Hello from the green, lush, hilly, humid East Coast! I loved everything there is to see and do in California, but I’m happy to be home. I am such a born, bred and LOYAL Virginian…in my view, you just can’t beat it. I talked to someone in the airport yesterday about going home to Virginia and they said, “Norfolk?” and I was like, “EW, NO.” That is not Virginia. Southwest Virginia, rolling country and not much traffic……but I digress.
I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who has been so very supportive of my work–the blog, the presentation on Sunday at the Sportsmen’s Lodge, etc–the comments, both on the blog and in person, were so kind and wonderful, and I really appreciate it, I know Angela does, too. We were so thrilled and honored when Sharon asked us to speak at the meeting and doing the assignment justice was really important to us, for Jeanette and Nelson and our club. I only wish I had stood up straighter while I was speaking—I know better than that!!!!—but I had on very high heels and the podium was thus a little low for me and it was quite dark in there so people could see the screen, and, well, excuses, excuses. Ugh!
If you have not yet had time to watch the presentations, please do! The video is long, but so worth it:
A major, major highlight of the day for me was meeting and talking to Woodbridge Strong Van Dyke IV. Woody’s grandson. I knew he was coming, but I hadn’t seen him arrive and then I looked up and there he was, no mistaking the crazy resemblance, right down to the way his hair is graying. Looking at him in profile is just really startling. Same nose, same chin. I’m sure he felt very stared at throughout the day but he took it with great grace and was the nicest guy one could ever hope to meet. He was so moved by the outpouring of love for his grandfather and asked to come up to the mic to tell us so. After I spoke, he made a point of coming up to me, remembered my name and told me how much he loved what we had done. Just really an incredible and amazing time, and a huge thank you to Sharon for coordinating that really special opportunity. Before I met Woody IV, Linda Tolman (whom I LOVED meeting in person!!!!!) came over to me so we could compare our Jeanette gloves, and she thrilled me by pulling a box out of her bag and plopping it on the table in front of me—the two charm bracelets that she owns that Nelson gave to Jeanette. Soooo I’m like, sitting there holding the woman’s jewelry from her boyfriend and their best friend’s grandson is ten feet away from me and I WAS NOT AT ALL OKAY. EMOTIONAL OVERLOAD. MAYDAY. MAYDAY. SOS.
Here are the bracelets:
Pictures of both of them, and also many charms indicative of their movies together—totem pole from Rose Marie, harp from I Married an Angel, tri-cornered hat from Naughty Marietta, and my personal favorite, a honey bee, because that was his pet nickname for her, Honey Bee. DID I MENTION THAT THIS WAS TOO MUCH FOR ME???
The clock charm on one of Jeanette’s charm bracelets from Nelson, depicting the exact time at which she walked in, late, to his concert when they first knew each other. He called out from the stage, “It’s a good thing you’re pretty!” and later gave her this charm.
Cannot thank Linda enough for bringing those (as well as some of her other treasures) and being generous enough to pass them around. Seeing them in person was pretty mind-blowing.
Oh, and here’s me with Woody IV.
Handsome man! Runs in the family!!! I’m just a hair over 5’7″ and had on 4+” heels, just to give you perspective.
Needless to say, I couldn’t eat lunch, I was so totally overwhelmed. Angela, too. I’m told the food was great; it sure smelled good! Then, the meeting was called to order by Sharon, who introduced Bern, who very movingly spoke in tribute to Patrice, our recently-passed club member and screenwriter. That was a difficult task and Bern did an excellent job. Then Maria got up and spoke about the letter. Maria, too, did an outstanding job of presenting this treasure, and telling the room that it will be professionally preserved and then donated for permanent display to one of several possibly museums/libraries. I must chuckle at the response from the ‘other side’ regarding the letter, total crickets for days and days…and in “rebuttal”, they want to nitpick their interpretation of one letter of one word that Nelson writes in closing, but they COMPLETELY IGNORE the “I love you and will always be devoted to you” part, trying to say this is merely a thank-you note. Snort. Yep, I write that in every thank-you note I send to co-workers, ever. Anyway…………
Maria did a great job with her presentation and she has the sort of voice that makes you want to get comfy while she reads you a bedtime story. Get busy with recording some audiobooks, Maria!!
So then there was a break for show and tell with the letter, and then it was Angela’s turn. When we were first working on this assignment, we made a list of the topics that needed covering and basically split them up, each taking some research stuff we’d done together, and each talking about the scripts of Jeanette’s that we personally have in our individual possession. Angela presented lots of video footage as well as a compelling case regarding Jeanette’s mental state around the time of her nervous breakdown and break-up with Nelson, the unfortunate 1949-1952 era. She did a fantastic job, watch the video!!!
And then me. I knew I was presenting a lot of fact and figure type data, but I felt like it was all important, and the membership stayed with me beautifully. I totally enjoyed speaking to the group.
After all that, Sharon closed the meeting and people started going their separate ways and we broke down our set-up and started putting things away. Then our core group went to dinner at the famous Smoke House, where Jeanette and Nelson (AND EVERYONE ELSE IN HOLLYWOOD THE PICTURES ARE AMAZING IN THERE HOLY CRAP) dined. Great steak, people. Great garlic bread. Go there. You won’t be sorry.
We were all a little (a lot) exhausted and slap-happy, and dinner was a delightful and hilarious affair. What a fun group! We laughed and carried on and almost got chucked out and Angela threatened to slap me because I couldn’t stop laughing…..ha.
Here’s Sharon and me at that dinner. I highly recommend hanging out with this lady. 🙂