Saturday, November 26, 2016


 Around February 1977, a new mall was being built in Ft. Worth called Hulen Mall.  An upscale department store was going to open in that mall called Sanger-Harris.  I needed a part-time job to help pay for seminary, so I went out there to see if I could get a job.  The fact that I had retail experience made me a good fit for the store, and I was hired to work 4pm-8pm Monday through Friday. 
 Sanger-Harris was just a step down from Neiman-Marcus.  The store had a lot of expensive things, and then merchandise that regular people could afford, too.  I was hired to work in the Home area, and specifically Books and Records.  I also sold Stationery, Luggage, Toys, Sporting Goods, Candy, and Fabrics.  Everything about the store was great. We even had celebrities come to the store to make personal appearances.  George Hamilton.  James Beard.  Playboy playmate Hope Olsson.  Just to name a few.  On Saturdays, someone would play the grand piano in the center of the store, or we would have a choir come in.  It was a classy place.
 My fellow employees were also very nice people--Mrs. Miller, Gert, Ron, Don, Charles, Maria, and Kare were my favorites.  I just had the best time working there, and it was really fun.  I even would stay after it was my time to get off.  I would clock out and continue working.  I came in on my days off to work.  My supervisors would have to make me leave and sometimes drag me out of the door.  I just couldn't stay away. 
 In the Book Department, we would have authors come in for book signings.  One Christmas, I was able to give my family autographed books from famous authors.  Our Record Department was rather unique.  Due to our employees (me included), we sold more records than any other department store in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, and our Record Department was in the top three record stores in sales in Ft. Worth.  That was a huge accomplishment.  We sold albums, 8-tracks, and cassettes.  I already knew the rock artists, but I had to learn about country music.  Especially Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys.  They were are number one best seller.  I then started to listen to everything.  Once, I had a customer come in and ask me for the record with a train whistle in it.  I knew that was Willie Nelson, so I got good at identifying songs.  We also got the best display items for the department, because of our high sales.  One in particular was a life-size Steve Martin standee.  It promoted two of his comedy albums.  When the promotion was over, I took the standee.  My distributor was not happy, but I got it anyway.  I still have it, and I think it is the only one in existence.  I also got some promo albums and tapes from working there, and one was of David Bowie.  I really loved his music, even though I had never heard him before. 
 I worked at Sangers for almost 3 years, even going full-time after graduating from seminary.  I stayed in Ft. Worth an extra year to be with my friends.  So much more to talk about that store, and I will in future stories. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Food Poisoning

 It was the 4th of July weekend in 1976.  Everyone was geared up for the Bicentennial.  On that Friday, I ate in the seminary cafeteria.  For dessert, I had pineapple upside down cake.  A few hours later, I started to feel a little queasy, so I went to the 3rd floor bathroom in the dorm.  Most of the dorm's residents had left for the holiday weekend.  I had nausea.
 I don't want to sound too gross here, but just to say I stayed in the bathroom all night.  I had food poisoning, probably from the eggs in the cake.  I was the sickest I had ever been.  I couldn't keep anything down.  That Saturday morning, I mustered up enough energy to walk from the dorm to the infirmary and found it was closed for the holiday.  I suppose anyone reading this would wonder why I didn't go to the emergency room of a hospital.  I don't know why other than I was so sick I couldn't think straight.  I spent all day Saturday in the bathroom until I passed out from lack of sleep and energy.  Sunday was the 4th of July, and I had made it a point to go to church.  Somehow, I managed to pull myself together and got to church.  I was so weak that I could barely stand up.  I had to pull myself up from the pew just to stand.  After church, I went back to the dorm and continued being sick.
 Now came Monday.  There were no classes on Monday.  I proved to myself that I could drive in the condition I was in, so I drove over to the mall to get to a drug store.  I bought a bottle of Pepto Bismol and went out to my car.  I sat in my car and drank the entire bottle in the parking lot.  Now, I do not suggest that someone do this for food poisoning, but it worked for me.  I was able to eat some crackers and drink some soda.  I got back to some normality and was able to go back to class the next day.  I have a very high metabolism, and I have a hard time putting on weight.  Until 2008, I weighed the same thing I weighed in 8th grade, which was 115 lbs. (I weigh more now)  I am not suggesting than someone who wants to lose weight should try food poisoning.  It is not fun.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


 Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) was where I chose to get my Master's Degree, so that I could teach Theatre at Anderson College.  That was my plan.  That was my goal.  The school was in Ft. Worth, Texas.  I arrived there around May 20th to begin my studies, which started that summer school.  This was the same school where my parents met some 40 years before and fell in love.  I had something of an advantage, because most of the teachers and staff knew my father and many were his old friends.  I had known many of them too growing up.  It was the perfect place to attend.
 One of the things I had to learn very fast was the Mexican cuisine.  No Del Taco.  This was the real thing.  A friend of mine, also from South Carolina, went to a nearby Jack-in-the-Box and wanted a pickle.  He got a jalapeno pepper, not knowing what it was, and his mouth burned for days.  It may sound strange, but one of the things we were told in orientation was to never make fun of the Hispanic people.  Like not to yell out "Immigration" in a crowded theatre.  That would have the same reaction as yelling out "Fire".  You would have a stampede. 
 The seminary environment was special.  When seeing me coming down the sidewalk, another male would address me as "brother".  It was strange at first, but I got used to it eventually.  For single students that wanted to live on campus, there was Ft. Worth Hall for the men and Barnard Hall for the women.  I lived in room 235 in Ft. Worth Hall.  It was a single room with paint peeling off of the walls.  I had two closets, a desk, and a sink.  The bathroom and showers were down the hall.  I brought several posters with me, which adorned my walls.  We had an open house, and my dorm room was picked as the coolest in the dorm because of all of the posters. 
 I wanted to study to teach Christian Theatre, but there was not a major in that, so I helped them develop a course load for that, and I was the first Communications major at that school.  My main teacher was Paula Brooks, who was the mother of the later PGA golfer Mark Brooks.  More on him later.  Paula and I put together a major using Public Speaking, Acting, TV & Radio, and other courses.  I also took courses in Education and Psychology.  The teachers would talk about church work, and I would mentally substitute the word "church" with "college".  I also had to take some Bible courses, and a couple of music courses.  The Bible courses were very hard.  I wasn't much for learning the Greek word for anything in the Bible, but I muddled through it.  In one of the music courses, I learned to direct a choir and how to pick out notes on a piano.  If you give me a sheet of music now and about an hour, I might be able to play the melody, but it would just be with one finger. 
 All of this story is just an introduction to the seminary.  There will be much more later.  Some good and some really bad.  How bad?  I guess that would be open to interpretation, but it was really bad to me.