If all of our events go as well as the first real outing for Jay Grelen's Storytelling, Sweet Tea & Housewashing Society, well, what have we been waiting for?
The temperature was low 80s. Humidity negligible. Breeze off the Arkansas River perfect. (Truth to tell, I can't say whether the breeze actually blew off the river, but that's poetic, so I'll take the poetic license here.)
The setup was nifty: We bought a ten-by-ten-foot canopy, and Vicki Morgan and her crew at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette print shop helped us to produce the banner to fly overhead. (I worked at the Dem-Gaz for eleven years, the longest time I have ever stayed at one job; the previous record was six years in Mobile, Alabama).
Little Rock's premier signmaker Redgie Adams told me how to build the PVC frame from which to hang the banner. (If you see a fancy sign around Little Rock, such as Big Orange, for instance, at the Promenade mall and in Midtowne, chances are that Redgie made it.)
Sloane, my wife and director of marketing (who is working without a salary), decorated the booth, which felt uncomfortably like a shrine. But that's what we have to do, says the unpaid marketing director. We are "branding," she says.
So we are branding my name and picture and newspaper byline all over the place. (We'll even brand your cows with my name; just give us a week's notice so the blacksmith can make the branding iron.) All of which reminds me of the caution my mother offered when I was ten and bragged to her that I had carved my name into the fresh cement that city workers had poured to build a drainage ditch. "Fools names and fools faces," she said, "always appear in public places."
When Mom sees the banner, and sees my three-foot-tall mug shot flying ten feet above the ground, I'll remind her of another thing she and Dad taught me: If something's worth doing, it's worth doing right.
We met lots of people on the Fourth: Michael and Melissa Miracle from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, (great last name for a man whose father is a minister); Petra Brittan, a native of Germany who, after living in Florida and other places in the United States, has settled in Flippin of all places Arkansas; her mother, Hedi Wallschiager, was with her. (It's not Heidi. You pronounce it Hay-dee); Sandra Andrews and her daughter, Janice. I reconnected with a few people: Reg and Glenda Hamman; Ron Clayton; Malachi Lockwood, son of the Democrat-Gazette's Frank Lockwood; Susan Alexander in the company of her friend, Laurie from Lafayette, Louisiana; state Senator David Sanders and his son; Denver Barnard, who collects and rebuilds antique fans; and John Deering, who never met a scrap of paper that didn't need one of his doodles. (John was caricaturing people to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House.)
Floyd and Carolyn Cox, that would be the DeWitt Coxes and parents of my marketing director, spent Thursday night with us and then half the day. (For ninety-nine-point-nine percent of his working life, Floyd worked at the shoe factory in DeWitt; for the last twenty years of his career, he was running the place and flying off to places like Chicago and Italy to conduct business; D0n Munro owned DeWitt Footwear when Floyd retired.)
So this was a grand opening in all ways: It was our first big deal, and everything about it was grand.
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!