Monday, March 31, 2008

The Beatles

In February 1964, my Mother told me to watch The Ed Sullivan Show. There was going to be a band on there called The Beatles. She liked their music, and she wanted to share it with me. I was zapped through the TV. It was almost a religious experience. Ever since then, I liked The Beatles. I became obsessed. At one point in the 1980's, I had the second largest Beatle video collection in the world. It was documented. In 1993, The State newspaper did an article on Del, Chris and me and our Beatle collection. I still have some stuff--records, posters, autographs, videos, t-shirts, etc. But, I have had to sell off a lot. Probably the coolest thing I had were two signs that I bought at an antique store. They were for fans to know which buses to take to the Atlanta concert in 1965. I also had a gold record award and a platinum record award. When my mother died, I placed a Paul McCartney button in her casket to say thanks. "Til There Was You".

Coffee Beans

Okay, let's understand from the beginning--I'm weird. I like to think of me as being a non-conformist, but the world thinks of me as weird. Here's an example of my weirdness--when I was in the 4th grade, the teacher brought coffee beans to class to serve as a show and tell example. She passed them out to us kids. Some of us, including me, ate them. We got very sick. To this day, I don't drink coffee. Weird, huh?

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Okay, I briefly "worked" for the CIA in Israel in 1973. So, in the late 1980's, I thought it would be cool to work for them full-time. I went to a seminar about the agency, where folks were recruiting. I expressed an interest in being a courier or analyst. They gave me a 30-page application that took me a week to fill out. They wanted to know who my friends were since birth. They said I needed to be honest, because they would find out if I wasn't, so I did. I sent it back in and got a letter--thanks but no thanks. I wrote to them and asked if it was because of my anti-war activities in college. They wrote back and said yes. Then, I asked them what if I renounced all of that, could I still be hired? They said no, because a foreign power could blackmail me. So, I didn't get the job. Oh well.

Friday, March 28, 2008


No, I am not going to talk about Aretha Franklin. I was taught at an early age to treat people equally. My mother's father was a judge in Alabama. My grandmother was a school teacher. She later became the Mother of the Year in Alabama. Around the early 1900's, my grandmother taught the white kids in the morning, and the black kids in the afternoon. The Klan did not like that she was teaching the black kids, so one night they shot up their house and burned a cross in their yard. My grandfather found out who did it and threw them all in jail. I was taught to treat people like people. I see a lot of racism still. I remember the separate water fountains and restrooms. We have come a long way, but there is much more to go. I get irritated that some people cop an attitude and think they are better than others, or that they thing they deserve something from others. Here's a clue for you. You don't. Here's what people have to do to get along--respect others for who they are. That's it. There will be no whippings or lynchings tonight on my watch. But, to all of those who think the white man owes you something, just remember that we are all in this boat of life together. In God's eyes, we are all equal. Let's all take a deep breath. Once, a man called me a racist, because I wouldn't wait on him quick enough in a shoe store. He didn't know me. I knew him. When he found out who I was, he got quiet. So, I say for everyone not to judge others and respect others. Life will be so much better.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


There is a movie coming out in about a week called "Leatherheads". It stars George Clooney and Renee Zellweger. The film was shot primarily in the upstate of SC. So today, Greenville gave the two stars the keys to the city. They had a presentation downtown this morning, and of course I went. There was probably around 500 people there, mostly women with cameras. I got there about an hour and a half before the ceremony, so I got a good place to stand. Unfortunately, it turned out that I was behind the cameras from the TV stations. After the presentation, George and Renee started signing autographs on the opposite side from me. The people around me started chanting "George" to get his attention. After a few minutes, he came around to my side. Speaking from a straight guy's perspective, George is very handsome, and Renee was prettier than I expected. I had a magazine with the two of them on the cover. He came by and signed it. I told him "Thank you", and he told me "You're welcome". Everybody was going crazy. Then, Renee came by, but her publicist said she could get into the tight area, because she was wearing heels. I asked the publicist if she could sign my magazine, and she did. It was the last autograph she gave. After that, I got the idea to go around to the back of the hotel and wait for them to leave. A few others had the same idea. When George came out, the screaming and riot started. I tried to get him to sign a poster, but he didn't. I did get sharpie on a girl's arm though. She'll probably think it came from him, and will never wash her arm again. I almost got crushed in the melee. But, George was very nice. He understands the need to meet and greet the public. I don't know if the movie will be good, but the day was.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


As an adult, I have felt that my calling was to make others happy. Using my dry wit, I make people laugh, even if it is for a short time. A laugh helps one get through the day. There is one problem with this though, and that is that when I need someone to make me laugh, there is usually no one around. What do ministers do, when they need ministering to? I guess that's why I have been depressed over the last couple of years. People expect me to help them get over a problem, but when I need help... You get the picture. And why give money to people you don't know? Tsunami victims? Hurricane victims? Starving children in Africa? It makes you feel good to give to these charities, but maybe we need to look closer to home first. Your next door neighbor? Your relative? Your friend?


Being an old rock and roller, I have been too a lot of concerts in my day. So, I thought I would list them, as many as I can remember. The first was Ike & Tina Turner. I didn't actually go inside. I was in high school, and I pulled into the parking lot of the Carolina Colliseum. I rolled down the windows of the car, and I could hear the show through the closed doors of the venue. As for the ones I actually attended: (in no order)
Mountain, Goose Creek Symphony, Canned Heat, Climax, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band w/Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren, Nils Lofgren, Dave Edmonds and Burton Cummings, Gary Lewis, The Shirrells, BB King, Gene Cotton, Johnny Cash & The Carter Family, The Who (lost hearing there), The Rolling Stones, Steel Pulse, The Lovin' Spoonful, Crosby Stills & Nash, Richie Havens, Delbert McClinton, Aretha Franklin, James Brown (one song), George Carlin, Andre Crouch, Danny Lee & The Children of Truth, Silers Bald, Tim Hardin, Roger McGuinn, Micky Dolenz, Billy Preston, Buddy Guy, George Jones, Three Dog Night, Wet Willie, Ricky Skaggs, Tom T Hall, Ratdog, Dr. John, Ray Charles, Taj Mahal, John Mayall, Earl Klugh, Bob Hope, Anita Bryant, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Mac Frampton Triumvirate, Jerome Hines, The New York Philharmonic, Johnny Winter and more that I can't think of right now. A varied group. A varied musical taste.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Name Dropping

I hate name droppers. People who impress other people with who they know, or supposedly know. It is so egotistical to brag about those who you have come in contact with. So, in that spirit, allow me to drop some names. Some you may know and some you won't. Here goes:
Billy Graham, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Burt Lancaster, Susan Clark, Julie Newmar, Bill Lancaster, Grady Nutt, Gene Cotton, Roger McGuinn, Yoko Ono, Jim Hodges, Robert McNair, John West, Strom Thurmond, Fritz Hollings, Olin Johnston, Tom Lester, Ginger Lynn Allen, Kimber Manning, Bill Moyers, Charlton Heston, Mark Brooks, Alex Haley, Claudia Johnson, James Dickey, Desmond Morris, Christopher Dickey, William Colby, Bobby Richardson, Howard Wills, Gregory Walcott, M. Emmet Walsh, Gary Lewis, and more. Then, I have seen lots more folks, and have corresponded with some just through the mail. Sorry.

The Cobbwebs

I write songs for a band based in Nashville called The Cobbwebs. The band consists of Del Bazemore and Chris Sanders. Del plays bass, keyboards, drums, tambourine, handclaps, and is the lead singer. Chris plays guitar, drums, handclaps, and also does vocals. He is the producer and recording engineer, too. I write some of the lyrics, and Chris writes lyrics and music. Del lives in Columbia. I am currently living in Greenville, and Chris lives in Nashville. I met Del around 1988 at Belk, and I met Chris about a year later. Chris was a student at Memphis State, majoring in recording. Del and I drove out there one summer to do some recording. We also hooked up with a guy who was producing a compilation of bands around Columbia, and we were included on that. It was called "The Burning of Columbia", but the guy took our money, and we had very little to show for it, other than a cassette tape. Live and learn. We decided it would be best if we produced our own material. We can't perform it live, but people who have heard it say that it is really good. We like to think of it as "original '60's rock n roll". We are heavily influenced by The Beatles, The Monkees, The Byrds, The Hollies, and other bands. We also have a We did one cd in 2001 called "Magic Boat". It was picked up by an indie promoter. It got radio airplay in Oregon, as well as in Europe. In fact, we were on the top-ten indie releases for 2001 in Bosnia, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. One German reviewer said our songs were "good for drinking". We took that as a compliment. After the success of "Magic Boat", offers started coming our way from concerts to other stuff. We had a disagreement on how to proceed, and we split up for a time. Chris and I were still writing and working together. Del went on to other things. About 6 months ago, we started talking about doing another cd. In January, Del and I went out to Nashville to record a new cd. It took a week or marathon sessions, but we got it done. Hopefully, it will be released soon. The tentative title is "One More Time", which is a song I wrote. We will be giving out autographs at a later date.

