The 1953 Pof A National Festival was held at the University of Minnesota, and our guild, "Twin City Puppeteers", hosted the event. Mildred Mitton was President, Bob Longfield - Vice President, and Georgianna Shumway - Sec. & Treasurer. Everyone helped in some way, and our members continued as; Hazel Aamodt, Dorothy & Oscar Adamson, Virginia Couper, Helen & Ralph Denison, Helen Farnam, Nellie & Rollin Jr. Fry, Edna Garrison, Ronnie Hubler, Lucille Hudson, Jean Jeffers, Mary Ellen Kruger, Ann & Cedric Lindholm, Bob Longfield, Della McGregor, Mildred Mitton, Irene & Bill Odegaard, Beatrice & John Shirley, Lucille & Bill Sholes, Delora Simons, Georgianna Schumway, Dorothy Strudwick, Grace Terwilliger, Virginia (Upson) Houghtaling, Gail Westberg, Dorothy & Robert Westerveldt, Dick Weston, Lem & Mary Williams, Jan Woll, and Lois wright.
The festival took place from June 23 - 26, and registration was $6.00, with only $4.00 returned in case someone canceled. The form reads, "If my application is not accepted or if for any reason the festival is not held, my remittance will be refunded". At the festival, John Shirley was Pof A Vice President. Lem Williams and John Co-Chaired the festival, with our members working on committees, giving demonstrations (workshops), or performing. Out of town performers were; Basil Milovsoroff's "Sindbad's Eighth Voyage", Romaine and Ellen Proctor's "Rumplestiltskin" and "Puppet Varieties", and the Coleman's "Pinnochio". The St. Paul and Minneapolis papers ran several articles about the festival, with pictures of several of our guild members and guests. A local housewife, Sara Lysfjord, saw the articles, and came to the festival, pregnant with her second son. Lem Williams was ill during the festival, but worked hard, anyway. The festival was a great success, with writeups in the Sept. - Oct. 1953 Pof A Journal, and again in the March - April 1954 issue. Marie and Greg Samanisky joined our guild after the festival. They were performing with hand puppets and a few marionettes in Minneapolis at this time.
The 1954 Pof A National Festival was held at Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, during June. John Shirley continued on the National Council (Board of Trustees) and Lem Williams was Technical Consultant. Lem later was hospitalized, and died that year.
Most of our early members were guild officers, but the job of Sec. - Treas. was held by Georgianna Shumway until 1955, when Edna Garrison took over until 1957. Delora Simons held the job for a year, and then Mildred Mitton started in 1958. That was the year that the guild changed the Sec.-Treas. job to two members, and we started with four officers. Bob Longfield was President, Sara Lynsfjord - Vice President, Delora Simons - Sec., and Mildred as Treasurer (a job she will hold for many years). The records show that dues were raised to $1.00 in 1950 (and stayed the same for the next 22 years). The guild treasury was in an envelope that Millie carried to meetings. For years she would say, "I'm not paying bills, just collecting dues", but did pay a few bills such as; stamps .20, card .20, more stamps & receipt book & another card .75, and so on.
In 1955, Mary Williams and her son, Tony, performed Punch and Judy shows. Later in 1958, Tony performed with Chris and MasSeal, his Christmas seal puppets for the campaign against TB. John Shirley lived with his wife Beatrice, daughter, and son at the Radio City Trailer Camp in Des Moines, Iowa. Their son died, and later John and Bea parted. He moved to Minneapolis in 1956, and continued performing marionette shows across the country, and even on the Ed Sullivan TV show. That year, Bob Longfield designed our first guild logo, with a line drawing of hand puppet Punch kissing Judy, his wife. Sara Lysfjord and Alma Ahl attended their first meeting at the home of Ann and Cedric Lindholm, and had a fun time watching Nellie Fry and Mary Williams laughing the whole time. Sara and Alma made all types of puppets, but most were marionettes, and they performed around town as the Hausfrau Puppeteers.
