Monthly Archives: January 2007

Last words


There have been some fabulous last words during the course of history. But I have to give it to my dear uncle. He died last night and the last words he spoke to me a few days ago were, “Hope to see you soon. You have nice teeth.”

Can’t top that. Especially considering the money I’ve spent on these babies trying to keep them presentable. 


A Little Praise


I wrote a story for the January issue of Senior Life on the thrills of pole dancing for fitness over 50. There’s a teaser below and the issue is still available. I’ll post the story February 1. The president of the company Heart and Pole, wrote me a warm and kind thank you letter, posted below. Thank YOU, Trina.

Deb,I only realized a couple of days ago that the article was published.
I’m not sure I can thank you enough.
It is, hands-down, the best piece ever written on our company and style
of teaching. You really got to the essence of what makes us so
special. It was evocative and well-crafted.

I am very fortunate that someone like you found me and took an interest.
In lesser hands, it would have been a pandering, puff piece. 

Thank you Deb. 


Heart & Pole, Inc.
(310) 526-3038



I’m posting a column I wrote in 2005 about Father’s Day, as my uncle Vern is about to pass. I’m thankful he has been able to spend time with his family and friends the past few months. And to Pastor Mary Ann and the members of the Our Saviour’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oxnard, thank you for all the meals and kindnesses given to my Aunt Jan and Vern.

May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you, guide your way on, guide your way on, guide your way on. Sat Nam. — A Kundalini song

June. A time of graduations, weddings, new patio furniture. Got mine just in time for one last rain, and then sun, glorious sun.  

June is also the month to honor our fathers. Arguably, we’d all like to have nurturing, loving relationships with our fathers. But for those of us who didn’t quite get that nice little package, how do you feel about Father’s Day?  Having lost most of my childhood to my parents’ alcoholism, divorce, and ultimately their deaths while I was still a teenager, Father’s Day was a bitter day for me for many years. I’ve struggled to understand my dad over the years and it’s been anything but easy. He was a stomach churning mix of the heroic and tragic, never sorting out his true self from the life he led. He was a talented student, cartoonist, and even claimed to have invented Rocky Road ice cream at Whitey’s Ice Cream in Moline, Illinois. (After contacting them about it, Whitey’s owner replied, “If he wants to claim that, it’s ok with us!”) I doubt Dad realized that an ice cream name would one day describe his life.  He became a terribly young World War II, B-24 pilot, nicknamed “Smiley.” Ah, he had the angel and the devil in him for sure. With dimples to melt any female on a face like William Holden, he was a force. My poor mother didn’t know what she was getting into. An Iowa farm girl, my dad, just home from the War, spotted her while she was on strike for the local phone company. They hit the church faster than you can say, “I do.” I was fortunate to get some photos from my sister that I had never seen before. Photos of my parents taken while they were dating and first married. I am amazed by how beautiful they were and how they beamed with happiness in every shot. But moving to California and trying to live the American Dream in the heady 1950s and 60s took its toll. They got caught up in the trappings, and lost their selves.Thank God my father had a younger brother. My uncle Vern was the yin to my father’s yang.  Vern is a kind, patient, loving, and smart man who stepped into my life when my father couldn’t. My father had three girls, my uncle had three boys. Dad had no spiritual beliefs; Vern lived each day by his. My uncle and aunt became my pseudo parents and our relationship has deepened over the years. My grandfather’s death brought us closer together in my grandparents’ modest  Illinois duplex, digging through his childhood school and church records from Sweden, a moving and joyful experience. Vern and Jan brought my grandmother out to California, where she always wanted to live, giving us the chance to be with her in her final years. When she passed, I saw my uncle’s pain, and my aunt’s true compassion as she apologized to me for not doing more for me when I was younger. That was when I realized how much I had survived, and how important these two people were to me.

As different as my dad was from Vern, who committed himself to a life of responsibility to his family, job and church, he admired my father’s adventure spirit. So when Vern retired from Rocketdyne, he started making models of, and taking rides in planes my father had flown during the war. He also spent four years researching my dad’s service in the Air Force. He created a beautiful, meticulous notebook of information including my dad’s old cartoons, photos of him as a kid, in pilot training, and in uniform while based in England. Vern found his original typewritten flight records, several of his fellow crew members to get first-hand accounts of those 19 missions, visited the remains of the base at Pickenham, and even stopped in at a pub my father frequented.Were it not for Vern’s painstaking effort, and my ongoing desire to understand him, my father would be a distant, confusing memory and an unresolved heartache for me. Vern brought my father to life in a special way for to me, to help me come to terms with him, to smooth the “rocky road.” I took that notebook out to Van Nuys airport a few years ago when I took a flight in the only remaining flying B-24 Liberator, operated by The Collings Foundation. My uncle’s book and the flight on the Liberator created a powerful connection between the three of us, and truly was a liberating experience for me.So to my Uncle/Father I send heartfelt greetings. And to my aunt, belated Mother’s Day greetings. I hope we all can smooth out the rocky roads in our relationships this Father’s Day. This world needs happiness, and making peace is the first step.

