The Salvation Army’s Soul-Saving Campaign Raised Funds With Sole-Saving Blake Mycoskie

The annual Salvation Army Luncheon is an inspiration in itself. With a herd of both males and females showing their support for the 130-plus year old organization, the luncheon is the warm-up kick-off for the yearly red kettle drive. As guests arrived at the luncheon in the Hilton Anatole, they were greeted throughout the lobby by The Salvation Army (TSA) associates ringing bells.

For some reason, there seemed to be a little more pep in the step as people entered the ballroom. Perhaps it was the Cowboys’ recent wins, the very successful Bush Center groundbreaking or the slight turn in the economy. Regardless, the crowd of 1,500 was bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Charlotte Anderson was wearing many hats like —

  • First Daughter of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
  • Exec VP Brand Management for the Cowboys
  • President of Charities for the Cowboys
  • National Advisory Board Chairperson for TSA.

No wonder the gal had a front row table!  She also had by her side Mom Gene Jones at the next table with gal pals Diana Strauss and Lee Ann White, but she also was joined by Brill Garrett (pictured right with Charlotte Anderson), Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett’s better half.

No wonder Keith Urban will officially kick off the Red Kettle campaign performing halftime at the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving game.

Across the ballroom was Gail Turner, who feared  she was going to “have to put rocks in (husband/SMU president) Gerald‘s shoes” to bring him back to earth after the Bush Center groundbreaking two days before.

Speaking of which, Nancy Halbreich was giddy about the groundbreaking, too. Not just the event. She was just sitting among the first 10 rows with Nancy Dedman when Mitt Romney sat down next to her. When asked how the niece of former Democratic chairman Robert Strauss felt to be one of the only Democrats at the largely Republican gathering of 2,300, she diplomatically answered with a smile, “I consider myself to be an Independent.”

A few tables over, Bobby Lyle was being hugged and greeted like Santa. Luncheon Chair Joyce Fox (pictured right with Bobby Lyle) was one of the first to do the honors. Seems that Bobby was in charge of underwriting for the event and he has a reputation for making people want to give.

But more about that later.

Following the lunch’s being served, a moving video was presented telling “Edith’s Story” with the capper being the presentation of Edith to a standing ovation. Next Major Ward Matthews with the assistance of his wife Captain Michele told the group that one of the highest honors that TSA bestowed on individuals was The Others Award. It was created to recognize those outside TSA who have gone “above and beyond” to help the organization. They told how Jan Pickens, Ray Nixon (pictured) and Jim Francis had made such an impact through their efforts to raise awareness and finances for TSA that they were receiving The Others Award.

Then Gerald revealed that Bobby Lyle had given him an envelope with the amount of money raised from the luncheon. After opening the envelope, Gerald reported a whopping $3,313,154 was the magic number. But not satisfied, he suggested that everyone with a cell phone text a certain number which would result in their donating at least $10.

Immediately folks like Rena Pederson, Ann Carruth and Harriet Miers started texting. A few others raised an eyebrow. Looking a little uncomfortable, one guest whispered, “They just said that over $3 million was raised by us. Now, they’re asking for more?”

If you do your arithmetic and everyone in the room had texted $10, that would have increased the total by $15,000.

Gerald, the man who knows how to make things happen, also told the crowd that they could make a donation the old fashioned way by putting money in the little red kettles on each of the tables or buying the centerpieces.

Those Salvation Army soldiers really know how to market!

Speaking of marketing, the man of the hour and guest speaker Blake Mycoskie (pictured) took to the stage. The former SMU tennis player/founder of TOMS knew how to make an impression both visually and verbally. Doffing his brown sports jacket, the tousled brunette with the scruffy beard in the red plaid shirt with leather and beaded bracelets looked more like a beneficiary of TSA than the head of an international shoe mega-wonder. Ah, but he was just setting the well-dressed audience up.

While other speakers had used teleprompters, Blake talked non-stop for 25 minutes about his life. Sounds like half  a therapy session, huh? Not Blake’s life. Having done everything from losing  “The Amazing Race” by four minutes, to starting an online driver education company to playing polo and sipping fine wine in Argentina, Blake sounded like the ultimate subject of a  Robin Leach segment. Then while in Argentina, he joined some English-speaking gals in delivering shoes to children in a poor village a couple of hours outside town. He was so moved by the experience that he decided to start a company that gave one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased.

