Speaking for the Livonia Town Hall Meeting

I want to share with you a very pleasant experience I had yesterday.  I was invited to speak  to the Livonia Town Hall meeting.  They usually bring in  well-known speakers. (Their first speaker was George Clooney’s father.)   Obviously, I’m not famous, but   I had been  highly  recommended by  another town hall event planner who engaged me last year.  These town hall meetings bring 500 to 600 attendees,  and yesterday was no different.  The banquet hall was filled to capacity—500!

When I arrived, I received such a warm welcome from event planner, Dee Dee Dittmar.  Then, several ladies had attended  some of my former events  came to say hello  and let me know that they were excited to hear me for a second time.  I considered this a special validation  of my efforts.

As had never happened before,  a couple of ladies  from a Livonia  flower shop  laid down  the foundation for my display:  roses on  pedestals,  a trunk and a suitcase;  this  evoked  a feeling of luxury travel– such as that on the Andrea Doria!  on top of the  same platform, I added a survivor’s life vest, another survivor’s  dress and purse,  historic pictures  from   Life magazine ( August 1956),   and other curiosities.

Then I spoke for an hour  to an audience that didn’t move or breathe– so it seemed!  After lunch, I answered questions for at least another half hour.

I felt as if I had had an extremely captive audience at the Livonia Town Hall event.  Even if there hadn’t been a book signing I would have been very  grateful.  But the book signing   that followed lasted another hour  because I had so much interest– I sold three cases of books  and audio books. (My publisher will be happy!)  it was gratifying to  receive  very kind  compliments from everyone.  But more importantly,  they all expressed  what an incredible story I have,  that they are glad  I lived  to retell it,  and that it should become a movie.  Many said it would be more interesting than the Titanic because it’s so multifaceted.

As with every event I do,   I always discover Andrea Doria connections  among the attendees.  One woman pulled me close to her  as I greeted her table,  and she intently shared with me, ” My aunt was on the Stockholm when the two ships collided.”   I was amazed!  I asked her if she got the full story,  and she replied “no” because her aunt only spoke Swedish.   Another lady approached the podium as if on a mission to share something: she explained that she was on her honeymoon on Cape Cod when her husband’s best friend  was summoned to be among the first rescuers to the Andrea Doria wreck site: he was serving   on a cutter  called the  Evergreen. I mention it in  Alive on the Andrea Doria.

As I drove home with a delicious canoli in my bag, i realized that speaking for the  Livonia Town Hall meeting  will always be among  my favorite list of engagements. (You’ll find a complete list on my website, under Speaking Events.)

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