September 20, 2017

MId Atlantic, 2017

In his shareholder report for this year's program notes, Martin Grams, Jr. referred to the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention as "an annual family reunion where no one is blood-related." People who haven't seen each other in a year great one another like long-lost relatives, conversations pick up where they left off, hobbyists catch up on what's new, new friendships are formed. It's everything a family reunion should be, without the skeletons in the closet.

There's a phrase that I've quickly grown tired of, and I hope you'll shoot me if you ever see me using it - that of someone referring to "my tribe." To me, the Shawnee, the Sioux, the Apache - those are tribes, and it's a little bit of cultural appropriation to use the term. In the same vein, I don't like referring to "my people" - it's just a little hoary, if you ask me. But if I ever were tempted to resort to one of those terms, it would be now, because spending three days at Mid Atlantic is like finding out you've finally discovered where you belong.

This was our second year at the bash in Hunt Valley, Maryland - our second year to arrive at the hotel after 11:00 p.m. on a Wednesday night, of getting up early and staying up late and figuring we can sleep when we get home, of getting up on Sunday morning at 5:00 a.m. to catch a flight that gets us home before noon. It's an exhausting 80 hours or so of sore backs, tired feet, irregular eating schedules, and ultimately smaller wallets. And every single bit was worth it.

I got to meet a new friend, Jodie Peeler. You remember here; I interviewed her last month regarding her Dave Garroway biography project. We talked for two hours about Garroway and JFK and classic television, and then found out we also shared a passion for auto racing. Who knew? I can't wait to read that Garroway book, Jodie!

We had dinner on Friday with Jack Seabrook and his wife Lorraine; you know Jack from his terrific "Hitchcock Project" write-ups at bare-bones e-zine. Although we'd corresponded via email and the website, we'd never met before, and it was such a pleasant time talking television and other things over a pizza at California Pizza Kitchen.*

*And by the way, the manager could not have been nicer; he stopped at our table, as he did several, to make sure everything was all right. When he found out we were out-of-towners at a convention, he returned with certificates that could be used by other MANC attendees. And then he sent over a free dessert. Friends, if you've not been to California Pizza Kitchen before, treat yourselves.

A couple of years ago I interviewed Carol Ford for her biography of Bob Crane, and that begat a warm friendship; Judie and I had dinner with her on Thursday, and it wasn't until they started turning off the lights in the restaurant that we figured it was time to get back to the hotel. And her parents are equally nice people; I don't know how things like this happen, but we've now been adopted into the family, which takes care of our vacation plans for next year.

Then there were the various vendors we talked with (who left with a good amount of our money), the presentations we heard (particularly those on the space program, OTR and the Great American Songbook, Rod Serling, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), the panel discussions with celebrities. Short version: Dawn Wells (Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island) is still very popular, as are Eric Estrada and Larry Wilcox, who had a CHiPs reunion on Friday; Aileen Quinn, who played Annie in the movie, is cute and charming; Shirley Jones is elegant and gracious; Cindy Williams is very funny; Tammy Locke (The Monroes) is very loud; Larry Storch is a real (F-) trooper; and Gary Conway sounds older but just like he did in Burke's Law. And that's not even mentioning the movie room, which ran for 24 hours the entire convention, with old TV shows and movies (mostly featuring the celebrities from the convention) and horror flicks all night.

Here are some additional photos from the 2017 scrapbook. Remember, a lot of these celebrities aren't going to be with us that much longer. If you're a fan of classic television, movies, and old time radio, treat yourself to coming out here one of these days. Martin does such a good job putting this together - it's fun, and more important it's a good place to be, if you know what I mean - it just radiates throughout the event. It feels - well, to me, it feels like home. And if you get the chance, try to make it next year, when I hope to be one of the speakers.


  1. Thank you both for two of the most fun, and most hilarious, hours I've spent in a long time. (Where did the time go, anyway? It felt like only fifteen minutes!) It was wonderful to meet the two of you, and it made me very happy I came up for this year. I hope to do it again soon.

    I will also second any and all kind words about the wonderful Carol Ford, who could not have been more generous with her time or her guidance to a fellow writer. And her book is a heck of a good read, too.

  2. What a nice post! Thanks for the writeup.


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