A Request From Down Under
Houston, Texas USA
A few weeks after Double Toe Jam July 2007 (Waco) I was contacted by Josh
King, now of Australia www.theclogdog.com with a most unusual
request. As most who know our history, Josh and his brother, Adam, were
raised only about four houses down the street from Rita, Aron and myself
here in Houston. So when, Jenny Neal, a clogging leader and a good friend
of Josh in Australia contacted him to ask his assistance in finding a family
in America, and hopefully Houston, that would host a clogger from Australia,
he felt very comfortable contacting Rita and myself. Would we be interested
in giving up our empty nest?
When Blake Burton moved to Tyler just two years ago Rita and I had finally
become empty nesters. Even when we were married, in 1968, we had a fellow
Marine rent a room from us in our three bedroom trailer. When I returned
from Viet Nam we accepted Rita's Sisters as guest in our home. That was
only the beginning of a long list of those who have left a mark in our lives
while living with us. When we finally came to accept that we would only be
fortunate enough to give birth to one child, Aron, then we became foster
parents through the Methodist Church, so as to enrich Aron's life
experiences. Certainly a most rewarding experience for our family.
Shortly after we co-founded Yellow Rose in 1986, we found ourselves no longer
being foster parents, but more rather hosting cloggers and that patterned
continued for several years. The first was a Dallas clogger who was
attending the University of Houston and found herself running low on funds.
She was only the first of many cloggers. So, it was only natural that Josh
consider asking Rita and I if we would consider hosting an Aussie Clogger.
For the two of us, there was only one answer to the request. To have the
opportunity to be part of giving someone an opportunity to have such an
experience would be an honor for us.
With Josh's request we received a well written letter addressed to "Dear
Potential Host Family," from Stacey Barber of Quimpy, Australia. At that
time Stacey was 17 and in her last year of high school. She had been
dancing for 12 years with the Rise'N'Shine Cloggers in Australia. She had
seen Josh several times at the annual Muster event in Australia that Josh
had taught at several times.
About a week later we had our first email contact direct from Stacey
herself...in which the words Thank You appeared too many times to count.
Stacey was now for the first time able to believe her dream of coming to
America and living with a family involved in clogging could become a
reality. In short order Stacey was checking out the Texas Clogging Council
website, along with Double Toe Jam and of course Yellow Rose.
Within that first email was the first of many questions about how to
actually accomplish this goal. Discussions about air travel, visas,
weather, best time to come, how long to stay, how big is your house, do you
have an accent (like in the movies)?
Well Stacey and her family finally completed all the necessary paperwork and
then the worry set in. All contact with Stacey's parents was through Stacey
herself, that is, until the day that Desleigh returned home from putting
Stacey on that plane in Brisbane, headed for Los Angeles. Then she wrote.
And she wrote. All the while I myself was watching the clock. I well
remember back in 1967 taking my own first air flight, which also landed in
Los Angeles as I was headed to Marine Boot Camp and how I was treated that
day. We arrived early that day at the airport not wanting to have any
reason to worry more. I remember looking at the clock and thinking I had
time for a visit to the men's room before Stacey got there....when I turned
the corner I saw Stacey for the first time. There was no doubt who she was
and I was so relieved. Contacting her parents was now the first order of
Since that day in January Stacey has been immersed in all things American
and Texan. While at the same time, we have learned much more about our
friends in Australia. I am sure that anyone who attended the March Rally
saw this young lady who is visiting us for this year, well we hope she gets
to stay a full year. Stacey turned 18 the Friday night of our TCC Rally.
Just last weekend Stacey traveled to St. Louis and then had a nice road trip
with fellow clogging friends who escorted her to a clogging workshop in
Illinois. Soon Stacey will be in San Antonio performing in the Showcase
with Yellow Rose. Late May will find Stacey attending a workshop in Ohio,
as a guest of Adam King. Of course Stacey has plans to be at Double Toe Jam
We are not sure, due to visa issues if Stacey will have to return to
Australia in August or if she will be allowed to stay till January as we all
had planned. So for now we have made no plans past DTJ. We all have
learned a lot more about how things in this world are post 9/11 experiences.
All that aside, hosting Stacey is an honor for Rita and I. We feel blessed
to have her for this experience. Rita and I would like to express our
Thanks to All who have helped to make this a true experience for Stacey.
Love You Stacey.
For more information on Clogging, visit:www.theclogdog.com