Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pam's Folks



A year or two ago, my son surprised me with a geometry project that was due now! It counted toward a major part of his grade that semester. We worked straight through without sleep and got it in just under the wire. I took it as a personal victory that he got an A.

The hardest part was deciding what the project would be about. We chose a dam-lake project based on the old Meramec River Dam project that had been so controversial. We built it out of colored clay and found materials. We totally made up the details of how geometry was used for the project. Even after that we had to pad it with other information to make it long enough. We made up a story about a study of endangered turtles that might have been threatened. It was exhausting!

A couple of days ago my daughter, Chloe, casually announced she had a geometry project that was due. I almost fainted - Here we go again! These things seem to worry me a lot more than my kids. We ran through several ideas she hated. Just like what we went through with Dylan. My daughter is heavily involved in drama (on several levels) at school. We decided she would design and build a theater. The stage alone would use a lot of geometry.

The idea was inspired by a friend of mine who is one of the designers of the Loretto-Hilton Rep Theatre in Webster Groves.

For over a year, Marita Michenfelder Woodruff (then Sister Marita) and Wayne Loui, who was also a member of the college's theatre arts department, worked with St. Louis architects Joseph D. Murphy and Eugene J. Mackey on the building's design.

Marita left the order to marry my girlfriend Pam’s dad. Pam’s mom, dad, and Marita are a fascinating group of people.

Marita taught several actors who went on to bigger and better things. Marsha Mason and Kathleen Turner come to mind. After Pam’s dad died, Marita would have us over for dinner. It was always great conversation and she loved to experiment with the cuisine. Marita always seemed emotionally fragile. I know she’d been through Hell.

Pam’s dad, Robert, was part of the first group of astronauts in the Mercury program. They had to cut him due to some weird brain wave issue. Bob was really intense. There’s a Salvador Dali painting and the subject looks like him. He had a huge forehead and big bulging eyes. Come to think of it, the woman in the painting looks like Pam.

Bob went on to become a very successful psychiatrist at Barnes/Washington University. He wrote a text book that’s still in use today. His medicine cabinet was stocked with every psychotropic drug know to man. He ended up booking a night in a local hotel and killing himself with an overdose of something.

Pam and I had already split by then. She moved to Chicago and became a Playboy Bunny. I think the death of both our dads is what brought us back together for round two of our relationship. She married David Van Tieghem, a superstar percussionist I’ve always admired. They have a beautiful kid named Zoe.

When I was still married, my family and Pam’s got together at her mom’s house. Her daughter’s name is Zoe and mine is Chloe. Pam and I were dressed alike and in the same colors. We even drove the same make of car. Her mom treated me like we’d never been away from each other. I had the feeling I was closer to her than Van Tieghem. Maybe I’m just making that up!?

Pam’s mom Marcie has been writing. Most of what I know about the Rep is from articles she’s written. I’ve been to plays at the Rep where her story in the playbill was far more interesting than the play itself.

When my ego got too big, Marcie could always bring me back to Earth with a simple remark.

Dali's painting of Pam's Family and Marita.

2 comments:

Tony Patti said...

It's simple to see why you would feel like Pam was closer to you than her husband. She grew up with you, he didn't. You were on your turf, where you both grew up, he was the outlander. It means no disrespect to him, and I hope and pray that he loves and cares for her as she needs and deserves, because being a husband is a different relation than being family, which is what old girlfriends feel like to me.

Anonymous said...

Tony, David meant Pam's mom, not Pam!

David's Mom