Learning with puppets
A former teacher and broadcast journalist uses puppets to teach and entertain. Plus, don't miss Part 3 of The Temple Doll House.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 20, 2021
Sharon Bell will be performing a special bicycle safety puppet show at the Temple Children’s Museum on Nov. 5 in conjunction with downtown’s First Friday activities.
Sharon Bell and Ziege, a yodeling goat, perform educational puppet shows for children and adults. She will be at the Temple Children’s Museum on Nov. 5.
Puppet show to help launch new bike safety exhibit at Children’s Museum
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple exclusive
Students always loved to take Sharon Bell’s German class. Not only did they learn a foreign language, they also got to play with puppets.
“Learning German is more fun with puppets,” she said during an interview this week. “I used them in the classroom for more than 30 years.”
Although she never had formal puppeteer training, she did learn from a master.
“My freshman year at Texas Tech I had a professor — Theodore Alexander,” she said. “He had an interesting background. He was able to escape Austria just before the Nazis took over. Apparently he had always wanted to be a cowboy so he moved to Texas.”
Alexander also was a masterful puppeteer, and he befriended Sharon at Tech. Eventually, she became his teaching assistant and learned a bit about puppets. When he passed in 1989, he left her a large theater complete with more than 100 puppets.
Sharon, who sandwiched a long teaching career between a stint as a broadcast journalist in Roswell, N.M., began incorporating puppets into her classroom during her third year of teaching.
“I had about 200 kids every year, and they loved using puppets to learn,” she said. “The older kids would work up a puppet show entirely in German and present it to younger students.”
Over the years, Sharon has performed a variety of educational shows for children on topics such as the rainforest, the Berlin airlift and safety.
“I used to do a lot of German fairy tales,” she said with a laugh. “They weren’t really made for children so I had to clean them up a bit.”
With more than a 100 puppets, it’s hard to work all the characters into theater performances.
“I love them all — even the ones I don’t use,” she said. “I might need them someday.”
So what’s her favorite puppet?
“I have a yodeling goat named Ziege,” she said. “That’s probably my favorite, but I have a lot of animal puppets, including some cool Central Texas animal puppets such as a rattlesnake and an armadillo.”
Years ago, Sharon experimented with some retro performances. She bought a 1950s and 1960s era puppet and used it in a performance. The show didn’t go well.
“The kids were petrified,” she said. “They thought the puppet was super creepy.”
That scary puppet is well known — he even had his own television show. Yes, it was Howdy Doody time. But Sharon’s version of the popular show was short-lived.
Sharon said she rarely performs scripted shows.
“I did live TV for years, and I learned to be spontaneous,” she explained. “Inspiration always comes — I get it from the audience. When you work with kids and try to get them involved with a topic, you never know what to expect. I just relate to the kids — I’m definitely not a professional.”
Sharon will be performing a special bicycle safety puppet show at the Temple Children’s Museum on Nov. 5 in conjunction with downtown’s First Friday event.
The museum is using First Friday to launch a new exhibit, according to TCM director Debbie Allen.
“We will be open from 5 to 6:30 p.m. during First Friday,” she said. “We will be giving away free bicycle helmets to any child who needs one. They can stop by, see the exhibit and get fitted for a helmet to take home.”
The helmet giveaway is being funded in part by the Bell County Medical Alliance.
The new exhibit is called Power On and it features two stationary bicycles and a stationary tricycle, museum spokesman Kathryn Hermans said.
“Kids wear a pulse monitor and ride the bikes,” Hermans said. “We have equipment that shows how their heart rate rises and falls as they pedal faster or slower.”
The Children’s Museum will be providing free helmets for the next month or until supplies run out.
YOU’VE BEEN ELFED!
For the second year, the Temple Children’s Museum will hold its You’ve Been Elfed campaign to raise money for museum operations. According to museum spokesperson Kathryn Hermans, Elfed 2021 will start the day after Thanksgiving. To sign up a yard to be targeted, go to templechildrensmuseum.org beginning Nov. 26 and fill out the elfing form. “Real elves” will put signs in the targeted yard, and a sign in front will read: “You’ve Been Elfed.” Victims — such as the Beimer family above — can get payback by paying $25 and selecting another yard to spread the cheer. Elfed started last year with six sets of signs, which wasn’t nearly enough. So, Hermans said, this year the museum has 10 sets of 15 signs and are ready for some serious elfing.
