Rhubarb
Saturday, November 30, 1996
Listen

(MUSIC)

GK: It was a wonderful Thanksgiving (WHINNY. HOOVES. JINGLE OF BELLS.) You rode over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house (TR GRANDMA: Well, look who's here.) And Grandma's sunny kitchen was crowded with relatives (HAPPY VOICES IN GREETING) and also your brother-in-law (TR CLEARS THROAT: Hi.) and the turkey came out of the oven golden brown (OOOHHHHs) and everyone sat down to dinner and somewhere around your third helping (MUSIC BRIDGE, LOSS OF REALITY) you lost consciousness, and when you came to (TR: Mister McCullough? Mister McCullough, can you hear me?) (WB GROAN) you were in a very bright room and your throat hurt (WB GROAN) (TR: I'm Dr. Burnside. We had to remove the roll from your throat, Mister McCullough. You're coming out of the anesthetic now.) (WB GROAN) And there by your bedside is your wife Vivian. (VC: You were like an animal, Victor. You snarled when people tried to pry the bowl of stuffing from your fingers. WB: Me? An animal? VC: Small children tried to crawl into your lap and you flung them away, Victor. WB: I am so ashamed, Vivian.) It's true. You disgraced yourself at Thanksgiving and so there's no alternative but to go away for awhile (BOAT WHISTLE) --- a long voyage to the Lower Rawalpindi where, under the name Raman Leotard, you get a job in a USO road company of "Show Boat" touring Southeast Asia --- you put on your straw hat and your coveralls and you sing (WB IN BIG BELTER VOICE, WITH DANCING FEET: He don't plant taters, he don't plant cotton, and them that plants em is soon forgotten, but Old Man River, he just keeps rolling along!) and you make your way through the rain forest (JUNGLE SOUNDS), entertaining the troops stationed at remote radio transmitters and radar installations(TR: God bless you, sir. TK: God bless you.) spreading joy and hope, eating only fruit and toast, flying from one jungle camp to the next (PLANE ENGINE) in a DC-3 left over from the Burma campaign, and then (PLANE ENGINE MISSING) one night over Mahaipurna, the No. 2 engine conks out (ENGINE FAILURE, PLANE DIVES) and you and your fellow Thespians crash-land in the snake-infested jungle (CRASH LANDING) and you hike for twenty days (DESPERATE WEARY VOICES, BRUSH, JUNGLE BIRDS) over the China Gap, surviving on Jujubes and licorice whips and you're the one who keeps everyone's spirits up, the one who won't let them give up. (WB: I get weary and sick of trying, I'm tired of living and scared of dying, But Old Man River he just keeps rolling along!) and you return to East Rhanapoorna a hero (TK: This way, Mr. McCullough! FLASHBULBS) and you're flown home to the States for an official reception (TK COMMANDS, MARCHING FEET) with military honors (MARCHING FEET, GUN SALUTE. TR CLINTON ON P.A.: Mr. McCullough, all America stands in tribute to your bravery) and your family is there to see you receive the Medal of Honor (VC: Oh Darling. I'm so proud of you. WB: Vindication at last, Vivian. Thanksgiving --- I've put it in the past now.) And the next day, you fly to New York for a ticker tape parade and you make your Broadway debut, in Show Boat ---- it's a dream come true ---- WB: You an me We sweat and strain Body all achin an racked wid pain Tote dat barge Lift dat bale Git a little drunk an you land in jail....) and the next morning.....(RUSTLE OF newSPAPER. WB READING: "in his small but incredibly ugly voice, badly miked, Mr. McCullough managed to make Jerome Kern sound like a Civil Defense drill, as he lumbered around the stage with the grace of a wounded water buffalo, and attempted to convey emotion by raising and lowering his eyebrows--- Vivian? Vivian----) It's at times like that, you want Beebopareebop Rhubarb Pie. Yes, nothing gets the taste of humiliation out of your mouth like Beebopareebop Rhubarb Pie.

But one little thing can revive a guy,
And that is home-made rhubarb pie.
Serve it up, nice and hot.
Maybe things aren't as bad as you thought.

DUET:
Mama's little baby loves rhubarb, rhubarb,
Beebopareebop Rhubarb Pie.
Mama's little baby loves rhubarb, rhubarb,
Beebopareebop Rhubarb Pie.

© 1996 BY GARRISON KEILLOR

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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