Saturday, August 29, 2015


 Upon returning to Anderson College for my sophomore year, things had gotten much better for me.  I was the hero of the Theatre for pulling off "Up the Down Staircase".  I had a private room in the same suite, where Louie used to be.  People started liking me more.  Things were good.  I changed my major to Speech and Drama from English.  I was still in the Ivy Leaves literary group, but I dropped all of the religious organizations.  I also stopped going to church. 
 During the Fall of 1972, I took much more of an active role in both politics and the stage.  I was also in great physical shape.  On Saturdays, Phil and I would play tennis.  I also ran a lot and walked.  Mr. Vivian was looking to direct a play called "Laura".  It was a murder mystery.  I thought for sure that I would get the male lead, but that went to Dennis.  I was not pleased.  After all, people liked me.  Mr. Vivian felt I needed to get some technical work under my belt, so I was cast in a very minor role of a detective.  I only had 2 lines--"You mean it was him?  C'mon let's go".  Funny how you remember stuff.  I worked backstage on the set design, lighting and sound.  One of the props needed for the play was a stereo.  Mr. Vivian and I went to a local stereo store and asked them to loan us a stereo for the play.  They did, but they wanted free advertising in the program.  Done.  The stereo had a demo record attached to the back.  Mysteriously, the record went missing.  I had it for several years.  Confession is good for the soul.
 The play went well.  There were two actresses who played "Laura".  One was a little older than the other.  Linda was the younger one.  She died the next year in a car crash.  Jimmy played the villain.  He and I became very good friends.  Howard played a suspect.  He and I were at Flora together.  He went on to play golf and is now a motivational speaker. 
 The one thing I learned from "Laura" is not to get your ego in your way.  All jobs are important to the overall success of a piece.  It may hurt not getting the lead every time, but one can do things that will enhance one's part no matter how big the part is.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Explo '72

 One of the group that I got involved in during my freshman year at Anderson College was Campus Crusade for Christ.  My two suitemates, Steve and Lenny, were also involved in it.  We went to gatherings at Clemson.  One of the events we signed up for was Explo '72, which was going to be held in Dallas, TX in June.  Steve, Judy (Steve's girlfriend), me and a few others left Greenville on the bus to go to Dallas.
 The bus drove all night, and we got to Dallas the next day.  We stayed in a motel in Arlington.  The motel overbooked their rooms for the event, and the only room left for the 3 guys in our group was a suite which was built for 8 people.  We thought it was great, since each person could have their own room and bathroom.  Our meetings were at UTA.  We heard Andrae Crouch, Danny Lee, and others.  Our night meetings were at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.  We heard from Bill Bright, who headed Campus Crusade, as well as other religious leaders.  There were also musicians including Barry McGuire and Johnny Cash.  There were 100,000 college kids from all over the country to attend this week-long event.
 One of the goals of Explo was to send people out by twos and witness to 8 people, thus witnessing to every person in Dallas.  It was a monumental task.  Each pair was given 8 addresses in the Dallas area.  I went with a girl I didn't know.  One of the pair would present the gospel message, while the other one sat quietly and prayed.  She volunteered to speak.  I volunteered to pray.  We knocked on doors, but no one came.  It was the middle of the afternoon, and most people were at work.  There was one lady home.  She invited us in, and we presented the gospel to her.  She said she went to church, but she had not heard the message presented in such a way.  She gave us some water, and we went on our way.  Everyone else either didn't answer the door or weren't home.  I don't know how many people made a decision that day.
 When we returned back to the motel one night after a Cotton Bowl rally, Steve wanted to say good night to Judy.  The other guy wanted to get something to eat.  So, I went to the room.  When I opened the door, there were two kids in a rollaway bed in the front room of the suite.  I just figured that they had put them in our room, since we had so much space left over.  I went down the hall to my room; opened the door; and found a couple sleeping in my bed.  I left them, and went outside.  I found Steve and the other guy and told them that other people were in our room.  Steve thought I was lying, so he went into the room to find the same thing.  We went to the front desk, and they told us that a large family had come to the motel, while a double room had checked out.  The motel moved our stuff into the double room, and moved the family into ours.  They showed us our new room, and it was like entering the twilight zone.  All of our stuff was placed in the exact spots where we had left them in the other room.  The motel had taken polaroids of our stuff and used the pictures to place our stuff.  Even the toothpaste and mouthwash in the bathroom were exactly where they were in the other room.  One other strange part of this night--the family never woke up from their sleep, while we were walking around the old room.  Our initial thought was that they had stolen our stuff.  We could have killed them all that night as they slept, but that wouldn't be the Christian thing to do.
 On Saturday, which was also my birthday, Campus Crusade had the Jesus Music Festival in downtown Dallas.  100,000 people were there.  So were Johnny Cash, The Carter Family, Billy Graham, and a lot more.  Judy, Steve and I were toward the back of the crowd.  I told Judy about my life story of bullying, suicide attempts, and other stuff.  She felt so sorry for me that she told me she was changing her major to psychology to help people like me.  I don't know if she did.
 After the festival, I got on a Greyhound bus to go home.  The bus went to Atlanta, where I was transferring to a bus to go to Columbia.  While I was sitting in the waiting room of the terminal, I saw the news that there had been a break-in at the Democratic Headquarters in Washington, and the perps had been arrested.  I remember thinking how stupid those guys were.  Little did I know that was the start of Watergate.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


