Likely just because I was new, Tanya at the Surry Arts Council asked me to do a calendar signing at the banquet on Thursday evening. While I was happy to do so, it did cramp any relaxation for the evening. When I finally left the autograph room, I had to wolf down my meal in order to be done before seeing the main act, comedian Henry Cho.
I was told I needed to be at the country club by 4:00 as the doors open at 5:00. I was there at 4:00—virtually by myself! Other than Allan Newsome, the Floyd tribute artist who served as emcee for the evening and so was going over his notes, literally no one else other than the staff of the club was there.
Of course, as it got close to 5:00, the celebrities started streaming in. The biggest perk for me was where I sat. I was not actually selling the calendars themselves. The arts council had bought them and were the ones actually selling them; I was just there to sign them. Since I would not be handling money, they put me at the one table where the only other person there did not have to handle their own money—the ever-lovely Betty Lynn! A person from the arts council sat between us to take money. Of course, that also meant I spent the evening at the table with the longest line of people seeking an autograph since Betty always has that effect.
I was able to distribute copies of the calendars as gifts to many of the celebrities in attendance before the doors were opened, including Betty, Maggie Peterson-Mancuso, Rodney Dillard, LeRoy McNees, Clint Howard, Karen Knotts, and more. So other than me, everyone seated had either been on the show or was the child of a cast member.
I am not sure the thought of me doing a signing there was the best. I signed a LOT of calendars that night, but the vast majority had been purchased in town at one of the shops carrying them so they were not buying them from the arts council. Not all, mind you, but a lot. The celebrities in attendance charge a nominal fee for their autographs, usually around $10. I got quite the chuckle when someone came up and explained they had bought two of my calendars at the store Mayberry on Main in town and asked if I would still be okay with signing them. I told them I would be happy to. After doing so, the person asked me, “How much?” I was confused and asked if they meant how much the calendars were being sold for at the banquet. He responded, “No, how much do I owe you for signing them?” It was everything I could do not to explode with laughter. Instead, I just chuckled and said that it was my pleasure.
My friends Johnna and Marsha were in line to get Betty’s autograph. A man behind them saw me and asked if they knew who I was. They told him my name and explained I was an author who had just released his first publication, a desk calendar. He asked, “Oh, okay. But who was he on the show?”
I love that.