Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Roadshow Costumes You Won’t See Again Soon

Roadshow Costumes You Won’t See Again Soon

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 25, 2009

The Maricopa Stake (Arizona) MIA put on its third annual roadshow in December, 1934. “Since its inception,” the Improvement Era report says, “it has remained the most popular event of the year.” The great distances between wards in the stake required that the stake be divided into three zones, with the acts being presented on three successive nights (they really did take these shows on the road in those days).

The winning act — unfortunately, the ward isn’t named — used “Treasure Island” as a theme. The show’s “pirates” found a treasure chest containing all the good things done in the MIA.

But you aren’t going to see these pirate costumes used again in YM/YW activities during our lifetime, I think!




  1. Is it just me or is the one with the dagger in his teeth (centre) looking up the skirt of the one standing on the other pirates?

    Comment by JonW — August 25, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

  2. It’s just you, JonW! :)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 25, 2009 @ 1:42 pm

  3. Argh!

    What is the woman on the right holding up?

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 25, 2009 @ 2:11 pm

  4. I know *I* would see this road show.

    Bishop, we’ll meet afterwards to discuss my impure motives in doing so.

    Comment by Bro. Jones — August 25, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

  5. J., I think it’s a mockup of the Improvement Era — you know, one of the treasures of MIA.

    Bro. Jones, I applaud you for your robust appreciation of the muscular development that comes from wholesome recreation, another of the treasures of MIA.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 25, 2009 @ 3:00 pm

  6. My eyes!

    Yep. It’s just you JonW. Also, she’s a she, wearing a skirt and boots like the other females. More scandalous is that the knife in her mouth is edge-in.

    What are the middle two people on both sides holding? The only one I recognize is the beehive held by the male on the right. The poster, broom thingy, and rune thingy, are all unclear to me.

    Comment by Edje — August 25, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

  7. Ahh, yes. Improvement Era.

    Comment by Edje — August 25, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

  8. The guy next to the accordion player (ha! that’s intrinsically funny) is holding a sheaf of wheat, which the MIA usually used as a symbol of the Word of Wisdom — surely one of the treasures. Beats me what any of the others are holding.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 25, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  9. Oh! Oh! I get it now. The “rune” thingy is the intertwined letters M-I-A, the way it was stylized in the organization’s seal.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 25, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

  10. I just added an image of the seal so you could see the intertwined letters. Have to make this “educational” somehow …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 25, 2009 @ 3:31 pm

  11. those four central placed kids are creating that symbol, right? sort of an early version of village people and YMCA. (please don’t hate me for getting that song stuck in your heads.)

    Comment by ellen — August 25, 2009 @ 3:54 pm

  12. Sort of a “Why, M – I – A! Why, M – I – A!”

    I’ll try not to hate you, but I don’t promise to succeed.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 25, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

  13. Ha. I read # 12 and immediately thought of “M-I-A My M-I-A” by Bertha A. Kleinman, sung to the tune of “O Tannenbaum”… found in Recreational Songs (1949) page 298.

    (which author also penned the words to “The M Men are Leading Along” to the tune of the Army Hymn. And now that I’ve totally crossed threads, I’ll shaddup.)

    Comment by Coffinberry — August 25, 2009 @ 7:35 pm

  14. Okay, the costumes are…unique, but the big revelation for me was that they had roadshows that long ago!

    Comment by floridagirl — August 25, 2009 @ 10:50 pm

  15. Wow, so no one is as impure as me… :

    Young man, there’s no need to feel down.
    I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
    I said, young man, ’cause you’re in a new town
    There’s no need to be unhappy.

    Young man, there’s a place you can go.
    I said, young man, when need spiritual mo’.
    You can go there, and I’m sure you will find
    Many ways to have a good time.

    It’s fun to play at the M-I-A.
    It’s fun to play in the M-I-A.

    They have everything for young men to enjoy,
    You can hang out with all the boys and girls …

    It’s fun to play in the m-i-a.
    It’s fun to play at the m-i-a.

