Monday, June 30, 2008
It's Monday, and that means it is self-pity day. It actually doesn't mean that. I just made that up. If I ever become President, and that's not going to happen unless everybody else dies, I will make Monday--Self-Pity Day. It will be a day when everyone will be self-centered, retrospective, and just plain whiney. So, allow me to express my observation. Just about everyone that I have loved, or have been interested in, have either been married or attached to someone else. There have been a couple who weren't, but most were. Of course, I cannot express my feelings one on one. It is a character flaw. I have no problem putting it in writing. If I do say it to the person, they just laugh. I can never be serious, even if I want to. Usually, women think of me as their good friend or the brother they never had. I can not be their lover. Why? I have never understood that. I would not want to be the one who broke up a marriage. And, I don't want to be beaten to a pulp by the other guy. So, I spend a lot of time wishing about what could have been or might be. I am not going to name names of the ones who fit into this category. It would be a bit of embarrassment for them. However, let's just say I am still single. There are a lot of lucky guys out there, who hooked up with the girls I loved. If the guys had known, I would have probably been everyone's Best Man at their weddings. And if any lady ever actually believed me that I loved them, without thinking I was kidding, I would just be rejected. "I love you as a friend". How many times have I heard that? Am I happy with my personal life? No. I am happy that others are.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I was a freshman at Anderson College and got involved in Campus Crusade for Christ. It was a good organization that believed in converting as many people as possible to Christianity. I went to a few meetings at other schools, primarily Clemson. They had a national convention in Dallas in June of 1972, and I went to that along with a few others from my school. We went by bus from Greenville. There were students from Furman, Clemson and Anderson on the bus, which went all night before arriving in Dallas. We stayed at a motel in Arlington TX, which is where our meetings were. There were people from all over the world there. We had meetings in the mornings; usually our afternoons were free; and we had a general meeting/worship at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas every night. We saw Andrae Crouch, Danny Lee, Tim Hardin, Barry McGuire, Billy Graham, Bill Bright, and many more. One afternoon, we all got together (100,000 of us) and blanketed the Dallas metropolitan area witnessing to others. The idea was that if we all witnessed to 8 people, we could bring Dallas to God. It was a nice idea, but it didn't quite work. I went with a girl to houses in the area. We only found one woman home, but we prayed with her, and she seemed receptive. The students from Anderson were all staying at a three-bedroom suite at a motel. One night, we got back from the Cotton Bowl, and I opened the door and found some young kids sleeping in the front bedroom. I didn't think much of it, and went on back to my bedroom and found a man and woman sleeping in my bed. None of them woke up. I went outside and told another guy that there were people in our room. He thought I was kidding, and he went in to find the same thing. We went to the motel office, and the clerk said that they had moved us out of our room and into a smaller room, because a larger party needed a place to stay. The weird part was that they took polaroids of where our stuff was in our bedrooms and bathrooms, and placed them in the new room in the exact same place. Talk about deja vu. We could have killed all of the other family in the old room, as none of them woke up, when we were in there. At he end of the conference, they had a music festival in downtown Dallas. Johnny Cash and Billy Graham were there. I talked to one of the girls from our group. She was majoring in music, but after talking to her, she decided to major in psychology to help people like me. I have that affect on women. We got on the bus and headed back to SC. It was my birthday (June 17th). We stopped in Atlanta at the bus station, and by now it was the 18th. On the news was a story about a break-in at the Watergate Hotel and offices of the Democratic Party. I remember thinking how stupid that was. Little did I know what was to happen over the next two years, and how it would affect American politics. Explo '72 was a life changing event on several levels. I'm glad I went. It was a combination of "Jesus People" and hippies. One Way.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Another issue with me is that I suffer from migraines. Some of them knock me on my butt, while others are mild enough to just make me feel bad. I have had them since I was a kid, and my parents told me that it was because I am so creative. It seems that the more creative you are, the more attacks on your brain come. I am not saying that those of you that don't have migraines are not creative. It just seems that being creative and having migraines have something in common. Sometimes I can go for months without having one, while other times I can have some frequently. It is sort of like playing Russian Rhoulette as to what will trigger a migraine. Some triggers work all the time, while others work only some of the time. So, what are my triggers? Stress, getting too hot, bright light, little sleep, stagnant air, sleeping wrong, eye strain, or a combination of some things. So, why can't I just avoid these things? As I said, some things can occur, but I do not get the headaches. You just never know. I have found that, after I have left Macy's, the headaches have not been as frequent. Figure that one out. I don't want to advertise anything specifically, but Advil Migraine pills seem to work, although they tend to knock me out. Headon for Migraines do okay too, especially if I catch it early. I used to take prescription drugs, but I don't anymore. I remember my mother telling me not to eat ice cream during a migraine. I am not sure why. She used to give me a cool towel to put on my head. It was soothing. Hot baths also work, or at least they make feel better. I love hot baths. So, this situation is just something I have to live with. If you are lucky enough not to have this problem, I envy you. I think a loving hug helps too, but unfortunately I don't have anyone to do that to me, at least not yet.