 The political climate today is much different than the late 1960's to early 1970's.  Today, the issues include immigration, the economy, education, jobs, and global terrorism.  Back then, there were basically two important issues--civil rights and the Vietnam War.
 In 1969, I became aware of the Vietnam War and why we needed to get out of there.  Nixon was the president.  By 1972, I had become a part of the anti-war movement.  I formed an organization called The Walter Durst Society for Human Rights, which became The United Society.  I also joined two groups--The Individuals Against the Crime of Silence and The National Peace Action Coalition.  NPAC organized a lot of rallies and marches.  I got a lot of pinback buttons from them, as well as posters and pamphlets.  I became their representative on the Anderson College campus.  I didn't participate in any marches, but I did write articles for the newspaper, and display the posters around campus.  AC was a very conservative school, so I didn't have a lot of help in this cause.  I also became the head of the McGovern for President campaign at school.  I met Joe Biden years later, and he said that the McGovern campaign was his first job in politics.  I told him it was mine too, and he grinned and said that it was "a very lonely job".  We laughed over it, but the fact was, at the time, we were both dead serious.
 As soon as I would put an anti-war poster up, someone would rip it down or write rude messages on it.  There was no freedom of speech.  One guy in particular was a National Guardsman.  He actually threatened physical harm toward me.  A poll was taken of the students, and 98% went for Nixon.  I was definitely in the minority. 
 My anti-war activities also included some things related to slowing down the war effort.  I got about 200 cards from the Pentagon to get folks to express an interest in volunteering for work as nurses in the military.  I filled out those cards with phony names and addresses, so it would take people at the Pentagon to write these fake people and get the letters back undeliverable, thus slowing down their work. 
 During this time, I also was involved in ecology.  There was a stream that flowed through a park in downtown Anderson.  The stream was heavily polluted from a run-off that came from a nearby road and a tire store.  Dogs played in the stream along with children.  I wrote the mayor about cleaning up the stream, but he said no. 
 I wore an Army shirt that I got from the Army/Navy store.  The law said that you could wear a shirt like that, as long as it didn't have a name on the shirt other than yours.  Mine had "Jackson" on it, and I wore it proudly, until it fell apart.  I never washed it.
 One result of my activities was that I started to have an FBI agent follow me around.  They kept tabs on me.  As I said before, it was a different time.  Years later, I applied for and got a federal job.  It involved some very secure documents.  I had been there 9 months, when one day my supervisor asked if there had been a background check run on me.  I told him no, so they did one.  The next week, I was let go with no explanation.  I wrote to the FBI to request my file.  I got two pages from them with my name at the top, and the two pages were blackened out, with a notice at the bottom "by reason of national security".  I applied for another federal job and was denied.  I asked them if it was because of my anti-war activity, and they said yes.  I asked them what if I renounced everything I stood for during that time.  They said that it would be a good thing to do, but I could be blackmailed with my past.  They weren't kidding.
 In 1974, I took a Sociology class and wanted to do a slide presentation on the movement.  I took pictures of the posters and buttons, but I wanted more, so I went to Fort Jackson to take pictures of tanks and soldiers.  As I was doing so, two MP's drove up in a jeep to ask me what I was doing.  I told them, and they said I couldn't do it, and I had to leave.  I drove to another part of the base and started taking more pictures.  The same two MP's showed up again, this time with guns drawn.  They wanted the film in my camera, which I gave to them, although I had some already used in my car, which I didn't give them.  They escorted me off of the base.  I got an A for my project.
 There were two people I truly hated during that time.  One was the guy who stole my love away.  The other was Richard Nixon.
 Many years later, I was at a White Elephant Party at church.  One of the items brought was an oil painting of Nixon.  I got it, but someone traded for it, and I lost it.  I found Nixon's address and wrote to him, telling him the painting had been stolen from me.  He sent me an autographed picture.  I sold it for $100.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Parking Lot