A Day of Puppetry in 1957, held in Jean Jeffers' backyard, was called "The Festival of Puppetry and Magic". It was put on by the guild with members performing magic and puppet shows. John Shirley met Bonnie Dale, a solo performer, and they were married in 1958. They performed together for the next several years, and moved to Chicago. Bob Longfield sold his house and moved to Sacramento, California, where he got a job as a map maker in the county planning department. He also continued with part time puppet performing, and a local TV series. The guild continued to meet in the homes, but in 1959, Greg Samanisky located a place to hold at least some of the meetings at the Midway YMCA. The members discussed a group project that would be a first. They wanted a guild show with many members operating all types of puppets, and "Ali Baba" was chosen. Jean Jeffers painted most of the scenery, as she worked at a paint and wallpaper company. Ten members worked on the show, by refurbishing some of Jean's puppets and making others. Jean's drive and persistence was the main reason that the show was completed and performed. Rehearsals were done in Jean's livingroom, with her big stage, and the 26 puppets (over half were her's) used in the show.
While attending the U. of M., Paul Eide saw a puppet show performed by the Hausfrau Puppeteers in Coffman Union Hall, in 1960. He joined the guild with his twin sister, Mary. By this time, Spike and Ida Grotenhuis, Emily Myers, and Ingeborg & Mary Nystrom had joined. Marie Samanisky was the main force in encouraging our guild to become a charter guild of the P of A, and as a librarian, she did the research. Members who signed our Pof A Charter on June 25, 1962, were; Hazel Aamodt, Alma Ahl, Mary Eide, Paul Eide, Helen Farnam, Edna Garrison, Ida Grotenhuis, Mary Ellen Kruger, Walter Kruger, Ann Lindholm, Cedric Lindholm, John Lysfjord, Irene Odegaard, Lucille sholes, Bill Sholes, Virginia (Upson) Houghtaling, Gail Westberg, Edith Willis, and Mary Williams. Our guild changed it's name, to "Twin Cities Puppeteers" in late 1962, after we became a charter guild. The name change came as Paul Eide, secretary at the time, said that "Twin City" referred to one city, not two. This got on Mildred Mitton's nerves, but she accepted the fiesty ways of newer member, Paul. Greg Samanisky became Vice President of the Pof A, and served two terms; one of which was during Jim Henson's term as President.
On Sunday, December 2, 1962, the first performance of "Ali Baba" was given at the Grass Junior High School in West St. Paul. Adult admission was .75, and children were .50. The Dakota Fine Arts Society sponsored the show. Members who performed, using marionettes, hand puppets, and shadows were; Greg and Marie Samanisky, Jean Jeffers, Muriel Dirks, Paul Eide, Edna Garrison, Sara Lysfjord, Mary Ellen Kruger, and Mildred Mitton. On December 8, 1963, two performances were scheduled, because of the show's previous success. A snowstorm cancelled the second performance. That year, Sara's husband, Nobel, passed away from a heart attack. She went into puppetry full time with Alma Ahl, to supplement her income and raise her two sons. During the 1960's, Paul Eide started our guild newsletter, called the "TCP Notebook". Often there were several pages with information collected by Paul.
Ali Baba was performed for the last time, by our guild on May 28, 1971. The TCP guild hosted our first Regional, a "Festival of Puppetry", at the Pick-Nicollet Hotel in Minneapolis. After the two o'clock performance, the show was dismantled, and members tookntheir puppets home. Jean later sold her big stage. Sara went dancing, and met Ed Jackson. They had a small church wedding in 1971, and went on a honeymoon to Europe with a Pof A group. They saw puppet shows in different countries; including Russia where they stayed a week. Marjorie Cox, a puppeteer from Northfield who sat on the city council, and Jean Tatting joined the guild. Jean bought hundreds of puppets at festivals through the years, and used them as a children's librarian.
