Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.
Preface to This
personal narrative has been a long and tedious work. I won't deceive you. The reason for "preface" is because you have read way too many "this is my Introduction" and it was time for a change. A needed-change.
And as for "this" work, although it is long, it is filled with twists, no reference to Chubby Checker. Twists that will take you places you were convinced that you needed to be there, but poof! That road ended. Now you will go on some gravel roads, hitch-hike to a town, (maybe), and meet some new friends and maybe eat a good healthy meal.
The only thing that I ask of you is DO NOT read anything into this narrative. And I do mean anything. Just judge this piece by its merits, quality, and adventure, (yep. Some of that too) that will make you smile.
Please let me Have Your
attention . . . it's now Jan. 17, 2018, and I am on my Second Making of black coffee in my Commercial Coffeemaker. Some lean on dope. Some lean on lies. I lean on coffee. Don't dare judge me. I'm in a rancorous mood so frustrated at not attending college, frat parties and dating some sorority queen, "Jan," who hated me in the early going, but when I stopped "loaning" her the food money, she all but took my life. She always looked hot dressed in satin.
This is really not a standard story, hub, or Regular Commentary with cosmetic characters who are so lifeless a dead perch on some deserted beach would be great to talk to. And this is not even another tell-all about "Elvis Presley's Love Child Found Out to be a Wolf." This is a simple look through my eyes as I try to paint a truthful handful of facts about "Little Wendall Junior's" Hollywood Dude Ranch." It was the talk of the town. Even Clark Gable was reported to have spent a day or two at this "Jawbone, AZ" ranch where caution was threw to the wind and money was swindled so slick that a bottle of Mazola would seem like sandpaper.
If you didn't read Variety or Hollywood Talk magazines, this name, "Wendall Junior," will be bleak and without meaning. In briefest of words, "Wendall Junior," aka/ Parker Swindle, was always near people in show business, but never in show business--until that fateful day that Swindle, who in his high school years, excelled in Boys' Gymnastics, saved the life of a Mr. Howard Foster, a retired welder who worked in Detroit, Mich., in one of the Ford Motor Company plants. Foster, who was half deaf, was having his morning breakfast in "Sharon's Toast and Joe" in Provo, Utah, one sunny Friday morning and as was his custom to leave the check and tip on his favorite table, he would walk from the restaurant and go back to his home across Broad Street in "Mammy's Boarding House," which was rated Excellent by newspaper Health Critics for being strict beyond measure. This dump was so strict that the richest boarders were not allowed to whistle inside the building for as the boarding house owner, "Joe Samuels" a former boxer and Navy vet had lead a clean life due to his conversion to Christ.
Foster had walked at dead center of the highway and upon hearing the horn of an oncoming tire delivery truck, there Parker Swindle stood on the sidewalk nearest "Mammy's" and with his cat-like reflexes, dug his nails into Foster's back--carrying him out of the way of the truck and to safety. Foster, 78, was alive, but in shock. But Swindle, who also knew how to treat a shock victim, gave him reassuring embraces and soft words of comfort that caused Foster to sit up and smile at Parker in the most amazing way. But Parker was not about personal gain or fame. He simply shook Foster's hand, helped him to his feet and escorted him to Room 388, on the second floor of "Mammy's" before a huge crowd including "Samuels" who was weeping and clapping so loudly that it sounded like a plague of locusts sent by Moses to Pharaoh
Before Parker left Foster's room, he handed him a business card that read: "Hollywood Off-Screen Talent Agency, Where Any Nobody Can Be a Star" and Parker tucked it into his shirt pocket and went about his business of selling door-to-door recipes from Southern Cooks. Parker did his best, but with that lisp, the rigid, suspicious housewives would snarl and slam the door in his face. Not a good line of work for Parker.
After the Long day had Finished,
that night, Parker ate his TV dinner of Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and fried okra, and while he sipped his black coffee, began dreaming of his boyhood days dreaming about being the star in a Broadway play because his Aunt Jessica, a widow, and only sister of his mom, would leave at least four or five Hollywood Glamour magazines when she would leave after a two-week's visit with his mom. Truth is, Jessica was a thief; a good looking thief with just enough curves to taunt the longing eyes of any man and with a smooth tongue that gave her the entrance of their wallets in a night's time.
She was also a hard-drinking alcoholic. But Parker, who had seen her in the worst condition, never bothered to tell his mom about Aunt Jessica being "sick with Japanese Flu" an awful disease that an Army veteran of WWII gave her during a week-end party. Truth is: Jessica loved every dance, drink, and lie.
