“Please welcome nineteen-year old Marie Parris to the stage”
Earlier, Marie walked along a dirt road lined with shades of green forest, a smoldering, humid, summer day on her way to the Plymouth, New Hampshire Fair grounds. Holding the hands of her two little girls on either side, guiding them along. Her first born daughter, nearly three and her second born daughter almost two, gleefully skipping with laughter. Her husband was on assignment in the military not able to attend her singing debut in 1950, he new nothing about Marie’s plans.
Anxious, nervous, five foot two Marie, dressed modestly in her plain beige dress with yellow miniature daisies, delicately waked up the stairs, adjusted the mic with the spotlight beaming in her eyes. her heart thumping from jitters, for the first annual Songbird Contest.
Marie, her younger sister and brother, were raised in a logging camp deep in the dark forests, where her maternal family were forced to live, due to the diaspora from Acadia, Canada to Maine, final destination New Hampshire. For most of her childhood , she only spoke a mix of French from France and Canada. The camp was a distance from any formal school. From dawn to dusk through boiling summers and frigid winters the logs were cut. Timber!! On the weekends, the bootleggers supplied nonstop alcohol, contributing to wild parties, singing dancing and out of control behaviors, leading to raging alcoholism and childhood trauma.
Marie completed the 3rd grade, as she was needed to help around the camp and the school was to far away. Marie loved learning and books, eventually teaching herself how to read and write English with the help of her husband’s family. While she was pregnant with her first daughter at seventeen and her second daughter at eighteen. She loathed the life at the logging camps, dreaming of the places she read about in a few books, magazines, and newspapers. Reading and writing began opening a new world.
Winning this singing contest was a long shot from her lot in life. The audience’s chatter, laughter, loud voices stopped, mouths dropped with whispering words, “Wow, Oh My and Shh.” Marie sang with a warm, rich and incredible velvety quality, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Wizard of Oz was the only movie she had seen besides Shirley Temple. Maire dreamed of being a glamorous star.
The MC walked upon the stage as the final singer exited stage right. “What an evening lady’s and gentleman. The first annual Songbird Contest winner, will receive one hundred dollars, fly in a private leir jet tomorrow, arriving onto Boston’s Jazz Scene. Your talent agent will discuss and all-expense paid twelve-month tour of the Eastern Seaboard before you leave tonight. If you are unable to leave tomorrow, the first runner up will take your place.”
“Drum Roll Please! The winner is the lovely Marie Parris!” She froze with shock and excitement. Gracefully, she sauntered across the stage as the audience roared, every person standing, clapping hands, whistles sounding as Marie takes a bow. She arrived in Boston leaving her two little daughters behind.