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Cedric Charles Dickens, Part 1

Dear Friends, Some of you may know this in bits and pieces, so I decided to write a brief synopsis. Thanks to Peter Brink who was in charge of GHF at the time, I had one of the most wonderful times of my life in 1987 - '88! It seems that a direct descendant of the author, Charles Dickens, wandered into the Galveston Historical Foundation one afternoon and offered to attend Dickens on The Strand that December to represent the family at the event.

He was Cedric Charles Dickens, a great grandson of the author. At age 72, he requested that the Foundation provide him with an escort to chauffeur him places, make appearances with him, take care of him, remind/prompt him of his stories to tell at more intimate gatherings (MANY dinners and such) and assist him in book signings of his 2 books, Dining with Dickens and Drinking with Dickens. In essence, I became his American daughter albeit temporarily.

Cedric Charles Dickens

Somewhat stunned by this offer, I immediately had a Victorian costume made . . . It was a two-tone blue ball gown, the first off-the shoulders design of royal blue with sky blue ruffles at the neck and hem with three-quartered sleeves also ruffled. The ensemble included a small hat and purse of the same material. I completed the outfit with black patent lace-up boots. I was given a copy of his very FULL schedule and updates in advance. When we first met face-to-face, he informed me of my complete duties, ending saying that he needed me to accompany him every wherever he went. I agreed. Dear Friends, these totaled 4 maybe even 5 at minimum 16-hours each! There were hiccups along the way -- me not being allowed to accompany him to every appearance after all, no carriage for him to ride in during the parade that first year, no time for lunch (we got to my parents' Tremont House suite for some R&R just before a tray of food was delivered AND they had bourbon), NO Guiness (corrected the second year), British drinking games and my first taste of port (also my last!) Despite all the minor issues, playing this role was was the best experience of my life!!! I carried out all my duties as best I could with friends helping me along the way!! We met some wonderful people as he signed their books while I "chatted" them up!!

I still have vivid memories of it all -- the stories, the people (including a very interesting one-on-one conversation with George Mitchell), smiling a lot and laughing with Cedric! I learned what the loo was, how to "pay a penny" and developed a pretty fair British accent. I also remember that it took me a full week to recover, which I allowed myself to do slowly but surely.

Next installment? My trip to England . . . . Happy Reading!

Most respectfully,

JAN JOHNSON, MA
"Galveston Island Gal"
Writer/Tour Guide/Teacher

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