How the Story Came to Us
Just the other day, an old friend of Ronald McDonald House, Fred Close and his British wife Angela stopped in for a visit. Fred has done sculpture work for us in the past, and this time he and his wife brought us a gift— which we are passing on to you. This gift contains narration and music for a series of OUR POND children’s stories and includes a printed version of each story for reference. The stories were written by Fred, narrated by Angela, and are cloaked with the beautiful music of Simeon Wood— specifically interpreted for each story.
While Fred was here, he related the following story to us:
“When I was a little boy, I was very lonely. I had no brothers or sisters, and when I was not feeling well, I spent hours in my bed with my toy bunnies and bears. We made pretend trips to the moon and Mars. My own imagination helped fill my days with adventures and fun. One day, my father came in to see how I was doing. He had brought me a record called ‘Peter and the Wolf.’ It was not only an interesting story, but it also came with beautiful music that helped me understand and enjoy what was going on in the narration. I just loved it, and I played it over and over again.
About three years ago, a strange thing happened. I had a dream and, when I woke up, I could remember most of it. It was about ‘Peter and the Wolf,’ and I had a wonderful idea. It was very exciting. Why not write another story with friendly animals living around a beautiful Pond, and somehow add the music? The story took a while, mostly because so many animals wanted to be in it. I wrote and imagined and wrote some more, until it all seemed to fit together. I asked my wife Angela to read it, and after a few little changes, she said she liked it very much. Angela is a very good narrator. This means she has a beautiful reading voice, and she is a good storyteller. Angela read it back to me several times until both of us were able to say, ‘Yes, our listeners will like that!’ Of course, we still had a problem. We didn't have any music. I even got out my old clarinet, but nothing I composed was good enough. Then we had some wonderful luck!
Angela and I were on a beautiful cruise ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean. One afternoon a little motorboat came alongside, and a man came on board with all kinds of boxes. The Captain smiled and told us this was a famous English musician named Simeon Wood. He was coming on board to entertain us that very evening. We all dashed to get good seats in the Salon, and then wonderful things started happening. Simeon opened the boxes and took out about 15 musical instruments. He played every one of them beautifully, one after the other, and the audience clapped and waved to show how much they loved Simeon and his music.
Early most mornings I went to the swimming pool on Deck 8 before it got crowded. That morning I found there was one person already swimming in the pool. Guess who? Yes . . . it was Simeon! We started to talk about his music. Then we had some tea and talked some more. Angela arrived, and we told Simeon about the Our Pond stories. He wanted to hear them. She went back and brought the scripts from our cabin and began reading them. She is an excellent narrator, and Simeon was soon clapping and laughing.
Then he announced that he wanted to compose and play the music for all the animals in our story. What a surprise! We have been good friends ever since. We have visited his studio several times, and he has come to our Oxfordshire village in England and done a special musical program for the children in the local school. Now, five OUR POND stories are finished! I had the fun of creating them for you. Angela is reading them to you, and you have Simeon’s beautiful music to help you imagine the friendly animals in Our Pond.”
We want you to have some creative fun too! Imagine these animals, and what they can do. How would you like them to appear? Open your mind, and use your imagination. Take a pencil, pen, or paintbrush and create your own Friends from the Pond. They will look exactly as you imagine them and become your friends. This is not a puzzle with a right or wrong answer, and nobody is there to say you can only try once. Just do it until you are pleased with the results.
With all good wishes,
Ronald McDonald House, Fred, Angela, and Simeon