By Bob Hamill
This is a column about a very special woman. Now there are a lot of very special women out there, this one I happen to know very well. I, in fact, think the entire species of women are special. Their tenacity and resourcefulness is simply amazing.
This woman, like most, started out as a baby. She grew up in a small town in Ohio. I like to call the town Mayberry after the fabled one Andy ran. It wasn’t, of course, but from all the stories I’ve heard it might just as well have been.
This girl grew up as the middle of three sisters. Her father was a milkman, her mother a grade school teacher. They lived in the only house her father ever knew. Her uncle was a judge, her grandfather a county commissioner and her grandmother made Sunday dinner every week. Now if that doesn’t shout Americana, I don’t know what else does.
During her childhood she and her grandfather would spend a lot of time together and one of their favorite things to do was watching the Carole Burnett Show. She would impersonate Carol and her famous faces. This girl in fact was nicknamed “The Face.”
This girl became a woman and married her childhood sweetheart almost right out of high school. They tried to have a baby the old fashioned way but that didn’t happen. After several years of trying, they decided to adopt a baby boy. Alas, they didn’t really live in Mayberry and the marriage fell apart. This woman didn’t have any marketable skill so she put herself through nursing school. Most of the times her little boy was with her in the classroom. She graduated top of her class with most of classmates at least a generation younger.
As far too many of you know, bringing up a child by yourself can be a bit hard and lonely. The men she was meeting just didn’t seem to match up with her dream. After several years of working in a hospital and getting promoted to head of the cardiac division, her friends decided she should have a change of pace. They convinced her to apply for work as a nurse on a cruise ship.
She got the job and quickly became one of the most loved people on the ship. She willing to help at almost anything. There was a magician on the ship who was missing an assistant. He needed a woman who could walk in slow motion across the stage while making faces. I was in the audience and this is where I first saw “The Face”. Little did I know it at the time but it was then I decided to spend the rest of my life with Marty.
Here was this amazing beautiful woman that wasn’t afraid to mug to get a laugh. Boy could she mug. Marty has been a perk in my life for 28 years and we just celebrated our 26th anniversary. I’ve never seen anyone who could charm an audience as she does. Starting out doing skit comedy she graduated to ventriloquism. In 2010 she was awarded ventriloquism’s highest honor, the “W.S. Berger Distinguished Service Award.”
We’ve done over 15,000 shows together. Cruise ships, theaters, corporate, schools, zoos, just about anywhere people would have us. Still after all that time, I still look forward to the next one. You can catch Marty and me at the Blackwoods Morning Variety Show at the Smoky Mountain Opry Theater, mornings @ 10:00 a.m. except Monday.