Sturkie Family History
Birdie With a Yellow Bill
by Paul D. Sturkie, Phd.

My first stage performance, although unsolicited, was at the age of five, before I became a regular attendant at school. It occurred when I visited school as a guest of my brother Ira (7) and my sister, Opal (11). Each Friday afternoon, it was customary for Grade Two to hold an assembly, at which time certain students performed before their classmates by reciting, singing, dancing or other means. It was Ira’s turn to perform by reciting “A Birdie with a Yellow Bill.". He had been practicing the poem for several days and I was quite familiar with it. My sister brought me to school to hear Ira recite it.

At the appointed time, Ira was called upon and he came forward in front of the class and began to recite:

“A birdie with a yellow bill,
hopped upon my window sill,
And cocked his…………

Ira became frightened and froze, and could say no more.

In my eagerness to help, I jumped up and began reciting where he left off:
“shining eyes and said
aren’t you ashamed you sleepy head?”

My brother and sister were embarrassed and ashamed, and when the classmates applauded, and I joined in, they were humiliated beyond words. My sister scolded me, took me home and reported my behavior to my parents who judged the matter less serious than brother and sister did. However, I was never invited to visit school again.