Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Barbara Walters' Booksigning

We had a huge crowd at Kepler's on Saturday to welcome broadcasting legend, Barbara Walters. She was here to sign her book, Audition: A Memoir. In case you missed it, Bobbi Emel gives us a report on the event. ~

Fans lined up early to get a glimpse of this pioneering journalist and have their books signed. Two sisters told me they had arrived at the store at 5 a.m. to be first in line. This loyal fan (right), Wendy, said she knitted most of this project while in line.

The event started at 10 am but, due to our heat wave, it was unfortunately still fairly warm outside where the line formed. People did their best to take advantage of the meager shade out in the plaza.

Ms. Walters arrived early, looking like she had just stepped off of the set of The View. Her makeup was perfect and she looked younger than her 76 years.

She shook hands with staff who came to greet her, her grip light and brief. In a quiet and delicate voice, and without looking at the person she was greeting, she murmured, "Hello" to each of us. She signed some stock and then came out to tackle the line which by now had snaked around the building and curled in on itself.
Ms. Walters signed each book then looked up at the person and, in that same quiet, delicate voice, said earnestly, "Thank you for coming." Fans were thrilled to be close to her.

Some people were so moved by the experience that they wept. One young woman, perhaps 16 or 17 years old, came up to Ms. Walters and said, with a wavering voice, "I've been watching you all my life. I've wanted to be a journalist since I was 10 years old because of you!" With that, the young lady burst into tears. Ms. Walters smiled up at her and said, "How sweet! I'm sure you'll be very good."

There were a lot of people to greet and books to sign, but there were some that Ms. Walters took time to give special attention, especially the elderly and children. She often teased parents that she would like to take their child home with her and then gently asked each child a question about him/herself.

Many elderly fans braved the heat to have their books signed as well. One woman was being pushed in a wheelchair by her daughter. The publicist handed the older woman's book to Ms. Walters. "Make it out to Gracie," the woman commanded. Ms. Walters, who had not been personalizing the books, complied. "Well," she said, "with an order like that, I better not refuse." The older woman's daughter smiled and somewhat apologetically said, "She's 102." For a moment, the woman in the wheelchair was more popular than Ms. Walters. 102! All of us, including Ms. Walters, felt that we needed to shake the centenarian's hand, as if hoping some of the longevity would rub off on us.

Ms. Walters continued to be gracious throughout, encouraging a cancer survivor going through chemo to be strong, telling a woman who worked with people with disabilities that she was a hero, and gently scolding those of us who were managing the line to "please don't push him away" when a man who had presented her with two books he had written was going on at length to her about his work.

She inquired a few times as to the length of the remaining line of fans, but always told people who asked that her signing hand was "just fine."
Finally, the end of the line appeared at the door and the last few customers left with smiles on their faces, copies of Audition under their arms. We offered Ms. Walters a gift book and ended up giving her both Little Heathens and Eat, Pray, Love.
Then she left, with a gentle wave and a quiet, delicate "goodbye."


Anonymous said...

Barbara Walter's life was influenced greatly by her older sister and she's written a beautiful memoir about her life. I read another memoir of a life influence by a sibling that I recommend highly - I actually liked it even more. The memoir is ""My Stroke of Insight"" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Dr Taylor became a Harvard brain scientist to find the cause and cure for schizophrenia because her older brother was a sufferer. Then, crazy as life can be, Dr. Taylor had a stroke at age 37. What was amazing was that her left brain was shut down by the stroke - where language and thinking occur - but her right brain was fully functioning. She experienced bliss and nirvana and the way she writes about it (or talks about it in her now famous TED talk) is incredible.

What I took away from Dr. Taylor's book above all, and why I recommend it so highly, is that you don't have to have a stroke or take drugs to find the deep inner peace that she talks about. Her book explains how. ""I want what she's having"", and thanks to this wonderful book, I can!

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