Monday, February 27, 2012

And The Oscar Goes To…

As I write this the Oscar after parties are just about over. It was an interesting night for Hollywood. The 84th Academy Awards Ceremony was one of the better ones I’ve seen.

Billy Crystal was very funny. His running joke about the renaming of the theater because of the Kodak company’s filing for bankruptcy was very clever.

His opening film was a bit long. Kissing George Clooney reminded me of his days as Jody Campbell form “Soap.” I told you Hollywood loves gay guys.

His ad libs were witty. His musical number (the only prominent segment that featured music the whole night) was clever and really brought the audience into the show.

I thought the film clip montage that ended with the infamous line from “When Harry Met Sally” was a subtle but fitting tribute to Crystal’s contribution to the movies over the years.

At the end of the clip he acknowledged that the woman delivering “I’ll have what she’s having” was the film’s director, Rob Reiner’s, mother but the subtext of that moment was what really stood out for me.

You see, that line was not originally in the script. Rob Reiner added it to the end of the scene at Crystal’s suggestion. That’s something that notches Billy Crystal’s place in movie history.

The “In Memoram” portion of the show was a bit different this year. The montage included video and audio clips of the people it was honoring and there was a live performance of the song “What a Wonderful World”. I thought it was a nice touch but the song choice was a bit strange.

The live performance provided a bit more reverence. It gave the segment the dignity that it deserves. The reactions by way of applause were not there but it didn’t matter. The audience’s silence was a much more appropriate tribute to all those the segment honored. I hope they continue to present it that way.

The only thing that the ceremony lacked was music from the nominated movies. The original scores and the two nominated songs were not given any air time at all. With only two songs it would have been very easy to do some kind of dueling performances before the award was announced. But that didn’t happen. I thought that was a bad production decision. Also the absence of a full orchestra in the orchestra pit in front of the stage in favor of an ensemble set up in the lodge boxes left something to be desired.

I found the performance by Cirque De Soleil to be very entertaining but it left me scratching my head, I always enjoy watching most any Cirque performance but I what did their number have to do with movies? Why didn’t the producers do something a bit more appropriate? To me, it was a decision by the producers to let someone else do their work for them.  

The most “uncomfortable” moment of the night was the acceptance speech of the Iranian guy who won for best foreign language film. It was a bit political in nature but basically conveyed this message. Despite the tensions between its government and the rest of the world, the people of Iran are just human beings who appreciate cultures of other countries and love movies just like everyone else. I’m not going to comment on that here.

Of course the acceptance speech of the night was by Octavia Spencer when she won for Best Supporting Actress. She was truly overwhelmed by the experience.

The most memorable moment of the night was Angelina Jolie’s dress and pose. Her right leg is now part of Oscar show history.

The running surprise of the night was the dominance of “Hugo” in a lot of the minor categories. It tied with “The Artist” for the most wins of the night, 5.  Of course 3 of awards “The Artist” won were: Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture. That makes it the “big winner” of the night. But Martin Scorsese and his crew have nothing to be ashamed of.

The single surprise of the night was Meryl Streep’s win for “Best Actress.” Everyone expected Viola Davis to win. You could feel the shock and surprise the moment it was announced. The fact that she had won for the first time in 20 years had a bit of a “Susan Lucci finally winning an Emmy” feel to it. I think Streep won for her career not because her performance in “The Iron Lady” was better than Davis’ in “The Help”.

My personal favorite moment of the night was the fact that “The Muppets” won an Oscar. It made the whole night worth the while. It means that I now have one more award winning Disney song on my Ipod.

Overall I really enjoyed the Oscar broadcast. It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst.

Now for an update on my predictions. I was right on 5 out of 6. That “Best Actress” surprise kept me from a perfect night.

Congratulations to all the winners. Now it’s time to make it a point to see all the winning films I haven’t seen yet. In addition I look forward to going heading out to the multiplex to see the movies and performances that are going to be among next year’s nominees. Why don’t you grab some popcorn and meet me there?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar Preditions

Tonight is the 84th Academy Award Ceremonies. I look forward to Billy Crystal returning to host the show. In a lot of the major categories I don't really care who wins. However I do care who DOESN'T win. Here are my preferences for the winners.

Best Picture: ANYTHING but "Moneyball" It doesn't deserve to be mentioned nevertheless nominated for this award. Just the fact that the director isn’t nominated says a lot.  My prediction is “The Artist”.

