Story Time

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JANUARY 30, 2011

    Wow, have I been busy. It seems that the holidays have a way of putting you behind on all of your daily ins and outs, just from the getting it all outness and the putting it all backness of it. Plus, in the middle of my holidays, a bathroom renovation had to take place.....luckily we rent our home so the landlord sent some good folks over to do it, but they have been here for two weeks. With that said, and all the necessary excuses laid out there, I can now get back to writing my stories and posting my silliness on my website.

    I was reminded today of a time when I was working for Lynn Anderson. If you have read my other stories then you know how that came to be. I had an office in a little cabinesque outbuilding on her property, Tremont. It was tucked back in some trees and very quiet and cozy. I am feeling that cozy way today because the snow has lifted and I am outside in the fresh air at the picnic table writing. So with those Lynn Anderson days in mind, I bring you...


     Anyway, at Tremont, my bungalow was about 30 feet from Lynn's back door and had an intercom in my office if she needed me for anything. In the early part of the day, I would run errands and get things for the house and take notes in a notebook that she called "dailies". In the dailies, I would list all of the calls and visitors and happenings of the day. Afternoon, I would pick up her two children from school and my role would change to nanny.

    There were plenty of days that Lynn would buzz me to come into the house and just want to visit. We would have coffee and sometimes I would help her make her award winning salsa or we would bake her spice, macadamia nut cake supreme or just hang out. 

    I remember one day I took the mail inside to her and there was a package in it from a fan. We opened it together and inside was a wood carving of a guitar leaning on a rock with some flowers burned into the guitar. It was coated in about 100 coats of shellac and shined like new money. Whoever made it, made it with love, I'm just sayin'. The ironic feature to this object de' art was the inscription. Burned into the rock, in lovely scroll letters were the words: To Lynn Anderson, The STAND BY YOUR MAN lady. Ha.  For the record, Tammy Wynette is the STAND BY YOUR MAN lady. It was Lynn Anderson that never promised you a ROSE GARDEN.  We didn't quite know what to do. Did the artist that made this, love the song or the singer? Should we send this to Tammy? Well, we decided that proudly displaying it on a shelf in the kitchen was the thing to do with it. Chances are, Tammy would be there at some point and maybe they could make the final call together.

    Suffice it to say, I enjoyed working for Lynn. I enjoy Lynn as a friend and I know for a fact that she is a fabulous singer. She is always on point and ready to sing. She can, as they say, "bring it". Sidebar: Lynn actually e-mailed me a few weeks ago and gave me some great feedback and attaboys on my website. She likes the stories and was so great in her support. Thanks, Lynn.

    Since I worked for Lynn, I did not ever try to pitch her my songs or play my music for her. It just didn't come up. I respected her as an employer as well as a friend and did not want to cross the line when it came to business and friendship. I figured if it ever came up then it came up. I guess what I am trying to say is that at the time of THIS story, Lynn had NEVER heard me sing and didn't even know that I did. So remember that, for later.

    SOOO, one day, Lynn's publicist called and had booked Lynn a gig, a week from then, in Pensacola, Florida at an Air Force base. It turned out that some retiring high ranked officer was a fan of Lynn's and wanted her to come to a big retirement event and give the key note speech and eat dinner at a big banquet after the event.  For the week leading up to the event, I said to Lynn, at least twice a day, "you better write your speech". She said, "okay". I moved on.

    On the day she was scheduled to leave, she was so tired from coming off the road that it was decided that I would go with her just to make sure that things ran smoothly. Well, let me tell you something, when the military makes your travel arrangements and books your comings and goings, they are top notch. We got a portfolio with our instructions, to the minute and we were off. We took the "car" to the airport where we were booked to fly, First Class, to Pensacola. We checked our bags and were walking into the airport when Lynn broke her heel on something. Now, it didn't come all the way off, but it was hanging on by a thread. Instead of taking the shoes off, Lynn just walked on the ball of her foot on what can only be referred to as "Barbie Toe" and never put her weight down on the back of the shoe. It was one of the most remarkable things I've ever seen. IN AN AIRPORT!! She managed to walk the terminal to the gate without ever losing the shoe. Really.

    We made our flight to Pensacola and got in our "car" and went to our VIP Quarters on base.  We were greeted at our suite by our assigned Ensign that was there to pretty much be available to take us anywhere to get anything at anytime. Are you kidding me? Now you're talkin'.  Lynn and I both stopped at the door of our suites and just dropped our jaws. I have never seen anyplace so orderly and immaculate in my whole life. Lynn made the gesture of someone that was pushing a vacuum to draw my attention to the vacuum marks on the floor. They were precision. It was like they had each been measured. We didn't want to walk on it.  Our Ensign brought in our luggage and asked us if there was anything else we needed. Lynn said "no,I'm going to nap" and I said, "can I shop at the commissary while I'm here?". My Ensign took my arm and said "I'd be happy to take you there and give you a pass to buy whatever you like".  Off we went. In the "car" I had a chance to get to know my driver and he took me on a great tour of the city and the base and I bought some souvenirs and a disposable camera. I just had to get a picture of the vacuum marks. I don't have that photo anymore, woe is me. Another thing that I bought was a baseball. I had heard that Nolan Ryan was the other guest and speaker at the gala and I wanted to make sure to get a baseball signed for someone very special.

