When I was preparing to have Ollie join me in my nursing home programs I somehow knew that I had to first make him to be a real person in their mind. I also knew that he would be a character that wasn’t afraid to speak his mind as he is a free spirit sort of guy. After all, he would appear to be of the same age as the residents—and he would be able to say things they would be surprised at. His function, after all, is to bring a bit of levity and humor into their lives. You see, people don't stop laughing because they've grown old, they grow old because they've sopped laughing.
When Ollie arrived at my doorstep in September of ‘99 I was surprised at how small the box was that he was packed in. When I unwrapped him I immediately knew that his face was perfect but his body needed some work—a lot of work. He didn’t have any hips or butt! The legs were attached to a shirt bottom with girly patent leather shoes. Worse, there was no body! There was no way that I could have him sit on my knee, as it would be my elbow that would become his butt.
I began the process of purchasing him some clothes. Somehow a stripped polo shirt and patent leather shoes just didn’t fit the character of Ollie. I went to a second hand kids store and found a red/green plaid flannel shirt and a pair of bibbed overalls that would appear to be the correct size for him—as soon as he got a body. Luckily, I found a pair of leather "high top" shoes that looked like something that he would wear.
Next came the process of building him a body. As my skill with a needle is limited, to say the least, imagine my thrill when my daughter Renee offered to build him a body. Thus it was that in late September 1999 Ollie left my home for his transformation from a head with a waist into a short old curmudgeon who could sit on my lap.
I had began to peak the interest of the nursing home tenants in early September by mentioning that my retired uncle would soon be living with us at our home. It was my intent to introduce him to the act in September. As he wasn’t ready to join me in October it afforded a real opportunity to build the illusion that he was a real person and develop his character before anyone had seen him.
Halfway through the hour long program I would stop, pause a moment and say: . .
I almost forgot. Do you remember the last time I was here I told you that my uncle Ollie would be living with us? Well you won’t believe what happened. Two weeks ago the doorbell rang and the UPS man had this big box for us. It was from Uncle Ollie and it weighed about 80 pounds. Crystal dragged it into the house, opened it and found it full of Uncle Ollie’s clothes. We were expecting a call from the airport asking us to come and pick him up. But we didn’t get a call and we began to get a little worried.
Three days later we get a postcard in the mail from Ollie. It says, "I decided to take the bus." That was all!
Two days later we get a postcard with a picture of the Grand Canyon on it. On the back in Uncle Ollie's handwriting was written, "Sure is a big ditch." Ah ha, we thought—he is at the Grand Canyon.
Two days later we get another postcard with a picture of Las Vegas on it. On it Ollie wrote, "I tried to check into this fancy hotel but they made my buy some new clothes first. It sure is darned hard to get some sleep here as they like to keep the lights on all night."
It seems that Ollie had sent all of his clothes to us and didn’t think ahead to pack a change of clothes for himself. At this point the audience chuckles as they realize that my Uncle Ollie must be a forgetful type of guy but he is a bit adventurous and most of them have never struck out on their own as did Ollie.
To continue go to: Ollie Arrives
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