Spinning Tales — That Cloris, She’s a ‘Show’ Girl

By Dennis L. Morgan


I’ve seen many things, some were once in a lifetime moments, others were probably things I wish I had never seen, so very little surprises me nowadays.

But, every once in a great while, something happens which you least expect. In the span of 48 hours, two such moments happened. One made feel old, the other made me feel young again.

On Friday night, my wife and I hosted a dinner party of sorts for the four young men and women who were the leaders of Totus Tuus at St. Boniface Catholic Church last week. We were just one of a number of others who provided meals during their stay here in Elgin. The leader was 27 or 28, the others 19 or 20. So, I expected they would be here an hour, maybe two before going back to where they were staying. After all, it had been a long week and, by the look of the girls’ eyes, a tiring one.

Earlier, Lynell had asked around and found out that they had eaten burgers, brats and pizza. So, she decided to prepare a sit-down meal of chicken spaghetti, garlic bread and garden salad and, for dessert, blackberry pie. Thank goodness, Lynell prepared the full recipe because the boys finished it off. They were hungry, real hungry.

Each shared a bit of their life story, where they were from and where they hope to go. But one’s story was different from the rest. They wanted to know about newspapers and some of the stories I have covered through the years. I told them about a triple homicide which occurred in Beatrice and I mentioned an intern there at the time. Dan perked up when I mentioned her name, and then I mentioned her married name. It turned out she was his mother.

I haven’t seen Susan Szalewski in more than 20 years, she now works at the Omaha World-Herald, but we’ve stayed in touch via Facebook. Now, in my family room, was her son, the second of nine children in the family.

The moment made me feel old. Here was the the second child of the girl who I helped get her first job out of J-School.

You always wonder what happened to people you knew well a long time ago. While we had connected on Facebook, those conversations were ‘general’ in nature. From what I saw and learned Friday night, she has raised quite a family. He will do well. And, if I can be so bold, the future of the Church is in good hands with these young people.


As for feeling ‘young again,’ that happened Saturday night at the Viaero Great American Comedy Festival held at the Johnny Carson Theatre in Norfolk.

This marked the fourth year and we’ve been able to attend the finals the last three years. The comedians are first rate. This year’s event featured host Louie Anderson and a special presentation, the first Johnny Carson Comedy Legend Award presentation. Receiving the award was Iowa native Cloris Leachman. Now in her 80s, she continues to appear on television. She is perhaps best known for playing the nosy, self-centered and manipulative landlady Phyllis Lindstrom on the 1970s “Mary Tyler Moore” series.

But for us, the role we will always remember her best was that of Frau Bruker in “Young Frankenstein.” What made her scenes memorable was every time they would say her name, horses would whinny. Why? Bruker in German means glue and horses don’t like the word glue for obvious reasons.

Anyway, back to Saturday night, Leachman was suffering from laryngitis and struggled to speak during the award presentation. Yet, she gave a performance which won’t be forgotten. Just moments before the close of the show, she stood up and proceeded to ‘moon’ the audience. The sold-out theatre was abuzz.

It was something they would have never expected from a woman of her stature.

How did that make me feel ‘young’ again? Mooning is for the young. It’s not for the faint of heart and can cause a sudden outbreak of laughter and amusement. If not done correctly, mooning can cause the moonies to go into shock. Mooners, if they do it long enough, learn to say ‘no’ to ‘crack’ for the sake of public safety.

If there’s a sudden outbreak of adults ‘mooning’ in and around Norfolk in the coming days, we will all have Cloris to thank for that.