Blake’s tales of how he created the start-up company and in no time was overwhelmed with orders and encounters with the likes of Anna Wintour kept the audience riveted.  That first summer, 10,000 pairs were sold from his 1,000-square-foot apartment. This year TOMS gave awayits one millionth pair of shoes.

“Every single person in this room can have a tremendous impact  on the lives of people locally in this community and all over the world,” Blake said. “And your support for The Salvation Army is not just about  breaking a record or fund raising goals, which is awesome. It has to continue day after day after day. The more you incorporate giving into your life, the more you will receive. When you leave today, think what else you can do to help someone in need.”

By the time Blake had completed his talk, not a soul had left the ballroom and all gave him a standing ovation. It’s suspected that many were wearing TOMS by dinner time.

Share The Thanksgiving Feast

The MySweetCharity community is already starting to prepare for Thanksgiving celebration. You’ve done one of the following no doubt:

  • finished all the grocery shopping
  • made reservations or
  • arranged for the caterer to make your like flawless.

You’ve probably already thought of this next one, but just in case. . . you might want to have your friends and family bring a bag of canned goods to your Thanksgiving feast. On Friday, take all the bags to your favorite food bank.

Did you know that the North Texas Food Bank and other organizations are getting slammed with first time “clients”?


Dallas Symphony Orchestra League’s Elan Circle Announces 2011 Savor The Symphony Details

The young music lovers were found at 2011 Savor the Symphony Prelude Event for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League‘s Elan Circle at the Rosewood Crescent last Tuesday night. The occasion was to announced the April 16, black-tie event including a five-course dinner, silent and live auctions and live entertainment at the Adolphus Hotel. Cindy and Howard Rachofsky will be honorary chairs, with Carlen Long and Natasha Hallam (pictured second from right with, from the left, Derek and Carlen Long and Andrew Hallam) serving as the event chairs.

Seating will be limited to a lucky 250.

Cartier’s Jewel Box Included The Legends Action Team Plus Some Gems of Subs

Everyone knows that a jewel box contains the finest collection of gems. So that’s exactly what Cartier‘s at NorthPark has in-store last Tuesday night! Only the gems were not limited to the necklaces, rings and other shimmering baubles. They were “The Legends Action Team Members” being honored by the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee.

The crowd was so big that they were spilling out of the store. But when you’re dealing with hunks like these guys, congested partying has its benefits. Just imagine squeezing around the likes of former Dallas Cowboys Michael Irvin, Drew Pearson (pictured left), Preston Pearson (pictured right) and Rayfield Wright!

Even some of the subs weren’t too shabby either. Daryl “The Moose” Johnston was repped by his wife Diane (pictured center with, from the left, Cartier’s Nicole Dabbert and Super Bowl Committee’s Bill Lively) and Bob Lilly had his son Bob Jr. receive the award for him.

But it wasn’t a strictly Dallas Cowboys reunion. One of the biggest hits was TCU’s football coach Gary Patterson receiving his award.

On hand among the crowd was Kenny Goss, whose new Goss-Michael Foundation opened this past Thursday.

John Larroquette Was The Reluctant Inspiration At C.A.R.E. Community Breakfast

To say actor John Larroquette doesn’t suffer fools is an understatement. Even before he started his talk at last Monday’s C.A.R.E. Community Breakfast, he gave the impression that he really didn’t want to be at  Belo Mansion with hundreds in the audience. Politely posing for photos with guests (pictured from the left Isabell Novakov, John Larroquette and Brian Heflin), the 6’5″ Creole smiled like a kid who had been made to stay after school.

Once at the podium, it appeared that he really would have preferred to have been anywhere else.

“I don’t do a lot of these,” he said. “Let me just say. I speak for myself. I am not representing any organizations of any kind.  And usually it’s more of a closed audience, shall we say? A select audience?”

The audience laughed, but there was an undercurrent that John was dead serious.

“Most of whom I know have a type of leprosy in common with me.”

More laughter.

