Authors on the Bench

September’s Question

Seeing what animal/landmark/famous person was a memorable first in your life?

Debra H. Goldstein: I had three memorable “first” famous person sightings. When I was five, I saw Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob at a charity show and excitedly managed to get my not-so-excited dad picked to be part of a skit with them. The second sighting was of Princess Grace of Monaco at a Broadway play – she sat three seats away from me and I spent the evening stealing glances at her. The final sighting was Gregory Peck, who sat diagonally across the aisle from me at Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s Broadway show, Good Evening. He was far better to watch than the action taking place on stage.

Cheryl Hollon:  The moment I knew that I would pursue becoming a published author if it took the rest of my life was when I sat next to Ann Perry at the Killer Nashville awards banquet. She was beginning to get up there in years and seemed a little daunted by the aspect of a crowded buffet line. Her balance seemed great, but it had already been a long day. So, I pulled up my courage and asked if I could go through the line for her. She beamed a grateful smile, “Oh, that would be lovely,” she said in her faint but unmistakable British lilt. I have never enjoyed a banquet more.

Diane A.S. Stuckart: Back in the 1980s, I was thrilled when my favorite author, Stephen King, was guest of honor at the first Joe Bob Briggs Drive-In Movie Festival in Dallas, where I lived. I bought my event ticket and in between movie viewings stood in line numerous times to get my copy of Salem’s Lot autographed. Unfortunately, he called it quits every time right before I got to the front. Finally, I gave up and bought a pre-signed copy of his latest book. That night, I ran into his wife, Tabitha—also an author—who explained that her husband literally had blisters on his hand from so much autographing and wouldn’t do any more signings at the event. Disappointed—this was my first author signing event I’d ever attended!—I asked if she’d add her signature to the book I’d already purchased, which she graciously did. Over the years, however, I always regretted that I wasn’t savvy enough back then to realize I should have asked Tabitha to autograph a copy of her book.  

Maggie Toussaint: I grew up in coastal Georgia and knew all about marine life, household pets, and critters to avoid (gators, snakes, etc.). I’d also knew and recognized zoo animals. However, on my honeymoon, we took back roads to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway. On the way, I saw an animal I’d never laid eyes on. I yelled, “Stop the car!” My husband thought I’d slipped a few gears, but I’d never seen sheep. I took a photo of my first flock of sheep.   

Lois Winston: There’s a Gutzon Borglum statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting on a bench outside the Essex County Courthouse in Newark, NJ. When I was very young, my grandfather was captain of the Essex County police force and worked out of the courthouse. I was terrified of that sculpture. I thought that poor man had sat down on the bench and was turned to metal. (FYI, Gutzon Borglum also sculpted Mt. Rushmore.)

Terry Ambrose: Getting up close and personal with a green sea turtle off the coast of Kauai was truly a memorable event. We were staying in an oceanfront condo and went snorkeling in front of the condos. This was tricky all on its own because we had to pass through breaking waves to get there. The trip, however, was so worth it! Those turtles are gigantic and awe-inspiring.

Nancy J. Cohen: We traveled a lot when I was young and saw landmarks that I only vaguely remember. It wasn’t until I did a six-week Eurailpass trip around Europe that I saw famous sites that have stuck in my mind. London is my favorite foreign city. I love the museums, the pubs, the shops, the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and Windsor Castle. It’s never enough time to spend there.

YOUR TURN: Seeing what animal/landmark/famous person was a memorable first in your life?