Monday, January 14, 2013

Hot Nostalgia

Seems like ages since this particular group of friends had gathered together. Last time I saw some of them was in February 2009 when we convened at a log cabin in the scenic mountains of far western Maryland’s Savage River State Forest for a weekend of hiking, relaxing and gustatory indulgence. To see a web album I put together back then of that delightful getaway, click on this link: "A Weekend In Western Maryland".

So here we were again, reconvened by Laura Van Scoyoc, president of Soldiers Delight Conservation, Inc., a nonprofit Friends group overseeing a sensitive ecosystem with a delightful array of rare and endangered flora and fauna near my home in Baltimore County, Maryland ( We are tied to Laura through our work on and for Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area. Some of us are fellow board members (I’m vice president, Frank is secretary and Joe is a member at large).  Others are state ecologists assigned to manage and rehabilitate Soldiers Delight NEA (Wayne and Paula). Still others are seasoned volunteers who take time from their busy schedules to engage in the nitty-gritty physical labor required to rehabilitate the NEA (Dawn, Jesse, Elizabeth and Don).

From left: .Jesse, Frank, Dawn, Joe, Laura, Wayne and Elizabeth

It just so happened that Laura had tickets to a local dinner theater which she needed to use up before they expired at the end of January. A lot of tickets. So the call went out. Who would join her for a night of revelry at Toby’s Dinner Theater in Columbia, Maryland ( Turns out a lot of us would, so many that Laura had to purchase additional tickets to accommodate the ten of us who all jumped at the idea of joining together to celebrate our friendship and catch up on the latest news about our shared passion, the globally unique Serpentine Barren of Soldiers Delight.

Ashley Parker gets the audience revved up
For this festive occasion, I chose to reprise a vintage black rayon jumpsuit that I’ve owned since the 1970s. I purchased the drapey unit at JCPenney, back when I worked at Penney’s Richmond, California, store in their Home Electronics department throughout my 20s. Over the years, this comfortable one-piece has served me well, as it did again Saturday night when I paired it with strappy heels by City Streets, which I purchased at my local JCPenney store just a few weeks ago, and new black crystal and white pearl jewelry from Fire & Ice Jewelers of Baltimore (, recent Christmas gifts from my dear friends, Robert and Jan.

Heather Marie Beck sings a solo part in Hot Nostalgia II
As we piled our plates high with salad fixings from a buffet set up in the center of a large auditorium and took our seats at a table on a raised platform along the room’s perimeter, we realized for the first time that with the exception of one newcomer (Frank’s girlfriend, Dawn), we were the same nine individuals who had camped out together in the New Germany log cabin four years before. We dined on carved roast beef, baked tilapia, roast pork and a variety of sides and vegetables and took note of the considerable skills of David Little, our conscientious and capable server. And as we finished ice cream sundaes and after-dinner coffee, we marveled as the entire buffet apparatus was wheeled away and our waiter, along with all the other servers and staff at Toby’s, suddenly transformed themselves into costumed entertainers who came together in the center of the large room to regale a packed audience with more than two hours of song and dance.

A super evening with super friends!

The program, called "Hot Nostalgia II", is described on Toby's webstie as "a marvelous combination of …popular songs and energetic dance [which] takes you on a tour of four musical decades…"  It was all that.  While perhaps not Broadway caliber singing, acting or set design, these performers nevertheless worked extremely hard and were genuinely talented. Considering that they not only entertained us but also set up the buffet, served our meals, put on an enjoyable two-hour show and then cleaned up afterward, I considered their collective effort an unqualified success.

Good food, good friends and an evening’s worth of enjoyable music and entertainment, some of which hailed from the same era as the vintage outfit I wore. What’s not to love?

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