Bill Hamm – The Love Birds
Couple’s Love Song: I’m Yours/Somewhere Over Rainbow (by Straight No Chaser)
Our names are Nancy Swanson and Bill Hamm and here’s our true love story. We both hail from St. Cloud, Minnesota. Although graduating from the same high school in the mid-sixties, we hardly knew each other during those teenage years. After high school, we both went in different directions. Nancy to Aspen and Bill to Arizona and California and then back to Minnesota for graduate school and a lifelong career in the travel and incentive business.
Nearly fifty years after high school, our paths crossed again back in Minnesota at a July 4th music festival in St. Joe, the hometown of Bobby Vee (in fact, the lead band at that music fest featured the Hy-Vees comprised of Bobby Vee’s sons and nephews). The music fest came to a close with fireworks both in the sky and in our hearts. Bill to this day will never forget looking at the different color bursts of fireworks in the night sky and asking Nancy of her favorite color. Periwinkle was the reply and for some reason in that instant Bill knew that a bluebird of happiness had flown into his life.
Within a year of that serendipitous meeting, the Penguin sold his house and moved from Minnesota to Nancy’s place in Longmont, Colorado. The Penguin? Yes, that’s Bill’s animal “totem” or spirit, one that he chose decades ago in the tradition of each family member choosing their own animal persona or totem for themselves. Today, when lucky enough to have all the siblings sitting down together at a holiday dinner, you’ll see the Penguin sitting next to the Crow, the Eagle, the Fish, the Otter, the Buffalo and the Duck (joined by spouses including the Swan and the Amoeba). And, of course, gracing the table now is our Bluebird, too. Nancy, incidentally, chose the bluebird as her animal totem because her favorite color is blue and because…..well, simply because a bluebird brings happiness to the world.
Our favorite song? It can be found on a CD that the Penguin compiled for his Bluebird, a disk that is comprised of 18 different songs, each titled or featuring the words or lyrics embracing bluebirds and/or the color blue. Songs like Paul McCartney’s Bluebird, Elton John’s Blue Eyes, Ersel Hickey’s Bluebirds Over the Mountain, the Echoes’ Baby Blue, and Steve Lawrence’s Pretty Blue Eyes. Well, all but one of the 18 songs on the CD celebrates the bluebird or the color blue. And that one is the lead-in song featuring Frank Sinatra singing Nancy With The Laughing Face. After giving her this CD, the Bluebird told the Penguin that her dad had named her Nancy after this Sinatra song. A great, fun-loving dad named Jim who, ironically, spent a lot of his retirement time building and posting bluebird houses in and around his hometown of St. Cloud.
But our favorite song is the last one on the CD titled I’m Yours/Somewhere Over The Rainbow, a song by the acapella group, Straight No Chaser, featuring lyrics including:
Look into your heart and you’ll find love love love
Listen to the music of the moment people dance and sing
We’re just one big family
And it’s our God-forsaken right to be loved loved loved loved loved
So I won’t hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait I’m sure
There’s no need to complicate
Our time is short
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where clouds are far
Somewhere over the rainbow
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why, then, oh why can’t I?
And the song ends with these words:
This is our fate, I’m yours.
The Penguin Proposal
The Penguin celebrated his 70th birthday last November with the Bluebird in an ocean-side city beloved by us both, Laguna Beach, California. That evening Bill made arrangements for the front desk to call their room with the message that a gift from Bill’s sister, Patty (the Duck), was waiting for him at the front desk. So when the call came with Nancy answering and taking the message, Bill left his Bluebird in her nest and pretended to go down to the front desk to pick up his gift. Instead, he retrieved a gift for the Bluebird that he had hidden outside of the room. Upon entering back into the room, he showed the small wrapped gift to the Bluebird who was surprised that such a small-sized birthday gift was sent to him by his sister (last birthday, The Duck surprised him by arranging for a big bottle of single malt scotch to be delivered to his room at the Broadmoor where he and the Nancy were staying). Instead of opening the gift, the Penguin gave it to his Bluebird and asked her to open it. She did and what she found inside was an envelope along with a bejeweled penguin-shaped ring case. Inside the case was a ring featuring a big blue stone resting inside the outline of a penguin. Inside the envelope was this card:
Handwritten on the back of the card was the Penguin’s proposal asking the Bluebird to become
and she said yes.