Best Director: I really don't care but this one is usually linked with the "Best Picture" winner so I'll go with the director of “The Artist”.

Best Actor: ANYBODY but Clooney (I really really don’t like his acting, personality or his politics)  or Pitt (In "Moneyball" he did NOTHING that qualified him to even be nominated). It will probably be the guy from “The Artist”

Best Actress: Viola Davis for “The Help”

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Davis for "The Help"

Best Supporting Actor: ANYBODY but Jonah Hill. How did this awful, vulgar, terrible actor get nominated? Hang your heads Academy voters. Shame on you.

I believe Christopher Plummer will win. He's an older actor who's nominated for playing a gay guy. Max Von Sydow is also an aged actor who’s nominated But Hollywood LOVES gay guys in movies.

The only other award I’m interested in is the Best Original Song award: I will be so thrilled when the song from “The Muppets” wins.

 “Man Or A Muppet” (not even the best song of the movie) has only one other song to beat out; that nerve-wracking song from “Rio”

In addition to the music awards I usually watch the Oscars for two other reasons: Best Animated Feature award and the “In Memorial” feature.

I usually root for the nominated Disney animated movie to win. Unfortunately there is not one nominated this year (“Cars 2” is the first Pixar animated feature not to be nominated for this award).

I pay attention to the montage of pictures remembering “those who left us” this year I want to see if there’s someone I liked but didn’t know they were gone and the crowd’s responses. More than likely Whitney Houston will get a considerable amount of applause.

But perhaps the main reason I watch the Oscars is because it’s such a pop culture event. Whatever happens tonight will be discussed tomorrow on the network morning news programs, TV talk shows, drive time morning radio programs, and around the water coolers of America.

I will be posting a brief update with the accuracy of my predations and give my opinion on all things Oscar in my next post. If I don’t then you’ll know by my omission I didn’t do very well or was very disappointed by the results.

Now let’s get on with it…..”And the Oscar goes to”…..

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Womb With A View

Originally, I was going to make this post about the things Paula and I did on our day off this past Tuesday. We did some shopping, ordered a cake, and bought new cell phones. But none of that means anything compared to the first thing we did that day. 

We went to a place called "Precious Views" with my son and daughter-in-law. Brandi was having her 7 month 4D ultrasound. They invited us to go along with them and see our granddaughter, Aria, 2 months before she her "due date." 

Paula and I chose our nickname for Aria when she was only a few weeks old. We chose "Peanut" because she was so small. But on Tuesday, seeing how big she has grown since the pictures from the last ultrasound was amazing. She's so cute and already has me (and her daddy) wrapped around her little finger. Also, just so Brandi would feel better about the heartburn she's been having for quite a while now, the technician pointed out the hair that's visible on top of Aria's head. 

The baby wasn't very cooperative when it came to moving into a position for a lot of good shots. She seemed quite bored with the process. At one point she even yawned and then looked like she was giving us "the raspberries". 

That's just about all I need to tell you about the experience. The only thing I can add is that it was the most amazing and emotionally moving things I've seen in a long time. I can't wait to see and hold Aria for myself in a couple of months. 

Now, I've saved the best for last. Here are of the pictures Brandi and James go to take home with them. 
Aria Showing Everyone What She Thinks Of This Whole Ultra Sound Thing

Our Sleepy Little Peanut

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pickin & Grinnin’ Part 2

Blogger's Note: Sorry it's taken me so long to publish "part 2" of the story about my day in Nashville on February 13. The part half of the story may not be exciting to most of you but I really enjoyed the show and meeting one of my ventriloquist "heroes" did me a world of good. Hope you enjoy this post. 

Still amazed by the fact that I had just gotten to meet and have my picture taken with Mike Wolf from American Pickers I headed toward the downtown area so I could shoot across town to my next destination. I was going to Zanies comedy club to see ventriloquist Taylor Mason.

I first saw Taylor at Zanies in July 2008. That was a year before my weight loss surgery. Here's the picture I had taken with him. And in case you ask...yes, that really is me.

Me and Taylor Mason @ Zanies
Thursday July 17, 2008
The reason I decided to go to see him again was because I wanted the chance to talk with him after the show. At the time I was about ¾ of the way through reading his book, “The Complete Idiots Guide to Ventriloquism.”  It’s an excellent book for those who want to learn about being a “vent” from the ground up.

