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You Have Been Listening to an LDS Radio Broadcast: “Visiting a Primary Meeting,” 1933

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 22, 2011

Radio Services, Sunday, Feb. 19, 1933
Under Auspices of the Primary Association General Board

Primary is a place for children to have a good time – not only a happy time, but a profitable time as well. It is the aim of the organization to teach faith in God and in the gospel of Jesus Christ through the activities that appeal to children and met their needs most fully; to tie them to the church in a happy way through service.

Children love to play and they love the various forms of music, so we try to offer much of our spiritual development through these mediums.

>Sometimes the music is singing and a splendid program of work has been planned. This class of very small children sings for us one of the songs for their group.

(Singing.)

There is also instrumental music which is divided into two parts – the simple rhythms that the children can enjoy, and the appreciation of the masters which we hope prove an inspiration to them.

The rhythm band is not music in the ordinary sense. It is merely the children’s response to rhythm. It is the expression on their faces and the bodily response that are interesting to see, all of which would be lost over the radio. So we cannot illustrate to you the joy of the rhythm band; that must be left to your imagination. However, the Primary does encourage the children who have special talent in instrumental music. One of our boys will play for you a song he loves.

(Trumpet solo: “Christ and His Little Ones.”)

Though it is quite a long step from the beat of the band to the influence of the best in music, the children listen quietly and catch here and there the joy that filled the heart of the composer. We hear from the great organ.

(Organ solo.)

Play has an important place in the Primary program. We use various forms of activity for this – free rhythms, song plays, singing games, dramatizations, folk dances and so on through a long list. many of our most valuable lessons are taught through these activities. We will hear a short health play which will be acted out in most of the Primaries very soon.

Court of Good Health

Act I

Court room in the court of the Judge of Good Health. Large throne chair in the center with table in front, gavel on table. Prisoners’ bench left.

(Clerk enters followed by jailer.)

Jailer: Shall I bring the prisoners in, sir?

Clerk: Bring five of them in. That is all we will have time for today. (Looks at his watch.)

(Jailer goes out left and returns followed by the five prisoners and policeman. They sit down on prisoners’ bench with the jailer at the right and policeman at left.)

Clerk: (standing at right of judge’s chair): Hear-ye! Hear ye!

(Prisoners stand as judge enters right. Judge sits in throne chair and prisoners sit.)

Judge: (raps gavel) Court is in session.

Clerk: (loud) Hear ye! Hear Ye! The court of Good Health is in session.

Judge: (reads name from list) Bring forth John Grump.

Clerk: John Grump lease come forward. (Johnny Grump comes to front at left side of judge. He has his head tied up with a towel.)

Clerk: We will now hear the charges against John Grump.

Judge: (reads) John Grump, you are charged with willfully disobeying the laws of Good Health Land.

1. By carelessly neglecting your teeth.
2. By eating too much candy.

What is your answer? Guilty, or not guilty.

Johnny: I don’t know, sir.

Judge: Why is your head tied up?

Johnny: I have a terrible toothache.

Judge: Call in Dr. White.

Clerk: Yes, your honor. (Goes to right and returns with Dr. White the dentist.)

Judge: Dr. White, will you please examine the culprit’s mouth?

Dr. White: yes, sir. (Removes the towel from Johnny’s head, examines his mouth slowly and carefully.)

Judge: What evidence do you find?

Dr. White: Plenty, your honor. His teeth show evidence of much candy, too little green vegetables, and NO toothbrush.

Judge: thank you, Dr. White. You may be excused now. (Dr. White leaves.) Johnny Grump, this is terrible! I am forced to sentence you to thirty days of hard labor. You must eat a green vegetable once very day, drink a pint of milk each day and scrub your teeth morning and night. And not one bit of candy shall you eat. At the end of thirty days return to this court. If you are then a good health law-abiding citizen, you may be admitted into Good Health Land, Please remove the prisoner. (Jailer handcuffs prisoner and exits left with him.)

Judge: (looks at list again) Bring forth Susie Slouch.

Clerk: Will Susie Slouch please come forward? (Susie slouches forward.)

Judge: (reads) Susie Slouch, you are charged with disobeying the laws of Good Health Land:

1. By being dirty.
2. By being slouchy.
3. By being lazy.

What is your answer?

Susie: Yes, your honor.

Judge: Susie, how long has it been since you combed your hair?

Susie: I comb it every Sunday, sir, to go to church.

Judge: When do you take your bath?

Susie: In the summer, your honor. (Prisoners giggle.)

Judge: Humph! (raps gavel) Order in the court!

The mother seems to be at fault here. But, that does not excuse you, Susie. A girl of your age that goes to school should know better. I find you guilty of being dirty, slouchy and lazy. You must take a bath every day; brush your hair both morning and night; clean your teeth twice a day; mend your stockings and wash your clothes. At the end of thirty days return to this court.

Susie: Yes, your honor. (Susie slouches out with the jailer.)

Judge: (looks at list) Billy Slump is next.

Clerk: (loud) Will Billy Slump please come forward.