    You can get yourself cleaned, you can have a good meal,
    You can do whatever you feel …

    Young man, are you listening to me?
    I said, young man, what do you want to be?
    I said, young man, you can make real your dreams.
    But you got to know this one thing!

    No man does it all by himself.
    I said, young man, you can gain spirtual wealth,
    And just go there, to the m.i.a.
    I’m sure you will make a great pirate today.

    It’s fun to be in plays at the m-i-a.
    It’s fun to say wha’hey at the m-i-a.

    Comment by JonW — August 25, 2009 @ 11:50 pm

  16. Village People = Mormons?

    Maybe not.

    Comment by JonW — August 25, 2009 @ 11:51 pm

  17. Hie thee to a roadshow, Jon, you’re a natural!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 26, 2009 @ 12:34 am

  18. Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing that the church has apparently gotten a lot stricter about covering up women’s bodies since the 1930s?

    Comment by Tatiana — August 26, 2009 @ 3:57 am

  19. We’ve noted a lot of details of Mormon life that have changed over the past 50 – 100 – 150 years, without anyone needing to judge them as “good” or “bad,” merely “changed.” Is it a good thing or a bad thing that competing garment manufacturers no longer advertise in public magazines? Is it a good thing or a bad thing that deacons no longer wear matching outfits? Is it a good thing or a bad thing that church magazines no longer run pages of jokes about drunks, bosses fooling around with their secretaries, and the cheapness of Scotsmen?

    Should we really want to put a label of “good” or “bad” on the matter, there are other ways the question could be framed: Is it a good thing or a bad thing that modesty in dress is emphasized more in 2009 than in 1934? Is it a good thing or a bad thing that women’s roadshow costumes are now as modest as men’s roadshow costumes? Even, is it a good thing or a bad thing that men in 1934 were more repressed than women, so that they dared not flaunt their bare thighs the way the women so freely and innocently could?

    The question asked is straight from the Mormon feminist political agenda, designed to provoke an argument over whether 15 old geezers with dirty minds living in Salt Lake City have the right to control women’s bodies around the world. (That is very unlikely to be your conscious personal reason for asking, but it is the logic behind the question, judging by the kind of comments that follow whenever the matter of modesty is raised on feminist blogs.) That question assumes so many facts not in evidence that any fair-minded judge would sustain my objection to answering it.


    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 26, 2009 @ 7:35 am

  20. JonW,
    As I was getting ready for work this morning I was thinking that the MIA = YMCA song almost writes itself. But you beat me to the punch. Great stuff. And, yes, you are a natural.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — August 26, 2009 @ 7:47 am

  21. I’ve enjoyed all the banter about the YMCA and exposed thighs, etc. But I’m thoroughly disappointed in the Keepaninny Branch’s apparent inability to comment on the PIRATES! They’re pirates, people!

    ARRRRRRRRdis has given us a chance to ARRRRRRgue about something new, ye scurvey currs!

    Comment by Hunter — August 26, 2009 @ 10:00 am

  22. Hmm my last experience in Church plays was as a grumpy elf during a christmas play about ooo 30 years ago.

    Actually my biggest disappointment with the church was the removal of the summer softball leagues. I cannot stand basketball but it seems to be the only one left other than a half baked tournament once a year.

    Comment by JonW — August 26, 2009 @ 12:15 pm

  23. Oh I think discussing whether changes are good or bad is quite interesting in all your examples as well as mine. I think all three of your examples are unalloyed good things. Mine, though, I think is bad. When I saw those costumes I got a wistful feeling that my grandmother’s generation of Mormon women were a lot freer than are we.

    I think one of the most important reasons to study history is the light it sheds on our assumptions today. It’s always interesting to find out that things one thought had always been that way were actually a lot newer than one supposed. It’s always an eye-opener when that happens.