    The next morning, there was a light flashing on my phone. I picked up the phone and my Ensign answered and offered me a list of items that he could have delivered to my suite. I LOVE efficiency and military efficiency is like regular efficiency with whipped cream on top.  I placed my order and started getting ready and checked in with Lynn. "Got your speech ready?" I asked. "yeah, yeah, have you tried these biscuits?" she replied. I was starting to get a little worried about the speech myself, but Lynn seemed unaffected so I just said, "yeah, the biscuits are outstanding, did you notice the starch on those napkins?". We hung up to get ready and met the "car" and went to the venue. I still didn't see a speech. I didn't see any hidden writing on her palm or any note cards or any indication of any speech anywhere.

    We arrived at the venue and Lynn and several high ranking officers and Nolan Ryan all took their place on the stage. One by one they gave their speeches and then it was Lynn's turn. Without any notes of any kind, Lynn walked up to the microphone and gave one of the most outstanding speeches I have ever heard. She was funny, insightful and way more knowledgeable about the military than I ever expected. The crowd LOVED her. Close to the end of the speech, I noticed that she was wearing the broken shoe. OMG!! First the airport and now a stage with steps and a huge crowd and an unrehearsed speech. Not only did I learn on that day that Lynn is the queen of making a "Barbie Toe" in a shoe emergency, she truly IS always on point, like I said before. She rose to the occasion and was the best one there. No speech, broken shoe, the best one there.

    The rest of the evening was great fun, too. I sat with Nolan Ryan and got my baseball signed, Lynn sang Rose Garden with just a piano accompaniment at the dinner and nailed it. I hobnobbed with some wonderful people and had some VIP treatment for a great few days in Pensacola. It was a trip to remember. Lynn and I were taken aboard the USS Pensacola and met the Captain of the ship. He gave me an authentic cap and even signed the brim next to the scrambled eggs. I gave it to my Father, he has it on his hat wall.

    You probably think that what you just read was the story, but that is just part of the story. The punchline and MY favorite part was what happened on the way BACK from Pensacola.

    We boarded the plane headed back to Nashville. Since we were in First Class, we were seated on the front row. There were some young people headed back to Nashville after spring break that were filing in and headed to the coach section when one of them stopped. He was about 20 and very cute and excited. He stepped out of the aisle where he was facing both Lynn and I in the middle of our seats. He said, "Oh wow, I heard you sing one night at Tootsie's in Nashville and you were fantastic". He gushed even, on and on about how the hair on the back of his neck stood up when he heard the performance. After he finished his long but sincere compliment, Lynn said "Wow, well thank you so much". What happened next was in a word...priceless. He looked at Lynn and then at me with a very perplexed look on his face and said TO LYNN "Oh, are you a singer too?". (I am laughing a little right now).

    Who knew? He was talking to ME. It was irony at it's finest. Turns out, he had seen me sing at Tootsie's one night and according to him, loved it. I thanked him profusely with what had to be a mischievous grin on my face and then began the recovery of the moment. I said to my new fan, "Yes, this is Lynn Anderson, she is the one who made the song ROSE GARDEN famous and is a great singer". Okay, get ready, cause HE SAID "Oh, yeah, I've heard of you, you're my Grandmother's favorite singer".  At that point, being the catty one I can be sometimes, I just had to pat Lynn on the knee and say "You're his Grandmother's favorite singer", pat pat. He finally made his way to his seat and left Lynn and I there to recap. Well, because Lynn has a great sense of humor, she saw the humor in this as much as I did. Good thing, because this was some funny stuff right here. I don't care who you are.

    On the plane ride back, Lynn asked ME about my singing and writing. She was very interested to find it out and told me she wanted me to sing her something sometime. Well, she meant it. When we got back to Tremont and got all unpacked and I was leaving for the day, Lynn called me in her office. She had a great office in that house. It looked like the office that Victoria Barkley had on Big Valley. Lots of wood and western influence. Nice overstuffed leather chairs and sofas and a gorgeous cherry desk with gold accents. Very grand. There was a keyboard right outside the door. As I entered the office, Lynn said "since you're a singer "too", sing something." So I did. I sang a song that I wrote called YOU WOULDN'T KNOW A GOOD THING. I remember that because when you get a chance to sing for your mentors and your peers, you don't ever forget it. When I finished singing, Lynn said, "I see what that kid meant about you". That was a great response for me. Especially from her. After all, she is a singer, too.

    Over the years, as with all working relationships, Lynn and I would have our little tiffs. What that kid said on the plane became sort of a code between Lynn and I when I would get a little annoyed. I would look at her with a smile on my face and say "what? are you a singer too?". With that said, she would usually just laugh and shake her head.



Click on Lynn's picture, where she proves she's a singer too!  With a great classic rendition of
Barbie Toe
A shout out to the
lady, Tammy Wynette. From the ROSE GARDEN lady.  CLick on Tammy's photo to hear her sing her biggest hit! Fantastic!
Victoria Barkley's office and sitting room on Big Valley. Very western and big and comfy, like Lynn's. And just in case you are trying to rack your brain to remember the Big Valley theme song, click on the photo above for a little reminder.