Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miley Cyrus

There is a perceived controversy over some pictures of Miley Cyrus in "Vanity Fair". Big deal. Okay, the photos are a little strange, but what did they expect from Annie (can't spell her last name)? She takes pictures of rock stars. Have you ever seen the nude picture of John Lennon alongside Yoko Ono for "Rolling Stone"? That was Annie's. But, at least Miley's picture wasn't like Brooke Shields in "Pretty Baby". So, somebody wants to sell some magazines. So, somebody has an image problem. So what? This won't be the difference that will push a presidential candidate over the top. This won't topple governments. Oh, and kids do have bare backs, and some have love for their fathers, and even some have belly buttons. People, get a life. Oh, and another reality check...Miley Cyrus could retire right now and never have to work again. So, if this does ruin her career, she is laughing all the way to the bank. I bet Britney, Paris, and Lyndsay are happy today. No one is talking about them.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Secret Service

I have always admired The Secret Service. They have gotten a bum rap over some things, but they are the best of the best. After graduating college, I tried to become a Secret Service agent. I was in tip top physical shape, but I had bad eyesight. That was before Lasik surgery. Of course, there is the portion of the agency that handles counterfeiting, and I dealt with them, when I worked at the bank, but the main group has been the protection detail. I am amazed and in awe at the care and professionalism these people have. They have to be that way. They are protecting the most important people in our country. Two stories on them:
1. When I saw Gerald Ford in Dallas in 1976, it was on a Sunday in the downtown area. The buildings are very close together, with a lot of skyscrapers. Everyone was very nervous about Ford being in Dallas, and the comparisons to Kennedy being killed there. He was advised not to come, but he was in a very tight race with Carter and wanted to make an appearance at the largest Baptist church in the country, at the time. I was standing across the street from the church. The street was very narrow, only one lane. There was a crowd of supporters and reporters standing around, waiting for Ford to leave the church and get in his car. The YMCA was across the street from the church. I noticed that there was a window open at the YMCA about 6 stories up. All of the windows were supposed to be closed. I motioned a Secret Service agent over and asked him if that window was supposed to be open. He said "Oh my God!!" and yelled into his microphone. Within seconds, the window was shut. The agent came over and thanked me.
2. When Bill Clinton came to speak in Columbia, it was an outdoor event at the State House. I was working at Belk downtown. I was on my lunch hour and stopped at a store to get a candy bar. It was a hot day. I ate the candy and got up to the State House. They had taken away all the trash cans for security reasons. I didn't want to drop the wrapper on the ground, so I headed toward a building to find a trash can. A Secret Service agent asked me where I was going, and I told him. He said I couldn't go in the building. When I explained to him my dilemma, he told me to give him the wrapper. He stuck the gooey chocolate wrapper in his pocket. I thought that was dedication on his part.


I have seen most of the Presidents of the United States in my lifetime, whether running for office, in office or out of office. Let's run them down, shall we:
1. Dwight Eisenhower--he came to Columbia SC, when he was out of office, to make a speech. I was a kid.
2. John F. Kennedy--I never saw him. He wasn't President for very long.
3. Lyndon Johnson--I saw him after he left office. He came to Columbia and made a speech.
4. Richard Nixon--he came to Columbia while President to visit Jimmy Byrnes. I was across the street from the house. Pat was there too.
5. Gerald Ford--he came to Dallas TX while President to visit First Baptist Church. I was across the street but very close.
6. Jimmy Carter--he came to Ft. Worth TX the Sunday before he was elected President to go to my church. I was pretty close to him. The reporters stepped all over the shrubbery outside the church to get a picture. We had to replace the shrubbery.
7. Ronald Reagan--he came to Columbia before he was elected President. I got to see him upclose, as his car slowed to take a bump. I gave him the thumbs up sign, and he gave it back to me. Soon after, he started using that throughout his campaigns and presidency. I felt I gave that to him.
8. George Bush--he came to Columbia while President. I saw him leave his hotel and drive down the street. I waved, and he waved back.
9. Bill Clinton--he came to Columbia before he was President and made a speech. I saw him there. I don't think Hillary was with him.
10. George W. Bush--he came to Columbia to speak at a graduation. I saw Air Force One arrive, and I waited at the graduation site to see him, but they brought him in through a back way, so no luck. I may get an opportunity in about a month, when he comes to Greenville. We'll see.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Talking to Oneself

