Memorable nights: Reliving history and watching powerful performers

Steve Holgate, a retired career U.S. diplomat, portrays Abraham LIncoln. Photo provided

LORANE – Thank you to Nanette Bordner, the lifestyle director for the Junction City Retirement and Assisted Living Center, for inviting me to give a talk on the history of the Pacific Highway, U.S. Highway 99, through Oregon last week. It’s one of the first solo talks I have made since my co-author, Jo-Brew, passed away over a year ago.
The audience was quite impressive and interested in the stories I told, and those memories evoked were shared with the group.
Public speaking is not easy for me. I usually read much of my material so I won’t leave out some of the important information I want to impart. I intersperse my reading, however, with side stories to support the history and we all seem to relate to each other – not as a speaker and an audience, but as a group of friends sharing our stories and memories. That’s what makes it so special to me. I miss being able to share these wonderful experiences with Jo, but this was fun to do again.
I was able to attend the play, ”An Evening With Three Great Americans” at the Applegate Regional Theater recently and I am so glad that I did. It was an enjoyable way to be immersed in history and ”meet” some of the history-makers.
Jennifer Chambers portrayed Abigail Scott Duniway, who was a prominent suffragist, advocating for women’s rights to vote in Oregon and the Northwest. Jen is the author of ”Hesitate No Longer” about Abigail and Susan B. Anthony, who joined together to garner support for the cause, and her presentation was very enlightening and professional.
Dan Schmieding then came onstage as Samuel Clemens – more widely known as Mark Twain – to talk about how the culture of his time was so different than it is now, adding a humorous touch to the program … ”Wha’ ya mean that I can’t smoke my cigar in public?”… ”You’re citing me when I throw my line in the water to catch tonight’s dinner because I don’t have a … what? … fishing license?”
The last half of the program was taken up by a mesmerizing conversation with Abraham Lincoln, who was portrayed by Steve Holgate, a retired career U.S. diplomat.
He has perfected his Abraham Lincoln persona so well over the past 20 years that all of us in the audience felt we were really in the presence of greatness.
The emotions were raw as he talked about his struggles to end slavery and about his and Mary’s loss of their child. He talked and looked the part exactly as I would have pictured Abe.
A friend, Sandy Diess, who attended the matinee performance on Sunday commented afterward that she had seen Hal Holbrook’s portrayal of our 16th president, but she felt that Steve Holgate’s was just as good if not better.
I just wish that some of our schoolchildren and more of the community would have been able to witness this exceptional program. Thank you to the board of the Applegate Regional Theater for providing us with the opportunity.
Here’s a message from Marissa McNutt Cooper of the Lorane Community Association: ”It’s that time of year again. We are gearing up for our annual Angel Tree and holiday food boxes. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance this holiday season, and you live in the Lorane/Crow area, please contact me. Looking forward to another successful year. My goal is to get the trees up the week of Thanksgiving.” Contact Marissa at 541-517-6608.

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