There’s a solid education on learning to perform, where to get stage time, and how to live, thrive, and survive in show business as a ventriloquist. I want to tell him in person that I was really enjoying his book and appreciated all the joke writing tips.

The other reason I wanted to go is that I needed a booster shot of enthusiasm to get my ventriloquist career moving again. I decided seeing one of my favorite vents working in front of a live audience would do the trick. .  

Because Zanies is usually closed on Monday nights (this was a special engagement in the club’s “clean comedy” series) the room wasn’t very crowded so I got to sit at a small table near the back of the room by myself. I had a good view of not only the stage but of the entire audience as well.

The opening act was a comedian named Paula Aldrich. I’ve seen him before but only on one of my comedy DVDs.

He’s a very funny and talented performer who writes and sings comedy songs. What makes his act so good is that he’s an excellent guitar player.

He told us that he just recently moved from Los Angeles to Tennessee. He sang a song about the people he’s met since he’s been here.

His last song was probably his best. It featured impressions of various musical artists singing their unique version of “Kumbya”.

Up next up was Taylor Mason. His act was basically the same as the last time I saw him. The first thing he did was get the audience involved. He encouraged us respond to a musical cue he played on his keyboard by yelling out “Here we go!”

He talked with family sitting on the right side of the stage that was from Houston, Texas. He did some jokes about them. He then talked with a woman sitting right down in front. She said she was a nurse. Taylor used that as for several punch lines throughout the show.

After about 10 or 15 minutes he brought out his puppets. His first was Paco his pig. He also brought out another pig (I forget the character’s name) that I had never seen before.

He did some jokes with them. This included getting the nurse to pull on Paco’s legs. That’s something Paula got to do the last time we saw Taylor at Zanies.

He used 3 other puppets in the act: Romeo, Juliet, and Sumo, a big Japanese wrestler puppet.
The finale of his act was bringing several audience members up on stage to work his puppets while he did their voices. This has been a part of his act for so long he’s really good at improvising.

To end the show Taylor brought Paul Aldrich back on stage and the two of them had a really cool “jam session”.

After the show I waited a few minutes to talk to Taylor. I talk with him about his book and mentioned the joke writing skills it taught. He told me he paid particular attention to that part of the book. Finally I got my picture taken with him once again.

Taylor & Me
Almost 4 Years Later
As I walked toward the exit to leave I saw Paul Aldrich standing near the door talking to people as they left. I talked to him telling him I liked the song he sang using the music from the classical piece “Dance Of The Hours”. That’s the same music Alan Sherman used for his song “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah.”

He laughed and pointed out the fact that the song is “a parody of a parody based on a piece of classical music.”

I signed up for his email mailing list. I told him that I thought in one particular part of his act I saw the influences of Jerry Lewis and Steve Martin in his act. As a matter of fact he looks a bit like Steve Martin.

After talking with Paul for a few minutes I left the club. My time in Nashville was over. About 9:15 I accelerated onto the northbound lanes of I-65 and headed for home.

For the second time in a little more than 2 weeks I had gotten to see and talk with someone who has been an influence to me in my ventriloquist career.

In the darkness of the highway thinking about the coincidence of meeting Mike Wolfe at the Antique Archeology store earlier that day was still a bit hard to believe. But a scrolling review of the pictures on my camera provided the evidence that it was a reality.

I have been to Nashville countless times and dramatic life changing things have happened to me there.  But I must admit my day in “Music City USA” on Monday February 13, 2012 will always rank as one of the best. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pickin & Grinnin’ Part 1

This past Monday at 3 in the afternoon I turned my Saturn Vue onto the I-65 entrance ramp and headed south to Nashville for the second time in 3 weeks.  I had two destinations planned for this trip to Music City USA.

The first was a visit to the Tennessee branch of Antique Archeology, the retail store owned by the stars of the History Channel program “American Pickers”.

The show follows the adventures of Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz as they travel the country looking for “rusty gold”. They look for bargains on old items that they can restore and resell for profit. I have been a fan of the show for the last couple of years

Armed with “NoVa”, my GPS, to guide me to the store’s exact location, I made the familiar journey down I-65 to the Volunteer state’s capitol city. As it turned out the Antique Archeology store was in a section of Nashville west of the downtown area; just off Charlotte Avenue.