Monday, March 24, 2008

World Record

I share a world record. When I was in high school, our church (First Baptist) sent our youth group to Atlanta. We stayed at a hotel in the downtown area. We trashed the rooms, and we were asked to leave. The next day, we went to Six Flags Over Georgia. When we got to the log ride, we asked the people if we could put more than 4 people in the log, and they said yes. They were probably fired after that, because we crammed 7 people into the log made for 4. We did it by weight, and I was next to last. The heaviest guy was actually under the log at the front, and the lightest guy sat on top of the log on the back. When we went into turns, we had to lean against the turn for fear of flipping over. Some guys were bailing out water, as it was coming over the sides. When we got to the last drop, we realized that if we leaned forward, we would flip over, so we had to lean back. Everyone got a face full of water. After that, the park put up a sign saying no more than 4 to a log. They told us no one had ever done 7 before. World record. Too bad no one from Guinness was around.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Drama in Churches

In exploring things to do, I realized that I needed to do something to help others. Maybe it was my mid-life crisis, but I wanted to make a difference. So, what was I trained to do? Act and write. What did I have my degree in? Religious Drama. So, why couldn't I do that. I had written several Bible character monologues and performed them in churches and retreats. There are a lot of churches in the Greenville area. Surely, they would jump at the chance of having a creative person like me come in a present something. So, I had a meeting with an old friend of mine, who is on the staff of a large church here. He gave me some leads. I had a meeting with the head of a drama dept of a college here. He gave me some leads. I had a meeting with a guy who did stuff like me. He gave me some leads. Then, I met with the editor of a newsletter that goes out to all of the Baptist churches in the state. He said they would run a feature story on me. Great. At last, the publicity I would need to get bookings. When the newsletter came out, my story was not in it. I asked why, and they said that they didn't want to show favoritism toward me, when there were others that did the same thing. Okay, so why do articles on preachers, musicians, or teachers? But, then I realized something. One must be politically correct when dealing with Baptists. Maybe it was because I am 54 years old and never married. Maybe they thought I was gay. Who knows? But for the record, I am straight. So, if anybody is reading this and wants me to come to your church, PLEASE let me know. I don't charge much.


After Belk closed up, I needed a job. I was hired by Rich's Department Store to sell Luggage. I did that for a few months, and then they moved me to TV's. That was great fun, because I could watch TV and listen to music. I brought in my videos to watch. Some were okay, but I didn't watch a CSN video until in the store. Just as David Crosby cursed, a little boy walked by and said real loud to his mother what he had heard from the TV. That was the last time I brought in a tape I hadn't watched. After Rich's did away with TV's, I was moved to Lamps. I was the number one Lamp Dept. for the entire company for the year 2000. My numbers were through the roof. Rich's did away with Lamps, so they moved me to China. I liked it, but there was a lot of moving fixtures. They just couldn't decide where to put things. One day, we changed a table 4 times. China is where I met Konnie. What a precious person. She was married, but very fun to be around. We made a pact that I wouldn't quit unless she quit and vice versa. She quit 2 years ago, and I quit last year. When Rich's became Macy's, a lot of things changed. They reduced the sales force so much, that it was not unusual for you to watch five departments at once. That made it very hard for customer service. Eventually, I was mainly in Housewares and Luggage. So, 11 years earlier I worked in Luggage, and now 11 years later, I was working in Luggage again. I had made the Luggage Dept. again to be very successful. In fact, it was the only Home Store Dept. to make plan. But, I didn't get a raise for 4 years. All because I didn't open enough credits. So, it was time to move on. A friend from college offered me a place to live in Greenville, if I would move. It was becoming increasingly difficult to live in Columbia. I turned in my resignation at Macy's. I gave them two weeks. 30 minutes before leaving on my last day, my supervisor came to me and asked what it would take for me to stay. When I gave her a figure, she said no. The store manager never said goodbye. I felt like I had wasted almost 12 years. They didn't appreciate me. I was supposed to transfer to the Macy's store in Greenville, but when I got here, I found I didn't have a job. Columbia had never processed the transfer papers. Then, I found out that they had not hired someone for my old job. I asked if I could have it back, and they said no. Then, they fired a woman who had worked in the Home Store in Columbia. I asked if I could have her job, and they said they would let me know. That was a month ago. Despite all the money I made for them, they can't make a decision? Please. So, I am not working right now. Maybe something will come up soon. I have to have faith.

The Butterfly That Blushed

The folks at Columbia College asked me to judge high school speech and drama tournaments that were held at the college every year. I did it for about 15 years, until I fainted one year in a class. I had the flu. They invited me, because of my history with the college, as well as being positive with the critiques. I would like to think that I helped some kids do something good with their lives. But anyway, Columbia College had a program for children called the Gingerbread Theatre. Kids from Columbia would come and watch plays for them. They asked me if I wanted to do one, and I said yes. I was the lead in "The Butterfly That Blushed". It was the story of Worm, who was ugly. All of the other butterflies made fun of Worm, until he became a beautiful butterfly at the end of the play. The moral--beauty is on the inside too. I had two songs. I had never sung a solo before, so that was quite frightening. Thankfully, my first song was as the ugly Worm, so if I messed it up, it was okay. The second song was a bit more involved, and I couldn't hit the notes, so I turned it into a rap. The kids liked that. After the shows were over, the actors would stand by the exit and give out autographs to the kids. That was a rush. I was given an award from Columbia College for Best Actor for that play. About 2 years later, I was standing on a sidewalk, and two little girls came over to me and started yelling "Worm, Worm"!! They were all excited. They had seen the play and remembered me. Wow, what a feeling!! I ran into their father a few years ago at a meeting. He reminded me of his daughters getting excited over seeing Worm. I guess that is my signature role, although I prefer Looney #4.

The Program

Every actor has a story of a role they turned down. A friend told me that they were shooting two films in SC. One was called "something Gump". I asked him what that was about. He said it was about the South in the '50's and '60's. I asked who was in it. The only name person cast so far was Sally Field. I thought, "Great, another redneck 'Smokey and the Bandit' movie". I said no thanks. I asked what the other one was, and he said "The Program". I asked who was in that, and he said Craig Sheffer and James Caan. What was it about? College football and steroids. That sounded much more interesting, so I took "The Program". I was in the football stands in several scenes. It was very cold, so we all wore coats. This film was terrible. The continuity problems were the worst. They had filmed an actual USC/TN game to get a lot of people cheering, and they cut that into our scenes to make it look like a lot of people were there. One problem was that the day the filmed that game, it was warm and folks were in shorts. When they filmed our scenes, it was cold, and we had on heavy coats. So, one side of the stadium was shorts, and the other side was heavy coats. Plus, none of the teams were wearing orange, so a lot of the TN fans apparently went to the wrong game, based on the film. Halle Berry was in it. She took 22 tries to say one line, and it took all afternoon. We had to come back the next day, after we lost the light. So, what would I had done if I had been in "something Gump"? The guy who sat on the park bench with Tom Hanks and then said "You're Bubba Gump!" I turned that down. Oh well.


Belk was very cool about me going to auditions. All I had to say was I worked at Belk, and it was free publicity. I was walking through the mall one day, and a guy stopped me and asked me if I wanted to be in a movie. Normally, I would be hesitant, but I said yes, and told him I had done that sort of thing before. That was the audition. I was cast as Looney #4 in "Chattahoochee". The film starred Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Ned Beatty, Frances McDormand, and Pamela Reed. It took place in a mental hospital in the 1950's and was based on a true story. I was in 10 scenes. My two biggest scenes were cut out, after a target audience said the film was too long, but I guess they are out there somewhere. My picture is on the DVD box twice though. Anyway, the film was shot in November, but it was supposed to be in Florida in the summer, so we did a lot of freezing. They gave us blankets between takes. We were told by the director not to speak to Gary. He was a rising star, having come off "Sid and Nancy", and didn't want to be bothered by us. I had a scene with him that took 2 days to shoot. After the first day, he turned to me and asked my name. I told him. He then asked me why no one talked to him. I told him. Well, we ended up talking a lot, despite the director not liking it. Gary wanted to know about the South and its people, which would help him with his character. After all, he was born in London and had a thick cockney accent. I found Gary to be one of the best actors I had ever worked with. Another day, I was standing next to Dennis Hopper, waiting for a scene to start. He asked me to tell him about Charleston. He had wanted to go there, and wanted to know what sites to take in. I told him about Patriots Point, the market, the Battery, and other points of interest. Two years later, he directed a film called "Chasers". I wasn't in it, but all of the places I told him about were. I guess I should have gotten a location credit. M. Emmet Walsh was also on the film. He is a character actor who has been in hundreds of movies. A group of us would sit with him in the afternoons and tell jokes. Most were pretty dirty, but it helped pass the time. We had a fun time on that movie. If you ever get to watch it, please do. It has a good story and message.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


