ABC Theatre Company
Ten years ago, a fascinating story was related to me about Cambridge’s past. I remember thinking, “Someone should really write a play about that!” July 18-22 is the 135th anniversary of the Isanti County Fair. With “Discovering Living History” as its theme, I knew it was time to start writing.
The play is set in Cambridge during the summer of 1894 when a mysterious shanty appears on the north side of town and no one will admit who built it. The women are sure that the men are up to no good, but do nothing until a speaker from the Woman’s Christian Temperance Unions stirs them into action. (Those actions got Cambridge into the national news.)
In case you are unfamiliar with The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), it was founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1874 by women who were concerned about the destructive power of alcohol. They met in churches to pray and then marched to the saloons to ask the owners to close their establishments.
In three months the women had driven liquor out of 250 communities. This was all accomplished during a time when women could not vote. In most states women could not have control of their property or custody of their children in case of divorce. There were no legal protections for women and children, prosecutions for rape were rare, and the state-regulated “age of consent” was as low as seven.
The WCTU later proposed, supported and helped establish women’s right to vote, the eight-hour work day, equal pay for equal work, federal aid for education, uniform marriage and divorce laws and much more. In other words, they were real go-getters.
This organization still exists today. Members are asked to take a vow of total abstinence from alcohol. They even have a provision for those that are too young to make this pledge.
Children from birth to age 6 may be enrolled as White Ribbon Recruits when their parents, grandparents or guardians pledge to teach the children the values of total abstinence. Imagine my surprise, while researching for the play, when I found out that I had been recruited at the age of four. I even have the membership card to prove it.
Even though the subject matter of the play is somewhat controversial, we have tried to have some fun with it.
Filled with familiar melodies and fun choreography, a cast of 20 talented actors will perform this show “free of charge” July 18-21 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 22 at 1:30 p.m. on the front porch of the Historical Society’s Old Log Cabin.
Information was taken from the WCTU website www.wctu.org/index.html
Narrator: Uriah Gillespie, Hans Hanson: Jason Goetz, Tilda Hanson: Danielle Johnson, Greta Hanson: Raeann Goetz, Nels Nelson: Scott Walburg, Marta Nelson: Debra Snell, John Johnson: Steven Rod, Inger Johnson: Dawn Holmquist, Kristina Johnson: Emily Goetz, Sven Johnson: Tallen Johnson, Anders Anderson: Brandon Eich, Ida Anderson: Anne Dehn, Mrs. H.A. Hobart: Sherry Pearce, Lars Larson: Roger Anderson, Lottie Larson: Wendy Ericson, Edith Peterson: Sara Snell, Carl Carlson: Chuck Pearce, and Choreographer: Rachel Fager.