Thursday, July 31, 2008

An Evening With Richard Sherman

Richard Sherman with his two Oscars for Mary Poppins.

Disney Cruise Item Number 5

We were fortunate to have been on the same cruise as Richard and Elizabeth Sherman. He doesn't take these that often but Richard had a working vacation cruise with his family which happened to be the same one we were on. One of the evening shows featured him at the piano demonstrating and telling stories about his career in songwriting.

Who is Richard Sherman? The soundtrack of our childhood resonates with beloved songs written by the Sherman Brothers. Richard and his brother Robert. Their career spans almost 50 years and includes two Academy Awards for Walt Disney's "Mary Poppins" - Best Score and "Chim Chim Cher-ee" - Best Song. Other musical honors include three Grammy Awards, 24 gold and platinum albums, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and introduction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

1960 marked the start of a phenomenal multi-year association with film producer Walt Disney, during which time they composed over 150 songs for his films, TV shows, and theme parks. Their Disney credits include the films "Jungle Book," "The Parent Trap," "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," "The Sword in the Stone," "The Aristocats," "The Happiest Millionaire," the "Winnie the Pooh" films, and of course, "Mary Poppins," among many others.

The Sherman Brothers worked directly for Walt Disney until Disney's death in 1966. Since leaving the company, the brother songwriting team has worked freelance on scores of motion pictures, television shows, theme park exhibits, and stage musicals. There is always Sherman Brothers music playing somewhere on the globe through such beloved attractions as "Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room," "It's a Small World" (whose unforgettable and often parodied title song is considered among the most translated and performed songs on earth), "The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh," and "Carousel of Progress".

In 2000, The Sherman Brothers wrote the song score for Disney's blockbuster film: The Tigger Movie. This film marked the brothers first major motion picture for the Disney company in over 28 years.

Since 2002, Robert Sherman has lived in London, England. He moved from Beverly Hills while Richard remained in California. Surprisingly however, the separation has not impeded the brothers collaborative process. The brothers have credited this to the technological advents of fax machines, email, and low cost international telephone service. Also, both brothers travel between Los Angeles, New York, and London frequently which also facilitates their work. Since Robert's move, the brothers have continued to collaborate on various musical plays. Richard Sherman said that he would "never" retire! He loves what he does and that keeps him a young 80 year old.

One afternoon he gave a question and answer meeting where the audience could ask him anything and even get a musical rendition of the song they asked about. One of the most asked question was "How did you make up the word Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? Here is his answer:

"That's a word we sort of concocted from our childhood when we used to make up double talk words. In the screenplay version of Mary Poppins we wanted her to give the children a gift they could bring back with them from inside the chalk drawing when they came out into the real world. If it was a tangible thing like a seashell or pine cone it would disappear. So we said, 'Remember when we used to make up the big double talk words', we could make a big obnoxious word up for the kids and that's where it started. Obnoxious is an ugly word so we said atrocious, that's very British. We started with atrocious and then you can sound smart and be precocious, we had precocious and atrocious and we wanted something super colossal and that's corny, so we took super and did double talk to get califragilistic which means nothing, it just came out that way. That's in a nut shell what we did over two weeks. All together you get Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."

(The above information was found on the internet but he discussed all of this in his meetings.)

Our family had the privilege of running into the Shermans several times and they began to consider us friends. They would stop and talk to us when we met up and even consented to be included in our family picture in our Pirate's makeup for Pirate Theme Night.
Richard & Elizabeth Sherman with Dick & Ann and the Ostranders being pirates!

His last working public appearance on the ship was an autograph session which was scheduled for 45 minutes. It ran 1 hour and 45 minutes. Our granddaughters, Hannah and Rachel, stayed in line holding number 80 (out of 100) until they could get him to sign his autograph and get pictures with him. He took all the time you needed and was very gracious to everyone. His wife, Elizabeth, was there waiting and came over to talk to us once more. They are a very humble couple and someone you would like to know.

Hannah & Rachel with Richard Sherman at autograph session.

The latest DVD version of Mary Poppins has a long addition with Richard Sherman talking, demonstrating, and interviewing giving viewers and insider's look at making the film. Worth picking up for the additional information.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Let The Chips Fall Where They May

Disney Cruise Item Number 4

One of the afternoon activities they offered on this cruise was a golf chipping contest. In the main lobby they laid out a rug designed with several point values on it. Sometimes it is plus 15 and sometimes it is minus 3. You get three shots a round and a couple of rounds to get your final score and then they declare a winner. The day before this contest I wasn't able to make the time for the chipping contest and heard that a 12 years old girl had won. The cutoff age for this event was 12.