In 1984, I went to work for Belk Department Store. I had worked for them before during college, and then between college and seminary, so I knew them already. I had been a porter, warehouse checker, and sales associate. Now, I came back to be the full-time sales associate in Books and Candy. It was good. I could eat all the candy I wanted, and I did. About a year later, I was promoted to be the Buyer for two stores. I bought Stationery, Luggage, Records, Books, Toys, Candy, Gifts, Housewares, and Small Electrics. It was a big job, but also a lot of fun. I couldn't have done it without Vicki and Paige who kept reminding me what I had done the day before. After three years of buying, they promoted me again to be the Credit Manager. That is where I met Debbie. Another love. We had fun. I thought Debbie was the one. I don't know if she ever knew that, but I think she did. She has now married and changed her name, and we are talking again. Anyway, after a year of Credit Manager, they moved me to another store, and got demoted to Sales Associate in Stationery. Belk was real good about moving folks around. They used to always fire on Mondays, so if you survived past 6pm on Monday, you had a job for the rest of the week. I came back to my original store to be the Sales Associate in Men's Shoes. I did that for a couple of years, until one Sunday night, a guy named Jim Culler was killed in a bike accident. He worked in the warehouse as the Systems Analyst. He took care of making sure we paid the invoices based on what we received. I went to his funeral, and the manager offered me his job at the graveside. I said yes. I got to wear jeans and no nights or weekends. They also taught me how to use a computer. Thanks, guys. Belk announced they were closing their Columbia stores. Financial mismanagement. So, I moved to Accounts Payable. My main job was to explain to vendors why we couldn't pay them. I had a list of lies that my bosses would give me. After Belk closed, I commuted to Charlotte for 4 months with 2 other guys to close the books. We paid $4 million in 4 months to folks. We joked that we could hve written checks to ourselves, and no one would have known, but of course we didn't do that. Belk was a very good experience. I learned a lot about business, good and bad. We used to say that if you could work at Belk, you could work anywhere. That's true.

Mission trips

I went on 5 mission trips sponsored by First Baptist Church in Columbia. I wrote and performed puppet shows for kids aged 5-12. We did 3 shows a day, and used the same scripts each time. I had to write them so they wouldn't be over the heads of the young ones, and not be too juvenile for the older ones. It was quite a challenge. The first two summers, we went to Philadelphia and did VBS and the puppet shows for inner-city kids. We were in rough neighborhoods, and we did it outside. Before we started every morning, we had to sweep the glass off of the playgrounds. One afternoon, we were shot at by a drive-by shooter. We ducked into a nearby bank, and they said that happened a lot and not to worry about it. We took a trip to NYC one afternoon and went to the top of the World Trade Center. The next two years we spent in Smyrna TN outside Nashville. Thankfully, we did the VBS and shows inside a church. We also spent the time working on building some of the church. I had had good luck with my puppet crews until my last Smyrna trip. I got a woman to do a puppet who had told me that she had experience doing puppets. She really hadn't. She also objected to my scripts as being not Biblical enough. Shades of seminary? Well, I hit the roof. I had given the scripts to her long before we left, so that she could become familiar with them. She didn't even look at them until we got to Smyrna. By then, it was too late to get someone else, so she complained and wanted to change her lines. I went to our leader, and he told her that she had to do them as they were written. Since we did it live each morning, she would change her lines anyway, which made for a rather difficult time. After that trip, I didn't do puppets anymore. My last mission trip was to Puerto Rico. It was very hot. We were in a rather depressed area called Fajardo. Right out of a Hemingway novel. Our hotel was across from the chicken slaughterhouse. We were also there to sing in a park in San Juan for the 4th of July. We had practiced our songs to sing in Spanish, and we were supposed to have advertisements on the radio of our program. No ads, so we ended up singing to ourselves in a park in Old San Juan. I took a crash course in Spanish before we went to Puerto Rico. I practiced one afternoon to order a hamburger, fries and Coke in Spanish to go to Burger King. I did it, but the girl asked me something, and I didn't know the answer. Her question was if I wanted Ketchup. I looked like an idiot, and they had a big laugh at my expense. We also went to the rain forest in the mountains. That was very pretty, but the brakes failed on our van coming down the mountain. That was scary. A lot of impressions of Puerto Rico, but the main thing is that it is a nice place to visit, but...


I went to an audition for a CBS mini-series called "Chiefs". I read for the deputy to the sheriff played by Brad Davis. I didn't get the part, because I am tall and thin, and Brad Davis was short and thin. They decided on somebody tall and fat instead. My mother wanted me to work with Charlton Heston. After all, I had met him a few years before in Fort Worth, and he had been very gracious to me. Mother loved him as Moses and Ben-Hur. So, she wrote him a letter asking him if he could get me a part on "Chiefs". He wrote back a very terse letter to her, saying it was unprofessional for me to ask my Mother to write such a letter. He was rather rude. Maybe it was the beginning of his Alzheimer's. I also lost out on an audition for "PM Magazine". WIS TV wanted someone to host a segment on historical places around SC. I didn't get that either. It went to a professor of Drama at USC. He quit it soon thereafter, because it took up too much of his time. I would have been good at that.

Charleston Tea Party

I went to an audition at SCETV for a part in a History TV show called "The Palmetto Special". It was designed for 8th graders. I was in two episodes--"The Charleston Tea Party" and "Reconstruction". I also did a couple of other shows for ETV over the course of 2 years. One was a PBS show about race relations in the 1950's. It was directed by Lazslo Benedek who also directed Marlon Brando in "The Wild Ones". But, back to Tea Party. It was my first paid gig with lines. I played a guy named Lindsey who bought tea from England. I was a villain. There were two other villains in the piece. We dressed in period costumes and shot most of it on location in Charleston. One of the villains couldn't stop laughing, so we had to do several takes of one scene. I couldn't wear glasses, so I was blind much of the time. In the last scene of the show, we dump our tea off the side of a ship. The boxes were made of balsa wood, so they were light to carry. One guy carried them as if they were heavy, and I carried them as if they were light, so it made for a fun scene. We were told that we would be out of focus, when we dumped the tea into the harbor, so not to worry about the boxes being sealed. So, after I "dumped" my box, I turned toward the camera with it, and it was sealed, and I was in focus. It made no sense, but hopefully the kids didn't pay attention to the details. I see a lot of things that most people don't. That's just me.

The Freezer

We had a reception for returning missionairies at White Oak. I had a couple of people helping me with it. We started running out of ice for the punch, and they asked me to go to the walk-in freezer in the kitchen to get more. I flung open the door of the freezer and it closed behind me. There is a rod that you can push to open the door, but it didn't work. I was locked in the freezer. There is a small vent at the top of the freezer. I yelled through it, but it was frozen over. I was wearing short sleeves and dress pants. I pounded on the door with my fist, until I was bruised. I kicked the steel rod, until it bent. Nothing was working. I unplugged the fans at the bck of the freezer, thinking that would help, but it just made it colder. I was losing oxygen. I remembered my Boy Scout training of getting low, which was where the oxygen was and taking short breaths. I was dying. I sat on a box of tomatoes and prayed. I said, "Please God, don't let Mamie (our cook) find me frozen in here tomorrow. She will go crazy and run down I-77 screaming." I tried the door one last time before passing out, and it opened. I stumbled out into the kitchen. I had been in the freezer for 6 minutes. When I got back to the party, my co-workers asked me where I had been? I told them. They said they thought I had been in the bathroom. One said she had made a joke about me being locked in the freezer, and another said, "He wouldn't be that stupid!". Thankfully, one of my co-workers was an EMT, so she did some first-aid on me and treated me for hypothermia. I didn't have any frostbite, but I was pretty light-headed from the lack of oxygen. Prayer works, boys and girls. I am living proof. I found out later from a building contractor that freezer doors, when shut, create a vacuum, and sometimes can't be opened until 6 minutes later. Of course, I didn't know that at the time. God gave me the strength.

