white lace gives and aura of grace
Oh, lucky’s the man that she marries
She dreams of paradise and mansions (with maids)
And world-wide travels she plans
As under crossed sabers (Exit Bride)
She promised her labors to him and the military’s demands.
With prospects so pleasant and each wedding present
She arrives at her first duty station where she finds worthy functions
And coffees and luncheons just a-waiting her par-tic-i-pation.
A large wardrobe she lacks, but she quickly unpacks,
Thinking “What is the right thing to dress in?”
A service wife knows that the proper clothes
Help create the proper impression
What might stand the test? Basic…
For any occasion. Of any persuasion?
This number would do, she is sure.
Now THIS may I stress is a basic black dress,
Clean-lined, unadorned, sim-plici-ty, either wear it as such
Or add a personal touch (point to bow) for its famous for its du-licity.
Well, she learns husband’s routine of brassing and booting,
And how to stiff starch those fatigues, she learns how to sew patches
And cook extra batches (Exit Heroine)
Of food for the bachelor leagues
She arises each day
Like a fresh bouquet to cheer him off to “the war”
The day he “takes reveille” you can take it from me…
That’s the day…she needs the car!
But even at dawn, she knows what to put on
She may see – you never know whom!
Bright-eyed and astute, she inspires him and all his platoon. (Exit Reveille)
FTX and S-3
TDY and IG soon are a part of her vo-cab-ulary.
She learns to stand at retreat
And how to buy meat at the local commissary.
And here is her Basic Black dress
Sublimating the housecleaning mess
A handkerchief chic, an apron so sleek
Accessorize her with finesse.
The service wife knows how to utilize clothes
So each hour of the day she has style,
Her housecleaning duty will find this beauty
Looking sharp whatever the trial. (Exit Housekeeping)
With engraved calling cards she delivers regards
To the CO staying “inside an hour”
When the call is returned, she is somewhat concerned
For they’ve caught her taking a shower!
But to this sequel she’s more than equal
She appears with her usual tact.
Indeed her solution to untimely ablution
Is to smile and hope they will smile back?
This terry creation will cause a sensation
When teamed with savoir faire
An impression eternal remains with the Colonel
Who’s received by this hostess so rare. (Exit Shower)
For well-rounded fun, she’ll not be outdone
The service wife’s lithe and athletic
She excels in all sports, at bridge table and courts…
In costume co-pa-setic.
She serves looking spiffy prepared in a jiffy
In her flexible favorite-guess!
With shoes that are flat and a jaunty small hat,
And…she’s wearing the Basic Black Dress! (Exit Tennis)
Through farewells and greetings,
And dozens of meetings, she volunteers without hesitation
Her life’s neat and exact ‘til she gets in the act
Of producing the next generation.
Yes, there comes a time in every climb
When the Basic Black Dress just won’t do it
That’s the time when it’ll get snug in the middle.
What’s the meaning of this? She knew it!
Her husband’s agape at her blossoming shape,
But she’s still just as pretty and pert,
She runs out and shops for lots of cute tops
And appears in a Basic Black Skirt! (Exit Pregnant)
Then once a month a spouses’ club luncheon
Takes place at the local club
Which everyone goes to in frills, gloves and hose too
To show off her fanciest duds.
In chapeau and furs the honors are hers
She achieves a chic undeniable.
Have you recognized it? No, she has disguised it.
And dramatized good, old Reliable.
Now I ask: Did you ever know a woman more clever
Than the service wife I profess?
Completely adaptable, even unflappable,
Both she and her Basic Black Dress.
When her flowers have blooms,
When she’s curtained each room
And made home out of government quarters.
And if parsley she plants (Exit Luncheon)
Here’s a very good chance,
He’ll come home one night with orders!
On civilian sod he goes “abroad”
As the service wife goes “overseas”
She packs, store hold and ship ‘til she’s ready to flip
But, once off, she travels with ease
In the travelling scrimmage she maintains the image
Of cosmopolitan cool.
Bent to her needs her Basic Black leads
From port call through customs. A Jewel!
With kids, pet and sack and the babe on her back
With baggage and luggage and hope
Smoothest trip of her life, she’s a service wife (Exit Moving)
And there’s NOTHING with which she can’t cope.
Now what one wears to social affairs
Should be clarified by invitation
But….what is normal if it says, “semi-formal?”
She might find a lame that always clings so nicely...
...due to PRlog character limits the rest of the skit can be found on http://fbelitemag.com/
Amy Stewart Hale