By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
LAKE FOREST, CA (ANS – March 26, 2017) — I just received an e-mail from Peter Conlan, an old friend who used to attend my father’s church – The Sparkbrook Mission — in Birmingham, England, in the 1960’s, and later worked with Operation Mobilization. His message entitled “Young journalist, Dan”, enclosed a copy an old business card of mine that he had just found from back from 1976.
It was quite a shock, as I had forgotten that I once looked like that, especially as my hair has since turned snowy white.
In his message, he said: “Today, I was searching through a few old diaries for something, and in my 1976 diary, I came across the attached card. I always thought it was your intellect and spirituality that wowed Norma, but I now suspect the good looks may have played a part.”
I knew this was a tongue-in-cheek comment from Peter, so I began searching through my older pictures to confirm that I once had jet black hair, and thought you would like to this one of the life-changing day, back in 1963, that Norma and I were married at Aston Parish Church in Birmingham. (By the way, we are about to celebrate 54 years of a roller-coaster of married life, which has produced two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandkids, all of whom we are planning to visit in the UK over this Easter time.
After a few minutes of reflection, I decided to post the business card picture on my Facebook page, and almost immediately I received a whole bunch of fascinating and often hilarious comments about it.
One was from my former journalist colleague, Liz Hodgkinson, who said, “I can remember you looking like that Dan, when you sat next to me in the Sunday People newsroom.”
Another was from veteran broadcaster, Al Gross, who along with Tim Berends, used to host “The Tim and Al Show” on KBRT here in Southern California, on which I would regularly appear. Al wrote: “Proof that you were indeed hip and cool. Not to say you’re not now. It’s just that being hip and cool was more important then.”
Jim Hamilton, who now lives in Liverpool, and used to be a member of The Messengers, an evangelistic team that Norma, myself and my sister Ruth, ran out of the Sparkbrook Mission, said simply, “Yes, you definitely did.”
In response to my Beatles-style hairstyle, Glen Megill of ROCK of Africa, wrote, “ROCKSTAR!!”, which, of course, I am not, as I could never carry a tune, even though, in those days, I had a Ozzy Osbourne Birmingham accent, which I have tried to lose since I moved to the USA, knowing that it would be incomprehensible to most Americans.
Super percussionist and Doo Wop singer, Walter J. Santos, described my hair-style as a “Mop Top,” which was interesting to read as around the time the business card picture was taken, I had once interviewed Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr at Wembley Stadium in London, where they were attending a concert where Elton John, The Eagles and The Beach Boys were performing.
And talking of pop groups, James Kissinger, said, “‘Yeah Yeah, We’re The Monkees and People see us Monkeying around.’ Davy Jones look alike.” (We’ll at least we once had lived in the UK).
My ANS senior correspondent, Michael Ireland, who once worked with me on the Middlesex County Times newspaper in Ealing, West London, wrote, “And to think I knew you when…!! That’s how you looked when we first met in another time, in another land!”
In the last 11 years of our life in the UK, we lived in the lovely town of Walton-on-Thames, Surrey and, before heading off to Fleet Street, I would often drop my boys off at school, along with two of their friends, Sulieman, and his brother, Iskander. Sulieman wrote: “That’s how I still remember you Dan. You used to drop us off at school in your pale blue Ford. Haven’t change a bit.”
So, to further check my earlier looks, I managed to dig out a photo of myself as the goalkeeper in a soccer team in Birmingham and, also a little later when I interviewed Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. Yes, it’s true. My hair in those days was pitch black, and much thicker than it is now.
But as the years have gone by, it has slowly but surely changed color and is now white, as is evidenced in this photo taken with Billy and Ruth Graham at their home in Montreat, North Carolina. (By the way, I have a lot to thank Billy Graham for, as I began my career as a journalist back in 1968 as a reporter with The Christian in London, which was then the old evangelical paper in the world and which his organization had just purchased. I later worked with Mr. Graham as a writer at some of his powerful overseas crusades in Moscow, Russia; Essen, Germany; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.)
It’s been fascinating to look back at my earlier years, and I’m glad to say that, even though I am now 76, with hair as white as snow – something we don’t see much of here in Southern California — I am busier than I’ve ever, what with running the ASSIST News Service, hosting “Front Page Radio,” a weekly interview show on the KWVE Radio Network (www.kwve.com), and also two TV programs, “Inside Hollywood with Dan Wooding,” and “Windows on the World,” which I co-host with Dr. Garry Ansdell, senior pastor of Hosanna Christian Fellowship in Bellflower, California. The latter two are running the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv/), so please check them out.
I don’t have any plans to retire, as I believe that, we as followers of Christ, should keep going, at least until we are too sick to work. So I plan to keep going as long as possible, even though my hair has turned white, and occasionally I get a bit forgetful. Don’t we all?
My two wonderful sons, Andrew and Peter, are also showing a few signs of their age, but they too are keeping busy in their work for the Kingdom in the UK. But they also occasionally take time out to enjoy a treat, and they had one on Saturday night, when they attended a concert in Manchester, and then sent me this photo taken with my dear friend, Rick Wakeman. It was taken after a show that Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick (ARW) had brilliantly performed a selection of Yes hits from the past. I have known Rick now for some 50 years when in those days that my hair was still black, and I went on to write his authorized biography, which recently re-released as Caped Crusader: Rick Wakeman in the 1970s, which carried a foreword by Sir Elton John. (You can get a copy at: https://www.amazon.com/Caped-Crusader-Rick-Wakeman-1970s/dp/1908728302).
I hope you have enjoyed reading this story, and I would ask you to continue to pray for Norma and myself, as we continue on with our rather amazing lives together, and of course, if you would like to help support us, just go to www.assistnews.net and scroll down to where it says, DONATE TO ASSIST NEWS. (Neither of us receive a regular salary). If you prefer a check, just make it out to ASSIST and write in the memo, “For the support of Dan and Norma Wooding,” and then mail it to: PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609, USA. (All gifts in the US are tax-deductible).
Also, I would like many of you to write up your own story of growing old and the lessons you have learned from it, and then send it to me by e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe, if I get enough really good ones, I could then write up a follow-up story to this one. So, start writing and send them as soon as possible.
Photo captions: 1) The business card. 2) Norma and Dan on their wedding day back in 1963. 3) Dan with Mother Teresa in Calcutta in 1975. 4) Dan as a goalkeeper for a Birmingham soccer team. 5) Dan chatting with Billy and Ruth Graham at their home in North Carolina. 5) Peter and Andrew Wooding with Rick Wakeman in Manchester. 6) Norma and Dan Wooding — he’s the one with white hair — in Hollywood during a reporting assignment for ANS. (Photo: Bryan Seltzer).
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 54 years. Dan is the founder and president of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and he hosts a weekly radio show and two TV programs, all based in Southern California. They have two sons, Andrew and Pater, and six grandchildren, who all live in the UK. Dan is the author of 45 books and, before moving to the US in 1982, he lived and worked in London for many years, but his hair began to change color after he moved to the United States. However, Dan doesn’t know if there is any connection!
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