On Sunday evenings I read the Chicago Tribune. At almost four dollars a pop for an out-of-town issue, you can be sure I read almost every word. Well, maybe not the car ads, but definitely the obituaries. And that’s how I learned that Ella Therese McCall died at age 87.
Ella McCall and I lost contact over thirty-five years ago, but I still save the thank you note she sent me for directing her fourth grade class’s first ever play in the late 1970s. I remember how important that was, not only for those children, but also for me.
I was newly divorced and needed a distraction. So I went to the local school to volunteer where my sons were enrolled. Neither son was in her class, which makes me wonder how she and I actually connected. Perhaps it was serendipity at its finest.
I’d always been a frustrated thespian and offered to produce a play using her students as the actors. If memory serves, it was “The Prince and the Pauper.” And even if memory is wrong, what I remember was what a roaring good time we all had. The teacher was supportive; the students were eager; the audience was appreciative. And I was thrilled to be involved in something related to acting. My previous years as a drama student and an active member of community theater weren’t in vain.
Fast forward a few months. My sons and I had moved, and they went to a different school. That was when Ella McCall – I called her Mrs. back then – wrote to tell me staff and students had asked if her current class would be putting on a production.
She and I both knew the answer. The moment had come and gone. But seeing her obituary in black and white made me smile again, then tear a little. Rest in peace, Ella McCall.