Thursday, May 01, 2008

May 1, 2008
Had my first speech last night since my personal Wipeout. It was at the Airport Hilton which is way down into the Beast, below Sky Harbor, and Kathy didn't want me driving that far, in rush hour and enduring that much stress. So, she hired a driver. Louie, who is from Baghdad, Iraq, picked me up at the True West offices at 4:45 and drove me in his Lincoln Towncar down into the Beast. Louie is about 6' 4", a former pro soccer player and when we got to the hotel and he walked next to me people gawked because it looked like I had private security.

The speech was for the Arizona Tooling & Machining Association. About 130 people in one of those mini-ballrooms. Steve Alexander introduced me and told the audience I had recently had a heart attack (of course as he said this I was walking toward the podium and feigned another heart attack, dipping low, to guffaws of laughter). I was a little nervous but I did fine. The only loss of skills was my ability to do the Sergio Leone coyote calls from "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly." I think the radical tracheotomy I had has scratched or modified my vocal chords a bit. I hope it's just temporary.

My mother has been gone a year and last weekend I finally looked inside her keepsake box. Here are a few of the items I found:

Included are her report card from Duncan, Arizona elementary school (1934-35). She got straight A's in spelling, music, reading, effort and conduct. But she only got B+'s in art. Dang it! I wonder why?

Lots of photos of young girls with no I.D. on who they are (which is a shame—note to self: I.D. your photos so your kids will know why the hell you saved the pictures!).

She saved her 1949 driver's license (height: 5' 6" and weight: 100). And that photo is of my father's gas station: Al Bell's Flying A with a mileage chart on the back telling how far towns are from Kingman.

She saved a couple newspaper clippings: one is from the Swea City, Iowa newspaper that says:

Kindergarten News
Fifteen of us have now counted to 100. Our names are Robert Bell, Paul Danielson, Robert Johnson, Cheryl Kvamsdale. . ." I remember that Paul and I were in a "gang" modeled after the "The Black Commandos" a serial we saw at the theatre, Robert Johnson was my neighbor in Swea City and Cheryl was my "girlfriend." We left Iowa for Arizona when I was in the third grade and I had given Cheryl a plastic ring I bought. Hmmmmm.

Another newspaper clipping is from the Mohave County Miner, dated December 25, 1956 and it says:

Robert Bell Feted
Robert Allen Bell celebrated his twelfth birthday [which has to be a typo, because I was only ten in 1956] with a luncheon at Bill Oswalds Restaurant on Saturday, December 20th. Later the youngsters enjoyed the matinee at the State Theatre.

Invited were: Bill Blake, Tommy Penrod, Charlie Waters, David Oswald, Daniel Harshberger, David Ostermeir, Philbert Watahomagie, Jerl Stockbridge, Ralph Mullenax and the honoree.

I also discovered a School Book Memories autograph booklet my mother kept from Duncan and Kingman and the poems are touching and hilariously goofy:

"Dear Bobbie: May your life be bright and sunny. May your husband be fat and funny. May your path be filled with roses and your children have pug noses. A downhill start to a successful and happy life."
—Clara Chapman

By my count, only half those predictions came true, but they were the right half. More poems tomorrow.

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