I talk to myself. I do it to keep me company, as I am often alone. It goes back to my imaginary playmates that I had as a kid. They say that if you answer yourself, you're crazy. Well, I am looney. I make up conversations. It helps me relax. So, I was thinking today that, in the past, I have hid my talking from other people for fear that they would think I was crazy. But now, with the advent of cell phones, blue tooth and headsets, I can be in the car and talking, but no one will give it a second thought, because you can talk out loud, and people will think you are on the phone. My craziness is now legit. Isn't it great to live in the techno age?

Friday, April 25, 2008


When I was in seminary, I did a paper for my Communications major on where people sit in a theatre. Have you ever noticed that if you go into a theatre, everyone sits in the middle? The middle seats always fill up first. Okay, people want to look at something straight on, but it is uncanny what they will do. If you are the first one to sit down in a movie theatre in the middle, the next people coming in will sit in front of you. The next people will sit behind you. And so on. It is quite rude for someone to come in and sit right in front of you. I have been known to move a few seats over. But, if you want to get an unobstructed view, you can sit on the side. No one sits there. People who sit on the side are weird. Outcasts. Individuals. No friends. People who sit in the middle are conformists. Want to belong. Part of a family. One other thing about audiences. If you ever want to have fun with unsuspecting people, watch a movie and all of a sudden start laughing. Total strangers will laugh too for no reason. They want to belong and conform. Maybe you saw something funny that they don't get. They want to appear like they got it. It is a fascinating bit of human nature. Try it sometime. Just don't everybody do it all at once.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Senior Discounts

When I worked at Macy's, one of the days I hated was senior discount days. Anyone over 55 got a 10% discount. You could tell if someone was in their 70's or higher, but sometimes it was tough to tell if someone was borderline. And, I thought it was tacky to ask if someone was over 55. Now that I have grey in my hair, I am starting to get senior discounts, even though I am not quite old enough for them. I have gotten them at restaurants, grocery stores and movie theatres. All without asking. The employee just assumed. And, do you think I ever questioned the discount? Of course not. My brother got insulted the first time he got a cheap coffee, because someone assumed that he was older than he was. He got over it. I have gotten over it. When I was younger, but over 21, I used to get carded at clubs. Now, I am not quite a senior citizen, but they are giving me discounts. Isn't it great to be an American?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Most Embarrassing Moment

Everyone has an embarrassing moment. A time when you feel like a fool. A time when you wish you could just crawl under the table. My moment came in 1971 in Mauldin SC. I was a member of the Youth Handbell Choir at my church. Our director was also the director of the Music Department for the SC Baptist Convention. I had known him for many years, since my father was the director of the Sunday School Department for the SC Baptist Convention. We were old friends, and his kids were my friends too. Mr. Westmoreland had organized a handbell festival of choirs from around the state. He was so proud of our choir. He had invited a man who wrote handbell music to come to the festival. The choirs practiced a piece to perform for the festival, which the man had written. The festival was at the First Baptist Church of Mauldin SC. We were staying at a motel not far from the church, and as high school kids will do, we stayed up all night and goofed around. The next day, we had a rehearsal of all the choirs. I played the low bells. As we were rehearsing, the composer said he wanted a rest put into the music. It was right before my note. I didn't have a pencil, but I knew I would remember the rest. I guess I should have had a pencil or gotten more sleep, because when it came time for the performance, I forgot about the rest and let loose this bong that was heard over the entire auditorium. Upon realizing my error, I immediately stopped the ringing, but it was too late. The composer gave me a dirty look. Mr. Westmoreland would have killed me at that point, but there were too many witnesses. I was quite embarrassed. He didn't speak to me for a long time afterwards. The moral of the story--be prepared.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Where Were You