    I’m sorry if you find it tiresome that I always think of things from a feminist perspective. I always do feel as though my questions and thoughts have been thoroughly dismissed by your replies, Ardis! As though I’ve been impertinent or out of line somehow even to have thought those things much less said them out loud. But these are my natural thoughts, and I think they’re valid. So I don’t feel it’s valid to dismiss them.

    The elders seem to agree with me that these questions are of great importance.
    Are we mistaken?

    Comment by Tatiana — August 26, 2009 @ 5:30 pm

  24. Tatiana, I don’t like feminist politics, a fact you know, and I don’t welcome what to me are tired and pointless debates about matters that wouldn’t be a problem if women let their religion guide their politics instead of allowing their politics to deform their religion. I’m dismissive of the politics, but not of you — in fact, it’s only because it’s you, whom I like and who have been so supportive of Keepa in the past, and not some drive-by stranger, that gives me the incentive to tone down my response. (It would have been nice, by the way, had bloggers at any of the feminist blogs extended the same courtesy to me in reverse, instead of being as foul as some of them have been.)

    But since you know I don’t want to provide a platform for feminist political debate, it would be kind of you not to try to stir one up. I don’t mind in the slightest if you make on-topic comments that happen to reflect your feminism. If it will be less offensive to you than the present state of affairs, I’ll simply acknowledge those comments with “Hi, Tatiana.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 26, 2009 @ 6:08 pm

  25. So, you care about me, just not about my honest concerns and the sincere feelings that the historical facts you share stir up?

    Please understand that I care about you too and I’m delighted with Keepa and all the fascinating things you post. I’m sorry that my genuine responses to these things are upsetting you.

    How about if I just say “mmm-mm-mmmm-mmph” when I see something like that? That’s the sound of me stifling my natural reaction. Would that help?

    Comment by Tatiana — August 27, 2009 @ 4:51 am

  26. Tatiana, I don’t go around the bloggernacle fighting with feminists about whether or not they should intrude on their daughters’ temple recommend interviews because “women have stewardship over women’s sexuality” or whether or not it’s immoral and anti-Mormon to teach that fornication is the new chastity for 30-year-olds, or any of the other jaw-dropping feminist claims that are made more or less regularly. I don’t understand why you insist I am bound to argue those issues with you here.

    If some Keepa post draws a feminist response from you and you want to comment from that direction, fine, I’ve told you repeatedly that it’s okay with me. But don’t expect me to debate feminism with you — if I wanted to do that, I’d join in on the blogs where that is the regular theme.

    There are a lot of bloggernaclers who love to debate gay marriage, and abortion, and partisan U.S. politics, and economic policies. Some historical post may draw a sincere response in any of those directions — but I won’t be pulled into a debate about those ideas any more than I will debate feminist principles.

    Posting about an historical topic does not place me under obligation to discuss every imaginable response. I’ve already ruled out my participation in some conversations. That isn’t going to change.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 27, 2009 @ 7:10 am

  27. There are a lot of bloggernaclers who love to debate gay marriage
    What’s to debate among an LDS audience? I understood that we uniformly are for gay marriages. I’m in one and my wife and I count our gaiety as a boon.
    I am, however, puzzled by the misuse of this word as a synonym for homosexual. This isn’t necessarily to say that homosexuals can’t be cheerful, sprightly, blithe, or light-hearted, but to use gay as a synonym for homosexual makes heterosexual a synonym for not having those attributes. In the modern argot, it becomes a form of hate speech and makes my wife and me its victims.
    I tried responding in kind by using happy as a synonym for heterosexual — e.g. “Is he gay?” “No, he’s happy.” — but it didn’t find much currency.

    Comment by manaen — August 29, 2009 @ 1:51 pm

  28. May you continue to enjoy your cheerful marriage always, manaen!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 29, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  29. I think that my costume in the stake presentation of Annie, as one of the orphans, was pretty similar as far as coverage goes. I don’t think that 25 years later anyone would have ripped the nightgowns and had us wear flesh colored dance tights and suits under them.

    Comment by Julia — November 7, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

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