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2012 SONS OF THE DESERT

INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION MEMORIES

by Mike David

I arrived at the convention just before the Parade of Tents began. I saw some old friends from the Night Owls of the Connecticut Valley Tent and the Boston Brats as well. Scott MacGillivray led the Brats in the parade, covered with film leaders and tails to emphasize that they only use celluloid at their meetings.

I spoke with Scott later and gave him a copy of the two cd set we put together a few years ago of the 86 convention, and also the recent three cd set I did of all other interviews remastered (except those already in the 2006 convention set). He told me how great it was to finally have all these together. He repeated something he had told me back in late 1986 - that he liked my editing style on the audio cds. I also gave him a dvd copy of the Margaret Hamilton film. He and his tent couldn't make it to that particular meeting, and then we reminisced on the other meetings we attended way back, including one with Mae Questel.

Had a nice talk with Brad Farrell who has the Wax Apple site. I gave him cds which he said he was looking forward to hearing. He showed me a photo of him meeting Margaret Hamilton, so I gave him a copy of the dvd which he really liked. Brad added that he likes the way our website is set up.

After the Parade of Tents, I walked into the lobby and there was a man sitting with a few people. I asked, "Are you Roger Gordon?" And he looked surprised till I told him my name. We talked for over half an hour. He said he really enjoyed meeting Guido at the 86 convention and liked his friendliness. He remembered us asking permission to do all those interviews and how wonderful it was to see the celebrities who were in "Babes in Toyland". I told Roger that was a memorable experience for us. I gave him our 86 convention double cd set and he was thrilled. He appreciated all the work that went into that set, including Andrew’s excellent audio documentary on Mae Questel. Roger kept saying that it was a great gift. He especially liked the insert we made explaining the contents. He had heard the interviews when they were on the Laurel and Hardy Forum several years ago. He said now he would make copies and play the highlights at his Tent's future meetings. 
for “Mae Questel- Putting the Boop in Betty”, produced and narrated by Andrew Smith.

I mentioned how I had interviewed Mae Questel on the spur of the moment. He laughed and told me a funny story from the 86 convention. One of his tent members had gone to pick up Mae in NYC and he insisted on stopping at a fancy restaurant that was off their route. Mae just wanted to get to the convention to start practicing but this guy insisted. And Roger said when Mae arrived at the hotel in Philadelphia, the first thing she said to him, in that trademark New Yoik accent, was: "I'm pi**ed!" Roger said it took a while for them to get her calmed down and ready for the show. 
to listen to  my interview from 1986 with Mae Questel. 

Met Bob Satterfield from the CA 45 Minutes From Hollywood Tent. We reminisced re Thomas Benton Roberts at the 86 convention and how he reprised his role in "Two Tars" by giving a tomato facial to Bob, who told me that the tomato juice burned his eyes somewhat. I told Bob about the wonderful audio interview I did with Mr. Roberts and how friendly he and his wife were to me.

Bob then told me that Mr. Roberts daughter was actually here at the convention. Later while watching the pee-wee contest, Bob introduced me to her - Mary May Vereen. She and I talked for half an hour and I told her how pleasant her parents were, and that in 1986 after interviewing him, Mr. Roberts and his wife Lois asked me to join them for breakfast the next morning (after getting only 3 hours of sleep). Mary May was happy to hear of this; she told me some stories about her dad and 2 books he wrote, one of which I have. She said he often told the story about how he had one of his boats on a movie set with Lucille Ball, and she wanted to walk on the deck but Mr. Roberts told her not to since he had just swabbed it. But Lucy said it would be all right and then promptly slipped and broke her leg. Mary May said she heard about it on the radio that day. She also mentioned that her father played saxophone right up until two days before he passed away. On the day he passed, he had just come from a gathering, sat in a chair at home and "slipped away".

I told Mary May how to find the audio interview online and she was very appreciative of that and thanked me for telling about my experiences with her parents.  
to listen to the first part my interview with Hal Roach Studio construction and special effects employee Thomas Benton Roberts at the 1986 Valley Forge International Convention, for part two .

There was a talk given on Thelma Todd who was born in nearby Lawrence, MA. She was quite reckless as a young lady, getting into a couple accidents, one on a bike and the other on a horse. She struggled with a weight problem and would often starve herself. She was pleasant and well-liked but also could be feisty when mistreated: a story was told that one of the times when her partner Roland West locked her out of the house, Thelma busted in the kitchen window; and if you go to that home today you can see the iron bars that West later had installed in that window.