I got off the highway at the exit Paula and I took just 2 weeks ago to get to the Tennessee Performing Arts Center where we saw “Spamalot”. It’s also the exit to get to our bariatric surgeon’s office and the hospital where we had our weight loss surgeries. Being in this part of the Nashville was like going to visit an “old friend.”

I found the American Picker’s store on Clinton Avenue, a street filled with old warehouse buildings converted into private businesses. The area looks very run down. In fact there were a couple of pretty dilapidated looking houses just across the street from the store. (When’s the last time you saw the word “dilapidated” used in a sentence?) If I hadn’t seen the “Antique Archeologist” truck sitting in the driveway in front of the warehouse door I might not have even found the store.

I parked and walked up the ramp to the entrance. Sitting out front was a green Vespa scooter. A curious peek at the hand written price tag told me could e mine for a mere $1925. If I was looking for a small scooter it would have fostered a closer look. It was very nicely restored.

I walked in and was completely surprised by what; or should I say “who “, I saw. To my left standing right in front of the sales counter was Mike Wolfe, one of the American Pickers. I never even gave a thought to the possibility that he would be there. I found out later that the entire cast (Mike, Frank and their Iowa store manager and assistant, Danielle) were all in Nashville for some TV taping during the week.

The first thing I thought, after realizing I was looking at one of the stars of a TV show I watch every week, was that I needed to go back to my car and get my camera. I practically ran both ways. On the way back I realized that I was a bit over excited as I tend to be in surreal moments in my life. Taking a mental step back I tried to play it “cool”. I told myself “Don’t act like a star struck tourist.”

I walked around the store. It was about 90 feet square with all kinds of antiques and restored “treasures”. It filled with the kind of thing Mike & Frank buy from their picks on the show.  But isn’t that the point?

There wasn’t much that interested me. I liked the big shoe sitting on the shelf. I couldn’t help but think of several jokes about Ed Sullivan and a few other comic premises. 

The back wall of the store was filled with bins of T-shirts with various logos and slogans on them.

Ironically, I didn’t take a picture of the one thing I really liked an old photo booth. At the center of the room was a little sitting area set off by an “L” formed by a couch and a love seat.   
 Mike was busy talking to other patrons.  I was about make a move to go up and talk to him. But as I crossed in front of it the door opened and in walked a woman dressed in what I can only describe as a drum majorette uniform; complete with laced boots with big gold button fasteners. I don’t know who she was, where she came from, or why she was dressed that way. I never even had the chance to ask.  

She went right up to Mike and greeted him in a way that made it obvious that she was a friend. I overheard part of their conversation. Mike was talking about his newborn son. I’m not sure of the details but I overheard Mike mentioned something to the woman about “the baby’s surgery” being scheduled. That’s all I caught and didn’t think it appropriate to mention it later on. They went and sat down in the seating area as they continued their conversation.

I browsed around the shop again just killing time. I really was finished looking around but didn’t want to leave without talking to Mike. As I tried to wait as patiently and politely as I could I decided to pick out a t-shirt and refrigerator magnet.

After a few minutes the woman left and I got to talk to Mike. He was cordial and friendly. I asked him if he ever came across any old ventriloquist figures during his picks. He asked if I was a ventriloquist and I told him, “Yes.” He then said that he used to do ventriloquism when he was a kid in 3rd grade. He had a vent figure of his own that he said bought from a guy who was on ‘The Gong Show’.

Bushkill Park in Easton, Pennsylvania.

I told him I spent a good part of my childhood at the park and the roller skating rink. He mentioned that he still had the “OPEN” sign that hung outside the skating rink building. I didn’t ask him if it was for sale or how much he wanted for it. I was just too caught up in the moment of actually talking to Mike Wolf from American Pickers. It was so surreal.

Finally I asked him to take a picture with me. The attractive blond woman who was working behind the counter snapped the shot. Mike was cool about the picture doing his trademark finger gun point at me. 

After the pictures, I shook Mike’s hand, told him it was a pleasure to meet him. I paid for my shirt and magnet then I left. Even if nothing else the least bit interesting had happened to me in Nashville that day; those few minutes, which I never expected to happen, was worth the trip.