White Oak

I got a job at White Oak Baptist Conference Center. My title was "whatever". I did everything there--setting up for conferences; audio and video; washing dishes; serving food; running the canteen; and whatever else came up. It was a year-round center, but the summer months were busier. During the rest of the year, I did most of the things by myself, or I had a helper. During the summer, there were about 6 or 7 other kids, mostly college-age, who helped me. It was a very stressful job, but we tried to keep it as light as possible. We invented an 18-hole golf course inside the administration building using bats and whiffle balls. We went out into a cow pasture one night (the center is in the country), and tried to shoot trays wrapped in tin foil into the air to take pictures of them and sell them as UFO's. We used makeshift cannons. Unfortunately, the noise woke up the cows, and we had to leave. One night, we went over to a girl's house who worked there and recreated the movie "The Exorcist" in her house. She was cooking a pig. It was kind of bloody, but harmless fun. I stayed in that job for almost three years, or until just after my 30th birthday. The hours were long, and sometimes tempers were short. I had two meetings going on in the same building. A man wanted to use a microphone in his room, but the sound bled down to a choir practicing 3 rooms away. So, the choir asked me to unplug the speaker's mike. He got mad and complained. It was time for my job to be "phased out".

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I had gone back to First Baptist in Columbia, when I got back from Ft. Worth. Pam was a member there. We helped start the Singles Ministry there. I went to a retreat at Ridgecrest NC, and one of our guys brought a friend of his to the retreat. Her name was Wanda. She had just gotten out of college. We hit it off. She was a writer and very creative, not mention funny and nice to look at. Wanda and I became very close over the next year. We went out several times, and I could see spending my life with her. We went on a mission trip to Philadelphia with a few others from the church. I did puppet shows, and she was a teacher of young kids. We had a lot of fun. I was very active in the church, but she started not coming as much. We grew apart, even though we remained friends. Eventually, she got married and joined a cult. Her marriage came to an end, but not being in the cult. She tried to get me interested in the cult, but it was just too way out for me. I tried to get her out of the cult, but it was no use. I still have feelings for Wanda, but it would never work. I'm sorry.

White's Part 2

I went back to JB White's to work. I was a sales associate in Stationery, Luggage and Housewares. It was pretty interesting, and the people were nice. One of my bosses was Pam's father. You remember Pam? My first love? So, things went on pretty well, until I caught a cold. I was working one night and had taken three Co-Tylenols. I know the directions say two, but it was a really bad cold. I was in the midst of a transaction, selling a card to two women, when I suddenly felt sick. I excused myself and tried to get to the stockroom across the aisle. I fainted on the floor. I woke up quickly and heard one of the women say "He just left us". They didn't see my problem apparently. I tried to stand up, but my legs were like jelly. I crawled to the stockroom. Pam's father was working that night. After they got me to where I knew what was happening, he sent me home. Thankfully, I only lived 3 blocks from the store, so I drove very carefully home. The store never fired me, but they never gave me any more hours to work. I was technically still on their payroll until they went out of business a few years ago.


I had worked briefly at JB White's Dept. Store over Christmas, until I hurt my back. I was trying to get some bags off of a shelf above my head, and the weight shifted. I was out of work. In 1980, the Census was being taken, and I thought that would be a cool job. I had to take an oath to the federal government, which was kinda strange, since 6 years before I had wanted to overthrow the govt. My job was Special Places Clerk. I worked in the office and sent people out to count folks in colleges, hotels, motels, bus stations, and other places were there were transients. It was pretty interesting work. After we did that, my job changed to finding folks who didn't return their forms, and I was also the liason between the Census Bureau and local governments in our area of 5 counties. Most towns and cities accepted our counts, but Columbia wanted to challenge it. The formula was $1500 in federal tax dollars for every person in the city, so the more people they had, the more money they would get from the govt. Columbia provided me with a bunch of addresses that we didn't count, and I had to research each one. They were right about some of them, but one turned out to be a dugout on a baseball field. They tried to say that a homeless man lived there, but we could never find him. In the end, they gained about 2000 people from our count, but that was far less than what they wanted. One great part about my job was sending out marshalls for enforcement. I called to a motel in Sumter one day to find out about their facilities. Whatever they had like a refrigerator in the rooms, determined how they were classified. The woman at the motel refused to give me that information. I told her she was violating federal law by not providing it ot me. She said she didn't care and hung up on me. So, I sent the marshalls. Later that day, she called me to apologize and thought I was just kidding. I loved the power. The govt. taught me how to find people. It is a talent that I have. One day, I called a woman in Winnsboro. Her husband had not paid taxes in 7 years. I asked to speak to him, and she said he was gone. I asked when he would be back. She said he was passed. I had never heard that term before, and that's when she started crying on the phone and hung up. I found out what that meant. So, I worked in a rather secure job, working with a lot of sensitive materials. After 9 months of this, my boss asked me one day if I had had a background check done on me for my job. I said no, so they sent me to the police station and had my fingerprints taken. They also did a background check. A week later, my boss told me that my job had been "phased out". It turned out that the FBI file came up, and I was deemed a risk. Nevermind that I had the job for 9 months, but I guess they were afraid that I was going to turn over the info to the Russians, so I was let go.

Blue Mountain College

One day, I got a call from Blue Mountain College in Mississippi. They wanted me to come out there and talk with them about teaching Drama. They were an all-girls school about an hour south of Memphis. They offered to pay for my plane ticket. I flew out on a Thursday and was met at the airport by the Academic Dean. I was going to stay at his house. It was a small town with the college taking up the majority of the area. I noticed that the Dean didn't lock the door to his house. He said that the last crime in the town was a guy passing through who stole food. It was like Mayberry. Over the next 2 days, I was introduced to most of the faculty and some of the students. They showed me where I would live and where I would teach. It seemed to be a done deal. I also met with the president. He told me that they wanted one musical a year, in addition to the other plays. I wasn't very keen on musicals, because they required more work than a regular play, but I told the president that we could compromise on that. As the Dean drove me back to the airport on Saturday, he told me that they were very impressed with me, and they would let me know when to report for work. They would also send me a check for the airfare. I thanked him and flew back to SC. One week passed, and no word. Two weeks passed, and no word. I finally called him, and he said they had decided on someone else. Okay, I know the game. But, I had to write to the president and literally beg for them to send me a check to cover the airfare. Then, I decided to do a little checking. After I left, they called the seminary to ask for my transcripts, and someone there told them not to hire me, because I was a troublemaker. I could go anywhere in the world with my Master's degree in Communications. I just couldn't get hired with it. When I got back, I looked into secondary school teaching. I could get a certificate in NC, as they recognized the seminary's education courses, but not in SC. I was screwed, so I had to find other work.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


There was an announcement in the paper in Ft. Worth. Anybody wanted to be in the movie "Semi-Tough" should show up at the Cotton Bowl, where they were shooting. It was for extras in the football scenes. So, I went. The first day, there was about 10,000 people there. It rained, so they didn't do a lot of filming, but we got to watch stuntmen doing stunts. A lot of people didn't come back the next day. In fact, there was only about 20 of us. They used us for tight shots in the stands, and moved us around, hoping nobody would notice. In the widescreen version, you can see empty seats on either sides of us during the Super Bowl scenes. The film starred Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson. Kris was very approachable, but Burt had a bunch of security people around him. The fun people were the Houston Oilers that they had for some of the football players. I don't know their names, but we had a good time with them. I met a bunch of other famous folks while in Ft. Worth: Julie Newmar, George Hamilton, Lynda Carter, Tom Lester, Heart, Charlton Heston, Hope Olson, and more. It was a good time. I embarassed myself with Julie Newmar. She played Catwoman on the Batman TV show. I went with some friends to the premiere of "Superman". I would stay for the credits, because I might see someone I knew. That night, the theatre was packed. When the movie was over, everyone left except me and Julie Newmar. She was wearing an orange micro-mini crochet dress. She was also very tall. She saw me staying for the credits, and I saw her, so I left before she did. My friends were outside, running around with one arm out like Superman. I started doing that too, and ran around the corner, and my fist went right into Julie Newmar's chest. It bounced off. I apologized, and she said it was okay. Then, she asked why I was watching the credits with her, and I explained that I had done a couple of films and thought I might see someone I knew. She thought that was interesting. My close encounter with Catwoman.


Kare looked like Farrah Fawcett. In fact, she would be stopped in malls by people wanting her autograph. People would take her picture. Some days she would sign Farrah's autograph, but most days she would just get creeped out by the attention. So, she didn't like people taking her picture. She had a phobia about it, so the only picture I have of her is a candid from her college yearbook. When she was in high school, she had a car accident, where she "died" on the operating table. They brought her back, but she lost some oxygen to the brain. Consequently, you couldn't use words with more than two syllables with Kare. She was an artist and gourmet cook. Kare also made her own clothes. She was an activist for women's rights, and she got me involved with NOW. She was extremely creative. Kare had a boyfriend who beat her. She would sometimes call out from work because of the bruises. I think that's why she would go out with me, because I treated her well. There was many a night where we would go out after work and get very drunk. We would be the last ones to leave, when the bar closed at 2am. It was an escape for both of us. I had an alcohol problem. I would usually do vodka and beer each night. There was a restaurant in our mall that sold alcohol. I went there and had vodka for supper with no food. When I got back to the store, I couldn't see. I made a joke to the customer about the product, but I realized that I had a problem. I quit cold turkey. To this day, I can't have any alcohol, or it will make me sick. Not even cough medicine. So, after a year of being in Ft. Worth with Kare, it was becoming impossible to live on what I was making, so I decided to move back to South Carolina. Saying goodbye to Kare was tough. We wrote a few times, but then stopped. I think she is married to a man and still lives in Fort Worth. I moved back, because I thought I had a job teaching in a college. Wrong again.


