I once mentioned “Jaci Rohr” on a Forum post, and someone replied “Who’s that?”
Before I could explain, someone else replied, “That’s Mrs. Pope!”
Cute, I thought. But don’t let her hear you call her that. Jaci (pronounced like the normal “Jackie”), my lovely wife of 21 supportive-beyond-the-call-of-duty years, is getting sick of the whole “harp guitar pope” business. She insists I never use it in reference to myself (she thinks it’ll go to my head…oops, too late!).
Luckily, she’s not getting sick of harp guitars (or their players or builders) – as she is, of course, the Secretary/Treasurer of the Harp Guitar Foundation. Titles aside, she’s much more than that – handling the first tax year with our legal adviser, John Thomas, and generally catching all the details and fine print and keeping “the boys” professional and out of jail. Seriously, she worked on the patent for her co-designed Cesar Millan’s dog collar invention…she is particular.
Jaci’s first Gathering and introduction to our wild and creative bunch was HGG3 in Salem. She loved everyone and of course fit right in – for example, cracking up Andy McKee and Dan LaVoie with this classic exchange:
Mike Doolin (luthier): “Nancy (his wife now) wants me to build her her own harp guitar – but I still have a pretty long waiting list.”
Jaci: “Yeah, well Nancy can easily put you on her own Waiting List, buddy!”
She had to skip HGG4, but made a point to attend HGG5, the anniversary year back in Williamsburg, where she stepped up to help the 2 Lindas with the Sales Table work and accounting. With that under her belt, she volunteered to manage the volunteer team the next year for host Mike Doolin, and soon found herself the wife of an overworked pope who next had to set up (with law professor and new harp guitarist, John Thomas) a nonprofit corporation. As I said, she’s good with fine print and details and got us all through it.
That very next year was the first Harp Guitar Gathering sponsored by the Foundation and one that found Jaci managing the whole non-stage part of the event. Believe me; none of us now – Stephen, myself, the hosts – could do this without her. She does it gratis because she loves all you guys and gals (but mostly “her Powell boys”). So she, especially, appreciates those of you who can chip in and help out at the Gatherings.
Jaci, with last year’s Featured Artist, Hiro (Moheji) Takai
And what does she do when not subject to Harp Guitar Slavery?
Well, she’s truly a “Jaci-of-all-trades” – always involved in some creative project or another (she ghostwrites Auggie’s Doggie Bloggie), when not working in “the biz” (TV and movie costumer). She loves her current gig – for the last year she’s been at Paramount Studios in a position they created for her: Jewelry Archivist. For months, she’s been digging in drawers and sorting out all the old costume jewelry in an attempt to locate surviving pieces from Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 The Ten Commandments – with great success. She uses the film and production stills to identify pieces – or pieces of pieces (they re-utilized lots of stuff, and much was tossed). Then she has to keep looking to see if there’s enough there to properly restore the piece or re-assemble it.
Jaci’s office is also the new Jewelry Archive room, above (where the Paramount V.I.P.s often bring by friends and stars of “Old Hollywood” (like the other day, Stella Stevens, one of my boyhood crushes!).
Recently, she attended a Hollywood gala, tasked to take the entire exhibit to set up in the lobby at the newly restored Egyptian Theater for a screening of the just-restored film, with the first public exhibition of the jewels.
The elaborate “pectoral” (center of the exhibit spread below) was worn by Anne Baxter as the Queen of Egypt. It’s made (like nearly all of it) of gold-plated copper. Jaci personally disassembled and rebuilt it, after carefully cleaning and polishing the 2,113 individual pieces by hand. What can I say? – she’s a costume geek!
There is talk of the Studio finally creating their own permanent exhibition space to display this and the costumes (from this and many other films). Meanwhile, they’ve been loaning out some of the pieces to other museums. “Costume jewelry,” maybe – but no kid’s stuff!
Above, Jaci, on set for her interview for the “Making of” DVD