by Bob Baker
Each Christmas, the London American staff threw a play and a bibulous feast for the British staff and their families in the Embassy’s big staff room. In 1972 PAO Bill Weld wore a white Stetson and cowboy outfit complete with pearl handled guns to lead his posse in white Stetsons against black hearted Ruskies in black hats. The baddies threw baskets of false, anti-American documents at Bill’s guys and looked to be winning amid piles of paper a foot deep until Bill rallied his white hats with a secret cache of boxes from behind the bar in our saloon setting. Good guys’ paper overwhelmed the baddies in a maelstrom as we sang our collective hearts out (I wore a white hat).
Cultural Attaché Wayne Wilcox in his black outfit gamely led the baddies, a crooked bunch from the cultural affairs and information offices. Both sides sang with lots more gusto than polish. Our words often ran ahead of or behind the piano accompaniment, but you got the general drift. All the lines, the music and the grand finale chorus line (which mysteriously included the defeated baddies as well as the white hats) were entirely original. The audience roared its approval as we swept off our Stetsons and bowed low to them. My guess is that the most important part of the show script was in its stage direction: “Be sure the audience gets lots of drinks a half hour before show time.” However, I bet they would have liked the show even without that. It was a great USIS shop.