You can't go wrong with a Hollywood Theme!
It would be an easy theme, because I figured folks over 60 love recalling the days of Old Hollywood. We could talk about old stars and directors. I could even talk about the Oscars and how one of the movies up for Best Picture this past Sunday, had my daughter's name in the credits. (I would be honest and say it was nearly the last name, since she was just an intern)
But we got off to a rough start with my Quilt Group at the Community Center. My Spanish speakers were on one side of the table and a few English speakers sat opposite. No interpreters today? I pantomimed with one group and they laughed and taught me Spanish words for movie and popcorn and actor. My English speakers were ready to discuss Meryl Streep's acceptance speech. How could I please both groups?
What about my great stories?
I had planned on telling the story about my Grandmother Meyer being in a movie as child. How she was given a 5 dollar gold piece for pretending to be hit by a car. I was also going to tell about my mother seeing Shirley Temple in a Hollywood shoe store when she was 6.
No stories today. My instincts told me that this would be an awkward gathering and I would probably just end a little early...and go home to start learning Spanish!
Costumes and Props unite the group!
But I was wrong! A few others arrived and our playful group began picking up feather boas and white gloves and movie star photos off the table. We started talking about songs from old movies and suddenly learned we had a real singer in our group. "On a Clear Day, You can see forever..." a sweet voice boomed out of nowhere! Minutes later the group was applauding and one song lead to another. Our songs lead to a spontaneous contest to win a trip to Hollywood by tossing a plastic disc into the empty popcorn box. The noise attracted a curious man who was waiting on his wife in another room. He ended up telling us a story about his brother-in-law who worked on the movie "Giant".
We ended later than usual. I was glad my instincts had been wrong.
Off to my second group in the afternoon...
I should have trusted my instincts when I walked inside the building. When I saw the ladders and hanging plastic outside of our meeting room, I should have just lugged my stuff back to the car and taken my mom for a walk in the garden, instead. But everyone loves Hollywood, I thought. Once in the room, we could escape the remodeling distraction and glide right into a cozy world of Fred Astaire and Clark Gable.
It worked briefly. I plugged in the I-Pod for a little "Puttin' on the Ritz" background music. Lucy threw on a bit of fur and raved over James Dean. Martha tried on long white gloves and we remembered when people dressed up just to go to the movies.
But then I opened our door, because the room was stuffy. In a matter of minutes I lost the focus of the group. I couldn't compete with the stilt walking painters in the main room. Our open door lured one group member to wander off and invited other residents in. I helped usher out the friends who didn't want to sit down and join us. And I stepped out to encourage my wandering member back...and then I noticed my I-Pod was missing.
What's an I-Pod?
"It's that little radio thing that was playing our music." I tried to explain. Libby in her pink boa tried to help me look under books and spilled popcorn. I fretted that it had accidently walked off with someone and I inwardly scolded myself for being foolish enough to bring something expensive and easy to loose.
I even had two staff members help me. One looked through the trash. ( you just never know) and the other found it, neatly closed inside a scrapbook. I thanked them both as they rushed off attend to their many duties. I felt embarrassed that sometimes my "volunteering" ends up creating more work for the staff.
What I learned about Instincts:
I'm glad that my instincts in the morning were wrong. We had an awkward start, but we ended with lots of laughter and even hugs. In the afternoon I wished I had followed my instincts and held off doing my group in the midst of remodeling...that is until I got home and saw the pictures of Libby smiling with the film can and Lucy grinning with James Dean. Their faces don't reflect the stress of a missing I-Pod or the distracting stilt walkers. Okay, I'm glad we had our group ...I'm just not going to think about instincts anymore.
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.