Ward Grant


I’m sorry to say that Ward Grant, Bob Hope’s witty and wonderful publicist for more than 30 years, passed away last week. He had several health issues the past few years so it’s not a shock, but it still stings. I just got a “punny” Christmas card from the card himself. Last year he couldn’t make it to my wedding, but always a class act, he sent one of the nicest presents we received.

I worked with Ward in the late 80s while working with Ken Kantor in the old Hope office on PR for Hope’s TV specials. Hope was still a bear and so was Ward. And in 2005, Ward asked me to help him with media to announce the opening of the Bob Hope Memorial Garden at the San Fernando Mission. The Great Comedian was laid to rest with a press conference for the media, and an elegant afternoon service and private dinner at the Hope house with invited guests that included veteran celebs, Cardinal Mahoney, two bishops and 10 priests. Leave it to Dolores to send that rascal off with all the help she could get! And, of course, his final resting place is what else, a mini ampitheatre and stage. Go see it and pay your respects, if you can. The garden and water features are adjacent to the chapel, and are beautiful.

So I’ll say farewell to a great man and a memorable chapter of my life at his memorial service this weekend. You can read his obit at Sat nam.

Pole Dancing For Fun Over 50!


Here’s a snippet of my latest article running in the January issue of Senior Life in Southern California…

So you say you need a physical tune-up in 2007?

by Debbi K. Swanson Patrick 

Slip, slide, wrap, spin, swing, emote and writhe like a vixen. Does that sound like your typical fitness routine? I don’t think so.

But it is what many women are doing these days to rev up their metabolism, self-esteem and maybe even their libido. It’s fun, liberating and challenging. Ok, so what is it?

“IT” is unleashing your inner pole dancer.

That’s right. Safely and privately “find your self on the pole,” as Heart and Pole’s Trina Lance says. She’s a formidable crusader, an evangelist for women to liven up and loosen up, for fun.

As Lance says on her web site,, “Why hire a male stripper to entertain when you are the real star!” 

The irony of the trend is that the way Lance teaches, she turns what is often perceived as the sleaziest of male entertainment into a primal path to a woman’s freedom and self-expression.

It’s the “power of the pole.”

Read more in Senior Life…pick up a copy today! I’ll post the rest of the article after January.

Five Things You Don’t Know About Me


I’ve been tagged by that rascal of the web who’s been redoing my site, Susan Kitchens, to spill the beans on this subject. So here goes…

1. I met Charles Lindbergh when I was little. My dad was a United Air Lines pilot and he had a friend named Bud Gurney. Lindbergh was at his house and Dad drove me over there to meet him. I don’t remember much except the ride over, from our house in Woodland Hills to the Gurneys near Hayvenhurst in Encino. I later met Bud’s son through journalism school at CSUN, I believe. We went out on one date and that was the end of that.

2. I’ve been a car nut all my life. Cried when we sold our Plymouth Fury when I was 4. My first car was a 1930 Austin America named Sunshine. Had 32 coats of laquer, Cragar mag wheels and tuck ‘n roll upholstery. But with only 27 hp, it was clear I needed a real car to get around in. So I snapped up an adorable mustard yellow 1969 Fiat 850 Spyder for $650. While going to CSUN, I experienced an 850 Spyder convergence. As I approached the stop sign at Etiwanda, so did not one, not two, not three, but four other 850 Spyders. Not another car near that intersection — just us 5 Spyders, and four were yellow, one was blue. Strange.

3. I have had an amazing life and am grateful for every moment of it. Yes, major tragedies and pain, but amazing blessings and joy that far outweigh the sad. Like the fact that I’m a newlywed at 51. Ok, it’s my second time as a newlywed, but it’s much more fun this time around, married to a space engineer with a huge heart and great sense of humor. He needs it with me!

4. I’m writing my memoir, slowly, and in fits and starts, but I’m writing it!

5. Richard Simmons said to me as I arrived to interview him for a story in Dramalogue, “My, what a great chest you have.” “So I’ve been told, ” I replied. We had a great afternoon and interview about a musical he was planning called Pounds that never happened. Jule Styne was involved. And Richard sang to me in his kitchen, before spilling Hawaiian Punch soda (diet of course) on my $100 blouse. (It came out.) As I left he gave me a sweatshirt that says, “Fork Off.” I still have it.



So, it’s quite a landmark when you go to the opening of a show to see not a friend on opening night, but your friend’s son. And today was the day I saw my pal Don Raymond’s son Chris on stage at the Taper playing lead guitar in the fabulous coming-of-age musical 13. What a show. Chris is in the 5-member band that plays above the action on the Taper stage and Chris own’s his moment int he spotlight. The show is destined for New York and will be a hit there I’m sure. The central character is Evan, a 12-year-old boy from New York, transplanted via divorce to Appleton, Indiana and is he desperate to make some friends as his Bar Mitzvah is fast approaching. How to celebrate being a Jew in the middle of midwest Bible Belters? Hence Evan’s dilemma, along with figuring out who are friends and who aren’t. High energy, fast paced, witty and charming is this show by Jason Robert Brown. Sure, a predictable story line, but funny and infectious anyway. At the after-party the kids had a blast dancing away the evening. How they had the energy after all the dancing on stage I don’t know, but they were howlin. Can’t believe I forgot my camera! But here is a press shot.

The 13 Band