The talented and sweet Ron Raines
Sometime in the middle of February, 2000, I was checking CBS GL site, and read that Ron Raines was going to be signing autographs at the Wal-Mart in Hillsborough, NC on Saturday, March 18. He was also going to be performing at a charity event that night. Now, I had no idea were Hillsborough was, let alone the Wal-Mart. I looked it up on Yahoo Maps, and found that it was at least a 4 1/2 hour drive. The autograph session started at 10:30 in the morning. My mom said that she was not going to drive that far so early in the morning. I begged and pleaded because I had loved watching him portray the evil, yet caring Alan Spaulding. And knowing that he was going to be that close, I did not want to miss the opportunity to meet him. All my begging and pleading finally paid off on the Friday before. My mom is bad to do things at the last minute, such as packing the day we leave for a camping trip or in the cases of meeting PAS and RR, waiting to the last minute to decide to go. Dad said no way he was going (he is a diabetic and tires easily) and my brother had to work, so it was just mom and I. Thinking about the crowd in Gastonia with PAS and how we had just barely made it, we wanted to get there early. We went to bed early, and got up at 4:00 in the morning. I only got about 4 hours of sleep because I could not sleep. I was meeting Ron Raines. I had searched all my magazines for pics for him to sign, but couldn’t really find any that I liked. Finally, I just decided to take Guiding Light: The Complete Family Album and let him sign that. I checked the camera….NO FILM! I checked the cabinet….none. We had used the last roll at Christmas and had forgotten to get any more. I almost died. Mom told me to relax; we would get some when we got to the Wal-Mart. We left about 4:45 and stopped to eat breakfast an hour later. Then, it was back on the Interstate for a long drive. I reclined the comfortable passenger seat of the Tahoe back and half-slept for awhile. We drove and drove and drove, following the directions from the Yahoo maps. Finally, about 9:45, we arrived in Hillsborough and found the Wal-Mart. To our astonishment, they were hardly anyone there. We didn’t know what to think. Going into Wal-Mart, mom bought some film and asked the lady at the customer service desk if Ron Raines was supposed to be there. She said that he was, along with several other celebrities (their names have slipped my mind) and that it would be outside. We walked around outside and found where it was to be held at. But it was slightly chilly day, so we got back into the Tahoe and parked a few feet from the tent to wait. It was getting closer to 10:30. Then, we heard sirens. At the entrance were several police cars; policemen directing traffic. A van came driving up to the tent. The passenger stepped out, his head and shoulders just above the top of the van. I could tell that it was Ron. They van moved, showing us that it was indeed him. He was wearing a tan suit and flat shoes. He looked around, surveying the site. The people in charge of the event introduced themselves to him. I sat there in the Tahoe, just watching him laugh and shake hands with them. Mom nudged me and asked if I wanted to get out now. I grabbed my book, and stood in front of the Tahoe, watching him. All of a sudden, he turned in our direction. Noticing the book in my hands, he grinned and said, “Now, there are some fans. I can tell.” He came striding over to mom and me and asked our names, shaking our hands. I was like OMG. He asked if we lived around there, and mom told him that we lived about 4 1/2 hours away. He said, “You came all this way? Well, come on over here so you can be first in line.” He walked over to the spot where he wanted us to stand. He talked to us for a few minutes, then excused himself, needing to talk to the people in charge. A few minutes later, he came back and was told that there was an elderly lady that had traveled all the way from Louisiana just to see him. The look on his face was one of awe. He picked up a glossy pic from the stack, and asked her name. He posed with her for a picture and thanked her for traveling so far to see him. Then, it was my turn. He said, “Come on over here, Leslie and Becky.” He signed a pic for me and one for my mom. He said that he would autograph my book as well. As he signed the inside cover, we talked about his character and Lizze’s leukemia storyline. Ron told us that Hayden Panettiere (Lizzie) was awesome to work with and that they would be on together two days the following week, and to be sure and watch those days because they were great scenes. He also said that was going to be something down the road concerning Beth and Phillip’s then unborn baby. I said, “Yeah, the baby will probably be a bone-marrow match or something.” He looked up from the book, and grinned at me. He flipping through the book, saying that he was looking for the pic of him and Reva when they were in Goshen. Finding it, he also signed that pic. After that, the lady behind us in line took our picture with him. Thanking her and thanking him, we moved off to the side out of the way to watch the others. The lady that had taken our picture had Ron sign a pic. She and her husband came over to mom and I and we all started talking. Her name was Arlene and her son was the policeman that was Ron’s bodyguard for the event. She had forgotten her camera and her son had sent an officer to get it for her. We talked about GL in general, how long we had watched, what characters we liked and disliked, former GL actors now on other soaps, and of course, my mother had to go into the whole “my daughter isn’t in college and won’t get a job” thing. We all laughed. Then, we got to talking about Prince Richard, Cassie, and the San Cristobel story. She really liked Richard (and Bradley, for that matter). I told her that I lurked on internet message boards, and basically was beginning to become obsessed with the internet and that I had found out about Ron being in Hillsborough through the internet. She asked me where I got the Family Album. I said through the GL Fan Club and gave her the addy of their website. The officer returned with her camera, and she went back to the line to get her picture taken with him. While Arlene was waiting for her turn, one of the guys in charge came over to mom and me, asking us where we were from, etc. He asked how we found out about the event. I told him that it was on some GL sites: the CBS site, SOD site, and there was one other one but I can’t remember it. He asked us if we were staying for the charity event later that evening at 7:30. Mom told him that if didn’t live so far away we would love to stay and hear Ron perform, but that we really needed to get back. Arlene and her husband came back. She was grinning from ear to ear. We talked a little more about the event that night. We exchanged email addys to keep in touch. Arlene and her husband left. By that time, most everyone was beginning to leave. I went back over to buy his Broadway Passion CD, which he signed for me and mom. When he hugged me goodbye, his beard tickled my cheek. Mom and I returned home and told dad about it. I begged and pleaded to go back and attend the event. Finally, they agreed. So mom, dad, and I hit the road again arriving with about 30 minutes to spare. The event was fantastic. Ron and his wife were there. His performances were awesome. He joked around with everyone. We took several pictures. He remembered Mom and I from earlier, and told us that he was glad we came back. It was really getting late and things were starting to wind down, so we decided it was time to leave. I went over to him to say goodbye, and he got up and hugged me again, thanking me for coming. He is really a sweetheart. Got home about 2:30 in the morning, and we all slept til noon on Sunday. LOL. Finished the roll of film, and took it to get them developed. I emailed Arlene a few days later, and we chatted about the experience. She had found the BradAddicts link and asked me if I knew about it. I had just become a registered member at that time, and helped her get set up. Well, she did, and I think she is loving every minute of it. LOL. Her handle is Scarletnc. Arlene and I continue to keep in touch through email and it is great that we have actually meet each other. When we got the pictures back, not a single one of them had taken. You know, I think it’s time to get another camera even though we’ve only had this one a couple of years. LOL.