To Parker, even with believing the explanation about "Japanese Flu," Jessica was a saint.
When Aunt Jessica was visiting, Parker was the happiest kid on the block. When Jessica was sober, and Parker's parents were at work, she would read to him and do impressions of all the Hollywood stars--Mickey Rooney, Kirk Douglas, Donna Reed and his favorite, Rita Hayworth. Yes. Take it to the bank. Parker was bowled-over with Jessica's Show-Biz talk, impressions and the entire Hollywood Dream.
"Is that all you can do is gaze at those Hollywood smut books, son?" his gruff dad, Denver Swindle, 43, a city sanitation worker would yell at Parker but only when he had a few hard drinks under his belt. "I tell ya' something, doofus! I work my butt off each day to put food on this table and you don't act like you 'ppreciate it!"
This is the time that both Parker and his mom, Milly dreaded. The time when his dad would rise from the wooden kitchen table, pull off his belt and take a few easy strikes on his legs and behind while Parker would just lay still in the floor where he had been reading about Hollywood and the many stars he began memorizing in alphabetical order. Milly, who has seen this scene unfold too many times, just shielded young Parker when her drunken husband yelled and finally stormed into the living room and passed out.
This sequence of events went on for a few years. Until Parker, who loved to exercise in high school, was now a hulking kid with biceps like iron and two fists like rock--but never tried to defend himself from his drunken dad or anyone else. Parker was not about physical violence. He was about fulfilling the Golden Rule even to his alcoholic dad's dying day. Parker never shed one sympathetic tear, but those at his church always believed that those tears that rolled down his cheeks were for Denver, but secretly, Parker shed them for his Milly who left when he was nine, during a hellish rainstorm and his dad never reported her as missing.
Parker's dad lied to the police about Milly's sudden departure saying that her only sister, Jessica, came to pick her up one night to take her to a hospital in Phoenix where Cancer was being treated in leaps and bounds and Jessica had checked herself in this hospital, but needed a relative to sign the rest of her legal papers. Truth is, no one, not even Parker knew where Milly went or where or if she were still living--Parker was saddled with several hurts that he carried from this trauma, and the traumas from his dad beating him like a wild jackass.
Years continue to flow decently in Parker's life and except for the occasional weeping jags brought on from the aforementioned troubles, he led a quiet and obscure life. He was never at any one job for a lengthy period of time. He would start soundly out of the gate, but someone would kid him about something or other hurting his feelings and would tell a white lie about a "certain" illness causing him to go home and seek medical attention. Parker's imagination was always at the ready to give believable lies to his bosses as to why he had missed days, sometimes a week at the time, of his job. His bosses were sympathetic, but their patience would grow thin and when scolded, Parker would break-down and cry and resign from his job in whatever capacity he happened to be involved with.
At the time of Parker trying to sell Delicious Southern Recipes door-to-door, he had escorted Mr. Howard Foster to his room at "Mammy's Boarding House" and was now searching his options, if any, as he was rolling the card (given to him by Mr. Foster) over and over--thinking about his future in Provo and what his next move might be. Parker, if anything, was always thinking of the future. Even when he would be exercising in the Boys' Gymnastics Class where many of his peers, male teachers included, thought that he would make a great P.E. Instructor.
"It (Parker being a P.E. Instructor) was a lock," Mr. Gerald Claweston, Science Teacher, remarked one day as he ambled through the gym where Parker was instructing his P.E. Class consisting of 50 males all robust and fiery of life. "Yep. With Parker's golden blond hair and huge smile, Swindle would have met with a huge amount of success "if" he had not had a rambling streak in his heart," Claweston added.
Many times, Claweston and other teachers and students would find Parker stuck to a window in the high school just staring out in space as if someone or "some thing" were calling out to him to take him to a place where his true calling was located. True, Parker was not only the Best fill-in Boys' Gymnastics teacher on the high school ground, but he was also the most restless.
One time his one and only female friend, Jennifer Linler, who secretly liked Parker, but he only saw her as a voluptuous girl in his senior class, confided in her during their lunch period when Parker had been extra restless that morning and was caught by an English instructor, Mr. Peter Ball, who lovingly-scolded him for running softly down one hallway and then the other. Jennifer was not only close to Parker, but she had feelings for him--and those feelings for Parker would remain hidden for years while Parker was most times, searching for his true pathway of life.
