Monday, September 17, 2018

2018 MidAtlantic Nostalgia Convention Highlights

Something very special happens every time I go to an author event and talk with people about Bob Crane. Granted, traveling around the country can be expensive and exhausting. But it is also highly rewarding, fulfilling, and rejuvenating. I wish I could go more places to meet everyone. Because when I talk with people about Bob Crane, ninety-nine percent of the time, people are either overwhelmingly appreciative of our work on his behalf, or I'm able to change their perspective of him from negative to positive, and in some cases, give them their show (Hogan's Heroes) back. And in nearly all cases, they are sad but also angry—angry at the wave of negativity that continually accompanies Bob's name in mainline media. Once they know the truth, they realize how badly Bob Crane has been wronged.

This past week, September 13-15, 2018, and for my fourth year in a row, I participated in the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland. I saw old friends, made new friends, and talked with attendees about Bob Crane. As is always the case, I had an absolute blast! In fact, this was my best year yet!

If you have never been, it is absolutely worth it. The celebrities are always friendly and welcoming, the vendors are hard-working and fun, and the attendees are excited and interested in what you have to say. Convention owner Martin Grams and his dedicated staff work tirelessly on the event to make it a memorable experience for everyone. To top it off, the convention raises money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. What's not to love?

While at the convention, I am constantly reminded of why we're here to begin with: to set the record straight about who Bob Crane really was and to balance the scales. We provide truth and clarity, backed up with evidence and corroboration. It was never our intent to sainthood Bob; it was, however, our intent to reverse the ongoing negativity surrounding Bob, and share our findings and understanding with you.

As you would imagine, it gives me great joy to hear convention attendees who purchased the book in previous years return to see me and reiterate to me how much they "loved the book." That "it flowed." That "it was an easy read." That they "now understand who Bob was," completely and wholly, without biases or media glare. They continue to tell me how much they love Hogan's Heroes and his character Hogan, that they had no idea how instrumental he was to the radio industry and how he changed radio for generations to come, and that he loved his family more than anything else—his impetus for change and to better his life by combatting his sexual addiction and seeking to break free of it.

It was my great pleasure to meet several celebrities this year at the convention: Jan Smithers and Howard Hessman (WKRP in Cincinnati), and Ed Begley, Jr. (St. Elsewhere, This Is Spinal Tap,  The Accidental Tourist, and Auto Focus, to name a few).

In 2008, Mr. Begley and my research colleague/coauthor Linda Groundwater exchanged emails about our project; he had worked on Auto Focus, and his father, Ed Begley, Sr., was a guest on Bob's KNX radio show in the early 1960s. In that correspondence, Linda asked Mr. Begley if he would like to contribute to Bob Crane's biography. Mr. Begley felt he didn't know Bob well enough to contribute, but he did provide Linda with a very profound statement. He wrote: "I want to applaud you in your efforts to shed light on the life of Bob Crane... I wish you all the best in your endeavor and from the looks of the work that you’ve already done, you are accomplishing a most noble task. Again, I wish you great success."

I was honored to introduce myself to Mr. Begley, and I presented him with a copy of Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography. As he held it in his hands, he very lightly tapped the cover with the palm of his hand. He then said, "Bob Crane was a good man. Thank you. Thank you so much." He later reiterated his appreciation to my friend Darin Peters, who was the graphic artist for the book. 

In pinnacle moments like this, I am very deeply honored and humbled, as well as reminded of how important our work on Bob's behalf is and always will be.

It's not always easy being on the front lines to defend Bob Crane. I've received hate mail and been ridiculed. I've been harassed and called names. But in the great scheme of things, that's only a blip on the scale and a flash in the pan before disintegrating into nothing. The positives outweigh the negatives—by far.

Look for me to return again to the MidAtlantic Nostalgia Convention in September 2019! Wild horses couldn't keep me from it!

Carol Ford with long-time friend Brian Dettling.
Carol Ford with friend and vendor neighbor Mark Redfield.
Learn more about Mark's work by visiting his website (click here).
Carol Ford with friend and convention vendor Mitchell Hadley,
author of The Electronic Mirror and owner of It's About TV.
Darin Peters (graphic artist/Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography).
with Ed Begley, Jr.