POSTCARDS FROM THE PAST
Here’s the view of Temple from South 1st Street in a rare 1888 photo. Not much is known about the photo other than where and when, but look how barren the city was. Today, that part of town is shaded by hundreds of trees planted by the city and landowners.
PART THREE OF A FIVE-DAY SERIAL
Our Town Temple
Today we continue a tale about the Temple Doll House, told by former Temple educator Russ Wright.
THE STORY SO FAR
I think we were in the first grade when we first heard about the Temple Doll House from some older kids. Me, Ed and Jeff were fascinated by the bits and pieces we could glean from them.
One day I finally summoned the courage to ask about the Doll House. They all roared with laughter, teasing us that we were too scared to even look at the Doll House, much less go inside. That, of course, prompted us to deny that we were afraid of some old lady’s DOLLS!
Then they laid down the challenge.
”If you three kids are SOOOOOO brave, then bring back one of the dolls to prove that you were in it and we will pay you $100!”
We accepted. Not for the money so much as the bragging rights. Now we had to figure out how to do it without getting caught.
We knew that it was an abandoned house on 19th Street in Temple. We also knew that if we broke into some home in the daytime, someone could see us and call the cops. It was decided that we would do it on a Friday night when everyone was at the Wildcat game.
That evening I told Mom I was spending the night at Jeff’s. Jeff told his mom he was spending the night at Ed’s and Ed told his mom he was spending the night at my house.
We were free, and we had our bikes and flashlights. We were ready! Little did we know what was in store for us…
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Off we rode into the twilight. Traffic thinned out as game time drew near. We came to 31st Street. Then 29th, 27th, 25th, 23rd, 21st, then 19th Street.
We had never been to the Temple Doll House and were not sure exactly where it was. We looked right and it looked like a normal street with lights at the intersections and cars parked in front of well lit homes.
When we looked to the left, the street sloped down and what little streetlights there were faded to pitch black as the road dropped into total blackness. Lawns were not mowed, and there were very few cars on the street or in the driveways.
We knew which way we had to go. Silently we looked at each other, nodded, and nosed our bikes toward our waiting fate.
In the darkness we could faintly make out small signs of life in most of the houses, until we came to the bottom of the hill. There it was.
The house was very old with fading, cracking paint and weeds as high as our shoulders in the front lawn. Most of the windows had been broken out and boarded up. We hid our bikes in the tall weeds and made our way to the front porch.
Ed took the first step onto the porch and his foot crashed right through the rotting wood. Carefully, we made our way to the front door and tried the handle. It did not turn but it was cold as ice. We should have left right then and there.
We decided to try the back door, so carefully we crept around the side of the house and into the overgrown backyard. Jeff found the back door.
“It’s over here” he whispered loudly.
We all gathered around the back door. I secretly hoped that the door would be locked and we would just go home and watch TV. Ed reached out and grabbed the handle.
“It’s freezing, just like the front,” he muttered. Then he tried the handle, it turned, and the back door slowly creaked open revealing a darkness unlike any of us had ever seen before.
I felt a heaviness in my chest along with a trembling in my hands.
Unspoken, we looked at each other, then at the open door in front of us and slowly entered, knowing that if we got into trouble, no one knew where we were and no one was going to come to help us.
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Part 3 — Someone, or something, is home
Slowly we entered the house. We could all feel it but no one wanted to mention it. It was very, very cold inside the house.
I saw Ed rubbing his arms and Jeff slid his arms inside his shirt. It was September in Temple — it was not supposed to be this cold.
“Someone left the AC on high,” Jeff offered as an explanation.
We all knew he was trying to be brave. There was no electricity in this house.