 After doing an awful thing at my first job at S Mart, I was reluctant to do any work, but I got a summer job in 1972 at Bankers Trust on Main St. in Columbia.  My job was the Assistant Parking Lot Attendant.  The parking lot was outdoors, and the main attendant was much older and needed to take a lot of breaks.  Outside in the summertime was not real fun, but I had a chair under a shade tree.
 The parking lot had about 20 spaces and it was for the customers of the bank.  The main bank building had a back door that led to the lot.  There was also a building across the street for other bank offices.  They told me the first day that the parking lot, which was free to park, was just for bank customers.  It wasn't for anyone who wanted to park and then go shopping.  They knew how long a person should be in the bank, and if the car just sat, I was to get the license plate; call the DMV to find out who owned the car; and if the owner could not be accounted for, we had it towed by Happy Daddy Towing Service.  There were signs in the parking lot noting that fact.
 One day, I was watching the cars, and one had been there for quite some time.  I went through the procedures, and I called around to the offices, and no one recognized the name on the car.  So, I had it towed.  A little while later, a girl came out to leave, and she could not find her car.  I told her that it had been towed.  It turned out that she was in Personnel interviewing for a job, and the car was her mother's.  The bank had to pay Happy Daddy to get the car out, and I had to go out there to pick it up.  I don't think the girl took the job that was offered to her.
 I also learned that just because there are rules about only bank customers parking there, it doesn't mean they are strictly enforced.  The lot was one block from the State House, and I was told that folks with special state license plates could park there.  But, they took up the spaces for the customers.  There was always a grey area between right and wrong at the bank.
 One of my duties was to direct traffic in the lot.  Some of the spaces were hard to back out of, and I worked to get the cars in and out, especially during the noon rush.  One day, I was trying to get a woman in a Cadillac to back out, so that a VW Bug could move into the spot.  The woman was doing fine.  I was in between her car and the VW.  As she was pulling away, she forgot her car was still in reverse.  She put her foot to the gas, and her car lurched backwards, pinning me between her car and the VW.  Her heard something pop in my knees.  I had to climb out on the hood of the VW.  She leaned out her window and asked me if everything was okay.  I just said yes, as I was in great pain, and she sped off.  I went into my supervisor's office to tell him what happened, and he sent me to the hospital to be checked out.  They did some x-rays and determined that I had just bruised a bone.  My right thigh muscle hurt a lot, but they said it was just a trauma and to go home and rest.
 My parents were out of town.  I was back at work the next day after a hot bath.  Two years later, I started having pains in my knees.  I ran a lot and was in really good shape, but my parents felt I should go to an orthopedist just to see if there was a problem.  The doctor did x-rays and found that both knees were dislocated.  My right knee was worse than my left.  He said that he could fix them, but I would be in a cast for six months.  Or, the other alternative was not to fix them, and I would get arthritis when I was 40.  I was heavily into Theatre, so I couldn't see taking the cast option, and 40 seemed a long time away, so I opted for the arthritis.  Sure enough, when I turned 40, I got arthritis in my right knee.  My right foot is wider than my left, because my weight shifted.  My right calf turns out to the right instead of being straight from the knee to my ankle.  Years later, I was talking to a doctor about my injury.  He said to never go to an ER when you think you have broken a bone.  They don't know what to look for.  I learned that lesson the hard way.
 I did complete my summer job without further incidents.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Performing and Trouble

