Right now, that’s all to tell

Published 9:15 pm Friday, February 19, 2010

If I only learned one thing as a Cub Scout den mother, it was to let my brain idle while the world was going mad around me. I can still do that.

When “Chad” the Alltel man came to town Wednesday, there was madness all around.

I missed it because I was idling.

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But, honestly, I didn’t know anything about “Chad” the Alltel man.

Other than Andy Griffith, I don’t watch much television. And, I certainly don’t watch the commercials for fear that I might get sick and have to take one of those medications that has side effects far worse than the ailment … “and could cause death.”

So, I wouldn’t have known “Chad” if I’d met him face to face, which I could have if I’d shifted into gear when he visited The Messenger.

But I wasn’t too disappointed. I’ve known my share of celebrities. Stars of the silver screen. From the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn. and from places no man had dared to go before.

I was about 10 years old when Lash LaRue came to the picture show in Brundidge. Live and in person.

He was the most beautiful cowboy in the world. Everything he wore was black. His boots, pants, holster and gun, shirt, neckerchief and his hat. He cracked a black whip and brought law and order to the Wild, Wild West.

I could hardly wait for my hero, Lash LaRue, to come to town.

Betty Kay and I got there real early to get a seat up close to the stage. We didn’t get one. People that weren’t even children came. Grown-ups had no business at the picture show on Saturday.

So, we were halfway back and at the far end of a row next to the heavy, dark red curtains that hung on the wall and smelled like a wet hen. We sat up on the backs of the seats so we could see. When Lash LaRue came out on stage, I almost fell over backwards.

We clapped and cheered every time he cracked his whip. He put on a good show.

Near the end, he asked for somebody to come up on stage. I raised my hand but he probably couldn’t see me way back in dark.

He picked some little “pet” child and I wished it had been me. He whipped paper straws out of the pet child’s hands and mouth and everybody gasped. But Lash LaRue never whipped the child.

I got a Lash LaRue funny book and a picture of him with his whip. I made up my mind right then that, if I ever got married, it would be to Lash LaRue.

The next time I saw a real life celebrity was when Jerry Lee Lewis came to Brundidge. It was supposed to be a big event. People were coming from places like Briar Hill and Tennille and from as far away as Union Springs to see the rock ’n roll star.

But Mr. Great Balls o’ Fire hadn’t gotten into town good when fire bolts lit up the sky and rain fell like in the days of Noah. The night was fit for neither man nor Jerry Lee. But Mama liked Jerry Lee Lewis and, even as scared as she was of bad weather, she was not about to miss him.

He played at the National Guard Armory and only a handful of “lunatics,” as Daddy said, got out in the bad weather to see him. The few of us stood around the piano and there was a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on – most of it on the piano stool. That Jerry Lee Lewis could cut a rug, as Mama said.

Movie star Henry Fonda could also coaly-mo dance. I know that first hand.

He was in the Tetons making the movie “Spencer’s Mountain,” and I was out there working with the National Park Service. Back then, there wasn’t much to the Old West town of Jackson except saloons and souvenir shops and college kids weren’t into souvenirs.

Henry Fonda frequented the places that we frequented. He danced with all the girls and “shot the bull’ with the boys. If we had known that we were hanging out with one of greatest actors of all time, we might have been intimidated and missed all of the Fonda fun.

Henry Fonda, eh. But John Glenn, now that was another story. The world was in awe of the man who had orbited the Earth. When John Glenn visited Yellowstone, fortune shined on me and seated him in my section of the dining room and at my table.

Back then, waitresses didn’t have to say, “I’m Suzie, and I’ll be your server today.” Thank goodness because what came out of my mouth was “What y’all want?”

The world famous astronaut just smiled. “Mississippi?”

“No, sir. Alabaaamer.”

He ordered and rewarded me for “outstanding service” with a five-dollar bill. I should have saved it for framing, but I was making $50 a month and $5 just like a rich uncle dying.

Years later, I literally bumped into the senator from the Great State of Ohio at Oktoberfest in Cleveland.

He didn’t recognize his former waitress.

“Would you autograph the program …. for my children?”

Best wishes, Sen. John Glenn, he wrote. “What’s the accent?” “Alabaaamer.”

He nodded. I think he remembered me.

See, I’m no stranger to celebrities but, for now, that’s all I’ve got to tell.