Sunday, November 18, 2012

One Day...

Father Martin's Gazpacho
I was looking for something else when I found it at the very bottom of one of the kitchen drawers. It was a hand written recipe for Gazpacho that was given to me in 1981 by a friend of mine who passed away about a year ago

 Joe Martin was his name and the film company I was working for at the time had sent me on a mission to Aberdeen, Maryland, where he lived,  to find out who he was and what all it was that he was doing up there.... and discover if there was any way our little company could help him do MORE of it......since he was spending so much money with us.

 Now Aberdeen, being home of the military "proving grounds" is known for "surprises"...usually in the form of "Big Booms" throughout day. That afternoon the "Free State boomtown had its share of surprises for me as well, although of a different kind. 

First of all, I discovered that Joe Martin was a Catholic Priest.

 Secondly, he was an alcoholic. Probably the most famous alcoholic in the world.

 He made a film in 1972 that broke all the rules of film making.....for example the only visuals were of Father Martin at a blackboard talking! In a classic case of "content rules" it connected with people struggling with alcohol addiction like nothing had before and made Father Martin famous. The series is called "Chalk Talk." He attributes his success to, "they recognize that I'm one of them."

 Father Martin was one of the best speakers that I ever heard, and am very honored that I was able to help in a very small way to produce several of his later films. We did add just a little in the way of "relief" shots, different angles and a shot or two of audience reaction (a few of which are close ups of me...since using my face assured that there would be no legal problems, etc)

 147-acre Father Martin's Ashley addiction treatment center campus on the Chesapeake Bay in Havre de Grace, Maryland 

In the late 70's, Father Martin bought the old Millard Tydings mansion in Havre de Grace, Md very near Aberdeen and turned it into an 85 bed treatment center, named "Ashley" which many have nicknamed the "Betty Ford Center, East."

 He was a warm and humorous man. One of his obituary writers used a line from a talk of his where he told of a police officer who saw a drunk with a penguin and told the drunk to take the penguin to the zoo, where it belonged. The next day, the officer saw the same drunk with the same penguin and demanded to know why the drunk had not taken the bird to the zoo. “I did,” the drunk replied. “He loved it. Today, we’re going to the library.”

 But Father Martin’s best-remembered words were probably his customary welcome to each troubled patient at his treatment center: “The nightmare is over.”

(Note: In AA, alcoholics consider themselves "always alcoholics," although hopefully "recovering alcoholics.")

Here's a short sample (5 minutes) of the dynamic Father Martin, may he rest in Peace.  -Ed