As our eyes adjusted to the darkness, we could make out some familiar shapes: sink, counters, cabinets…this was the kitchen. There was a door in front of us that led to the front of the house and one at the side of the room leading to the back of the house. We all moved toward the door in front of us.
Jeff slowly pushed the door open and we entered the living room. There were a few broken boards on the windows, letting in just enough light to allow us to navigate the room.
We kept walking toward the front door when behind me Ed started stuttering: “Ggggguys? Look over there.”
Under the window, where there was more light, we could see her. She was sitting upright on the floor staring straight ahead. She was a very old, porcelain-faced doll dressed in a Victorian Dress.
Her clothes were tattered and dirty and her face was chipped. She was completely dressed with a hat and shoes, but the most compelling thing about the doll was her deep, dark, coal colored eyes. They looked oversized for her face and were open very, very wide.
We stared at her a few moments, afraid to move when Jeff whispered: “She’s not alone.”
Our eyes had adjusted to the darkness of the room and we could see that she had friends. Next to her on both sides and extending to the entire perimeter of the room were more of those dolls. Different in face and dress but all from the same period.
I moved toward the window to select which one I was going to take when I noticed a small movement. I turned to look, thinking it was my friends, but they were on the other side of the room looking at the other dolls.
I backed up a few steps and that’s when I noticed it: The dolls’ heads were slowly turning, following my movements.
“Y’all see that?” I loudly whispered.
“What?” Jeff responded.
About that time I heard Ed say: “Man, there’s something going on with these dolls.”
We instinctively gathered together.
“Watch her eyes when I move,” I told my friends.
Then they saw it too. The dolls were watching us with those evil dead-black eyes.
In one movement we all three ran for the door we just came through. We hit it with a loud crash and continued running through the kitchen to the back door.
I was the last one in the house so I KNEW I left the back door open just in case something like this happened. It was closed.
I grabbed the door handle but it would not turn either way. There was no leaving the house through the back door. The only way out was past those evil dolls.
As we started toward the front of the house again, we heard it.
Off to the left, where the hallway and bedrooms were located, there was an unusual sound. It sounded like something being dragged across the floor but with a clanking sound.
We froze. The sound was getting louder which meant it was getting closer. Now we were really scared. There was someone or something in the house with us and we couldn’t get out.
We watched in horror as that side door slowly opened. In the darkness, the only thing we could make out were two small dark-red blinking orbs.
COMING TOMORROW: Part 4 — ‘Give me back my arm’
WHAT’S HAPPENING CENTRAL TEXAS?
Central Texas largest and most complete calendar of event:
October 20-23 - The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Beltonian, Belton. 6-8 p.m.
October 22, Friday - Unity Fest on the street in front of Ras Kitchen. Featuring Alex Marley and many other acts. 4 p.m. to midnight.
October 22, Friday - Trunk or Treat at Smile Doctors, 2113 SW Dodgen Loop. 5-8 p.m.
October 22-24 - “Leading Ladies” at Temple Civic Theatre. Ticket link: https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?actions=4&p=1
October 23, Saturday - Haunted Hayride, Bend of the River, 6-10 p.m.
October 23, Saturday - Don Gregory Memorial Lions Club Golf Tournament. Sammons Golf Course. Contact Jeffrey Thigpen Thigpen.firstname.lastname@example.org to register or for sponsorship opportunities. 4-person scramble begins at 8:30 a.m.
October 23, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 23, Saturday - Fall Food Truck Festival, 3524 FM 2484 in Salado. Proceeds benefit Salado VFD. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
October 23, Saturday - October Blues Bash. The Clint Walker Blues Band is bringin' the blues back to Bold Republic Brewing! It is going to be a great night of live music, the best beer in Texas and delish food! 6-10 p.m.
October 24, Sunday - Fall Fest at First United Methodist Church in Temple. 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
October 26, Tuesday - Military & First Responders Appreciation Day. Drive through hamburger box dinner for active duty military, veterans and first responders. Central Fire Station in Temple. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or until food is gone.
October 26, Tuesday - The College of Visual & Performing Arts presents the UMHB Concert Choir and the Women’s Chorus. Sue & Frank Mayborn Performing Arts Center, Baugh Performance Hall. 7:30 p.m.
