TIME MARCHES ON . . . WITH THE HIGHLIGHTS OF William Clayton Kauffman's brilliant career at Gila Jr. College
Contributor: CRPike Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Once upon a time something very, very nice happened to Gila. The time was in the Fall of 1933, . . . the nice thing being a neat, dashing, energetic young dramatics teacher landing on the campus. In fact, he was so young looking the co-eds took him to be one of the new students, and you should have seen the fluttering eye lashes and the hip swinging that went on as soon as he first stepped foot on the campus. Of course, they thought he was a little dressed up to be one of the boys, 'cause all they had been accustomed to was seeing boys ,wear Levis and sweat shirts.
And then too, he had such party manners. Why he even held the door open for Nellie Lee! But maybe that was the way of city folk. And he was city folk, you could tell that, all right. He could be one of them dudes from the 76 Ranch.
Why, there was such a dither and fluster, such fluttering of hearts and skirts - the likes Gila never again has known.
"Whew, whew, wouldn't I like a date with that!" Vilda Maloy was heard to remark.
"Never has the old school looked so good," Erdine added.
"Oh, what charm! Why he's too, too utterly divine!" drawled Ruth Scarlett, just before going into a swoon.
When along came Ellis Craig with "Hey, have you gals seen the new dramatics teacher?" They chorused, "No, what the heck! Won't we see enough of her?"
"You mean you haven't heard? It's a HIM - but definitely!! A sheik with baby blue eyes, a regular Alan Ladd - without the shoulder pads."
There was a gasp of surprise as the truth dawned . . . and then like a flash with a flash, there was a mad rush of females for the Registrar's Office, where Nellie Lee was trampled underfoot in the stampede. Why, it was the largest drama class in Gila's history!
The fellows were a bit dubious and jealous - but not for long. They joined his classes to protect their interests. Why before the first class was over, they were simply awed. Maybe they were crazy, but the professor had something there, and on the Kauffman bandwagon they climbed.
And before they knew it, the whole student body was working like little beavers, fixing up that barn of a stage in the gym. Some were painting stage sets, they themselves covered with paint, but whistling. Others were making reflectors and spots out of tin cans. IT WAS FUN!
Dog-gone-it, that's the way it's always been - working for the man Kauffman and liking it!!
Bill got initiated into our Arizona weather with a bang . . . or maybe I should say WHIRL. Those were the good 'ole years of Red Knolls Pageants, CONQUISTADORES in particular, written by our own Monroe H. Clark, and Mr. Clark ad Mr. Kauffman collaborating in writing the manuscript for the pageant from this novel. It was a beautiful pageant, with colorful elaborate costumes of old Spain.
But wouldn't you know it . . . just before starting time . . . WHIZZZZZ! Came a whirlwind, not just a twister, but a whirlwind. Why Mr. Kauffman was so upset! He'd never seen anything like it before. He was down on his knees with his hair just filled with Red Knolls clay and praying for some of his 'ole native California dew to dampen down the dust and sand. However, the storm was soon over, and the show went on. People from states around come to see Gila Pageants. It was just such an experience as this dust storm that caused our California acting man to yearn for a Little Theatre.
Before the Pageant, however, several plays were produced in the gym - "THE SAP," "LOUDER PLEASE," and "SUN-UP." In spite of poor facilities, they were all excellent productions - as have been all his plays!!
BUT all has not been smooth sailing for William Clayton in his dramatics career and Gila. He had his woes and troubles. In 1935 there was the car accident, injuring practically all of his cast the night of the scheduled performance.
Then there was Ruth Scarlett and her fainting spells.
There was Lucy Mae Lee never knowing her lines until the night of production.
There was that bug FLU that bit the cast of "OUTWARD BOUND," so that they had to postpone productions so many times. In the "SONG OF BERNADETTE" three days before production, Ruth Farley decided she would have her appendix removed in a hurry. And many, many more other tribulations.
BUT HE STILL LIKES HIS WORK. Imagine that! Wouldn't it be more sensible to choose a career like running an elevator or something?
EXCITED AND NERVOUS -- you should see that man during a play. He paces the floor, he looks at his watch, he peaks through the transom, and then dashes backstage to see if so and so makes his entrance on time. He's here and there . . . and (pops up) in the most unexpected places. If he was any more nervous and did any more pacing when he became a father than during a play . . . well, that's impossible. He always had a certain mannerism that the students soon learned to interpret. One hitch in his pants during rehearsal usually meant that all was going well - rather pleased. But when he started pacing a bit and hitching his socks and running his fingers thru his hair, all was not well. But he never lost his temper and stormed, yelled, or stomped. But he got results anyway.
Now, I'm going to say things that they say only in funerals when one of our beloved brethren has departed.
Now, I don't mean that Bill is on the verge of departing to the Great Beyond, but it still isn't such a bad comparison. We are promised many great things over there on the other side, and Bill has Great Promises at Occidental, and we know he will achieve even greater things there.
You know it's difficult for old Gila students to keep from getting sentimental and serious when they think of Bill leaving. It's hard to say goodbye to one who has become one of us, helped us grow, given so much in time, energy, and work. Bill has always taken a special interest in everyone, helping the backward students, directing the more forward ones, and giving them all confidence in themselves. There were many one act plays where the students directed as well as acted. He helped them gain actual experience, so they would be of use to a community.
He's very particular and extremely thorough, a great believer in giving as much time and thought to the small bit part as the leading one. This showed through in one of the plays this year produced by the Community Players. He saw to it that two old women characters in the play were taught to KNIT. It's the little things that are the big things.
Besides making the Gila Little Theatre popular in the valley with professional plays and with the professional tough, he started the National Honorary Delta Psi Omega Dramatics fraternity.
Beside producing 56 plays and all his other activities, he finds time to write to many, many service men all over the world. As much as we'd like, we cannot tell you about all his productions - but they speak for themselves.
Gila has given Bill something though - his most priceless possession - NORMA JEAN. It must have been the moon at the Harvest Moon Barbecue - and the luscious food which many helped with. Anyway, with a swap and swipe they not only swapped sandwiches but swapped their hearts. Click, click - just like that. They both were smitten!!! I couldn't have been the moon altogether - cause in the day light she sure looked good to him.
So, they were wed. He came home quite late one night for dinner after play rehearsal and Norma Jean met him at the door and said happily, "Dinners going to be different tonight, darling!" I've just found out that I'm supposed to add water to those dehydrated foods!"
As time marches on, Bill marches on to do bigger things on a bigger scale.