Friday, June 27, 2008
In another way to figure me out, you have to look at the zoo. I love going to the zoo. I guess it started at an early age in New Orleans, when we would go to the Audubon Park Zoo. It was a special time as a kid to see the animals that I had only read about in books. As I have grown older, I have been to several different zoos. It is a place to go to chill out. It is an oasis from the troubles of life. When I lived in Fort Worth, I used to go to their zoo, which was not too far from where I lived. In fact, when the wind was right, I could smell the zoo. Their zoo was not as pretty as others, but the animals seemed content, which led me to be content too. I went to the Berlin Zoo in 1973. It was more of a park, but it was located near the downtown area. I will talk about it more later, during my 35th anniversary memories on Europe coming up in about a week or so. Here in Greenville, there is a zoo. It is kind of small, but they have some nice animals, mostly either from the US or Africa. You can go through it in less than 30 minutes, and it is rather hilly, so be prepared for that. My favorite zoo is Riverbanks in Columbia. It is big. There are a lot of animals, and a good variety. My brother was responsible for getting the koalas there, by making overtures to Australia. When I was smaller, I had a "relationship" with Happy the Tiger who was the first resident of the zoo. Happy was the patron saint of the zoo, and all of the Columbia schoolkids knew Happy very well. Happy died and is buried at the zoo. There are bears, gorillas, giraffes, fish, birds, lions, monkeys, and so much more. The zoo is a happy place (pun intended). There used to be a polar bear. It would swim in its pond, and you could go down below the pond and see him through glass. One day, the glass broke. I am glad I wasn't there that day. The bear went away. They also have a garden at Riverbanks with flowers. It is very pretty. There are a lot of zoos I have not been to and hope to one day. I used to work at a zoo called Columbia Mall, but that's another story.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
As you know, I have never married. There are a lot of reasons for that, but one of them is that I think my standards are a bit high. In looking for psychological reasons, one may be because of my obsession for beauty. Even as a child, I used to watch beauty pageants on TV and pick the winner. I was pretty good at that. I also saw pretty actresses get the guys. I saw pretty girls at my school get the guys. I wasn't very handsome, despite what my mother told me. Girls were just not too interested in me. In my quest for love, I came up with my criteria for what to look for in a girl. She needs to be attractive. That is a bit subjective. I don't want to alienate anyone or suggest that beauty is too important, but I think it would be good if she is pleasing to the eye. Another quality is sense of humor. I have a rather bizarre sense of humor. It is somewhat dry and quick. She needs to understand my humor and be funny herself. She also needs to be somewhat intelligent. I don't need a Mensa member, but I don't need an airhead either. I just need someone who can carry on a conversation. Lastly, there is the words "style" and "class". What does that mean? It may be the reason why I am not married. I know it, when I see it. She needs to be someone who is confident, without being stuck-up. She must have an air about her. An ambience. Looking back on my girlfriends, they all had some of those qualities, but not quite all. I think Wanda might have come the closest. But, I can't really compare one to another. Each one had their own sense of style. I have no regrets about any of them. As I get older, it may become a bit easier because of current situations. Women are getting divorced. Spouses leave or die. It is the reality of age and situation. I can no longer think about going out with someone under 30, not that there is anything wrong with that. It is just that I am getting older, and I need to think of someone who can identify with my life's experience. For example, she needs to know that Paul McCartney was in The Beatles, not just Wings or had a bad divorce with Heather Mills. So, as I go on in life, I hope she is out there. I think she is. She just needs to know me. I think she does. Some things need to change before that happens. Maybe one day.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Okay, I stayed here all day yesterday, except for a quick trip to the post office. I washed clothes, so I could stick around waiting for my UPS package. They had called and gave me a tracking number. They said I needed to be present to sign for it, so it seemed rather important. It was to be delivered by 7pm. Once during the day, I saw the UPS truck drive by, so I thought that it was in the neighborhood. So, when 7pm came and no package, I went online to run the tracking number and found that the package had been delivered at 5:15pm and signed for. Well, guess what? It wasn't me. So, I called UPS. First, I got a recording and I spoke the tracking number. They told me what address it had been delivered to, which was about 5 miles from here. So, I wanted to speak to a real person. There wasn't an option on the menu for that. I think there is now, after I yelled "I want to speak to a real person!!!!" I got a real person. It was obvious that they had dialed the wrong number to call to say I was getting a package and gave me a tracking number. I explained to them that I had stayed here all day waiting for a non-existant package. They apologized. I told them that perhaps, when they make that call, they need to use the customer's name, so we could figure it out if it was meant for the person called or not. The package was not meant for me. I wasn't expecting a package from UPS. But, I can't tell you the number of things I thought about as to why I would be getting a UPS package that required a signature. A wasted day yesterday. At least, I have clean clothes.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I got a phone call last night from UPS. A recorded message says that I will get a package requiring signature on Tuesday and gives me a tracking number. First of all, I don't know what I am getting. Secondly, the voice says they can't give me a time frame of delivery, just that it will be between 8am-7pm. So, I guess I'll be here all day, or at least until it comes. I tried to imput the tracking number into the UPS website, but it didn't work. I guess I copied it down wrong. I suppose I could go about my day and risk being here when the guy comes, but maybe it is something good that I don't want to miss. Maybe it's a million dollars. Yeah, right. I can count on one hand the number of times I have gotten something from UPS. Usually, things come via US Mail. It is just so much easier. So, to all those people who were expecting me to mail things to you that you have bought from me, you'll just have to wait, because I am waiting on the UPS truck to come. Good luck to us all.
