I was told there would be cake

By Julieta Moreno

I recently sat down with storyteller, Joseph Toone. We chatted about Toone’s upcoming one-man show about growing up in Hershey, PA performed to benefit the library’s cultural and educational programs. Below is a continuation of their chats as the second in a series of three interviews. The show is one night only on December 18 at the Teatro Santa Ana at 5pm. The cost is 50 pesos.

Julieta Moreno: So I was told there would be cake.

Joseph Toone: Yes, life always go better with cake! Plus I like to bake.

When my oldest son and I would find ourselves in dull situations we could not get out of, we’d catch each other’s eyes and one would say “Don’t look at me. I was told there would be cake!”

JM: Will the cakes be chocolate?

JT: Duh! At the end of each of three mini-acts I’ll give away a cake that relates to the stories just told. You are much more excited knowing a cake is coming. That’s why weddings and birthdays alway include one!

JM: Are there any characters from your stories we should know about ahead of time.

JT: Well, my parents appear frequently. The following tale may explain a lot about him.

My father was a wit and frequently hosted roasts at local Catholic churches. He would be introduced as Sr. Virginia and appear in full nun regalia. My father’s opening line would be “I’m Sr. Virginia, Virgin for short, but not for long.” My mother would simply wonder why he wasn’t using that time to start a novena.

JM: So they were that Catholic?

JT: Heavens yes! Next to chocolate, being Catholic was a huge part to growing up in Hershey!

JM: What’s your favorite story?

JT: Oh, that’s an easy question. The one I tell all I know about women. Suffice to say it is a short story and always a crowd pleaser. It still makes me laugh which, given how often I have performed it, is really saying something! Women stop me on the street to tell me they heard the tale and still remember it! How cool is that?

JM: Forgetting for the moment, about the cakes, will you have your infamous Hershey chocolate chip cookies?

JT: They are my baking nadir! But no. Between all the cakes, including my patented Barbie doll cake, I think cookies would simply put the audience into a diabetic coma.

JM: What is your favorite chocolate memory?

JT: I have two. One was when I was a diplomat working in the Paris embassy after college. In those pre-Internet days, Hershey chocolate was a delicacy and the French adored it when I had some in my luggage from home. Meanwhile, all I could think was Hershey’s is chocolate for the masses and you’ve got far better French chocolate right here. Who wants my kiss when you can have a French kiss?

The second is from when I was in high school, our parish priest would come and pull us out of all our classes to review our December report cards before handing them to each student.

He’d look at each report card, ask questions, and if satisfied with your answers you got a bag of Hershey kisses!

There was nothing cooler in the world than going back to Sr. Mary Torture’s class on dangling participles with an entire bag of kisses to share. It made you the coolest kid in school!

JM: Speaking of kisses, I hear your show has some sex appeal.

JT: Well, visually that would be Vixen/Emma. But yes, I do tell some mildly risqué tales about life here in San Miguel. Sex and chocolate have always gone hand in hand.


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