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  • MJ Rodriguez

Puppet fun



I’m so blessed to have grown up with sisters. Even though they were older, we were close, and I remain close to the one sister I have left and miss the others.

I wasn’t around the older sisters, Mary and Sherrilene, as much, but Sally, Peggy, and I spent a lot of time together. We did puppets and clowns for VBS with the help of our daughters. We created puppets named Miff and Giff, who were from the planet IF. We took those creatures to local schools and churches, played our music, and sang old songs we learned from Dad. Our daughters dressed up and together, we had a hillbilly band. For three consecutive years, we did the Greene County Library summer program with our puppets and music.

Sally was the straight guy (girl) who stood outside the puppet box to mediate between Miff and Giff and the audience. Peggy was the boy, Giff, and I was Miff, the girl. We had a skeleton plot but mostly ad-libbed the scripts. We fixed our puppet box so we could see the audience without being seen ourselves. We found it easy to become Miff and Giff, and as a result, sometimes our puppets got us into trouble since they were as blunt and truthful as children.

Mostly, our audiences were children, but when we sang at churches (we were the Cook Sisters), our audience was adult. In one audience, a bearded bald man sat on the front row. Quite often, a person with a good sense of humor can easily be spotted, as on this night. Miff told Sally the man on the front row had his head on upside down. As usual, Sally had no idea where this was going and asked Miff what she meant.

Miff had a quick answer. “His hair is supposed to be on top of his head, but it’s on the bottom.”

Luckily for us, the man thought it was hilarious.

One day during the Greene County Library Summer program, I looked out from the puppet box to see my two-year-old Kathy waving her bright red, ruffled panties above her head. I whispered to Sally who stood just outside the curtain close to me. Without missing a beat, she called Kathy to her, stuck her into the back of the puppet box, Peggy and I used our free hands to put her panties back on her butt and shoved her out the back of the box. The show went on.

It does my heart good to see some of our daughters choose careers working with children. One of Peggy’s girls uses puppets in her church’s children’s ministry, and Miff and Giff live with her. Two of Sally’s daughters teach school. My oldest daughter is a therapist who works with children, and the other one works in the children’s ministry at her church. It’s important to raise them right.

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