5. My first volunteer job

| May 21, 2014 | 2 Replies
Bob Gibson, Mary Jane Farmer and Pedro Gutierrez

Bob Gibson, Mary Jane Farmer and Pedro Gutierrez

Like I said earlier, it was a boyfriend who turned me on to the Kerrville Festivals. He was in the New Folk contest in 1975, didn’t win, but fell in love with the festivals. He and I broke up between then and 1975 Fall Festival Time. We were still talking, but when I told him I was going to the festival, he flipped out. The festival was HIS, he said, and how dare I take it from him. Well, glad I stood up to that guy, much as I cared for him… it opened new doors for me that still haven’t been shut.

The night before opening the gates, Rod Kennedy had all us volunteers sitting inside the theater area, where he went over the rules and introduced the group leaders. Then, he said something like, “Oh, by the way, we need someone to go pick up a performer at the San Antonio Airport. Any volunteers?” I turned around (I always sit on the front row, having been a Methodist all my life) and looked around and was amazed that no one raised a hand. So I did. Raised it high. And that marked my beginning of involvement. I met that star, then went back and forth over the festival time and met and transported several others. High/hog heaven for me. I worked transportation from then until Rod asked me to become his staff coordinator in 1980.

My last trip as a transportation volunteer was later, a year or so after I left the festival staff, 1991, I believe it was, maybe 1992. Rod has asked Bob Gibson, who through the years had become a great friend and ‘long-distance sponsor’ for me. Bob had been stricken down with progressive supernuclear palsy, and was wheelchair-bound. By that point, the PSP had rendered him unable to play his guitar or sing, among other debilitating affects of this devastating disorder. My job was to go get him every day, take him to the festival and around the grounds and take him back to his hotel every night. I felt honored.

Danielle and her best-fest friend, Susan Rhodes

Danielle and her best-fest friend, Susan Roads

The last night, as Bob and I drove back to town, my granddaughter, Danielle, was with us. I was raising her then, and she loved the festivals at the very tender age of 2 and 3 years, and before those years and afterwards. She sat in the back seat, singing, still excited from the great night of music and ignoring me and Bob completely. Bob turned and asked Danielle if it was all right if he sang along with her. She smiled, those dimples showing that she’d be glad for him to.

Bob and Danielle sang “The ABC Song” the last few miles of the trip back to the hotel. A few months later, Bob told me that was the last song he ever sang.

Oh, and did I mention?  It was Bob Gibson, if memory serves me right, that I picked up on that first trip to the San Antonio Airport.

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Category: *- Features, MJ's Story/ Blog

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  1. Nena says:

    Okay I am loving these memories!!!!

  2. Craig Neal says:

    MJ I don’t think I ever told you this but I LOVE hearing your stories it really warms my heart thank you for all you do 🙂

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