Today in My History
Time for an Upgrade
Books Read in 2021
Cast (updated 7/16)
STORIES THAT REMAIN
14 July 2021
I always enjoyed listening to my mother and her sisters talking about the funny things they remembered from their childhood. There was one story in particular about a photograph of one of my aunts, "drunk as a skunk" sitting on a toilet in their yard, which my grandfather was going to install in the house, and laughing. My mother told that story many times and I've lost some of the specifics of it. I once asked my cousin if she had seen the picture my mother was talking about. She said she had. I told her I had too, and we each described the picture we remembered, both quite different from the other. My mother's story was so vivid that she painted a picture for us that we were sure we had actually seen, but neither of us had really ever seen the actual picture.
Now my cousins are dead and my mother can't remember anything, and that funny story I loved to hear will be lost forever when dementia captures my own brain.
The wonderful thing about the Internet is that things like this don't need to be lost forever.
Marilyn Mantay was a theater critic for the Davis Enterprise. We reviewed shows together (she did the more classical shows, I did the musical theater ones). When she died, I took over as the only theater critic. She had posted her reviews on line but after her death, her family would not be paying for her web site. I loved her writing and learned a lot from her and I didn't want to see those reviews disappear, so I retyped them all and posted them to Blogspot (which is free) and now forever more (or until the end of the Internet), Marilyn still lives on "Davis Classical Review."
Funny the World is my own collection of stories from our past which will live forever and maybe some day Brianna and Lacie will want to know about our life when their father was growing up ... and the important stuff will be there.
It's why I wrote the second Lamplighters history book. Three of us got together to write the history of the company and after that project, I got offered a volunteer job in the Lamplighters office. I worked for the Lamplighters for about five years, during which time Gilbert Russak became my best friend. He was the musical director of the company at the time of his death in 1986 and between the end of Book 1 and his death, he had done a lot of special things that would be forgotten if I didn't write a book. And I wanted those things to be remembered.
Alison Lewis, the principal author of Book 1 was willing to work on Book 2. It was she who convinced the board of directors that a second book should be written. Carolyn, who was the third author of Book 1 had, by this time, dropped out.
Alison worked with me on many interviews and made certain that my story (because it was my story too) sounded literate, but basically this was my story, telling not only the next 10 year history of The Lamplighters, but mostly of the things Gilbert did. He and I started a newsletter, Cock and Bull, which is still published today. He and I wrote the first of the new versions of Galas, which have now taken off and are as professional as any script. The shows Gilbert and David Witmer and I did weren't all that great, but they have great memories because people had never seen anything quite like that before. Gilbert was also awarded for shows like Something's Afoot, and was named conductor for a children's orchestra and other little things like that that I wanted to be remembered.
We had no internet then, so the only way to make sure that Gilbert's history was remembered was to write a book.
I remember writing the chapter covering the time before he died. I thought writing about his death would be difficult but writing about just before his death was terribly painful. I can still remember sitting here, tears streaming down my face, as I wrote that chapter.
Sadly, The Lamplighters did not make ay kind of arrangement so that the books could be reprinted and people new to the company don't even realize that there are books telling the first 35 year history of the company. But the books exist and they are in the Library of Congress so somewhere on some back shelf in a back room of that big building in Washington, DC, the history of Gilbert exists.
Gilbert died July 14, 1986, at age 55.
I still miss him. But I won't forget the things he did and the things we did together because it's all written down where I can read it again.
Too bad I can't find the picture of my aunt laughing on the
toilet the my grandparents' yard.
People are so cool. Ned set up a cooler filled with ice and bottles of water with a note that it was for the delivery people so they could have something cold to drink on these hot days. A few deliveries have been made and everyone has taken a bottle of water. Today was the day Alhambra water makes our regular delivery and after the delivery guy left, we found 24 bottles of water with a note that says "this one's on me. Thanks."
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Gilbert Russak (R) as Jack Point in Yeomen of the Guard
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This is entry #7781