Well, where have you been?
The Early Bevboy series is where I discuss the events of my early life, up to around the age of 25 or so. If you click on the label associated with this post, you can find all the earlier chapters in this series.
It has been.. 10 months or so since the last edition of the Early Bevboy. I really must produce more of these, more often, but fate conspires against me. So does sleep. And transcribing long, long interviews.
Back in January, I promised that the next post would be about my first bicycle, but I have changed my mind.
This one goes back to 1985. May.
You are looking at a picture of actress Shirley MacLaine, on the occasion of her graduation from Acadia with an honourary degree in something or other. People have long since forgotten that she came to Acadia for this honour, all those years ago. I remember it very well indeed.
I did not take the picture that day, but I was on the campus. It was the second "Summer" during which I was working at the university library. My first 4 month job there, full-time, had been the previous year, 1984. I had started working there on a part-time basis in 1983. So impressed by my work was my boss, George Halliwell, that he decided to keep me on full-time the following summer.
(Yeah. I had a guaranteed job at a time when lots of students had to scratch to find any work. Sorry!)
The job was fun if you're a bibliophile like me. My job with George and Paulette was to put serials/magazines away all day, to compile lists of serials, to tidy up newspapers in the newspaper reading room, to serve the public. I loved that reading room and was disappointed when, a few years later, it disappeared in the name of building renewal. But I digress.
On that day in May, 1985, George took his camera, his film camera, and stood on the steps of university hall waiting for Ms. MacLaine to get close enough to get a good picture of her. I'm told that Mary Hart from Entertainment Tonight was standing not far from him. George, why didn't you get a picture of Mary Hart as well? Were you worried that Ann might be jealous? I mean, really!
(Oh, behind Shirley MacLaine, the bespectacled man is Dr. JRC Perkin, the then-President of Acadia. The man adjusting his jacket, whose face is partially obscured, is probably Alex Colville, the then Chancellor of Acadia, and the world-famous painter.)
Why did Shirley MacLaine agree to appear at Acadia university in the first place? This was a year after she had won the Oscar for Best Actress in "Terms of Endearment", one of my fave movies from the early 1980's, and one which I haven't seen in many years. Why, you ask?
Turns out that, as a little girl, she and her brother, Warren Beatty, had played in Wolfville and been friends with the boy who would grow up to become the Vice President Academic or something at Acadia that day. She spoke fondly of her time in Wolfville. I am pretty sure that her mother graduated from Acadia and those memories of her mother going there and her own times frolicking in town made her feel nostalgic for the place.
George got the picture, returned to work and made sure I got a copy of the picture he took. As you can see, I have kept it all these years.
Over the decades, I have looked at the picture many times, and misplaced it nearly as many times. It has reminded me, over and over, of the value of an education and my own years as a student there. They were an admixture of hard work, frustration and exhileration. I had some good times there. I had some profoundly crappy times there. But they were and are my memories and I cherish them more than I dread them. I guess that's all you can ask for out of a series of recollections such as these.
In recent years, Shirley MacLaine has become more and more shrill in her defence of reincarnation and the equally silly claptrap that goes along with it. I just like to think of her on that pleasant day in May, 1985, in a small part of the world that welcomed her and made her think of a simpler time.
That's why I do these silly things, these tales of Bevboy as a younger person. They remind me of an earlier time when life seemed easier and more carefree. Life has a way of glossing over the crap in one's life and making one think of the more pleasant aspects of it. I yearn for those times now, the pre-mortgage days before the years had washed my hair gray and my knees began to hurt going up and down the stairs. The funny thing is, if I'm still around in 20 years, I'll look back on 2011 as an easier time in my life, and right now, it seems like anything but.
Next time: I will get around to the tale of my first bicycle.
I remember that day as well, Bev! I wasn't there - I was working - you know where. But my late wife, Sandi, worked in University Hall and actually got Ms. MacLaine's autograph for me! You are correct, Ms. MacLaine's mother was an Acadia student (and graduate, I assume, although I can't confirm that). I remember Sandi telling me that Ms. MacLaine enjoyed her visit to Acadia, and particularly a reception held in her honour at one of the residences - I want to say Tully (Whitman House) but again, I'm not completely sure of that fact.
Nice memory. Thanks for taking me back! Not as nice as the memory I have of a personal concert by pianist Roger Williams prior to one of his concerts at U Hall, but a nice memory none-the-less!
Thanks for your recollections, Ken. If you wish, go ahead and scan in that autograph and I will include it with this blog post.
Haha - if I could find the autograph I would do that, but I wouldn't know where to start looking, that was a long time ago! I looked in the usual places I would keep something like that today without luck.
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