‘Papa was a Preacher’

History
By Martha Churchill

“Papa was a preacher” made a big hit in Milan in the spring of 1955. The senior class gathered the props, improvised costumes, and ushered the full-house crowd that attended this big event.
A lengthy feature story appeared in the Milan newspaper explaining which students played each part, who was the assistant director, and who was in charge of makeup.
Joann Hawarny played the daughter of a disgruntled church member. Some of her classmates played the preacher and his family, including a couple of sons who were competing for a pretty girl.
The feature article in the Milan paper made several comments that the play was “wholesome” and that the preacher’s family was “wholesome.”
At that time, people were worried that something they did might be misconstrued as communist or gay, as Sen. Joseph McCarthy had been slinging around such accusations against entertainers and people in government.
The seniors presenting this play were just having fun. This was the second play for Hawarny; she loved being part of the theater. She was kind enough to save this wonderful photo her whole life.

Martha Churchill is the author of several books about local history. She can be reached at mc [at] marthachurchill [dot] com.

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