Larroquette (pictured) then started a slow inhale that sucked the audience into his world of chemical and alcohol dependency of the 1970’s and his own recovery in the 1980’s. Starting with his childhood in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, he talked about —

  • His father’s abandoning him and his mother when the youngster was two-years old
  • Learning that he had siblings from his father’s second marriage including a brother named John. “Who besides a drunk names two sons John? Sort of a coon-ass George Foreman. He (the father) was an alcoholic. I didn’t know him. At seven, he came home and took me to the racetrack. Why? Half off if you took a kid?”
  • Having never met his half brothers and sisters
  • Never having a drink growing up in New Orleans

But that changed in the 1970’s, when he became a “prolific drunk” —

  • “I was a hedonist gluttonous animal from the get-go. A child of the 60’s.”
  • “I loved the panhandler with the sign ‘Spaceship Broken. Needs Parts.’ I always gave him $10.”
  • “I was the ‘Chemist.’ People sent me stuff in the mail: ‘Take this and tell me what it does.'”
  • He moved to Hollywood because “there was a place that actually paid you to be other people.”
  • He went on a seven-and-half-year downward spiral.
  • Got $12 for a pint of blood. “$16 if you brought a buddy.”

Using his sardonic style, he told how he turned his life around in the 1980’s —

  • “When I got sober, Betty Ford was still trying to decide whether she wanted gin or vodka for cocktails that night. Weren’t a lot of place to go like C.A.R.E.”
  • “On February 5, 1982, I was doing coke and Johnny Walker Black. I was stuck sober.” Looking in the mirror, he thought, “What a loser! I saw a big, fat  ugly actor who was going to die.”
  • It was later than he learned that, “I got sober on my father’s birthday.”
  • Definition of an alcoholic: “Like a man on fire running through a room, sooner or later the flames will touch everyone.”
  • “I’m an expert on how to get drunk, and how to stay sober: You don’t drink.”
  • Quoting George Carlin: “Just because the monkey’s off your back doesn’t mean that circus has left town.”

By the end of his talk, Larroquette had shrunk the hundreds in the ballroom to a select audience of friends.

No, he doesn’t do many of these, but when he does, his talk rightly receives a standing ovation like last Monday.

Tutu Chic Luncheon Will Be A Too-Too-Must Attend

Last year‘s Tutu Chic Luncheon may have been one of the most fun fund raising secrets of the season. For its first time on the society calendar, it had the guests on the Winspear stage sipping champagne, eyeballing Korshak fashion and enjoying  dancers Texas Ballet Theater (pictured).

The Tutu Foursome chair-gals (Elaine Agather, Gina Betts, Tanya Foster and Olivia Kearney) who pulled it off last year decided to do an encore on Thursday, December 2, same place, same agenda.

With Nancy C. Rogers as the honorary chair, you just knew they were going to up the ante and they did with flair. Designer Naeem Khan will make a guest appearance for the event.

Champagne reception starts at 11:30 a.m. followed by the on-stage fashion presentation and the seated luncheon in the lobby of the opera house.

Tickets were going quickly, so move your tutu by calling Jeanne Cassidy at 877.828.9200, Ext. 110.

BTW, the underwriters include the following ballet lovers:

$25,000 — Nancy C. Rogers

$5,000 —  Jacqueline Barrett, Nancy Carlson, Jolie Humphrey, Holly Lydick /Shannon Hart, PaperCity and Priscilla Martin

$2,500Cassandra Fine Catering, Jeanne Marie Clossey, Barbara Daseke, Claire and Dwight Emanuelson and Wells Fargo

$1,500Elaine Agather, Terry Dallas, Lisa Barfield Kopecky, Courtney Marcus/Diane Byrd, Cynthia Miller, Jennifer Staubach and Kelly Van Den Handel

National Philanthropy Day Luncheon Salutes Deserving Who Share Their Accolades

The people who know, live and understand all aspects of philanthropy lunched at the Hyatt to celebrate 25th Annual National Philanthropy Day and honor some of their own Friday, November 12. For the VIP’s it was an early start with a reception at 1030 a.m. As 99-year old Ebby Halliday entered the reception area with LaunchAbility’s Cathy Packard (pictured right with Ebby Halliday), the resident real estate elder stateswoman found herself surrounded by fans and friends. Dressed in black with Versace sunglass, she said, “It’s my Johnny Cash outfit.”

The two topics of interest at the reception were two events that took place the day before — the Holocaust Dinner honoring Roger Staubach and the requiem mass for the late Lynn Moroney.

Organizers were prepared for any questions. Why they even had “cheat sheets” with photos and descriptions of the key players!

Newlyweds Colleen and Bob Baillargeon (pictured) were recalling how they had planned to spend their honeymoon following their March 27 wedding in France for three weeks. But thanks to that pesky Iceland volcano, they had a choice — sit in de Gaulle Airport or head to elsewhere.  According to Bob, “We weren’t going to stay at Charles de Gaulle for a week, so we went to the Rheims area to try the champagne.”