October 28-31 - “Leading Ladies” at Temple Civic Theatre. Ticket link: https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?actions=4&p=1
October 29, Friday - Uncasing of the Colors for the 607-member 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment of the 3rd Squadron, 36th Infantry Division, now headquartered at the Texas Army National Guard on Airport Road in Temple. Santa Fe Plaza, 10 a.m.
October 29, Friday - Michael Salgado at Schoepf’s in Belton. 6 p.m.
October 29, Friday - 1st Annual "Monster Mash Ballroom Bash" at Arthur Murray Temple. Join us for a few tricks, some yummy treats, and lots of dancing! Costumes are encouraged, and anyone is welcome — no dance experience needed, $15 per person. RSVP (254) 231-3444 7:45 p.m.
October 29, Friday - Calling all boys and ghouls! Don’t forget to stop by the Monster Mash at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum. Learn a few new dance moves at the Monster Mash prom. Grab a treat or two and have a spooktacular time. 6-8 p.m.
October 29, Friday - Halloween Party at Firestreet Pizza. High octane rock & roll. 6 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - 24k Comedy Magic Show, Corkys Wine & Beer. 8 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Trunk or Treat at Faith Baptist Church, 1102 S. 51st , Temple. 7 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Lake Belton High School Trunk or Treat. Sponsored by Vista Community Church. 5-7 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Halloween Party at O’Briens Irish Pub featuring Jay White & The Blues Commanders. 9 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - The city of Temple will host Fright Fest from 6-8 p.m. at Santa Fe Plaza (301 W Avenue A). Attendees will be able to trick-or-treat, enter a costume contest and enjoy a fire dance show. This event is free to the public and registration is not required.
October 30, Saturday - Downtown Belton Candy Trail. 4-6 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Halloween Bar Crawl, Mo’s Rail Yard Saloon. 4-11:59 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Barktoberfest, Dog costume contest at 5:30; adoptable dogs on site. Barrow Brewing Co., Salado. 1-7 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Trunk or Treat at Express ER in Temple. 4 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Bulls & BBQ, Live bull riding followed by concert with Jake Worthington and Keith Braxton. Schoepf’s BBQ, Belton, Noon.
October 30, Saturday - Tablerock’s Fright Trail. One-half mile walking trail presents thrill, chills and haunting skits. Salado. 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - BooCru at Crusader Stadium. UMHB in Belton. Wear your Halloween costume to the UMHB v. Belhaven game. Trick or Treat at 10 locations inside the stadium during the first half. Halftime parade of costumes on the football field. Noon.
October 30, Saturday - Trunk or Treat. VFW Post 1820, 3302 Airport Road in Temple. 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in parking lot.
October 30, Saturday - Trunk or Treat at Keller Williams Advantage. 3 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Trunk or Treat at Fellowship Baptist in Morgan’s Point. 6:30-9 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat at Everest Rehabilitation Hospital of Temple. 10 a.m.
October 31, Sunday - Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat at Canyon Creek Baptist Church. 6-8:30 p.m.
October 31, Sunday - Edward Scissorhands, free movie at Cultural Activities Center. In this 1990 film, a scientist builds an animated human being but dies before he can finish the assembly, leaving the young man with a freakish appearance accentuated by the scissor blades he has instead of hands. The event will include a pre and post-movie discussion with Professor Dr. Joseph Taberlet. 2 p.m.
October 31, Sunday - Fall Festival at The Vine Church on 31st Street. Rain or shine. 6-8 p.m.
October 31, Sunday - Taylor’s Valley Harvest Party. Food, family fun, candy, costume contest, hay ride. Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church. 5 p.m.
November 2, Tuesday - Dia de los Muertos Celebration, Wilson Park Recreation Center. Celebrate Hispanic and Mexican culture and heritage on this one-day festival for Day of the Dead. 6 p.m.
November 4, Thursday - Spur Classic Sporting Clay Shoot, Weber Shooting Range. 8 a.m.
