The Patriarch of our family died this morning. He was the little brother of my maternal grandmother and he was amazing. He was a brother, uncle, husband, father, grandfather, and friend. But for for the majority of us, he was Uncle Waldie. When we were young, my sister and I always looked forward to his visits. Recently, I looked through a book that my sister and I made every year that asked a bunch of questions like favorite food and what we wanted to be when we grew up and while tastes and dreams have changed as the years have passed, the “Favorite Relative” has remained the same.
Most of the family met up three years ago at Interlochen for a reunion, that was the last time I saw him. When the family gets together, there is a lot of laughter, a lot of stories, and a lot of remembering the members that made us who we are but are no longer with us.
One hilarious story that we had never heard before was how my Grand Aunt Susie met her soon-to-be brother-in-law, my Grand Uncle Waldie. He was flying out to San Francisco to see his brother Aldo. Susie had been taking an opera appreciation course at Berkley and seeing as Waldie is an opera singer, she thought he would enjoy going to see one of the performances she had tickets to. They drove all the way into the city only to find out that the tickets were for a different night. They had nothing to do. Waldie suggested a couple of things that he wanted to see in North Beach. Now, this was the 1960’s, mind you. They went into this club, the music started, and Carol Doda was lowered from the ceiling. Who is Carol Doda?
Carol Doda was a stripper in San Francisco, California in the 1960s. In 1964 Doda, still in her teens, she made international news when a gynecologist injected silicone into her size-34 breasts, adding 10 inches to what would become known as Doda’s “twin 44s” and “the new Twin Peaks of San Francisco”. Doda’s act began with a grand piano lowered from the ceiling by hydraulic motors; Doda would be atop the piano dancing. She go-go danced the Swim to a rock and roll combo headed by Bobby Freeman as her piano settled on the stage. Doda performed 12 shows nightly so that management could keep crowds moving in and out.
So, you can imagine Susie, still young and innocent (no more than five years prior she was crowned Miss something-or-other of Flagstaff, AZ) being shocked at her future brother-in-law’s suggestion of events. Hilarious. She was laughing so hard when she was telling the story, we were all crying. Later that night, we walked around the Interlochen Center for the Arts campus and were reading the names of all the famous people that have attended there and Amy, Susie’s daughter, quietly added “Carol Doda” as we were reading off the list of famous people. We fell over with laughter again. Carol Doda is now a new family joke.
From the internet:
Waldie needs no introduction to audiences and orchestra members of the Big Bend Community Orchestra. As co-founder (with Ginny Densmore) or the organization in 1994, Waldie led the group for ten years before handing the baton over to Dr. Jim Croft. Renowned baritone, bassoonist, and conductor, Waldie knows everyone worth knowing in the world of classical music. Ask him to call Van Cliburn! He is married to another world-class musician, pianist Carolyn Bridger, and the dynamic duo have taught and performed around the world. They spend half of each year at Interlochen Michigan providing guidance to the young musicians at the famous music camp.