 In the 4th grade, we had a talent show.  Some kids danced; some sang; and some did recitations.  I tried to do something different, so I did some impressions.  I did animal noises and bird calls.  I concluded the act with a Tarzan yell.  I got a lot of laughs.  It may have been the first time I used humor in an act of mine.  I didn't win the show.  I may have come in last, because the teacher didn't care for it, but the kids liked it.
 In 8th grade, I was sitting in class one day listening to my teacher, whose name was Mr. Stock.  He had a crew cut and was pretty tall.  He was probably in his thirties, but he seemed old.  There was an empty desk in front of mine.  The desk had an opening in it that was for books and papers.  I had a rubber band and some paper, so I made some spitballs and was shooting them into the desk's opening in front of me.  Mr. Stock was writing on the board with his back turned away from us.  I shot one spitball which missed the opening; clipped the top of the desk; and hit Mr. Stock in the back of his neck.  He spun around and asked who did it.  Now, you would think that no one would say anything, but everybody pointed to me.  He made me stay after class and write on the blackboard numerous times that I would not shoot spitballs in class.  I was late getting home that day, and my Mother asked why.  When I told her, I was punished again. 
 So, the moral of this story is that it is better to do a Tarzan yell than to hit your teacher in the back of the head.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


 As I mentioned earlier, our family vacations were paired a lot with Daddy's work.  They were either at Ridgecrest, Glorieta, or at Southern Baptist Convention meetings.  I wanted to talk about three of them.
 One was in Houston, TX in 1968.  I remember it, because we heard about Bobby Kennedy getting shot in Los Angeles, while we were in Houston.  It was the headline on a newspaper we saw in a box on the street.  Daddy and Mother worked in Houston at a church long before I was born.  The pastor of that church was Dr. Westmoreland, and he had box seats for the Houston Astros baseball team.  We got to go to the Astrodome and watch a game.  That was pretty cool.  Daddy had a free day, and he asked me if I would rather go to San Antonio to see the Alamo, or to go to Astroworld and ride rides.  I opted for the park.  During that trip, we stopped in Selma, AL for dinner.  I heard there that Otis Redding had been killed in a plane crash.  Funny how you remember where you were.
 In 1969, the SBC was in New Orleans.  It was the first time (and the only time) I had been back to my hometown.  My Mother and I went to the Lowe's Theatre to see the movie "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium".  It was a funny movie, and kind of ironic, because 4 years later, I would experience that movie first-hand.  The Theatre was the swankiest I had ever seen.  I also experienced the seamy side of New Orleans with the strip bars of the French Quarter.  I couldn't go inside, but the doormen would open the doors to show me what was inside.  I also experienced men trying to pick me up.  I didn't know at the time what that was about.  I did fall in love with pecan pralines. 
 One other trip we made to a convention was Philadelphia.  We saw all of the historical stuff there, and I ran from downtown to the art museum and climbed the steps to stop at the top.  I did this before Rocky did it, so maybe he got the idea from me.  I was in really good shape. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


