The reason you do something like writing a Lamplighters history is because you get to see all sorts of fun people. Sometimes the interviews are good, sometimes not as good as anticipated, and sometimes they are little gems that you want to remember forever.
Today was the "little gem" kind of interview.
I didn't have Bonnie Halford on my initial list of people who should be interviewed, because I hadn't realized what an integral role she played in the Lamplighters triumphant trip to Buxton, England.
Unfortunately, after I made the appointment to interview her on a Friday, I learned that was never a good day for Alison, but since that was the best day of the week for Bonnie, I went ahead and kept the appointment myself.
We were to meet at the Dipsea Cafe in Mill Valley, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. It was a good place for me because that put me in Marin County and I could stop and visit my mother after our lunch.
I actually brought my camera with me, and didn't think to take a picture of the restaurant, but this is the general layout. As you might be able to tell, there is a parking lot attached to the restaurant, which is the low building with lights in front of the large grey building. In this photo, there are places to park. Not so when I got there. For one thing, it is a one-way parking lot and when you get to the end, there is a chain fence and no place to turn around, if the slots are filled. You have to back up, which is even more difficult when there are three cars lined up behind you, giving you no space to move.
But I did finally manage to get out onto the street, and after driving around for about 10 minutes, I came upon a car that was just leaving a spot directly across from the cafe. (Thank you, Gilbert)
But "directly across from the cafe" meant that you had to cross Highway 1 which had cars whizzing by very fast coming in a solid stream in both directions. I thought surely there must be an underpass walkway or something, but I didn't see one (Bonnie told me later that there actually is one). I finally found a guy who was also trying to cross and we decided we'd cross together and, miracle of miracles managed to hit a split second when it was clear in both directions and sprinted across the highway. I nearly lost a Birkinstock but managed to get to the restaurant alive, and with both shoes.
To get back to my car, I had Bonnie (who arrived after I did and managed to get a spot in the parking lot) drive me across the street! It was easier to nudge a car into the stream of traffic than a human body.
It was a great little cafe and I had read that the service was terrible, which it was, but that was exactly what we needed, since it gave us plenty of uninterrupted time to chat. Never mind that they never refilled my coffee cup or that we sat there for 20 minutes waiting for the check. The food was great and the interview was better.
We talked for about an hour and 45 minutes, partly official interview and part reminiscing, since Bonnie is someone from "my" era and we experienced many of the same things. We both talked about things that will never make it to print, but that's why it's fun to be the interviewers and writers of this book because you get to hear all the behind the scenes dirt once you've promised your subject that it will never see the light of day and nobody will ever hear it except yourself.
The nice thing about Bonnie was she was so incredibly quotable with wonderful observations and comments about other people and I know we will use a lot of her comments in the book. Not only were they quotable but they were articulate and in at least one, and I think more than one instance, downright poetic in their beauty. I love people who can express themselves well!
It was 3 p.m. before I left the restaurant and then I got caught in such bad traffic that I decided I'd better pull off and find a gas station, since my gauge was on empty. The warning light hadn't come on yet, and you have some time after it does, but the traffic looked pretty solid and I didn't want to risk running out before I could get to my mother's. Of course I drove around so much after I got off the freeway before I found a gas station that I probably could have made it to my mother's anyway, but I would have been a nervous wreck, so better that I stopped.We had a nice visit and I stayed for dinner before finally heading home. It's been a busy week, but I have nowhere to go tomorrow and am looking forward to spending the day at home! (I'll probably stay home and watch the hurricane inch up the east coast, wondering how strong it will be by the time it hits Boston.)