November 4, Thursday - Brown Bag Bingo, Sammons Community Center Bring a brown bag with a small, non-food Bingo prize inside. 5 p.m.
November 5, Friday - First Friday Block Party: Veterans Day. Fun, food, music and shopping downtown Temple. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
November 6, Saturday - Chris Hillman, Texas Music Series,Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
November 6, Saturday - Holiday Craft Bazaar at Gober Party House. Handmade and original items. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
November 7, Sunday - Temple Symphony Piano Trio featuring Suzanne Jacobson on violin, Cory Blaise on cello and Kiyoshi Tamagawa on piano. Cultural Activities Center. 3 p.m.
November 11, Thursday - Veterans Day Celebration and Patriot Way Brick Walk sign dedication. 8:30 a.m.
November 11, Sunday - Downtown Drag! A drag show at Corkys Wine & Beer. 7 p.m.
November 11, Friday - The College of Visual & Performing Arts presents One Voice in concert. Sue & Frank Mayborn Performing Arts Center, Baugh Performance Hall. 7:30 p.m.
November 11-14 - "Our Town," a Pulitzer Prize winning play by Thornton Wilder, Temple High School, Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. More information at: http://www.ThespiansR.Us
November 11-14 - The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Beltonian Theatre, 6 p.m.
November 13, Saturday - Market in the Vines. Take a walk through the vines and shop with over 50 vendors! Free to the public. 3 Texans Winery. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
November 13, Saturday - Downtown Temple November Market, 2 N. Main, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
November 13, Saturday - A Night in Vegas…St. Mary’s Catholic School Casino Night. Live auction, silent auction, games, drawings. Benefits the school’s educational programs. Cultural Activities Center. 6 p.m.
November 14, Sunday - St. Mary’s Traditional Turkey Dinner, KC Hall at 2218 W. Ave D, limited seating or to go plates, $12 plate includes Turkey, dressing, roll, gravy, coleslaw, green beans, cranberry sauce and dessert. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
November 18, Thursday - Taste of the Holidays 2021: A Candy Cane Christmas. Mayborn Convention Center. 10:30 a.m.
November 19 through January 15 - Facing the Inferno wildfire photo exhibit opens at Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum.
November 20, Saturday - Casey Donahew at Bell County Expo Center’s Assembly Hall.
November 20, Saturday - Belton Market Days. Downtown Belton. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
November 20, Saturday - The Gathering. Native American music, dancing, food. Bring a lawn chair or blanket for picnicking and fun. Yetti Polk Park in Belton. 11 a.m.
November 25, Thursday - Thanksgiving Outdoor Movie Night at Barrow Brewing in Salado. “A Christmas Story.” 6 p.m.
December 3-5 — Disney’s Aladdin Jr. at Temple Civic Theatre.
December 4, Saturday - Barrow Brewing Christmas Market, Salado. Noon.
December 4, Saturday - Temple Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concert featuring soprano Priscilla Santana and tenor Brian Joyce. Temple High School. 7:30 p.m.
December 4, Saturday - Chisholm Trail Christmas Ball featuring Rick Trevino. Bell County Expo Center. 6 p.m.
December 6, Monday - The 75th Annual Christmas Parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. This year's theme is “The Magic of a Traditional Christmas." Details will be made available on templeparks.com.
December 10-12 — Disney’s Aladdin Jr. at Temple Civic Theatre.
December 11, Saturday — Downtown Temple Holiday Market & Food Truck Frenzy, 2 N. Main Street. 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
December 11, Saturday - 5th annual Holiday Extravaganza at the Troy Community Center. Shop with local small businesses. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
December 23, Thursday - Santa & Elvis at Fire Street Pizza. 6-9 p.m.
December 31 - January 1 - Texas Elite Pole Vaulting. The Expo Explosion, the second largest indoor pole vaulting event in the country. Bell County Expo Center’s Garth Arena.
LIST YOUR EVENT! Email info to OurTownTemple@gmail.com with “What’s Happening” in the subject line. Keep it short and sweet — what, when and where. You may include a short description. You must include a phone number for verification purposes. The phone number will not be published unless requested by submitter.