As I mentioned in my previous post, Lenny was involved with the music dept. at Anderson.  He would later be president of the choir.  One afternoon after class, I wasn't doing anything.  He asked me if I would help him move a piano onstage of the auditorium, after the play rehearsal was over.  They needed the piano for chapel the next day.  Even though I had the experience with the Theatre, I was majoring in English to become a writer, and I was not real interested in doing plays.  It took up too much time.  Time I wanted for fun. 
 Lenny and I sat in the back of the auditorium, waiting to do our thing with the piano.  A guy named Reed came up to us and asked us if we wanted to be in the play.  He said there were two minor roles that had not been cast.  The play was "Up the Down Staircase", and it had a pretty big cast.  Lenny said no, but I asked what one of the part were.  Reed said they had a part called Mr. Bester, who was an English teacher, and he had very few lines.  I thought why not, so I agreed to do it, as it wouldn't be much of a stretch for me, and it wouldn't cut into my fun time.
 The director of the play was a professor at the school.  His name was Mr. Vivian, and he taught Speech and Drama.  He knew my father, as they were in seminary together years before.  Not to sound egotistical or anything, but there were very few people in Baptist circles that my father didn't know.  Anyway, I volunteered for the part.  They asked me what experience I had in Theatre, and I cited Columbia College.  That was good enough for them. 
 I went to all of the rehearsals, even if I wasn't going to be called.  I just enjoyed the experience of the rehearsal.  I got to where I knew everyone's lines besides just mine.  The night of the dress rehearsal was when chaos set in.  The lead male role was a guy named Joe Ferrone.  He was a difficult student that the teacher tried to help.  The actor playing the role was a guy named Chris, who really looked the part.  He was very good in the role.  At the time for the dress rehearsal, Chris was nowhere to be found.  The word came down to us that he had quit school.  Mr. Vivian came to me and asked me if I would play Joe.  I knew the lines.  I knew the blocking.  But, what about Mr. Bester?  Mr. Vivian said that they would change some stuff around, and I would play both parts, with Mr. Bester not being seen.
 For two days, I cut all of my classes and began to cram for the role.  I spent a lot of time of the stage going over lines and blocking.  Chris had longer hair that me, so Mr. Vivian took me to a wig store, and we got something called the Joe Namath wig to make my hair a little longer.  I also did some stuff to get a costume together.  I had to pull this off for the sake of the show.
 On opening night, Chris showed up and wanting to play his part.  He apologized for skipping school, and he said the pressure had gotten too great.  I was very willing to have Chris take the part back, but Mr. Vivian made the decision.  I was to do it.  The meeting backstage was very tense, but most of the cast agreed with Mr. Vivian.  Since the play took place in a classroom, I was able to use a notebook as a cheat sheet for my lines.  The audience never knew that.  After the play was over that first night, Chris came up to me and said I did good.  A reporter from the local newspaper said in the review that I did the best I could considering I got the role two days before opening night.  I really didn't know how to take the review, but it did encourage me to do better, if there was a next time. 
 If the drama bug had bit me at Columbia College, it bit me harder now.  There were people in the cast like Debbie, Ann and Nancy who recognized my talent and encouraged me to do more.  I decided to change my major from English to Speech and Drama.  It was a life-changing decision.  I got applause for my work.  Once again, people told me I had talent.  I was the talk of the school.  I was not used to that, but it felt good.  I don't recommend anyone taking a role that soon before a show, but I pulled it off.
 I live in a world of what ifs.  What if Lenny had not asked me to help him with the piano?  What if Reed had not asked me to do a small role?  What if Chris had not left school two days before opening night?  What if Mr. Vivian had not had faith in me?  I guess I would never had done a lot of plays.  I guess I wouldn't have been in movies or TV.  But, all the stars aligned for me that time, and my life changed forever.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My Suitemates

 As mentioned earlier, I had some problems with my roommate's friends as a freshman at Anderson College.  Thankfully, I had some great suitemates.  Our suite consisted of 4 bedrooms and a bathroom.  Three of the bedrooms had two beds, and one room was a private room.  Lenny, Louie, Steve and Mike were my friends.  Louie walked around nude a lot, as he was a hippie.  Lenny was into music.  Steve was studying religion.  Mike was going to be a doctor.  Steve and Mike took me fishing once near the school.  We didn't catch much, but I did see a snake.  One Sunday afternoon, we were bored, so we decided to form a band.  Steve played the recorder; Lenny played the kazoo; and Mike played two garbage cans like drums.  We called ourselves The Walter Durst Orchestra, and I sang two songs that I had written--"Hey Mr. Sun" and "Albert Frankenstein".  The first was just me and Steve.  The second had everybody.  We had a short rehearsal, and then we did it, and I recorded it on cassette.  The tape exists somewhere.  During the second song, it got so loud in Steve's room where we were taping that I had to literally put the microphone down my throat in order to be heard.  We had fun.
 Louie had a friend named Jeff who was a basketball player.  Jeff had a fast car, and he would take us going out into the country to drive fast.  It was like "The French Connection".  I was in the back seat and scared for my life, but having fun too.  A year later, another guy took the same road with two girls.  He wrecked.  He survived, but the two girls were killed.  I'm glad Jeff didn't wreck.
 There was a concert at Clemson that Louie, Jeff and I wanted to attend.  It was Goose Creek Symphony, Canned Heat and Mountain.  I adored Woodstock, and they bestowed upon me the hippie name of "The Woodstock Kid".  Canned Heat and Mountain played at Woodstock.  When Canned Heat came out to play, they told the audience that half of the band got lost in the mountains coming here.  They were good anyway.  Mountain was loud.  Goose Creek played, and there was a lot of dancing and Boone's Farm Wine was passed around, along with some other stuff.  I didn't partake, but I really like the music.  It was my first real concert to attend.  Afterwards, I was supposed to meet up with Louie and Jeff to go back to school.  They had met a couple of girls, and we all went back to the girls' apartment.  I stayed in the living room, while they hooked up in the bedrooms.  I finally left and tried to find a place to stay for the night.  There was a hotel on campus called The Clemson House.  I only had $3 on me, which would not cover a room, but the desk clerk let me sleep on a sofa in the lobby for $3.  That was fine until the next morning, when the janitor came in to clean.  When he cut on the TV in the lobby to watch a gospel show, I woke up and made some noise.  I frightened the janitor.  I am sorry whoever you were.
 I had missed my ride back to school, so I began to hitchhike.  It was 20 miles back to Anderson, and it was Sunday morning.  I had walked a couple of miles, when a car came along, and picked me up.  It was 3 high school kids in a Cadillac.  I talked with them for a while and found out that they had stolen the car from one of the kids' grandmother.  At that point, I didn't want to be in the car with them, if they got stopped by the police, so I asked them to let me out.  They did, and I walked the rest of the way back to school.  Fun times.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Radio Hour