When asked his opinion of the Cliff Lee negotiations, former professional baseball player Baillargeon suspected that New York’s state income tax, working with Nolan Ryan and the Dallas area could be major considerations in Cliff’s thinking.

Luncheon chair Diana Marquis (pictured right with daughter Noel Navarette) was running a tight ship and immediately cut to the chase welcoming all and introducing City Councilwoman Ann Margolin, who presented a proclamation.

While salads were being dolloped with dressing, Dealey Foundation President Joe Dealey addressed the group followed by Communities Foundation’s Brent Christopher, who presented a check for $12,000 for underwriting speakers for the Association of Fundraising Professional ‘s Greater Dallas Chapter.

At this point everything was running right on schedule and Ms. Marquis looked pleased. Then the presentation of the awards was made to the following:

  • Outstanding Fundraising Executive — David Krause
  • Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy — Leah Prager
  • Outstanding Corporation — AT&T
  • Outstanding Foundation — The Sammons Dallas Foundation
  • Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser — Cecile Bonte
  • Outstanding Philanthropists — The Hallam Family

Most of the speakers honored the speaking time limit, but a couple of them hijacked the microphone for more than the allotted time. You really couldn’t blame them. They were thrilled and wanted to give recognition to their friends, families and associates. However, their prolonging their talks resulted in some of the audience heading back to their offices, so they weren’t able to hear Howard and Robert Hallam‘s (pictured left with Howard Hallam) short, concise acceptance.

Emcee Scott Murray closed the lunch with the fact that in the past year, 37% of those going to the North Texas Food Bank went for the first time. It was a reminder to those in the fundraising industry that the economy has made their work more needed that ever. Without the hardworking people in the philanthropy world, so many would have nowhere to go. Keep up the magnificent work for the good of all.


Mystery Man Surprises And Honors Pat And Emmitt Smith At The Robert S. Folsom Leadership Awards Dinner

Not only are they one of Dallas’ most dazzling couples, they’re also one of the most proactive teams in community services. They are none other than Pat and Emmitt Smith (pictured). For their “demonstrated commitment to community leadership,” the Methodist Health System Foundation presented the twosome with the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award last Thursday at the Hilton Anatole to a packed house that raised $915,000.

Event chairs were Emmitt’s old Cowboy buddies Troy Aikman and Daryl Johnston, but there was a problem. Troy was out of town and “at the last minute” Daryl had to duck out. Yipes! What was Foundation President/CEO April Box Chamberlain (pictured) going to do? There she was with the Smiths seated at the table in front of her and no “official emcee.”

April put out a plea for someone to volunteer. Search lights surveyed the room for a volunteer. As guests looked at each other in confusion, a voice from the back of the room said he might help. He seemed a little out of place wearing a Cowboys baseball cap, weather vest and the sunglasses (pictured).

April: “Do you know about Pat and Emmitt?”

Mystery Man: “A little bit. She was Miss Virginia.”

April: “How about Emmitt?”

Mystery Man: “Who?”

By this time the ever-classy Smiths were looking just a little bewildered, as was the rest of the audience.

Mystery Man admitted that he knew Emmitt had been a Cowboy.

April: “So Emmitt’s on your fantasy team”

Mystery Man: “You’re kidding. No chance! Can he shoot? Dribble? I know he can’t rebound! I like guys who can play basketball.”

By this time the man was marching up to the stage stripping off the sunglasses, baseball cap and vest revealing himself to be Dallas Mavericks owner/former Dancing With The Stars competitor Mark Cuban (pictured). The crowd plus the honorees loved the surprise emcee and his “last minute preparations.” High fives and hugs were exchanged as Mark proceeded through the crowd.

Putting on a jacket and standing at the podium, Mark acknowledging Emmitt’s success at DWTS: “I’m the one who should have won Dancing With The Stars!”

Then one-of-a-kind Mark got serious about the couple telling the crowd: “I’ve known them for a long time. They’ll have a long impact on the city of Dallas. That’s what this award is all about! . . When this couple sets their mind to something, it happens.”

Then looking at Pat, Mark got downright school boyish: “Pat won Miss Virginia. She should have been Miss America!”

