I have had the privilege of meeting a number of famous people along life’s way.
Some years ago, I attended a car show in Tulsa where I met Sorrell Brooke, who played Boss Hogg on the Dukes of Hazard. Most Friday nights Dad and I took a short trip to pick up some Wheel Burgers at the Chuckwagon drive in for supper. We enjoyed the meal while gathered around the television in the kitchen to watch Dukes of Hazard and Dallas.
And one of my most recent autographs is from Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman in the 1970s. About five years ago, I reached out to Carter’s agency asking about getting her autograph.
Lynda herself wrote me an email and sent the address as to where I could send a SASE for her autograph. Her photo did arrive a short time later. I not only have her autographed photo, I have an email note from Wonder Woman herself.
A few years back Debbie and I met Frank Fritz, the former television star of the American Pickers, at the Iowa State Fair. I saw him walking down the midway and chased him down to shake his hand. Later in the day, we got our photo taken with Frank at the US Cellular trailer. I have a framed photo with autographs of Fritz, Mike and Danielle Colby of the popular show.
Other famous people I’ve met from afar include then President Bill Clinton. I was in Washington, D.C. in 1995 as a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia to attend an agricultural communicators event and President Clinton was a guest speaker.
President Clinton spoke to a large room filled with ag communicators in the basement of the J.W. Marriott Hotel, where I was staying for the three-day conference. Everyone was patted down and I had my camera bag checked. The press was everywhere and the photographers even set up lights in the room.
I was toward the back of the room with the other photographers, many with camera lens I would use on an African Safari, not to take photos of the President. The photographer next to me was clicking away and then stopped. “It’s you’re turn,” he said. All I had was my Konica film camera and a short lens. Talk about feeling out of place.
I’ve met and photographed former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, current Gov. Kim Reynolds and some years ago, Debbie and I attend an event for the media at Christmastime at the Iowa Governor’s Mansion when Gov. Vilsack was in office. We toured the entire mansion, including the bedrooms, office and kitchen. That was quite experience walking around in the governor’s bedroom.
One my biggest moments was the time I got to meet and interview the now late Sen. Fred Thompson, a former Tennessee Senator, lawyer and television actor, who in 2007 threw his hat in the Presidential race. He stopped in Montezuma a few days after Christmas that year and I interviewed him in the Montezuma Republican office. I then followed him around the town as he stopped and visited with folks and even struck up a conversation with the fry cook at the Star Lanes.
And I can’t forget about being backstage at the Grand Old Opry on my honeymoon on Oct. 1, 2004. We got autographs of the late Jean Shepard, Porter Wagoner and Little Jimmy Dickens. We also got autographs of country star Chely Wright, T.G. Shepard and the now late T. Bubba Bechtol, a county comedian who invited us back stage after I wrote and told him we would be at the Opry. Such great memories.
I have autographs of former OU Football Coaches Barry Switzer and Bobby Stoops as well as the last coach, Lincoln Riley, who left for USC.
I have a signed footballs by a number of OU players including Brian Bosworth, the “Boz” as he was called when he played for the Sooners in the 1980s. And I once met and got an autograph from Billy Sims, the Heisman Trophy winner in 1978, at the Tulsa State Fair.
I met Patty Gasso, the OU Sooners Softball coach, at a softball game at ISU a few years back. After the game, I stood in the stands by the dugout and called her name. She came over and met me and signed a hat and softball. Debbie and I have autographs of a number of OU players and professional softball players, including Keilani Ricketts, Lauren Chamberlain, Paige Lowary, an Iowa girl, and Shelby Pendley. I also have an autograph of Chelsea Thomas, a Pleasantville, Iowa native who played for the Missouri Tigers a few years ago.
I once met the late Hayden Fry, the former Iowa football coach, and was introduced personally to him by author George Wine, who wrote the book: Hayden Fry: A High Porch Picnic in the late 1990s.
Debbie has met Brad Paisley and was at the state fair when she was invited to a meet-and-greet for Reba McEntire. She also has autographs from coaches and ball players.
And I once attended a Sawyer Brown concert at Meskwaki Casino. I had a press pass as the opening act was Lynston Blain, a 14-year-old North English singer at the time who opened for the county act. Afterwards, I got all the band member’s autographs.
Another person who comes to mind is the now late Charles W. Moore. Moore, a photographer for Life Magazine during the Civil Right days of the 60s, took many of the iconic photos that depict that time in our society.
After he spoke to our photography class at MU, Moore joined a number of us for lunch at Shakespeare Pizza in Columbia across from the J School. I remember the day well as well as his words of wisdom.
“Whatever you do in life, do it with passion,” he told the group that day.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.