I left for CS on Tuesday, June 24 about 9:00
AM to pick up Dorothy Coats in Sylvania, OH. I ran into the usual summer
construction on the I75 and was held up for an hour in lower Michigan because a
truck had lost its tire in the
limited two-lane detour. I arrived at Dorothy's just 15 minutes late and made
sure to get my hugs! After loading her things, we were off to PA.
Traffic moved quite nicely for the rest of the
trip and we arrived safe and sound at Riverside at about 4:15 PM. This gave us
time to check in, unpack to prepare for our first of many wonderful meals.
Many of the happy faces from the past were
there! What a thrill to see everyone. This is the time I collect enough hugs and
kisses to last me another year. I was assigned room 221 this year. For the past
two years, I was in 218 (Nevella's room, as I call it. Mary Fox had Nevella's
room this year). My room was lovely, done all in blue with antique poster beds.
I had plenty of room for all of my "stuff".
The theme for this year was "Truly Awesome-The
Baritone and the Beauty". Bet you can guess that we saw a few Nelson and
Jeanette films!! The evening session was an intro to fabulous musicals and we
saw old clips from three of Hollywood's "best" couples, Dick Powell (OF COURSE!)
And Ruby Keeler, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and Nelson Eddy and Jeanette
MacDonald. Bet you will never guess who we thought took the prize??
We retired early since many of us had just
journeyed all day. The weather was hot and muggy–after all, it would not be CS
without it being hot and muggy! The AC came in handy that night.
Wednesday morning saw us rising early to catch
the delicious breakfast buffet. We were all settled in class by 8:45. It was
such fun having Mary Truesdell and Diane Provan "introduce" us to Nelson Eddy.
Their assignment was to give a talk with video as if we never heard of Nelson
and they were introducing us to him and his work. Of course, all of our favorite
movie clips were used. Diane divided her talk into five areas of interest, the
last two being "sex" and "WOW!" What fun!
We were treated to luncheon at the dinner
theater and saw "Over The River and Through The Woods", a comedy written by Joe
DiPietro, directed by Charles Corritore and starring Mike Bush, Gerry Munn,
Tracey Hall, Larry Lewis, Doris Snell and Almitra Clerkin. The play takes place
in the early nineties as Nick Cristano recalls his memories of his grandparents'
home in Hoboken, NJ. Lots of laughter and tears in this wonderful production.
In the afternoon, I made a brief presentation
updating everyone on the effort to name a street Nelson Eddy Drive and Hollywood
Forever Cemetery. I was offering a raffle on a homemade album of Nelson photos.
More on the Cemetery later. That evening, we enjoyed Naughty Marietta, always a
landmark film for us.
Thursday, June 26 had us investigating the
Dudley Do Right cartoons, a spoof on Nelson in Rosemarie. We also saw Dudley Do
Right, the film, starring Brandon Fraser. As "insiders" we found much of his
nonsense very entertaining. We also saw an old B movie, Renfrew of the Royal
Mounties–certainly NOT Nelson and Jeanette! During the break, we went outside
for our nearly annual golf competition, sponsored by Darv and Pat Reaume. I
wasn't even good enough to win the booby prize! Several balls are now floating
down the French Creek. If you spot a particularly round fish, you will know why!
All prizes were provided by Pat and Darv and a good time was had by all.
That evening we checked out Fred and Ginger in
Top Hat and marveled at their grace and style. Nobody beats Fred and Ginger. Dr.
Marsh also lectured on the club scene when musical movie stars were searching
for a new venue for their talents with movie musicals being phased out and TV
taking over. Kind remarks were made about my CD, Nelson Eddy and Gale Sherwood
Nightclub Show and how it represented the style of shows done in that era. I am
still thrilled that Gale Sherwood, herself gave her permission to have this CD
produced. Sound work was done by Gloria Pollock's grandson, Paul Kavicky of
The final segment of the day was an
introduction to Lake Tahoe and Rose Marie by Marjorie Hadlock. Marjorie
sponsored an excursion to Lake Tahoe in the nineties and took attendees on the
trails and byways of where Rose Marie were filmed. We were shown a video of this
trip and were all jealous we were not all able to go. Two attendees of this trip
were at the Inn, Dorothy Coats and Jean Bordelon. They added their photos and
adventures to the presentation.
Friday, June 27 had us checking out Dick
Powell in Flirtation Walk and Fred and Ginger in Swingtime. I also brought the
Nelson Eddy makeup kit again this year. I received further documentation of its
authenticity from Anna Michalik who found a news clipping in her vast collection
showing Nelson in full New Moon costume, applying his make up from a very
similar, if not the same kit!
