Bill Steinkellner’s Historic Launch into Show Business

19 Sep


The image is of Lane Technical High School. As far as I know it is still thriving.

Once a week at Queen of Angels, for an hour, we had dance class.  It was taught by Miss Woods. At the piano was Miss I-forget-her-name-but-somebody’ll-remind-me-and-I’ll-change-this-someday.( I assume they went around to different schools to do this.  Today it would be out-sourced, somehow.)

All this dance learning was preparation for the school play which was held in the auditorium of Lane Tech High School. The only time this changed was 8th grade when we were taught ball room dancing.  You’d be surprised how handy the box waltz  can be even in a working class neighborhood.

Most years the “school play” was just the various grades performing one damn dance after another.  There was some vague unifying theme but no story line to speak of.  Suddenly, in 7th grade that changed.  That year we did the Wizard of Oz. Not the one based on the MGM classic but more along the lines of a DVD you’d buy at a gas station.

I played the part of the Tin Woodman. This would be my first stage appearance.  (My only performances before this was  playing the triangle in the first grade orchestra and singing Jingle Bells at the top of my lungs at five a.m. in my neighbor’s front yard.)

I don’t remember auditioning.  I don’t remember rehearsing. I don’t even know what possessed me to want to do it in the first place. But I did it.  Proving that even in a lower middle class neighborhood it’s hard to resist the seductive allure of show business.

8 Responses to “Bill Steinkellner’s Historic Launch into Show Business”

  1. Mary Neubacher September 20, 2011 at 1:57 PM #

    Cook! The piano player was Ms. Cook 🙂 She was centuries younger than Ms. Woods and had much better hair. And you were right about the two of them being traveling troubadours, going from school to school to drum some culture into all us urchins. I had them at St. Ignatius before coming to Queens.

    I’m just guessing here, Tinny, but I’ll bet you auditioned in the first place to get out of regular class time. Rehearsals were held while the rest of us were practicing our step-shuffle-step-step-toe. And you gotta’ know we’d all pay good money to see footage of that triangle performance of yours.

    Thanks for the nostalgic romp. That school play was the best #$%& time of the school year!

  2. Joanne Varallo (Doyle) September 20, 2011 at 2:58 PM #

    Hi Steiny,
    I DO remember auditioning (terrifying), and practicing (tedious). Most of all, I remember performing the first night of the play in the HUGE Lane Tech auditorium…..skipping down the looong aisle with my fake braids bouncing up and down and my sister Pat tripping me as I went past her row – seriously. Then sitting on the edge of the stage singing (croaking) “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with Father Cannon trying to see around my toothpick legs up my skirt. Realizing when I got home that I had actually wet my pants a little.Hmmmm, good times!

  3. linda norys hiser September 20, 2011 at 4:38 PM #

    How confusing it was, middle class, working class, lower middle class. It’s much simpler now that there are just two!

    • Bob Weniger September 20, 2011 at 8:49 PM #

      Mare beat me to the punch , It was Ms, or maybe even Mrs. Cook. She never told me.

      Bob Weniger

  4. Rich Topps September 21, 2011 at 8:52 AM #

    My best memory was the veil dance performed by the football team, dressed as harem girls. Good thing our faced were veiled, as we made vulgar noises and laughed hysterically throughout our performance — the audience had no clue!

  5. Rachel November 20, 2011 at 6:07 PM #

    Uncle Bill…when I read the subject line of this post, I thought it was going to refer to your infamous appearance on The Dating Game!! I can still remember watching that video and it still makes me chuckle!!

  6. karen November 21, 2011 at 6:28 PM #

    Those Chicago days were amazing. I remember singing a negro spiritual, “Shut the door – don’t let the flies come in”….as we graduated from Schubert School eighth grade, with an all white class!! Ah, the late sixties were confusing times

  7. Linda Everett (formerly Linda Pruitt) October 21, 2012 at 7:59 PM #

    Hi Bill,
    Are you related to JoAnne Steinkellner, also from Chicago area? She was married in 1960 to Jack Yocum (sp?) who was a Marine stationed at Pendleton in CA. We were friends when she lived in San Clemente & I lost touch after about 1969. Would love to hear from her if you know or are related. My info is below.,

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