By Ron Guichard
My Mountain Muse! As I hold on to this bobsled traveling faster each day, like being on a luge, I can only be grateful for the love, humor and talents that Merna Popper brought to my world.
A traditional Lady – you knew never to ask her age. That was often brought to my attention, when on occasions when I drove to the Emergency Room at O’Connor Hospital, the nurse would start asking her address etc. and when they asked for her date of birth, she would yell, “ Get him out of here!” I would retreat to the waiting room, never feeling upset, giving her the respect that she was due.
As with any relationship among friends or family, we were not isolated by the human factor of disagreements or a burst of anger.
We shared many great adventures. Merna had a way turning a request into a delightful experience. We bonded the first day we met. The Lady had what Hollywood would call “It.”
We worked through many planning board meetings. Ranging from the right for her opening a gallery from her home, and then for the renovation of the garage into the gallery. When it came to redesigning the garage Merna let me put some effort into the project. Merna boosted my male ego. It was a love project.
When opening day arrived, P.T. Barmun could not top her. The Gallery became a Mecca for every cross segment of society. Every personality was always welcome. Her culinary skills became benchmarks. From watermelon to the greatest of finger foods, chased down with her famous iced tea and lemonade.
One cold January Day Merna came into the office and said there was going to be a course in Impromptu theater given in Stanford on Monday nights. Would you like to go? It did not take me long to say yes. Being native to these hills, in good weather we would be there in 30 minutes. Merna would say, “How did we get here? I would have been lost.” My damsel in distress.
We so enjoyed those evenings. And when the final curtain came down, we brought down the house. From that time on we virtually lived in that world.
Nights out at lavish parties, often to raise money for Bright Hill Center, found us at the estate of the late Walter Rich, in Cooperstown. Being the “News Lady” it did not take Merna long to interview the Hostess. Merna left the table with enough information to write a book. On one of those evenings we entered the Ballroom, with a 7-piece Orchestra, only to discover that no one was dancing! Not to waste good music, Merna asked me to request the song “Don’t Fence Me In.” At that point the 2 Vaudevillians took to the floor, and as we started dancing, we commenced singing the words. It wasn’t long before we had the room filling up and people dancing. Merna could light up a room and enjoy every minute of it.
So, a light went out in Andes, and I look to the sky and there is her Bright Star. Eventually we will join you on that stage again.~