Monday, June 23, 2008
One of my idols died yesterday. George Carlin. He was a comedian, but he was also part of my soul. I first saw George on The Ed Sullivan Show, since I was not allowed to watch The Tonight Show. I loved Al Sleet The Hippy Dippy Weatherman. If you don't know about that, maybe it is on Youtube. I would just laugh and laugh growing up. I bought all of his albums. I bought the first one, Take-Offs and Put-Ons, on a trip to Alabama in 1971. He helped me get through college with his albums like Class Clown, AM & FM, and Occupation: Foole. He made you laugh about words and people. I saw him for the first time in concert while living in Fort Worth. He had to leave after 35 minutes. He got sick. He was doing a lot of drugs then, and supposedly he had gotten bad cocaine. I continued to buy his albums. A friend died the same weekend as On the Road came out. He did a routine on death. It got me through my grief for my friend. Listen to "Two Minute Warning". Very funny. When I moved back to Columbia, I got to see George again in the 1980's. He was still funny, but he had gotten more socially conscious. His humor had turned a bit darker in his humor, but he was still funny. I got a t-shirt and book at his show. George was also writing books. I got all of them. George came back to Columbia last year. I couldn't afford the ticket, but I entered a contest and won tickets to the show. He said that he was testing out material for an HBO special and DVD for 2008. I hope the DVD will be released. He was a comic genius, and he shaped a lot of my humor. Although I never personally met George, he was a dear friend in my heart. George said in one of his albums that he didn't want to be buried or cremated. He wanted to be blown up. Boom, there he goes! Thanks, George. You allowed me to laugh.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
There was a baseball player in the early part of the 20th century named Joe Jackson. He got the nickname "Shoeless", because a sportswriter noticed that Joe batted one time without shoes, because he had blisters. It was the only time that Joe batted without shoes, but the nickname stuck. He was a fabulous hitter. Unfortunately, he got involved in a scandal involving fixing the World Series of 1919 and got thrown out of major league baseball. Although nothing was ever proven, he was guilty by association. He has deserved to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he won't as long as he remains to have this guilt over his head. Kind of like Pete Rose. Joe Jackson was from Greenville SC. The city seems to ignore the controversy, as it is a city of forgiveness. Yesterday, they unveiled a new museum honoring Shoeless Joe Jackson. It is in his old house, which was moved near the city's baseball stadium. I went to the opening yesterday. It could have been a hot summer day, but the overcast sky kept things cooler. There were about 200 people there. We had to wait about an hour to get into the museum, because it was small, and they were only letting 6 people at a time into the place. It looks like it would be a good place to visit, if you are interested in baseball. There were a few famous baseball players there yesterday, primarily Bobby Richardson. I had met him, when I was a little kid. As I stood waiting to get in the museum, I was reminded that we must never forget from where we came from. History teaches us many things. And, if we did anything in the past, God forgives. Maybe we should too.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
For most of my life, I have lived in large cities. The only exception was during my college years, where I lived in smaller towns. I had said that, when I retired, I would live in a smaller town. I liked the smaller town, because of the slower pace and the nicer people. Large cities tend to breed folks who don't care about others. They just want to get where they are going, no matter who gets in the way. I have been used to this and am somewhat guilty of doing the same. In my job in customer service, I had to be nice to others, But, when I got off, I went back to being like most everybody else. So, what is different now? I have moved to a place where everyone is polite. People in all kinds of jobs seem nice. I have an idea why, but I can't be sure. I think the reason why is that this area has a wide variety of religious folks. There are several religious schools around. Folks seem to be more interested in faith which translates to their everyday lives. I think about all the transplants from other parts of the country, primarily from the North. They come here and don't leave. Why? I think a reason could be how nice these folks here are. This area is the most populous in the state. I may not stay here the rest of my life. If I leave, I will take the politeness with me. The only problem will be that other cities may interpret my politeness as being flaky. Or, they may become paranoid. Why is he being nice to me? Well, just be nice and take me at face value. If one smiles at a stranger, the result could be contagious. Just a thought.
Friday, June 20, 2008
As we get older, we have to think about where we are going. Not so much physically but more emotionally. There is a theory about a mid-life crisis. I don't know if that is necessarily true, but there comes a time, when one needs to reflect on where they are today, and where they want to be in the future. Perhaps it is just a point in life where one wakes up and realizes that there is more to life. Or maybe it is the old adage that life is too short. Whatever it is, here is what I have found out. Because the older person has a stronger work ethic generally, the younger people, who are usually the ones in power, use the older people. They heap more work on them, knowing it will get done right, but they won't pay them accordingly. In my case, I made a lot of money for Macy's. I did a lot of stuff that wasn't in my job description, because I wanted my store to succeed. However, I wasn't paid for all of this other stuff. My younger supervisors knew how strong I was with my work. They knew how I could do so much stuff like selling, stock work, inventory, and managing departments. They also knew they could walk all over me, because I had to have a job. I didn't wake up one morning and realize I was being used. It was a process. But, that day came when I had to make a change. I am not suggesting that everyone make a change when getting to a certain age, but I think that the ones with a strong work ethic should look at where they are, and do they want to do the same thing later on. And to you younger folk, some of your peers are very good. They have a strong work ethic. Others seem to be a bit jealous of your elders and want to look big, so you boss them around. You should treat people like you want to be treated. If you give someone a new job, you had better be prepared to do it yourself. If you don't know how to do something, and you know that an older worker can do it better than you, then that is the time to educate yourself. After all, you will get older, and someone younger will come along and fire you, because you didn't know how to do something. Think about it. In the meanwhile, the younger person may find themselves doing the work, because the older person is making a change in life. It is all about being prepared. When I visit my old store, I hear that people miss me. They miss my work. They miss my sales. I guess they should have thought about that earlier. Use me but don't abuse me. If you abuse me, it is bye bye. Life is too short.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Have you ever thought about "What if..."