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Who Would You Choose?
Top 3 Picks To Have For Dinner
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This past week marked the official beginning of the Holiday Season. As many gathered nationwide with friends, family or strangers to share a meal, an intriguing question arose.

If given the opportunity to have dinner with three people of your choosing, who would it be? This question was posed to the Oakdale Leader staff, with no restrictions. Living or dead, famous or family — they called the shots.

From top name celebrities, to simple old grandfolks, members of the staff have weighed in. Who would your choice be? To post your top pick visit and place your answer within the story.



Wow this is a really tough question. Who would I like to have for dinner?

The first and second persons I would like to have for dinner are my grandparents. It would be really great to have one more big family dinner with everyone. My grandfather, Pappaw, passed before my boys were born and it would be great to have them meet him. His stories of his younger years were always amazing to me. The struggles of the depression and the things he had to do to survive and provide for his family. To have Mammaw and Pappaw here with us one more time would be wonderful.

The third person would be Elvis Presley. I was so enamored with him when I was younger. I loved watching his movies and was amazed by his lifestyle. I always wondered what it would be like to be around him and talk with him. I always imagined him as a kind person.

— Debbie Dobbins



If I were to have carte blanche with a supreme being who was willing to grant me a sumptuous dinner spread with three guests — living or dead — it would only take a moment to name my three. Sure, at first, there’s the temptation to call up Cleopatra to get the real deal from her perspective of historic events but from what I know about her she was a bit of a diva and that would get tiresome midway through the meal so I decided to go with people who have some kind of meaning in my life. First and foremost, I would ask for dinner with my biological father, who died when I was 9. After he died, I used to dream frequently that I was able to see him one last time and in the dreams I would cling to him desperately in the hopes that he wouldn’t disappear with the morning light. Those early years were difficult and I carried the weight of my grief like a stone in my pocket. Now that I’m grown the grief has faded but the questions remain.

My second and third choices would be Vivien Leigh — the greatest actress of all time — and Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone With The Wind. Leigh is an easy choice because I’m fascinated by her life story. She was an unparalleled talented beauty who set the stage and screen on fire yet suffered from mental health issues that ultimately robbed her of the love of her life, Sir Laurence Olivier. She was an absent mother and a calculating woman — which made her the absolute perfect choice as Scarlett O’Hara. They were nearly one and the same.

Margaret Mitchell…what an enigmatic woman. Private, determined, and quite obviously a literary genius, Mitchell fascinates me. She was a journalist back when reporting jobs were reserved for men (she actually submitted her first piece of work to an editor under the guise of a man’s name and the editor was POed when he learned that he’d hired a woman!) and after she wrote her epic novel she was quite horrified to learn that a family friend had submitted it to a publisher. The fact is, she never wrote the book with the intention of letting anyone else read it. How can you not be awed and amazed by this woman? So many questions…given my guest list, I suspect there would be very little attention paid to the meal. Who would have time to eat when three of the most fascinating people in my world are sitting across from me?

Ah, but truly, I would gladly end the night with a growling belly to spend an evening with these three.

— Kim Van Meter



What three people would I most like to have dinner with? There are so many possibilities, from the purely fun aspect of getting to meet some personal favorites from the world of sports and television/movies to the unusual, like meeting either your past or future self. That might be too much science fiction, though.

So I will go the direction of offering some historical figures that I would love to have the chance to talk to about their lives and the impact they had on the world around them.

First choice would be Anne Frank. Who hasn’t read her diary? To be able to talk with her, I think, would be amazing. Here is a young girl, sharing her hopes and dreams with her ‘dear diary’ that was supposed to be just a private journal, for her eyes only. She could have in no way known it would become a book read by millions, let alone lead to more than one movie. Her life, the persecution her family went through, hiding out in an attic just to survive? The fact that, through it all, she maintained a sense of humor and even at times a sense of wonder about the world is testament to her faith and strength.

Nellie Bly may not be a familiar name, but she was a pioneering woman journalist, one of the first ‘undercover’ reporters. She began work in Pittsburgh and later moved to New York City, where she did an exposé of conditions at an insane asylum by getting herself committed. Her subsequent stories prompted an investigation and eventually a trial, with changes made in the treatment of the mentally ill based on her experiences and work. She also was a foreign correspondent, at a time when women generally weren’t expected — or allowed — to do the same jobs men do. Learning more about her struggles to achieve in a man’s world would be fascinating conversation.