Then one morning, Parker felt very rebellious. Instead of him always wearing gray socks, he chose to wear pink socks on this particular (and very scary) school morning. He hurriedly combed his curly blond hair and buttoned his vest and zipped his corduroy trousers and instead of him walking the 10-minutes it took for him to get to school, he just sat in the living room of his one-bedroom apartment and looked all around his apartment at his furniture, one table and chair, hot plate, radio, and lilac throw rug as if he were taking one last inventory of his apartment to give someone a list of things he wanted to give away. Maybe Parker was doing just that--but in the mood that he was in, anything was possible.
Parker had saved enough money from his miserly-amount of Delicious Southern Recipes from Southern Cooks to afford a one-way bus ticket--and now, he was acting all on faith. Every ounce of his fiber was squealing for him to stay put. Do not go anywhere but look for a job. But Parker ignored those personal messages inside of him and walked briskly down the sidewalk to the Atlantic Bus Co., to where he, with shaky hands, took out the $13.87, and laid it on the small shelf in front of (a) Mr. Jansen, who looked every bit of 87, who looked at his money and asked, "something for you today, sonny?"
You bet there was something for Parker. A one-way ticket all the way to Hollywood, CA., to where Parker felt strongly that he would find happiness and the pathway he had sought for years.
As he sat in the Atlantic Bus Company's wooden bench in the Waiting Area, he softly wept, but didn't speak one vowel to the passengers who were sitting near him. Parker was weeping for all of those young men who Parker taught in the Boys' Gymnastics Class and Jennifer, his one female friend and his mind raced back to Aunt Jessica and her drinking binges, his love for Hollywood magazines and the bad memories of his dad beating the fire out of him and Milly who obviously had, in one rainy night, taken all she could and left him. Now Parker held his face in his two hands with a white handkerchief and cried like a three-year-old. The other passengers waiting to board the bus (with him) sighed and whispered their sympathy for him, such a young, good looking lad, sitting on a wooden bench and crying his eyes out.
Truly, this scene was what helped to make Hollywood famous in Parker's early twenties there on that wooden bench. As simple as that.
The Atlantic bus rolled in he jumped (a bit) when he heard the air brakes. It was time. Parker's mind was made up. He grabbed his valise that carried his two pair of corduroy pants, two white shirts and an assortment of socks, underwear, and a few knick knacks--things that he had painted and cross-stitched while relaxing in his apartment. Parker might have been sensitive and caring, and for the most part, very intelligent, but Parker was ignorant of loneliness. A gift no doubt.
The ride from Provo to Hollywood was mostly uneventful. A few passengers sitting near Parker would try to make small talk with him, and he could reply as best he could, but this constant weeping (and crying) kept the passengers alert and caring about what might happen to Parker after his crying was finished.
"You think that valise he's carrying's got a gun and he might shoot his head off?" One caring black lady of 76, whispered to her friend sitting in the seat next to her.
"Shhhh! Just let him be. You might set him off,"the other passenger, a caucasian woman in her early 40s quietly replied leaving both ladies to just be quiet and still as the miles rolled on toward Hollywood.
Needless to say, these two conservatively-thinking ladies were ahead of their time. Parker didn't go off on them or anyone on the bus ride that took almost seven hours--which included rest stops, a Lunch Stop and a Dinner Refreshment time. People everyone loved the Atlantic Bus Company for they thought of almost everything that a customer might want.
As soon as Parker woke from his drowsy stupor and saw the huge "Welcome to California: The Golden State" billboard across the state line, he was happy as a hog in new mud. His dreams of being in Show Business were still heavy on his mind and with each mile, he was the more confident that opportunity was about to knock and Parker would be what he always dreamed of being: a Famous Broadway star who was loved by one and all.
Poor Parker Swindle. As the bus drove off and the other passengers had met their awaiting relatives who were meeting them . . .there Parker stood. Alone, almost broke and nowhere to sleep. But Parker had faith that God would provide and he smiled as he whispered, He always has, and kept walking.
Parker's vibrant enthusiasm was almost down to a low hum as he walked, what seemed to be, his last mile as he kept looking in the storefronts of closed businesses who posted "For Rent" signs to help attract more customers, but Parker did not give up. He read every sign that the storefronts had to offer. Then it hit him. Or it hit him: "For Rent," one room apartment. Front and last deposits required. We pay utilities. See storeower." It was Fate, thought Parker who just sat down on the wooden ledge of a furniture store, "Buster's Galaxy Drive Furniture," but was closed. Parker found a small, dry alley between this store and a coffee shop, so he bedded-down since he was exhausted from the bus trip and too, the time was now 9 pm, and Parker was ready to get some sleep.