I know this is a long post but at this point I had only done one of the two things I came to Nashville for. My night would conclude in a talk with the author of the book I am currently reading. But that wouldn’t happen until I had some laughs. I’ll have more on that in my next post. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Reunion WithThe Robinsons

Whether you like it or not you have to admit Facebook has changed the way people around the world communicate with each other forever. Millions of people have reconnected after years of not having any contact at all.

The best Facebook “reconnection” I’ve made so far has been with Marie Robinson.  I first met Marie when, in 1976, her husband, Dave, became the pastor of the church I grew up in, Easton Assembly of God. Although they were there only a year they both taught and influenced 15 year old Ronnie Havens in ways that are still evident in my life today.

Marie was the person who taught me all about being organized and teaching children’s church. She showed me how important it was for me to write all my ideas down so I wouldn’t forget them. That sounds like a very simple thing. But the on-going benefit of that lesson is the “To Do” list I carry with me every day as an adult.

But teaching children is just one of the pair of life changing things Marie Robinson did for me. She also introduced me to ventriloquism.  

She was the first real ventriloquist I ever met. Her and her beloved puppet, Henrietta the dog, earned my admiration from the first time I saw them perform together.

Marie did her best to teach me the skill of talking without moving my lips and even went as far as giving me my first ventriloquist puppet. But as a15 year old I just didn’t have the patience to work through the learning process. I gave it up and even gave the puppet, Samson, away. But the seeds of passion for ventriloquism were planted. They just took about 30 years to grow.

By encouraging me to be involved in the church bus ministry, Dave gave a young teenager the chance to accomplish some unique and extraordinary things. This included things outrageous as taking 100 kids to McDonalds on a church bus for cheeseburgers and sodas, to important things like ministering to people literally where they lived. 

From the day they left our church until a few years ago I had not seen nor did I hear much about the Robinsons. However I thought about them rather often.

In 2006, when I came back to ventriloquism and started teaching children’s church, again I developed an appreciation for just how much Marie had taught me. I thought how nice it would be to find them again just to say “thank you” to Miss Marie. But I thought it would be rather strange to track them down and contact them after such a long time.

Then a couple of years ago I found Marie on Facebook. Inviting someone to be a Facebook friend is somewhat more socially acceptable than an “out of the blue” phone call after 30 years. I sent her a friend request and she accepted. Soon we reestablished communication through email. I wrote to her telling her how much her mentoring me when I was a kid had helped make me who was as an adult and thanked her for it.

I found out that the Robinsons now lived in a suburb of Chicago; about 6 hours away from me. For quite some time we talked about getting together for dinner when I went to the Christian puppet ministry festival in Kankakee, IL. But that didn’t work out.

Over the years I had seen postings on Marie’s Facebook page announcing the many places around the country and the world they traveled both on business and vacation. It impressed me how busy this globetrotting couple was.

Having missed the opportunity get together with them during my trips to the Chicago area in 2008 and 2010 I never gave it much more thought. That was until the middle of last month.
Around the end of the 2nd week of January, Marie posted some pictures with comments indicating that they were spending time in Florida and would be driving back to Chicago at the end of the month. Just on a hunch, I thought perhaps they may be coming back through Kentucky. 

I sent Marie a Facebook message inquiring as to whether their driving plans included heading north on interstate 65. After a couple of exchanges we set plans to meet for coffee on their return trip. This past Tuesday, the last day of the month, at the McDonald’s restaurant here in “The Grove” we did just that.

Although I chose to meet at Mickey D’s because it was right off Exit 38 of I-65 it was only fitting that we should meet there. Marie’s nickname for me back in ’76 was “Ronald McDonald.” She’s the only one who’s ever called me that.

This reunion was really something I was looking forward to. I had so much I wanted to say to them after more than 35 years. I went to the restaurant about 10 minutes before the time we agreed to meet. While I was in line getting a drink they came in the door. It was surreal to finally see them again.

We sat in a booth in the newly remodeled lobby. The first thing I made sure we did was have our picture taken together. I thanked them for stopping.  Dave said because of his traveling he’s up and down I-65 all the time.

Although he “tried being a pastor for 20 years” Dave told me he finally realized he’s more of a teacher and is now a leadership consultant. He specializes in giving one on one analysis to help both church and business leaders. He shared with me that he was on the road 278 days last year. He’s trying to cut down on his travel by using computer technology to help him work from home.