My third choice was a little more difficult because it is hard to choose just three. I bounced back and forth between a few people but when it came right down to it, Orson Welles finally won out. With my original media background being in radio, I have long had a fascination with radio drama and comedy, which entertained a nation before the arrival of TV, computers and Ipods. His ‘War of the Worlds’ drama in October, 1938 caused a nationwide panic … and showed the impact that one person can have. Though it wasn’t the intent of his Mercury Theatre on the Air troupe to spark fear that Martians were invading earth, that is exactly what happened and it really showed that mass hysteria can be contagious. He did many other radio dramas, not to mention movies — Citizen Kane among his best — and it would be a real treat for me to sit down with him and talk about his career.

— Marg Jackson



In a fantasy world I would like to have dinner with Roy Clark, Barbara Mandrell (country entertainers) and Barbara Bush. All three people seem to be down to earth and it would be fascinating to hear their opinion on several different topics.

In reality I would love to have the chance to have dinner with my parents and with my in-laws because there are so many things I can think of now that I would have loved to have asked them.

— Peggy Ragle



This may be a little shallow and chauvinist, but if I am going to choose three people to have a nice dinner with, I’m not going to pick our most influential figures in history, today’s most powerful government officials or even my favorite sports icons.

I’m picking hotties.

I’ve had a thing for Jasmine from Aladdin since I was about eight, so I’m going with the beautiful princess for my first selection. I’ve been rehearsing “A Whole New World” at karaoke bars across the valley for like five years, and the song certainly worked for old Al, so we’ll give that a try somewhere in between breadsticks and pasta.

Angelina Jolie can adopt all the kids she wants, either way they are getting babysat when the two of us go out to dinner. Angelina is still a hottie, and I’m definitely down for a nice night out with the ultimate big screen diva.

My last selection is NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, on the condition that she picks me up in her racecar and lets me drive to the restaurant. You can’t do much better than a smokin’ hot Go-Daddy girl who comes with her own sweet ride.

Those are my picks. Not exactly hard-hitting or thought provoking, but either way I’m the coolest guy at that restaurant for those three days ¾  guaranteed.

— Ike Dodson



I have to break the rules of this question and ask four people to dinner. It would mean so much to me to be able to sit down with all of my grandparents over a hot meal, a glass of wine and some great conversation. I lost all of my grandparents by the time I turned 18 and I wish very much that I could have known them as an adult. When you are 17 and your grandfather tells you a story about ice fishing in Wisconsin or you’re 14 and another tells you of his years of piloting for Japan Airlines, you tend not to pay as much attention as you should. Both of my grandmothers were women with passions and desires that I would have loved to learn more about and now at the age of 32 I am sure I could appreciate and connect with them more than I ever could at the age of 13. I know someday we will be reunited, and until then I have only my young memories and my family’s stories to teach me about the types of people they were.

Jennifer Marek



My late grandmother, Gandhi and Ellen DeGeneres, these were the names of the three I initially shared with my peers here at the Leader. Then … I slept on it. One good rest and a clear head later my actual answer is my late grandmother, my Aunt Elaine and my cousin Dalynn.

Born in the late ‘60s, there are plenty of history making individuals who would be fascinating to sit and converse with over dinner. But dare I say it; I think ‘real life’ people are just as fascinating.

My grandmother passed when I was nine years old. Raised in a close-knit family, she was a huge part of my life until that day in September I will never forget. Now as an adult, I would love to know her from a grown-up perspective. A pastor’s wife, who raised 12 children, is my grandmother’s legacy. The taste of her homemade bread and warmth of her handmade quilts are treasures she left us all with. To cook a meal for my grandmother, as she did for me and my 28 cousins for so many years would not only be a treat, but an unimaginable honor.

Aunt Elaine is one of my mother’s many older sisters. She passed when I was in my early 20’s. The meaning of Elaine is torch; bright light and that she was. Aunt Elaine was born with ‘special needs’ at a time when this misunderstood group of people was institutionalized. Aunt Elaine was not. She rocked me as a baby, bathed me when given the opportunity and loved me like no one ever has. She was my bright light. Her beauty and how she viewed life and people taught me so much. Christmas was always magic with her around. She loved Santa Claus and all that he represented (even at 52 years of age). She loved the holidays. I would love to have dinner with her now, so my children could see the smile I remember so much, hear the laughter that always came from her belly and know how special and blessed we are to have such people in our lives.

My cousin Dalynn knew how to laugh (at everything). She was light hearted and always found the silver lining with humor. As a child, I admired her, as a grown-up I was in awe of her. No setback was ever too big for ‘Lynner,’ she always persevered. Hers is a life, which would have made for a good book.

I guess you could say, now as a grown-up I honestly find my family to be the most interesting, inspiring and unique.

— Teresa Hammond