Flip Lauer is a friendly guy, very easy to chat with, He videotaped much of the convention. I thanked him for making announcements on the Yahoo Laurel and Hardy group about interviews we have posted, and I gave him the cd collection. He was glad to receive it and liked seeing the names of the celebrities interviewed.

I talked with Irv Hyatt about the interview we posted with Jimmy Murphy.  Irv said how Jimmy was quite a character and always enjoyable to talk with. 
to listen to a Jimmy Murphy Interview recorded in Ulverston, 1984.

After the Saturday night banquet, I had a nice talk with Dennis Moriarty. He does look like an older Stan. He recognized me and said right off that he likes our website and Facebook page. He's originally from Canton, Ohio, and in talking I found out he knows of my cousins in nearby Massillon. He said we would be very welcome to attend the Oliver Hardy celebration in October and asked if we would mention that event on our website.

I met Chuck McCann in the hotel lobby. I introduced myself and went to shake his hand when suddenly our very own Steve Wichrowski walked right between us, and Chuck went "Whoa, what was that?" I told him about the interviews done on the NNNN Show from 1983 to 2009 and he said that was wonderful. I mentioned I had 2 cds containing many of the interviews for him. He said "These are for me? Oh, that's wonderful. Thank you so much - Here, I want to have my picture taken with you." I hadn't expected that as he was on a busy schedule but he put his arm around me and ordered Steve to take the photos. He told me that what we are doing with the interviews was great and that I should start my own tent. He talked about making sure that children got to see the Laurel and Hardy films and I told him I did that when teaching and still take out my projector and films occasionally for kids. As he walked off he said he was looking forward to hearing the interviews. 
to listen to our roving reporter, Steve Wichrowski, Jr., conducting an entertaining interview with comic actor and voice artist Chuck McCann and his "Stan" partner, Jim MacGeorge (from 2007).

Finally, I met with Dwain Smith a couple times and we talked about the 86 convention. Then I told him about having filmed a few minutes of Margaret Hamilton at the 1982 meeting, and that he was in the main photo. So I gave him a dvd copy. He told his grand kids about that (Dwain is in his 80s and still as active as ever).  He then told me: "I want you to know that I slept in the same hotel with Margaret Hamilton - but in different rooms!"

I met Dwain as I was getting ready to leave on Sunday. He wanted me to say that we should know our work on The Nutty Nut News Network website is "well respected" by many people.
 

Scott MacGillivray and Boston Brats wrapped in 16mm film at Parade of Tents

Scott MacGillivray and Dwain Smith supervise the Trivia Contest

The six members of the three teams in the Trivia Contest

Trivia Contest participants pose with Scott MacGillivray and Dwain Smith

The winners of the Trivia Contest, Lou Sabini and Kay Lhota

Roger Gordon of Philadelphia's Two Tars Tent meets Mike David for the first time since 1986

Chuck McCann holds Laurel and Hardy celebrity audio interviews cds given to him by Mike David

The Pee-Wee Contest

Outside the convention hotel for the Putting and Pee-Wee Contests

Pee-Wee Contest prizes

Mike David with Mary May Vereen, daughter of Hal Roach studio prop and construction specialist, Thomas Benton Roberts

Onstage for the traditional toasts

Ray Faiola of New York's Them Thar Hills Tent leads a toast

Roger Gordon of Philadelphia's Two Tars Tent leads the toast to James Finlayson

Founding Tent member Dwain Smith offers a toast

Chuck McCann leads a toast to Billy Gilbert

And mimics Billy's famous sneeze

Mike David with Stan look-a-like Dennis Moriarty

Mike David with Dan and Adele Krusz of Wisconsin's and Minnesota's Busy Body Tent - we joked that we were holding one another up because of the "iron" in the water we were drinking

An overview of a display of items belonging to Thelma Todd, provided by her relatives

Gloves and a hat belonging to Thelma Todd

A fascinating piece of film history: the purse carried by Thelma Todd in "Fra Diavolo".

At the "Ice Cream in Your Pajamas Party" Bob Satterfield of CA's 45 Minutes from Hollywood Tent in costume, complete with trap door

All tents which hosted conventions are represented here for the Passing of the Pineapple

The Official Pineapple was passed down to Bob Satterfield of California's "45 Minutes From Hollywood Tent" which will host the 2014 convention