Rose Marie and Lake Tahoe continued with guest
speaker, Marjorie Hadlock. She presented wonderful photos and memorabilia of the
Lake Tahoe area. We then heard from Sargent Matt Logan of the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police in full dress uniform! What a site he was. Matt has his doctorate
in psychology and was such an interesting speaker, pointing out the difference
representation of the Mounties and reality. He also remembered, with a tear in
his eye, Jeanne Murphy. Such a touching tribute. Matt was very kind and patient
to pose for photos with all of us individually (he was wearing a wool serge
tunic on this hot, muggy June evening!) He deserves a special star on that
beautiful uniform! Funds were also raised to add to the Nelson Eddy Scholarship
Fund, sponsored by Gloria Pollock, with the sale of autographed photos of Matt
in full uniform. Darv Reaume ran right to town to get the photos made.
That afternoon was reserved for Maytime. Mary
Truesdell lectured on her recent research into the making of the film, both
versions. Dodona Kiziria spoke of the impact of seeing such wonderfully romantic
movies during her tragic years living in Georgia in the USSR. You can just
imagine after seeing only propaganda films of sacrifice for country, how a film
such as Maytime caught the imagination of a young girl longing for beauty and
romance. Thank you Dodona for your heartfelt talk.
After dinner (see I am playing down the food
this year so you all won't notice the 5 pounds I gained from enjoying same!) We
were treated to a live concert by Mike Malthaner, a local junior high music
teacher and theater performer. He accompanies himself on piano and his tenor
voice was delightful. His wife did a great job on the behind the scenes support.
Mike sang many Nelson songs and we also sang along with him. The evening
concluded with the annual sing-along. Lynnette played at least 80 songs and with
the help of the wine and cheese, we all belted out our best renditions. It
probably helped that some of us had laryngitis!
Saturday, June 28 had us investigating
Balalaika. Dodona introduced the film and told us the differences in the film's
representation of Russia and the Cossacks when compared with actual history. All
very interesting. She did inform us that royalty would never enforce order in
the streets as Nelson did. The Cossacks were the merciless enforcers. Facts such
as the royalty seek refuge in Paris were true. We next viewed excerpts from
Dames and Roberta. My raffle of the photo album with all monies collecting going
to the Nelson Eddy Drive Fund was held. Janet Dreyer won the album. I was able
to raise $312 from sales of tickets and outright donations.
Many more promised to send their contributions
Hollywood Forever Cemetery,
Attention: Linda Foster.
Raffles were a big, time-consuming effort this
year. Not only did I offer that album for my project, but we were honored to
purchase tickets on items from Barbara Gibler's estate, offered by her daughter,
Barbara Peckstein and her daughter, Lisa Jackson. As many items were available,
most, if not all purchaser's were rewarded with a keepsake. Marjorie Snook also
sent items for raffle as she pares down her collection. A gorgeous quilt was won
by Marjorie Provan's sister, Donna. Most of us went home with new additions to
our own collections and sweet memories of the original owners to cherish.
That afternoon we had our Wreck Room session.
Hollywood Greats narrated by Henry Fonda was shown and Mary Fox and I offered
our Nelson music and memorabilia for sale. In the evening, we were treated to
the annual talent show. Lynnette Peffley organized and presented the show this
year. Lynnette must be applauded for her hard work and sacrifice of her vacation
time dedicated to this show. Without Lynnette, the show would NOT go on. There
was just magic in the air that night. All of the performers were having their
best night and the audience was electric with expectation. Mary Fox videotaped
the performance and we are all waiting anxiously to relive this special evening.
Some performers included Perry Pickering and Janet Dreyer, Jean Bordelon bent to
pressure from some of her "friends" and performed three songs beautifully. We
were treated to a quartet of singers-Bill and Mary Truesdell (Bill was also host
of this affair) along with Glenn and Jeanne Pusch. Jeanne wrote the words to
their song. Bill and Glenn also reprised their rendition of Stouthearted Men on
The best treat of all was when newcomer,
Marlene Vrscak blew us all away with her professionally trained soprano voice,
with very difficult arias of some of Jeanette's most wonderful songs. Marlene
did them more than justice. During one number, Maids of Cadiz, Marlene was
joined by Montreal resident Raymonde Lavoie, who danced and played the
castanets. What a wonderful combination. We all loved it. Raymonde and her
traveling companion, Nicole Mills, of Toronto, searched the entire CS area
trying to locate castanets and were successful! Nicole also performed a very
sultry number in French for us. What a talented and beautiful lady! Lynnette
accompanied herself for two lovely numbers. The show concluded with a "dance
along" sung by Marlene of Juliette's Waltz from Romeo and Juliette. If I have
forgotten anyone, please forgive me. Mike and Marie Halliday, owner's of the
Riverside Inn also joined us and Mike spoke of the pleasure of hosting us all
these years, adding he hoped we would return often in the future.