So, what is it about the Smiths that motivates them to personally and professionally support people and causes? Earlier in the evening Pat and Emmitt talked about their efforts, both individually and through the Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities. With Pat watching attentively, Emmitt (pictured) said, “We’re just trying to improve on the things we’ve started. For kids, especially at-risk kids. Biggest thing for them is exposure to me. Exposure to the possibilities that they might not otherwise see. If that makes me a role model, I guess I’m a role model.”

Pat (pictured), who just gave birth to the newest Smith less than two months ago, looked pageant ready. Adding to her husband’s comments, she told how they had had a parent-teacher conference earlier in the day about their eight-year old son, E.J. The youngster had been assigned to do a project on a person, place or thing that he admired. “It was Emmitt,” Pat said with a smile of pride. “He really looks up to you. It’s all about family.”

Once again the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award selection was right on target.

2,300 In The Mega Tent Dig George W. Bush Presidential Center Groundbreaking As Media Behaves

Editor’s note: MySweetCharity has four posts that are in final stages of completion, but we’re going to post media coverage today of yesterday’s George W. Bush Presidential Center groundbreaking because of “popular demand.” And, yes, this is going to be lengthy, so settle back. And, yes, there are many photos of the George W. and Laura Bush (pictured center with, from the left, George W. Bush and Don Evans) and other folks in MSC’s “Photo Gallery.”

Organizers for the Bush Center groundbreaking Tuesday knew they were going to be dealing with 2,300 people broken into four groups —

  • VIPs of all levels
  • Guests
  • Protesters
  • The media

That last group is made up of all types including CNN-ers like Ed Lavandera, youngsters like Taylor Adams, old-hand locals like Bud Kennedy, conservative faithfuls like Steve Doocy (pictured) and liberal naysayers.

For media coverage Burson-Marsteller’s Jenifer Sarver was given the task of coordinating credentials for the Fourth Estate. She sent notices to the various media groups advising them to provide information by a certain date. The requested info was basic and they didn’t even ask if you voted for Bush. Once you got approval, you were told the time frame for showing up for the 10:30 event and how to enter the blocked off area. Pity the poor folks with the satellite trucks. They had to have everything set up for camp inspection. . . or rather security sweeps by 6 :00 a.m. The deadline for the rest of the media was 8:30 a.m. However, we knew that it would be wise to get there a wee bit early just in case. Plus we hadn’t gotten much sleep due to the overnight storm.

7:50 a.m. — As we approach the area, we see what appeared to be a white blimp hangar. No. It is Mega Tent (pictured) where the groundbreaking for a crowd of 2,300 is to take place in 2.5 hours. The enclosed tent probably costs more than the LBJ Library. Drive up to the check in area on Dublin and receive a media parking pass to continue to the media parking lot. My, but we are feeling special. As we walk to the grounds, we notice that despite being packed pretty tightly, the wet soil is creating a muddy situation. One of the valet parkers smiles, “Well, it’s not as bad as Cattle Barons last year.”

A table of ladies greets and checks our names off the list after checking our ID’s. We receive another gift — a hanging tag with our name on it and MEDIA in caps across the top. Gee, we are really feeling special. Visions of having access to world leaders and local decision makers are dazzling.

Now we go through a security check. Bag goes on a table for a full cavity search, as we walk through the metal detector. They don’t even make us take off our muddy-caked shoes.

“What’s this? A laptop?” the bag inspector asks.

“It’s an iPad,” we sheepishly reply.

“Oh, I don’t know about that, go ahead.”

As we walk from the security check in we notice that the mud situation isn’t improving and are glad to see that the tent has flooring covered with black plastic carpeting. Some chap is trying to sweep away the mud that had been tracked in by our predecessors.

We are directed to the media area with the offer of coffee, breakfast tacos and fruit. Ah, someone knows how to entice press folks. Put food out and they’ll follow you anywhere.

The media area is made up of two areas. At the front of mega tent on the west side there is a red-roped off area (pictured) with risers for television cameras and a couple of rows of folding chairs in front for reporters to sit. Adjacent to this area is a tent with rows of tables, setups for standup interviews and food. The tables are already filled with lit up laptops.

Like flies being drawn to a Venus Fly Trap the media enter the area only to find themselves more or less trapped. At 8:15 we are told to get to the bathrooms set up across the way because we won’t be allowed out of the area after 8:30.  Reporters and photographers who have been sucking coffee and soft drinks evacuate the tent like horses at the race track. Others gut up and stand their ground. It takes a strong bladder to be a journalist.