We did our best to both reminisce and get to know each other again. We covered a lot in just a few minutes. Most of our discussion centered on their time in the pastorate at Easton Assembly. In that short time Dave’s actions and the radical changes he made altered the course of the life of that church.

We agreed on the fact that just like a contractor hired to take down an office building, he “blew up” (his words not mine) the “foundation” of Easton Assembly Of God and shook up the congregation. Those things would eventually clear the way for God to grow the church into what it has become today.  

Ironically, I found out that the current pastor of the church, Patrick Webber and his wife, Laverne, are old friends of the Robinsons. The four of them went to college together.

We talked a lot about the people they knew from the church in the “whatever happened to” context. I updated them on Beverly and David Ernst, and Gene Casterline. Dave shared stories about how he prepped the Ferry Street church building to be sold to a specific demographic and his confrontation with the very controlling church treasurer, Josephine Barnes.

We also talked about Paul Grabil, the man who served as Dave’s associate pastor, that year he was in Easton. Paul passed away last year from cancer. We reminisced about how musically talented he was and the fact that he met his wife while living in Easton. They filled me in on Paul’s 30 years of service to the Lord which included so many more things than just music.

They asked about my parents. I told them dad died in 99 and mom in ’03. I shared with them how Paula and I met, about my sisters and their families, and my two sons and their wives. They showed me pictures of all but 2 of their 9 grandchildren. Of course I proudly mentioned the pending arrival of our first granddaughter.

Marie and I talked about ventriloquism and how I came back to it after 30 years. We discussed writing material and finding jokes, making publicity videos, and more. It really made me feel good when Marie told me in person how much that email I sent to her in 2006 meant to her.

We talked about a lot; yet at the same time we talked about so little. Forty five minutes is not very long to catch up on 35 years.

With a lunch appointment to get to in Louisville, soon it was time for them to go. But before they left I made sure we did something that will be a reminder of our reunion for years to come.

Marie and I had our picture taken with our vent puppets; Henrietta and Leopold the lion. I had considered taking the picture with Cecil but thought that Leopold would be better. You know the juxtaposition of a big cat and dog posing together would make for a more memorable picture. I was a bit worried about the natural conflict between them. Actually they got along beautifully. 
They even wanted to be next to each other for the photo.

Henrietta immediately started flirting with Leopold. In her patented sweet sing song voice, (that sounded exactly the same as it did 35 years ago) greeted him with a “Hi handsome” and kissed him on the cheek. The lion was a little shy and not quite sure what to make of the precocious puppy puppet.

Dave snapped pictures on both of our cameras. I looked at the lens and tried to smile as big I could. But if you look at the picture you’ll see that I’m only just barely grinning. That’s because I was busy trying to figure out if I was making the best of this opportunity.

Have you ever been part of something that you just knew was unique and special and worried that you were not doing all you should to make the most of it? That’s how I felt at the time we took the picture.

I was thinking too much and not concentrating on smiling. I had to explain this because the smirk on my face doesn’t really express the joy I felt at the time. I really wish I had put on my usual goofy grin that I have in most of my other posed vent pictures. 

I hope this isn’t too confusing because it’s true. Getting my picture taken as a ventriloquist with the first ventriloquist to believe in my ability and talent to be a ventriloquist was one of the most poignant moments of my life. 

I told Marie that the only thing that would mean more to me than posing with her for that picture would be the opportunity to perform on stage together some day. I added that if that doesn’t happen during this life I’ll make it one of my goals for “The Millennium”.

I thanked them once again for taking the time to stop and visit with me. “You have made my year so far” I told them. With a pair of hugs, some final “good-byes”, and a promise to get together the next time I make it to Chicago, we parted. All too quickly it was over. I went back into McDonalds to fill up my drink before heading back home.

As I watched them drive away in their mid-sized car thoughts of the past dissolved away and I found myself once again facing life in 2012.  

I am so thankful that God gave me the opportunity to reunite with two people who in 1976 over a relatively short time made indelible marks on my life. It really gives me a perspective on God’s providence. He always watches over us and guides the lives of His children. By His love and grace He brings us along, teaches us, and makes us who He created us to be.

At this point in time I believe I finally have a perspective on which events of 1976 I need to remember because they have had a specific and lasting effect on my life. Dave and Marie were key elements in those events. I am very grateful for the opportunity to once again, meet the Robinsons.