Theater in Dallas is very sophisticated today with spectacular Broadway productions at the Music Hall and Winspear Theaters. However, that was not always so!
“In the early days of Dallas show business, all one needed for a production was a good-looking man, a pretty girl, a clown, an old lady and a dumb blond,” recalled local historian Rose-Mary Rumbley.
“The Madcap Players, a tent show directed by Neil Fletcher and performed on the grounds where City Place Target stands today had all those components,” she said.
Portraying the “dumb blond” was Fletcher’s wife, Minnie.
The band would play “Happy Days Are Here Again,” the curtain would rise and the script would go something like this:
Minnie: I’m staying at the Paul Revere Hotel and it is terrible. I want to complain to Paul Revere.
Straight man: He’s dead.
Minnie: Oh, I didn’t even know he was sick.
Eventually the fire department closed-down the Madcap Players but judging by the number of corny dogs consumed by State Fair goers in the years to follow, Texans didn’t hold the Madcap humor against Fletcher.
Even though the tent gigs were over, Fletcher and his brother, Carl, were soon humming “Happy Days Are Here Again,” after their invention of the famous Fletcher’s Corny Dog.
How was the dog-on-a-stick conceived? There is more than one story and more than one person who claims credit for the invention, but here is ours, as told to me by Neil Fletcher.
Mr. Fletcher came into my travel agency in Lewisville, Texas one afternoon to purchase an airline ticket. My small-town agency was set up like a living room to encourage people to sit in comfort and plan their travel or just stop by to visit.
Mr. Fletcher stayed for a visit and charmed the staff with stories of his days in Vaudeville with celebrities like George Burns. Eventually the conversation turned to the corny dog.
Back in the day it was not unusual for someone to offer a trade if they owed a debt they could not pay. Neil’s brother, Carl, was owed money by a fella who could not fulfill his obligation but had a booth at the upcoming State Fair of Texas. Carl accepted the rights for the fair booth in lieu of payment for the debt.
Space at the fair was a coveted commodity even back then, but the problem was Carl had no product to sell. The Fletcher brothers put their heads together. It seems there was a man in Oak Cliff who was baking wieners in corn bread, resulting in a delicious treat.
Obviously that cooking technique would not produce quick results like you would need to run a concession. The guys decided to put the wiener on a stick, dip it in the batter and fry it!
Happy days were for sure here again as the famous Fletcher's Corny Dog is the most anticipated food at the State Fair of Texas year after year.
Sunday, following morning worship at Central Christian Church, we will enjoy corny dogs in honor of the State Fair of Texas in fellowship hall.
Additionally, the Thai Christian Foundation will be visiting the church and the Thai Village Craft Bazaar will be set up in the Hall of Missions.
Be sure and plan to stay after worship. If you would like to visit Central, Sunday morning service is at 11 a.m. in the sanctuary and church in the dog park is at 9 a.m. All are welcome!