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REFLECTIONS

by Katie Butler Johnson


My Dad, a lawyer by profession, loved being part of the Douglaston Community Theater (DCT). When the DCT’s resident director decided to stage the classic melodrama, “Egad What a Cad,” during the 1959 Christmas holiday, Dad volunteered to play the villain and volunteered ME to be the heroine.


I was 19, away at college at the time, and had never been in any DCT production. Dad called me at college. Using his lawyerly skills, he convinced me to play the part by saying: “What a wonderful memory it will be for the two of us to be on stage together.” I learned my lines, made it to several rehearsals and got to act on stage with Dad for the first and only time – two of us from two different generations of our family on stage together. Dad was right. I do treasure that memory.


When I went to see the Fairview Youth Theater’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof” on March 24th there were four family members from three different generations of the same family on stage together. Grandmother Doris Emmons was cast as the ghostly Grandma Tzeitel; Doris’s daughter Tasha Young played Rifka; Doris’s grandson Latham Young was Perchik and his brother Reichen Young - Motel.


Just a few months earlier, I’d gone to a previous Fairview Youth Theater production, “The Addams Family,” and seen Doris’s grandsons on stage together. Latham and Reichen were amazing in their rolls as Uncle Fester and Gomez Addams. Then, to see them plus their mom and grandmother morphing into their respective characters in “Fiddler on the Roof” - what a wonderful memory for each of them and what a treat for the audience!


I first met Doris when she joined our tap group - The Evening Stars. She’s one of those people who makes your heart smile. She loves to dance and says: “I have always loved dancing, just about any kind. My husband and I square danced and round danced for years until his knee gave out. When he could no longer dance, I started clogging because I didn’t need a partner.”


Along with tapping and clogging during the day, Doris has been dancing several nights a week doing either ballroom or country western. And it’s not only dancing she does, she also acts and sings. She does it all. I’m amazed at her stamina.


When she lived in Arizona, Doris auditioned and danced with a group of ladies called The Golden Grannies. You had to be a grandma to be part of that group. They danced a modified hip hop at the Phoenix Suns basketball games.


In Tasha Young’s bio for “Fiddler on the Roof”, it says her being on stage with her mom and sons was a “once-in-a-lifetime experience she will treasure her whole life.” Tasha graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism in 1996. Her first TV reporting job was in St. Joseph, Missouri. She soon became anchor of the 6 and 10 o’clock news at the local TV station. Wanting to be in a larger market, she moved to Eugene, Oregon, to anchor the evening news. Eventually, she moved to the Kansas City area where she and her husband started their family. She was instrumental in raising millions for the Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.


Both Reichen (17) and Latham Young (16) are involved in many activities. They belong to the Young Men’s Service League, attend Collin College and are active in Youth And Government. They’ve auditioned and been accepted into a week-long theater camp in NYC for this summer. I think these gifted and talented young men are poised to do great things. I can only imagine the kind of memories they’ll stack up over their lifetimes, but I think being on stage with their family will be up at the top.


Oscar Wilde wrote “Memories are like a diary we carry with us all our lives.” Bob Dillan cautions us to “Take care of your memories. For you cannot relive them.” It’s unknown who first said it, but, to me, this rings true: “Life is a journey and the memories are the souvenirs we take along the way.”

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