Judge: (reads to Billy who stands before him all twisted and crooked) Billy Slump, you are charged with breaking the laws of Good Health Land:

1. You are charged with never taking exercise.
2. Never playing out-of-doors.
3. Sleeping without fresh air.

Guilty or not guilty?

Billy: I guess I’m guilty, your honor.

Judge: Why don’t you exercise?

Billy: I don’t like to play, if that’s what you call exercise.

Judge: There is something very wrong with a boy who doesn’t like to play. What do you eat?

Billy: Fried potatoes, hot biscuits, cake and candy.

Judge: Do you eat raw vegetables or drink milk?

Billy: (shudders) Ugh! No! I hate milk and I can’t stand vegetables!

Judge: It is no wonder you don’t like to play. Do you sleep with your windows open?

Billy: Ugh! No! I hate fresh air!

Judge: Billy, I will have to sentence you, too. For thirty days you must sleep with your windows wide open. You must exercise and play out of doors every day. Eat no candy or fried foods, but instead eat lots of vegetables and drink milk every day. You need plenty of fresh fruit, too. In thirty days come back and let us take a look at you.

Billy: Will my back get straight?

Judge: Exercise will help your back; and here is a secret that I wish everyone knew: If you imagine a string is pulling your chest up and out all the time, you will be stretched just right and standing correctly.

Billy: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Just like this? (Billy takes the right position as he goes out with the jailer.)

Judge: (looking at list): Ann Caffeine is next.

Clerk: Will Ann Caffeine come forward.

Judge: Ann Caffeine, you are charged with drinking poison. What is your plea?

Ann: Oh, Judge, I wouldn’t do that.

Judge: Do you drink coffee or tea, Ann?

Ann: Oh, yes, every day.

Judge: Tea and coffee have drugs in them that are poison to children, Ann. They are very, very bad for little girls and boys. You must drink nothing but milk and water and good fruit juices for 30 days. At the end of that time come back. Your skin is very yellow now. I hope by then it will be white as milk, with your cheeks rosy as red apples.

Ann: Thank you, Judge (exits with jailer).

Judge: Bring forward the last prisoner.

Clerk: Willbe Blind please come forward. (Willbe comes forward reading a book.)

Judge: Willbe Blind, that is a very good name for you as you will be blind if you keep on reading in a poor light like that. (Reads) You are charged with reading in bed lying down and with reading in a poor light. What have you to say?

Willbe: I guess that is right. That is the way I like to read best.

Judge: It is a good thing you were brought into court. I hope it is not too late to save your eyes. You must go 30 days without reading and thereafter read only in a good light and never, never lying down. See a good eye doctor. In 30 days come back and we will see if you are ready to be admitted into the Land of Good Health. (Raps gavel as Willbe goes out with jailer.) Court is adjourned.

Clerk: Hear ye! Hear ye! The Court of Good Health is adjourned for 30 days,. (Judge goes out first and clerk follows.)

Act II

Same scenery as Act I. Open space in front for dances and drills.

(Clerk enters with Judge following.)

Clerk: Good morning, your honor.

Judge: Good morning.

Clerk: Are we going to admit anyone to Health Land today?

Judge: I hope so. The 30-day sentence is over today. Why, here comes Johnny Grump now. (Judge sits down. Johnny enters smiling and happy.)

Judge: What may I do for you this morning, my little man?

Johnny: I have served for 30 days and now I would like to be admitted to Good Health Land.

Judge: We will see if you are ready. (To clerk) Bring in the clean teeth children and see if he is prepared to join them.

(They sing their song and do the motions the song suggests. Johnny enters into the song and at the end the child next to him takes his hand and he joins the group.)

(Billy, Susie, Ann and Willbe, all clean and neat and healthy looking, enter and sit down on prisoners’ bench.)

Judge: (turning to the children on prisoners’ bench) My! I can hardly believe my eyes. You surely are not the children I sentenced 30 days ago.

Susie: (stands) Yes, Judge, we are, and we are very glad you sentenced us, for since then we have been working hard and we have learned that good health habits make happy children. May we be admitted to Good Health Land now, please?

Judge: We will see. (To clerk) Bring in the cleanliness squad from Good Health Land and see if they will admit Susie.

(Clerk beckons, and group of girls and boys enter and sing the Health Round with motions. Susie enters into song and marches with the children at the end of the song.)

Judge: Come here, Billy Slump. (Billy comes proudly forward and faces the judge.) My, how straight your back is. I can see that you have been eating your vegetables and doing your exercises. (to clerk) call in the tumblers and see if billy can do their stunts.

Judge: Ann, come here. You have changed so much I hardly knew you. I can tell you have been drinking a lot of milk. We will see if the Milkmaids will take you into Health Land.

(Clerk brings in the Milkmaids. The leader takes Ann by the hand and they all go to the left of the stage behind the Cleanliness Squad.)

(Milkmaids Song)

Judge: Come here, Willbe. Let me see your eyes. Do they hurt you now?

