Today in My History

2000:  The Front Porch
Credibility Crisis
Plus 36
A Thing of Shreds and Patches
"You Need One of These"
I've Gone Pro
Hovering on the Diaper Rash Water
2007:  R.I.P., Alfred


Tom Sawyer

Books Read in 2008
Updated: 9/3


This is the first of what will be a number of wedding or wedding-related videos.

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Look at these videos!
Joe Biden Rips GOP On Iraq War Resolution
Polar Bear Plays with Dogs

The Mothering Instinct
Treat Your Mother Right
1988 Olympics Balance Beam

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Jeri and Phil's Wedding
Grandma's 95th Birthday

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Airy Persiflage

Bev's 65 x 365



3 September 2008

I originally ran this in January of 2001, when I had far fewer readers.  I am re-running it today because when we returned from Santa Barbara there was a message from lin's daughter that her mother had died on Wednesday.  We had talked a lot about lin during the wedding festivities and how if it weren't for lin and the children's theatre, Jeri and Phil would not be getting married.  I can't think of a better way to mark her passing than by re-running this tribute to the woman who changed our children's lives -- all of them.

(Note that I have not updated the information and it says that Jeri is "getting a degree in music" which she obviously did long ago1)

Her name was ms. lin McElroy (the "l" was always lower case, and there was a heart dotting the "i"). She was big and brash, with bright red hair, a great sense of fun, and a tremendous love of kids. Our paths crossed when she directed a production of The Sound of Music. The neighbor girls were cast as two of the VonTrapp children and I learned that so many children had come out for auditions that lin decided to work with a double cast, so that more children could have the opportunity to participate.

When the show ended, I introduced myself and told her that if she was ever interested in forming a children’s theatre, I’d be happy to help. With that simple exchange, The Sunshine Children’s Theatre was born. SCT wasn’t destined for greatness. It never made any big headlines, but it changed the lives of so many children who participated.

lin had the crazy idea that the kids could learn to do it all. They were actors, technicians, designers, choreographers, and costumers -- sometimes all at once. She believed in giving children the tools and the knowledge and trusting that they would not let her down. They never did.

The company consisted of children between the ages of 5 and 12. There were no age divisions. 12 year olds were best friends of 6 year olds. The older kids were the ones climbing up into the catwalk to hang lights, but even the youngest could wield a hammer or help paint the stage before a performance.

Some parents felt there was an excessive time commitment for their children, but ours thrived on it. They practially lived at the theatre. In an age where some young adolescents were wandering around looking for mischief to do, our kids were learning how to hang lights, spending long hours rehearsing scenes, or hammering a set in place. We never had to worry about where they were when they weren’t at home. They were always at the theatre.

In its five-year history, SCT put on several productions, including an original musical, Go Go, the Blue Gorilla, where Ned got his chance to sing and dance, in a role that could have been written for him. Our kids began to find their niche in the company, with Paul moving into the leading roles, while Jeri and Ned loved the backstage work, though they also acted. When Jeri was too old to be part of the acting company, she became the technical director.

When lin finally left town, the theatre company was stranded. By this time there was a board of directors in place, money in the treasury, and a staff of experienced young members, but there was nobody who could replace lin, nobody who was as dedicated to the theatre experience for children

It had long been a dream for the kids to do a production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. After much discussion over the next three years, the young actors decided they really wanted to do that show, and that the could do it without lin. They arranged to rent the rights to put on the show. Jeri agreed to be the director. She and other kids took on the tasks of lighting design, set design and building, costuming, choreography and musical accompaniment.

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David as Linus; Paul as Charlie Brown

They worked long and hard and in the end put on a professional show that was created entirely by adolescents. At its conclusion, they donated all the proceeds to a fledgling high school theatre group and closed the books on the Sunshine Children’s Theatre.

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Tom as Schroeder

ms. lin McElroy changed our children’s lives. Jeri has been working as a theatre designer and technician since she received her Master of Fine Arts degree--and is now getting her degree in music; Ned is now the producer of a morning radio program; and Paul, until his death, continued to perform.

It all began with an audition for The Sound of Music and a woman dedicated to allowing children to live up to their potential and to follow their dreams.



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