In order to be a better person, one must look forward but remember the past. We all remember where we were when important events happened. So, here is a list of where I was:
1. JFK Assassinated--In 5th grade class. We were sculpting clay bricks, and a teacher ran into the room and said to our teacher to cut on the TV, Kennedy had been shot. I dropped my knife on the table in shock. No one cut off their TV's that weekend. Mother and I saw Oswald shot on live TV Sunday morning.
2. Martin Luther King killed--in the bathroom. Daddy was cleaning my face with Pernox for acne, and we heard it on the radio.
3. Bobby Kennedy killed--in Houston TX. We had gone there for the Southern Baptist Convention and saw the newspaper that morning in a rack.
4. Marilyn Monroe died--in a car between Columbia and Charleston. I thought Daddy was going to run off the road.
5. Neil Armstrong walks on the moon--at home early in the morning. My parents made me watch it.
6. The Challenger exploded--at Belk taking inventory. My supervisor told me about it, but it didn't register at the time, because I was concentrating about the inventory. When I left the store about 4:30pm, I saw a kid selling an Extra newspaper on the street, and I became violently sick.
7. 9/11--at Rich's. We were opening early that day, and my friend Thom came in and said he had heard a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I thought it was a private plane. I went to the breakroom to see a TV just in time to see the second plane hit. I was glued to the TV. We closed early that day. The next day, I went to the post office and saw a lady who worked there. We just started crying together. We should never forget that day.
It seems that we remember more bad things than good as to where we were on those days. But, we must not forget the past, because if we do, then we will surely repeat it, rather than growing because of it.

Attention Deficit

What happened to kids? When I was growing up, if a kid was not paying attention in school or seemed out of it, he or she was given some extra attention by the teacher, who also involved the parents. If worse came to worse, the school psychologist was called in. Now, the kids have a disease called ADHD. It has to do with "Attention Deficit". What is this? They have drugs to mellow out the kid. So, how did the kid catch this disease? Some would argue TV or video games. We live in such a fast-paced world that things have to be immediate. You can't just sit and think. You have to get in and get out. Fast food. It all contributes. But, I think a lot of this was dreamed up by drug companies to make money. And, while I am on the subject of kids, there are two other things I want to say. First, what happened to imagination? When I was a kid, we played outside and invented games. Now, everything is presented to them, and there are no individual thought processes. I would be willing to bet that if you give a kid a rock and a stick, he won't know what to do with them. They are just rocks and sticks. The second thing is to parents--PLEASE don't treat kids like adults. I can't tell you the number of times I have seen mothers trying to reason with their small children as if they were on equal footing. They aren't. They are kids. Unless, the parent's mental capacity is that of a child, but I would hope it is not. In order to raise a child, and this is coming from someone who doesn't have kids, you need to treat children like children, by definition. And, when did spanking become child abuse? My parents spanked me, and they didn't end up in jail. I think the statute of limitations has run out on them. I think it all comes down to two things--children need to respect their parents, and parents need to be there for their children. Sorry if I stepped on any toes here. I guess I am not politically correct on this issue. I'm sorry, what were we talking about? I have ADHD.

Monday, April 21, 2008


I used to like to eat fish. Then, I went to Israel. At a restaurant overlooking the Sea of Galilee at Tiberias, we ordered fish. You could watch them catch the fish outside the restaurant. The water had a gas slick on it. They brought the fish in unscaled, and gave you a knife and fork. They had thrown the fish in boiling water to kill it and then served it. People had visions of disecting class in school. The head was still on it. It was incredibly gross. So, I stopped eating fish for a long time. One day, I had some fish, quite by accident, and started liking it again. Now, I eat fish. It just goes to show that time heals all wounds. I used to also own fish. In college, my roommate and I got fish. Pablo and Bernie were their names. We bought some stuff to take the chlorine out of the water. It said one drop per gallon take. There was a lot of chlorine, so we put in several more drops. Pablo and Bernie died. We had a funeral by flushing them down the toilet. I had a fighting fish named Herman. He did very well. Herman was a great fish. I put a Pooh bear next to the tank, and Herman would nestle up to the edge of the bowl to be near Pooh. I attached a small plastic fish with a paper clip to keep Herman company. He ate the metal off of the paper clip and died. I haven't had any fish as pets since.


