The Greg Brady Project

Welcome to the official Barry Williams' blog

My friends call me Barry. From time to time I also hear the name Greg. Yeah, as in Greg Brady. The Brady Bunch represents a fun time in my life. But it’s only part of the story. There’s more to say and that’s what The Greg Brady Project is all about – a place to say it. So, I’ve invited some friends to join me and share their perspectives on the Brady’s, the 70′s and just about everything else. Now, I’m inviting you…

18 Mar
Bob Hunt

Who’s your Alice?

written by Bob Hunt in Blog, The Brady Bunch | 2 comments

She was wisecracking yet efficient, gentle as a rule but firm when necessary. Unflappable amidst chaos, she could restore order in an instant. She knew how to read the face of a troubled child and deliver just the right words to make it all better. Her sense of humor was infectious, and she loved a good joke even more than the next person. Long ago she dedicated her life to serving others, always with a satisfied smile of quiet contentment.

Alice Nelson, devoted housekeeper of the Brady family? Certainly. But I’m actually describing Sister Barbara Simon, my fourth grade teacher and “personal Alice.”

Sister Barbara belied the stereotype of the stern disciplinarian nun. She was jovial and witty, and she refused to take herself too seriously. On one occasion during a church festival, she was working the hamburger grill when she overheard a customer requesting a toasted bun. Her famous reply: “Tell him to stand by the fire if he wants his buns toasted!” How many nuns would dare say such a thing? Sister Barbara was so friendly and likable, she could get away with being charming where others would be offensive. Day after day she entertained herself by peppering her instruction with jokes, most of which went right over the heads of her young charges.

Beneath the silliness was a sensitive and empathetic soul. Sister Barbara encouraged us to develop the fledgling talents she detected, and she strove to meet meet each kid’s needs long before No Child Left Behind. Halfway through the year, she decided to do something about the fact that I was always last in line whenever we gathered at the door for recess, lunch or dismissal. Now, I never particularly minded being in such a position, because unlike my classmates, it didn’t matter to me where I stood in line. But it mattered to Sister Barbara. One day she made a show of guiding me to the very front of the line, noting that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

Sister Barbara died a couple years ago, and I regret that she never had any inkling of the positive impact she had on my life. I had meant to let her know, and then that window of opportunity was gone.

And how about you? Have you had a “personal Alice” in your life, someone who embodied the attributes of America’s favorite housekeeper? If so, add a comment and tell us about her. Then, if she’s still living, give her a call and let her know what a difference she made.

My personal Alice.



    Lisa Marie Mary
    on Mar. 19th, 2008

    Your Sister Barbara sounds so very much like my Grandma Georgia! Yep! I would definitely have to say ‘Jojo’ was my Alice! She was so awesome – I wish I could’ve spent more time with her. We lived in TX and she in CO, although I did get to see her at least twice a year, while I was a child. Then I became an adult and she got older, the trips were fewer.

    That ‘toasting buns’ comment would have totally been something Jojo would’ve said!!

    And she spent her whole life around nuns, going through Catholic schools, and then later working at The Little Sisters of the Poor.

    So thank you for this sweet walk down memory lane – I bet Barbara and Georgia are in Heaven crackin’ jokes together now!! :D

    Bob Hunt
    on Mar. 21st, 2008

    Thanks for sharing, LMM. It sounds like Grandma Georgia made a very positive and long-lasting impression, just like Sister Barbara (and Alice!).

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