By Linda Donaldson
Sunny weather welcomed guests on both days of Pearl S. Buck’s 125th birthday anniversary on Sunday, June 25th and Monday, June 26th (her actual birthday). I had the privilege of attending both days which showcased the Short Story Contest winners and the re-release by our own Pearl S. Buck Writing Center Press of Pearl’s children’s story Matthew, Mark, Luke and John on the 50th anniversary of its original printing.
After enjoying delicious cake and lemonade, guests were treated to a free house tour which included concerts on both Pearl’s Steinway piano and her organ by talented musicians.
Short Story Contest Winners
On Sunday Cindy Louden announced the Short Story contest winners in three categories. First Place winner in the Adult category went to Robert McCrillis for “Mrs. Hastings.” Honorable Mention in that category went to two recipients, Alison Formento, for “Moody May,” and Fanny Wong for “Remembering Gong-Gong.”
In the Middle School/High School category First Place went to Lauren Lee for her story “Tinted Pink.” Honorable Mention was given to Mercedes Sanoja for “Hey, Honey.”
First Place in the Elementary School category was won by Vivekka Peter for the story “The Healer of Outskirts.”
Illustrator Visits for Book Signing
A highlight of Sunday’s celebration was the presence of the original illustrator of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Mr. Mamoru Funai, or “Mo” as he likes to be called. Cindy pointed out that Mo had earlier in June celebrated his own milestone birthday, turning 85 years old. On Sunday when we all sang “Happy Birthday” to Pearl, we added Mo’s name, too, and asked him to blow out the candles on the coconut cake, Pearl’s favorite.
Mo had graciously arrived with his son Brian, a graphic designer from New Jersey, to attend our party. He also gifted the reprint rights to his original illustrations in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to PSBVA. He stayed on Sunday and kindly signed copies of the book that our volunteers were selling.
In addition, Mo brought copies of his own recent children’s book, The Monkey Pod Tree, and offered them for sale. Upon his departure that afternoon, he donated 20 copies of his book to our Gift Shop for sale, benefiting our PSBI mission.
Writing Center Press Display
A long table displaying the past and upcoming books published by the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center Press was organized by Dr. Anne K. Kaler and myself, and we were on hand to discuss them, our Writers Guild and the various workshops and classes the Writing Center sponsors.
Pictured below, L to R: Cynthia L. Louden, Special Events Chair; Brian Funai, son of illustrator Mamoru “Mo” Funai; Mr. Funai; Linda Donaldson and Dr. Anne K. Kaler, editors of the Writing Center Press, and Alison Shourds, PSBVA treasurer.
Piano and Organ Recital
On Monday, I had the privilege to attend both musical concerts in the house. On Sunday, AnnaMarie Dieterle performed to the high praise of all who attended. I was mesmerized by both the consummate musicianship and the rapid footwork of Brett Miller who played many selections on Pearl’s organ, as well as one piece on her piano. We were delighted to hear one of Pearl’s favorite pieces, a sonatina by Beethoven, rendered flawlessly by Richard Wang.
Pictured above at left are Richard Wang and Brett Miller greeting guests after their recital.
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Don’t miss our Spring 2017 Literary Journal issue with 15 stories and poems.