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Reader commentary: A sweet farewell to the 'Moon River' crooner

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Andy Williams died Sept. 25 at his home in Branson, Mo. He was 84. AP Photo/file

By Patricia F. Brinklow

Wednesday, Sept. 26 was one of those days. Kind of like Dallas, Texas, 1963, when John F. Kennedy was shot. And Sept. 11, 2001 in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia when our nation was attacked by terrorists. Not quite as devastating an experience to most, but nevertheless, it was devastating to some of us.

"Moon River" begins to play and then we hear the announcer. "This just in from our newsroom, Andy Williams has passed away." And the memories began to flood my mind.

It was 1963. The seniors were decorating the school gym for their prom at John S. Mosby Academy. We hung our handcrafted tin-foil covered stars from the gym ceiling. Then some of us girls took a walk over to Chimney Field and began picking some of my mother's flowers to adorn the tables. We also picked some flowers from Mr. & Mrs. Kendall - our backyard neighbors. We hadn't asked permission to pick from Mrs. Kendall's yard and subsequently got caught in the act by her. But being the nice lady that she was, she gave us permission to take as many flowers as we wanted. We were so looking forward to this night. One of the most important nights of our life. Our senior prom. As with every prom, we had a theme - "Moon River."

A glorious night it was! As I walked into the gym on the arm of my date, Carson Shenk, I saw my classmates decked out in their finest attire. The young ladies in their beautifully flowing prom gowns and our beaus in their tuxedos. The moon was glowing and the stars were shining ever so brightly, both inside the gym and outside.

I especially remember one of my closest friends, Geraldine Shenk, and her date, Rudy Bushong. Such a handsome couple! Geraldine's gown was gorgeous, but her shoes were...let's see, how do I say this nicely? Sneakers! She had told us this was what she was planning on wearing, but who in their right mind would have believed her?

Nevertheless, the night was enjoyed by all as Alice Litwin sang "Moon River" and we danced for hours and clung to every moment as if it would be our last.

A few years ago my husband and I were vacationing in Branson, Mo., and our motel was next door to the "Moon River Theater." I had taken the jacket of my "Moon River" album with me in hopes of getting Mr. Williams to autograph it for me. I was ecstatic when he honored my wish. And as I sat there in the theater - fourth row, center - I felt tears on my cheeks when he began singing his last song of the evening - his signature song, "Moon River." So many happy memories once again overwhelmed me. And yes, I saw a vision of Geraldine Shenk pulling up the hem of her gown to show us her shoes!

Yesterday I cried on the inside, and then I felt it - a small tear on my cheek. And I am not ashamed to admit it; I began crying on the outside also. Yesterday not only marked the passing of an icon, a legend, our Huckleberry friend, but also the passing of a small part of the 1963 Senior Class of John S. Mosby Academy. I'm sorry Andy, but we just "Can't Get Used to Losing You."

Patricia F. Brinklow is a Winchester resident.


Thank you for sharing such a sweet memory. We are constantly hearing so much of the turmoil and ugly things in the world today, we can sometimes forget to remember the innocent and lovely things of yesterday. A wonderful tribute to a great entertainer!!!!

That is a wonderful positive commentary Ms. Brinklow. I'm 40 something years old, and that "moon river" song definately catches my attention anytime I hear it, usually in a movie or something like that.

Mrs. Brinklow you "Speak softly" of another era when people seemed more civil, cared about manners, and looked the part. Young people were suppose to respect their elders and conduct themselves accordingly. Children were children and expected to be innocent for as long as possible.

Andy Williams will be remembered as a gentleman from that world: his smooth voice and clean cut image can be appreciated even more today where vulgarity is the norm. My parents enjoyed his show when they visited Branson, MO., many, many years ago.

And it wasn't officially Christmas until Andy Williams had his TV special each year. He brought a magic to millions and his music will be appreciated for a long time by many of his fans.

Thanks for sharing your memories with us. :)

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