Helen Reddy Sings I Am Woman

Do you remember this song? I have it ringing in my ears today. Hearing it makes me think of  THE HELLO GIRLS - women who went to war - for our country - and then came home and stood up for their rights.

Seems to me Helen Reddy and The Hello Girls have a message for us today!!!!


Thinking About - - Stuff

Happy Fourth of July 


Even though it is a holiday I will be staying on my list.
Opening of the Hello Girls is next Thursday - that's 7 days from now.
Tick, Tick, Tick - - Tock.

So, if we were together we might be talking about:

1. ISSUES: This would be a rant.
Someone I know and love called this morning from their car saying, " I am on my way to Hobby Lobby and.." I stopped her. "NO". You can't do that." ...... and I realized I meant it. My new hero is Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a woman of conviction who stands up and says what's right.

2. CAPITAL FRINGE: Working hard on my Hello Girls production for the Capital Fringe.  Worrying more about how the sound system will work, set-up and other issues because I am in a new venue.

Very grateful to my all "insider" COACHING COMMITTEE, who came for a run through the other night and had excellent suggestions and comments. So I am definitely singing their praises. Insiders are: Karen Schoettler, Jim and Monica Schoettler, and Juliana Schoettler. Story is in place. Still have a few things to work out with props and staging and all the paper work.

Producing a show is heavy with paper work from emails, to marketing, to programs and all the other things that you hand out and send out. Free-lancers do it all themselves - and it is busy work for weeks. I look back and am ever grateful for my work as a free-lance artist putting on shows, my jobs that required PR and promotion work, and the time I worked in fundraising. Made me a multi-tasker who knows how to do a menu of jobs.

3. FAMILY: Barbecue with family and friends tomorrow. Good food and catching up.

4. ANIMALS: Grateful the storms seem to be holding off right now. Our dog and cat really hate the thunder and lightning and stay very close while that is going on.

5. NEW TOY: Last night I downloaded Jacqueline Winspear's new WWI novel, "The Care and Management of Lies" on my Kindle  - - and to try something new I also downloaded the audio version and the Audible APP.  I AM LOVING THIS!!!! Someone reading to me from my iPhone or my iPad!!! Will love it even more when I figure out how to download free books from the Public Library!!!

I may have to wait on that for a training session with my sister Kathy in Georgia when I am down there in August teaching a workshop and telling FINDING GUS my 2011 Cap Fringe show - thankfully the Watkinsville Library will be doing all the paperwork on that one.

6. And Jim  - - -


A WWI Wife's Story

There is always a back-story for a new story.

As you hear from me all the time, my head is in the days of World War One because I am preparing my new show, The Hello Girls, for the DC Capital Fringe. However my interest in WWI actually started accidentally 20 years ago when I bought a box of old letters at the Dilworth Book Store in my home town, Charlotte, NC.

 One of those letters was from Grace Hotchkiss, young wife of an Oregon Captain who had been stationed at Camp Greene, a training base outside of Charlotte. I have used Grace's letter as part of my stories about letters since I bought it.

I have wondered about her. I also have some letters from her husband written from over-seas - but its Grace's letter that haunted me. Last year when I was invited to tell stories at the Hagood Mill Storyelling Festival in South Carolina I chose to fly into Charlotte first and spend some time at the Carolina Room of the Public Library. Although Grace was not on mind as part of my search when I mentioned her to a very helpful librarian she found some unexpected information about Grace - we have a totally unexpected connection. Often on Stories in Time I tape stories which talk about developing stories. So I taped this new story of Grace's letter.


Thinking about World War One - 100 Yrs Ago

Today is the day the Great War began in Europe 100 years ago.

For a year I have been working on a new story to tell - THE HELLO GIRLS, so my head has been turned toward that period of time for months.  I have wondered why I have never heard much about WWI  before. Or did I just not pay attention beyond the high school read of Hemingway's Farewell to Arms.

Then a handful of years ago along came Missouri storyteller Mary Garrett who introduced me to author Jacqueline Winspear. Since Mary, an avid reader, a veritable gobbler of books, recommends great reads, I dove into Maisie Dobbs, the first novel in Winspear's series about a World War One battlefield nurse - a survivor. As long as Winspear continues to write about Maisie I will be right there with her book in my hand. Through Maisie Jacqueline Winspear brings the GREAT WAR, the times, and the human costs of war to life.

If you want to walk the battlefields of France and open yourself to understanding the lasting aftermaths and pain of WWI for Great Britain read Winspear's essay: Skylarks Above No Man's Land as I did this morning.

My grandmother's younger brother, Walter, died and is buried in France.
Only his mother ever visited his grave in  San Mihiel Cemetery overseas.
As does happen in families, by the time I was born 18 years later there was no mention of him. I have found out some things through research but there is no one left to tell me about Walter - the boy he was or the man he became.