I collect posters, and I decorated my dorm room in seminary with the posters. Most were travel and movie posters. One of my loves is James Bond movies, so I had the poster from "The Spy Who Loved Me". It shows a picture of Roger Moore with Barbara Bach wearing a low-cut black dress. Each semester, we would have open house in the dorm rooms, and I would always win the award for the coolest room. At the beginning of my last semester, I got the flu. I asked the Men's Dean if he could get somebody to bring some food to me, as I couldn't leave my room. The guy that brought it had never been in my room before, and he took offense at Barbara Bach's low-cut dress. They asked me to take it down. I did. They didn't ask the guys in the dorm to take down their Farrah swimsuit posters, but I tried to be nice about it. Then, I started getting notes under my door that guys were praying for me. One guy even performed an exorcism on me so the devil would leave me. One morning around 8, I was asleep and the dean opened my door and woke me up. He asked me why did I come to seminary? I told him that God had called me to be there. He said that they had reread my personality test and found I was unfit to be there. This is 2 years after I had taken the test and had been accepted. I was called before the Dean of Students and was told that, based on the test, I was a drug addict, alcoholic, paranoid and schizophrenic person. In addition, they took a poll of the girls' dorm residents and found that I had not dated any of them, so I was either anti-social or gay. So, in order to stay in school and graduate, I had to do the following: re-take the MMPI test; agree to counseling at their psych lab; and then have a meeting with the seminary president. I was very honest on the test the first time. Had I ever drank alcohol? Yes. Had I ever used drugs? Yes. Had I ever felt I was being followed? Yes. Had I ever had fantasies? Yes. So, now I re-took the test. I answered no to every question except one. The verdict? I must have mis-read the questions the first time. Then, I went to counseling. I went in and after 5 minutes, the counselor asked me why they had sent me to him. He realized I was okay, so we talked about Dallas Cowboys football the rest of the time. Finally, I met with the seminary president. I had known him since I was 5. He was an old friend of my father's. After a couple of minutes, he apologized for all I had been through and told the attack dogs to back off. I did have to move off-campus for the last couple of months, because of the harassment, but I was allowed to graduate. I had a job off campus at Sanger Harris Department Store. I loved that job and my co-workers. One of my friends there was a girl named Karen, although I got to call her Kare. I loved Kare. When the school tried to say that I was gay, they didn't bother to find out that I was dating Kare. She had nothing to do with the seminary. When my parents came out for my graduation, the Dean of Students told my father that my situation was all a misunderstanding. They didn't want trouble from my father who was very big in Southern Baptist circles. Many schools wanted me to teach Drama. Unfortunately, they were all too conservative for me. I had to sign statements of faith, but I am pro-choice, and all of the statements required that I be pro-life. I had principles. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson agreed with my principles, even if they didn't believe in my beliefs. In looking back on it, maybe I should have kept my principles to myself and lied to get a job, but that wasn't me. After I graduated, I chose to stay in Fort Worth at my job and to be with Kare. I was in love.


When I was a student at Anderson College, the Academic Dean wanted me to teach there after I got out of school. He said I would need to get a Master's Degree first. So, after I graduated from PC with a BA in Fine Arts, I took off a year and worked at Belk Department Store to get enough money for a car that would take me to graduate school. I chose Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth TX for a couple of reasons. Both my parents had gone there, and it was easy to be accepted. My grades were not the best in college. In order to go to SWBTS, one had to take a personality test called the MMPI. I did and was accepted. I drove from SC to TX in my Ford Maverick and moved into the men's dorm. I had a private room. The school did not have a major in the Arts, so they invented the Communications major for me. For my master's thesis, they had me direct a play. It was a huge cast, and we never got everybody together until the dress rehearsal. I was popping Rolaids like candy, but it was a success. I wrote a one-act while there that we did for a youth conference. 9 months later, the idea turned up in a Wendy's commercial, but there was nothing I could do, as the play wasn't copyrighted. Live and learn. After I graduated, I contacted Anderson College, but the Academic Dean had moved on, and they didn't know anything about the deal he made with me. Oh well.

Monday, March 17, 2008


As you can see, I was a troublemaker at PC. I did plays and was very good there, but I wanted change. My best friend was the editor of the school newspaper. We did stuff like call a wrecker to tow away the Dean of Students car out of his driveway at 2am and watch the Dean run outside in his bathrobe yelling "That's my car". It was a good time. The last weekend before graduation, most of the students had moved out, and there were just a few of us still there. A guy, who had a phone in his room, mistakenly left his room unlocked. Me, the editor, and a couple other guys found the phone. For two days and nights, we called all over the world on his phone. While some of us slept, others would call, so someone was always on the phone. I called the Israeli embassy in NYC and told them that I was with the British government, and we didn't appreciate their treatment of our citizens. We called Hawaii to book hotel ballrooms for non-existent weddings, using the local numbers. We called Paris and enrolled in the Sorbonne. We called China to try and speak to the Premier. It was great. A week later, the editor and I were standing around before graduation, and the guy whose phone we used came up to us all frantic. He had gotten the phone bill, not knowing that we were the ones who used it. The bill was $1500. We assured him that he wouldn't have to pay it, if he could prove he wasn't there. We acted very innocent. Then, after he left, we looked in the graduation program for our names and couldn't find them. We got scared. How could we explain it to our parents that they weren't letting us graduate? A week before, I had been called into the registrar's office and was told that I was 3 hours short, but they were going to let me graduate, because they wanted to get rid of me. I had gone over and told my editor friend, and he ran an article about the registrar making a deal with me. So, we thought maybe this was their way of getting back at us. Then, much to our delight, we found that we were looking on the Bachelor of Science page, and our names were on the Bachelor of Arts page. Relief. For all concerned.

The Football Team

I had these articles in the school paper. One night, I went to a movie on campus that I really wanted to see. There were several athletes there too, and they were cutting up and making it hard to watch the film. I wrote an unsigned article for the paper the next day on the lack of intelligence of the football team. The only people who knew I wrote it was the editor and asst. editor. The asst. editor told the football players that I wrote it. They had a meeting and decided that I needed to be punished. Firecrackers were thrown under my dorm room door. The door was also set on fire. I was forced to leave school for a week and missed some tests. I flunked out of two classes. I finally had to admit to the coach that I wrote the article, and he called off the attack. I also had to agree to go to all of the home games. I had to learn to tone down my words.

Student Body President

I was very much into liberal politics at PC. I was not in a fraternity, but I formed a group called the Independents, which was like a fraternity. I decided to run for student body president. The administration didn't like me. I had a column in the school newspaper on problems in the running of the school. But, the students wanted me to make changes. The race was between me and a girl. The night before the election, she told me that she didn't want the job, and that I should have it. I had the support of the fraternities, the jocks, and the independents. I lost. It turned out that the election was rigged, and the girl won. To shut me up, they put me on the Student Assembly and the Student Affairs Council, which was a liason between the administration and the students.


I was at Presbyterian College a short time, when I discovered two things--alcohol and drugs. I had done a few drugs at Anderson, but nothing like this. As far as alcohol was concerned, it was mostly beer, gin or vodka. I drank 22 beers in a three-hour period, and passed out for two days. We did a play in Atlanta at a church, where I was the male lead. I went to a bar before the play and got drunk. I don't remember anything about the play, but the other actors said I was fantastic. I wish I could remember it. I vowed never to drink before performing again. As far as drugs, I did pretty much everything available at that time except heroin. I knew a guy who got hooked on that stuff and killed himself. I was also smoking cigarettes and cigars. Life was good.


I always wished I had been at Woodstock in 1969. I was there in spirit. When I was in high school, they would refer to me as the short-haired hippie or The Woodstock Kid. That name kind of stuck. I listened to the soundtrack and would go to the movie every chance I got. Sex, drugs and rock n roll were very appealing to me. In college, I got involved in the anti-war movement. I was a member of several peace groups, many of whom I found out later were funded by the Soviets. Because of my involvement, I had a guy from the FBI follow me for a while. Years later, I requested my FBI file under the Freedom of Information Act, and they sent it to me. It was 2 pages long with my name at the top. The pages were blackened out, with a disclaimer for reasons of national security. You have to remember, this was during the Nixon years. There was a lot of paranoia. In college, I let my hair grow longer. It was a fun time.


