BB Webb and the Carl House team have hosted hundreds of special events, but none have struck the emotional chord of a very special 50th Anniversary celebration last week at Carl House. What follows is BB’s personal reflections sharing why this particular special event, hit extra close to the heart…. and the home.
I’ve hosted hundreds upon hundreds of events, written and produced plays, produced television events yet last Thursday evening was new territory for me and as I sort through the photos from the evening, I’m putting together the pieces on why it moved me so greatly and why the feeling of this particular event will stay with me forever.
Last summer two sisters, Debby Wood and Lindsay Ash came to visit with Monika our Event Planning Specialist and me. It turns out that their relatives owned Carl House before it was officially ‘Carl House’. I have sorted through all manner of photos and letters about this former ornamental plant nursery, build in 1903, eating up all the stories, imagining what it was like to live on this property before the age of cell phones, multi tasking and driving with a Hemi motor and traffic in Atlanta. Those days were different and our world has dramatically and quickly changed in just a century.
Daughter Debby Wood and Lindsay Ash....secret 50th Anniversary Planners!
These lovely, cheerful women had a vision and were on a mission….all the things that excite and interest me. Their parents, Connie and Minor Gouge, were to be married 50 years in June of 2011. How fun to sit and hear the stories of when they visited Carl House when it was still a residence.
Hearing their heartful plans, the love they had for their parents, their connection as siblings and how they wanted to involved their parents friends, old and new was much more than touching. It was deep in a way I appreciate.
I moved away from home at 17….eager to explore the big, wide world that was in front of me….and I did. My visits with my mom were few, though we remained connected nearly daily with a telephone.
To hear the bond these women shared with their mother, the stories of lessons learned from their father, the fun they all shared together, was beautiful and meaning to me.
So, last Thursday evening we hosted at Carl House a 50th anniversary party for Connie and Minor. I met their grandchildren, enjoyed photos in a slideshow created by their granddaughter, images from when they first met, through marriage, children as toddlers growing into adolesence, photos in cute outfits, sporting the ballfield, family gathering.
Minor and Connie Gouge
This was a close knit, loving family which has stayed together against all odds. This is not common and the feeling in our ballroom on Thursday night was happy, proud, loving and filled with joy that I’ll bet many of us don’t experience as regularly as we might wish we could.
I met a spunky and most delightful Patti Paulette Walshe, who was Connie’s Maid of Honor at her wedding. Still a sparkling glint in her eye, I sat and visited with she and Diane Shropshire Huie, both who gratduated with Connie Norwood Gouge in 1959, two year after I was born, (and I’m no spring chicken)! They, along with June Craig Mauldin, are some of Connie’s dearest most beloved pals. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with these ladies and hope I might have the opportunity to do so again!
It made me think of my precious friends, the ones who have been with me through stormy times, who have shared in the changes in our nation our world, the shifts from who we are to who we are becoming.
I was honored to be in the presence of these fantastic, bright women, wearing the years like sparkling queen bees….full of warmth, passion, humor and light!
I asked about the Connie they remembered from years ago, ‘She liked to talk alot!!’ giggled Patti!! ‘Connie has always been sensitive, sweethearted and she’d do ANYTHING for you….still will!’ She beamed a smile that made me dizzy.
June, also one of Connie’s oldest and dearest friends noted, ‘Connie is DOWN TO EARTH…a genuine, loving, dear person through and through!’
50 red roses welcomed Connie and Minor at the front entrance of Carl House, scrumptious hors d’oeuvres and later a full buffet. I stood in the ‘wings’ of our ballroom watching the many friends who gathered, listening to stories shared by Debby and then Lindsay, tearful, meaningful, heartful beyond measure, gratitude for the people who raised them, stood by them, Connie and her infinite positivism and Minor for his courage and warmth as a father.
A 1st '50 year' dance!
You could hear people sniffling in the audience and when it came time to toast, all hands were raised and I swear I could hear a chorus of angels singing. I love these people, what they’ve created. The example of lives well lived.
And, the connection to the home I am honored to have helped transform into a place where magically events unfold and people celebrate all the important events of their lives. No one could be more honored than me.
After cutting a celebratory cake, (with old photos nearby….helping other recall times past), there was ample dancing, with ladies tossing high shoes aside to ‘cut a rug’, Minor and Connie were held back while guests eagerly trotted outside with sparklers to bid this sparky couple outside to their waiting car, ready to taken off to their year 50 honey moon.
I’m not sure if their eyes sparkled more than the lit wands of the guests, but magic was clearly afoot and I felt honored to witness it all!
As they moved into the car I poked my head inside to bid them good-bye. Connie looked me straight in the eye and said firmly,
‘Our first big event was getting married, our second, having our wonderful daughters Debby and Lindsay, then the win of having grandchildren and our next, this event at Carl House’.
A grand departure!
My eyes welled up knowing that with this very comment I had achieved my vision, creating an extraordinary, memorable event that made a difference to someone. Frankly, that’s all I’ve ever wanting to do.
Blessings and great love to the Gouge, Wood, Lindsay families. Your memories will be mind to hold forever, thank you!
Thank you for the memories!