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NOTES FROM THE LITTLE RED HEN
23 July 2013
Remember the Lamplighters history? I can't remember exactly how
much I've written about it here, but let's pretend I have written very little (because
even if I've written the whole story, nobody is going to remember it this far away from
when it was written) and let's go back to the beginning and discuss where we are now.
First I get an e-mail from someone who wants to do an updated
history for the 60th anniversary and would I be willing to give the group some advice.
So I write to my co-author Alison and tell her about my e-mail and
admit that I am crazy enough to get involved again. She tells me that she's been
thinking that she is going to be having time on her hands when she retires and actually,
she's crazy enough to come with me to the first group meeting and think about getting
We go to the "group" meeting, and find out the
"group" is us and the woman who wants to make sure there is a book for the 60th
anniversary, the the woman who is in charge of the company. As we talk and realize
how completely ill-prepared they are for this project, we begin to feel a responsibility
to see that the book gets done well and when we leave we are, to our surprise, in charge.
We did have some conditions, this time, though...we laid out what we will do and
what we won't do and are promised that they will find lots of people to take over the jobs
we don't want to do, they are so grateful that we are willing to interview, transcribe,
and write the book.
A long time passes because I am waiting for Alison to retire so we
can start interviews, because we decide it would be better to do them together and we
have, actually, three years before the book is scheduled to be released and it seems like
forever...more than enough time.
We finally start the interviews, but we have time constraints and
scheduling times when we are both available to come to an interview gets difficult.
More time passes with almost nothing getting done, though we do a few interviews.
Life intervenes for Alison and several totally unexpected family
problems surface which make it impossible for her to work for a few months, but she
expects things to iron out eventually.
A guy who has been in the chorus forEVer has taken on the task of
doing the huge roster in the back of the book...and he is actually doing what he said he
would do. This is a good thing.
At a show, after a long period of inactivity, Alison get together
and talk honestly about what problems we are each having, and what promises have not been
fulfilled on the Lamplighters part and we sadly admit that though we have done very
little, the combination of frustration and life problems have made us reach the decision
that we really don't want to do this project after all. I write the "thanks,
but no thanks" letter and we are out of the history business.
The woman who is the head of the company, and who has been kind of
overseeing this project, but not really very well because of her own life complications,
resigns from the Lamplighters.
In February of this year, someone new took on the task of
coordinating the project. She's a go-getter and is not going to take NO for an
answer when it comes to getting this book done. She asked if we could meet so I could give
her advice (I've learned that this is never a good idea!) and by the end of the lunch she
treated me to, my guilt had resurfaced and I agreed to come back on board again, since she
seemed so much more efficient than the previous coordinator. I told her that one of
the things bogging me down was that I had done no transcription, partly due to my
numb fingers making it difficult to do the heavy duty typing that transcription would
require, and it would help me tremendously if they could get people to help with
transcription (something I had asked for and been promised two years before). She
agrees and is sure she can find people willing to help out.
At the same time, Alison says things are looking up and she thinks
she might also be able to help in a month or two, so I put things on hold until we can get
back to interviewing again. I figure I'll work on transcription until helpers are
Finally Alison admits once and for all that looking ahead with all
the new situations popping up, she just can't be involved at all.
This leaves me the only interviewer and writer...and I still
haven't heard about who wants to help transcribe.
The guy doing the data base reaches a halting point because whoever
designed the software didn't think we would reach the space limit. We have and there
is still lots to be done. (This problem may have been solved by now, I
hope. The best part of all of this is that the roster IS getting done)
I get a call from the coordinator who, bless her, really wants this
to work, but doesn't want to work on it herself because of her own personal situation.
But now she decides maybe she can hire someone to hep with transcription.
(I have to admit that since I am doing all this as a volunteer, including paying
for gas every time I drive to the Bay Area to do an interview, that I find this somewhat
insulting, but I thank her and tell her to go for it. I know she didn't think the
"payment" part through.)
The latest chapter is that when I saw the coordinator recently,
several weeks after she was going to hire someone to help, she asked me how she should go
about finding someone to do transcription. Oh for Pete's sake. Do I have to do
everything? I feel like the little red hen who keeps asking people to help
her bake bread, but everyone is too busy to help her, but is ready to enjoy the bread when
it is baked.
I think about this transcription business for a long time and
finally realize that the only way this is going to get done is for me to do it myself.
So now I am the sole interviewer, transcriptionist and writer. I think
we have someone who will design the book and choose photos but obviously if the book is to
be done at all, it is up to me and if I quit, it will never get done.
The Lamplighters 60th anniversary has now come and gone and I'm now looking toward
the 65th or 70th anniversary. It is clear that this book (if it ever gets written)
won't be anything like the original two because it will lack the co-authorship of
Alison, who was really the brains of the previous two books. I will admit to being
the heart of at least the second book. For one thing, when we wrote the last book,
everyone involved was in their 30s and 40s. Now we are in our 50s and 60s (and
Alison and me 70). I should take my mother's attitude and laugh it all off with
"I'm too old. I can't be expected to do that...")
we I should be able to produce something
that people won't hate, which will be quite a coup for someone who was terrified to write anything
in the first book!
Anybody who wants to waste half an hour to hear me and my colleague Jeff
interviewed about theater in the Davis area, the recording will stream here.