We got to Paris, and I was going to take Sandra to the fanciest restaurant that I knew--Maxim's. We were going to celebrate. One small problem arose. At lunch, she ate something that caused one of her teeth to break. When we got to the hotel, I called a dentist and told him it was an emergency. It was Saturday night, and the dentist didn't want to help. He did tell me what to do as a temporary fix for Sandra's tooth. She was in no mood to go out to dinner, so no Maxim's. We continued on with our trip. After we left Paris, we flew to Barcelona. That was the last stop before going home. Everything was fine. The last day, Sandra said that she was going to call Jim and tell him not to meet her at the airport, as she was going to tell him about her new plans. She and I went to the post office, where there was a phone. I don't know what he said to her, but on the plane back to the States, she told me that she was marrying Jim after all. That was a very long 8 hours. When we got back home, Jim was there. I saw Sandra one more time about a month later to exchange some pictures. About two years later, she and Jim got married. I wasn't invited to the wedding, because a mutual friend told me that she was afraid that when the minister got to the part about anyone objecting, I would have stood up. Sandra knew me all too well, because I would have. It could have been the last scene in "The Graduate". I have quasi-communicated with her over the years through third parties. Last year, I sent her an email on her birthday. She wrote back. It had been 34 years.


Sandra and I were getting closer on our trip. We had been to England, Italy, Israel, Germany, and now Switzerland. We were both getting tired of having to be around the others and wanted some time for ourselves. There was a movie theatre next to our hotel, and we decided to go to the movies. Nevermind that the film was in French. I could speak French, but she couldn't. It didn't matter. After supper, the other girls wanted to walk around the city of Lucerne. We didn't, but we had to, because the others wanted to go out. Majority ruled, and Mr. Vivian insisted. While we were walking, we came upon 5 drunk Swiss soldiers. They grabbed Sandra and started passing her around to each of the soldiers, as they formed a circle around her. I went over to one of the soldiers, and grabbed him by the shoulder. I grabbed some of Sandra's hair too, but I used my karate and took the soldier to the ground. The other soldiers were so shocked, that it gave Sandra and me enough time to run away, and the 4 girls and I ran for several blocks back to the hotel to make sure we weren't being followed. I had never done anything like that before and haven't again, but it felt good to defend her honor. The next day, we took a train from Lucerne to Paris. Sandra told me on the train that she decided after the night before that she would marry me and not Jim. Things were looking better.

Sam, Omar and Sam

That night at supper, we got a visit from a man who said he was from the US Consulate. He told us that he knew we had been hanging around these 3 Arab boys, and we were to stop it. It seems that they were of the terrorist pursuasion, and Kissinger was in town trying to broker a peace treaty. (The Yom Kippur War happened 3 months later). When we told the man that the boys might get suspicious, he said okay then we were to find out everything we could about the boys and he would be back the following night for supper. When we asked what if we didn't do this, he said that he would have us sent home. Since we had paid our money, and couldn't explain it to our parents, we agreed. The workers at the hotel bugged our phones, and they told the boys what was going on. The boys had us followed, as we tried to take in the sites. We found out that the boys wanted to kill us. The girls wanted to get their hair fixed at a shop near our hotel. We had to go through the service entrance of the hotel to outside. The boys found out where we were, and the beauty shop owner had to call the police to get the boys away, so we could leave. The US official, who turned out to be CIA, arranged for us to leave early the next day to go to Tel Aviv and get a plane out to Germany, which was our next stop on the tour. At 3am, we crowded 16 people into two taxis, and we were off to Tel Aviv. We didn't breathe until the plane took off. About 6 months later, I was listening to BBC World Service, and they had a music request show called "Victor Sylvester's Dance Party". I sent in a request for them to play "Strangers in the Night" by Frank Sinatra for Sam, Omar and Sam. A few weeks later, they did. I don't know if the 3 boys heard it, but it made me feel better.


Mr. Vivian organized a trip to Europe and The Middle East. Sandra, Talula and I went, along with a couple other girls and the rest older women. I was the only guy in the group of 16 besides Mr. Vivian. By the time we left on July 5th, Sandra was already engaged to Jim. She didn't want to go, but she had paid her money. I thought that this trip would be a long 3 weeks, but a lot of stuff happened. On July 12th, we had arrived in Jerusalem. That night, we met 3 Arab guys who wanted to show us the city at night. I was walking behind Sandra and one of the guys. She put her arm around his waist and waved at me. I thought she was telling me to get lost, so I did. I had to take a cab back to the hotel. The next morning, Mr. Vivian was livid. Apparently, the girls had come back without me and got caught. So, Mr. Vivian put me in charge of the 4 girls. I have a brown belt in karate, and I carried a pen knife with me that no airport security asked about. Things got interesting. Another tease.

The Midnight Man

Word spread around Anderson SC in the Spring of 1973. They were going to shoot a movie called "The Midnight Man". It starred Burt Lancaster, Susan Clark and Cameron Mitchell. I went to the auditions and met Burt's son Bill. He later wrote "The Bad News Bears". A couple of weeks later, they called me, and my friends Jimmy and Ed, to come to Clemson to be in the film. We got there early, and didn't know that they were already shooting a scene. It was at a club, and we walked right in. We thought they were going to tell us to go home, but thankfully they didn't. When our scene came up, we saw Burt. He was also directing the film. He picked Ed and me to be on the dance floor with a few others. Jimmy was placed at the bar. They served beer during the scene, and some folks got a little loud after a while. Burt wanted me to dance with Susan Clark. I told him I didn't know how to dance, and he taught me on the dance floor by leading me around. It was a slow dance. We danced to "Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver on the jukebox. Susan wanted to dance fast, and I wanted to dance slow, so we kept tripping up each other. After several takes, she went over to Burt and called me a bunch of names and then told him that if she had to dance with me, that she was going to walk off the picture, and she was the female lead. Burt was very nice and told her that I was trying my best. I had been cast as Susan's teenaged love interest, but now the script was rewritten, and I was now paired with a high school girl to dance with. If you look carefully at the finished product, Susan is sort of dancing with herself. Also, they couldn't use John Denver's song in the movie, so they changed it to an uptempo jazz tune. Everyone is dancing slow, except Susan. She was the only one dancing correctly then. I was paid $16 for four hours work that day. It was my first paid acting job. I learned a lot about how movies were made. As of today, the movie has never been released on DVD or video, but maybe one day. You can see it on cable some times. But, now I had been in a movie. My popularity went up more.

Blithe Spirit

Our Spring 1973 play was "Blithe Spirit". I had the male lead. Sandra played one of my two wives. Talula played the other one. All three of us were very close friends. We had to do it with English accents. I worked on mine for a couple of months, listening to all sorts of British people. My accent turned out to be a cross between George Harrison and Margaret Rutherford. Rehearsals went well, although there was so many special effects in the play that we were not able to work on the third act much. On opening night, the first scene of the third act didn't go too well. Mary DuPuy played a psychic. She and I were sitting on stage with a pitcher of tea. The play called for liquor, but being a Baptist school, we had to use tea. At the start of the scene, I said something that wasn't in the script. Mary had a horrified look on her face, but we had to keep going. For the next few minutes, in character, we talked about what had transpired in the play; other characters; the weather; and we drank a lot of tea. I could hear Mr. Vivian offstage saying to the others, "Where are they?" He finally pushed the girl playing the maid to come onstage and tell me that I was needed in "the kitchen". I got up and walked offstage. Mr. Vivian showed me the script, and I saw where we needed to be. I went back, and we picked up as if nothing had happened. The audience never knew. When the curtains closed at the end of the scene, Mary and I rushed to the bathrooms. We had drunk all of the tea.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


There was a girl named Sandra, who I met in college. She lived off campus and was involved in the drama program. She also worked for Mr. Vivian in his office. I fell in love with Sandra, and she knew it. We were together a lot. When I went home for Christmas, I called her home, and her mother said she had gone out. It turned out that was the night she met another guy. When I got back to school, she told me about Jim. I still was in Sandra's life, but it was now a triangle. Sandra and I played husband and wife in a play, that I will talk about later, but there was obvious chemistry on stage. She was in the Miss Anderson beauty pageant. I had helped her pick out a song and worked with her stage presence. It was also just after my debate partner and I defeated the team from Harvard. We had gotten an offer to debate at UCLA in California. The trip was all-expenses paid. But, it was the same weekend as the pageant, so I told them I couldn't go. Love was more important than fame. So, Sandra came in fourth in the contest, and my debate partner stopped speaking to me. He did about 20 years later, just before he died of brain cancer. More about Sandra later.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Joe College

All of a sudden, I had more friends than I knew what to do with. I was on the Literary Magazine staff. I wrote for the school newspaper. I was head of the McGovern for President committee. I did anti-war stuff. I was in Who's Who in American Junior Colleges. I was in Delta Psi Omega Honor Drama Fraternity. I had a job on campus at the post office. I was in Campus Crusade for Christ. I was a member of the Denmark Society. I was the go-to guy for drama. I was on the debate team, and we were ranked as one of the top debate teams in the US. We defeated a team from Harvard. I worked on the Miss Anderson College beauty pageant, and the May Day celebration. I was Mr. Popular. I even had a girlfriend. It was great. I think I was probably the happiest I had ever been. And probably haven't been since. More on debate and love later.