Some of us retired to the bar and had a wonderful chat and were able to get
sneak previews of Mary's videotaping of the talent show. By this time in the
week, we were all truly feeling bonded to one another and it was one of the best
memories I will cherish for many years to come.
Sunday, June 29-Nelson Eddy's Birthday!! A
memorial service was given by Dorothy Coats and Jean Bordelon in honor of Jeanne
Murphy who left us to join God on Sunday, June 22. We will all miss Jeanne and
her wonderful stories of having met Nelson. I am sure she joined us in spirit
I was so happy that Dr. Marsh presented the
opera version of Girl of the Golden West written by Puccini in a 1992 telecast
starring Placido Domingo. I have always been curious about the opera and this
was my first opportunity to view it. Although John planned just a short clip to
point out the melodrama, we insisted on watching the opera to the end.
We all dressed up for Birthday dinner that
evening. I was sidelined because I had locked my keys in my trunk earlier that
afternoon. A man from Erie had to come to the Inn to rescue this poor damsel in
distress. My car was valiant in its efforts to turn this "intruder" away. The
alarms were sounding loudly and when, after 20 minutes he was able to enter the
cabin of the car, all of the power locks were in anti-theft mode and we still
could not pop the trunk! Luckily I have a hatch from the back seat through to
the trunk, and a golf club was used to release the lock! Upon entering the
dining room, all applauded the sight of my car keys! Believe me, I got many
suggestions on keeping a spare set of keys and not gabbing so much and paying
closer attention to what I am doing!! Points well taken, all!
Later that evening, we viewed Nelson and
Jeanette's enjoyable version of Girl-start to finish! Wine and cheese followed
and we all realized that this was our last evening together. Many took photos
and exchanged hugs and kisses.
As an overview, might I add that I was very
generous this year and brought along with me a sore throat and laryngitis which
I shared with a good third of the people! Poor Dr. Marsh had to try to lecture
the last few sessions
without a voice! I hope all have recovered well from this gift of mine!
Monday, June 30 had us eating a bittersweet
breakfast as we all prepared to go home. A few were left at lunchtime, and Marie
Halliday made sure boxed lunches were available for travelers. Dorothy and I had
a safe and uneventful drive home. She is the best co-pilot and companion a
driver could have.
Upon my arrival home, I checked on my 300+ emails and saw that the contract for
Nelson Eddy Drive was about to expire that evening! I frantically called Linda
Foster, who I was unable to reach before my trip, and left both phone and email
messages for her marked URGENT. I also learned that the Mac/Eddy Club had also
met that Sunday, June 29 and were able to raise funds through an auction and
donations. I was on pins and needles until I received an email from Rachanee
Clovis, many of you met her last year when she attended the NEAS meeting at CS.
She informed me that she too was anxious about all of the money being relatively
lost for Nelson and just going into a general fund. She wished to protect the
generous donators and made arrangements to attend the Mac/Eddy meeting at which
Linda Foster was due to appear. After much trouble with reservations and such,
Rachanee arrived in LA just in time to cover the balanced owed on the contract
to make Nelson Eddy Drive a reality! Thanks to her generosity and determination,
we can now go ahead with plans for the program and dedication on September 27,
2003, from 12-4 PM. All money collected from June 29-the end of July, including
the money I collected for this project and anything you may have sent
personally, will be placed in the Nelson Eddy Trust Fund at the cemetery and
used to reduce Rachanee's outlay of over $15,000!
Depending on the amount received, Rachanee
advised that we may be able to go with the larger street segment nearest
Nelson's grave. Linda Foster has offered to try to get the price reduced. So, we
shall see how it all ends up, but rest assured that the event WILL be taking
place. Now work begins on all the details. If any of you are interested in
coming, I would appreciate knowing as we have talked about the possibility of
reserving blocks of rooms in LA. I make no promises now, as I have yet to check
with Helen Crawford and don't know if this service to you is possible, so for
now, count on making your own travel arrangements.
I heard that Sharon Rich has arranged for an
organist and singers to perform Nelson songs and anyone who has connections is
working on attracting Hollywood celebrities to join us. This event will be
covered by the media and I am in the process of contacting the gentleman who may
video tape the event and make a DVD available. I will keep you posted on all
further details, especially if you are planning to come out to LA and join us
for this wonderful event. All clubs have contributed to this becoming a reality
and we look forward to a fabulous, congenial meeting of fans to honor our dear
Well, your eyes should be exhausted by now.
Thanks for taking the time to read about this delightful week.