Catch a Falling Star…Never Let it Fade Away


Early Morning Sunflowers Far R Heather Heap Far L Jennifer Morrison 2nd L Sugar Bressler

Milkweeds of Autumn

Milkweeds of Autumn Center Front Eileen Sloman imm behind Davidge-Pitts Front R Hillary Jelks











Catch a Falling Star…and Never Let It Fade Away

Last week I introduced you all to Mom’s first play called In Mother Nature’s Garden which she wrote, produced and directed in 1955.  I thought I would share with you some of the goings on behind the scenes in my next few blogs.

Mom and Dad had met over the theatre table doing tonsillectomies and although she was no longer nursing she and Dad often worked together over the breakfast table without even realizing it.

Catch a Falling Star…and Never Let It Fade Away

One morning, early, Mom popped down to Teperson’s Bakery to pick up a dozen sugar buns fresh out of the oven for a surprise breakfast treat.  It would start everyone’s day off right.  The timing was bad.  As we all tucked in Dad said,  “I’ve had this patient, Mrs. Fox, who scales over three hundred and fifty pounds.  It took two scales and a tot up of the combined weights to get an idea.” With that, Dad told us again about the dangers of refined sugar, white flour and fat.  We did not enjoy the everyday luxury of bacon, two eggs, each sitting on top of slices of fried toast to soak up the rest of the bacon fat, like all the other families I knew. We had a wedge of paw-paw (papaya) followed by Maltabella (sorghum) porridge most mornings.

“Well,” said Mom, “The buns are only a treat.  Let’s enjoy them for what they are: simply delicious!”

“Mrs. Fox died last night,” he went on. Only thirty five.  She was a management headache.  Renal problems. Circulatory problems.  Finally, this massive stroke.  At least she didn’t linger and suffer with it.  She left behind her precious daughter.  I delivered her after a history of 3 miscarriages and three still births.  What determination!  What courage!  I’ve never encountered a couple as determined to have a baby as this one.  And what a happy family they have been despite their troubles.”

“Their daughter is such a pudgy little enigmatic thing, the splitting image of her mother,” said Mom.  “I can’t think right off the bat where I can find a place for her in Mother Nature’s Garden but let me give it some thought.”

“Like her mother you might be surprised by her aspirations and how determined she is to realize them.”

As we settled down to our routine breakfast the next morning, Mom said, “Guess what?”

“What?” said Dad.

I found a place for Mrs Fox’s daughter, Henrietta.  She’s not a dancer obviously, so I can’t have her as a frost fairy in the winter scene, an early morning sunflower or a milkweed in autumn.  I offered her a place in the summer orchestra of insects.  She turned it down, said she didn’t like creepy crawlies and didn’t want to be one. Perhaps a spot as a falling star?  I did so want to find a place for her, somehow.”

“She must have jumped at that.”

“Not exactly!”  She was very emphatic.  “No, she said  I’m not a falling star.  I’m  a rising star. And so she is.  The scripts all changed to accommodate it!  Mrs. Hatchuel, she’s such a seamstress, has offered to make her costume.”

“I’ve never thought much about your skits and things but perhaps there’s a place for it after all.  Well done.  Got to run…”


  • Betty

    Reply Reply July 10, 2010

    Sunflowers, milkweeds and frosty fairies….what a delight! And I am sure everyone in the whole of Que Que was to be included in the extravaganza. I find it sweet that Mrs. Fox gave Henrietta so much confidence, that she(Henrietta) turned down every opportunity to be on stage in a role she didn’t think fitting! A rising star had to be a challenge for the seamstress and your mum, trying to find the perfect set-up for a very large girl! Now as for the buns your mum purchased….that is where I want more description! 🙂 :0 I love your desserts and sweets, and hoping you can describe every decadent ounce….I’m sure your dad kept every one on a very strict regimen and forbade too much junk and sweets! I remember your parents swimming in the Senior Olympics….your poor mum probably never got to indulge in too many sweets over the years. Did she make up for it after his death? At least they had a wonderful, full, and very active life because of him!
    I hope you continue telling about the play!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply July 11, 2010


      Yes, Mom had a vivid imagination. She was rather like a female version of Peter Pan and wished she had never grown up. She experienced that make believe world on stage with the child in everyone. Later plays included many adults who wanted to get in on the act. This first one with a cast of 87 was all children. The bakery was to die for! Limiting to approx 500 words does mean I have to leave out some mouth watering details and I’ve talked a lot about food in my other blogs and thought readers might be tiring of it. (It will all be in the book). Dad had quite a sweet tooth actually, but most of our desserts were fruit based. One was Queens Delight a kind of soup made out of granadillas (passion fruit) and sweetened condensed milk! Yes, when Dad died at the Senior Olympics she took it really hard but after about a year she bounced back and had about 5 years of uncensured fun after I bought her a purple Stetson from Houston Rodeo. Yes, I’m going to do a series of vingettes from the different plays over the next weeks.

      Thanks a ton for being such a responsive reader…


  • Janet

    Reply Reply July 24, 2010

    Through my years of teaching in the small town of Sheridan, Oregon, there was Miss Bev. She taught tap to nearly every one forever. I do not know a lot of details, but I remember two of my 5th grade students, Chris and Bethany, who did an impromptu tap routine right there in the classroom one afternoon to the delight of all.
    Miss Bev recently passed and the accolades of all of Willamina and Sheridan were testimony to her influence. She, too, epitomized the coming together of all in small towns. Many children who never had a chance to shine were sparkling stars in Bev’s pantheon.
    Thank you, Diana, for your stories.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply July 24, 2010


      You are so right! Every child should have a chance to shine. The moments are so magical. Every town deserves a Miss Bev. to give kids the confidence to go out and explore there talents and the big wide world beyond Sheridan. I’m sure you did your fair share of character building all those years of teaching too.


  • Harry Waters

    Reply Reply May 1, 2011

    I’m so glad to have found your Facebook page & also your blog. What memories you evoke. Before your Mom died we shared a couple of mails & I was really blessed by being re-acquainted. I think I might have been 5 going on 6 when our two families first met on the G&P. I have some photos of early days on the mine, David & I tucking in to braaied marshmellows, the holiday I shared with your family at Monkey Bay (I think it was) & a couple of others which I will let you have copies of when our container finally arrives in NZ.
    With my best regards

    • Diana

      Reply Reply May 1, 2011

      Harry lovely to hear from you. Gather you are on your way to NZ to resettle. Wish you all the best and look forward to your pics(esp of the mine) when you are all unpacked. Toasted marsmallows over the open fire were a speciality of ours (still is!) Remember the pineapples we ate on the beach at Morgan’s Bay…Mom chopped the tops off, one each and we scooped them out with a teaspoon. The worlds best as were the sand dunes.
      Where is Beverly? She was quite a ballet dancer and is in many of the Panto pictures….

  • Susan Grave

    Reply Reply November 12, 2011

    Saw mention of a Mrs Hatchuel – did she have 2 sons named Albert (RIP) and David?

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 12, 2011

      Mr and Mrs. Albert Hatchuel started out on a concession at Sherwood Star, a very profitable mine in the early days. They had two very successful sons, Albert and David who went to QQHS. Both qualified as dentists from Wits. Albert went on to specialize in maxillofacial surgery. David went on to Medicine and is a Surgeon (FRCS) practicing in Jhb. Albert very unfortunately died a few years ago after a short illness.

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