One veteran of presidential media events chuckles about the media handlers, “They’re acting like he’s (George W. Bush) still in office.”

8:25 a.m. — Try to get a photo of the entire tent area, but am stopped by a petite officer type (pictured) who has left her happy face at home. “Ma’am, you need to stay behind the red rope.” It is official — the media is now officially under lockdown status. But it isn’t much of a problem. Most of them are tucked away in the media tent waiting for designated “surrogates”  (i.e. accommodating VIP’s like Dan Bartlett, Josh Bolten, Don Evans, Ari Fleisher, Karen Hughes, Anita McBride, Margaret Spellings, Mark Langdale, etc.) to drop by for official chats. Besides there are some interesting media types there — KDFW’s Natalie Solis trying to get the mud off of her high-heeled boots; Bud Kennedy who had made the journey from Fort Worth to check out the Dallas doings; Brad Watson standing taller than ever over the rest; and Bill Murchison looking very businesslike with his briefcase and camel colored jacket.

CNN’s Ed Lavandera is out on the risers checking the crowd out. It seems that he was an intern and covered the groundbreaking for the George H.W. Bush library in College Station. Ed is becoming a presidential library expert! And he knows how to spot the dignitaries.

Some of the media realizes that the two rows of seats out front are going to become hot commodities and stake out their chairs. The front row seats are immediately reserved with briefcases, jackets and scarves. One fellow stands guard over three seats for his compatriots.

8:30 a.m. — Two guys in suits are on their hands and knees inspecting the carpeting (pictured) around a white circle in front of the elevated stage with two mammoth screens on either side. Within the circle is pristine tan-colored earth. It looks like a circus ring in which Chihuahuas might race around. It must have been imported. Wonder what they’re going to do with the dirt when the event is over.

On the big screens on either side of the stage, Barney (pictured) looms down at us. Say, didn’t Barney have a problem with the media?

One member of the media touches the red velvet-covered rope as if he expects to get a shock.  Sorta reminds you of The Great Escape. Nothing happens, but he doesn’t want to push his luck.

8:35 a.m. — A few guests are showing up. The official staffers seem to be men who live in suits and blonde women with hanging badges reading “ALL ACCESS, “BACK STAGE” and “STAFF.” Am beginning to wonder if “MEDIA” badges means “LEPERS.”  Secret Service is easy to spot — they look like extras from Madmen with hearing aids. They have very good posture.

8:40 a.m. — Bush Center VP of Marketing Ashley Elsey (pictured) hugs a SS guy just a foot away from the media area saying, “I was wondering where you were.” We sorta feel like chimps in the zoo watching the humans interact.  After watching tall, lean blonde Ashley strut throughout the tent, you realize that she knows everybody. Her badge reads “STAFF.”

8:45 a.m. — Some guy is on his knees bending over the circle smoothing the dirt with a shovel as if it were a Zen garden. Wouldn’t it be cool to have “W” drawn in the sand. So feng shui.

8:50 a.m. — Fire marshals with stern faces are walking through the tent.

We’re starting to catch on the that very super-duper VIP’s wear no hanging badges. One journalist wonders out loud, “What if I take off my badge and jump the rope?” Another warns him nicely that his clothing would still give him away. He stays put.

8:54 a.m. — Shovel Guy returns (pictured). Somebody has messed with his dirt.

8:58 a.m. — Wiley Dean walks by the Media Pen and looks at the two rows of seats. He chuckles and explains that his daughter works on the Bush Center staff. Her husband couldn’t make it, so she invited Wiley. He flew in from Alabama and is having a great time.

Media are starting to wise up. They’re starting to realize that there are about 100 of them and only so many places to sit.

9:16 a.m. — Corporate Magic‘s James “Jim” Kirk (pictured and no relation to Star Trek‘s James T. Kirk) looks over the sight. He’s one of the very few without a tie. He and his group are orchestrating the production. They smile and look pleased.

9:22 a.m. — Burson-Marsteller Exec/former Bush White Houser Karen Hughes has journalists lined up trying to talk to her. While she and Philip Sherwell from The Sunday Telegraph are practically knee-to-knee in their sit-down conversation, she manages to grab a bite to eat.

Helicopters can be heard overhead.

Bud Kennedy is talking with SMU President Gerald Turner.