Marie Samanisky took over the Pof A Store in 1971. The dues were raised to $2.00 in 1972. That year, June and Bill Hendricks joined the guild. They knew Marie and Greg as they were all members of the "Gilbert and Sullivan Society". They made hand and rod puppets, and performed operettas. Karen Backes and Sister Cabrini joined, and rode along with Jean and Jeff Jeffers to meetings. Sister taught music at school, and later performed shows with the help of Ed Mahowald. She used vent characters and live animals, and later wrote music that she sold in cassettes around the country. Karen later made puppets and performed shows with her husband, and designed a pattern set that sold around the country.
Several times, our guild hosted puppeteer groups coming to the Twin Cities. In Nov. 1973, the Robin Reed Marionette Company presented "Pinocchio", at the Heritage Hall in the Minneapolis Public Library. Greg, Marie, Francis Drake, and Paul worked on and performed, "Jack and the Beanstalk", in 1974. That year, Jean and Jeff Jeffers sold their house and moved south. The next year, Jeff passed away, and Jean moved back to West St. Paul, and was an active member, once again.
In 1975, Greg and Marie received the Trustees Award from the Pof A, for their work with the national store. Mildred Mitton passed away, and June Hendricks agreed to be Treasurer, if she could open a guild checking account and not carry the treasury around in an envelope.
Elsie Brauninger was a librarian at the Hamline Library, and we held our meetings, there. To thank the Library, our guild performed a variety of shows on one Saturday each summer. In 1975, our performers were; Paul who did the staging and sound work, David Sleeper (Paul's friend from the U.of M.) performed with vent character Wally, June and Bill with a variety show of hand and rod puppets, Sara and Ed Jackson with marionettes, and Karen and Len Backes with hand puppets for the "Goldielocks and the three Bears" story.
During the 1970's, Martha Fischback performed from a trunk of hand puppets, Mike Harvego borrowed Paul's sound equipment when he built a new marionette show, Sally Snyder made a group of tooth puppets for her good dental health shows as her husband was a dentist, frank Tunison scheduled puppet shows at his dry cleaning store, Jose Patterek wrote a book and taught classes on the arts at a college in Wisconsin, Kath O'Brien worked at a day care and performed hand puppet shows on the puppet wagon with Mike Kempenich, Mickie and Richard Hall performed with hand puppets and Richard wrote books on the depression years, Marian Klohs worked with puppets, Jack Doepke performed as the Ronald McDonald clown, Dawn (Jack's wife) belly danced, Vickie Ernster performed with vent characters, Karen Jackson performed with puppets and acted in the theater, Bill Sholes carved puppet heads out of wood, Carolyn Stanson was a story teller in Rochester, John and Shirley Daffer performed with marionettes that they received from Shirley's aunt Mildred Mitton, Leonard Jackson was interested in puppets, and many more of our members who joined for just a couple years and still enjoyed puppets.
Margaret Eide brought the food for our lunch breaks, each month for a whole year, and then cleaned up afterwards. She collected names for the guild directory that Paul made up each year. Tom O'Lenick who worked for the Heart Association, was one of the names who joined. He lined up several of our members for the telethon held at the Southdale Shopping center, two years in a row. Tom was a magician who often used puppets in his show.
In the 1970's, flyers were often sent out about upcoming meetings. In 1977, a newsletter called the "Puppet Post" was put out by two members; Cheryl Bartholow and Charlanne Karapetian. There were only a couple issues sent, as it was too costly for the guild. In 1978 to 1979, Karen Backes sent out a newsletter booklet called "Twin Cities Puppeteers". Members wrote articles, and in the spring of 1979, the newsletter was devoted to the upcoming Pof A regional festival that would be held at St. Stephen's Church in Bloomington. Bob Graff was the pastor of the church, and he had joined the guild the previous year, when he attended the Southdale Library where we held our meetings, and met Margaret Gillespie. Tom O'Lenick was President in 1979, and got almost every member working on the festival.