The ball was one of the whiffle balls with Velcro strips around them. The yellow one was for double points. That strip made the balls hit and stick. No rolling at all. where you hit it, that is where it stayed.

Check out that form! We got to practice a few before hitting for good.

On this contest day that 12 year old girl was there again! Her name was Lexie (probably for Alexis) and was an athletic person who played soccer and other active games in school but not golf. There were probably six contestants for this test of your skills and take a wild guess who won? Well, it wasn't me! It was Lexie again. Then they had a "chip off" for the two next highest scores and that was Lexie's dad and myself.

We both got one shot. The highest score got second place. We both hit the same spot! So a tie was declared and we each got a prize of two Disney Cruise golf balls and some tees in a case. We also won a medal to hang around our necks that said "I'm A Winner" in the shape of (be surprised) Mickey's head and ears. I wore mine the rest of the afternoon. Why not brag a little?

Dick and his prize winnings. I know exactly where I can lose them!

Lexie's Dad, Lexie, and Dick. Organizer of the contest is in back.

Lexie and her family live in the San Francisco area. Nice family.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

53 Years And Counting

Today (July 22) is our anniversary. Our 53rd anniversary! Where has the time gone? How come I can remember so many events and place years to them during these 53 years? I'm too young to be married this long!

But the truth is -- Ann and I were married on July 22, 1955 in Kansas City, Missouri at our home church. Ann was born in Kansas City and started attending Kansas City First Church of the Nazarene when she was able to go to church. Her father, Robert A. Edwards, was the treasurer for over 40 years. Her mother, Mildred Speakes Edwards, was the organist for as long.

I came to Kansas City from Celina, Ohio in September 1949. My Uncle Ray and Aunt Edith invited me to live in their home. I was at my grandparents home from 1942 to 1949 and grandmother was in failing health when I was asked if I would move to Kansas City to live with an uncle and aunt. They had one child -- Kathy -- age 18 months. I accepted their invitation and began a whole new life. Moved from a small town of 5,000 people to a very large city.

A day or two after I arrived, I went with Ray & Edith to the Edwards home which was one and a half blocks from them. Ray had to see Mildred Edwards about some music (Ray Moore was the Minister of Music) and I sat in the living room being uncomfortable as their daughter, Ann, was there. I was 15 years old and Ann was 14. I was not into meeting girls at that age. Not interested at all. But -- Ann had different plans. After the visit she told her mother "that is the man I will marry"! How did she know?

I dated a couple of girls in the next three years but only a couple of times. Again, I was not into that. I went to Pasadena Nazarene College in the fall of 1952 and Ann came there in 1953. We had a "standing" agreement that if she didn't have a date on Friday, we'd do something like miniature golf, go out for a hamburger, go see one of the Radio/TV shows in Hollywood, etc. Funny how she happened to not have any plans on Friday evenings.

We started going steady in February 1954 and engaged a year later. It's been quite a journey and I wouldn't change a thing.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, ANN. Thanks for being my wife and the mother of our kids, Rick and Brenda.
53 years and counting!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Erin Ochoa - Disney Cruise Cast Member

Disney Cruise Item Number 3

We attend Saddleback Valley Community Church (plug) in Lake Forest on Saturday nights at the 4:30 p.m. service. Sitting around us are friends that make up our "church" and we get caught up on things we are doing. Right behind us every week are Buzz and Loretta Busby. I was chatting with Loretta on June 28th and told her that the next day we were going on a cruise on the Disney Magic for a seven day trip to the Mexican Riviera. She got excited about that because her granddaughter, Erin Ochoa, works on that ship in the Children's Activities. She showed me a picture of Erin and I told her that I would try to find her and tell her that we know her grandmother.

Do you know that there were 2,700 passengers and 1,000 crew on that ship? Finding someone is pretty difficult but we set out to do it. Went to the Children's Activities room and asked about her. She wasn't around that time so we thought we'd try later. One of the staff told Erin that someone was looking for her and she didn't have a clue who it might be.

