Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Class Act!

Our little gated community of over-55 active seniors is a wonderful collection of talent, creativity, and skills. Many of our residents are active in the many various clubs, committees, and groups, bringing their particular skill sets to the mix. Donation of skills by our various members saves us residents hundreds of dollars per household each per year in HOA dues. Landscaping, building improvements, repairs, and maintenance, enhancements to the grounds and property are all performed by our volunteer committee of White Hats, amounting to over $100,000 savings in labor per year.

One of the major improvements made to our activity center, called The Carriage House, included installation of a sound system and of professional quality theater lighting for our stage. This would never have happened if it hadn't been for the married couple - Syd and Len - who worked for years in professional theater on Broadway in New York before moving here to Texas.

Some of my fellow booth volunteers: Paul on left and Phil (a trainee) on right
They are such a wonderful and giving pair and their contributions over the years have enabled our community to stage theatrical productions, musical reviews, fashion shows, dances with live music, and many, many other fun and engaging activities every year. None of these events would be possible without the professional quality sound system and stage lighting.

With current Players group president (on left) and past president (seated)

All of us in the CountryPlace Players club, a group that stages two to three plays and musicals a year, felt it was time to honor the contributions of Syd and Len to our community. Once the seed of an idea was planted, the planning took a life of its own.

Program for the fete honoring Len and Syd

Months of planning, involving all of the groups and clubs that Syd and Len participated in, culminated in a wonderful Sunday afternoon fete for the couple.

So much food!

Finger food, cookies, cakes, and more filled multiple tables. In fact, as food continued to arrive, more tables were hastily pulled out and set up to hold it all.

Len and Syd sing along with the Ragtimers band. Len
was the director of this band for many years before stepping down.

Our Ragtimers band played a few numbers, and Syd and Len sang a couple of songs. Afterward, a few of us each took the microphone to say some words to them and to the very large group in attendance.
Saying a few words to Len and Syd. Big Red and a
flask of gin were in that bag on my arm.

When my turn came, I surprised everyone by bringing out a bottle of Big Red, a flask of gin, and a couple of cups and then, as I opened and poured the Big Red and added some splashes of gin, I proceeded to tell everyone how much I'd learned from Len over the years and how professional he has always been about making sure that our play productions were as high a quality as possible. But I also let everyone in on Len's and my little secret - he and I would sit back there in the sound booth and drink a little wine, or perhaps have a little mixed drink. This got a huge reaction from the audience, especially Len. Once my narrative was complete and cups filled with the concoction, I proposed a toast to Len and Syd and we all raised our cups.

 A full house, all honoring Len and Syd

The significance of Big Red and gin is poignant. The last play that Len and I worked together was last summer and it was then that many of us noticed he was no longer able to keep up mentally with the challenges of sound booth. He is, after all, 90 years old. One of the major props within that play was the classic soft drink Big Red. So he and I sipped on a mixture of Big Red and gin during the dress rehearsal and the performances.

After my little speech, and amid the hugs with Syd and Len, he leaned in and said how much he enjoys working with me and is looking forward to working with me in our next production. It was a tough moment for me. We all miss his expertise as we struggle to recreate things that he did effortlessly: lightning effects, special lighting, microphone set-ups. We're managing and will eventually figure it all out.
Len and Syd

The Community Board approved the placement of a dedication plaque on the front of the stage, in honor of Len and Syd. So appropriate and so much deserved.

The day we realized he was no longer up to working the sound booth was a sad day. It will be an even sadder day when they are both no longer with us. On the day of the fete, they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, such a good story. It is nice to hear of the good people in the world amidst so much strife and political stuff on the news. And congrats to the two on their 70th anniversary, that is quite an accomplishment.