Today in My History
A NEW BEGINNING
23 June 2020
There are two big "new beginnings" in my life that changed my life at the time. The first was The Lamplighters (LLs), Gilbert & Sullivan theater in San Francisco. Walt and I did ushering for them when we were dating, and when we were first married (until we had little kids and couldn't go to all the shows). We saw all of the G&S operettas and were on the Lamplighters mailing list.
One day a LLs newsletter arrived and in it was an announcement that a woman named Alison Lewis wanted to put together a book to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the company and she was looking for volunteers to help. Two of us responded. As it turned out, the three of us were about the same age, we all had kids who were just starting school, and we were all in the same place in our lives, and looking for something to do. We were all also big Lamplighters fans.
I still remember my first visit to the LLs "office," which was also a warehouse filled with costumes, set pieces and proper that we had seen on stage and what a thrill it was for me to be there.
We worked on the book for about a year and interviewed many of the actors we had been seeing on stage for years. It was a wonderful experience and when it was over, the Lamplighters were installing their first computer and looking for a volunteer to help transfer all the mailing list names from cards to the computer. I volunteered. The book was published in 1977.
That changed my life. I became a part of the LLs. I moved into the warehouse for 3 days to complete the computer task and started to become friends with musical director, Gilbert Russak, who became my best friend over the next 3 years. We started a newsletter, The Cock and Bull, which is still printed today. We wrote several original shows together and learned computers together. Walt worked on the tech crew, and 3 of our kids worked on the shows as well. Many of my very good friends came out of that relationship, though many have died now.
Gilbert's death was my first "personal" death and my year of grief following his death helped me know how to deal with David's death, because I understood the grief process and that you do eventually recover and was able to help the family. His death also gave me the inspiration to write a second book, published in 1989, to record all the things he did in the last 10 years of his life.
The second new beginning happened as a result of Paul's death. I was a member of PFLAG and through mail "met" a woman in Washington state whose son had committed suicide following a gay bashing. We seemed to get along well (in fact, we are seeing her and her husband on Sunday, when they stop in Davis to change trains!). She was part of a group of people who were fans of a show called The Last Session and I joined their mailing list, but couldn't make heads or tails out of most of what they talked about because I had not seen the show.
However, Paul died. The weekend after his death was scheduled to be his next performance here in Davis and I just couldn't bear to be in town on that day, so I suggested that we drive to Los Angeles and see The Last Session in its final performance. Which we did. We went with a couple of CompuServe friends.
Steve Schalchlin, who wrote the music for the show, was not there, so I was not able to meet him, but a couple of weeks later, he was in San Francisco to do a concert and I asked if we could meet for lunch. We had 3 hour lunch and became good friends. I offered to be his publicist and over the next couple of years I helped publicize his appearances, mostly on college campuses to talk about living with AIDS. I also went to many of his talks as well. Walt and I traveled around the country with The Last Session group.
I have often said that Steve was the window that God opened after he shut the door of Paul's death. We are still good friends and being a part of his life made a huge difference in mine during that period. Steve was the reason I started "Funny the World" because he is one of the first people in the world to have an on-line diary and I decided that if he could do it, I could too. The rest is history!
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Max at 10.
I'd love it if you'd leave a comment!
This is entry #7396