? What if I went into another line of work? What if I had majored in another subject in college? What if I had met that person at that time? What if I had been born to other parents? What if I had lived in that other place? What if...? When I graduated from college, some folks wanted me to go to New York or Los Angeles and become a professional actor, but I didn't want to. I wanted to teach. That didn't happen either. Some doors closed and others opened. "Regrets, I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention." In life, one must learn from the past and go forward. Too many people look backward about what was and forget that time is gone. The future is coming. It must be better than what was. I bring this up because of something going on. The Cobbwebs is in jeopardy of breaking up again. Why? Because our new music doesn't seem to be in the same style as that we did 10 years ago. At least, not in one person's mind. We have matured and so has our sound. I think our sound is more commercial, and isn't that why a band releases music? To make money? I don't like to compare our music to other bands, but forgive me for this. Look at The Beatles. In 1962, they were playing R&B covers and simple songs. When they hit the US in 1964, their music was almost entirely love songs. Why? Because they sold. As the decade went on, their music progressed. It became more experimental by 60's standards. It was almost entirely different than that from the beginning. But, their sales skyrocketed. In some ways, they were pioneers in the music world. In other ways, they were reacting to the styles of other artists during that time. In the world of Beatles music, there are fans who just like the early stuff. There are others who just like the later stuff. There are still others who like everything. I am in that third group. When we went to Beatlefest in Chicago, there was a great debate as to which was the best Beatles music. I said everything. So, I bring it back to The Cobbwebs. We have had music that started as covers of other songs. The covers were almost exact mirrors of the original artists. Then, we began writing our own music. It was influenced from a variety of artists: The Beatles, The Monkees, The Byrds, The Hollies, Yes, The Rolling Stones, Electric Light Orchestra, and many more. But, the music was our own. I was excited that the music I had written for many years was finally being recorded. We did a cd and released it. It seems that some folks were knocked out by our style. They thought it was exciting. We even made the top ten in Portugal. Then, we fought. We disagreed on how to proceed. The Cobbwebs stopped recording, although we still wrote and produced without being called "The Cobbwebs". Then, we decided to do another cd 7 years later. We had matured. We were listening to other music. We were having other influences. It wasn't quite the same. Recording was a little more sophisticated. It wasn't that raw band from before. We had grown. The music was more commercial. Isn't that what you record stuff for? To make money? But, there are questions about why it isn't exactly like it was in the old days. I fear we are going to break up again, because someone heard opinions from some who thought it didn't sound the same. If The Beatles had listened to those who just liked the 1964 music, then there would have been no "Yesterday", "Hey Jude" or "Revolution". If The Rolling Stones had listened to their early fans, there would have been no "Gimme Shelter", "I Know It's Only Rock N Roll", or "Paint It Black". The list is endless. So, the music will go on. We will continue to be creative in one form or another. But, it would be a shame if the music isn't heard, whether by us or by others. If we don't, it will be one more regret. It would be a tragedy. Can't we all just get along?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I had a fun day yesterday. Any birthday should be a fun day. So, I went to the zoo. I hadn't been in a while, and I really like the zoo. I had put in for a membership, but I hadn't gotten the card in the mail. I told the woman that fact and asked her if she could look up my name, and she said no, but she would take my word for it. I guess I sounded sincere. I got to see new animals. I guess that is the natural progression. Adults give way to babies. As I was walking around, I looked down and saw a snake on the sidewalk. It was a little scary. I don't know if it was poisonous, but I didn't stick around to find out. I stayed at the zoo for a couple of hours until it got hot. Despite the fact that this was my day, I discovered something about life. I used to think that life revolved around me. I was the center of the world. I used people for my own pleasure. I discovered yesterday that there are people close to me that are going through very tough times. I am not going to name names, but they know who they are. If you are a somewhat religious person, please pray to God that my friends will find strength. God knows their names. So, that brings up a point. All of us have our own individual lives. We have different loves. We like different foods. We listen to different music. We watch different TV and movies. We have different friends. We travel to different places. But, when we come together, we realize that we have common bonds. So, I guess that's what friends are for. Thanks to my friends for making my birthday a memorable one. And, think good thoughts for my friends as they have to make some important decisions over the next few days.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Today is my legal birthday. There are a lot of memories surrounding it, although I don't remember the first couple of birthdays. I have heard stories about them. I was born on a Wednesday. When I came into this world, I was enrolled in Sunday School at First Baptist Church in New Orleans on the first day. I have seen pictures of me from that time, and I must admit that I was a cute baby. I know, everybody has cute babies, but I truly was. In fact, my brother won an award at school for having a cute brother. I guess time changes things, and cuteness goes away, but for that time, I was cute. I remember some of the early birthday parties. My mother loved to throw birthday parties. As I got older, the parties became more of a private thing. They always got cards for me. For a time, I got very defensive about how old I was. After all, I was older than most of my friends at work. In fact, going back a minute. When I was 14, I took swimming lessons. Everybody else there were like 6 years old, and I had to lie to them that I was big for my age. So anyway, I accepted my age a few years ago. I was acting and playing younger parts, because I looked younger than I was. The State newspaper was writing an article about me and my two friends on our big Beatles collection. I told the writer not to publish my age, and he assured me he wouldn't. When the article came out, it said: "Walter Durst, 39". I called him and asked him why they did it, and he said that it was paper policy to publish ages. After that, I had to come to terms with my age. Now, it is kind of good, because I get senior discounts, even though I am not there yet. I don't tell them different. So, today is my legal birthday. Maybe not the one that is more important to me, which is my emotional birthday of January 4th, but it is still the one that is on my driver's license. Happy Birthday to me.
Monday, June 16, 2008
I was on the interstate today. Everyone was moving along nicely, and traffic was kind of heavy. All of a sudden, brake lights came on ahead, and everyone had slowed to a crawl. Some trucks were exiting the highway to go around the bottleneck. As we inched forward, I looked ahead, and I saw some patrol cars' blue lights. Beyond the lights, traffic was moving smoothly. As I got closer, I saw that there was an accident involving a pickup truck, a motorcycle and a camper. The wreck looked pretty bad. A few people were standing around. But, everything was out of the roadway and in the median. So, why was traffic at a standstill? Because, folks wanted to slow down and look at the wreck. I hate rubberneckers. Folks in traffic can't do anything about what has happened, except for maybe praying for the victims, if there are any. It is just our tabloid mentality. We want to see the bad things that have happened to other people. In the larger cities, folks are so immune to accidents that they just drive on. It becomes a way of life. I am sorry that this accident happened today, and I hope no one was badly injured, but we all don't need to slow down so much that we are going less than 10mph on a busy highway, when we don't have to.