Willbe: No, sir, thanks to you. I nearly had to wear glasses but the doctor said that if I would always read in a good light my eyes would be all right. So I’m going to be mighty careful.

A Primary teacher is telling a story to her class. It is an old story she tells – as old as the first settlement in Utah, as true as the faith of our courageous pioneers – the story of the Sea Gull:

Story of the Gull.

When spring came to our valley in 1848, the early pioneers were very busy people. they had been here nearly a year and there was a lot of work to do to make homes and to establish good farms.

Of course a great deal had been done. In the autumn before fall wheat had been planted. The pioneers knew that they must raise food enough for their needs. There was no other way to get it. As soon as the snow crust melted away there in the fall-planted fields stood the promise of a great harvest. the pioneers’ hearts were glad. One of their worst worries was over. They thought now there will be plenty of food.

How they worked to be ready for the needs for the thirst fields. There were ditches to be dug, canals to plan, bridges, fences, no end to it all. Oh, it was hard work indeed, but everyone went about it joyously.

Then along in May or perhaps it was in June when the men and women gathered together for meetings there were disturbing rumors. Those who came from the further part of the little settlement told of black crickets who ate the tender green leaves of the wheat.

No one worried about them at first. What was a cricket or two, and what if they did eat a few spears of grain. There was plenty, plenty in the hundreds of acres.

But within a few days the broad green fields were black with the hordes of ravenous crickets. Before the very eyes of the worried watchers the promise of plenty was being turned to a dreadful threat of famine.

Every man, woman and child was concerned over the awful plague. They left everything else and turned to fighting for their crops.

They tried brushing and sweeping, but the pests flew up and over to go on with the destruction. Trenches were dug around the field but the crickets jumped them easily. As the drive went on great fires were made as protection, but the crickets came on in such hordes that the few held back counted as little.

It all meant one thing – famine. Little food for the men who must do heavy work; little nourishment for the mothers who needed strength for their babies; very little to supply the needs for the growing boys and girls. And then, there were those who were arriving every day from the long stretches eastward.

The people were nearly overcome – then remembering the trials they had gone through, remembering the help they had received, they said, “There is still our Father in heaven.”

In faith they met together. They fasted and prayed.

They had no idea how their deliverance should be accomplished, but before their very eyes great flocks of the sailing gulls flew over the valley. They stood in wonderment and their hearts turned very sad. Another plague – this would finish everything.

But the gulls hadn’t come for the grain. they pounced upon those mischievous crickets and ate and ate. I guess the gulls had never had such a feast. All day they stayed and only went back to their homes on the lake when night came. next morning they were back for breakfast. The ranks of the crickets were soon thinned out. After six days they were all gone. The crops were saved. The prayers of our pioneers had been answered.

Truly God had sent them a miraculous deliverance.

On the Sabbath that followed there were prayers of thanksgiving. With hearts uplifted they sang again the song of faith of our “Mormon” pioneers. “All is well, all is well.”

Every spring when the first sprigs of green brighten the valleys, the children live again the thrilling deliverance. In soft folds of blended gray, and older girls sail and swing very nearly like the gulls overhead. tiny little folk in suits of brown and black, dart about like the mischievous crickets. In pantomime they devour the tender shoots of grain. With the approach of the soaring gulls they leave the feast and the gulls are once more guardians of the harvest.

It was a daughter of these faithful pioneers, a mother and a Primary teacher, who has saved the classic for us in this form. For the dance, the composed music, rhythms that prompt the gulls to soar and the crickets to hop as they go about their mischief. This is how it all sounds.

(Organ music: “Seagull Dance,” by Mrs. Pettit.)

When the fun of the dance is all over, the music is stilled, the costumes are put away for another year. We hope the little folk remember that it was to our Heavenly Father that our pioneers turned in faith for deliverance.



5 Comments »

  1. Ah, Dirty, Slouchy and Lazy! Those were my three best friends in junior high school.

    Come to think of it, those last two are still occasional visitors.

    Comment by Mark B. — July 22, 2011 @ 11:00 am

  2. “Seagull Dance” by Mrs. Pettit? That would most likely be Mildred Tanner Pettit (1895-1977), the composer of the music for “I Am a Child of God.”

    Comment by Researcher — July 22, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  3. I always thought Dirty, Slouchy, and Lazy were three of the Seven Dwarfs. And as the Tumblers, Milkmaids, and the Tooth Squad all paraded past, I kept hearing the refrains of the Lollipop Guild and other Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz. Plus, this had to be a pretty big primary class for all the parts.

    Comment by kevinf — July 22, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

  4. I kept wondering why a radio script would include directions for facial expressions and hand gestures and set decoration. I suppose that since there was a reference to this being a play that Primary classes would soon be performing, they used an existing script and hoped it would translate to radio — otherwise I don’t know what sound effect would signal a Milkmaid taking Ann by the hand, or the Judge looking at a list.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 22, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

  5. I was guessing there had to be a narrator for radio. A good storyteller would make it work well.

    Comment by Carol — July 22, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

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