One age-old question always comes up: Where does your talent come from? I suppose one could make the case that you are born with it. Others might think that it is developed. My feeling is that my talent is inspired. I cannot explain where the words come from that I put on a page. I cannot explain how I seem to "turn-on" when I get in front of people. But, I will let you in on a little secret. Before opening night of "Up the Down Staircase", I looked for a quiet corner, and I prayed--"Please God, give me strength to do a good job. Give me a clear head and let me remember my lines. And may someone in the audience get something out of my performance." I pray that prayer every time before I do anything in front of people. If I don't, I do not do a good job. I have messed up over the years, but I retain my concentration to carry on. If you do not believe in God, okay. But, I would not be able to do what I do without Him. He gave me my talents. I tap into His power. That's the way it is.

The Breaking of Bread

Our first production for the Fall 1972 was the one-act play "The Breaking of Bread". It took place in the Civil War and was about two soldiers coming together on the battlefield, one from the South and one from the North. I was cast as the Southerner, but the guy I was acting with had parents who objected to their son playing a Union soldier, so we switched roles. Dennis Sartain was the other actor. Dennis and I complemented each other very well. We worked very hard to get the play as real as possible. We got two period-looking rifles as props. We also had a very realistic fight scene over one of the guns. We had spread leaves over the stage and had a tree stump in the middle. Our fight scene was choreographed. We performed the play twice at school, and another three times in area churches. Every time we did it, something went wrong. I couldn't wear glasses and am pretty blind without them. At one point during the fight, we lost the rifle under the leaves. We were throwing each other across the stage, and each time we would land and try to feel around for the rifle. The play couldn't go on until we found it. After what seemed like hours, I stood up and found myself standing on it. We carried on from there. During the fight, Dennis accidently hit me in the nose, as I couldn't see to block the punch. My nose started bleeding. Folks in the audience thought I had put ketchup up my nose. It was pretty realistic. During another performance, Dennis flipped me over during the fight, and I landed wrong. I hurt my back, but we had to keep going. There is also a duel of rifles at the end. We had placed caps in the rifles to make the shot sound. My cap didn't go off, and I had to ad lib about the shoddy rifle. During our final performance at a church, Dennis broke his wrist during the fight. No one knew until after the play. I later directed that play during my senior year at PC. It was still jinxed, as one of my actors quit, and I had to recast a week before the show. It is a powerful play. But, the moral to the story is--the audience never knew the problems.

Up The Down Staircase

I went to Anderson College to major in English. I was going to be an English teacher or a writer. My first semester was rather hard, adjusting to college life. My roommate had friends who liked practical jokes. One night, they tried to drop me down the trash chute. Another, they hung me off the dorm balcony. Another, they put my bed and desk out in the hall. The worst was one night I was asleep in bed. They yelled out my name. I woke up real fast and saw a large knife heading for my chest. The guy turned the handle at the last minute, and the handle went into my chest. This was supposed to be funny. I was hazed a lot that semester. I did have a couple of friends. One was a guy named Lenny. He was my suitemate. One afternoon, Lenny asked me if I would go with him to the school's auditorium to help him move a piano. We got there, and there was a play rehearsal going on, so we sat and watched it, and waited for it to be over so we could move the piano. A guy saw us sitting out there and asked us if we would read a couple of parts, as they had not been cast yet. We did. My part in the play was Mr. Bester. The play was "Up the Down Staircase". They liked the reading, so I was cast as Mr. Bester. It was a small role. I went to all of the rehearsals and knew most all the lines by all the other characters. On the night of the dress rehearsal, the lead male actor quit school. There was a lot of chaos around stage. The director knew me and knew my talent. His name was Mr. Vivian. He offered the part to me, and I would have two roles. The blocking was changed, so that Mr. Bester would never be seen. I cut all my classes and crammed for the lead. On opening night, the original lead actor came back to school and wanted his part. Mr. Vivian said no, that it had been recast. Thankfully, the play took place in a class, so I could use a notebook as a cheat sheet for my lines. The play went off without much trouble, although the newspaper critic said that I was at a disadvantage, as I didn't get the lead until 2 days before. The drama bug bit me an opening night. I didn't want to major in English anymore, and I switched my major to Speech and Drama. I became "Joe College". I was finally popular at school. My classmates knew my name as the talented guy. The actor. Thanks Lenny for asking me to move the piano.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Kilbourne Park Baptist Church. The place we joined on January 4th, 1970. The kids that saved my life. After we joined there, I didn't really embrace them for a couple of months. I had, and still have, a problem trusting people. When I went to a social after church, one of them asked me where I had been. I made up a story that I had been sick. Their response was that they were sorry. No one had cared about me before. I was just the ugly kid, or the talented kid. I fell in love with a girl at that church. Her name was Pam. She seemed to care. Unfortunately, she also had a boyfriend. I am usually attracted to females who are attached. I tried to hide my feelings for a while. I was close to others in our youth group. In fact, a lot of people thought I was going to marry Mary Ellen. Her family kind of adopted me and let me stay over at their house. Mary Ellen was my friend. Pam was my love. I confided in my friend Sonny. He had a secret love for Karen in our group. My first sort of date with a girl was Karen. We went to eat one night at Hardee's. Pam was unattainable. Since I knew that she and I would never be together, I became something of a patron for her. I promoted her work as a singer in plays around Columbia. I don't know if she ever knew how much I helped her, but it was my way of saying thanks for helping me discover life. I got my first kiss from a girl from Pam, while "Magic Carpet Ride" played on the stereo. We actually did go out a couple of times in the early 1980's. Later on, Pam got married to Ted. They still are and living in Wisconsin. A few years ago, I wrote to her. We correspond by email. I told her what an impact she had on my life. She said she had no idea. As I have said before, you just never know how you are going to affect others' lives. Perfect example. Thanks, Pam.


So, what caused these people to beat me up every day for three years? I looked different than most. First, I have not been able to gain any real weight since the 8th grade, thanks to a really high metabolism. I had double pneumonia, when I was younger, and I had a fever of 106 for 3 days. That should have killed me, but instead my body does not gain weight. People have said that I am special. I guess so. Also, I developed acne. It was bad. My parents sent me to a dermatologist who tried desperately to cure me. I got cordosone (spelling?) and other drugs. Ever had pernox? It is a soap with stuff like sand that scrubs out the pores. Kind of like Lava soap. The night that Martin Luther King was killed, we heard the news, while my father was scrubbing by face with pernox. Funny how things associate together like that. They took me to Duke University for those doctors to take a crack at me. No luck. They took pictures of me for a case study to train doctors in South Carolina on acne. Finally, my dermatologist put me in the hospital and performed a clinical dermabrasion. I think I was one of the first with that procedure. They had to put me to sleep. When I awoke, I had a giant facial scab. After about two weeks, the scab came off, and I had a few less layers of skin on my face. I can't really grow much of a beard anymore due to missing some hair pores. I have some facial scarring still, some of which is under my nose, so I have something of a moustache to cover those up. But, I looked different. And just like in nature, when an animal looks different and is cast off by its peers, I was cast off. No friends, until January 4th, 1970. But, there was a guy in my high school named Michael. He was very smart. He used to throw me across the room and lock me in lockers. Michael was in ROTC. He went on to college and killed himself his first semester in college. I went to his funeral. There was only one other person from our high school at his funeral. Michael killed himself, because he didn't have any friends. I realized then how lucky I was. Rest in peace, Michael.