My birthday is coming up tomorrow. Everytime I have one, it is a celebration, because they all seem so unlikely. Not being married, and family be far flung, it is kind of hard sometimes to celebrate my birthday, so I am making it happen this year. I am going on a little road trip to Columbia to be with my friends. As I have said many times here, friends mean the world to me. They are my extended family. Even though I celebrate two birthdays, the other being January 4th, the one tomorrow is the one that will be on my tombstone. So, look out my friends. I am coming!!!
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Today is Father's Day. For many, your father is still living. For some like me, your father has gone on. I wanted to tell you a little about my father, at least what I knew. His name was John K. Durst III, but I knew him as Daddy. When we first met, he was a teacher at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He taught Religious Education. A couple of years after I was born, Daddy got his doctorate in Religious Education at Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, where he had gotten his Master's degree about 20 years before, and was where he met my Mother. Daddy would commute by train from New Orleans to Ft. Worth. In 1958, he was asked to come to South Carolina to be the Director of the Sunday School Department for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. We moved back to his home state. Daddy was a pioneer in Religious Education. It is believed that he was the first full-time Minister of Education in a church. He was the first person to incorporate an architecture consultant for churches on a state level. He led conferences around the world, and he knew everybody. Everybody knew Daddy. Even if he didn't remember their names, he was always gracious and never let on that he didn't remember names too well. He exposed us to a lot. We went to a lot of places, and he introduced us to a lot of people. One of the highlights of his life was leading Sunday School leadership conferences in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and then travelling around the world. He was gone a lot, so Mother raised me mostly. When Daddy was home, he was a disciplinarian. "Spare the rod and spoil the child" were words he lived by, much to the hurt of my bottom. I had problems with Daddy, as he wouldn't let me do a lot of stuff like playing cards and dancing. Some people can't identify with that, but if you lived in a minister's house, you would know. He provided a lot for me, like sending me to college and to Europe. He pulled some strings to get me into college, since my grades were not too good. That's where I blossomed. Daddy retired in 1976, after suffering a heart attack. He had a lot of heart problems after that. I seemed to be home every time he had an attack, so I could get him to the hospital. It was weird, but I think God was looking out for him. He took interim pastorates in Columbia in his retirement years. Even though he never said, we felt it was an insult that the SC Baptist Convention didn't use him as a consultant after he retired, but there was a lot of jealousy with the new director, so Daddy did other things. Daddy was a very humble man. He could have had a big ego with all he did, but he was someone who let others have the credit. I didn't even realize how much he did until about 2 years before he died. In 1994, Daddy and Mother moved to Martha Franks Retirement Home in Laurens, SC. He didn't want to move, and fought it. But, after about 3 months, he got okay with the move, because he saw a lot of folks there that he had known throughout his years in South Carolina. After all, the facility was owned by the Baptists. We had to take away Daddy's drivers license, because he was having trouble remembering how to drive. We took away Daddy's independence. When I would visit Daddy, he would ask me to take him to the drug store or Wal-mart. When I would ask him why he didn't ask someone there to take him, he said he didn't want to bother them. That was Daddy. He died in 1999, after suffering from heart disease and pneumonia. The last time I spoke with him, he told me something that he did many times--"We love you, and we're proud of you." That was Daddy. When my brother and I went to Laurens to see Daddy in the hospital, he was in a coma and not doing well. He was gasping for air. The doctor said that even if he would wake up, he wouldn't know us. We went back to Martha Franks and told Mother about Daddy's condition. She told us--"Let him go." She was suffering from a bad stroke. We went back to the hospital and told the doctor what Mother had said. We then went back to Columbia. By the time we got home, Daddy had gone. We had a funeral in Laurens for the residents there. Mother was not strong enough to go to the cemetery in Greenwood, about 30 miles away. Some friends and family came. We were quite moved by the turnout. I don't know how to explain it, but when Daddy died, he gave me the quality of being humble. Before, I had a big ego, mainly through my work in acting and writing. After, I realized a lot about what is important in life. Family and friends. Daddy wrote a lot of letters to family and friends. He cared about others. He cared about where he had come from. He cared about being a father. So, on this Father's Day, think about your father. If you are close, give him a hug literally or figuratively. If you are not close, think a good thought about him. To all fathers today--"We love you and are proud of you". Thanks, Daddy.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
There are a lot of memorials on Tim Russert today. He was a journalist, a father, a friend, and a good guy. I did not know him personally, but I watched him all the time on TV. You could see the twinkle in his eye, as he loved what he did. One tragic thing about his death was how close it came to Father's Day. He will be so closely associated with Father's Day through the love for his son and his books about his father. If one can take a lesson from all of this, you need to not take life for granted and you need to love life. Love what you do. Have fun. Do good things. Whatever is your work, do the best that you can do. Don't forget your family, especially your parents. They brought you into this world. And, when it is your time to go onto Heaven, may someone say about you how much you loved life and did the best you could to make it just a little better. Rest in peace, Tim. You were a good guy.
