And a Happy Friday to you. Been a couple weeks since I’ve done a GNF so the good news stories have happily piled up. Have three here that really moved me and I think you’ll enjoy.
First up, the great Joe Posnanski is never better than when writing about his family; I don’t care if he never wrote another sports column, I’d read anything and everything he wrote about his wife and kids.
It seems Joe’s 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth has, like millions of other Americans, become obsessed with the huge Broadway musical “Hamilton,” and despite ticket prices being astronomical (seriously just for the heck of it I checked “Hamilton” prices on StubHub and about fell out of my chair), he took her to see it in New York recently.
This essay, partly about why “Hamilton” has struck such a chord, why it’s so good, and about his daughter’s passion in seeing it, is just sensational.
The thing about seeing Hamilton RIGHT NOW at its peak moment is that even before it begins, the entire theater is filled with wonder. Every single person would rather be here than anywhere else in the world. As a sportswriter, I often feel that sort of energy at the biggest events, at the Masters or the Super Bowl or the Olympics, but it’s even more pronounced in this theater. People look at each other with the same wide-eyed expression: “Can you believe we’re here?”
And then the show begins, Aaron Burr on the stage, talking about that bastard orphan Hamilton, and within about two minutes you realize the thing that makes Hamilton magical is this: It’s going to be even better than you had hoped.
How do you know only a minute in? You just do. The charms of Hamilton are so overwhelming and come at you from so many different directions that it’s hard to pinpoint. The music is fantastic, of course, and of every style. The actors are all thoroughly wonderful. The set, which is so simple, is ever changing as people bring things on the stage and take things off, almost without notice. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics are so fun and surprising and joyful and glorious …
Here, the Marquis de Lafayette is the “Lancelot of the Revolutionary set.”
Here, George Washington is not the white-haired truth-teller known for annual white sales, he is the only hope when the Colonies are “outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, outplanned.”
Here, the Revolutionary War is not some bloodless classroom lesson, but the answer to the question: “How does a ragtag army in need of a shower, somehow defeat a global superpower?”
The column gets better and better as it goes, and the postscript Joe added a few days after the column went viral? The perfect ending.
**Next up, this incredible story from the Chicago Tribune was sent to me by loyal reader Sanford, and it blew me away. More than 80 years ago, a 16-year-old girl named Eileen Wagner was raped on her way home one night and became pregnant. She was sent away by her parents to a “special home” for teenaged girls who became pregnant, and after delivering the baby in 1933, the child was given up for adoption. That child, Dorien Hammann, was adopted after being in a ward of the state for two years, and Eileen never saw her again.
Until this past April, when now 83-year-old Dorian called Eileen and said two incredible words: “Hello, Mother.”
After eight decades, Dorien and Eileen have reunited as daughter and mother. It’s a wonderful tale from journalist Vikki Ortiz Healy, and well worth your time.
I almost gave up on ever finding her,” said Wagner, who added that she has thought about the baby girl she had given up every day “from the day she was born.”
“It is still so hard to believe that at my age, my birth mother is still alive,” Hammann said. “I get chills and goose bumps all at the same time when I think of this.”
Eighty years. Can you imagine finding your mother after all that time?
**Finally today, a “60 Minutes” piece I finally got to watch on our flight home Tuesday night really hit me. It’s about an American woman named India Howell and her business power, a Tanzania native named Peter Leon Mmassy, and the children’s village of nearly 100 kids they’ve created in a remote part of the world where so many kids were orphaned or abandoned.
What these two people have built over the past 20 years is nothing short of remarkable. Together, Mmassy and Howell have transformed so many lives in so many ways. Watch the full story here.