It was an afternoon of musical memories when songstress-turned-author Toni Tennille paid a visit Saturday to fans at Barnes & Noble at Lake Sumter Landing.
Tennille, part of the Captain and Tennille duo, had mega–hits in the seventies including “Love Will Keep Us Together,” “Do That to Me One More Time” and “Muskrat Love.”
She greeted the crowd warmly, making a few brief remarks about the two-year collaborative process of her memoir. Tennille’s self-titled memoir was co-written with her niece Caroline Tennille St. Clair. She then got to the business of signing books.
Almost all of those in line had a special memory and many brought memorabilia to show Tennille. She took a few minutes with each person and showed genuine interest in the articles people brought to share. First in line was Village of Caroline resident Ron Bunt. In addition to his albums he brought a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Tennille, now a resident of St. Mary, has posted a picture on Facebook of her in her kitchen signing bookplates. Bunt saw the photo on Facebook and selected the flowers to match her kitchen. She thanked him profusely for his thoughtfulness.
Another person in line brought a yearbook from their mutual high school, Sydney Lanier in Montgomery, Ala. He told her he was surprised that there wasn’t more about high school in the book. “That was the hard part,” said Tennille, now 76. “Having to leave things out. But it’s been a long life – I couldn’t include everything.”
Margo French surprised Tennille when she showed her pictures of the piano she had purchased from Tennille’s mother in 1989.
“I certainly do remember that piano. That is where I learned to play. My mother and I used to play duets on that piano,” Tennille said.
French, now a resident of the Village of Woodburry, was living in California at the time and in search of a Steinway. Answering an ad in the newspaper, she noticed all the pictures of Tennille in the house. She asked the woman showing her the piano if she was related; the woman confirmed Tennille was her daughter. The piano is still in use in French’s son’s home in Virginia.
Another item that brought back some fun memories was a scrapbook brought to the book signing by Village of Summerhill residents David and Rosemary Gerischt. David Garish met Tennille in 1975 when he worked as a DJ for WISM in Madison, Wis. They were in town for a show and did a meet and greet at the station.
“You know WISM is the station responsible for the success of ‘Muskrat Love,’” said Tennille. “Someone from your radio station contacted our producers and said ‘You should probably think about producing that as a single. It’s the one on the album I have been playing the heck out of’ so we did.” Talking about “Muskrat Love,” she said “One thing about that song, people either love it or loathe it.”
One piece of memorabilia that surprised Tennille the most was a pair of Captain and Tennille knee-high socks. She had never seen these before.
“I didn’t know these existed,” she said.
Her niece added, “We have seen some wacky stuff on the book tour, a lot of stuff that wasn’t licensed, but these trump the list.”
John Lyon lives in Orlando, but had found these socks in a collectibles shop in New York more than 20 years ago. Still in the plastic wrapper, Tennille graciously signed the outside of the socks.
Several Villagers expressed interest in having her come to The Villages to perform.
“Who knows?” said Tennille. “Right now I am just letting life take me where it wants. I am busy finishing the book tour.” She moved to Florida about a year ago after being out west for more than 30 years. “It feels good to be back in the south. As soon as I drove into Florida, it felt like home.”
She encourages her fans to keep in touch on Facebook at The Real Toni Tennille.
“I am basically retired,” said Tennille. “So I answer my Facebook messages personally.”