Wayne – A Loyal Friend
My goodly brother Wayne (who was in The Immortal) died Wednesday Dec 27, of heart complications.
I found it interesting that within hours of his death I also learned of the deaths of President Gerald Ford and singer James Brown. Now you couldn’t find two people who were more different than these two, but when I thought about it I see a little of both of them in Wayne.
There was a part of Wayne (especially in his younger years) who was impulsive, likes attention, liked to cut loose, was unpredictable with a devil may care attitude like James Brown. Then (especially in his later years) he was more measured, introverted, reflective, loved quiet conversation and like to mingle with friends and like-minded thinkers. This part of Wayne was more like Gerald Ford.
I’ll just tell a couple stories of his younger James Brown side.
Back in his college days there was this one particular teacher Wayne didn’t like. He was particularly agitated when he came to class one day and the teacher sprang a pop quiz on them. Wayne was completely unprepared for the quiz and felt he had to do something. He leaned back in his chair and it fell over backwards and Wayne started rolling around on the floor like he was having an epileptic fit.
The teacher ran up to Wayne and leaned over him and held him down as he was rolling his eyes around like a crazy man. If this wasn’t bad enough, Wayne slapped the teacher three or four times. Then he acted like he was coming out of it, sat up and asked “Where am I?”
The teacher nervously explained what happened and Wayne replied that the last thing he remembered was sitting back on his chair.
The teacher asked him if he was OK and Wayne said he wasn’t sure, he felt a little dizzy.
The teacher then excused him from the class, as well as the quiz, and told him he could make it up later.
Wayne reserved his exuberance until he was out the door headed for freedom. Who else do you know who slaps a teacher he didn’t like and gets totally excused for it?
Here’s another one.
Back in High School around 1962 during the Cold War Wayne got in trouble with Mr. Horton, his biology teacher. The class was just before lunch and there was always a mad dash to the lunchroom so students could get the best seats and first servings.
We were supposed to wait until the bell before beginning the sprint, but Wayne kept taking off just before the bell rang. Horton warned Wayne, but it didn’t do any good. Wayne kept on leaving a few seconds early.
Finally, Horton had enough and expelled Wayne from the class.
Wayne was upset and wrote Horton a letter and brought it to me because I had a typewriter. He asked me to type it up for him because he didn’t want anyone to recognize his handwriting.
I took it from him and read it. It said something like this.
If we are to take over the United States, we need to have our planted agents, such as yourself, be more cooperative and obedient to orders.
Concerning that textbook you use to infiltrate their minds – we command you to throw it away and replace it with something interesting. Playboy magazine would be better than what you have now.
You know that if we are to make slaves of all the students you teach that they will be of little value unless we keep them in good physical condition. Therefore, we order you to encourage a short sprint to the lunch line to make sure they get a good dose of daily exercise.
We warn you comrade that if you do not do this it will be Siberia for your next assignment.
That’s the gist of it, but it was several times longer and I found it very amusing to read. After finishing it I said, “Even if we type this they’ll still figure out that you wrote it.”
“I want to send it anyway,” he said.
I thought a moment and replied, “If you are set on sending it then I have an idea. I have a pen pal in Canada. We could send it to him and then he could mail it from there. Horton will not be able to figure out who could have sent it from Canada.”
“Let’s do it.” He said.
I then typed the letter up and sent it with instructions to my Canadian pen pal. I think he was hesitant to cooperate and after about six weeks passed I thought he may have thrown the letter away. Finally, over the intercom I heard an announcement:
“Will Wayne Garner please come to the Principal’s office.”
Wayne went to the Principal’s office and was invited to take a seat in front of his desk. The Principal then began with small talk asking Wayne how he was doing in school and then asked him what he wanted to major in when he went to college.
Wayne told him that he was thinking of majoring in forestry.
The Principal then told Wayne that he knew of some good forestry schools up in Canada. He said, “If you went to college in Canada – are there any relatives or friends up there you could stay with?”
“No,” said Wayne feeling a little puzzled.
“Do you know anyone up in Canada?”
“Nope,” he said.
Then the principal pulled out the letter and looked it over as the conversation moved ahead. Wayne saw it and got a little nervous when he realized why the principal was talking about Canada.
The Principal then showed the letter to Wayne and asked: “Did you write this?”
“No,” said Wayne sheepishly.
“Look,” said the principle. “Sure Horton was a little upset at first, but he’s OK now. We just want to know who wrote this. If it’s you we won’t do anything.”
Wayne took him at his word and confessed and then in Wayne’s words to me – “All hell broke loose.” They called in his parents, threatened a lawsuit and just about expelled him from school. Fortunately, Wayne was allowed to stay in school, but Horton was highly offended and refused to let him back in Biology class nor did he ever encourage students to take a short sprint to the lunch line.
Also of note is that the main thing that made the principle doubt that it could have been Wayne is he thought the letter was well written in good English and Wayne didn’t get good grades in English.
I could tell many more stories about this interesting friend. In fact, I think I told several at the Sun Valley Gathering.
Wayne never pretended to be a saint or particularly spiritual but he was one heck of a nice guy who would do anything for his friends. He had quite a lot of money go through his fingers but rarely had any extra because he was always helping others out. If he had a fault in his older age, it was that he was too generous.
I could write a book about my friend, but am out of time. His spirit and mine have yet an eternity to go and it will only seem a small moment before we work and play together again.
May his rest be sweet.
Never refuse any advance of friendship, for if nine out of ten bring you nothing, one alone may repay you. Madame de Tencin
Dec 29, 2006
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