Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Beatles

 My Mother loved music.  We often hear show tunes or easy listening music, while we had supper.  She especially loved "Camelot" and wrote a letter to Richard Burton thanking him for the music.  He wrote her back.  In February 1964, I was 10 years old.  My Mother told me that there was going to be some musicians on "The Ed Sullivan Show" Sunday night, and I should watch it.  It was some guys called The Beatles.  She had heard their music on the radio and thought I would like it.
 I sat down in front of the TV, and when they came on that show, I was zapped through the screen.  I fell in love with the four mop tops from Liverpool.  My Mother bought every album of theirs for me through the years, until I could afford to buy them on my own.  Around that time, I wrote a song called "People".  I put music to it.  Strangely, a group called Herman's Hermits came out with a song 3 months later called "Listen People".  The tune was very close, as were some of the words.  I wish I had known about suing back then. 
 Two guys at my church went with me to a Sunday School outing on Lake Murray at our teacher's house.  His name was Mr. Cloyd, and he had a thumb that didn't have a bone in it, and kind of laid limp.  It was kind of gross, but he was a nice guy.  Dick Edwards, Jimmy Coleman, and I formed a band called "Dickie, Dirty, and Jimmie".  We sang Beatle songs all the way back from the lake.  We never performed live, although there was so talk about doing roller rinks. 
 That night in 1964, in front of the TV, started a life-long love for popular music, especially The Beatles.  When my Mother died in 2004, I put a small Paul McCartney button in her casket as a token of thanks for her introducing me to that music.  I guess in 10,000 years from now, some guy will find the button and make millions of dollars from it.  All the best to him.

Monday, June 29, 2015

3rd Grade

 My 3rd grade teacher was Mrs. Southern.  She is still living, as of this writing, and she goes to my church.  She believed in Show and Tell.  One day, she was teaching us about buying stuff and money.  She brought small boxes of cereal to show a grocery store.  I, along with some other boys, didn't care about buying anything.  We ate the cereal.  We got in trouble.  Another time, she brought coffee beans to school to show where coffee came from.  I ate the beans and got very sick.  To this day, I don't drink coffee.  I blame all of that on Mrs. Southern.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


 When I was 5, I was finding out that I had a creative mind.  There was a cereal that I liked called "OK Cereal".  Yogi Bear was the spokesperson for it.  It was kind of like Cheerios, if I remember right.  So, I got the bright idea to write a TV commercial for the cereal.  My Mother helped me a little bit with the typing, but it was my idea.
 I don't remember all the wording, but the gist was that there were three kids with cereal bowls.  One had Brand X, and the kid got sick eating it.  The next was Brand Y, and the kid got sicker eating it.  Then came OK Cereal, and that kid said "OK is ok".  We didn't have an address to the cereal company, so we sent it to a Yogi Bear comic book address.  They wrote back to me, and said that it was very creative and wanted to talk with me in about 18 years.  Of course, the Yogi Bear comic book and OK Cereal weren't made 18 years later, but it was the start of my writing career.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The West 1962

 In 1962, we went back to New Mexico.  I loved Santa Fe.  The altitude made it hard to breathe.  At Glorieta, they actually had oxygen stations throughout the area to give folks a boost.  I suffer from asthma, so that was a help.  The first time we were there, I asked my Mother what was the name of the trees.  She said they were Aspen.  My cute response was "Bayer or St. Joseph's".  I had a lot of cute responses for a child.  The beauty of the area struck me more on our second trip to New Mexico.  Upon leaving there, a lightning bolt struck right in front of our car.  Pretty scary.
 Also on that trip, we went to Colorado.  My brother was about to graduate from high school, and he wanted to see the Air Force Academy.  We also went to Colorado Springs, where my brother and I had another snowball fight in June.  The most impressive spot on our trip was the Garden of the Gods.  If you have a chance to see it, go. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mays Park