"Listen, sirs, I am an American, and I uhhh, would like it, uhhhh,"
— Parker Swindle
Peter Wasn't a Geographical Expert, and Didn't Know That
in 1947, Los Angeles was a fledgling town and a virtual mixture of migrant fruit workers, would-be industrialists, even a few miners, but in the area where Parker Swindle had lay down on his clothes to give him somewhere soft to get a good sleep, but little did Parker know that there was a dangerous gang of hoodlums who thrived on strangers--ready to "roll them" and take their valuables leaving them penniless, hungry, and homeless. Parker, for some reason, was always, without him knowing, drawing undesirables out for blood. His.
"You get your butt up . . .NOW!," shouted a tall, dark-skinned man with a black moustache staring directly into Parker Swindle's terrified eyes.
"Uhhh, I, uh, hey! Uhhh, what's the . . ." Parker said trying to be brave.
"You hold this buzzard, and I'll clean him good," the tall, dark-skinned man said to one of his gangster friends.
The first man clicked his switch-blade scaring Parker to death and he began crying and holding his hands up shaking as the first man reached into every pocket he had in his clothes.
"Ahhh, looka here! Here eez, whiskeeee moneeeee," the tall man said as his buddy slapped Parker across the face a few times making him ready to scream.
"What about his clothes? We can get his clothes and some pawn shop will give you three bucks. Whattaya say?" the second hood said with an evil grin holding Parker's head to the ground.
"Listen, sirs, I am an American, and I uhhh, would like it, uhhhh," Parker said as the two men stripped him of all but his briefs.
"You should keep yure mouth shut, or weeee will keel you! Huh?"The tall thug asked while sticking his sweaty face into Parker's face and laughing at him to further humiliate him.
All things in time. Parker had kept this saying in his mind since he was six. And the older he grew, the more he saw the things he wanted come to pass--even people whom he liked would appear with some tough thinking, but to Parker, it was a magic solution.
Parker tightened his muscles and stood up in the faces of the two gorilla's and put on an angry face. It was the same as a Mexican Show Down--the two thugs staring into the weepy eyes of Parker who was standing his ground and doing a good job. He crossed his arms to further show the two that he was no one to be pushed around.
"You guys up to something? Huh? Now leave them clothes on the ground and leave or I'll . . ." said the middle-aged man winding up his bullwhip sending fear through the faces of the two troublemakers and making Parker smile like he had seen a magic genie come out of an old lamp.
"Gee thanks, mister. I appreciate your help," Parker said putting back on his clothes. But the thugs did get away with Parker's last five bucks and some change, but that wasn't about to stop Parker's glee. He was more interested in finding out the name of this savior who had came to his rescue.
"My pleasure, son. That's my job. My name's Willy Whip, what's yours?" Willy said.
"Parker! Parker Swindle, sir! How'd you do that snapping when you tossed that whip thingeee?" Parker said admiring the man's whip.
"Oh, son. That's quite a long story. You staying around here?" Willy asked.
"No, sir. I just got off of the Atlantic bus a few hours ago and I was trying to get some sleep in his alleyway when these two mean men robbed and well . . ." Parker explained and Willy interrupted.
"Hold it, son! Take ye' breath. You are going with me to The Hollywood Ranch and meet the gang and get yourself a good homemade meal. How about it?" Willy asked taking Parker by the hand as they walked down the alley way.
The two new friends shook hands and started walking and as they walked, Parker, out of sheer excitement said, "Willy, sir. Uhhh, are we "really" going to The Hollywood Ranch?"
"Wy' sure, son. Why do you ask?" Willy replied looking very serious.
"Just a reflex, I guess. I was about to ask if you were one of those, uhhh, and I hate to say this, but one of those migrant farm workers who robbed and stripped me. I was just playing it smart, sir. I didn't want to be robbed and laughed at again, sir," Parker said as he climbed into Willy's pick-up truck.
Willy and Parker talked for most of the ride to The Hollywood Ranch and Parker was like a golden retriever who was sticking his head out of the truck's passenger side window and letting the Los Angles wind get in his blond curls and one time when Parker was being mischievous, let his tongue hang out and let the wind sling it as they drove toward the ranch.
