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THE EDEN VALLEY STORY (A 40TH ANNIVERSARY SERIES)
as told by Bette Lou Higgins, Artistic Director

PART 2

We got to the program and had an experience that changed our lives. While I won’t go into detail, I will tell you the one event that kind of planted the seed for what would grow into Eden Valley.

We watched an itinerant trader and a child of about 7 talking. The trader was making some type of toy. The child was watching, chewing bubble gum and blowing bubbles. When the toy was finished the child wanted it.

Trader: “What have you got to give me for it?”

Child: “Nothing” (blowing bubbles)

Trader: “What are you chewing?”

Child: “Bubble Gum.”

Trader: “What’s that?”

Well, you can imagine what happened next. The child tried to explain bubble gum to the trader, who then said he would trade the gum for the toy. A piece of gum was handed over, the trader put it in his mouth then asked how to blow bubbles. The young teacher proceeded to show the trader how to do it. After several attempts, the trader, took the gum out of his mouth and told the child he didn’t like it and didn’t want to trade!

We were fascinated! Not only with the technique of the actor as he forced the child to become the teacher, but with the persistence of the child to try to get the toy -- and all of that being done in the context of 1775!

On the way out, I said to Kem that there was no reason we couldn’t do a program like that in the park about the Ohio-Erie Canal which ran right through the new park. He thought that seemed like a good idea and with that we headed home.

At the appointed time, we showed up for our second meeting at the Park. Of course, they asked what we thought of the show, we chatted a bit about it and then proclaimed, “You know, you could do something like that here with the history of the canal.”

What we didn’t know at that moment was:

  • That performance of the PEOPLE OF ‘76 was the last stop on the company’s tour.
  • They left all their sets with the park who didn’t know what to do with them.
  • The following summer (1977) would be the Sesquicentennial anniversary of the opening of the Ohio-Erie Canal.
  • The Park had already promised the Ohio Canal Society that they would “do something” to commemorate the Sesquicentennial and they had NO idea what to do.

In that one sentence we had just solved a whole bunch of problems for the Park! And so, our first project, Johnnycake Village (a living history program about life in the Western Reserve in the 1800's and the development of the Ohio-Erie Canal) was born and so was Eden Valley Enterprises!

To be continued ...

Return to Part 1

Go to Part 3

Go to Part 4

Go to Part 5

 

 

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