I love dreams. I dream in color. They say the more creative people dream in color, while others dream in black and white. My dreams are usually pretty vivid. I can remember most of my dreams. I have dreamt lyrics to songs. They say that is how Paul McCartney wrote "Yesterday". Most of my dreams though involve chases. I don't put much stock into the meaning of dreams. I think that dreams are a subconcious release of your thoughts of the day. After my father died, I was dreaming every night about him. Most of the dreams would cause me to awake screaming. I was questioning my fragile sanity. Then my friend Jimmy, who had lost his father a few years before, told me to think of the dreams as "visits". The dreams started to subside. As for last night, Joni was a truck mechanic that crawled up under the hood to get to the motor. She was in a competition with other mechanics to get a truck fixed first. I have no idea why I had that dream. But, she got dirty, and later she was cleaned up. You fill in the middle part (and you would be right). Okay, it is getting warm in here.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Crying at Movies

I have another confession to make. I cry at some movies. Even if I have seen the film 100 times, I still cry at certain parts. Even if I tell myself, I am not going to cry at the scene, I will anyway. Usually what triggers the tears are scenes involving rescue or something heroic. I guess I have lived the life of an underdog, which is why those kinds of films do what they do to me. So, what are the films I mainly cry at? "Superman" when he rescues Lois as she falls off the building. "A View to a Kill" when James Bond rescues Stacy from the burning building. "Rocky IV" when Rocky wins in Russia and makes his statement to the people at the end. "Forrest Gump" when he sees Jenny in Washington on the mall. "Love Story" when Jenny dies. I guess there are others, but those are the ones that stand out. If you are showing one of those, and I happen to be there, please have the Kleenex handy.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Be Sweet

There was a woman I used to work with at Macy's named Mary. She hired me, when it was Rich's, because she was in charge of HR. Later, she became the secretary to the store manager. When my father died, she told me that I could be going down the highway and hear a song on the radio that reminded me of him, and I would start crying. It was true. When my Mother died, it was the same way. The years have gone on, and it has gotten a little better, but yesterday I was reminded of it all again. A song came on the radio. I don't know who it was, but a woman sang "Be Sweet". It reminded me of Mother. She would always tell me to be sweet, after she told me that she loved me. I would usually tell her to be strong. So, this weekend, when things are a little frustrating, please be sweet.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Beauty Pageants

I like beauty pageants. I always have. As a kid growing up, we watched the Miss America pageant every year on TV. I even went to Atlantic City one year and saw where the pageant was held. It's not there anymore. But, I would see the 50 women and pick out one who I thought should win. She would make it to the top 5. Usually, I could pick a winner from the finalists. I just had a knack for that. My secret was to look for beauty and poise. Not everyone has both. But, here is my pet peeve about beauty pageants, especially Miss America. Have you noticed how many of the contestants don't live in the community that they represent? Some are "professional" pageant contestants who travel from place to place trying to win something. My feeling is that if you represent a city, county or state, then you should actually live in that city, county or state. Don't just be in school there but live somewhere else. It sort of ruins it if Miss Oklahoma's family actually lives in Missouri. Well, enough ranting about beauty pageants. And, to the pageants...the swimsuits are not sexist. Sorry, Kare.


Friends are a very important part of my world. Since I didn't have many growing up, the ones I had were very special--Richard, Sonny, Lenny, Mary Ellen, Karen, and others. As I grew older, I found that friends were actually easier to come by. I don't know why that is, unless the more mature you are the less faults you see in some one. I once told a cop that the definition of a friend is someone who would rescue you, if you had fallen off a cliff and were hanging by a root with one hand, trying not to fall into the ravine below. Most people I know would look at you hanging there and comment on it. Or, they would call 911 for help, but they wouldn't risk their lives to save yours. Friends come in many forms and many degrees of friendom (if that's a word). Elton John had a great song in the early 1970's called "Friends". If you aren't familiar with it, look it up. It kind of sums up my feelings on friends. So, to my current slate of friends--Jimmy, Del, Chris, Aubrey, Joni, Peggy, Konnie, Farida, and Curtis, I just want to say thanks. I haven't fallen off the cliff yet, but if I do, I'll call you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Big Brother