Early Talents

When I was 5, there was this cereal called OK. Yogi Bear was the spokesperson. I wrote a TV commercial for the cereal and typed it on my father's Royal typewriter. It had to do with Brand X, Brand Y and OK. We sent it in to the cereal company. They said I showed talent and to come back in 18 years. OK Cereal went away. In the 4th grade, I wrote a song called "People". The tune was pretty close to "Listen People" by Herman's Hermits which came out 3 months after I wrote my song. I suppose I could have sued, but what does a kid know? Also, when I was 5, I did my first acting job--a Christmas play at the public library. I played a wise man. My 2nd acting job was in 4th grade. It was the school's Christmas play. I was a wise man, and the only one with lines. Do you see a trend developing? Writing? Acting? I found that writing and acting were means to escape from the troubles at school. Van Gogh was a hero of mine. He didn't get famous until after he died. So, I was a very prolific writer, figuring that I would die and then become famous. There were a few of us in high school that formed a writer's club. A lot of good stuff came out of that time. I was also a member of the National Forensic League in high school. We did debates and model Congresses between schools. My first debate was in 10th grade. It was about health care. We were from Flora, and we were debating a team from Dreher. During the question and answer portion of the debate, they asked me if our plan wasn't already "inherent in the system". I didn't know what "inherent" meant. I looked at my debate partner, and he looked blankly at me, as he didn't know what it meant either. So, all I could say was that I didn't know. We lost the debate, but I made a vow after that. Never go into a debate without a dictionary. Never go into a debate without being prepared. And most of all, as in chess, anticpate all possible retaliations. I never lost a debate after that. I was moved to model Congresses and Model UN's. I won several awards for public speaking. I was good and very much the attack dog. My extreme shyness went away, at least for a time. While in high school, Columbia College was wanting to expose high school students to college-level drama classes. They picked 16 high school kids from around Columbia for the program, and I was one of the chosen. I guess they saw some talent. For six weeks, we took classes after school in acting and theatre history. At the end of the program, we put on a play called "The Cave Dwellers". I played a deaf mute that got the girl in the end. I was very shy around girls in real life. In fact, I never even had a date until I was 17. So, this play really helped me with that. I also had to learn how to act with my eyes and gestures. It was the real beginning of a love of the Theatre. Thanks, Mrs. Eaker.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

January 4th 1970

Okay, I was doing pretty bad. I was a shell of a person. If you read my writings from this time, you would see everything was dark. I wanted to die. My parents thought that a change would be good, by moving to another church. I didn't want to go. They gave me a choice. If I didn't like the new church after 3 months, I could go back to my rowdy friends. I agreed. I was 16. A juvenile delinquent. We joined the new church on January 4, 1970. I only knew one other person my age. All the other kids went to different schools than me. The girl I knew invited me to youth choir that met that afternoon. I had sung in the choir at my old church, so I said okay. I would be there. That afternoon, my life changed. To say I was born again is not quite right. I was reborn. That day became my 2nd birthday. What happened? There were kids there who accepted me for who I was. They said I was worth something. They wanted to be my friend with no strings attached. The veil had lifted. No longer did I live in the dark. No longer did I want to die. They gave me a purpose. If I had not gone there that day, I would be dead today. No question. We were inseparable for two years. Thanks to Pam, Sonny, Tommy, James, Gail, Lawson, Karen, Debbie, Vonda, Lelia, David, Rhett, Rodney, and the rest for saving me. I suppose one could make the case that God used those people to get to me and turn me around. But, without them, I would have been dead. The moral to the story is never underestimate the impact you are going to have in one's life. They showed me that I had talent. Talents that I would use later. I will talk about that talent next time, but for now just know that little things can change lives.


Now comes the painful part of the show. I have blocked a lot of this out of my mind, but what I can remember, I will relate. I don't ask for your pity, but I want you to understand. Beginning in 7th grade, and going through 9th grade, I got beaten up every single day at school. I was pushed down stairs; spat on; pushed into bushes; hit; tripped; books knocked to the ground; food knocked off in the cafeteria; hair set on fire; and stuffed into lockers. I am sure there is more, but that's all I remember. Every day, my peers told me I was no good. During 8th grade, I took our school annual and crossed out all of the kids who had done something to me that year. There were 3 kids not crossed out. When I would complain to teachers about what was happening to me, the kids would get punished, and then I would get beaten worse after school, so I learned not to say anything. One day, I told the bullies that I had invented a robot that was going to zap them, if they didn't stop. I showed them the plans that I had drawn up. That actually stopped the bullies for a couple of days, until they demanded to see the robot. I couldn't produce it, so they beat me up more. Coming home from school one day, 3 kids jumped me and threw me into some rose bushes. I was cut up pretty bad. When I got home, my parents called the police, but they said they couldn't do anything, as it was my word against theirs. Yeah, I threw myself into the thorns. So, it became apparent that no one would help me. My parents couldn't afford to send me to private school, so I had to suffer. I developed a severe inferiority complex. My parents sent me to a psychiatrist. I found that there were kids in my group therapy that were more screwed up than me. The group was taking up much of my time, so I had to leave. I was also in Boy Scouts. That was a bit of a distraction from what was going on around me, but I didn't stay with that either. The school told my parents that I had the 2nd highest IQ ever to come through that school. I found out later that it was around 160. I was a genius. I also wanted to kill myself. I tried six times with obviously no success. Pills, knives and suffocation were my choices. Unfortunately, my parents didn't believe in having guns. Good thing, huh? In addition, I got involved with a ring of thieves. Kids from my church tried to outdo one another in stealing stuff. I got involved with that. Preacher's kid. One afternoon, when I was 15, I got caught stealing a book from a store. I convinced the guy that I had never done it before. I should have gone to jail, because I had been stealing for a couple of years. They turned me over to my parents. That afternoon, we went out to Sesqui Park. My father took me out to the middle of the lake on this boat. I thought he was going to throw me in the water, but he didn't. We just had a talk. I didn't steal after that. I just wanted to belong. I just wanted somebody to like me. I just wanted to die. The next year changed my life. Next time--a purpose.

Three is My Lucky Number

So, this is the third post of the day. Sixth Grade. When I was in 6th grade, we had a thing called the school patrol. That's where the popular boys would be used to patrol the halls of the school for wayward younger kids. We also helped with traffic control at the end of the school day. So, I was on patrol. There was a kid in our class named Tom Phillips. Tom and I were best friends. We played Man from UNCLE games. Both of us wanted to be UNCLE agents, when we grew up. Tom's mother wore pants a lot. My mother wore dresses. We got into an argument one day about pants vs. dresses. The other boys in the class, who were on the patrol, wanted Tom and me to fight each other after school. We didn't want to fight, but it became necessary to do so. After school one day, Tom and I fought. A teacher came outside and dragged us both to the principal. He asked us why we did it, because he knew both of us were not fighters. I told the principal that the other boys egged us on and made us fight. So, all the patrol kids got in trouble. There was only 2 kids in the class who didn't participate in promoting the fight, so there was not enough to form a patrol at the end of the school year. It was much like a Watergate snowball. To this day, there are guys I grew up with who will not speak to me. I don't know whatever happened to Tom. I heard he got in trouble with the law in NC, but I'm not sure about that. The 6th grade incident began a situation against me that would last another 3 years of persecution that I will talk about next time. Kids can be cruel, and it almost cost me my life. Oooo, another cliffhanger.

Part Two

Wow, two posts in one day. Well, I am trying to get a running start. Okay, I was born in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina destroyed our house a couple of years ago. But, we moved to Columbia SC, when I was five. I remember some stuff about New Orleans like green lizards, Audubon Park, the lake, and Mardi Gras. When we moved, I had to say goodbye to my best friend Paul Price. That was the first of many goodbyes later on. My father taught at New Orleans Baptist Seminary. I am a preacher's kid. That is a crucial bit of information, because preacher's kids are very bad people for the most part. I know there are exceptions to every rule, but I am the rule. We moved to Columbia, so that my father could become the director of the Sunday School Dept. for the SC Baptist Convention. He was gone a lot with his job, so my Mother basically raised me and my older brother. My brother is about 8 years older than me, so we pretty much were raised separately. I often say that my parents had two only children. Other folks would have said that I had a great childhood. We went to Disneyland in CA, when I was 5. We travelled all over the US. I met Billy Graham, when I was 10. My father had a lot of friends in religious circles. They all knew my name. I knew them as my father's friends. I didn't realize until much later in life how much of a pioneer my father was in Baptist life. By the time I had reached high school, I had been to 29 out of the 50 states. My father used to say that travel broadens one. It does. I don't want to brag, but it does. If you can just get in the car, and ignore the gas prices for a while, drive through the countryside. You'll be amazed what you'll see. Until I was about 12, I had a pretty much "Leave It To Beaver" childhood. Life changed, when I hit 6th grade. (oooo, tease for next time).

Welcome to My World

Hello fellow space travellers. Welcome to my world. My name is Walter. I would tell you my age, but that is so fluctuating. One day, I feel very young. The next, I feel very old. I'll just say that I am older than most, but younger than some. So, who am I? I am an actor, writer, and overall crazy person. I like to think that I am rather hip. Although, with my age, sometimes my hip hurts. I write songs for a rock n roll band based in Nashville. Our new cd should be out before too long. I don't have a job right now. I resigned, thinking I had a job, but I didn't. Kind of what happened to me 30 years ago. Weird, huh? In the coming weeks, you will discover more about me and what brought me to this point. If I offend anyone, I am sorry. If you feel pity for me, okay. If I teach you something about yourself, good. If you are bored, sail on. If I get bored, you will know it. Take care. Live long and prosper.