Spring and Easter; pinks, yellows and blues; Easter Eggs, Marshmallow Eggs and Chocolate Eggs; Sunrise Services remember the sacrifice of Jesus, and a new Sunday Suit for Randy, Andy and Larry while Sharon would get a new dress to wear to Church circa 1955. It was very hard for my poor old Mom to afford anything so these gifts were very special and if someone dared to damage them, the war was on. Today, Randy is gone, Sharon is gone, Mom is gone and the absentee Dad is gone. Now, just good ole Andy and myself here trying to put our signature on our lives. Today I was reminiscing about Easter and Wyoming back in the day.
It seemed like I visited a lot of different types of Churches when I was a boy as I was trying to find the correct key to the correct lock in life. I searched many a church! As my buddy Curt Penman was a Mormon and his family was my surrogate parents in some ways. They took me often to dinner, vacations, church and even took me to the famous event in Salt Lake called a conclave which was a HUGE event and a beautiful big lit up city to me. All of the new visuals, the new sounds and the new colors and architecture were mesmerizing during those special times. Every kid should and needs to travel and be exposed. I almost got baptized as a young boy in the Mormon Church and then my Mom advised me that those decisions might be made when I was older and more mature.
Then there was the local Catholic Church which for me was very intimidating. I went a few times with my friend Jimmy Brubaker to his church. In this Church they had these women called Nuns who wore clothing that covered everything except what I construed as their homely chubby scowling faces and veiny hands that white knuckled a ruler as their weapon of choice. The Catholic Church was always dark, and quiet and huge inside with the leaded windows. I knew you better not screw up in this place….ohhh shit.
The Holy Water was another obligation that was new to me and it made me feel dumb that I did not know about it as I strolled on in with Wilcox arrogance or ignorance. The constant kneeling and praying and standing were confusing. Knowing just when to repeat certain phrases in a robotic cadence was again, intimidating and made me feel even dumber. And then, to have the Priest stand up and begin speaking in some weird language as I stared up at the adults and wondered if I was in some weird cult world because some of these old people were nodding like they knew what he was saying. I thought I had better get the hell out of this place as this is not cool what is going on here. Since I was now dumb and dumber, I was later told by Jimmy or his family that they were speaking Latin and perhaps I would learn that later in life. I remember the rules too….no eating certain foods on Fridays…..and that also seemed weird to me. I thought to myself – hmmmn no food rules and no Latin for this Wilcox. Seemed like a lot of my Catholic friends had to read and memorize the rules and the Bible a lot. Poor old Pat Chapman could never go play because his Mom had him reading the good book again because he was in trouble. Didn’t seem to help him I thought!
I remember the Catholic Church seemed to have a lot of Saints and they gave those medals out. Someone gave me a Saint Christopher medal when I went to Vietnam. After being in the Nam for 11 or 12 months on the DMZ I was allowed to go on an in country R&R (rest and recuperation) and so I went to Da Nang. I remember wondering what kind of rest this was as the rockets would come in and the mortars. Anyway, I got drunk once with a few of my Marine buddies and we had a few fights with the 101st airborne guys and then after that fun was done we went to swim in the ocean. I was a drylander, a hick and so I did not know what the red flags meant on the beach plus I was drunk. So I said….come guys…lets go body surfing. I later found out the red flags meant there were very strong rip tides and I began to drown that day. I remember being exhausted and then I was unconscious. Later I woke up throwing up salt water on the beach and my buddies laughing as they had hauled my drunk ass in and saved me. The funny thing is I lost my St. Christopher medal in the ocean that day, and I knew that Brubaker and that damn Catholic Church had now jinxed me and that I would probably get killed in the remaining 2 months I had left for my tour of duty in Vietnam. I would like to thank the Catholic Church for that fear and my sudden superstitious and or religious belief in St Christopher. Thanks Jimmy, Pat and you other Catholics.
My church by baptism was the Episcopal Church which was an offspring from the Church of England I think. I may be wrong but the Episcopal Church had lots of rituals also and I was busy memorizing all of the prayers and quotes. I was not really doing it to be pious but more so I could just fit in and not look dumb and dumber than the rest of these “whackos” I privately mused. We did the same gent flex thing the Catholics do and then knelt before the cross before we sat down. Man these rituals, candles, and verses were confusing.
Then I joined the Presbyterian Church and choir and sang with them for a while. That seemed somewhat normal to a latch key kid. I did not know of Jews and Muslims nor did I ever hear of any such reference or I would have been there also.
Our first home I remember was living in the Green House as we called it, in Encampment, Wyoming. I only remember the water pump we had to use in the so called screened kitchen area and the outhouse where the bees and wasps would congregate and wait for my arrival and sting me in my ears. There was an old mule we had, and when you pulled its hair near it rear end, it would buck you off. So my cousins would take turns putting me on the mule and pulling its hair. That same loving sadistic behavior is what I learned to model with my younger brother Andy later in life and I would torture him. For Andy, we had moved to a new house down by Sunnyside School with one bedroom and a big lot. The four children slept in the bunk beds in the one bedroom and my mother slept in the small living room on the couch. I remember Santa bringing us gifts one year, and later found out they were donations. But, I did not know the definition of donation so ….all was good and all was rosy. No shame….just good old gain!