There are a few current TV shows that I really like--NCIS, ER, Deal or No Deal, Amnesia, and anything sports. I have begun watching Law & Order, since there were a lot of reruns during the writer's strike. But, I am passionate about Big Brother. Ever since the first season (the current one is #9), I just can't get enough of Big Brother. I go online and see what is happening between the CBS shows. I know what is going to happen before it does. Last year, I even subscribed to Showtime to get the live feeds. I am obsessed with Big Brother. I guess it is because it isn't scripted and is the ultimate in reality TV. Could you be in a house with other people for 3 months and only one (or two) bathrooms? People you didn't like for the most part? For the ultimate goal of $500,000? It's great!! I had a friend named Jim Thompson, who was our maintenance man at Macy's. He shared my passion for Big Brother. I would tell him what was going to happen, and then he would tell his wife and look like a psychic. Jim has moved on to Heaven. Our mutual friend Joni told me after his death that now Jim knows who won in Big Brother. I thought that was sweet. So, as I continue to watch it 3 times a week until the finale, don't call me during Big Brother. Then, guess what? The show starts anew this summer. I can't wait!!!

Monday, April 14, 2008


There was a girl I worked with at Belk named Meredith Thompson. Her friends called her "DC", because she was from the Washington area. She was a basketball player for USC, and she worked part-time in our security department. DC was very nice and tall. We would have talks about what she wanted to do with her life. She majored in Criminal Justice. She told me she wanted to be in the DEA, because she wanted to shoot uzi's. I told her to follow her dreams, and she did. She joined the DEA, and after months of training, they sent her to Miami. She loved it there, because she was in the center of fighting the drug importers, and she was making a difference. DC was sent to South America on a mission to hunt for the suppliers. She was on a plane with some other DEA agents and some CIA people. The plane crashed into a mountain in Peru. There were no survivors. The official explanation was engine trouble, but the general feeling was the plane was shot down. DC loved life and friends, but she also wanted to make a difference for the better. I miss her.

Picked Last

In my examination of my personality, one thing needs to be discussed. Almost every time in school or elsewhere, I have been picked last for things. In school, I was picked last for every sport played--baseball, football, kickball, basketball, soccer, track, tennis, etc. No one wanted me on their teams. "Okay, we'll take Walter". It was always in a resigned tone by the captain. You could see the disgust on the other team members' faces. Usually, I would do well in the activity, but I think they picked me last, because I was skinny and seemingly uncoordinated. Even in church volleyball that I played as an adult, I was picked last. I was the best server and setter, but I was picked last. Even if there were half as many girls than boys, I was picked last. There was one time at volleyball, where it was decided to pick the last person first. That was the only time I was ever picked first. But, it was the sympathy vote. So, as I have grown older, it has made an impact on my life. Be careful what you say to people, and how you say it. Okay, I guess we'll take Walter. Thanks. Don't put yourself out.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Hare Krishna

When I was a student at Anderson College, I got involved in meditation through the Krishna movement. After all, I got free magazines and incense. I didn't shave my head, but it was a way to keep me calm and in touch with myself. I meditated frequently in my dorm room and recited the Krishna mantra. We were contacted to meditate at noon one Saturday at the same time of a nuclear test in Alaska. The thought was that if everybody meditated at the same time, that our pressure would cause the test to fail. The test went on without a hitch, so I stopped meditating as much. But, to this day, if I feel extremely stressed, I will recite the mantra, and I will calm down. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I like Golf. I like to watch real Golf on TV. I like to play miniature Golf. My brother likes to play real Golf. In fact, he is very good. When I was a kid, he took me out on a course and gave me a 7-iron. I shot a 59 on the first hole, and a 37 on the 2nd. I got better, but I gave up. It was not my game. But, I love to watch it on TV. It can actually get quite exciting. Not like a football game, but the idea of one guy getting stressed is fun. I can relate. When I was in Ft. Worth, my Communications teacher invited me over to her house many times. I would have dinner with her family, or just hang out. She had a high-school aged son who was never home. I would usually see him in passing, as he was headed out to hit golf balls. It used to embarrass his mother for him to leave. Or else, we would be having dinner, and he would be squirming in his chair, wanting to go hit golf balls. Upon graduating from high school, he went to the University of Texas and did very well with Golf. He entered the PGA and won several tournaments including the PGA, Buick, Bob Hope, and came in 2nd at the US Open. His name is Mark Brooks. He doesn't play much anymore, but sometimes you'll see his name on a roster. Another example of how you need to follow your dreams.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pet Peeves