Twenty years ago I bought a box of cast off papers and discovered a letter written by a young WWI wife yearning for her husband in France but that was about as far as I went. Until I accidentally learned that she and her husband are buried two blocks from my husband (and me eventually) in Arlington National Cemetery.

Maybe Grace Hotchkiss, the young woman of the letter, led me to The Hello Girls.

Maybe you have read the poems of British poet Rupert Brooke.

In her essay Winspear quotes these famous lines from his poem, The Soldier.

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England.
Just wondering, 
Is that why today the military "leaves no one behind." 


Reviewing My Fringe History - Part One

I am busy getting ready for the 2014 Fringe which opens July 10.  I am very excited about my story this year!

The Hello Girls is a new story - little known history and its not a personal story - which for 25 years has been my particular interest. But this story, although not about me or my family, connects deeply with me personally and my feelings as a feminist. It takes me back to the days of my activism for the Equal Rights Amendment. I knew when I discovered the story that I wanted to tell it - to have the opportunity to bring their story to light.

This is my fifth time telling at the Capital Fringe.
Each year except one I conceived a new story and told it. Its hard work but I have loved it - and that is one of  the thing that brings me back.

On a personal note: July is my birthday month so the calendar flips another year during the Fringe.  I like being a bit older and being out  there working - - - creative juices flowing and telling stories.

The Fringe is not an end in itself for me. It is an excellent place to experiment with new stories which I then market out to other venues and travel with afterwards. For instance in August 2014 I will be performing my 2011 Fringe Show Finding Gus in Watkinsville, GA along with a day work-shop.

These days as I work on The Hello Girls I find myself thinking back over my history as a Fringe participant. Recalling the fun and vitality of being involved in a dynamic artistic community. The energy is palpable.

2010 was the first time I entered the Fringe. I had a memoir story I had wanted to tell for a long time.
I called the story "Pushing Boundaries" because it was my story of "morphing" from a 1950s housewife to an ERA activist of the 1970s.  That period took me through college as a returning older student, to political activism for women artists and then my first "real" job as ERA campaign director for the League of Women Voters of the United States.

It was an extremely exciting time of growth and change for me as it was for hundreds of women. My husband, Jim Schoettler supported all my activities and he encouraged me in telling this story and worked with me to produce it.

The reviews of Pushing Boundaries were positive.  That was were important to me because I came up through the women artists movement. In the 1970s we focused on seeing that our work was documented. The reviews provided excellent documentation and websites are an effective way to publish them widely.

All that worked together to convince me that I would be back to Fringe the following year - with a new story.(More later).


June - Full and well-storied.

June has been full. 

Anticipating THE HELLO GIRLS and the Capital Fringe. First show July 10 - - that's just 17 days from now. Tickets are on sale HERE 

So I have been juggling. Some days its hard to keep track as the lists grow despite my scratching items off and keeping at them 24/7.

So I am looking back to take stock - and to remember how doors opened to let me in where I have wanted to go for years.

My friend came for a visit and she and I went to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore for a sentimental journey. It was a sweet and wonderful time.  And I thought that would be that - but I was mistaken.

Kay was special guest at a dinner honoring her late husband and she invited me along. A dinner conversation with a surgeon who was interested in history and in storytelling has opened doors for me to talk to several very senior guys about a long-ago surgeon who was a "consequential stranger" in my life.  It is a story I have wanted to gather for 25 years but the stars never aligned for me to meet and talk with the right folks. It has been amazing networking - one conversation leads to two more and then more.  It is happening now and I am fascinated by the stories people are telling me. And by the rhythm of the hand-offs to more information.

I feel the story. I know I can get to the heart of it. But, whether its something I will bring to a stage, well I don't know. Even if I don't - gathering it is pure joy. I am feeling the old excitement that attracted me when I was working with genealogy - except this is not a genealogy story. And, I might not see the possibilities if I had not created The Hello Girls - which is a new departure in storytelling for me. I feel so fortunate. 

But more than my getting the story I am fascinated by the way these two men have kept the stories of earlier days alive by the telling of their stories - stories they know first hand and melded with those they have been told. Its been like a fire brigade - stories passed along a bit at a time. A man who was bigger than life during his lifetime could so easily have been forgotten if there were not a hand full of doctors who value the history and pass it along - even to a non-medical storyteller who asks questions. 

This reverence for the importance of history is part of the reason I have had such a strong affection for the Hopkins medical world since I landed here in 1954 as a wide-eyed eighteen year old. I would never have come to Hopkins if it had not been for the larger-than-life legend I am finding out about. That's worth a story, don't you think?