I had several titles in mind for today’s post, including a paraphrase of Rite Aid’s slogan – “With me, it’s personal.” So what you’re about to get, if you dare to read on, is a collection of personal moments related, naturally, to the Summer of Shirley. This won’t be nearly as coherent and articulate as my friend-in-Shirley’s blog Kel’s Musings. Not even close. I’ll will try to keep them sequential, so as to create a timeline, but I make no promises.
The moment it all began. That day in March (?) when I received a casual text from my brother, “Hey Mel, they’re auctioning off Shirley’s stuff.” Dropped the phone. Ran to the computer and found the link to Theriault’s. THERE IT WAS. It was really happening. AND ONE EXHIBIT WAS TO BE IN MORRISTOWN! How’s that for kismet? 20 minutes from me – in my own backyard. Ran back to the phone to secure a sub for the day. Because even though the exhibit would be open on the weekend, there was no way in H-E-double hockey sticks that I wouldn’t be there when the door opened. Ran to the phone a third time, to secure my daughter for the day. I knew I’d need a chaperone.
That moment when I found the Love, Shirley Temple Facebook page. Someone was posting updates and photos of the preparation for the traveling exhibit. I started to see glimpses of the COSTUMES…dear lord, the actual garments that she sang and danced in. It can’t be real, but yet here’s proof. And then there were photos from the exhibits themselves, with personal stories attached. Whoever was maintaining this page was my new best friend. It will not surprise you to know that I spent HOURS looking at the pictures and identifying each costume and artifact, knowing soon that I would actually be in their presence. This was REALLY happening.
Then there was a moment when my friends at Love, ST announced that there would be a special preview for museum members the evening before. It took me 4.5 seconds to obtain that membership….I hesitated only slightly (see a previous post and an obnoxious confession). Secured a membership for my daughter, as well as her availability to chaperone. Yes, I’d been to the museum many times before….but when I tell you I needed emotional support, I am not kidding.
The moment we arrive for the preview – tres early, of course. Heart beating – as in, I think people can hear it. I can’t hear anything but the pounding in my ears. Overreacting? Have you met me? Another moment, as we enter, glimpsing the life size Japanese Bride Doll. Nervous breakdown? Right this way. Entering the exhibit proper, meeting who I assumed was just some guy who was saddled with the job of overseeing all of this. Discovered he was president of the auction house and would be giving the tour, so I had another moment. Walking up to him and introducing myself, “Hi, I’m Melissa. I’m the biggest Shirley fan in the world.” Yes, I really said that. How obnoxious. But yet this guy didn’t roll his eyes – the usual response when I say things like that. And I often say things like that. He gets brownie points, I think at the time. Clearly, I had no idea.
Now the moments come fast and furious. The moment I see a costume that for a minute I cannot identify. I must’ve made a scene, because before I knew it, the president came over and solved that mystery. It wouldn’t be the last time he talked me off the ledge. The moments when I give information – solicited and un – as he is giving his tour. A key moment when it suddenly dawns on me that this guy is GOOD. He knows what he’s talking about, and more importantly, seems to actually care about it. The next day the moments continue – people stream through the exhibit, and I witness such joyful and emotional reactions. I connect with fellow fans. I watch three of her films with those fellow fans. Even after three days at the exhibit, I want to remain in this world. the world of Shirley. But when I have to leave, I know that the memories will linger. What I didn’t know is that the Summer of Shirley wasn’t ending there.
But this blog post is. I realize I’ll need several posts to get it all down, so this seems like a good stopping point. Because as unlikely as it seemed to me at the time, the best was yet to come.