Everybody loved Gracie, especially those who called her Gracie. The rest just called her Grace. And even those loved her, too.

Originally a nurse from New York, her husband, a draftsman, and their three boys moved to Los Angeles and then Portland, Oregon. He was an elder in our congregation and they were the first family to invite us to dinner when we first moved from Southern California to Oregon.

We were served spaghetti and warm hospitality in their quaint little cottage in the Northwest hills of Portland. They entertained us by playing live music: mostly drums and piano, as I recall.

Everybody thought I should go for their oldest son, perhaps, because we were both smart and musical. But I was more interested in the middle son (he was a lot more fun) and when we started hanging out together with talk of me moving into my first apartment, well, Gracie wasn’t so friendly. In fact, she met with my mother to encourage her to talk me out of it. She was afraid her beloved middle son might spend too much time at my place.

The truth is, we were really good friends and I supported him when others turned their backs on him during his rebellious years living in NW Portland in what’s now the trendy Pearl District.

But the memory I recall fondly is when Gracie invited me and a friend to go with her to see Cabaret at a one of those dark, historic theaters in downtown Portland, you know, with the big, red, heavy drapes. I was a bit surprised by the invitation – Cabaret seemed so, well, risque, for an elder’s wife, especially encouraging two young impressionable girls to go with her.

We had a blast, though, even if I was a bit uncomfortable sitting next an elder’s wife during a couple of risque scenes – lol!

By today’s standards, this was nothing. I miss those days. The forbidden is always more fun. So here’s to Gracie and the past.