Sunday, March 09, 2008

An imaginative way to spend a weekend

It was my oldest friend's idea. She's a member of the The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation (ALPLF) and found out through an email blast that they were presenting Having Our Say, a dramatization of The Delaney Sisters' outstanding memoir, right there in the Union Theater of the Lincoln Museum. Since it's a book she placed in my hands more than a decade ago, it was only fitting that she be the one I see the play with.

So we left for Spingfield after work on Friday night. Went to the Library and Museum on Saturday and saw a pair of fabulous new exhibits: "Packaging Presidents" about two centuries of political campaigns and "The Art of War," a very moving exhibit of almost 200 posters that illustrate how we were in WWI and WWII. Had dinner and returned to the museum after hours for the play. Stopped at the hotel bar for laughs and (believe it or not) a couple pots of tea. Took the train back today, and here I am.

It really wasn't expensive at all. Amtrak to and fro was less than $50. The hotel for two nights was $115 for each of us, but admission to the library and breakfast each day were included. The tickets to the play were less than $20 each.

But it was great fun. My oldest friend really makes me laugh. And I learned a lot. I finally saw the infamous LBJ "Daisy commercial," I was introduced to Belva Lockwood (one of America's first female lawyers and a Presidential candidate back in the 1880s), and saw how much was asked of American households in WWII. It was terrific to see Sarah and Bessie Delaney come to life. They "had their say" when they were 103 and 101 years old, the daughters of slaves, who went on to be New York's first female dentist (Bessie) and a Brooklyn home economics teacher (Sadie). I try to live by their advice: "Of every dollar, we put aside the first 10¢ for the Lord and the second dime for a rainy day."

Plus it's nice to get away: sleep in, eat breakfast that's been prepared for me, have a wildberry martini and laughs with dinner.

Not fair!

This makes me sad. I grew up on these guys, and Mike Smith was just two weeks from renewed glory. It's been said before, and I'll say it again, "Life isn't fair."


LONDON (AP) -- Dave Clark Five lead singer Mike Smith died of pneumonia Thursday, less than two weeks before the band is to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was 64.

Smith died at a hospital outside of London, his agent Margo Lewis said.

He was admitted to the intensive care unit Wednesday morning with a chest infection, a complication from a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed below the ribcage with limited use of his upper body. Lewis said he was injured when he fell from a fence at his home in Spain in September 2003.

Smith had been in the hospital since the accident, and was just released last December when he moved into a specially prepared home near the hospital with his wife.

"These last five years were extremely difficult for Mike. I am incredibly saddened to lose him, his energy and his humor, but I am comforted by the fact that he had the chance to spend his final months and days at home with his loving wife Charlie," Lewis said.

Smith wrote songs as well as singing and playing keyboards for the Dave Clark Five, one of many British rock acts whose music swept across the United States in the 1960s during the so-called British Invasion.

The Beatles are the best remembered, of course, but at the time the Dave Clark Five posed the strongest threat, commercially and critically, to their pre-eminence.

The Dave Clark Five claimed a string of U.S. hits, including "Because," "Glad All Over," and "I Like it Like That." By 1966, the band had made 12 appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show," then a record for any British group.

The group's antics were captured in John Boorman's 1965 documentary "Catch Us If You Can," which followed Smith and his band mates through the English city of Bristol.

While the group -- which broke up in 1970 -- was named after him, Dave Clark himself was the drummer.

The group is going to be inducted in the rock hall on March 10, a ceremony Lewis said Smith was trying to attend.

"We're very unhappy about the whole situation -- it's sad," Rock and Roll Hall of Fame President Joel Peresman said.

He said the ceremony would go ahead as planned, but that there would be "a little extra significance this year."

Said Lewis: "He was extremely excited and honored to have been inducted ... and I am glad that he will be remembered as a hall of famer, because he was in so many ways."

Smith is survived by his wife, Arlene (nicknamed Charlie).