Monday, September 21, 2015

Bob Crane, His Hogan Cap, and a Nostalgic Celebration

I had been waiting for this moment my whole life. That moment when I could present before a large group of people about a subject I have adored since my childhood: Bob Crane.
Author Carol Ford in the vendor hall at the Mid-Atlantic
Nostalgia Convention, September 17-19, 2015.

I won't lie. It was scary. I'm a writer. I'm an editor. I love meeting and talking with people. But I've never been a public speaker. Leading my Editorial Department meetings can cause my stomach to do flip flops (or turn over on itself, as Sgt. Andrew Carter would say). And that's with people I know and love and work with on a daily basis! This was something completely different.

So as I got up on the stage and situated myself behind the microphone on Saturday, September 19, 2015, for my first-ever seminar presentation, I started to feel that familiar feeling of dread. What if I messed up? What if the slides don't work correctly? What if the audio doesn't work? What if I freeze and can't remember what to say?

And then I remembered what Bob once told his cousin Jim Senich. He said, "Look at it this way. When you get up to speak, and you look out at that audience, just remember one thing. No one out there can do what you're doing. They're going to be with you all the way."

Setting up for Carol Ford's presentation at the Mid-Atlantic
Nostalgia Convention, September 17-19, 2015.
And they were. 

I met a lot of people who attended my session at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention. They were excited, curious, and interested to learn more about the man who brought Colonel Hogan to life. They were with me as I talked, listening to every word I said. I plowed through my presentation—perhaps a bit clumsily at first, but then with more confidence and grace.

When I finished, they applauded and rushed to the stage to see the Holy Grail of Hogan's Heroes—Colonel Hogan's "50 Mission" crush cap that had belonged to Bob and was on loan to me for the event by Bob's son, Robert Scott Crane. What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hogan's Heroes and the launch of Bob's new biography!

Colonel Hogan's "50 Mission" crush cap, owned by
Bob Crane and on loan by Bob's son, Scott Crane,
for the  Mid-Atlantic 
Nostalgia Convention, September 17-19, 2015.
And it was, without question, one of the best moments and most extraordinary days of my life.

It was also one of the most humbling and overwhelming days I have ever experienced. For on that day, I witnessed something quite amazing.

People don't immediately remember or realize all of the good Bob did in his life.

His fifteen consecutive years in radio, where he changed radio and invented the style of "sampling"—performing a seamless show from beginning to end and interspersing his gimmicks, commercial antics, music, drumming, commentary, and skits, not to mention his celebrity interviews. 
Colonel Hogan's "50 Mission" crush cap, owned by
Bob Crane and on loan by Bob's son, Scott Crane,
for the  Mid-Atlantic 
Nostalgia Convention, September 17-19, 2015.

His numerous charitable contributions to many organizations, including the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Arthritis Foundation, the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network, and entertaining U.S. troops.

His decision to not accept the role on Hogan's Heroes until he knew for sure it would not offend veterans and former POWs.

His hard work at learning the craft of acting and studying under acclaimed acting instructor Stella Adler.

His devotion to his friends, always looking out for them and helping them whenever he could.

His love for his entire family and all of his four children—Robert (Bobby), Debbie, Karen, and Scott.

His strong desire to, no matter what challenges were before him, remain positive, seeking to do good and be good.

Bob Crane's Hogan's Heroes scrapbook,
on loan by Bob's son, Scott Crane,

for the  Mid-Atlantic 
Nostalgia Convention, September 17-19, 2015.
Bob Crane once said, "When I was a kid, I fell in love with Spencer Tracy in Captains Courageous. That, to me, was the ideal. A good man. A brave man. What I would want to be. I'm still in love with that." 

Perhaps no other quote sums up Bob Crane more than that particular quote. 

After my presentation, I talked with attendees who came forward to get a closer look at Hogan's cap. One beautiful soul traveled all the way from Texas just to hear my talk. Others were in awe over what I had told them and what they were able to see. But it was one lady who came forward with tears in her eyes who I will remember most. 

And when I saw her tears, I said, "Oh, no! You're crying?"

Her next words affected me deeply.

"You have changed my negative perception about Bob Crane, and you have given me my show back."

Bob Crane's Hogan's Heroes belongings,
on loan by Bob's son, Scott Crane,

for the  Mid-Atlantic 
Nostalgia Convention, September 17-19, 2015.
A lot of people want to like Hogan's Heroes. And they want to like Bob. However, with his murder and scandal swirling for decades, that has not been easily achieved for some people. Yet with every word I spoke, every slide I showed, and every question I answered, something remarkable happened. 

It all started to change. It was a shift toward the positive and the truth.

After listening to me speak, people were able to like Bob Crane again. And I watched this beautiful phenomenon unfold right before my eyes. 

I had not been prepared for that, and it was overwhelming. Afterwards, when I had a few quiet minutes alone, I cried, not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy. All of the work we have done on Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography and for Bob himself was now, finally, making a difference.

I will always remember the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention for all of the fun I had as a vendor and a speaker. I completely sold out of books, and I met some really wonderful people who will stay in my heart forever. 

But most of all, I will never forget watching the dark clouds lift and the negative opinions change, allowing Bob's true legacy of light, love, and kindness to shine through once again.

Carol Ford talks with attendees following her presentation at the Mid-Atlantic 
Nostalgia Convention, September 17-19, 2015.



Carol Ford talks with attendees following her presentation at the Mid-Atlantic 
Nostalgia Convention, September 17-19, 2015.


Carol Ford with her "minions"—Who's got Fred? (Fred was the code name we gave the cap to keep it safe!)
(L-R): Darin Peters (front), Brian Dettling, Carol Ford, Katie Brownlow, Rosaria Mineo, Heidi Perret, and Kristina Moran. Not pictured: Cliff Henderson, LaVerne Cash, and Donna Dettling.

1 comment:

  1. Someone had commented to me through Facebook or email that they felt your presentation was the best of the weekend... and commented that their negative view of Bob Crane is now out the door and... get this... you "rescued my favorite television show" from what was up till now a minor sour grapes with them. Doesn't get any better than that.

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For more about Bob Crane, visit http://www.vote4bobcrane.org

For more about Bob Crane: The Definitive Biography, which was published on September 17, 2015, visit http://www.vote4bobcrane.org/book.html