From Mary Pleasant to Tina Turner
A brief follow-up on last week’s column: I would have thought everyone in this village would
know of one of our most famous residents. Alas, that is not so.
One erudite and worldly Glen Ellen gentleman, whose name I shall and will not reveal, stopped me in the grocery store aisle and asked me about “that Glen Ellen saint you wrote about last week,” Ah yes, guessing he meant Tina Turner who was also featured in that column (I admit calling her a Glen Ellen saint is a bit of a stretch: bet she’s never been here and is – gloriously – still alive and kicking). The inquiring gentlemen replied, “No, not that one, the other lady.”
With a little more talk, as we both schlepped our groceries outside, we finally connected with one another’s visions: Yes, Glen Ellen’s Mary Ellen Pleasant! But, throughout all of this inquiry, what I appreciated most was this intelligent gent’s modest desire to know.
As for who Mary Ellen Pleasant is, or rather was, that narrative begs more space than a 500-word column allows, and so I suggest you Google her; it will reveal a wealth of information, some of it centered on our town.
Meanwhile, I keep hoping that the good folks at Beltane Ranch will someday entertain us all by bringing Mary Pleasant to life, so to speak. I’ve seen the best in that arena. Performer, actress and scholar Sushel Bibbs does a fantastic living-history reenactment of this important former Glen Ellen resident.
Would Beltane be willing to sponsor a performance by Bibbs at our local Glen Ellen Historical Society?
Can you get that ball rolling, director Jim Shere? It’s certainly something we would like to see and would even schedule at Creekbottom house had we the funds.
And speaking of Tina Turner – well, sort of anyway. We are reminded to remind you about Vox Populi’s upcoming concert at the Sebastiani Theatre in support of that beloved theatrical and film institution. This year, Vox Pop’s spring concert will feature songs by many of Tina’s compatriots and contemporaries. You’ll hear Mark Dennis’ winning arrangements of tunes by Stevie Wonder, Annie Lennox, the Beatles, Kinks, Michael Jackson and more. When that 60-plus member choir of old rockers ‘n’ rollers starts to sing the oldies, the whole theater will be singing and dancing (maybe not like Tina, but in our own holy-roller fashion). See you there! Vox Pop’s “People Get Ready: Train Acomin” concert is Monday, May 21, at the Sebastiani Theatre. Tickets are always available from Heidi Geffen at Tiddle E Winks, 115 E. Napa St. Just ask that energetic sprite with flaming curls behind the counter, which is her favorite Vox Pop song.
A bit of sad news that I missed at the time, but my kind neighbor Lou Patterson shared with me: longtime Glen Ellen resident and tremendous artist, Gene Downs, passed away April 3. A lovely memorial service was held shortly following, but I wanted to make sure all of his many acquaintances in our village were aware of his passing.
Gene was a talented man, a kind of artist/engineer able to envision ideas that he would carefully compose with great forethought before even beginning a project. He was a uniquely creative artist who employed superior craftsmanship. Gene possessed a variety of skills in many different realms allowing him to follow through on his creative pursuits in a positive way. Gene was born June 2, 1953, and was a veteran. He will be missed by many; his death has left a hollow in many hearts.
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Share your good news with friends and neighbors in Glen Ellen. Call or write me at 996-5995 or P.O. Box 518, GE 95442. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Glen Ellen chatter rarely requires timeliness; however, if your news does, please be sure to contact me at least three weeks before the run date.