When the Thanksgiving dinner is brought on before the critical eye of the house full of patrons it consists of a genuine turkey, smoking from the baking pan. Rich red cranberry sauce is piled up and celery, potatoes and all the little side dishes come on just as they would at the home place. What the performers cannot consume in the precious few minutes of the act goes to the stage hands after the show.
McCarrick was with a company at one time which demanded the real thing in the dinner line. He arranged with a near-by restaurant to bake the turkey and cook up the “fixin’s.” Eight times a week it was one of his principal tasks to see that the fowl went into the oven at the proper moment. He states that when the company reached Thanksgiving Day on their tour that without exception the members ordered beefsteak and fried potatoes for their holiday dinner at the hotel.
Since the demand for realism has become so pronounced managers and property men have been driven to desperation by the extremities to which they have been put. When it came to a question of getting an outfit for the cow punchers of “The Virginian” New York was searched over for a respectable equipment, which in this case meant the well-worn, greasy and prairie-stained accouterments of the typical cowboy. It was a simple matter to go into the theatrical outfitter’s and buy the clean pretty suits of leather and the broad-brimmed sombreros. These answered the purpose of neither the manager or the demands which the public would make.
The solution was reached by the happy thought that a Wild West show then appearing in the city might have some performers who would trade the old for the new, and they were at once sought out. It took some parley to convince the genuine plainsmen who were then on exhibition that there was not a joker concealed in the transaction. Eventually enough of them were convinced that everything was “on the square” to supply McCarrick with what was wanted and the result is a band of Westerners which would be satisfying even in the heart of the cow country.
Originally published in The St. Louis Republic, January 1, 1905.