Everybody has pet peeves. Things that just get under your skin. Well, I have a few in no particular order.
1. People who don't use their direction signals (blinkers) on their cars. I know that all cars have blinkers. They are standard. So, I suppose that folks just have something else in their hand like phones, cigarettes, or something else. It is incredibly rude to not use them, if you are changing lanes or turning. I am not a mind reader.
2. Women who write checks in the grocery store checkout line. I would imagine that they have debit cards. And, it takes just as long for your money to come out of the bank. And, it is much quicker and convenient to use a debit card. But, they insist on being slow and writing a check.
3. Newscasters who use the phrase "non-life threatening" to describe an injury to a person. If they are injured, they are not dead. Pretty simple stuff.
4. On-Star is a waste of time. They play on your fears about your car running into a tree or a house. I would guess that there are way more GM cars sold with On-Star that never run into trees or houses than those that do. If you are accident prone, or just a really bad driver, then On-Star is for you.
5. Rap Music. Those two words have nothing to do with the other. And this comes from a songwriter, who knows something about melody.
I am sure that there a lot more in my mind, but that will give you enough to chew on for a while. Think about it.

First Impressions

I have a confession to make. It is not much of one, because I think a lot of people do this too. I look at people and jump to conclusions without knowing what may be something entirely different. My friend Gwen and I used to sit in Columbia Mall and make up stories about people as they walked by. It was just a funny thing to do. They could have been spies, criminals, models or whatever. However, I usually see somebody and size them up first before getting to know them. And usually, my original assessment of them is wrong. I think it comes from all of my years in retail. Observing people is also a necessity, if you want to be a good actor. There was a girl named Donna, who I met while living in Texas. I thought she was so stuck-up, but then I got to know Donna, and she couldn't have been nicer. You just never know about people. So, this brings us back to me. Yes, I am 54 years old and never married. No, I don't have a girlfriend, although I wish a few were, but that's another story. Yes, I am straight. I am just a little different, or as Konnie said "unique". I am going to go out on a limb here and say that if we as a civilization would get to no others without just making assumptions, there might be a lot more peace in this world. Idealism 101.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Okay, now we come to our topical portion of our show. Let's talk about immigration. Unless someone is a Native-American, none of us are from around here. All of our ancestors came from somewhere else. Mine came from France, Germany and England. Most of them originally came over here in the late 1600's or late 1700's, depending on what side of the family you are talking about. I have royal blood on my Mother's side, but then Napoleon took over, and they had to leave or die. I have seen a picture of the old castle. It is torn down now. So, anyway, we pretty much all came from some place else. Immigration is in the news today, because there are some people who want to come into this country, but just not through normal means. When I lived in Texas, I was told never to yell out "Immigration" in a crowded theatre, or else you would have a stampede. Much like yelling "Fire" anywhere else. They say the DFW Airport could not have been built without illegals. So, where do you draw the line? America has often been referred to as a "melting pot" of people. They bring their own cultures and values to society. Great. Who can't get enough of Taco Bell or a multitude of Chinese restaurants. So, here is what I think. Welcome everyone to the USA. BUT, learn English and become a citizen. The last time I checked, English was still the official language of this country. Maybe not in the future, but it is now. So, thank everyone for coming here. Just don't do it illegally. If you do, then you are going home.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Creative People

I am a creative person, something of a Renaissance man. I am an actor and writer, as well as a creative thinker. I believe that you are born with creativity, although it needs to be developed and nurtured. As for creativity, I have a very big ego. I try and control it, but I know I am good. Creative people know they are good. There are others who think they are creative, but usually real creative people just smile and know the truth. I can count on one hand the people I have met in my life who are truly creative. If you don't see your name on the list, please don't be insulted. It is my subjective list--Karen Miller, Wanda Martin, Gary Oldman, Richard Owen, and me. There are a lot of honorable mentions. You are probably on that list. I am also on my Best Actor list. That one is: Laurence Olivier, Robert De Niro, Gary Oldman, Al Pacino and me. No real order there. If you don't see your name on that list, you are probably number 6.

