The celebration's featured speaker was syndicated humor columnist and author of Rebel Without a Minivan, Tracy Beckerman. Tracy is not only side-splitting funny, she is also wise and sweet.
During the ride in the van to the event with Tracy and Michele Wojciechowski (Wojo), I felt like I was in the midst of comedy queens who have insight into the world of journalism. Both ladies were funny and friendly and smart. And Wojo's husband Brad was a perfect gentleman. Humor writer Wanda Argersinger, an honorable mention winner in the global humor category, also rode in the van with us. Wanda hurt her foot in the Atlanta airport, but she was a trooper as she hobbled through the library to the meeting room.
The room began to fill early, and there was standing room only by the time the program began.
People of all ages attended the event. Two young boys sat with their parents in the front row. A woman around my age brought her white-haired, 92-year-old mother. The older woman used a cane to find a seat near the front, but she was spry and alert and attentive. The 92-year-old spoke with my sister Kathleen, who accompanied me on the trip. During their conversation, the woman shared memories of Erma Bombeck and Phil Donahue, who were neighbors.
Debe Dockins, Centerville Public Library's cool, calm, and collected competition coordinator, facilitated the festivities, with audiovisual help from Sue (whose last name I didn't write down). Sue also works at the library.
I was surprised and pleased when Krysten Hager showed up to listen to me read. Krysten and I got to know one another through the Women on Writing website. We have been Facebook friends for a couple of years -- from the time Krysten 's husband was stationed in Portugal -- before their move to Ohio.
At the celebration, Tracy's hilarious talk included her experience at the Dayton airport. After Tracy's performance, three first-place winners of the 2012 competition (including me) read their entries.
Local winner Gina Sandoval, accompanied by her younger son holding his light saber, delighted us with her funny and charming story "The Force." I followed with my essay, "Honey, Can I Borrow Your Garter Belt?" People laughed when I hoped they would, so I guess it was funny. Then Christina (Tina) Cahall read her sweet essay "Rebel in a Cashmere Coat." Debe rounded out the evening by reading Alison McDonough's beautifully written "That's Him All Over." Alison wasn't able to make the trip, but her presence was felt through her moving essay about her late son.
During and after the program, Kathleen attempted to take photos, but my camera misbehaved badly. Note to self: Time to buy a less tempermental camera.
At the end of the event, the 92-year old woman wound her way to my side. A smile widened her face as she patted my hand and told me, "I'm happy to see that elderly women like me are still writing."
I wasn't sure if I should laugh or cry, so I nodded my thanks and smiled. Wait? Doesn't smiling cause wrinkles?
The weather that evening was lovely. As the sun began to set we climbed back into the van. The sky turned from blue to purple and the stars made their presence known, and I thanked my lucky stars to have been a part of such a memorable experience.
More on the workshop later this week.