A later visit to a room where children's activities were going on turned up good information. Erin is somewhat of a standout on a cruise ship -- she is from the United States of America! Most of the crew comes from all over the world but very few from the U.S. The girl that I asked (from another country) told me exactly where she was at that moment. At the children's pool on Deck 9. She was watching the kids and keeping order.

We went to Deck 9 and the pool and there was one (1) staff member there -- Erin! We caught her at a very busy time as she had to get all the kids out of the pool -- an "accident" had occurred and they would have to close the pool for 4 hours while chemicals took care of the problem. When she had a moment, I went up to her and said that Loretta Busby sent me. Her look at me was interesting -- she said "that's my grandma"! We took the pictures shown here on this story and chatted with her for a few minutes.

Erin had just started on the Disney Cruise Lines and the Disney Magic about 4 weeks earlier and loved her job. I wish we had more time to get better acquainted with her but time is limited when you are working as she was. Perhaps when she has her two month vacation we will be able to chat more.

Ann makes beautiful cards of events or greetings using pictures. She made a card for Loretta and gave it to her when we returned to church after the cruise. Since then she has made one for Erin and her mother and gave them to Loretta. Something to remember a chance meeting that we had with Erin.

Ann Moore with Erin Ochoa on the Disney Magic cruise ship.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Making Mealtimes Fun -- John, David & Adrian

Disney Cruise Item Number 2

This is the family at the Parrot Cay dining room.

When you think of a cruise, what comes to mind first? Is it the destination and ports of call? Activities on board? Entertainment? Relaxing? Chances are -- it's the food! 24 hours a day availability! Anything you want or desire. Don't want to leave your room? Call Room Service! The cruise director said that the people come on board as passengers and leave as cargo! There is a lot of truth in that.

On our Disney Magic cruise this month we experienced something that we hadn't in the eight previous cruises -- rotating among three restaurants on board. We are usually assigned a restaurant and you stayed there for all meals. On this cruise, you get to visit all three eating places AND your dining room staff goes with you. We had the late seating at 8:30 p.m. for our dinner. Most times we finished between 10:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. That is late but we managed.

Those working in the restaurants come from all over the world. You name a country and chances are there is someone from that country working there. Our dining room staff consisted of John from Scotland who was the Head Server over an area of several servers, David from Czechoslovakia was our Server and Adrian from New Zealand was his Assistant Server. They were responsible for three tables I believe. Brenda and her family have been on this same ship for the last two years in the Caribbean and then found out that it was coming to the West Coast for the summer cruises to the Mexican Riviera this year. They know some of the staff and were very pleased to get John as the Head Server since he was responsible for Hannah's meals before (she is allergic to many foods). Here is a picture of John and Hannah at our table.

David and Adrian entertaining everyone in a parade.

The rotation and same staff is for the evening meal only. During the day you have several choices for breakfast and lunch. You will not get your usual server most likely as you are placed at a table where they want you to be served. So you get a chance to meet other servers which was nice. The three places are Parrot Cay (see picture above), Lumiere's, and Animator's Palate. They are all unique which enhances your dining pleasure.

We had this young lady from Italy as our Assistant Server for breakfast one morning. The difference in height told me this was a "Kodak Moment". Yes, our daughter is tall -- but this girl is really short too!

John always insisted on riding Ann's scooter back to an area he could park it and then when we were ready to leave, he got the key from us and brought the scooter back. He didn't take the short way back and enjoyed using the horn to let everyone know he was coming. Here is a picture of John on the scooter.

David and Adrian loved having their picture taken and even tried to get into some family pictures that we were taking at the table.

Adrian had some puzzles he showed us using crayons that taxed your brain trying to figure out the answers. Those were always fun. One time Brenda ordered hot tea and he asked her if she was calling him a "hottie". Adrian is 25 years old and has visited 40 countries so far.

The dining staff sign a contract for four months and literally work every day for most of the day. They do get some time off but not much. They finish one meal and then start working on getting the place ready for the next one. Not an easy job. Then if they re-up (sign a new contract) they are flown back to their home country for a two month vacation and then back to the ship for their next tour of duty. The two month vacation is not paid but they rely on the tips given them at the end of each cruise for their service. They do a great job and you don't mind helping them out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

To All The Girls I've Loved Before

In the summer of 1995, I found a karaoke place near us in Huntington Beach that was called "Only You" and it had rooms for you to do your singing and recording should you wish to do that. One of the songs I noticed on the list was this title song "To All The Girls I've Loved Before". The background music was from the recording of Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias who made the song famous.

