Betty Stone: Jaunt to Memphis

October 3, 2009 7:36:00 PM

Betty Stone -


Churches have gotten so enthusiastic about taking care of their elderly (not elders) that some of the "old folks" are running around with their tongues hanging out, trying to keep up with the social schedule. I was talking to someone the other day who was going to a church covered-dish supper for their "Over Fifty" group. She and her husband were taking enough food to feed at least 15. Whether they are "Fifty, Sixty, or Seventy Plus," "Senior Class," or "Keenagers," they are busy. 


Recently I went with a group from my church to see "Chorus Line" in Memphis, Tenn. I haven''t been to Memphis in quite a while. It used to be a mecca when I was a little girl, and it still has some of that allure. As our own little girls grew, we went to Memphis more often. People said Mississippi had two big cities, Memphis and New Orleans; and Mississippians could go there with $10 and the Ten Commandments and not break either of them. 


Now we like to think we are at least a little bit more sophisticated, but we still enjoyed all the ambient excitement -- the rhythm of the nearby Beale Street band we could hear from our hotel; the shops, which some of our group took to like piranhas on a feeding frenzy; and the baroque and gilded elegance of the Orpheum Theatre. The play and the dancing were good, too, portraying the personal stories of dancers auditioning for a job on the chorus line. 


The "general" of our particular convoy vehicle, a van, was the effervescent Ron Locke, who has the gift of loving everybody. Even the constant rain couldn''t dampen our spirits, and the sun managed to shine on our return. 


The theater has always held a bit of magic for me. I just want to jump right over the footlights into the world of make-believe. 


The magic continued after the show. My roomie, Peggy Cantelou, spied a fairy tale carriage, Cinderella''s pumpkin, festooned with electric blue lights and glitter and drawn by a dramatic black steed. At first both of us hesitated to admit we were dying to ride in it, but after an uncertain wait of at least 30 seconds, we capitulated. Ron snared one (turned out to be a small fleet of them, different colors) and treated four of us to a post-theater ride. We rode all over the area, sheltered from the misty rain by a plastic cover that just seemed to make the raindrops sparkle like the blue lights that surrounded us. 


Our pumpkin''s driver was a British woman who called herself "Mary Poppins." She pronounced Peabody with a British accent, "Peabuddie." She had a cage holding two parakeets on the back of the carriage. One was white and one green. They were named Albert and Priscilla; and, according to those sitting near them, they kissed each other throughout our ride. How romantic! 


I think Ron spoke for all of us when he observed, "Isn''t it magical that simple things can give us so much joy?" 


So true. And although we "Keenagers" may indeed be of that certain age, I hope I don''t ever get too old to get a kick out of such simple things. 


I have sometimes felt out of place having someone provide entertainment for us golden-oldies. I still feel as if I should be the giver rather than the receiver, the worker instead of the pampered. But, you know what? I am adjusting to it rather well, and I thank our fearless leaders.

Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.