Friday, August 2, 2013

My Life With Comic Books Part # 191

A brief introduction:

My name is Paul Howley, owner of the Eisner Award winning pop culture collector’s store known as “That’s Entertainment” in Worcester, Massachusetts and a second store in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Some people have called me the “luckiest man in the comic book business.” (I’m not) My stores have been around for over thirty years and it’s been a long and interesting combination of events and people that have brought these stores to this current place. It is not my intent to boast or brag about my store or my life. I just want to tell you my story. In many instances, my wife remembers things a little differently, but this is the truth as I remember it. 

The current cast of characters:

Paul Howley: age 46

Mal Howley: age 47

Adam Howley: my son, age 21

Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 17


   I agreed to participate in the “One Voice” Christmas program because my daughter thought it would be fun to do this together. She can sing and I can’t, but I thought I could conceal my limited ability to sing by blending in with the crowd. Now I’ve been told that the program will be a musical and performance production…costumes, dancing and singing. Cassandra can dance and I can’t dance at all. This was not shaping up to be fun at all for me. 

   The director gave us each music books and CDs of the music including the harmonies that we’d each be singing. This made it very easy to practice our musical parts at home or while we were driving in the car. Although I couldn’t really read the music, it didn’t take me too long to figure it out. During the actual practice sessions, I found that sitting between two of the most talented singers (Scott Goddard and Jake Downing) made it much easier for me to stay in tune. These two guys also made the process a more enjoyable because they liked to goof around a bit. In fact, almost all of the people in this singing group were fun to be around. While everyone was serious about making this the best production they could make it, we all seemed to enjoy the process of putting it all together. It was a big commitment of time and energy. This musical gave me the opportunity to get to know several people who turned out to be fun and interesting. 

   Most of the parts I was going to be in were large group scenes consisting of people walking around singing Christmas songs wearing winter or holiday clothing. I pleaded with the director and the costume coordinator to let me just wear my normal clothes…blue jeans, a t-shirt, a leather jacket and my sneakers. In the spirit of cooperation, I agreed to wear a scarf. 

   During a rehearsal one night, the director was assigning people to play different parts in the show. My daughter, Cassandra was asked to play Mary in the Nativity scene. I was assigned to play Joseph. I was glad to play that part because it gave me the chance to interact with Cassandra on-stage and there were no actual “lines” for me to remember. Cassy would sing the solo part and I’d just join in when the rest of the singers started their parts.  I’d also wear a costume. 

   We practiced for several weeks and then, in early December, we performed this Christmas program for an audience of over eight-hundred people on each of the two nights. I had a great time during the whole process but the “spotlight” is not for me. I’ll leave this to the actors. 

   Here’s a somewhat grainy video recording of the song that Cassandra and I were in together.

Next chapter: Our first Christmas without Adam.



  1. How nice to see the video, and how interesting to note that it was a REAL baby she was holding. Nice that it cooperated through the song.

    Paul, it's been a great privilege to read your blog (and yes, I have read all 191 "chapters") and your growth. I understand it's been hard to post the story past Adam's death, I'm glad you have. God's grace is truly healing, and I do pray that you and your family have found comfort in that after all this time.

    God's grace go with you

    Wayne Shuman

  2. Wayne: Thanks again for reading and commenting on my story! I'm working on another chapter now...