By sharing his behind-the-scenes pics of his years playing Chewbacca in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, Peter Mayhew reminded us that many parents and kids are part of the extended Star Wars family.
Seeing pics of Mr. Mayhew with "Star Wars” co-stars under his Twitter handle @TheWookieeRoars (hashtag #nostalgicposting) sent me pawing through our own family snap shots to find kids dressed as their favorite character from that galaxy far, far away.
As a kid, “Star Wars” had me transfixed by the end of the theme song. I first saw the film at age 12 in 1977 sitting in the second row of a little theater up in Provincetown, Mass., during our summer vacation on Cape Cod.
Here is a sampling of some of Mayhew's tweets:
My little brother, Adam, was 7 and we both immediately adopted ourselves into the Rebel Alliance.
Adam immediately became Luke Skywalker and, despite being a girl, I was Han Solo, largely for my snarky dialogue traits.
Two years later, I made an R2-D2 costume for Adam out of chicken wire and paper mache for a Halloween school pageant. He still harbors a grudge about the lack of eye holes that caused him to fall off the stage during the pageant.
I still argue that: A) Eye holes would have ruined the effect and; B) I pretty much broke his fall so it should not still be an issue.
Since we share our passions with our kids, be they football or sci-fi films, all four of my sons are now “Star Wars” fans. Chewbacca in particular is a big part of our daily lives today.
Therefore, when I saw the posts by Mayhew, I alerted my son – nicknamed “The Wookiee” – who’s at college in Richmond, Va.
Zoltan, 20, has been able to imitate the Wookiee thrumming sound since he hit puberty, shot up a foot in height and got hairy.
While my other sons roll their eyes, Quin, 10, who idolizes his eldest brother, has worked hard to try to make “the Wookiee noise.”
At last he has managed a gurgling approximation that is so adorable you just want to squeeze him like a plush toy every time he makes it. This humiliates him so I try to resist.
Two years ago at the Hampton Roads Mini-Maker Faire, Quin ran into a troupe of “Star Wars” cosplayers, one of whom was a Sith Lord.
In an instant, Quin was in character, eyes locked, hand outstretched toward this total stranger in an epic staring contest that drew a crowd.
“Quin! What are you doing,” I asked.
Quin, breaking into a sweat with his imagined effort, bit off every word like he was lifting an elephant. “Con-cen-trating. He’s attempt-ing a mind choke on me. Fighting it. He’s…aaaa…Siithhh. Lorrrrd!”
Well of course he was. What could I have been thinking?
Of course, that meant both rooting for Quin and videotaping the epic battle. A year later when the cosplayer who dresses as a Sith made the front page of our local paper, Quin saw it and said, “Ahh, my old nemesis is back!”
Star Wars has also been a powerful force in my volunteer work with kids, chess, and anti-bullying. Back in April 2011, one of my chess players, Spencer, 11, was being bullied. He learned self-defense and confidence through jiujitsu, and I helped support him by comparing the gi (white uniform worn in the sport), with the Jedi outfit worn by his heroes in "Star Wars." A month into his classes, he was losing steam, so I wrote a letter to George Lucas telling him about Spencer and Mr. Lucas sent the boy a huge box of "Star Wars" toys to encourage him to keep trying.
This year, I was asked to bring chess play to the Mini Maker Faire and while the Sith were nowhere to be found, I did manage to get Boba Fett to go a few rounds on the chess board with fans of all ages.
I laughed when my old friend Dr. Arthur Bowman, head of the biology department at Norfolk State University, was first up to play against Mr. Fett.
“You’re the bounty hunter right. Workin’ for Jabba the Hut,” Dr. Bowman said as they squared off across the chess board and he made his opening move. “Well, hunt on this!”
While we are not related to Bowman through blood, apparently we all share the "Star Wars" genome, so that photo made it into our family album.
No matter how different we may be in our parenting choices it’s comforting to know that “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” an extended family was born of the same hopeful, humor-loving, resilient rebel spirit.
Lisa Suhay can be found on Twitter under the handle @NiceChess757 and will be sharing her "Star Wars" family memories through the hashtag #nostalgicposting. We invite readers to share their own family "Star Wars" memories.