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Molly and Charlie’ Music and Song by George Crane

By Joe Starkey



If you did not know the story of Charlie Goodnight as one of the premier early cattlemen of Texas, this play did not make a good deal of sense. The music and the songs were wonderful but the many vignettes of the {{more}} story of Charles Goodnight and wife Molly needed a background of knowledge to tie them together. Several of the scenes tell of their time in Pueblo, Colorado from the time they arrived and Molly sees a man hung on Main Street outside their hotel. At that time it was “kill or be killed” with a bad element on the streets. By the time they left the bad men had learned “Obey the law, get out of town or be hanged” and Molly’s dream of an opera house had come true. Returning to Texas and the Palo Duro Canyon, they first run a ranch for an English Lord but his refusal to eat at the table with Charlie’s cowhands lead them to start over and found the Goodnight ranch. The Goodnights were friends with Quanah Parker, one of the great Comanche chiefs and often invited him and many of his tribe to visit and be free for a while of the reservation. One Scene has Charlie asking Quanah if the government men were giving him any trouble about smoking peyote in their rituals. Quanah replied that agent was told “White man go to church and talk to God, I go to Tee Pee, smoke peyote and talk to Jesus.” When told to get rid of all his wives except one, Quanah told the agent that he was afraid of his wives and thus the agent must be the one to select the one that stayed and tell the others to leave. Instead the agent just left and never mentioned the multiple wives again. Charlie gained a teacher for the youngsters at the ranch when he caught a horse thief. While they were waiting to hang the man, it became evident that he had a good education and so Charlie gave him the choice between teaching for a year or being hung. He choose to teach and the school was started. Molly and Charlie is a good play to see if you know your Texas history and a pure listening pleasure even if you never set foot out of New York City for the composition and piano playing of George Crane.

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