Parker never knew it, but this gesture, although just meant for fun, was exciting Willy in ways that Parker couldn't imagine.
When Willy took Parker into the Main Lobby of The Hollywood Ranch, there were beautiful posters and autographed photos of Hollywood's biggest stars all smiling and happy to be famous. There was a dapper Caesar Romero; Al Jolson; Alan Hale, Sr.; and a young Gig Young who was just settling into Show Business. Parker was in paradise and wanted Willy to take his photo in front of the stars' photos, but Willy told Parker that he should get to the Chow Hall to get a bite to eat.
Willy walked briskly ahead of Parker who was not over seeing those Hollywood stars and had a goofy grin on his face and before he could do anything, Willy told him to stand over to the big dining table. When he made the walk, he saw all varieties of ham, sausages, pork chops, whole turkeys browned to a turn along with (what looked like) tons of sweet bacon all waiting to be eaten.
But suddenly Parker heard, "You some kind of robber?" an old man said shaking his walking stick at Willy.
"Ha, ha! No, sir. Just brought in this new guy from east L.A. and he needed a bite and a bed," Willy explained.
"Well, who is he?" the old man said very short.
"Awww, now, Mister Henry, that's no way to talk to this young man. This is Puppy Swindell and over here is Mister Henry," Willy said while Parker was about to laugh at his obvious vocal error.
"It's Parker Swindle," Parker whispered to Willy who looked absolutely embarrassed.
Mister Henry and Willy both broke into a heavy laugh and Mister Henry wasn't that old at all. He as just helping Willy pull one of his famous gags that he and the Hollywood Ranch Talent Gang would perform when their talent management company would call and set up a grand opening or a premiere to a hit film and many times, this seriously-talented troupe would even appear for half-price in cameo appearances to keep their names in the public.
The Hollywood Ranch Talent Gang were barred from appearing with Charlie Chaplin for as some legitimate sources said: the Talent Gang must have drank way too many Whiskey Sour's and caused Chaplin to have to take 22 takes in a funny scene that on any other day would take Chaplin three takes tops.
Mister Henry and Willy led Parker to where he could sit and eat until his heart's desire. And was he hungry. Those saltines and mayonnaise that a friendly boarder in "Mammy's" had given him as a going away gift were long forgotten as Parker made the way to Los Angeles. Parker ate everything he seen while Mister Henry and Willy sat down and had a drink and talked.
After a very, very huge meal, Parker slapped his stomach and smiled as Mister Henry and Willy grinned at him.
"You want me to show him where to bed down?" Willy asked Mister Henry.
"You feel up to it, Willy? Ha, ha. You go right ahead and make sure that breakfast is at 7 sharp or there'll be trouble," Mister Henry joked and left.
While Willy led Parker down the long hallway to the ranch elevator that took the rest of the Hollywood Ranch Talent Gang and employees used to go up and down either for eating, dressing or rehearsing, and Parker took it all in. He was really "in" show business--although it was not told to him in what capacity.
Willy told story after story about how Mister Henry and the rest of the Talent Gang got their starts in "The Business," and although their popularity was waning, their names were on the market daily for some company wanting to have Lenny Lizard do rope tricks and other amazing things that defied Physics and sell that company's product. Lenny didn't mind. His agent no longer sent him any new scripts, so he took what work he could.
"So,Willy, what you are saying is," Peter said. "the Talent Gang is actually a gang of guys who each do tricks and amaze unsuspecting humans, then "that" human becomes a fan and not just your garden variety fan, but a wild fan about The Talent Gang."
Willy winks at Peter and walks out of the room. Peter is now exhausted and is snoring his head clean away. This young man has traveled further, discovered lots more and made more friends than anyone his age has accomplished. Outside, an owl looks toward Peter's room and sees Peter putting out the light and the owl says, "whoooo?"
Yes. Who, indeed?
Peter slept like a log. 10 hours of good, long sleep was just what the doctor ordered for Peter. Willy Whip tapped him on the foot. Peter, not fully-awake, said, "Dad, stop beating me! I ain't a dog!" Then Peter would roll and toss around as if he were possessed.
"Young man! Oh, young Peeeteeer! Time to get up!" Willy said in his finest bass voice.
"Oh . . .yeah, uhhhh, you, Willy! Hey, what time is it? What? You mean I slept until 10 am? Willy, I am so embarrassed. Where do I go now?" Peter asked while rubbing his eyes.
