Now I' m sharing magnets from my mother's fridge.
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WHAT I'M WATCHING...
Pictures from the Pride March in SF on Sunday are now up at Club Photo
That's it for today!
YOU WANTED TO BE IN SHOW BIZ...
27 June 2001
Jill finally retired. She’s worked for the city of San Francisco for 30 years and is finally hanging up her hard hat and taking some time to smell the roses. To celebrate the event, she threw herself a fancy cocktail party at the exclusive Forest Hills Country Club last night.
It was a chance to dust off my classy black velvet dress and pretend to be a grown up again for a day. (Still no make-up, though :))
Most of the people at the party were city employees and people who had worked with Jill for years. A small group of 8 of us were there representing the Lamplighters. As the evening progressed, we kind of clumped together and by the end of the night the 8 of us were sitting at one table while all the activity went on around us.
I looked around the table and realized what a neat group of people this was. There was a soprano and her husband the tech guy, a contralto and her husband the bass, the clarinet player/orchestra contractor, and the baritone, and then Walt (a technician) and me (publicity/clerical stuff). Jill has been on the board of directors and was a dresser for years. These are our best friends in The Lamplighters.
Our association with The Lamplighters, San Francisco’s Gilbert & Sullivan company, goes back to the early 60s, when Walt and I were both at UC Berkeley, before we were married. In those days you could go to an ushering booth on campus and get free tickets for every show that came to town. You just had to work as an usher before the show started and at intermission, and you could see everything. We saw every play and every concert and never paid a cent.
We stumbled on The Lamplighters and discovered that we really liked that funky group in the old broken down theatre, doing Gilbert & Sullivan, which we didn’t know nearly as intimately as we know now.
We enjoyed ushering for The Lamplighters so much that we frequently saw shows more than once. The company had a policy (still in effect today) of coming out to the lobby after the shows and mingling with the audience. Then it was over coffee and cookies; how it’s more like a reception line (no coffee; no cookies). But we were always too shy to actually talk to any of the actors. We just watched from a distance and enjoyed the ambience.
After we left Berkeley, we began to be subscribers for the Lamplighter season and went to the shows as audience. Still never talked to the actors, but still mingled, rubbing elbows. Several of the people at our dinner table tonight were actors in those days too.
In about 1973, the Lamplighters had moved into better quarters, and its newsletter announced that a woman named Alison Lewis was going to write a history of the Lamplighters’ first 25 years and she was wondering if there were volunteers who wanted to help with the project. I jumped at the chance to get involved and called her immediately. We made a date to meet at the Lamplighters office.
I was so incredibly excited to be getting a glimpse behind the scenes of a real theatre and to see some of the people I’d admired from afar out of costume. Alison and I, and another woman, Carolyn McGovern, worked for 2 years interviewing, typing, writing, and finally publishing The Lamplighters: Twenty-Five Years of Gilbert & Sullivan in San Francisco. When the project was over, we assumed we’d fade back into the dark of the audience. And for Alison and Carolyn that was pretty much what happened.
By a twist of fate, the company was in the process of ordering its first computer and I volunteered to help transfer database information from punch cards into the computer. Out of that came a major life change for me.
I began to work in the office two days a week (commuting 80 miles each way to do it) and started to be considered part of the company--I even received a small salary. I lost the awe of being behind the scenes and began to make friends. That was 20 years ago, and we’re still friends, though I have long since stopped working with The Lamplighters, ending just after the publication of our second book, updating the original history with the story of the next ten years.
I looked around the table tonight and remembered all we’ve been through together--the highs of successful shows and awards, the hard work writing the yearly "Gala," too many funerals of people we loved and admired, broken hearts, weddings, cancer scares, New Years’ parties, and celebrations of milestones of life. Ironically we don’t spend a lot of time together, and yet I feel these are people with whom I have a very special bond. When we hug each other, it’s with the memories of 20 years of shared memories.
We’ve come a long way from cookies and coffee in the lobby of the broken down theatre in the slums. It’s been a good trip.
One Year Ago:
Some pictures from this
Created 6/24/01 by Bev Sykes