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Write it Out: Time to air some dirty laundry

Mon., March 18, 2013

The one band I regret not seeing? My fantasy version of The New Christy Minstrels. I attended their concert but fantasy was replaced by reality.

I was a student at Gonzaga University in the mid-1960s when our budding student impresario managed to book the chart-topping Minstrels. I scraped together coin for a ticket while imagining my concert evening in the audience loving the music, dreaming of what it might be like to be on the stage as one of that glamorous group, and yes, ogling the hunky guys.

The fantasy did not include sitting in the front row of the old Coliseum holding singer Barry McGuire’s laundry on my lap. Because of my connections with the budding impresario, I was on the GU crew that met the Minstrels at the airport.

They were on day 17 of an 18-day, 18-city tour and were all exhausted. When they were told someone had booked them into a personal appearance at J.C. Penney they were furious.

We got them downtown and took them in the front door of the store, and the overflow crowd went nuts.

One of the group members grabbed me and another girl as we pushed toward the escalator and told us to hang onto one of the guys in the group and not let him out of our sight because “he tends to wander off.”

We promptly lost him in the crowd and then spent 15 frantic minutes searching. We found him in the men’s department insisting to a bewildered clerk that he be measured for a custom-tailored suit. The appearance was turning into a fiasco.

Our impresario told me to give them anything they wanted or needed. When I approached one of the women singers with that inquiry she apologetically asked if I could do her laundry.

The next thing I knew I had 10 bags of laundry from nine desperate Minstrels, and one male diva who haughtily handed me a bag full of silk shirts with explicit instructions for hand-laundering.

Back to the dorm to commandeer washers and dryers and willing “laundresses” among my friends. We washed, ironed and folded clothes for hours. The handmade shirts? Crammed into the washer and dryer and back into the bag a wrinkled mess.

The lesson here? Never insult any woman by treating her like a scullery maid.

The fiasco was deepening.

There is no good way to indulge your fantasies with a bag of laundry on your lap. Even if it’s Barry McGuire’s laundry. We still had to get backstage after the concert to deliver the laundry. We managed, to the thanks of nine exhausted but grateful singers followed by screams and cussing from Mr. Diva.

We didn’t stick around for autographs.

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