The Grand Canyon

When I was 5, my parents, brother and I went out west. We stopped at a bunch of places like Dodge City, Denver, Colorado Springs, San Francisco, and Disneyland. One of the places we went to was The Grand Canyon. I remember it was big and very cold, and it was June. We also saw snow in Yosemite. As I remember it, which may be wrong, my brother tried to push me over the side in jest. He is 7 1/2 years older than me. I think it scarred me for life. Somewhere, there are pictures of our trip. I think my brother has them to cover up the evidence. My brother actually took me to his school one time for show and tell. I think I won an award for cutest baby. Maybe that explains the Grand Canyon experience a few years after that award. Jealousy does strange things to people.

Monday, April 7, 2008


I worked with a girl at Belk named BJ, which was short for Betty Jean. She was a sweet girl, but a little obsessive. When I moved to TX and told her that I had been in a movie with Kris Kristofferson, she got so excited. She loved Kris and was an obsessed fan. Working in the record store, I got a poster of Kris and sent it to her. She was on cloud nine. She later moved to Nashville to write for "Billboard", so she would be closer to Kris. At some point, she moved back to Columbia, and so did I. She fell in love with me, although I didn't feel I was with her. We went to see the movie "ET", and I must say I treated her badly, but she didn't mind. It went back and forth for a few years. She started working for DSS as a case worker. She invited me over to her apt. one night for dinner. She burned the salad. I'm not sure how you can burn salad, but she did. She wanted to get romantic that night, but I didn't. After all, I had seen her crazy side and didn't want to get involved with her, so I looked at my watch and told her I had to go. I got in my car and drove 30 miles to Sumter, just to clear my head. I had always had a problem with girls and expressing my feelings, and I just couldn't accept that someone truly cared about me. She was also a poet. It was a talent that I had developed in her. She wrote a book and gve me a copy. The first poem in the book was called "First Love", which she said was about me. Six months later, BJ killed herself. At the funeral, there were people who said they didn't know she had problems. One theory was tht she got to emotionally drained from being a case worker. She cared way too much about people and their problems. I couldn't help think it was my fault. At the funeral, the preacher read a few of her poems, and the first one he read was "First Love". He said that she wrote it, because she obviously cared deeply about someone. I could have crawled under the pew. A few weeks later, her mother brought a shoebox over to my house. It had letters and tapes from me to BJ that she had kept over the years. It has been over 10 years since BJ died. It took me a long time to work through my guilt, but I think I have. She had a lot of personal problems, not just me. But, as I have said in previous blog entries, always realize that you impact others' lives every day. It may not seem much to you, but it means the world to them. A smile. A wave. A kind word. I wish I could have done that to BJ.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


