Sunday, June 15, 2008


Dear Dad,

It’s fun thinking about the things we have in common, including our mutual love of the following things:

Being in nature
Swimming in the ocean
Silly stuff / humor/ whimsy
Communicating with people
Facilitating communication between and among people
Theater and pageantry

On the topic of theater and pageantry, it was fun reminiscing with you yesterday about all the great shows you took me to before I had even turned 10, shows like Annie Get Your Gun, Camelot, and The King and I. I appreciate that you thought of bringing me to those shows and I’m glad we got to do that together.

Interviewing you about your relationship to theater and pageantry helped me further understand and appreciate how you cultivated a sustained love and value of these things. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in the deep yet easy-to-understand way that is your signature style of communicating ideas.

Your Daughter of 38.5 Years

(Please note that in some places I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing what my dad said.)

Eleanor: How would you define pageantry?

Dad: Pageantry is an art form that is a combination of music, symbols, costume, and dance that communicates at all the levels of how humans experience things – through the intellect and through emotion, the heart. Pageantry touches us in ways that intellect alone does not. It is a way of acknowledging, remembering and celebrating life.

Pageantry acknowledges what music, symbols, stories and art forms touch us and have meaning for us. It helps us remember who we are and pulls us to be more human, to be the best we can be. That is pageantry at its best.

Eleanor: What are some of your early memories of being exposed to theater and pageantry?

Dad: When I was in first grade [in public elementary school in Los Angeles], our school celebrated May Day. We had a May Day pole with ribbons hanging down and each one took a ribbon and walked in a circle around the pole with it. This represented a new dimension of life for me.

The school took us to see many operas, for example La Traviata . I was given a lot of culture in this way. They also took us to see the Los Angeles Philharmonic. We were bused to all these events.

I remember the costumes, the lighting, how the stories were told in art form. We were taught what the stories meant before going to the shows and we were taught who to look for in terms of the characters.

In terms of pageantry, there were school graduations and in college, there was pageantry surrounding football games. There were also parades like the Rose Parade. I remember marching bands at Cal Berkeley football games and seeing those bands touched me.

Eleanor: What has been the appeal of pageantry to you?

Dad: Pageantry has given me a strong sense of belonging, community, purpose, strength, and the idea of overcoming adversity by becoming excellent. I have always been vulnerable to inspiration.

Pageantry is important in shaping children, especially if things are not going perfectly at home.

It’s important to have public pageantry. A few people, a small remnant of people who have a strong sense for idealism and excellence can create pageantry in a way that can teach, affect, and lift up the whole community.

It is important to participate in pageantry, too, to be an actor in it and not only a recipient. We participated in some marches to help prevent war in Iraq.

Eleanor: What made you decide to take us to those musicals when we were younger?

Dad: You should have those experiences when you are really young. When I took you to see The King and I, I encouraged you to run behind the scenes to see the actors in the dressing rooms. You said “Aren’t you coming with me?” and I said “No, you can do it.” And you did that while I waited at the stage door.

Eleanor: If you were going to put on a pageant today, what would it be about?

Dad: It would be a pageant that shows the beauty of the races, religions, sexes, preferences, nations, and animals. It would be an acknowledgement of beauty and life. I would just celebrate it!

Dad's name is Len Traubman. He lives in San Mateo, CA with my mom Libby. They pioneered the Jewish - Palestinian Dialogue Group. For more info:
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