Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Birth of Charles Juarez Way

October 19, 2014
   When we were seniors in high school, in 1965, our baseball team had an away game at Parker and it so happened we were leaving early on Saturday morning. On Friday night a wonderous thing happened: Charlie Waters' parents were out of town and he invited a half dozen of his teammates to spend the night at his house, which was a couple blocks from the bus we had to catch in the morning. I was one of the fortunate few to be invited.

   The very idea that six high school horn dogs had an entire house to our nefarious selves on a Friday night was mind boggling and we had all sorts of teen age fantasies perking in our wicked little brains. Charlie's idea of being naughty was to stage a poker game in his parent's kitchen and if memory serves me correctly a couple of the guys were even smoking cigarettes. But poker and smoking wasn't my idea of fun and so Wayne Rutschman and I offered to go score a case of beer. As we drove down into the wash by the Mormon Church we saw three shadows come out of the bushes. It was like a dream: three gorgeous, naughty classmates, all cheer leaders, came towards us wearing white short shorts. We stopped the car and they came up to us and informed us they had snuck out and were looking to have some fun. Now if I saw this in a movie, I wouldn't believe it.

   We got the case of beer, returned to Charlie's house and, as we sauntered up on the porch with Buick roadmaster grill grins, he met us at the door: "No way!" he boomed blocking our entrance and pointing out into the night. We tried to plead with him, we attacked his manhood, we belittled his hair do, but to no avail. Wayne and I and another guy tried to move the party out into Clacks Canyon but it rained, one of the girls cried and the moment was lost forever. The precocious girls went back to their homes and nothing happened, but it was on this night that Charlie earned the nickname "No Way Charlie." Thanks to my vindictiveness ("We could still be there partying with those babes, you stupid bastard!"), it was a title he held for a very long time.

   When Charlie was in Little League, he was on the Kingman all star team in 1960 and during the Northern Arizona Little League Championship in Williams, the local newspaper ran a photo of Charlie crashing into third base, over the top of the third baseman, with the caption identifying him as "Charles Juarez." Somehow Waters got mangled by a cub reporter into Juarez.

   A couple of years ago, Charlie called me and said he saw on my blog that I was going to Paris, France to talk to a publisher about printing my Wyatt Earp book in French, and he asked if he and Linda could join us. At first I thought he was joking. This was "No Way Charlie" after all, and I couldn't believe he was serious. He and Linda not only showed up, but we had a marvelous time, with the crowning moment being a lunch in a very historic, snooty restaurant (The Palais Royale where Napoleon allegedly dined!) where Charlie not only footed the bill but delighted us with his wit and charm and most of all, his easy going ways. I told him I thought it was time to alter his nickname, and so from that moment, until the end of his life, I always called him Charles Juarez Way. Or, Mr. Way, for short.

Two of the girls who we picked up in the wash are in this photo (names withheld because they are now respectable grandmothers).

"There are three sides to every story: your side, my side and the truth. And no one is lying."
—Robert Evans