When we moved from Burney Drive to Belmont Drive, there was a period of time where I still had to go to kindergarten.  Mays Park was about 4 blocks away, and all the kids in the neighborhood went there.  I had a lot of fun there.  No more strict discipline from Mrs. Pow.  No more memorization of The Bible.  Just a lot of play; some naps; and a little snack.  At the end of the session, they dressed us all up in white caps and gowns and gave us diplomas.  We also had an orchestra, where we all played instruments for the parents.  Originally, I had two sticks to knock together, but I was given a triangle to play.  I was so cool.
 A couple of other things about Burney Drive--that winter it snowed.  My Mother didn't want me out much, but I did play in the front yard.  We had a big bush near the front steps.  The branches froze, and I actually walked up the bush a few feet on the frozen bush.  It was kind of weird.  We also made snow ice cream.  It was good back then, but I wouldn't suggest it now.  The other thing was we gave our dog Brownie to our next door neighbors, when we moved.  They were glad to get him, and we were glad to see him go. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

First Grade

 A couple of things from my first grade.  I went to Crayton, although we used to call it "Crayton Elementary Public Penitentiary".  Standing in line one day to go into the classroom, I learned there was a difference between suicide and murder.  We talked about a lot of stuff with the other students.
 It was also the time for the Presidential elections between Kennedy and Nixon.  Us kids decided to do an informal poll of the students.  There were some stairs separated in the middle by a railing.  If you went down one side, you for Kennedy.  If you went down the other side, you were for Nixon.  Stanley Hammer was in charge of the Kennedy side.  Jim True and me had the Nixon side.  Nixon won by a landslide.
 Amazing how things would change.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


 In the fall of 1958, after getting back from our great vacation that summer, my father announced that we were moving to Columbia, SC.  I was very upset.  I had to say goodbye to best friend Paul.  I had to leave the only place I knew.  No more going to the zoo.  No more playing in the park.  No more putting my toes in the lake.  No more riding on the rides at the park.  No more Mardi Gras.  No more N.O.
 We moved to Columbia around Thanksgiving.  We rented a house on Burney Drive.  There was a kid next door named Jim, who was my age.  So, we joked about Jim Walter Homes.  I guess it was funnier back then.  My parents got me a dog, which we named him Brownie.  He was a cocker spaniel.  Brownie liked to eat things like my teddy bear and me.  I didn't like Brownie, and it made me fear dogs more.
 We had a basement in our new house that filled up with water every time in rained.  It was like having an indoor pool.  It also collected cats, and when my Mother would open the door to the basement, a cat would scare her. 
 The house was about three blocks from my kindergarten, run by Mrs. Pow, but she pronounced it "pew".  No, I didn't understand either.  She was a very strict, religious woman.  We learned the Beatitudes and the Ten Commandments.  At Christmas, we put on a pageant at the main library.  I played a Wise Man, dressed in my father's bathrobe. 
 After nine months in the rental, we moved to Belmont Drive, where I would grow up. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015


