Both Amy and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Paul Newman this past week. He was a great humanitarian and left a legacy of "giving" that will continue for many years to come through his "Newman Own" brand. He will be deeply missed by many.
Amy and I spent time with Paul at his Hole-In-The-Wall Gang Camp in Conneticutt. Our first visit to the camp was on a day off from the "House of Love" tour. When we arrived at the camp the Executive Director told us that Paul was going to be there in a minute to give us a tour around the area. Now, for some people this might be a big deal, but I grew up with a mother and grandmother who ADORE Paul Newman and raised me to love him too, so when he walked into the room I was literally screaming inside my head. The first thing I noticed about him (apart from his incredible blue eyes!) was how unassuming he was. For those of you not familiar with the mission of the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang Camp, it is a camp that serves seriously ill children (www.holeinthewall.org). We spent the afternoon touring the facility with Paul and it was so obvious that he deeply loved these children and was intensely focused on creating an environment for them that was FUN, uplifting, creative, and hopeful. Amy sang for the kids and we all did some crafts together. After our tour, he asked Amy and I if we wanted to go fishing in the Camp’s lake. The three of us got in a small row boat and he rowed us around the lake while we fished. (Every time Amy put her hook in the water she got a bite; me – nada!) Later, Amy and I admitted that we could barely exchange eye contact the entire time we were on the lake because all we both wanted to do was stand up and scream from the top of our lungs – "WE ARE FISHING WITH PAUL NEWMAN!!!"
I was fortunate to accompany Amy back to the camp on two other fundraising occassions. Every year the camp holds a gala event that is an old-fashioned type "talent show" mixing the talents of celebrities and campers. The first year Amy was there she was excited to hear that her early musical idol, Carole King, was also going to be there among several other Hollywood actors and actresses. I will never forget the opening skit when Paul Newman came onstage as the Fairy Godmother and was wearing a pink tu-tu. He would do anything to bring a smile to the faces of the campers.
My most memorable moment at one of those fundraising events was a year when Christopher Reeve attended. It was after his accident and he was confined to a wheelchair. While waiting for the show to begin, Amy and her dear friend, Ruth McGinnis, stood by Christopher and played Amazing Grace and the Ashoken Farewell. It was obvious that Christopher was incredibly moved by the music and there wasn’t a dry eye in the tent.
I am going to look for some of the pictures I took at those event and post them in this blog later this week (if I can find them after all these years). In the meantime, here is picture of me (with darker hair) and the prettiest blue eyes this world has ever seen…