Sunday, June 01, 2014

Hey, Internet: Where's My Picture of Me and Ann B. Davis?

The news of the death of actress Ann B. Davis was a bit of a shock. For those of a certain age, she was "Schultzy" on the The Bob Cummings Show. I'm NOT that age, having grown up instead in the golden age of first-run episodes of The Brady Bunch. Totally tangential, and not to make light of her passing because it does sadden me, but a burning question has been brought once again to the forefront of my noggin from the deep recesses where it had been locked away for many years:

Where is my picture of me and Ann B. Davis

There's a short story here, but I'll be quick about it:

Sometime back in 1993 -- Who am I kidding: it was May 11! I have the ticket stub right next to me! -- I won tickets to a Brady Bunch Reunion Cruise, sponsored by WPLJ-FM radio (95.5 FM, NYC) and The Spirit of New York. The announced guests on the cruise were Barry Williams, Susan Olsen and Ann B. Davis, aka "Greg", "Cindy" and "Alice", respectively, if you grew up on a different planet.

It was a little of an odd evening for me. My wife couldn't make the cruise, and as I would be traveling home late by subway, I didn't want to ask anyone I'd feel obligated to take home at that hour of the night. Especially if there might be by alcohol involved.

I briefly contemplated asking some young lady standing around waiting to get a glimpse of "Greg" by the gangway if she wanted to go dancing, but I found two problems with this. First, there was no guarantee I wouldn't be deserted the moment she got on board (or five moments after we would attempt polite dinner conversation). Second, they keep the gawkers far away from the ship out by South Street and well away from the pier. (Pier 11, if I remember correctly, down by Wall Street.)

Getting back to the story, I was on line alone, listening in to other people's conversations as we waiting to get our passes and board. I finally got mine, except it was someone else's -- they just checked my name of a list and gave me the next ticket. A photographer waited for each couple to start up the gangway to snap a souvenir picture. He asked the couple ahead of me, "Are you three together?" I nodded no, but the woman asked, "Would you like to be together?"

An interesting offer, but I declined, and I had a picture taken on my own. I don't remember if they'd waited for me, or we were just assigned seats for dinner, but the three of us shared a table for dinner. The "couple" turned out to be a mother and son. The guy's name was Dean, and he was around my age. She was Marcy; I don't know her age, but she looked like she'd been a young mother. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Dean and I each thought the other looked familiar. Having both grown up in Brooklyn with two million other people, it was possible. However, we only came up with one mutual acquaintance, and we couldn't think of a time we'd been together with him. (And it was only an acquaintance of mine, not a close friend or anything.)


The Spirit of New York is a nice dinner cruise ship, sailing from South Street along the East River, around the tip of Manhattan and into the Hudson River. The crew was friendly and professional. There were hors d'oeuvres to be eaten, drinks to be drunk, and views to be taken in. The ship sailed, and we went on deck to feel the sea breeze in our faces as we sang The Brady Bunch theme song with total strangers and a drag queen with a microphone as a second one -- a brunette wearing a green dress and carrying a videocamera the size of a small Buick on his (her?) shoulder -- filmed the merriment. They walked about the entire ship the entire evening, at one point being chased up from below decks. Honest mistake.

After dinner, the dancing started on one deck and the celebrities were signing autographs on the deck below. The line never got any shorter. Not until we got on it. A couple of girls got on line behind us and then that was in for the following hour of the cruise. I could've stayed on the dance floor and possibly Electric Slided (electically slid?) into newswoman Naomi DiClemente and had essentially the same place in line an hour later. But conversation with strangers is something New Yorkers do best. That is, when we're not totally ignoring total strangers, which we're pretty good at, too.

So I didn't have a camera on me (or if I did, it wasn't working), but I did have a journal on me. Back then, I had a mini-notebook on me all the time, and I tried to write in it every day. Usually, I was writing while riding home on the subway. I'm sure my poor penmanship suffered, but it's when I had the most solitude to write -- on crowded, evening rush hour subway trains. I worked far enough uptown that I usually had a seat, except when I had to give up a seat for a mother-to-be or the elderly. (Watch out for the Wednesday matinee crowd!)

When we finally got to meet them, Ann B. Davis, Alice, was at the first table. I asked her to sign my journal, opening it to a fresh page. She was impressed that I had a journal. At that point, Marcy asked if I wanted a picture with Ann. C'mon now: Who could say "no" to a picture with Ann B. Davis? Ann was obviously used to this, and had probably posed for dozens of pictures already that night. There's a table between us, so I leaned back and Ann leaned forward. Apparently, we weren't close enough because Ann pulled me back to narrow the gap as Marcy took the picture. (Or maybe she told Dean to take the picture? Could be.)

We met Barry and Susan. Marcy points out all the blank pages in the journal to "Cindy" and says that she needs to write her life story. Susan declines and adds a note in my journal that she's already written her life story. (Thanks, Marcy -- I had a thing for Cindy when I was, like 12 -- go and ruin it for me. Well, there was still Naomi ...)

The rest of the evening was fun ... and short because we really were on line a long time. When we pulled back into port, Marcy insisted that they give me a lift home, from lower Manhattan all the way out to Bensonhurst, my first apartment after I got married. I gave them my address, and they promised to send me a copy of the picture. Well, it never came. It's been twenty years, and still nothing. Granted, I moved out of that apartment within three years, so maybe it's sitting in a Dead letter pile at Bath Beach Station.

However, in the intervening years, the Internet has evolved, and who knows, maybe this will go viral and someone will see it. Maybe that someone will know a Dean who has a mother named Marcy. Maybe Marcy still has that picture of some oddball they met on a cruise, sitting someone in a shoebox with other pictures in the bottom of a closet behind from old mixtapes. Maybe the Internet can finally answer the question for me:

Where is my picture of me and Ann B. Davis?

No comments: