Reflections on Interesting People I Have Met
Probably the most famous person I’ve ever met is former President of the United States, George W. Bush. Fortunately for us the Republican Party in Texas was headed, at one time, by our local Chet Upham. Chet assisted future President George W. when he was stumping around Texas for his father, George H. W. Bush’s, campaign. It was a sort of whistle stop experience meeting in a darkened parking lot at the Brazos Shopping Center, but I can say I shook the hand of a President!
The first famous person I ever remember meeting was Gene Autry. When I was a child, growing up in Stephenville, Gene Autry owned part of the Dublin Rodeo. You see, Stephenville, Cowboy Capital of the World, did not have a rodeo arena. We all went to Dublin to the rodeo, and Autry alway rode in the parade. Mostly, each year, he was as drunk as a skunk and almost fell off his horse, Champion. My daddy used to be very disgusted that someone who was such a kid favorite would be such a terrible role model! On the other hand, Daddy often sang Gene's song, Sioux City Sue, to me!
The second famous person I remember meeting was Rex Allen, another cowboy actor, with his horse Koko when he made an appearance at the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo. As you can tell, we were a rodeo family. Daddy and I attended lots of rodeos, and I was a barrel racer.
Two men who impressed me when I was a department manager, windows designer, and public relation person for Cokesbury in Dallas were Richard Harris, later famous for his Dumbledore character in the first Harry Potter movies, and sports journalist Howard Cosell. I had them both in for signings.
Harris came in wearing a light tan leisure suit with bell bottoms, his shirt unbuttoned to the waist, gold chains around his neck, and a blond dripping from his arm. He had just made a recording reading the story Jonathan Livingston Seagull which was written by Richard Bach. Harris had won a Grammy for his recording. He seemed very stuck-up and acted as though he shouldn’t be bothered.
Howard Cosell, who had a very bad rap at the time, was totally different. He came into the store with his wife. He had several books out, and when the autograph session opened we had little boys and teenagers lined up around the building trying to get Cosell’s signature. When time came for the session to be over, there were still fifty or so boys waiting to have their books autographed, so Mr. Cosell called his wife aside, told her to change their airplane tickets to a later flight, and continued to autograph his books until the last child was through the line. That impressed me greatly!
I held signings for people like Texas authors Lon Tinkle and Larry McMurtry, as well, and I got to know quite a few of the television and radio personalities of the day.
I have met a few other celebrities, as well. When I was a child Pat Boone had a “Dance Band” sort of program on television from the Metroplex, and I went to it and met him. Of course, at UNT I met his mentor, “Fessor Graham, who was my music appreciation teacher.
I have also met my favorite singer/songwritier Guy Clark on many occasions, both in Nashville and here in Texas. I met Willie and lived down the street from Waylon in Nashville. I met Johnny Cash and June and his parents at their studio where his mother entertained us on the piano. I met Webb Pierce at his home and would have been able to swim in his guitar-shaped swimming pool had I wished (Raf did). I met Lamar Alexander and helped with his campaign for governor of Tennessee.
I’m quite sure there are others whom I have missed, but it’s been really quite interested, and, in most cases, a pleasure to meet these folks and to have tales to tell about them!
*This week's Reflections column from the Mineral Wells Index.