 One thing that I need to talk about is my father.  He was a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, when it came to Education.  I still don't know a lot of what he did.  He died in 1999.  But, one thing I did know is that every summer, we would go to either Ridgecrest, NC or Glorieta, NM for conferences, which my father would lead.  Both places were conference centers for the Southern Baptist Convention.  In 1958, we were scheduled to go to Glorieta for our vacation and his work. 
 As we knew we were going to Glorieta, my parents thought it would be a good idea and visit some places out West.  My brother and I loved westerns on TV, and our favorite cowboy was Roy Rogers.  As it turned out, my father knew him or knew someone who knew him, so he wrote to Roy to see if he could bring us to meet him in California.  The plans were set.  About a week before we were to leave New Orleans for New Mexico and points beyond, my father got a letter from Roy apologizing for the fact that he was being called away and wouldn't be at his ranch when we would get there.  He did send 2 autographed pictures for me and my brother.  Mine has Roy on Trigger and says "To Walter, Happy Trails, Roy Rogers and Trigger".  My brother got a picture of Roy's dog Bullet and the jeep.  Mine was better, which made my brother jealous.  I still have mine.  I don't think my brother still has his.
 As we were heading toward New Mexico, we stopped at a gas station in Texas that had separate bathrooms for whites and "coloreds".  I had never seen that before, because New Orleans was a very inclusive city.  I remember asking Daddy why that was, and he explained to me that some people saw a difference in skin color.  I was brought up to treat everyone the same.  I never forgot that.
 We stayed in New Mexico for a week, while Daddy had his conferences.  Santa Fe was close by, so I got to see some Indians.  Also, we went to Taos, and I smelled the best apple pie cooking in outdoor ovens.  I love apple pie to this day.  One thing I loved to be around as a child were big trucks.  They were doing some construction at Glorieta, so there was a big piece of equipment they were using.  I was looking at it, and some guy took my picture with another man beside me.  That picture ended up in some Southern Baptist literature.  I was famous for about 15 minutes.
 We also went to Kansas and Dodge City.  I went to Boot Hill.  We went to Las Vegas and saw the lights.  Daddy wanted to cross Death Valley before it got too hot, so we left Las Vegas at 4am.  It was hot anyway.  We had an air conditioner in the car that sat on the hump between Mother and Daddy.  That is where I sat too.  My job was to get the ice off of the vent of the AC.  Since I loved ice, that made it fun.
 We got to Los Angeles and spent a few days there.  We saw Grauman's Chinese Theatre and put our hands and feet in the cement prints of the stars.  The main event though was Disneyland.  We rode the rides and got sick on some.  I am partial to getting sick on anything that turns, whether it be a car or a ride.  My parents were prepared.  It was a lot of fun to be at Disneyland.  We were staying at a motel just off of the grounds of the park.  I wanted to watch the fireworks at night, but it was also the time that Lawrence Welk came on the TV, so my parents took me inside to watch this program.  I got a bad headache watching this champagne music, and to this day if I see him on TV, my head will hurt.  So, we didn't get to see much of the fireworks.
 We then left Los Angeles and went to Yosemite, where my brother and I had a snowball fight in June.  We then went to San Francisco.  I was looking forward to seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, but it was shrouded in fog when we went over it, so that was a letdown. 
 One other stop on our trip was the Grand Canyon.  It was very cold in the mornings and hot in the afternoons.  We had been to Carlsbad Caverns, where it was cold in there, but the Grand Canyon was both.  My brother thought about pushing me over the side.  He was probably still mad about the pictures from Roy Rogers. 
 We had a good trip to the western United States.  I was five and didn't know how blessed I was.  I just thought it was normal.  So, please don't think that I am bragging in these blogs.  It was just what we did.

Friday, June 19, 2015


 I think it was 1956, as my father was working on his doctorate from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth TX, that we spent some time in Ft. Worth.  That was my introduction to the Texas lifestyle, which I would experience again some 20 years later.  I also experienced my first train ride from New Orleans to Ft. Worth.  Daddy got his doctorate. 
 It was either that summer or the next that we spent the summer in Knoxville TN at the First Baptist Church, where Daddy was the interim Education minister.  I remember that church being dark, so I wanted to say something about the Great Smoky Mountains.  In New Orleans, it is very flat.  The city built a hill at Audubon Park to show children what hills looked like.  Folks could slide down the hill and ride bikes up and down the hill.  It was a well-worn hill.  But, it was nothing like the mountains in TN.  On Saturdays, my parents would take my brother and me on picnics in the Smokies.  We saw rivers, streams, and bears.  I remember it being a very happy time, and it started my great love for the mountains.  I liked the beaches too, but the mountains were very peaceful.  I liked getting smooth rocks from the streams.  We didn't feed the bears, but they got enough food too.  Life was good.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


