Way Out West Goes Hawaiian October 20th for our 45th Anniversary
Join us on Saturday night October 20th for a special Way Out West event. Our dinner will be Hawaiian Barbecue. Vegetarian meals are available, but only for those who request it ahead of time on the registration form.
Our theme for the evening will be "Honolulu Baby." We will screen Sons of the Desert (1933). We will also celebrate our tent's 45th anniversary by screening a documentary about our very own tent, featuring all of our past Grand Sheiks and Lori Jones McCaffery.
If you like, please dress in your best Hawaiian attire, Hawaiian muumuus, and shirts. There will be a prize for the best dressed woman and the best dressed man. We will give out free Hawaiian Leis as you enter. When you arrive, you can also choose to have your picture taken free of charge. We'll put the best pictures on our tent's web site. There are also some surprises for the meeting, in the works.
If you want to skip the meal, we will not open the Mayflower doors for check-in until 7:00 pm. That will give everyone who paid for a meal time to finish their food. The entertainment part of our Special Event will start at 7:15.
The Mayflower Club Bar will be open throughout the evening for refreshments, but we will not have hot dogs on sale at The Mayflower Kitchen.
All attendees will receive a free ticket, when they check in, and will be eligible to win a special door prize drawing. During the meeting, we will also have a regular raffle.
Since our Special Event is a special meeting, in additional to our regular six meetings during the year, we must collect an admission charge to cover our extra expenses. That charge will be $15.00 per person for the meal and the meeting or $7.00 per person for the meeting only.
For those planning to attend both the meal and the meeting, please complete the registration form and include your check ($15.00 for each attendee). If you are only coming to the meeting, you don't have to complete the registration form and you can pay at the door ($7.00 for each attendee).
See you Saturday, October 20th!
Something Different To Fight Off the Dog Days of Summer
According to Webster, the "dog days of summer" are the days between early July and early September, when our weather is the hottest and muggiest of the year and so much so that even our evenings are uncomfortably warm. With this in mind on Tuesday, August 21st, we plan to rescue you from the "dog days of summer" and to get you out of your homes and into the air-conditioned Mayflower Club by screening: Should Married Men Go Home?, Blotto, and Pack Up Your Troubles. The difference is that the versions of these films that we are screening are versions that many of you have never seen before.
Following the screening of the silent Should Married Men Go Home? (1928), we will screen a short home movie that was made during filming breaks of that film. The film, by George Mann, shows Stan and Babe and their fellow actors having fun between takes. Our second film for the evening will be the Spanish version of Blotto (1930) complete with its original music score, added scenes, and with English subtitles. Our feature film for evening, Pack Up Your Troubles (1932), will have restored scenes that were censored in the 1940's for their violence and not restored until recently. Though the violent scenes are mild by today's standards, the restored scenes do affect the feel of the film.
The Mayflower Club is located at 11110 Victory Boulevard in North Hollywood. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Our meeting starts at 7:15 p.m. "Fisher Franks" (100% beef hot dogs) with your choice of chips will be sold at the Mayflower Club Kitchen. Refreshments will be sold at the Mayflower Club Bar. Free cake will be served on our second break. Join us for an interesting and fun night on Tuesday August 21st!
Our Special Event on Saturday October 20th (Updated: See above)
Please keep open the evening of Saturday, October 20th for this year's Way Out West Special Event. It will be at The Mayflower Club and center around a favorite Laurel & Hardy feature (no, not Way Out West). It will also observe our tent's 45th anniversary. There will be a meal and the cost will be in line with what we charged last year. We will mail out all the details and registration forms, around four weeks before the event.
Notes From Our June Meeting
At our June meeting celebrating Stan Laurel's birthday, we were joined by Cassidy Cook (Stan Laurel's great granddaughter) and her children Tommy and Lucy (Stan's great great grandchildren). Also joining us for the meeting were Casting Director Marvin Page, Oliver Hardy Impersonator Bevis Faversham, and Actor Bart Williams.
Our films for our June meeting were: Stan's silent solo classic, Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride, Busy Bodies, One Good Turn, and A Chump at Oxford. A great time was had by all! Thanks to Stan Taffel, Rita Crandall, "J.T." Tropper, Melanie Thompson, Ken Runyan, James Romero Jr., and Bob Duncan for helping me with the Toasts and the Song.
From The Grand Sheik
At last year's June meeting, to honor Stan Laurel's birthday, I invited four of our members (Bill Burgess, Myrna Davis, Ralph Marks, and Stan Schulman) to join me on stage to tell their stories of meeting Stan in person. It turned out to be a great moment that everyone enjoyed. Now, just a little over a year later, I have the sad news to tell everyone that both Ralph Marks and Stan Schulman have recently passed away.
Ralph at our meetings was always smiling and never lost his quick wit, even though in his later years it was plain to see that it was hard for him to get around. When Ralph was 12 years old, while on vacation to California, he boldly told a Roach Studio guard that he was a "longtime Laurel & Hardy fan" and wanted to meet the Boys. To Ralph's surprise, the guard at the gate eventually took Ralph on to the studio to meet Stan in person. The autographed picture, that Ralph got that day from Stan, remained with Ralph for the rest of his life. Ralph is survived by his wife of 62 years, his daughter Susan Silver (also a longtime member of Way Out West), Susan's husband Don, and grandson Charlie. Ralph passed away on June 20th, at the age of 89.