Friday, June 13, 2008
There is much in the news about the tragedy at the Boy Scout camp in Iowa being hit by a tornado. It is so sad that 4 scouts died and others were injured, but it is so uplifting with the stories of heroism that other scouts did. But, if you ask the scouts themselves, they will not tell you that they are heroes. They will just say that they were doing what they were trained to do. I was a Boy Scout. I started out as a Cub Scout at Eastminster Presbyterian Church. We learned about groups and crafts. We also learned about the importance of caring for others. I then went on to be a Boy Scout at St. Martin's In The Fields Episcopal Church and First Baptist Church. We learned how to do First Aid; how to camp; and how to survive. We also had a lot of fun. One could have fun and learn stuff at the same time. There were a lot of life's lessons in Scouting. One fun lesson was that one cannot play a harmonica without breathing through one's nose, because you will hyperventilate. I did that to the song "Flowers on the Wall". But, I digress. My friend John Cathcart, who I worked with at White Oak, was an Eagle Scout. He could do just about anything, because Scouting taught him to do so. I just made it to Second Class. Scouting doesn't seem to be as important in most areas of the country. When I was growing up, just about everybody I knew was in Scouts. Perhaps if it were stressed in today's world, if more kids were in Scouting, there would be better kids and less crime. Just a thought.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
It is time for a History lesson. In the 1970's, there was a movement to make as much different music as possible. In the early 1970's, it was mostly easy listening pop like America, Carole King, James Taylor, and many more. The music could be played on the radio. There was also soul music. I loved Isaac Hayes. It was sort of like jazz was raising its head. Piano music from Elton John and Billy Joel was popular. Acoustic guitar was big too. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Chicago was big with horns. Then, in the mid-1970's, some soul artists were thinking about dance music, and Disco evolved. Johnnie Taylor, George MacRae, and Andrea True were the pioneers. Then, Disco exploded with manufactured music in the studios. Village People, Dan Hartman, Gloria Gaynor, Lipps Inc, Thelma Houston, and Rod Stewart did Disco. "Saturday Night Fever" came along, and The Bee Gees were reborn. It was an exciting time. I loved that music, and still do. The music makes me happy. I am not much one of a dancer, although I could do okay on the dance floor. With Disco, you could goof around and look like you were dancing. You could even make up dances, or say you did. People dressed up to go to the discos. I had wide bell bottoms and polyester pants. I also had big collar shirts. It was a great time. I suppose it helped more to drink heavily. I knew something about that. I was living in Texas at the time. When I moved back to South Carolina in 1979, Disco was dying out, but there were still clubs in SC into the early 1980's, when the rest of the country had moved on to other genres. Maybe it is because SC tends to be a little late in trends. So, if you happen to hear "Macho Man", think of me dancing. Yes, it is funny, but at the same time, it is a bit of innocence that has been lost. Most of the Disco artists don't record anymore. Sometimes, you see them on retro shows on TV. "Stayin' Alive"
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I have a Myspace site and have for quite awhile. The address is myspace/wdurst. It is very interesting to keep in touch with old friends, and some not so old. I also can keep in touch with some of my favorite musicians like Bob Dylan and Ringo Starr. As I am not the most tech savvy person on the planet, I have recently discovered posting pictures on the site, so I have been searching the Web for pictures that mean something to me. So far, I have three albums. One has pictures of me and my friends. The second has pictures of films that I have been in. The third has pictures of places that I have visited. I am also planning at least two more albums. One of famous people I have met, and another of famous people I have seen. I have several websites out there. Three of them involve selling records and tapes. One is a Music Birthdays site. I also have a Facebook site, and of course this blog. One of my favorite movies is "My Fellow Americans" with Jack Lemmon, James Garner, and Dan Aykroyd. Lemmon and Garner played former Presidents, and Aykroyd played the current President. In one scene, Aykroyd accused Lemmon of making money on his past presidency by books, dolls, and appearing in Japan with a stuffed panda. Lemmon countered by saying that he never did it for the money. He just wanted a taste of what he once was. There is a lesson in that. I have a lot of websites to remind people that I am still out there. I may not be the most successful person, or the most wealthy, or the most powerful, or the most athletic. But, I do have some qualities like caring, loyalty, and creativity. And, I have friends.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
We had a storm last night and caused the power to go out for an hour and a half. It was hotter inside than out with no AC, plus the humidity built up inside, which made it worse. So, folks started venturing out of their homes, and we had interaction between strangers. It was actually kind of strange to see. Neighbors were talking, who normally wouldn't give each other the time of day. Black and white had a common ground--no electricity. Also, I thought about the things we take for granted. Electricity is the main one. Without sounding simplified, think about all of those that don't have a cool room or a way to cook easily. Say a prayer for them. When Hurricane Hugo came through, we were without power for 10 days. We coped. The neighborhood came together. A man had a generator, and we ran power cords all over the neighborhood for essentials. Other things we take for granted--family and friends. When I went to the reunion in Richmond a couple of weeks ago, I discovered family I didn't know I had. Reunions and funerals are situations that you will understand the importance of family. As to friends, my goal in life is to never take my friends for granted, whether they want me to or not. I reach out to those, who I haven't seen seen in years, just to say hello. Others, I keep in touch with on a daily basis. They know who they are. Friends are extremely important to my survival. If you have read my blog for any length of time, you would know that I would be dead now if not for friends. I don't know how much longer I have on this earth, but I know that I will never take my friends for granted. Thanks.