"We going to eat, Peter. The rest of the guys canceled their day's plans in order to meet you," Willy explained.
Peter and Willy walked back to where Peter had eaten the feast the night before. The two could hear male voices from the Holly Ranch Talent Gang Dining Room and Peter knew that he wasn't dreaming. He was looking forward to more of the great food that he ate when he arrived last night.
Mister Henry, sitting in a classic wheelchair was sitting in his customary place, the head of the table and when he saw Peter and Willy, he stood up along with the rest of the Talent Gang who were seated on every side of the huge Oak dining table.
Willy and Peter both sat down. Willy got a first sip of black coffee while Peter took a sip of his milk. And even with this amazing feat of knowing what he loved to drink at breakfast was not sinking in to Peter. He just unfolded his napkin, sorted out his silverware and was preparing to pick-up a slice or two of bacon when Mister Henry yelled,
"Son! You accustomed to eatin' ye' breakfast not wearing any clothings?"
"Sir?" Peter said very surpised.
"I mean, stand up there! Mister Henry ordered and slapped the table top. "Pick up a jobless young man and he disrespects the head of the house." Mister Henry added.
Peter stood up and all of the Talent Gang applauded as he looked very embarrassed.
"Sir, I must protest this humilation," Peter said. "I am not used to being inspected like I am in the Army!"
"Now you hold on, son. Apparently you have not been told that I am the head of this here table and ranch! And this wheel chair is a hoax. I can walk, run, and swim faster than Flipper, so you best be telling me why you are dressed like a bride on her honeymoon morning!" Mister Henry said in his gravel-edged voice.
A silence filled the dining room. The Talent Gang all looked at Mister Henry who was waiting for Peter to say something, but he only put his head down and remained standing. This was how Peter was accustomed to being scolded as when he was five and both is parents still living.
Mister Henry took his cedar walking stick and began to pick at Peter's shirt, silk pajama bottoms and regular socks had certainly got Mister Henry's ire up and really having a tough time talking.
"Kid, got to tell ya', you ain't much of a man to dress like a girl and sit like you are a girl, so are you a girl?" Mister Henry said almost touching Peter's face.
"No, I am not a girl, sir. I will go and change when I finish eating this great breakfast--when I was a boy I never had bacon this sweet or milk this cold, no, sir. I feel like a poor little servant boy living with the king of some European country by the way you fellas dress and eat. Say, why aren't there any females here?" Peter said causing the entire Talent Gang to suddenly look at each other. Willy included.
"No time, young man. When you are like us, talented gymnasts, trapeze artists, rope wizards, knife masters, we don't have time for women. Our careers took the place of our girlfriends and wives. Understand? Tell me that you understand?" Mister Henry said bellowing at Peter who was almost in tears.
"Ahhh, what's everybody doing today? This old man's going to talk to this Peter here about the ranch and the Talent Gang and see what his intentions are," Mister Henry said.
"Sir, I will be glad to wash the dishes--to make up for my fashion faux pa. Okay?" Peter said very boldly.
"Wash dishes! Get him! Son, we have a dish washer: an invention that Old Oather over yon made a few years back. You should see it work. All the guys do is walk by that contraption, drop their silverware and plates into the little door on the top and bing, bam, boom! The dishes are super-clean," Mister Henry explained.
For the rest of that day, Mister Henry and Peter Swindle sat in the Master Den, the place where Mister Henry stayed most of the time, and told the story of The Hollywood Ranch and The Talent Gang and what they did to get here and why. Peter's face was frozen at hearing the amazing things that Willy Whip did when he was with the Barnum - Bailey Circus and played to sold out audiences for a year. And Old Oather, what a blacksmith he was when he lived in Wyoming years after the Civil War was history. Oather, when he was 18, could pick up the entire horse, weigh it, shoe it in less than an hour. And this was only an example of what The Talent Gang did as young men.
Mister Henry told Peter most of the Talent Gang's names . . .Lenny Lizard; Wolfing Buddy; Iron Fist Charlie; Cannonball; Big Motor; Loud 'N Dirty Don; Hawk Sir and there was Water Man who was an expert swimmer and kept The Hollywood Ranch free of bums who tried to sneak inside of the Secure Perimeter while the men slept and swam in the Private Lake to just tell their friends how they, (the bums) beat the Hollywood Ranch's System.
