Monday, September 28, 2015

Writing about Death by Potato Soup and Other Curious Adventures

Have you ever read a story or heard a story and wanted to know more then you mentioned it to someone else and that person wanted to know more and before you knew it you were writing a script?

That's how I wrote a script about husband number six of the infamous St. Charles Potato Soup Black Widow for All Saints Parish's second "Voices of the Past" cemetery walk.

Let me back up a bit.

Two years ago our parish presented its first "Voices of the Past" cemetery walk. A few members of our parish writing group were asked to write scripts for historic characters who are buried in our parish cemetery. Actors, who also were parishioners, dressed in period costumes and portrayed the characters, using those scripts.

For our first cemetery walk I wrote about George Gaty, Revolutionary War hero and founder of St. Peters, Missouri. It was my first attempt at script writing, and although it was daunting, it turned out to be mind-stretching fun. Everyone who attended the October 2013 event said all the actors were remarkable. Unfortunately, I was out of town and unable to attend.

Earlier this year, during one of our writing group meetings, I mentioned an article I'd read about a farmer buried in our parish cemetery who had been murdered back in the late 1930s by the St. Charles Potato Soup Black Widow. Next thing I knew, I was doing research, interviewing a 90-plus-year-old parishioner who vividly remembered the event, and writing a script about Aloys Schneider for the cemetery walk.

Aloys Schneider was an unsuspecting farmer who had the misfortune of marrying a woman advertising her services as a housekeeper through a want ad in a St. Louis newspaper. The marriage to Aloys, husband number six, ended when he died shortly after their wedding. His family suspected his bride had poisoned him, but they lacked proof. It wasn't until a year later, after Tony Heppermann, husband number seven, died that the Potato Soup Black Widow was charged with double murder.

Aloys Schneider is one of many characters who will be portrayed during "Voices of the Past" cemetery walk on Oct 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. in the parish cemetery, 6 McMenamy Rd. St. Peters, MO. You can purchase tickets for $10 at the Parish Office, and more info can be found on the link above. Visitors are asked to arrive 15 minutes early and wear comfortable shoes.

I've already bought my ticket for the Oct 4 performance, and I can't wait to see all the actors play their roles.

If you are unable to make the event but are curious about Emma Sarana Heppermann, who laced her potato soup with arsenic and was suspected of murdering five of her seven husbands, one of her mothers-in-law, and even one of her own children, click on the link above.

11 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed hearing this story when you brought it to C&C. Pardon me for the cliche, but truth really is stranger than fiction!

    Pat
    Critter Alley

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    1. That is so true. And the photo of the potato soup black widow looks like an ad for "Arsenic and Old Lace."

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  2. My interest is certainly piqued, Donna. It sounds like a spook-tacular event (and one that highlights that truth is sometimes scarier than fiction).

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    1. This woman was so evil. She also killed three dogs and a cat.

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  3. Wow, a great story all around. I will look her up later. Reminds me that only a few years ago, I learned my great grandfather had been married before my great grandmother. His wife was gradually killing him with poison from under the sink.When he finally took specimum to doctor for lab work, she was gone when he returned home never to be heard of again!

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    Replies
    1. Wow! That's an interesting family story. Wonder what happened to her?

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  4. One of the most fun events we attended was a cemetery hayride with character actors. Congratulations Donna on this latest accomplishment.

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  5. That is fascinating! However, I prefer to stay out of cemeteries after dark.

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  6. So fascinating. I have been looking forward to coming but now realize I'll be at the Writer's Colony during the performance. You should bring the script to critique group, and then find a home for it. There are some places that look for very short plays (3-14 minutes) with minimal props and staging.

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  7. Once again, I find myself situated too far south to be able to attend. Y'all have so many cool events, and this sounds like a great one, especially for the Halloween season. How did script writing compare to other writing you've done, Donna? I'd be curious to know. I've never tackled a script, but have often wondered about the mechanics of it as compared to novel or essay writing.

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  8. Sorry I'm so late on the scene (pun intended)! Once again, you got me with the title. Potato soup just seems so innocent and wholesome! What a fascinating endeavor. Once again, you amaze me.

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