Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Red Skelton story from Barbara (Phillips) Siembida

Barbara gave me permission to post her letter.

Dear Mrs. Red Skelton,

I was so happy to have recently come across the July 19th, 2017 Fox News posting of The Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy.

As I write this letter to you, I feel as if I am that old woman who told the story of the Titanic. A tragic beginning but with a happy ending.

Long ago, December 3rd, 1961, within minutes from our home in Boardman, Ohio, my family’s plane had crashed on the Ohio Turnpike. I was the sole survivor at the age of 5 who received gifts as far as South America but there is only one cherished ever since.

Red Skelton of whom I adored as a child, took time to mail me a photo of himself and wrote, “To Barbara, Best Wishes, Red Skelton”. Those six hand-written words have meant more to me than gold! Even the empty frame I found in my families attic decades ago was meant-to-be. For over half-a-century now, I have held his personal gift close to my heart and thought of sharing my story with you.

Your husband, Red Skelton, the man who touched many, was truly blessed! In spite of life’s challenges he had given me the will to continue on with courage, God’s love & laughter. He also inspired me to become a young performing ventriloquist of which I still have fun with when teaching piano with my finger puppets (Legato & Staccato). My true love however was and always will be composing music.

A few days ago as I was searching for articles of my past from what is now known as The Vindicator (Youngstown, Ohio) . . . next to Red Skelton’s photo were lyrics to a piano arrangement I had written in the mid 1990’s, “The Magic of Love”. A song, I believe(d), was meant for Disney only to then be told they did not accept music outside their industry. I never found that love yet the meaning still lives within and after reading your story perhaps it’s time to try again.

Sometime after 1984, Red Skelton had appeared in one of the theaters here in Columbus, Ohio of where I have since called home. I remember feeling like a little girl once again, sitting straight up in her seat, anxiously awaiting to grasp whatever memory I could hold on to thereafter. All I remember though was what always meant the most . . . as he stood behind the single podium, the lights became dimmer and dimmer and he ended with, ‘Good night and God Bless’.

Funny how life sometimes brings many circles to those we cherish or never knew. It was a pleasure to have shared mine with you and reminisce of Red Skelton once again J.

Barbara (Phillips) Siembida
August 5th, 2017