I remember Johnny Carson and Julio did that once on the Johnny Carson Tonight Show and I have the video tape of it. So I copied it and sent it to my friend Dave Cole in Northern California. I said that we needed to do that song together on the Talent Show on a 5 day cruise to Ensenada that we were taking in July. This was one of the times Dave and Marlene Cole were getting together with Ann and I to celebrate the ladies birthdays as I mentioned in a recent posting. We practiced this separately and then when they came down to go on the cruise we went to the karaoke place to work on it. We decided to just sing it straight using our own voices -- I was Willie and he was Julio.

Here is a picture of Dave and I singing that song on the Talent Show on Viking Serenade.

We got a great response from the crowd and the cruise director enjoyed it very much as well. All participants in the Talent Show got a medal to hang around their necks.

Sometime in the fall of 1995 our church (Pacific Christian Community Church in Irvine) decided to do a Hootenanny night showing the talents of the members. I got in touch with Jeff Harrison who sang with me in the choir and told him about the song. He wanted to do it and wanted us to impersonate the two stars who made it famous including costumes. But we were not to see each other at the show until we were on the stage. i didn't know what he was wearing and he didn't know what I was wearing. I had a wig with pigtails, a bandana, a scruffy beard, a tee shirt that had "The Legend Lives On" printed on the front. And jeans.

I led the song off with just me on stage singing a phrase and then Jeff came out to join me for the next phrase. You can see in the video below our reaction seeing each other for the first time in our costumes. As you can also see and hear, the crowd loved it! Click on the picture and be sure your sound is on and up.

Jeff and I did that song once again at my private retirement party in June 1996. Sees to be a favorite and I hope you find it enjoyable as well.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Same Time, Next Year"

First things first -- today (July 13th) is Ann's birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANN!

Eighteen years ago today was a special time we had with our friends, Dave and Marlene Cole. You see, Ann and Marlene were born on the same day -- July 13, 1935. They didn't know each other until they arrived at Pasadena Nazarene College in September 1953. They sang together in a ladies trio/quartet for the college raising money for endowments. The two are like sisters and have been close friends since the day they met.

I wrote a story about that incident 18 years ago and it was published in the company paper at my work in 1990. I was writing a series of articles on "Marriage 101 - How To Keep Your Marriage From Getting Stale!" At that time we had been married for 35 years and now if you would just reverse those numbers you will see that this year we are celebrating our 53rd year together.

Here is the article as written ---

Same Time, Next Year

You probably remember the movie or play of the same title. Well, this story is different, but the outcome was very much the same.

In order to properly set the scene, we have to go back to 1952. That is the year I left Missouri and came west to California to attend Pasadena Nazarene College. (The college has been relocated to Point Loma in San Diego since I attended there.) In my freshman class was a guy from El Paso, Texas, named Dave Cole. We knew each other but didn't become friends until the next year when our respective spouses-to-be came to the college as well.

Marlene Webb and Ann Edwards started with the new freshman class of 1953. This college had singing groups that traveled representing the college to help raise money for its needs. Those traveling in one of the groups would have their tuition, room and board paid the following semester. Ann and Marlene traveled together in a ladies trio/quartet over the next two years and became close friends. Dave also traveled in a male quartet and became acquainted with Marlene. I knew Ann since we both came from Kansas City living 1 1/2 blocks from each other. We attended the same high school and church.

Well, in June 1955, Dave and Marlene were married. In July of the same year Ann and I were married. We have been close friends these last 35 years (ed note- now 53) and seeing each other when possible. The Coles live in Yuba City where he is superintendent of schools, and distance doesn't allow frequent contact, but when we are together we don't miss a beat.

An interesting fact is that Marlene and Ann were born on the same day. This year they celebrated their "55th". Earlier this year, the Coles were in Orange County on school business, and Dave called me at work. Our schedules didn't allow us to get together, but we discussed the upcoming birthdays and wanted to do something for them without their knowledge. We came up with the following plan.

