Tuesday, March 4, 2014

ExpressYourself: A Hero's Mark @JungleJackHanna @RealNichelle @Marina_Sirtis @JimHensonLegacy

Express Yourself: 
Autographs From My Heroes

Welcome back the weekly Express Yourself Blog Tour. This week I was asked to write about the autographs that I have collected. I actually have three but use to have four autographs that meant more than the world to me. 

1) Jack Hanna
The very first autograph that I ever collected was from Jack Hanna at the Columbus Zoo. Jack Hanna
Public Domain
was the director of the Columbus Zoo from 1978 to 1993. I'm from Marion, Ohio which is only 35 miles away. I spent much of my childhood at the large zoo. I have always had a passion for wildlife conservation and preservation. I love all animals and find them fascinating. In fact, I wanted to be a zookeeper when I was in Middle School. When career day came around and we had to spend a day in our chosen career then write a report about it I couldn't get into the Columbus Zoo for my project so I settled to spend the day in a pet store. Jack Hanna started appearing on shows such as Good Morning America and Late Night with David Letterman in 1983. He quickly became a local celebrity. He not only exposed the Columbus Zoo nationally with each public appearance but he also made drastic changes to the way the zoo operated that made the Columbus Zoo one of the largest and best zoo's in America. I became so accustomed to the changes he made that today I still compare any zoo that I visit with my childhood zoo. The Columbus Zoo takes an entire day to visit! One day while we were visiting the zoo the zoo announced that Jack Hanna was signing autographs close to where my mom and I were located. I was so excited. My mom and I followed the directions and I couldn't believe my eyes when we stood before my hero, Jack Hanna. I told him about my love for animals and how much I wanted to work with them when I grew up. He gave me a photograph of him and signed it.

2) Nichelle Nichols
Public Domain

I have always been a Trekkie. I still remember the first time my mom introduced me to the Star Trek series. I was in 2nd grade and we had just moved to Mt. Gilead, Ohio. There was a new station on the cable that only showed Sci-Fi shows. My mom turned it on and introduced me to Star Trek. I immediately fell in love with the show. We would watch Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and then Buck Rogers. I loved them all but my favorite was always Star Trek. My mom took me to my first Star Trek Convention when I was a few years older. My favorite part was sitting in the conference room listening to Nichelle Nichols answer questions about her experience on Start Trek. I couldn't believe she would answer just any one's questions. After the show we stood in a long long waiting for her to sign her autograph. The line was so long and I grew tired of waiting. So I snuck my way to the front of the line and struck up a conversation with the actress. We talked for an hour before mom eventually worked her way to the front and Nichelle signed two pictures, one for me and one for my mom. I'll never forget that conversation. I don't remember what we talked about but I remember Nichelle took the time out to talk to a young girl who had always admired her. I walked away feeling like I had made a friend and because of that Uhura became my favorite character on Star Trek. 

3) Marina Sirtis
I had seen all of the movies, read the books, comics and watched the old series by the time Star Trek:
The Next Generation premiered on television in 1987. I was so glad there was a new Star Trek for my generation to watch. I was intrigued by all of the characters especially Tasha Yar, Worf and Deanna Troi. The thing that interested me the most about Worf was that he was a Klingon serving on a Federation ship. What was up with that? Counselor Deanna Troi interested me the most because she was an empath and she was a counselor. I was interested in anything to do with psychology, sociology and anthropology. In 1989, my mom and I went to a Star Trek convention where Marina Sirtis. We had just watched the episode "Who Counsels The Counselor." My mom was a social worker and found some of the techniques used in the episode wanting. The line was really long and I tried to get close to the actress just as I had done with Marina but I couldn't get close enough. Once it was our turn to get our autographs my mom told Marina that she was a social worker. Marina asked what she thought of the new episode that aired the previous week. My mom told her what she found wrong with it and Marina said she would relay the message to the producers. She autographed our pictures and then we went on our way. After that I liked the character Counselor Troi even more.

4) Jim Henson
The last autographed I collected happens to be a happen of chance I will never forget. My friend, Nikki, and I were part of a school group called Earth Shuttle the summer of 1990. The Earth Shuttle program was a week long educational field trip for a select group of students who excelled in science hosted by Disney and NASA. We had backstage access at Disney and met some of the members of the Mickey Mouse Club (none of the stars). Our group had an indepth tour of NASA and was there when the Hubble Space Station was supposed to launch the first time. Every place we stopped we had to take notes in our program booklet so that when we returned to school we would have notes we could use to construct our presentations. The last day we were there was a free day at Disney. Nikki and I had gone back to the studio to hang out with some of the Mickey Mouse Club but they were busy taping. We decided to go to the Indiana Jones presentation. We left the back lot and got lost on our way there. We ran down Main Street only to encounter some of the characters dancing around and singing. We didn't know they were being filmed. They stopped filming and we met a girl there that was the star of the film they were shooting. She was there because of the Make A Wish Foundation had sent her to Disney. We told her we were lost and she directed us to the Indiana Jones exhibit. We arrived just in time to get a seat in the front row. We watched the show for a few moments and then the show was stopped. The narrator told everyone on the loud speaker they had to interrupt the show because Jim Henson had made a special appearance requesting that he use the set to film his latest muppet film and wanted the audience in it. We all cheered. Nikki and I were sitting in the front row. Jim Henson showed up with the muppets and we watched him film this scene.

After the taping Jim Henson announced he would be giving autographs. The only thing I had on me at that time was director's board I had bought earlier. I handed it to Jim Henson to sign and he did on the top. Nicole and I were so excited. I kept the director's board for most of my life. It was one of my most prize possession and I tried to keep it safe with each move I made. Eventually, the director's board broke in a move and I lost Jim Henson's autograph. I may have lost his autograph but I will never forget the experience.

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