 My best friend, as I left for college, was Sonny.  He was in the KPBC's youth group.  He and I had a lot in common with music and girls.  When I went off to college, I wanted to write to him, as he was back home and two years younger than me, but I decided to do something different.  So, The Walter Durst Radio Hour was born.  It consisted of a cassette tape.  He and I sent tapes back and forth to each other.  The tapes had music and other things on them, and we shared a lot of our feelings on them, because we knew that no one else would listen to them. 
 My "radio station" was WOW, which stood for Walter Oh Walter.  His was SOS, which stood for Sonny Oh Sonny.  I did intros and it was just like a radio program.  At times, the tapes would be 90 minutes, and sometimes 30 minutes (for financial reasons).  There would be commercials that I would write, and a lot of music.  When my grades weren't doing too good, my parents would take my stereo away, so the shows would have a lot of stuff taped off of the radio.  I have one tape today that I kept from Sonny, because it had a lot of Bread music on it.  Years later, Sonny gave me some tapes that he had kept of me.  Most of the time though, we would tape over the tape that we sent to each other.  There are probably a lot of gems that were lost.
 After about a year, I expanded the shows to go to other people.  They were produced exclusively for them.  Such as Ellen and Karen, BJ, James, Jimmy, and a few others, but the bulk of them were between Sonny and me.  Even when I went to seminary in 1976, they continued.  Here is one intro from then, as I remember it:
 And now, from studio room 235 of Ft. Worth Hall at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth Texas, it's the Walter Durst Radio Hour.  Idea by Walter Durst; Written by Walter Durst; Directed by Walter Durst; Produced by Walter Durst; and Jived by Walter Durst.  The Walter Durst Radio Hour is broadcast on WOW, which stands for Walter Oh Walter and sent to station SOS, which stands for Sonny Oh Sonny.  The Walter Durst Radio Hour is brought to you by the wonderful folks at Irby's Pies with one flavor--Peach, and by the Postal Service.  The Walter Durst Radio Hour is also heard in Poland, Zambia, Albania, Lesotho, Tibet, Madagascar, and it is the official radio station of Outer Mongolia.  And now, here's Walter Durst.
 It went something like that with some variations, depending on the location.  I would do scripts at first, but then I just winged it.  It was creativity run amok.   I miss those days.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Mrs. Pryor

 In my first semester, I had to take Botany.  It was a required course.  I was never good in Science or Math.  Thankfully, Math was not a required course.  But, Botany was.  My teacher was Mrs. Pryor.  She was a bit on the heavy set side, and wore glasses.  She also had a very thick Southern accent.  I was not used to that kind of accent.  I came from a more urban setting, where most of the people talked normal.  Mrs. Pryor didn't talk that way.  In Botany, you study about cells.  Mrs. Pryor pronounced that word as "sails".  She confused me.  Why were we learning about sails?  What did that have to do with Botany?  I almost failed her class, because I didn't understand what she meant.  If you teach, please have good diction. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