But there was that sad time when the "bums" from over in the big city stopped sneaking into the Private Lake at the Hollywood Ranch, began to fade, tears of Mister Henry and the rest of the guys shed tears the size of a quarter. Oather spent a few thousand bucks on a Sign Painting Company who after Oather told the owner of the company (about the "bums" not sneaking in to swim in the Private Lake) he took pity on the Hollywood Ranch men and The Talent Gang's wave of sadness hit the gang, the sign painter had his employees "give" Oather and the guys in the Hollywood Ranch 250 glow-in-the-dark signs that Oather hung on the trees in full-sight of the "bums" who were used to sneaking into the Private Lake and having some midnight fun, but no dice. The ride was over. Oather cried while he took down the signs which was in one way of thinking, another end of something bigger. Something more special than a few signs that advertised "Free Swimming in Private Lake!" on the now-obsolete signs. The end of the Hollywood Ranch and The Talent Gang was on scary grounds and in years to come, events and changes even more scary were just waiting for these men on down the Road of Life.
Peter interrupted Mister Henry as he was going down Memory Lane from the Glamorous Years to the now-Mediocre years of the Hollywood Ranch and The Talent Gang.
"Say, Mister Henry. Since you are the head of this organization, just what will I expect on a day like today?" Peter asked.
Mister Henry rubbed his chin and looked far away for a moment and said: "Well, you can expect fun games we play that are not only fun, but help us stay in shape. Games like: "30 Frog," which is a form of Leap Frog, but you will be the Guest Leaper and if all of the guys come home for supper this evening, we can have this lively game to play. Or . . ."Back Man's Wash," this is where 15 guys stand back-to-back and the man on each end is given a wet wash cloth with lots of soap on it and when the gun fires, the "Wash" is on. The man hands the wash cloth over his shoulder without looking and hope that the next guy catches the cloth and passes it on. The man on the other end is doing the same thing and when one man gets his own wash cloth back, he is the winner. Games like that, son. You will fit in just great, that is if you decide to stay," Mister Henry said very convincingly.
At supper that very night, another miracle was hatching. An event that would start an evolution of change with Mister Henry and the rest of The Talent Gang as Peter Swindle, equipped with a black marker and a few pieces of poster board laid out the greatest idea ever to hit Mister Henry, The Hollywood Ranch and even The Talent Gang.
Peter did, as you know, was persistent when it came to selling those awful Southern Recipes from door-to-door--Peter never gave in or up. Not only did he streamline the Hollywood Ranch into becoming a big money-making enterprise, but he took The Talent Gang and completely revamped their various acts and tricks into evolving into a complete, money-making Dude Ranch. That's correct. A Dude Ranch. This was a stroke of genius.
Peter designed the brochures and mailing lists to every post office box and address in Los Angeles and with the money that The Talent Gang had saved in the bank and with their Social Security, it was a win, win situation. Peter had scored what was later said to be The Greatest Dude Ranch in the Entire United States.
Of course, The Talent Gang honored their various contracts of stores who were going to have Anniversaries, stores opening up with The Talent Gang as Guest Stars in their Grand Openings, plus when the Dude Ranch brochures began to come to fruition, The Talent Gang would be able to quit their commercial talent gigs and just concentrate on the Dude Ranch.
Peter Swindle, as he grew older, took the show name of "Wendall Junior," and added that name to: "Wendall Junior's Dude Ranch and Total Cowboy Gang," which was also win, win deal for all who came to be trained for cowboy work or for one of the Cowboy Gang member to train a prospective client into going into some Stunt Work. Rumor had it in the early 1960s that Burt Reynolds had spent a week at the newly-designed Dude Ranch and Cowboy Gang and was it a coincidence that Reynolds, Jan Michael Vincent and Brian Keith all played stuntmen in Reynolds' hit film, Hooper?
It's just possible. All of this is just possible. Miracles can happen at the most-inopportune times and Peter Swindle's idea is proof of that.
Curtain is Closing
on this one personal narrative. I hope that you have enjoyed (and understood) the plot-line, character basis and my own personal tidbit that I must share (which proves that through the power of HubPages' Text' slots, I can write and remain lazy.
During the middle to the end of his narrative you will read the main character as "Peter Swindle," and while this is true, I neglected to write that when Swindle entered Los Angeles County in 1947, he started using the sir name, "Parker," which in his way of thinking was a stronger name and certainly more manly.
© 2018 Kenneth Avery