At one time or another we’ve all been too hung over to enjoy Sunday Funday and settled down on the couch for a Golden Girls marathon on Lifetime. I’m even sure that most of us can recall our favorite scene or favorite lines, but can anyone claim that they never missed an episode during its amazing seven season run? Maybe a few. But of those, who can claim to know the show, its characters and all of their stories inside-out? Probably just one.
Jody McFerren’s affair with The Golden Girls began innocently as a flirtation. While in high school, an essay he wrote about The Golden Girls won a Pennsylvania state contest. Over the years, McFerren worked at CNN and Pez, but all the while the embers of his Golden Girls affair burned.
In 2010, those embers were stoked into a full blaze by a tragic fire at the restaurant he co-owned. “It took a fire to get me to start writing it but I decided to piece together my vision,” McFerren shared. That vision finally comes to life Tuesday August 7th at Blake’s on the Park with a promotion party for his upcoming book Back in St. Olaf. . . An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Stories, Idiotic Sayings and Home Cookery.
Yes, that St. Olaf- the small town that brought television audiences the wacky stories of Eddie Parker the Aqua Midget and tiny herring juggling Ginsu knives. And what is St. Olaf without its beloved inhabitant Rose Nylund, played by none other than America’s oldest sweetheart, the comical genius Betty White?
“[Rose Nylund] was the character that glued the show together,” McFerren points out. “Without Rose, Dorothy could not have made so many snarky comments, Sophia would not have been able to pass the blame, and Blanche would not have had someone to listen to the play-by-play of her most recent date.”
Growing up in a small town himself, Nylund’s penchant for story telling affected McFerren. “They are more than stories, they are modern day fairytales,” McFerren shared. McFerren decided to weave these fairytales together and went back to the show and its ill-fated spin-off Golden Palace to begin the process of chronicling every piece of “advice”, recipe and story that Rose Nylund shared.
But McFerren wouldn’t settle for a simple regurgitation of Nylund’s life. He set out to create a concrete St. Olaf . . . a town that viewers only imagined in the abstract. “I literally cooked everything Rose Nylund made on the show from Sweet & Sour Smelt Kabobs to Flugel Kaka. There are over 185 original recipes in the book.” In addition to being a cookbook, McFerren enlisted the help of artists to illustrate the 100 plus wacky stories Nylund shared over the seasons.
The journey doesn’t stop there. McFerren also created a 200-plus illustrated St. Olaf character index, a detailed town map, and a visual representation of GoogenSpritzer, St. Olaf’s Monopoly-like board game.
You don’t need your passport but McFerren hopes to immerse fans in St. Olaf when he brings his vision to Blake’s on the Park on Tuesday from 6 – 8:30pm. In addition to reading excerpts from his book, McFerren will unveil some of its illustrations, serve an assortment of his favorite recipes as well as host a slew of giveaways with Golden Girls trivia with proceeds benefiting AID Atlanta and the Queer Lit Fest. The party promises to be better than any Golden Girls marathon and you might just have McFerren thank you for being a friend.
You can find out more information about Back in St. Olaf and its author Jody McFerren by visiting the book’s official website here. Also head on over to Facebook and make sure you like the Back in St. Olaf Facebook page.