S Mart

 There was a store in Anderson called S Mart.  It was located near a shopping center on the outskirts of town.  The store sold mainly women's clothes which were made at the Stone Manufacturing plant in Greenville.  Some of the clothes were factory seconds. 
 I needed a part-time job after school, so the Dean of Students got the job for me.  He was an older man named Dr. Lawton.  He was also very kind.  My job there was the Director of Maintenance.  I was the only employee doing that job, which is why I was the Director.  The store had several employees, mostly all women.  The manager of the store was a man, who must have been ex-military, because he was very strict.  My duties consisted of mowing the grass outside of the store; sweeping the inside of the store; and whatever else. 
 I also found that his business practices weren't quite kosher.  There was a woman in the stockroom whose job was to sew designer labels into the clothes.  She had labels from Belk, Neiman Marcus, JC Penney's, and other stores. 
 I had been working there for about 10 days, when my manager told me that I needed to wax the floors after closing.  He showed me the large vat of wax in the stockroom.  I had never waxed a floor before, and he didn't give me any direction.  So after the store closed, I went to work.  I have never been very good at reading directions, and apparently the directions on the vat said to mix the wax with water.  I didn't see that, and I pumped the wax from the vat into a container and poured it onto the floor.  Yes, it smelled, but I thought it was supposed to smell like that.  I took the mop and spread it out over the floor.  I completed the task and went home.  The next afternoon, I reported for work and expecting a pat on the back for a job well done.  That didn't happen.  The manager was livid.  He fired me on the spot.  It seemed that they couldn't open the door to the store that morning, because I had put so much wax on the floor that the door was sealed shut.  So, they went to the loading door at the back of the store.  The smell was so bad that it made some employees sick.  The manager said that the floor was so sticky that it was hard to walk, and he asked me if I had cut the wax with water.  Of course I hadn't.  They had to take all of the clothes out of the store and clean them, and then strip the wax off of the floor.  They were closed for several days.
 I went back to the store to get the money for the last few days, and the manager refused to pay me.  I reported that to Dr. Lawton, and he took me out to the store.  I was due money for 10 days of work.  After some discussion between him and the manager, I was paid a portion of what I was owed.  For a few months after that, I would see the manager around town.  He would never speak to me, but his face would get real red, as if his blood pressure was going up.  He scared me.
 S Mart closed up a few years later.  They were investigated for the sewing of the labels.  I wonder how the investigators found out.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


 What is the difference between bullying and hazing?  I don't think there is much difference, especially to the person that is being hazed.  That was what my first semester was like at Anderson College.  My roommate was a good guy, but his friends were mostly all rednecks.  I didn't get along with them very well.  I associated more with the hippies and the creative folks.  They just liked to drive souped-up cars and drink beer. 
 One night, I was asleep, and I heard my name yelled out real loud.  I woke up fast to see a large knife headed toward my chest.  Just before the blade went into my body, the guy turned the knife around and the handle hit by chest.  They all thought it was funny.  I about had a heart attack.  Another time, they dragged me out of the room and tried to stuff me down the trash chute.  I screamed, and they stopped.  Another time, they grabbed me by my wrists and hung me over the 2nd floor balcony.  Had they dropped me, I would have broken both legs, but they pulled me up.  Another time, they moved all of my furniture and bed into the hallway of our suite and locked the dorm door so I would have to sleep in the hall.  That one at least had some creativity because the furniture was pretty big.  They seemed to enjoy thinking up new ways to make my life miserable.  A meeting was held between them and the Dean of Men, and the hazing stopped. 
 One Sunday night, I was riding back from home with my roommate in his car.  He was driving very fast up I-26, when we came upon an elderly woman driving slower than us.  I remember asking my roommate what would happen to us if she looked in her mirror and saw us on her bumper, and she panicked.  He said that we would just fly right over her car.  That was comforting. 
 I got involved in a couple of clubs around campus.  One was the Church Vocations group.  I was thinking about going into church work.  Another was the Baptist Student Union.  The third, and the one I enjoyed the most, was Ivy Leaves.  That was the name of the literary magazine for our school.  It came out once a year.  I was majoring in English, and I wrote a lot, so it was a natural fit.  I kept busy after class, because I just didn't want to have to go back to my dorm room.  I also went to a church, Boulevard Baptist, every time it was open.  And, I read books for a blind student named James.  He was black, and still is.  He was also very smart and made straight A's.
 He wanted to go to my church, so I led him the three blocks from school to the church one Sunday morning.  When we got there, the ushers told us that James could not come into the church.  I was insulted that this was because James was black.  We argued with the ushers, and they said we could come in if we sat in the balcony.  The next Sunday, James invited me to his church, which was all black.  They welcomed me with open arms. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Dining Hall