Dave called for reservations at the Blue Dolphin Inn on the beach at Cambria, which is 18 miles north of Morro Bay on Highway 1. He told Marlene that they were going away for that weekend. No further details would be given. I sent Ann a "formal" invitation printed on my word processor at home which read:

In honor of your 55th birthday, July 13, 1990, you are invited to a delightful three-day two-night trip by car. Please clear your calendar July 13th, 14th, and 15th. You will love it! No further details will be given until July 13th. Happy Birthday! Love, Dick.

From the time she got it until we left, questions, questions, questions. She pumped the kids who didn't know anything. "Will it be cold or warm"? What do I pack? How long will it take to get there? Have we been there before? I learned to be very evasive in my answers.

On the day we left, I gave her a birthday card. She knew beyond any doubt that the card would divulge where she was going for the weekend. But not even a clue! She had some destinations in mind but started eliminating them as we drove. The traffic through LA slowed us up, so we were behind schedule.

We neared San Luis Obispo, and I told her that it had been a long time since we had been in Morro Bay so we should drive over there. All we did there was to take some video pictures and drive on. Now she was really confused. Up the road a ways we saw a sign about Cambria. Several years ago we stayed at a motel there called Cambria Shores. She said, "Do you remember the little town of Cambria?" I said let's drive through the town and see it again. At the end of town I had to either drive on north on Highway 1 or cross the highway to the frontage road where the motels are located. We drove across. I turned in four motels later at the Blue Dolphin Inn. "Is this where we are staying?" I said, "Yes, but that's only half the story". Now she was really confused! I asked her to stay in the car while I checked in.

Dave and Marlene were in the tearoom, and he saw us drive in. They went for a walk and headed for our car. I heard a scream and saw the two gals flying towards each other. We laughed that entire weekend.

The Inn had an agreement with a local restaurant called Stratos to come and pick you up in a limousine. I made reservations for 7:00 p.m. and another surprise for the gals. We were driven to dinner in a white stretch Cadillac limo, were made over by the restaurant personnel, and enjoyed a leisurely dinner and a limo ride back to the Inn. What a birthday party! It was something they will never forget.

Limo ride for the Moores and the Coles

Our table for 3 hours at Stratos with the Birthday Girls

The rest of the weekend was spent seeing the area and just being together. Since we used to sing together, we ended our visit Sunday morning on a log by the beach singing for a while. As we parted, both couples said "Same Time Next Year." This will be an annual event.


We did get together the next year at the same place and did somewhat the same things we did the year before. Different restaurant since Stratos was out of business. The following years we went to different places for our birthday weekend. This went on for a number of years but our schedules sometimes had us missing a year or two. The last time we were together was in November 2006 when we attended the 50th Reunion of our (Dick & Dave) graduation class of 1956 which was held at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. Great times, great memories, great friends.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Week Of Magic On The Disney Magic

Leaving on our cruise --
Back row - Dick, Brenda Scott
Front row - Ann, Hannah, Rachel

We've been planning (and saving) for one year for one week on a cruise ship. This started last June 2007 when our daughter, Brenda, and her family wanted us to join them on the Disney Magic for a seven day cruise to the Mexican Riviera. They had been on this same ship the last two years taking the East & West Caribbean cruises. Now the Magic was coming to the West Coast and they signed up for another magical cruise wanting Nana and Papa to go with them.

We've been to Mexico a number of times and it wouldn't have been our choice of locations but the family wanted us to join them so we agreed. We've taken three 5 day cruises from LA to Catalina Island to San Diego to Ensenada and back to LA. We took the Panama Canal trip from Florida to San Diego and stopped in four ports in Mexico on the way. Two of the ports were ones that we stopped at on this current trip.

In 1975 we were a part of the 120 voice choir from Melodyland Christian Center that flew to Mexico City for a week of concerts. We also took a bus over to Pueblo (about 100 miles) for one of the concerts.

We pretty much have seen all of Mexico that we want to see so we decided to stay on board while our family took the excursions when we were in port. Besides, Ann had her electric scooter to get around on and you don't board a tender boat with a scooter at Cabo San Lucas to go into the city. The other two ports visited by Disney Magic were Mazatlan and Puerta Vallarta where you could walk directly off the ship. We saw them from Deck 9 as we were relaxing and reading. At Puerta Vallarta there is a WalMart and Sam's Club near our docking that we could see!

Over the next two months I will be writing stories and showing you pictures of our magical week. Stay tuned!