SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - "Happy Days" Happenstance Encounter

By Bob Weaver

It was a quinky-dinky West Virginia meeting about 40 years ago with "Happy Days" child star Erin Moran, who played Joanie Cunningham in the long-running show with Ron Howard and Henry Winkler.

Most of my meeting "famous" people have been happenstance, as was this short visit in Thomas WV.

In the early days of recovery from alcoholism, I was acquainted with Chuck, a Wheeling native, whose mother operated an antique shop in Thomas.

Chuck had gotten sober in Hollywood, after hitting the skids there, befriended and sponsored by an old-time cowboy movie star.

His Thomas apartment was studded with framed, autographed photos of Hollywoodites, from Ricky and David Nelson to the cast of "Walton's Mountain."

While visiting Chuck and his mom in Thomas, we had a diner table conclave that included Chuck's cousin from Florida and his girlfriend, both working on recovery from addiction.

The attractive woman seemed more than familiar, as we talked about our efforts toward recovery, joking and singing.

I can't remember where in the conversation her identity was revealed.

Erin was a gracious woman, deeply yearning to be loosened from the grips of alcohol and drugs.

We held hands following the dinner table encounter and said the "Serenity Prayer," then saying our goodbyes.

Written accounts say Erin, after her early acting success, continued to hit one bottom after another, often destitute.

She died at age 56.

We are hopeful that her "Happy Days" have finally come as she goes into that great beyond.