Monday, June 9, 2008
In 1972, I got a summer job working in a parking lot at a bank. The job required that I work outside, which I didn't mind. It was across the street from a hotel downtown. The Osmonds stayed there one night after a concert. The next morning, their bus pulled up to the side to take them away. Little girls were screaming, "We love you Donny". He waved at them from the back of the bus, as it was pulling away. The girls ran behind the bus, inhaling the exhaust. The parking lot was a block away from the State House. I was told when hired that the parking lot was for bank customers only, and I was not to allow others to park for free and go shopping. I learned early on that people with state license plates could park there for free, if it was government business, or even if it wasn't. One afternoon, a woman parked her car and walked off. It was there for quite a while. I checked in the bank and called around. Nobody knew of that car, so I called the tow truck to take it away. The owner came back, and it turned out that she had been applying for a bank job. I was sent out to get her car back from the towing service. I don't know if she got the job, but I know some money changed hands. The parking lot was pretty small. It only held around 30 cars. Because it was so tight, I would often have to help customers back out of places to let others come in. One day, I was helping a woman in a Cadillac back out to let a Volkswagen pull in. The Cadillac woman was doing okay, but when she got out of the spot, she stepped on the gas and her car was still in reverse. She crushed me between her car and the VW. I felt pain but managed to crawl out onto the hood of the VW and rolled off. I was hobbling. The woman in the Cadillac asked if I was okay, and I said yes, and she sped off. The woman in the VW pulled into the spot and suggested I go inside the bank. I did, and the bank people said I needed to go to the hospital to be checked out. The hospital was 3 blocks away. When I got there, they x-rayed my legs but didn't see anything broken. They said that I just has a deep bruise, but I would be okay. I was in some pain, but I trusted the doctors. 2 years later, I developed some pain in my right knee, and my parents took me to a doctor. He did some x-rays and found that I was walking around on a dislocated knee and had been for 2 years. He said that he could fix it, but I would have to be in a cast. If I chose not to have it fixed, I would develop arthritis when I reached 40. I was 21, so 40 seemed a long way off. Besides, I was in college and was doing plays, so I didn't want a cast. I opted to do nothing. Over time, my leg and skeleton adjusted to the change. My right foot is a little wider than the left, due to the change in alignment. My little toe on my right foot is turned under. I have a slight limp. I talked to a specialist a few years ago, and he told me to never have an emergency room diagnose a joint issue, because they are not trained to do so. Words to live by. I tried to stay in shape by walking and running to keep my leg muscles strong, but I did start getting arthritis in my knee, when I reached 40. It is just another example of why I am so special. Feel the love.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
I got my car fixed at no extra cost. Good news. Now, to a topic we can all identify with--the price of oil. Everyone is complaining how much gas costs, which translates to the cost of food and everything else. Complaining is good, because we are all in the same boat. It gives us a common bond. But, let's look how we came to this point. Did you know that people caused this problem? There are a group of people called speculators. They make up numbers on how much they think the price should be, based on usage and the possibility of hurricanes or other natural disasters. The price may not be what the oil is worth, but it is the price these people think it should be worth. Then, guess what? Other people (oil company stockholders) make gobs of money, because these speculators inflate the prices. So, people are getting very rich at your expense. Politicians make all these promises about drilling for more oil or building more refineries. Do you know how long that would take??? We don't have time. These politicians won't get elected until November. That is 5 months away. Then, they won't take office until January 2009. That is 7 months away. In the meantime, everyone is suffering. Politicians make more money than you or I will probably ever see. They have drivers and an expense account. They do not feel the pinch that the rest of us do. They live in ivory towers. They are a lot of hot air and do not truly care about the people. All they care about is getting relected to their cushy jobs. So, what can we do? Demand that they do something now, or else we are not going to vote for them. Demand that they prosecute speculators for driving up the prices. Demand that they prosecute oil company executives that profit on the poor. Demand that the President sign an executive order to suspend the federal tax on gas. Demand that the oil reserves be tapped to increase supply. And, if all else fails, use our Army to take over the oil fields of Iraq. They are over there anyway. You can make a difference.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Here I sit in the AAA Car Care Center in Greenville. Yesterday, my brake lights failed to go off, which drained the battery, and I got it fixed here. Last night, it happened again. This morning, my battery had to be jumped, and I am back with my car. Hopefully, it will be cheaper this time. It is kind of funny to me how much I fret over my car, but it does allow me a measure of independence. I didn't get any sleep last night worrying about my car. It didn't help that it was very hot, and I had trouble breathing. So, let's hope for the best yet. My car will turn 20 next year. I suppose I need a new car, so if anyone wants to get rid of one, and it runs, please let me know. It just needs to get good gas mileage and be an automatic transmission. If anybody sees Joni, ask her if she wants to get rid of her convertible. Have a happy day. I know I will.
Friday, June 6, 2008
My car is possessed. Actually, it is broken and needs to be fixed. My roommate arrived last night and announced that my brake lights were on. How could that be, if everything was cut off? Apparently, there is a switch behind the brake pedal that is faulty, and the lights stayed on. At least, that is what I think happened. But, the battery was drained, because it had been going on all afternoon, since I didn't go out, as it was so hot. So, I'll have to get a new battery and get the problem fixed. Yes, I need a new car, but I can't afford it, so I have to get this done today. It's always something.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Rich's had a promotion to see how many employees could take care of their fish. Each person got a Japanese fighting fish, and we put them in small bowls. The fish were placed by the registers throughout the store. A few customers complained that it was wrong to do this, as it was cruel to the fish, but the store was trying to promote the caring of others, which would translate into the caring of customers. My fish was named Herman. He was brown and red. Herman was a good fish. I fed him and changed his water. I found a small Pooh bear that a child had left, and I put it next to the bowl. Herman loved Pooh. He would spend hours just staring at Pooh. There would be times that I would move Pooh away, and Herman would get very lethargic. When I put Pooh back, Herman would get excited. It was love. A friend bought a small aquarium for me, and I took Herman and Pooh home with me. Herman liked his new home, because he could swim further, and I put Pooh next to the aquarium, so that Herman could be with his friend. One day, I got the bright idea that Herman would like a fish friend, so I found a plastic fish, and I attached it with a paper clip, and put it in the aquarium. I didn't know that the rusted paper clip would be poisonous to Herman. He died. It was a sad day. I had a funeral for him and flushed him down the toilet. I got a second fish and put Pooh next to the bowl, but it wasn't interested in Pooh. I learned a lesson about love. Herman loved Pooh. Not everyone loves the same people. Who I may love, someone else might not be interested in. They say that there is a person for everyone. I am still looking for that person. I may be closer. Oooo, cryptic. Pooh?
