“Oh, how we danced on the night we were wed, we vowed our true love though a word wasn’t said. The world was in bloom, there were stars in the skies, except for the few that were there in your eyes. The night seemed to fade into blossoming dawn; the sun shone anew but the dance lingered on. Could we but relive that sweet moment sublime, we’d find that our love is unaltered by time.” – “The Anniversary Waltz,” Dubin

The surprise 50th anniversary party given by my daughter Lisa and son-in-law Lt. Col. (retired) Gregory Packer at their home in Fairfax Station, Va., for grandparents, Benjamin and Jean Johnson of Washington, D.C., was “simply the best.” Daddy and Jean thought they were coming to a surprise retirement party for Gregory. They recommitted themselves to God and each other surrounded by my sister Cheryl Johnson, grandkids, great-grandkids and relatives under the magnificent setting sun. Their friend/pastor Rev. Morris Shearin, national board member of the NAACP, performed the ceremony.

You’re the wind beneath my wings.” My sister and I toasted our stepmom for her love and support.

We were ecstatic that Jean’s best friend Clarice Philmore of Washington, D.C., stood with Jean as she did 50 years ago. Jean and Clarice met when they both moved to Washington, D.C.; Jean from Dallas, Texas, and Clarice from Pittsburgh to work for the federal government.

This was one of those rare occasions that everyone’s schedule permitted them to join in the festivities. Among the guests were Col. (retired) and Mrs. James Peaco, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Sumpter, Jason Miller, members of Israel Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., relatives from Havre de Grace, Md., grandsons Keith Lee of Randallstown, Michael Lee of Owings Mills and Kevin Johnson of Catonsville.

After the ceremony, we feasted on a southern style barbecue with all the trimmings including spareribs, beef, pulled pork, catered by Famous Dave.

“The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity.”- Seneca

Prayers to Comptroller Joan Pratt on the death of her brother, Johnnie Pratt, and Wilhelmina Gardner Brown on the death of her mother, Wilhelmina Gardner.

“There is only one time that is important, NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time that we have any power.” – Count Tolstoy

The parties for elected officials seeking reelection and people seeking elections have begun. Longtime advocate and NAACP officer Tessa Hill Aston announced her candidacy for president of the local chapter of the NAACP at Station Arts North Café. The event hosted by owners Kevin Brown, Bill Maughlin and Anthony McCarthy, included members of the NAACP, radio host Larry Young, Joseph Aston, Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, Ellis Staten, Betty Brooks, Jackie Washington and John Jeffries. The standing-room crowd enjoyed Bill’s newest creation blueberry pizza and other delicacies.

Later that evening we joined Kelly Fox of the 43rd district at his fundraiser on Howard Street, where members of Phi Beta Sigma were in full force showing support for their Sigma brother.

“Here comes the judge.” The Wednesday Philosophy Faction, Golfers & Friends hosted the Baltimore County judges at their Wednesday afternoon party. The judges enjoyed themselves and posted the below message to their Web site: Judges Alexander, Bailey, Brobst and Nagle were warmly welcomed at a lively house party at the home of Valerie Fraling in Randallstown. The large group of business people and retirees listened carefully as the judges introduced themselves, and promised their support and encouragement.  Thanks to Valerie and her large group of friends for inviting us!”

Yes! We were on our best behavior that afternoon enjoying a “hot time in the summertime.” That Sunday the judges joined bridge group “3 no trump” at the Woodstock home of Napoleon and Brenda Sykes. Guests had the opportunity to chat with the judges as they relaxed outdoors amid the grape arbors and weeping willow trees. Enjoying the event were Dora and Tyrone Harris, Dean and Mert Evans, Dr. and Mrs. Walter Amprey, Sarah and Eugene Smalley, William and Betty Dorsey, Dr. Guy and Joclyn Alexander, Tobi and Damien Pulley, Rosemary Atkinson, Robert Chambliss, Sandra Aldridge, Carolyn and Stevie Wainwright, Jai Matthews and Myra and Albert Queen. ?

Election Day is Tuesday, Sept. 14. “Do the right thing,” VOTE!

“The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” – Lucille Ball

Celebration time! Happy birthday Sharon Pinder, Thurman Pinder and Joseph Zammarella.

Husband of the year award to Lt. Gen. Dennis Via for pulling off the surprise 50th birthday party for wife Linda at Maggiano’s in Chevy Chase. Linda was overjoyed when she saw so many friends in attendance including Gen. Kip and Joyce Ward.

Maggiano’s is the best Italian restaurant, serving family style menus with humungous portions. The crab cakes, and pasta dishes are superb the staff is wonderful.

“Kinda Blue”—not if you were at Sen. Nathaniel McFadden’s birthday celebration at Darker than Blue Café on Greenmount Avenue. It was old home week as brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi, Stanley Tucker, Dr. Marie Washington, Sen. Verna Jones, Chuck Thomas, Dr.Vallen Emery, Kevin Clark, Del. Talmadge Branch, Councilman Warren Branch, John Howard and Sheriff John Anderson joined the guests wishing the senator a happy birthday.

The overflowing crowd packed the restaurant with animated conversation as the “sound of music” drifted throughout. The buffet with catfish, macaroni and cheese and more was overwhelming. The fried catfish was so good I kissed chef/owner Casey Jenkins and went back for seconds.

“I’ll be there.”
Valerie & the Friday Night Bunch