 My Mother told me numerous times that I was so sweet, and she had a story to back it up.  I really don't remember doing this, but she said I did, which is enough for me.
 She was ironing in our house in New Orleans one day.  I was nearby.  After all, I had learned not to stray to far.  Her bedroom was next to the ironing room.  I closed the door between the two rooms, and went into her bedroom.  There, on her dresser, sat a bottle of Chanel #5.  I thought it looked good, so I drank the whole bottle.  I suppose I got sick from doing that, and my Mother was not pleased, but she told me I got sweet after that.  I guess that is why mosquitoes love me too.
 My brother is almost 8 years older than me.  They used to live across town in the Garden District before I was born.  So, he had an orthodontist on that side of town.  After the seminary moved across town, so did they.  That was where I knew home.  When my brother needed to see his doctor, my mother would put him on the bus and send him to the orthodontist.  She didn't know that the bus went through the French Quarter, and my brother received an education that was not suitable for a 12-year old to see.  One day, the orthodontist requested for my brother to bring my Mother to his office.  So, both of them got on the bus.  After my Mother saw the route that the bus was taking, she told my brother that they were switching doctors.  My brother was disappointed. 
 My best friend in New Orleans was a boy named Paul Price.  His father taught at the seminary too.  Paul and I were the same age.  One day, he showed me the hatching of a chicken egg in his garage.  He had the egg under a bright light, and the chick came out.  I thought it was kind of gross, but it was my introduction to sex.  There was a large dog across the street from where I lived.  He tried to eat me one day.  I have a fear of large dogs from that experience.
 The house, that I spent the first 5 years of my life, was destroyed by Katrina some years ago.  When the levee broke, it flooded out the house.  A friend sent some pictures to me, and my heart was broken.  They had to tear down the rest and rebuild it.  So, if I ever go back, it won't be the same.  They say you can't go home again.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New Orleans

 People have asked me to write down my life story.  It seems to have been rather unique to some.  To me, it is just my life, but it may need to be shared.  Some wanted me to write a book.  I tried to do that, and then my computer crashed, and I lost 7 chapters, so I thought I would do it in blog form, and maybe somebody could one day transfer it to book form.  I do not plan to write down everything about me, as that might be boring, so I am just going to write some remembrances and stories about things I did (or may have done).  It may not be chronological, or maybe it will.  Anyway, here goes:
 Today is June 17th.  It is my birthday.  I was born in 1953 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  I don't remember anything of that day, but I have seen pictures, and I know I was loved by my parents and my older brother.  My father taught Religious Education at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and my mother was a housewife.  I think she worked in the school's library before I was born.  She gave that up.  We lived on the campus of the school on land that was near a levee and on a reclaimed swamp.  When I would come home from nursery school, I would have to pull the green lizards off of the walls inside our house and throw them out of the window.  It became something of a sport. 
 My earliest memory was when I was 2 or 3.  We were in Biloxi, MS and staying at a hotel.  My father was working in a church there over the summer.  A hurricane struck the coast, and we were in the hotel.  I remember the water coming into the lobby of the hotel, as we watched from the second floor.  My father decided to put us all in the car and take us back to New Orleans.  We got about two blocks, and water was over our tires, so he turned around and went back to the hotel.  I have been scared of hurricanes after that day.
 Mardi Gras was fun.  It was when the time was for kids.  Now, it is not.  Hey, Mister, throw me some beads.  My brother saved his beads.  I just ate the candy I got.
 Once, I was at the grocery store with my Mother.  I got lost in the aisles.  The aisles were very tall.  My Mother was frantic looking for me, and a worker found me and reunited me with her.  When we got home, she explained to me that I shouldn't wander off.  I also couldn't sit down for a while.  My parents liked to paddle.  After that, I was next to my Mother in the store, holding onto the hem of her dress.
 Also, when I was 3, I had to have a hernia operation.  My Mother asked the surgeon if he could remove my appendix too.  After the surgery, he told my Mother that he forgot.  To this day, I don't know if he really did or not. I don't remember much about that time, except I had to learn to walk again, and I said "Easy does it" a lot, as it was really painful.
 One last story for now:  My parents were invited to go to a swanky restaurant in the French Quarter.  They took me and my brother, and I was put in a high chair.  I loved butter patties and ice cubes.  As they were eating, I discovered the joy of launching butter patties and ice cubes across the restaurant with my spoon as a catapult.  My parents were very embarrassed.  They impressed upon me (literally) when we got home that I was never to do that again.  I don't care for butter patties now.