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Pets are very important to make life more fulfilled. I haven't had much luck with pets. When we moved to Columbia, we bought a cocker spaniel named Brownie. I was 5. Brownie was very active. He ate my teddy bear, which was very traumatic. We gave Brownie away, when we moved to another house. Brownie was a small dog, but when we visited him a year later at his new home, he had grown into a horse, or at least it seemed that way from a small child's viewpoint. Later on, I had a rabbit, Easter chicks, some turtles, fish, and birds. Not all at the same time. All of them died in one form or another. Except for one of the birds. He flew away, when I was cleaning his cage, and the door came open. If anyone were to dig up our back yard, they are going to think it was a graveyard, and in a sense it was. As I got older, we adopted the birds and squirrels in our yard. We would provide water for them in a bowl, and we would feed them bread and food scraps. We had cardinals, bluejays, sparrows, robins, doves, blackbirds, and squirrels. They all seemed to work together without too much problems. And, they all had jobs. The squirrel would let us know if there was a cat in the yard, or if there were any other dangers. He also would let us know when it was time to eat. The robin would wait for the paper carrier in the morning, and would stand next to the paper, until we went outside to get it. The bluejay would announce to others that the food had come. The blackbirds would take their bread to the water bowl, and dunk them before eating. Some of them lived there year round. Others would come and go, but each Spring they would return. It was as if there was a big sign on our roof saying to stop there. When I moved to an apt., I had a balcony, so I could feed the birds and squirrels. I had a water bowl, bread and bird seed. The birds would fly in. The squirrels would either climb the brick wall to the balcony or use a limb to get there. They were very smart. Now, that I have moved again, I don't have a balcony and am unable to put out a bird feeder. I miss being able to help those, and I hope that someone has taken over my job.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
It is now the time for a psychological exam. I was wondering about life's stages. Do some people just go along through life from child to adult in a seamless way? Do others go through life in stops and starts? If so, I am in the second group. So, would the people who knew me as a child be surprised at my life now? Would the people who know me now be surprised about my life from years ago? I say yes. For one thing, I don't know many people now who knew me a long time ago. So, what are my life's stages? It is hard to pinpoint, but I think I can try. First, there was the New Orleans years until I was 5. I remember my friend Paul Price. The rest was centered around my family. Second, there was the early years in Columbia. That would take into account the elementary school time. Third, there was the junior high years that are mostly a blur thanks to the constant being beaten up. Fourth, there was the high school years, where my life was saved by the Youth Group at Kilbourne Park. Fifth, there was my college years, where I discovered my talents and some mind-altering stuff. Sixth, there was my seminary years in Ft. Worth, where I discovered more mind-altering stuff. Seventh, there was my job years, where I began making life-long friends. I may still be in the 7th stage, or possibly the beginning of an 8th stage. I think my life has been more full by having several stages of life. I think I have been a more well-rounded person. I am sorry that there are folks out there who experience nothing, and therefore have one stage. When I share my stories with others, they seem amazed as to what I have done. For example, who knew that I was one of the most sought after dramatists in the late 1970's? Who knew that I was in movies and TV, and people called me to be in their projects? Who knew that I was a nationally published writer? Who knew that I was a manager/buyer for a large department store and was recognized for being the best? My friends today may not know. They see me who I am now. That's where my stories come in. Some may think I make this stuff up, but I don't. I have lived a very full life. My birthday is coming up soon. What do I have to look forward to? Looking for love. Hopefully not in all the wrong places. Looking for success. Maybe one day. Looking to live another day. One day at a time.
Monday, June 2, 2008
There was a high school teacher named Mr. Musgrove. He was one of the faculty advisors for the National Forensic League at our school. We would have to go to debate tournaments in Bluefield, WV. So, he would drive us through the mountains. If you were unlucky to be in his car at night, he would turn off his headlights to go on the winding roads. He claimed that he could see the road better without the lights. He had a lot of scared kids praying that they would not die that night. Mr. Musgrove was a little crazy. I often wondered if he was just doing it as a joke, or was he really serious. But, he never had a wreck. Years later, when I worked at White Oak, I had a co-worker named John Cathcart. He was still in high school, but he was a very good worker. John had a pickup truck. One night, he asked if some of us wanted to ride down Sherman's Road. Supposedly, it was a road that General Sherman took in his march through South Carolina, and it ran near the conference center. So, of course I said yes, as did two of the girls that worked with us. John, Angela, Suzanne and me were crammed into the front seat of the truck and off we went. The road turned out to be a dirt road with no lights. There were boards over ditches, that you had to line up your tires with the boards to cross the ditches. John turned off his lights, as he said he could see the trail better. I screamed like a girl, as did the two girls. Being against the door, if the truck fell off the board, I would get it first. John thought it was funny, until we begged him to turn around and go back. We found a house in the middle of the woods to turn around. When we did, a man came running out with a shotgun, as he thought we were tresspassing. At that point, we didn't care if the truck was lined up with the boards. The man fired a shot, but it didn't hit us. A few years later, I was driving a rental car in Charlotte at night. People coming the other way were flashing their lights at me. I thought a cop was around, so I would slow down. I realized, after going several blocks, that I didn't have my lights on. I thought they were, since the street lights were so bright. I don't suggest that you try and drive without lights at night. If you are being followed, it might be a good idea, but that's about it.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
The President came to Greenville yesterday for a brief visit to address the Furman graduates. The Secret Service didn't want to tell what route he would take from the airport to Furman, but it was pretty easy to figure out. I drove out to Furman and saw the police cars on certain roads, so I put it together. There were gobs of cops around. I decided to camp out at a busy intersection, figuring it would be the best location to see him pass by. I was the first one there just before 5pm. It was hot. Slowly, more folks started to gather. Just after 7pm, the heliocopter passed over the area, signaling the motorcade was coming. The police sealed off the intersection. I was standing next to a little girl with a nice sign she made. She got on the news, and I was shown next to her. Then came the sirens. The police on motorcycles. The Secret Service cars, and then two limos with flags on the front. They sped through the intersection doing at least 70mph. We all waved. In the blink of an eye, the President was gone. We all just stood there in shock. Was that it? Then we left. I know he was running a little late, but they could have slowed down just a little for us to see him. So, does it count in seeing the President, if I see his car going by? Does it count that he may have seen me standing next to the little girl with the sign? Does a blur count? I guess so, but it will come with an asterisk. Can we the people share a moment with the President of the United States? Sad world. If anybody knows how I can see the President without being connected, please let me know.