Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Erma Bombeck Celebration at the Centerville Library

On April 18, I participated in the Erma Bombeck Celebration Evening at the Centerville Library in Ohio. The library is cozy and cheerful, and I love the huge stack of wooden books displayed out front. 

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.

32 comments:

  1. Donna, what a charming piece! You've inspired me to write bit about the Local Authors' Book Room at last weekend's Missouri Writers Guild Conference,which was a great success, on my author page at www.facebook.com/AuthorPeterGreen.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Peter,
      Thanks for your kind words. Good luck with your project. I heard the conference was great!
      Donna

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  2. I'm glad it went well, Donna! Thanks for sharing the experience. :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Madeline,
      It was an unforgetable experience.
      Donna

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  3. Perhaps you could use part of this experience to create a CS story for the Writer?

    Yes, smiling causes wrinkles, but less than frowning.

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  4. Sounds like fun. The dear woman was complimenting you, but the way you wrote it made me laugh out loud! You are a humor writer.

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  5. Glad you had a good trip. Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

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  6. Seriously. You don't look a day over 91. So never mind what that sweet little nonagenarian inadvertently insinuated in her compliment.

    Too bad about the camera. I was looking forward to photos. But you have painted an informative picture of the proceedings.

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  7. We were sure thinking about you. Glad the evening turned out so well. Can't wait to read more.

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  8. Hi Sioux,
    I'm actually working on something for a CS submission.

    Hi Linda,
    Yep. She was complimenting me in her own way.

    Hi Claudia,
    Thanks. it was fun!

    Hi Val,
    My feelings exactly, although I heard last week that 60 is the new 40.

    Hi Mary,
    Thanks. I heard the conference was fun, and congratulations on your win.

    donna

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  9. How wonderful it would have been to hear you read your story! Congratulations, Donna!

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  10. Sounds like a wonderful time - congratulations!

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  11. Hi Clara,
    Thanks. You are so sweet.

    Hi Sheila,
    It was great fun!

    Donna

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  12. Donna, I sure thought about you a lot during those days! I'm sure Erma's spirit was there, listening and seeing! What an honor! I'm sure sorry about your camera not working. Of all times to do that! Your story about the little old lady was funny, and then there's Val's comment of course! LOL She always cracks me up...kinda like Sioux!! Congrats again on the fabulous honor!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Becky. It was an amazing week.
      Donna

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  13. Oh boy, if that comment doesn't make you feel old.

    Congrats. I love Erma Bombeck.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Clarissa,
      Thanks. Erma was one of a kind.
      Donna

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  14. It was so great seeing you and hearing your wonderful story! I really enjoyed hearing about Erma's life and the whole program was amazing. I must say, I will never again look at bird pooh on a car without laughing!

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    1. Hi Krysten,
      Thanks. Tracy had some wonderfully funny stories, didn't she?
      It was great to meet you in person.
      Donna

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  15. Donna, thanks for taking us on a tour of your trip. Love the 92 year old woman's comment. My aunt is 86 and says, "On Wednesdays I give communion to the old people. Great attitudes. Thanks for sharing but I'm still waiting for pictures.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Alice,
      You are welcome.
      My camera had PMS and wouldn't cooperate, so the only photos I have aren't worth posting.
      Donna

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  16. Erma Bombeck has always been my favorite humor writer. This must have been a wonderful event.

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  17. How exciting. I was thinking of you at the MWG, especially when you were awarded and then it was announced that you were at the Erma Bombeck event! You know we never feel as old as we are which is why that woman said what she did - she was thinking she was your age :-)

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  18. Hi Patricia,
    The event was wonderful. The slide show Debe put on made me feel like I knew Erma personally.

    Hi Lynn,
    I really hated to miss the MWG conference. I signed up way back in January, but when the opportunity presented itself to go to the Erma workshop for FREE and be honored, well, I guess my ego got the best of me.
    And thanks for making me feel better about myself--and understanding the 92-year old woman's remark. Your comments are always so cheerful and uplifting!
    Donna

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  19. Sounds like you had a great time. I would have been so nervous. Congratulations again.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Janet,
      Everyone made me feel so welcome I forgot about being nervous.
      Thanks!
      Donna

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  20. Congrats again, Donna. Sounds awesome.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tricia.
      Hope all is well with you.

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  21. Late to the party but enjoyed it just as well! What a wonderful experience for you, Donna, and bless you for smiling in the face of...90-something wisdom? :-)

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  22. How wonderful. So happy that the event went well and you had a great time!

    Pat
    Critter Alley

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