The New York Times ran a piece by Dick Cavett today writing about John Wayne, basically that the Duke was surprising in his taste, gentleness and interests, not just a cowboy actor. Cavett says we might not believe his story, but I do.
That's because I have a Wayne story. Granted, Cavett's (link below) is better, but we describe the same guy, easy going and gracious.
I'm a reporter back then, and my beat at the time is the police and politics of Carmel, California. I generally arrive in town about eight or nine in the morning, have a cup of coffee in the Carmel Creamery (now gone), pick up on what's going on around town from other coffee drinkers, then head for the police station to see who's been busted for possession of pot, followed by a visit to city hall.
On this particular morning, having had that cup, I wander down Ocean Avenue, liking the fact there aren't a lot of tourists around yet. But I don't watch where I'm going and I walk into the midsection of a huge man.
He grabs me by the arms and says, ``You okay, son?'' I'm five-eleven, but this guy towers over me. He looks down at me, laughs, ``What's the matter, kid, don't recognize me without my rug?''
So, yes, it's Wayne without his toupee. Standing next to him is a beautiful dark woman, his wife Pilar. She smiles easily, and we stand around chatting for a few minutes. They like driving up the coast, staying in small towns, getting out and experiencing everyday life. They do it often. They know Robinson Jeffers wrote great poetry in Carmel and that Jack London often visited the village. They like history. They are warm, nice people, totally unpretentious.
We shake hands and part ways and it's a few hours later that I remember I don't like Wayne's stance on Vietnam, or his support of this or that politician. Well, what the hell, the guy I was talking to didn't have hair.
A few years later Wayne dies and the family comes up to Carmel. A local gallery is exhibiting pieces from the Wayne collection and the family uses the event as a charity fundraiser. I see Pilar again, I meet Wayne's son, Patrick, also gracious and soft spoken.
So that's the story, that's it. Cavett's is much better:
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...