While working for the airline 30 plus years, I occasionally had opportunities to meet celebrities along the way. It was always a treat to recognize someone in person whom you’ve seen on TV, in the movies or read about in the magazines.
I’d like to tell you about two special people I was fortunate enough to encounter. First there was comedian Red Skelton. As a kid growing up in the 50s and 60s, I’d see ol’ Red on TV on his own show or when he made guest appearances on other shows.
He was always upbeat, funny, “naively” happy, and a gifted storyteller, renowned painter and fantastic pantomimist. Whether he was “Clem Kadiddlehopper” or “Freddie the Freeloader” he always made you laugh. And you knew he’d leave you feeling a little bit better about life than before he started his routine.
One time I had him on a flight. He was the same in public as he was on stage — friendly, approachable cordial and always looking for a laugh.
I was standing in the front galley of the aircraft when he exited the first class lavatory. He sort of leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “I don’t know what y’all put in the tea, but everything came out ‘blue’ in there.”
As we were on approach for landing, I came out of the galley with warm, moist, towelettes to offer the passengers to freshen up with.
When I got to Red, I had tong in hand with dangling towelette ready for him to take. He put both hands up slightly and waving me off said, “Oh, no thanks, I couldn’t eat another thing.”
Another fine day in the late 1990s I was on my way between flights walking from Terminal C to Terminal A out at DFW Airport. There, sitting in one of the outward facing lounge seats at Gate 39A was none other than old-time TV Host and author Art Linkletter. He was in his element, just observing people. I knew he was approachable because of the way I saw him interact with people on his national TV Show “Kids Say The Darndest Things” so many years ago.
So I just plopped myself down right next to him and we must have talked 10 minutes. He was amiable, kind, smart - the real deal.
As we ended our time I had to tell him one last thing. I said, “Art, I’ve got an album of yours from way back (1963) called ‘Where Did I Come From?’ My wife found it a garage sale years ago and I actually used some of the material in there to help explain some ‘things’ to my kiddos when they were growing up. So see, Art, you’re still influencing people.”
By the way, my “explaining” (with wife’s help, of course) must have been adequate, for I am a very proud grandfather of three grandsons.
Both Red and Art are gone now.
As they say, “They don’t make ’em like they used to.”
Our world could use a lot more Reds and Arts. How I wished my grandkids (and even my grown children) could experience the innocence, civility, clean humor/comedy that’s seems long gone.
Those truly were the good old days.
Charlie Norman has lived in Somervell County since 1994. He and his wife have two adult children, who graduated from Glen Rose schools. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.