Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Good Bye Mr. Dressup

Twelve years ago today, I was working in the newsroom. I had finished the morning show and was preparing our noon show. It was one week after 9-11 and things were still surreal. There were so many stories coming out of NYC and all over the US. Stories of tragedy. Horrific images that I never expected to see.

I'll never forget when I heard the little "alert" notification go off on the computer and our producer Chris say "Mr. Dressup is gravely ill." Before I had time to process what she said, I heard her say "Mr. Dressup has died."

Mr. Dressup was my absolute favourite childhood TV show. His show was full of a great cast of characters, music, crafts and imagination. Even as I got older, I would still enjoy an episode if I happened to turn on CBC at the right moment.

My mom had taken me to see him at Petrolia Playhouse when I was six and it was beyond my comprehension that I could say hello and get an autograph from my hero. I nearly wore out that cassette tape Wake Up Mr. Dressup (and could probably still sing all the words to all the songs!)

In my college years, I was fortunate enough to score an interview with him when he retired. What a highlight!

And yet, here I was, in the middle of a working newsroom when I heard of his death. A newsroom that really could care less about the passing of a Canadian icon, given the situation happening around us.

During the days that followed 9-11 my emotions were on alert. Swinging from panic and fear to sadness and disbelief. It was a traumatic event for everyone. When I heard about Mr. Dressup, my eyes welled up. I had to get out of the newsroom before anyone saw me. So, I went to the staff lounge and called my mom. (really, who else would you call in such a time?) I had a little cry and it felt good to release some emotion.

What really surprised me was the reaction from my coworkers when I went back to the newsroom. Everyone knew of my fondness for Ernie Coombs and expressed such kind words. Even when I got home that day, I had several messages on my answering machine. Everyone had thought of me when they heard the news.

As I realized today was the anniversary of this event, I wanted to share my thoughts on a man that inspired so many children. A Canadian legend that taught us songs, talked about feelings and asked advice from an owl hanging on the wall :) A time when children's television didn't have to be loud and obnoxious and last 2 minute intervals. A time when the tickle trunk opened a world of possibility. Thanks Mr. Dressup.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Matters of the heart can be a complex thing. You see, when you give your heart to someone, a little piece of it will always stay with them.

While it is true there is always more love to go around, sometimes, long after the fact, that little piece causes you to wince. Maybe not an overwhelming pain, but a twinge of melancholy and thoughts of what was.

Giving your heart to someone leaves you wide open and vulnerable. And while the payoff of love can be huge and well-worth the risk, the hurt can sometimes pop up when you least expect it.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Homeward Bound

I'm sittin' in the railway station, got a ticket for my destination.

Anyone who knows anything about Simon and Garfunkel will recognize those words as the opening of Homeward Bound. (Quite possibly my favourite S&G song)

And, anyone who knows anything about Janice Mills will know that Paul Simon and his partnership with Art Garfunkel rank at the top of my favourite music.

So, imagine, if you will...

The year is 2000. I've just completed a three week tour of Europe and am now in England meeting up with my Grammie in Manchester who is serendipitously also in England. I've decided to take the train to Liverpool to see the birthplace of the Beatles.


The train inexplicably stops. There is a garbled message on the loudspeaker and everyone starts disembarking. I wasn't sure what was going on, but another passenger informed me we had to switch trains. I gathered my belongings and stepped off with the others. We had to wait a good 20 minutes to half an hour for the next train to arrive.

In the meantime, we all waited. There was not a lot to this train station, just a platform for waiting. Actually, there was supposed to be something else at this train station that would have caught my attention, had I seen it. But, it was missing. Literally...it had been stolen recently. (I didn't realize this until I returned to Canada and heard about it in the news) The commemorative plaque claiming that Paul Simon wrote Homeward Bound at this very train station. Can you believe it? I sure couldn't!

It was while we were waiting that I discovered this amazing tidbit. The gentleman next to me commented "Of all the stations to be stuck at, of course it would be Widnes. There's not even a toilet here. No wonder Paul Simon wrote Homeward Bound here." [insert record scratch sound effect here] I was astounded at his casual comments and immediately demanded more information. Unfortunately, it was just as the train was pulling in and my camera was packed away in my bag.

Some stories just deserve retelling and this is certainly one of them. Hope you've enjoyed my tale.