Small Town in Small World: Joy and Horror

Reflect on Old Friends, New Family


The joy of the rock musical Beehive and the horror that came to Newtown, Connecticut, left me contemplating our small town in a small world.

Omaha seems a small town when we find The Waiting Room lounge nearly full a few minutes before the 1 p.m. performance of the rock revival, and the management finds us two seats at a tiny table occupied by two women. One asks, “Are you Warren Francke?,” and reveals she’s the daughter of Frank Lane, once my editor at the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil.

We learn that Frank is now 93, and promise to visit him. Then we sit back to hear six women sing songs of the 60s and think about our small town: One vocalist, Ginny Herman, is a former student of mine at the University of Nebraska at Omaha; another, Sue Booton, is the wife of former student Tim Booton. Two others, Kathy Tyree and Tiffany White-Welchen are talents I’ve enjoyed over so many years that both feel like longtime friends, though young enough to be my daughters.

If this is getting too nostalgic, forgive it in my penultimate column (how many chances does one get to use that four-syllable word?). It may get worse in my last one next week when I introduce a familiar theater name as the new columnist.

As for the small world, I’m sure few of you had heard of Newtown before Friday. I hadn’t heard of it until a few weeks ago, when family research led to a new acquaintance by email and telephone with a cousin, the grandson of my grandfather’s sister, who retired last year as pastor of a Lutheran congregation in Newtown.

I emailed my concern about the horror at Sandy Hook School, thinking he’d be challenged to help comfort the grieving. His reply brought it much closer:

He had two grandchildren at the school, one a first grader who was shot at but escaped with several others as their teacher and classmates were gunned down. The other grandchild was further from the attack.

But we’re also much further from that school and consider how much pain we feel in this small world as the distance shrinks when we’re shocked with horror. A small world, or, as my cousin began that email, “Such a world!”

Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to coldcream@thereader.com.


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