When Linda Peterson, former owner of Grelind Printing, asked me to perform for theDistrict Rotary Conference in October I was very flattered. She’s the current president of the District and someone I’ve known for forever (we were both embarrassed trying to figure out just how long that was). She was the face of grace for her printing company.
She had a couple special things she wanted me to do as a part of the show. One was to sing Light My Fire for a bit as she had worked out for their new theme: Light Up Rotary. Worked like a champ. Everybody knew the words. Well, at least the “Come On Baby” part. This gave me an idea for a reenactment from my time in Rotary.
Let’s go back
In the late ‘80s, when I was the marketing director for the Rapid City office of TSP the architectural engineering firm, I joined the Rushmore Rotary Club. I wasn’t playing professionally then but everybody knew I was a fancy guitar player/entertaining kind of a guy.
This was the younger club that met on Tuesdays at 7am. I get up earlier the older I get, but I was in my late 30s then and 7am felt like a root canal. And, a few of the boys convinced me that the song book needed updating. They were tired of You Are My Sunshine, so I had to be there by 7am AND bring a guitar. And have a song ready to pass out. And try to get the boys to sing it. Judy Olson was the only woman and mostly the only person who sang. Thank you, Judy.
After a few weeks things were going along pretty well. So I thought it was time to try something more challenging: Under the Boardwalk. I split the room for the back and forth part: “Under the Boardwalk / Out of the sun / Under the boardwalk” so on and so forth. Right side left side. Piece o’ cake.
So there I was at 7am standing on a chair, guitar strapped on, instructing blurry-eyed businessmen (and Judy) that this half of the room (gesturing wildly ) they sing the “Under the Boardwalk”, then the other side sings “Out of the sun”.
All this time they’re clutching their lyric sheets thinking, What have we done? Couldn’t we just sing You Are My Sunshine?!?
It went pretty well, really, thanks to Judy. Everybody was standing of course. And a few toes tapped and hips – well, I don’t think anybody’s hips were wildly gyrating. It was 7am for cryin in the soup.
The upshot is I thought we could reenact this blessed event at the District meeting. There they were clutching their lyric sheets, but there were a lot more women who sang while the boys mumbled.
When we finally dragged ourselves to the end of the song and I broke into You Are My Sunshine. Everybody broke into song with ultimate Rotarian Gusto. Even the guys. There’s nothin’ like an old song.