Skip to Content

Swinging Abby Part 10: The Peeps Behind the Curtain

When I set out to stake my claim as an endurance record holder, I assumed the only things I would need would be determination and patience. Being rather a loner at heart, it was the perfect endeavor. After all, I was the only person who had to do anything, right?. I had to make the choice, I had to keep the swing moving, I had to decide whether to take my break or skip it, I had to fight off the fatigue and deal with the discomfort. I was the one doing this, making the sacrifice. Right?
Well, right…but although I knew I wouldn't be able to do it ALL alone, I hadn't realized how many other people would be needed to make it happen. People who organized their entire day around "Abby at the park" and contributed their time in ways I could not have imagined while I sat in my bedroom reading that silly Seventeen magazine.
There's an entry in my mom's diary dated 8/24, only three days into the stunt. It reads:
"11:45 AM - Raining again. Abby is holding up very well (not sure if parents are)."
For me, it was summer vacation, and my odd start date of Tuesday August 21st was only due only to the fact that I had to squeeze in the necessary hours to beat the record before school started. But for my parents, vacation (whatever little they took of it that summer) was over and paying the bills didn't take a break for such silliness. While I couldn't be left alone (not just out of parental concern and safety reasons - Guinness required that an adult witness be present at all times), they still had to go to work, do chores, and take care of my younger sister Melynda, all while living most of their off-work hours in a public park and doing the meet-n-greet with double-plus dozens of visitors on a daily basis. You know, when you're fifteen, you kind of just expect that your parents will be around to "take care of things". Well, they did! They were always there when they could be, and as I remember they did a good job of balancing the encouragement to keep going with concern for my wellbeing, a thin line to walk with anyone, much less tired teenager on a roller-coaster ride to notoriety!
Other relatives and friends played a huge roll in keeping me going as well as taking care of my needs. My wonderful and hilarious aunt Mary Lou Rumpff, along with her friends Pat (Cole) Westbrook and Pat's sons Raymond and Tracy (always good for rainy day entertainment!), along with Peg and Jim McCracken were practically a surrogate family for me and could always be found at The Picnic Table, manning the logbook, keeping track of my breaks, and waiting on me whenever I needed something (which could be anything from a tissue, to my jacket, to the lunch I'd just ordered from McDonalds.) From Mom's diary:
Mary Lou and Pat are here daily when we're working. Don't know what we would do without them and Peg and Jim McCracken! Those four people have been with Abby thru all hours of day and night and thru all the rain we've had.
Then there were those who could be counted on with clockwork precision to show up. From my memoirs:
A lot of my Mom & Dad's friends from work always came by to see me. I especially liked my mom's friends Sherry Creedon and Barb Janiak because they always had something encouraging or funny to say.
Stan & Barb Janiak came by. Everyone was sitting on the little animals, singing songs. Personally I thought they were a little fruity!
Looking back, it's possible they'd been drinking something fruity...after all, my folks and the support staff needed their entertainment as well! Seriously though, having "The Regulars" was so important that my mom made a list of them, and if I recall correctly I sent thank-yous to everyone after it was over. From just making sure the logbook didn't go too long without a signing late at night, to bringing snacks, or just sitting with me until the 'next shift' came along, these people went above and beyond to make sure everything ran smoothly. It could not have been done without them. So for the first time, here's the list of "The Regulars" - VIPs for all the world to see.
My parents, Bob and Carolyn Geiger
My aunt Mary Lou Rumpff
Pat (Cole) Westbrook and Raymond and Tracy Cole
Peg and Jim McCracken
Paul and Mandy Bizilia
Sherry Creedon
Stan and Barb Janiak
John and Sally Clapp
Eleanor and Jim Bowen
Joyce and Omer Croteau
Dale Ely
Vicki Blackman

You guys are OK!!

And now back to that all-important question: "So, Abby...when are you going to stop?"