Stan at our meetings sometimes could be a little feisty but I think that that was a cover for a very kind man with a "heart of gold" who just didn't want anyone to easily find out about it. Stan and his wife, Elaine, helped my wife Kris in the kitchen preparing and serving hot dogs at many Way Out West meetings, so the Wileys got to know the Shulmans pretty well. Elaine surprised Stan, for one of their wedding anniversaries, with a visit to Stan Laurel's Santa Monica home. Hey married guys out there, how was that for an anniversary present? Stan is survived by his wife of 55 years, Elaine, four children and their spouses, and eight grandchildren. Stan passed away on July 21st, at the age of 82. We'll miss you guys!
2012 SOD Int'l Convention in New Hampshire
Since 1978, the Sons of the Desert has held an International Convention every two years. The 18th International Sons of the Desert Convention took place July 19-22, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire. It was hosted by the On The Loose Tent (Oasis 206).
Following an optional day trip to Boston, the convention began with a 1934 Roach Studios Cocktail Mixer featuring two old-time radio shows recreated live for the audience. There was also a re-enactment of the cake cutting during the Hal Roach Studios 20th anniversary party, with Thelma Todd's cousin Jenny Blatchford standing in for her.
Each morning started with an orientation by one of the founding members of the Sons of the Desert, Chuck McCann. Throughout the convention, silent films were shown in a real theater (as opposed to a hotel meeting room) in the nearby Carpenter Public Library.
Day one featured an author's panel hosted by Scott MacGillivray (Laurel & Hardy: From the Forties Forward) and Chuck McCann. Well known Laurel & Hardy memorabilia collector Gino Dercola presented a slide show featuring photos of hundreds of unusual collectibles. That evening, convention goers boarded the ship M.S. Mount Washington and departed for a sunset cruise upon Lake Winnipesaukee. The cruise included a dinner buffet and entertainment. The evening concluded with the first opening of the Dealers' Room at midnight.
The second day started with the Grand Council meeting, which allows delegates to discuss the general business of the Sons of the Desert. The only business at hand was the location for the 2014 International Convention. Bob Satterfield, past Grand Sheik of the Way Out West Tent and current Grand Sheik of the San Bernardino 45 Minutes from Hollywood Tent, won the bid. The next convention is scheduled for July 2014 in Hollywood.
Following the meeting was the Parade of Tents. The parade was only from the back of the ballroom to the front, but most tents had fun marching the short distance with their tent banners held high. Each tent in attendance sent their representatives to the front of the room for a brief greeting.
That was followed by the Trivia Contest with quizmasters Scott MacGillavray and Dwain Smith. The winning team was Kay Lhota (Brats Tent, Boston) and Lou Sabini (One Good Turn Tent, Connecticut). The late afternoon activity was a presentation by Dave Stevenson of Thelma Todd films.
Following dinner on your own, delegates marched to the nearby Palace Theater for a modern day variety show. The show opened with announcer Paul Bellefeuille music by The River Birds. Then comedian Emo Philips took the stage, along with performances by roots troubadour guitarist Samuel James and Rock 'n Roll ventriloquist Carla Rhodes. Laurel & Hardy's That's My Wife was screened with live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis. Rebecca Kane finished the evening by singing Shine on Harvest Moon.
The third day offered delegates a chance to tour the nearby Currier Museum of Art on their own. Back at the hotel, the Pee-Wee Contest was conducted next to the putting contest, on the lawn in front of the hotel. A two-and-a-half hour historian panel featuring Cole Johnson, Mark Johnson, Lou Sabini, Annette D'Agostino Lloyd, and Michael Agee took place back inside the hotel later that afternoon.
The only banquet held in the host hotel took place Saturday night, with the program provided by past and present members of the New York Founding Tent. Following dinner, a raffle, toasts, and the Sons of the Desert Song, members of the Founding Tent provided music, comedy, and a marionette show featuring Howdy Doody (as operated by Jack Roth).
Photos were then taken of the thirteen delegates that have attended all eighteen international conventions, which include Way Out West's Jimmy and Kris Wiley. The evening concluded with an auction of Laurel & Hardy memorabilia, with proceeds benefiting the UCLA Film and Television Archive's program to preserve the films of Laurel & Hardy. Marshall Korby (Dancing Cuckoos, Michigan) was the auctioneer.
Following a breakfast buffet in the Grand Ballroom, the Convention came to a close. Cliff Sawyer took the stage to make some final announcements. Awards were given for the winners of the Putting and Pee-Wee contests. Then representatives from each of the 18 International Conventions lined up to pass the crystal pineapple down the line from convention to convention.
Thank you to Dave and Ali Stevenson for hosting a great convention. In additional to everyone mentioned above, many thanks to all the contributions made by Cliff and Nancy Sawyer, Paul Bellfeuille, Phil and Chris Wittmann, Carol and Steve Rugh, Bruce Lawton, and Eric Grayson for all their contributions to make this a great convention.
For a more detailed report from the convention (along with photos), please click here.
New Book Out on Charlie Hall
Charlie Hall appeared with Laurel & Hardy in 47 of their 106 films, much more than any other Laurel & Hardy supporting actor. Did you ever wonder how Charlie, a native son of Birmingham, England, wound up appearing in films at the Hal Roach Studios with Laurel & Hardy? John Ullah, Grand Sheik of the Laughing Gravy Tent of Birmingham, England answers that question and many more about Charlie Hall in his new book, This Is More Than I Can Stand: A Biography of Charlie Hall. Just released in March, John's new book is now available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in limited quantities. Soon, however, you will also be able to buy copies of his book directly from John on his new web site: www.laughinggravytent.co.uk