 I have always liked girls.  Some of them I have loved.  My first girlfriend was Page in the first grade.  Then came others along the way.  It was like the old song "For All the Girls I Loved Before".  I think some took pity on me as I grew a little older, but the fact remains that I am straight.  I always have been.  Not to put down gay folks.  I have a lot of friends who are gay.  I have had two roommates who are gay.  But, I prefer women.
 One thing I have found in my life is that there is a misconception that all creative people are gay.  They are not.  There is a misconception that everyone who does Theatre is gay.  They are not.  It is a label that I have had to deal with.  Why am I 62 years old and never been married?  Some would assume it is because I am gay.  I am not.  I was brought up in a very strict household, and my parents instilled in me that I should be careful in my relationships with girls.  For the most part, I was.  But, that didn't mean I was gay.  It meant that I respected my parents.  I know I may be stepping on toes here, or maybe you may read into this, when there is nothing to assume.  When I was in high school, I didn't have much time for girls, until I was around 16-17.  I was having too hard of a time trying to pass school; shoplift things; being under the care of a psychiatrist; and being bullied.  I had very low self-esteem, which changed when I met my new friends in 1970.  Girls came back on my radar.
 So, in the Fall of 1971, I entered Anderson College in Anderson, SC.  As I wrote earlier, it was a junior college and about the only place I could go with my low SAT's and with some pull from my father.  I had been there a couple of days.  I went to the dining hall for supper one night, and the line was pretty long.  I stood behind a boy and two girls, and they were talking.  The boy said that he knew that a gay guy was a new student.  The girls wanted to know what he looked like.  He said that the guy was thin with glasses, and his name was Walter.  He then turned around and looked at me.  The girls laughed.  He smiled.  I could have died.  I turned around and walked out of the dining hall.  No apologies from those who had wronged me.  No apologies from anyone who had started the rumor or repeated the rumor.  The fact was that it wasn't true.  I knew it.  My friends knew it.  I know you would say that I should have stood up for myself.  Yeah, I guess so.  But, I didn't.  I did prove those people wrong as time went by, but that moment showed me what it is like to be talked about and hearing it.  All of the improvement that I had made in the past year about self-esteem and character went out the window, because of those ugly comments.  I didn't know if I should keep going or just end it all.  I decided not to embarrass my father, because of all the strings he had to pull to get me into this college. 
 A few days later, I had a chat with the president of the school--Dr. Rouse.  He had known my father for many years, and was instrumental in getting me accepted into Anderson.  He asked me how things were going, because I was away from home.  It was the longest time I had been away from my parents, and the school was 130 miles from Columbia.  I didn't have a car.  I told Dr. Rouse that I thought of AC as being at camp, only longer.  He told me that was a good way of looking at it, and that I should stay strong.  I guess he had heard the rumors too.  Something was said between Dr. Rouse and Mr. Landreth, who was the Dean of Men.  They told the students not to spread rumors about me, because they were untrue.  Mr. Landreth's motto was "I say what I mean, and I mean what I say."  He did.  I stayed.  It got better, sort of.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

First Kiss

 I had been a part of the Kilbourne Park Baptist Church youth group for about six months.  We did everything together.  One night, we went over to a girl's house for a party.  She was not in the inner circle of my friends, but she had a nice house.  It was decided to play a kissing game, like spin the bottle.  The game needed an equal number of girls to guys.  There was one more boy there than girls, so somebody had to not participate.  That was me.  I guess it was because of my acne and shyness that I didn't participate in the game.  So, they all went into one area of the basement to play the game, and I was in another part of the basement, listening to records.  One of the girls was named Pam.  She was the prettiest girl in our group, and I liked her a lot.  It was kind of like "Beauty and the Beast".  As I was listening to "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf, she came over to where I was and kissed me on the cheek.  She ran back to the others and said, "I kissed Walter!"  Everyone laughed.  I turned red.  It was my first kiss.