The pr gal for the construction company asks if anyone would like to talk with representatives.

9:29 a.m. — Philip (pictured) continues to monopolize Karen, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She edges closer and closer to him to get her points across. Their heads are just inches away. Talk about hunkering down! Other media is starting to look a tad bit PO’ed.

The sound above makes it feel like a chorus line of helicopters are performing.

The media is starting to interview each other.

9:31 a.m. — Karen is done with Philip.  She greets Dallas Morning NewsTaylor Adams (pictured). Used to work with Taylor’s dad, Doug Adams, when they were at KXAS. PR assistant waylays Karen from the waiting media. Not good. Media feels threatened. Karen tells PR Assistant that she has to talk with the media first. Media smile. Karen scores points.

The crowd in Mega Tent has grown considerably. The front rows are starting to look very boldface with the likes of Ebby Halliday, Nancy Dedman talking with Nancy Halbreich, Rachael Dedman chatting with Baylor’s Ken Starr and a slew of dignitaries on the other side of the tent.

9:45 a.m. — Former VP Dick Cheney is seen near the base of the elevated stage. Someone says that he’s with his daughter Mary (pictured right with Dick Cheney). Someone else says he’s lost a lot of weight and looks frail. Wouldn’t you if you had had as many heart surgeries as he’s had? He is walking with a substantial cane.

9:55 a.m. — SMU Chair of the Board of Trustees Caren Prothro is shown to the front row. Chairmanship has privileges.

A suited Dirt Guard is now in place and politely tells people not to touch the dirt.

Gerald Turner is walking through the tent looking pumped. It’s all coming together nicely.

9:55 a.m. — Harriet Miers (pictured) is greeted with an air kiss and hugs.

10:07 a.m. — Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, who graduated from SMU’s School of Law, visits the Media Pen staying on his side of the red rope. He’s a hit with the media.

Someone in the Media Pen points out, “Isn’t that Mitt Romney (pictured) over there?” Yup, sure is. “There’s Mary Matalin!” Yup again. “I see Wayne Newton! That is Wayne Newton, isn’t it?” We’re starting to sound like tourists on a bus tour of Hollywood. Why didn’t anyone bring some binoculars?

10:15 a.m. — An official sounding voice announces that the program will start soon and seats are to be used. Music starts playing. Is that Elvis Presley singing “A Little Less Conversation”?

A cute blonde media wrangler in the Media Pen advises the media to take their seats.

“You can’t stand up,” Cute Blonde admonishes.

“I wasn’t planning to,” old journalist going to her front row seat says.

“Good because you are not to stand up at all,” she says nicely but firmly.

The media chairs are so tightly wedged together that reporters writing notes continuously elbow their neighbors. Perhaps organizers rented the chairs based on size and got a bargain.

All the seats in Mega Tent are filled except a few in the farthest back of the bleachers. The place looks like a very well-heeled revival meeting.

10:30 a.m. — The Official Sounding Voice introduces the dignitaries (aka Platform Party). The applause grows greater each time finally resulting in a standing ovation for Cheney as he enters the stage. It’s a Cheney-flavored crowd.

10:35 a.m. — Special Video Presentation “The Story Unfolds” starts. Among the slides is one of George W. standing with the NYC construction worker talking to the crowd over a bull horn. The crowd in the tent applauds.

10:38 a.m. — George W. and Laura Bush (pictured right with George W. Bush) are introduced. The crowd goes wild with standing ovation, cheers and whoops! The couple that has kept a relatively low profile since returning to Dallas is front and center.

10:39 a.m. — The presentation of the colors by the II Corps Fort Hood Sergeant Audie Murphy Club and the singing of “God Bless America” and the national anthem performed by SMU Belle Tones and Southern Gentlemen have everyone including the media on their feet. Hopefully, the little blonde media wrangler won’t get upset.

10:45 a.m. — Highland Park United Methodist Church Senior Minister the Rev. Mark Craig gives the invocation.

Everyone takes their seats again.

10:47 a.m.– Bush Foundation Board of Directors Chair Don Evans welcomes the crowd and is followed by Bush Foundation President Mark Langdale, Archivist of the U.S. David S. Ferriero, Gerald T, SMU Student Body President Jake Torres and then Bush Institute Advisory Board Chair Condoleezza Rice.

11:05 a.m. — One of the reporters on the front row drops her iPhone just out of reach. Knowing she can’t stand, she extends her pad to drag it back to her.