In 1991, my two friends, Del and Chris, went with me to Williamsburg VA for vacation. We had a good time at Busch Gardens and Jamestown. We stayed up there for a few days and then drove back to Columbia. The next morning, I was reading the newspaper in the living room with my father. My mother was in her room resting after breakfast. I went in to read something to her, and she was sitting on her bed babbling. I couldn't understand what she was saying. I walked back out of her room and back to the living room where Daddy was. I sat back down, and after a few minutes, I told Daddy that I thought something was wrong with Mother. He went in to see, and came out and said call an ambulance. Mother had had a stroke. What if I had been quicker? Would she have gotten help sooner? I will never know. We got her to the hospital. Daddy was crying. The hospital was across the street from our church, so a bunch of people from there came in to see Daddy in the emergency room. I was there too, but none of the ministers asked me how I was. Only two secretaries did--Mrs. St. John and Mrs. Porter. They were the only people to care about me. Mother had a massive stroke. She was unable to talk, walk or see. Her sight had gone from macular degeneration, which struck all in her family. Another thing to look forward to. She went to rehab for several weeks, and they performed a miracle to allow her to walk and speak again. She had a couple of strokes after that, and she also fell and broke a hip, so in her later years, she couldn't walk, and I had to interpret her speech to Daddy. It was a frustrating time for all. After Daddy died, Mother lived on another 5 years. We never thought she would outlive him, but it was in the genes. Watch out for the signs of a stroke. It is one of my regrets of not seeing it sooner.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Much is being written today about the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is one of those events in life that you remember where you were. I was in the bathroom of our home in Columbia, sitting on the toilet. My father was bending over me and scrubbing my face with Pernox for acne. We had the transitor radio on and heard the news. My mother came in from the bedroom, and we all knew there would be trouble. I grew up with seeing separate water fountains, separate rest rooms, and separate entrances to movie theatres. I grew up with separate funeral homes, separate schools, and separate churches. I may not have agreed with all of that, but it was a fact of life. In some respects, we are still separate. I was 14. Every Saturday, I would ride my bike down to Five Points, which was in a predominantly black neighborhood of Columbia. There was a movie theatre that I liked to go to. But, that weekend 40 years ago was different. Behind the theatre, I was attacked by four black kids. They threw rocks and bricks at me and my bike. I couldn't get away fast enough. They didn't know that my cousin had rode with Dr. King in Alabama and Mississippi. They didn't know that my Grandmother had been persecuted in Alabama for teaching black kids. They didn't know that I had been taught to treat everyone equally. They just knew that I was white, and they were black. So, during this time as we reflect on 40 years ago, let us not think it is a white vs. black issue. It is a people issue. In the old hymn, the words are "Red, Yellow, Black and White, God made us all the same in his sight". Think about it.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


There was a woman I used to work with named Gert Weisberg. I imagine she is dead now. Gert was a very literate woman and very Jewish. I mean that in a nice way. She was very proud of her son, who was a professional bowler. I told Gert about my writing poetry, and she wanted to read some of them. So, I picked out the best ones and let her see them. The next day, she brought them back. I had expected a bad critique, but her words to me are some I have never forgotten, "I didn't realize you were so deep". I think I have that affect on people. It is hard for folks to get to know me, because I put up so many walls. If you are a person, who has seen over my walls, you are the lucky few.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


When I worked at Macy's, a lady came from Augusta to work in Columbia, and her name was Sylvia. She had a hard time in Columbia at first. People thought she was standoffish or rude. Her job was Human Resources and Operations. I went to a meeting in Augusta with her, and all of her former employees hugged her. I realized that there was more to Sylvia than others knew. At one point, she was accused of showing favoritism to one race over another. I never saw it, but others seemed to. But, there was one thing about Sylvia that no one else knew--she cared. When her father was dying, she never let others see her pain, but when my mother was dying, we had a common bond. When she died, Sylvia came to the visitation. Despite feeling left out and alone, I knew she came, because she cared. When I was going through my financial problems (and still am), I would have to go to Atlanta for business meetings and stay overnight. I could not possibly afford either the rental car or hotel. Sylvia took care of both. She got reimbursed, but she cared. A lot of people wouldn't have done that. When I got down there once and thought the room had been paid for, and it hadn't, I called Sylvia at home, and she took care of it. When my depression was affecting my job, Sylvia listened to my struggles. In December, our maintenance man Jim died. It was quite a shock. At the funeral, Sylvia was the only manager from our store that came to the funeral. I sat next to her. She came, because she cared. Sylvia is leaving our store tomorrow. I don't know where she is going, but I know that her travels will take her somewhere that people will see her as a caring person. Thanks Sylvia for everything.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools

My mother and I had the same bizarre sense of humor. She was also very creative, and I inherited it from her. Growing up in our house, there was a lot of laughter. There had to be. On April 1st, she would wake me up with the words "It's snowing!", and I would look out the window and see the dogwood tree with the flowers on the ground. She would laugh, and that would start my day. As I got older, the joke got a little old. When I was in high school, she woke me up on an April 1st with the words "It's snowing!", and I said "Yeah right". I looked outside to humor her and saw that we were having a freak April snow. It was really snowing! Had she been psychic all those years? Or, had the joke become so stale that I started doubting her word? Either way, it snowed, and I didn't have to go to school that day. I miss her laugh.