Thursday, September 29, 2011


I WISH I COULD REMEMBER if I've already told you about Mr. Bob's fiftieth birthday surprise party. Somewhere there are photos that could be scanned but I don't know how to lay my hands on them.

We rarely entertained in our own home. I envied hostesses who knew how to do it, but alas, I was not one of them. But that year, I got it into my head that a grand celebration was called for and I arranged to stage it in Glendale's Civic Auditorium.

I planned for it to be a month after his Christmas Eve birthday, the better to fool him and Christopher designed the invitation and then the flyer that we sent through the mail, announcing that a Square Dancing class was starting. We mailed it only to ourselves and to my mother's address, just down the street. She had died the October before, but her mail was forwarded to our house. Sometimes I think it's shameful to be so good at deception. It took a little doing, but I talked Mr. Bob into attending.

My plan was to invite every person we knew........friends, relatives, bookshop customers who had evolved into friends, everyone with whom Mr. Bob worked at the Times Mirror Press, where he helped to print telephone books and Auto Club maps.  At the time we were very active at church and all of those people received invitations with the request to bring a favorite dish. I supplied an enormous ham, a mountainous green salad and a king-sized chocolate birthday cake. That was the first time I became aware that people want to be told what to bring to a potluck or in school, students want to be given a more specific assignment than being told to write about anything they wish.

If memory serves me correctly, I had to arrange for a bartender or two, a security guard, a square dance caller who specialized in helping people who had never indulged in that particular amusement.. 150 people came. I arranged for them all to be given kazoos.

On the night of the "class", Mr. Bob stopped at the service station across from the auditorium and for the first time ever, decided to figure out his gas mileage before we left the gas pump. I was ready to jump out of my skin. When at last we drove into the parking lot, Mr. Bob made the observation that square dancing certainly didn't draw as many participants as the ballroom dance lessons we'd attended.

As we entered the auditorium, "Happy Birthday" greeted us on all those kazoos. I remember how overwhelming it was to me, the planner, to see all those beloved, familiar faces. I can't imagine what Mr. Bob's reaction was; he's not now and never has been one to talk about his feelings. His hairdresser sister from up north grabbed him, put a beautician's cape on him and sprayed his hair silver for the occasion.

It was a splendid evening with a wonderful cross section of people. I remember wondering how it would seem for Jesus to square dance with a vice president of Lockheed Aircraft, but it worked beautifully as an ice breaker.

All too soon it was over. And now it's just a memory; for me at least, a happy one.

“Middle age is the time when a man is always thinking that in a week or two he will feel as good as ever.”  
                                                                 ~ Don Marquis


  1. What a wonderful memory...I love your stories Jane and i can imagine his surprise...and your fret at the gas station. All the time to prepare. And everyone i am sure had a great time..... and life has marched on...... As for your home. What a wonderful place to have had some fun evenings.. So much to see and so many stories people could have heard!

  2. Asses! I don't recall hearing about this occasion before. For someone who doesn't entertain, I'd say you put a lot of effort into that! It sounds as if it was great fun. I'm drooling thinking about that food, too. What a wonderful memory.

  3. Jeez! What I typed on this touchpad was "aww" NOT "asses" so how that came about is beyond me. damned touchpad!

  4. I remember holding on to a table leg as someone attempted to get me onto the dance floor, but I also remember it being a fun event, especially the planning.

  5. What a party ! I am a dancer so wish I had been there. I would have helped Chris have a great time dancin" !
    A Non Y Mouse

  6. Dear Jane i wrote quite a long post to you re---"the Tunnel" and also Square dancing.; pressed send comment and they just disappeared both times.
    Went into your latest posting on Flickr and cant comment for some reason. oh dear.
    Best wishes to you both however.wishing you well in these difficult times. Lilian x

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