Condi (pictured) is greeted like a homecoming queen. The crowd loves her. She does a great job. Sirens are heard off in the distance. Secret Service men don’t budge and flinch. Must be no big deal.

11:11 a.m. — Condi gets ready to take her seat when she sees Cheney standing and preparing to approach the podium. She quickly returns to the podium and like a schoolgirl admits that she forgot to introduce former VP Cheney. He’s greeted like a hometown hero with still another standing ovation. The media stays seated. They’re not about to rankle the wrangler.

11:12 a.m. — Looking thinner and paler than the old days, he still has a twinkle in his eye as he tells Condi, “Well, I’ve often been overlooked during my tours.”  He goes on with a Cheney (pictured) jab, “This (the Bush Center) may be the only shovel-ready project in America.” The place is turning into a Dick Cheney pep rally. Dick knows what this crowd wants and he’s the delivery man. Even the more liberal members of the media are chuckling.

At one point in his talk, Cheney says, “He (George W) is his father’s son.” George W. appears to say “Thank you” from his seat next to Laura.

11:18 a.m. — As Cheney ends his talk and introduces George W., his voice sounds a bit weaker.  Front row of the media stays seated, but everyone else is up on their feet and cheering.  The former president welcomes all to Texas and “one of the finest universities in the whole United States.” Gerald, Jake and the SMU board of trustees look very happy.

He advises Jake, “it’s not too early to start thinking about your memoirs.” Good one!

George W points out the former president of Columbia is in the audience, as well as soldiers from Fort Hood (standing ovation). “I really don’t miss much about Washington, but I do miss being your commander in chief,” he says to the soldiers.

He thanks his former staff members and “the 160,000 donors whose generosity has insured that this building was fully paid for before we broke ground.”

George W talks about the Center and its goals. He reports that Laura will oversee the women’s initiative of the Bush Institute and how lucky he’s been to have had her in his life for 33 years. He turns over the podium to Laura with a kiss and a pat on the back.

11:31 a.m. — Laura talks about the plans for the Institute to empower women. The success of each of the Center’s goals depends on the contributions of women. Economy, politics, healthcare and literacy are dependent upon women.

11:39 a.m. — Laura completes her talk and is congratulated with a kiss and hug from the former president. George W tells the crowd that is now standing once again that “the speeches are over. It is time to shovel dirt.”

11:40 a.m. — With everyone on their feet, the white circle is hard to see. As the dignitaries including Ray Hunt, Robert Stern, Michael Van Valkenburgh, Alan Lowe and Caren Prothro (pictured center with, from the left, Ray Hunt and Alan Lowe) join the group from the stage and receive their shovels from SMU students, one wonders if the moment will be captured on the big screens. But wait. Still photos of Bush times are on the screens. The moment is going to pass and only those up close and pool photographers will see it. The moment everyone has waited for and it’s going to be blocked. At the very last second, the big screens show the group digging their shovels into the four-inch deep dirt as music thunders. Whew!

11:42 a.m. — The official sounding voice over the PA thanks everyone for attending, tells them to exit at the back of the tent and, “Please travel safely.”

Then as quickly as it happened, the shovels are returned to SMU students, Cheney with cane in hand departs with Mary and the crowd of 2,300 breaks into two groups. One departs for luxury buses and valet, while the other moves toward the stage to get a photo of the former First Family. But the couple is gone all too soon. Left without a former First Lady, President or VP, they take photos of each other on the stage and some even take pictures (pictured) of where George W and Laura dug their shovels into the dirt.

Heroic Faces Lined With Honor

Faces are quite telling. Last Thursday an assembly of remarkable faces were present at the Hall of State for a luncheon saluting veterans by the Daughters of World War II. Faces like Harry Kabler’s (pictured left with emcee Scott Murray) were aged with lines. Their eyes still glistened. Their hair was gray or silver. Some wore ribboned medals on their chests; some just brought tales of past encounters; some like Herb Bunning (pictured right with son Jack Bunning) were accompanied by a family member to experience the occasion. It was a bit hard for the younger members of the audience to think of these men and women in their 80’s and 90’s, like 94-year old James “Maggie” Magellas (pictured), as youths who had put their lives on the line, so the world would enjoy life without tyranny. They didn’t do it for the glory; they did it because it was the right thing to do.

Congratulations to the Daughters of World War II for saluting these heroes of an era that has passed all too soon.