Tybee Post book signing brings in NYT's all-star authors

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The historic Tybee Post Theater hosted a Sunday Matinee and book signing with three New York Times authors, Mary Kay Andrews, Patti Callahan Henry and Kristin Harmel, on July 18.

Sunny, no traffic and an air-conditioned event awaits me as I enter the 1930s former Army theater to find New York native and volunteer Ellen Rosenberg and Post board member, secretary and volunteer Sallie McClelland greeting guests in the lobby. The Tybee residents said they are expecting close to 150 avid readers, so I hustle over to chat with more of the theater's volunteers.

First up is Jan Will, a self-proclaimed "funky artist with a quirky style." As Jan scrolls through her phone showing me pics of her eccentric needle-sculpting characters, I learn about her volunteer work with the Tybee Island Lighthouse and Tybee Clean Beach while posing her with Post Executive Director Evan Goetz and house manager Dee Harrell.

Farther into the meticulously restored theater is Johnson High School math teacher Beth Reed. "Volunteering here fills my love of historical buildings, Repurpose Savannah fills my love of recycling and collecting broken keepsakes and girls barrettes. What could be trash and turning it into art is another reason I love Tybee," shares the avid kayaker.

Standing with her is former International Paper computer programmer John Jakubiec. Professing my love of all things IP, I am talking with John about his three-hour beach walks and bike rides when I am handed a bag filled with a plastic champagne glass, a white chocolate rose from Catie's Confections, and Savannah Cheese Straws courtesy of Seaside Sisters.

Speaking of SS, I head down to pose Susan Kelleher with Post intern and Georgia Southern University double major Samantha Farrington. Seeing how busy the shop owner is selling books, I continue to chat with Samantha about her marketing and public relations goals and her love of goombay drums before heading up on the stage to see the famous writers.

I have missed Mary Kay Andrews' face! The NYT's bestseller has recently finished restoration on yet another Tybee Island cottage, has a Christmas book coming out and hints that there may be a naughty Santa coming to the launch party. Hating to leave the quirky antique collector, I head over to the next book signing table.

Listening to Patti Callahan Henry talk with fellow breast cancer survivor Maureen Tankersley about their mutual love for Tybee, I hear, "There is something about the minute you cross that bridge onto the island and your heart rate changes." Hoping Maureen gets her dream of being a full-time not part-time Tybee resident, I ask Patti one more question before her next fan walks up.

Tell me about a hobby, an unusual talent or something you love to collect. With a large smile, she points down to her shoes and says, “These Jimmy Choos. They were my first reward for making the New York Times best seller list. FYI, I got them at the Jimmy Choo outlet!”

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With the line getting longer, I rush over to get one minute with Kristen Harmel. The Boston, Massachusetts, native is telling me of her love of the South, our hospitality and natural beauty when her next fan walks up to ask for her book to be signed.

Bummed that I can't spend more time with Kristen, I head to chat with Post operations manager Steve Johnson and pose him with Patricia Muns and Debbie Mitchell. Laughing when I explain that photos are great ice breaking techniques to meet the person standing next you, I move down the line to meet Steve and Linda Martin.

Not expecting Linda to tell me that Steve collects buddhas and that Linda loves dinosaurs, I glance up and see Alice Jepson arriving. Introducing me to her sister-in-law Bonnie Andrews, I learn that Alice's brother fell in love with Bonnie at first sight, that Bonnie is a skilled mahjong player and that Alice's husband, Bob, is off at a car show in Kentucky.

Thrilled to have Bonnie out with her after the passing of her brother, Alice tells me how much it means to attend events like this with her before I introduce the ladies to Evan. After a quick pic of the three, a quick quiz with Evan reveals that the Gaffney, South Carolina, native has a strong love of ghosts, UFOs, astrology and sipping southern spirits. He also has a Master of Fine Arts in performance and a love for kayaking and directing theater productions.

With an invite out to the Aug. 19 Unplugged at the Post, a casual, intimate acoustic experience with local talent, I leave happy knowing the 206-person capacity, historic theater is getting a new lease on life after it's 2015 renovation and closing during COVID. The only thing that would have made today better would have been seeing Jim and Dottie Klutz!

Invite Bunny to your gathering, gala or other social event. Contact Bunny at 912-844-1122 or email her at bunnyware@aol.com. See more columns by Bunny at SavannahNow.com/Lifestyle/.   

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Tybee Post book signing brings in NYT's all-star authors