It Was a Very Good Year


It just all depends on how you look at it.  There’s no doubt that 2016 was full of sadness – deaths of friends, and celebrities that seemed like friends.  The election.  And for the individuals reading this, many other examples.  But for those of us in Shirley’s Army, we had it pretty good.

Now, I’m not a Pollyanna (although I dearly love that film), nor am I a Debbie Downer (also love).  I fancy myself a realist. But I am also a teacher, and so sometimes I have to spin a story in such a way as to highlight the…er, highlights.  So here’s what ’16 brought me (and many of you too) in terms of Shirl:

The Florence & George special Army sale.  Remember that madness?  Those minutes-that-felt-like-hours on the phone, trying to get through to place your order?  And it was all for US.

Shirley-palooza, which included the opening of the Santa Monica History Museum’s exhibit, a tour of Shirley sites, the Collectors by the Sea tea party extravaganza, the stamp event, a visit to the Fox lot and to Dianne’s museum.  The Shirleyness we packed into those few days could tide us over for YEARS.

Time spent this summer – non-cyber time – with new and old Shirley friends.  Gayle, Dave, Mary, Migdalia, Shirley Jean – I’m looking at YOU!

The rescue of so many items….for me, the green smocked, screen-worn in not one but TWO films dress.  And it wasn’t just the acquisition of same that meant something – remember the shared joy each time a rescue was revealed? The thrill of the hunt for supporting photos?  The discovery of new information (not one but TWO films!!!!!).

And talk about the thrill of discovery – how ’bout finding pictures – millions of ’em – each time Heritage posted a Take Three item?

An article about US in the New York Times.  The TIMES, people.

Shirley-Con as part of Take Three.  A coming together like none we’ve experienced…at least, not YET.  Social media is great, there’s no question, but it doesn’t hold a candle to real in-the-flesh, get-to-know-you meet ups.  I mean, you learn a lot about a person during a SING ALONG!!!  (Well, maybe only about me….but that’s cool too).

The Heritage auctions – two for the price of one.  If you were there, close your eyes for a moment.  (Come on, just do it!).  Replay Dianne’s win, the teacup score, the breakfront win, the look of surprise?  terror? on the auctioneers’ faces.  The chats with Charlie, Susan, Teresa and the girls.  This all HAPPENED. To US.

Loraine’s Scrapbook update. If all goes as planned, there will be a mention of Shirley’s Army, and maybe even a Colonel quote, along with a photo of us. In. A. Book.

I know there was more joy this year, both Shirley and non.  So, although I’ve been pretty blue lately regarding recent events, I want to end ’16 reflecting on these things.


For those of you non-Shirley people reading this (all four of you), I’m sorry.  Not sorry that you don’t understand all the references, but sorry you didn’t get to experience them with us.  But there’s more to come….surely.


The More Things Change….

The title refers to the theory that “kids these days” are digital natives, and need constant multi-media stimulation, and without it, they will not be engaged and therefore cannot learn. Hogwash. Because what happened yesterday in my class proved that children are still children, and all they need is a good story….and storyteller.

After a three day absence, we were happily reunited in the classroom on Thursday, and I was greeted with “Did you win anything?” (see, I told you kids are still kids!) and “What happened at the auction?”  Building suspense, I responded, “I’ll tell you all about it…..later!”  But not too much later – mainly because I couldn’t wait.  The scene looks like this….a teacher and her students, assembled on the carpet.  That’s it.  No iPads, no smartboards, no plugs, no flash. Just eyes wide open, laughs when applicable, oohs and ahhs.  And me.

I started with the adventure in the airport, and the flight diversion, playing down (WAY, WAY DOWN) my emotional response. In other words, I didn’t tell them that I acted like a total nutcase.  Children needn’t be exposed to everything. I told them about Shirley-Con, and how I played teacher, ringing my bell and even using the Class/Yes response.  They laughed heartily. They were with me every step of the way as I reenacted Dianne’s incredible win, as well as the next day’s Army strike when we scored the teacup lot. And as my story progresses, I realize what I’m doing.  I’m painting a picture of togetherness, of cooperation, of all-for-one.  In every snapshot I shared with them, the lesson was that we worked together, and that it is better than being on your own.

Naturally, “What did you win?” came up again.  As well as, “How much was it?”  We worked a little math into the equation – “This is how much I spent, but then I sold some things, so subtract this.  Then I bought another, so add that.”  There reactions were priceless.  Some thought it was a fortune, others said, “That’s not too bad!”  Ah, to be a kid.

When the story wrapped, I glanced at the clock.  They’d been sitting, engaged, mesmerized, 100 percent with me….for 45 minutes.  With just the sound of my voice and the movements (such as they were) of my body. So don’t tell me kids need flash.  Kids need real emotion, real feeling, real passion.  And that day, as on every other, they got it in my classroom.  Take Three and all it encompassed was mind-blowingly fulfilling…but so was the sharing.  As Shirley says in Bright Eyes, “I’m pretty lucky alright.”