Monday, April 25, 2016

With Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in the movies, all you needed was for someone to say “Let’s put on a show,” and – presto! – they put on a show.

With BJ folks, you just need someone to post “Let’s have a party!” and – presto! – there they were Saturday at the Nauti Vine Winery.

It was Ladies Only, though.

And the location is understandable, too, since it’s the Portage Lakes restaurant started by Erica Antoniotti, who must be related to Kathy Antoniotti, one of the BJ participants, and Joe Walthey.

The Ladies Lineup included Katie Nix and newsroom types Betsy Lammerding and Jewell Cardell, my fellow conspirators on the Features Desk till my 1996 retirement, Kathy Antoniotti, Gloria Irwin and Katie Byard, whose stepson is a Black Keys drummer, and Lynn Sherwin, deputy Features editor when she wasn’t winning money on TV’s “Jeopardy!”

Gloria left the BJ in 2006 to handle media relations for Timken.

For reporter Katie, it was a lot more fun than waiting in Europe for a plane that took forever and a day to pick them up when their other plane was turned back over the Atlantic, or having a tree fall and knocking out power to the house she shares with husband Jim Carney.

Betsy wrote consumer articles during my time. Jewell, of course, stepped into Fran Murphey’s giant bib overalls as a BJ columnist.

Kathy joked:

“John, I worked with you for four days the week you retired. I took over production of the daily television page and the movie listings in Features.

“The editors made me promise not to be off on Wednesdays when the movie listings had to be done. They hated doing that. And they weren't up for learning Quark to produce the TV page, either.

“I retired in September.

“Obviously, I wasn't all that memorable. Lol.”

Kathy, I can’t remember what I did yesterday, let alone 20 years ago. And I was so overwhelmed by my impending retirement I probably wouldn’t have recognized JSK if Gene had chauffeured him up to my desk.

But I do remember that it took two people to do my job when I went on vacation, and unhappy faces before I left and when I returned. The Channels technology then, crude by today's standards, was something that only a crazy man could do. That made me a perfect fit.

Katie Byard explained the mystery woman next to her, who is not identified in the photo because the BJ folks I checked with couldn't provide a name for me:

“I brought a ringer: friend Deb Sanborn -- a former planner for Barberton City who is consulting with Cuyahoga Falls, just BTW.

“She and I had planned to do a nursery crawl of sorts Saturday, and she graciously let me twist her arm into meeting some lovely people and drinking wine slushies!”

After all, Katie, what are friends for? And you could hardly have had Jim show up in a dress instead.

It sounds to me like the Ladies of the Knight, as the BJ softball team was once called, had a great time without any of the guys around.

Have we become obsolete?

As my long-time Blue Room lunch companion Bob Dyer writes again and again: Just kidding.

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