For fun we had an old shed out in the back yard so my older brother Randy and his friends made it into a “club house” and they told me I had to go though initiation. I said fine…..lets go. So they all laughed and said that I had to perform and I said fine….lets go. First they took me down to Sunnyside and told me I had to stand on stage. So I did so and then they took turns throwing basketballs at me to try and knock me down. They almost knocked me out. Then they told me that I had to get my best marbles and play poison pots with them and they won most of my good cat eyes. Then the last and final test came. They would time me and see how fast I could run into the “Club House”, jump up on the tall bunk beds they built, and then open the trap door and climb out on the roof and then jump to the ground without breaking my leg or ankle. I said OK but if I do it in the time required am I in the Club. Sure they laughed and slapped me in the head. I said OK, let’s go and the race was on. They had me do it about 20 times and I was exhausted. They obviously were lying about my times and laughing as I grew more and more tired. Finally Randy and his buddy said….OK, Larry, here, chew a little of this chewing tobacco (snuff) and then do it. I chewed it and got real dizzy and was about to throw up. They laughed and said now you got to try and beat your last time to get in the club. I was really sick and felt terrible now. I went and jumped up on the roof and jumped off and threw up and begin crying. They circled me, and told me to hush up, so my Mom would not know or hear what they had done to me. I told them I was going to tell Mom and they said then you can’t be in the club. So I just laid there sick knowing I was now a member of the big boys CLUB. Nothing like brotherhood and modeling leadership!
Later I did similar pranks to my younger brother Andy. Steve Briggs and I would ask Andy to practice boxing with us. Then we had two pair of cloves. One pair was old and the cushion in the glove had hardened into a clump of cement so that was the one I would use again on ole Andis as we called him lovingly as we bashed his head back and forth with jabs. Then we would invite him to play basketball in our bedroom with the little wire coat hanger made into a basket. When lil Andis would go in for a layup we would slam him into the closet door and he would miss the shot and we would call him a retard. Oh yes…..we were all sadistic big brothers and our evolution had highs and lows because of it. But it sure was fun and funny on both sides of the fence.
Our next door neighbor was another Church. We called that Church the Holly Rollers. Each Sunday the little Holy Roller Church would fill up and the singing would begin and I mean loud singing. It got so loud one day, my brothers and I decided to check this out. So we sneaked over through the bushes and grass like we were real soldiers advancing. Of course we were in plain daylight so the sneaking meant nothing other than making us feel stealth. As we snuggled up giggling with mischief, we raised Andy first so he would get caught in case anyone saw us. Poor lil sucker. Once Andy stayed there then we would edge up the window next to him. Our eyes stared in disbelief as we looked in to the yelling, rolling, moaning and singing on this fine Sunday. We were caught in shock as we stared in fear. People were now moaning and crying and rolling on the floor in what we construed as maybe some witchcraft and torture chamber. We saw people touched on the forehead and they fell down and screamed. We got the hell out of that place and ran back home. Later we had nightmares and told my Mom of these freaks that are hurting each other on Jesus’ Day. What is wrong with them? I am sure my Mom explained but it meant nothing to me because I saw that torment with my own eyes and that was some scary shit!
At a later time I went to a summer camp in a Baptist Church with my two buddies Eric Cantlin and Brad Cheney. All I wanted to do there was meet the girls and see if we could have some luvin fun! That was actually an all right camp because it had the lusty challenge of girls everywhere and with lots of thrills luring one to the shadows and bushes. However, once again there was some crying and anointing going on and those damn stages got pretty intimidating.
My home town churches did teach me the Lord’s Prayer, and a few Catholic Prayers including Hail Mary and some others. I can remember saying the prayer as a little boy….Now I lay me down to sleep, and pray my soul to keep”. As I laugh and muse over these past “experiences” I think maybe the churches gave my very uncertain reactive life a little hope and surely put some boundaries in my conscious with some clear fears.
As I have grown older I find so many different churches and religions, and dogmas that it is all a bit mesmerizing. So I have my faith and it gives me solace and I hope you all have yours. I happened to watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion, the other night and thought about Mel’s choices, this Movie, and the enormous judgment he was now enduring. His alcohol, his rants, his rage, and his confusion with life were sad. I wondered if making the movie had some profound effect on his mind and perceptions of life. I hope he makes it back into loving humanity and himself.
So, as Easter ticks forward and the world begins to try and change the vernacular from Easter to Spring Break we shall see which becomes a vestige based upon the political correctness and the sensitivity of the time in this shrinking global village, planet earth. Truth and its shadows one states?
This past week my son had been working for his grandmother doing lots of labor jobs for her. On his way home a girls spun out in front of him and the car right in front of him with a baby in the back seat slammed on its brakes. My son had to make a decision to rear end and probably kill the baby or swerve into traffic. He swerved, and he hit the center divider at 55 mph head on and totaled our Suburban. No one was injured. The policeman said that even though the girl spun out and the other guy slammed on his brakes it was still my son’s fault because maybe if he was 30 yds further back and at a real safe distance it would not have happened. (no comment). As I always say you can control your thoughts or you can let your thoughts control you…..that is part of healthy psychology or pathology. I chose to believe this was a meaningful moment that my son should be proud of his crisis decision making and that he was spared injury to do better things in this world.
Yesterday I got word that the son of my friend and actor, Bruce Penhall had been hit and killed on the freeway by a drunk driver. I called and left Bruce my condolences knowing that words mean nothing and are in fact sounding gongs under these very painful and tragic conditions. Let us all say a prayer for Bruce Penhall, his grieving family and his young son gone forever. Please tell your loved ones you LOVE them.
Also, I just found out my old buddy and stuntman, Scotty Docksteddar had Huntington’s disease and lived on the streets and in the parks. He died in December and I knew nothing of it until this week. Scotty did most all of my stunts on CHIPS and was a happy young man that lived through heartbreak of girlfriends and abandonment from his friends. He knew he had the Huntington Disease gene marker and knew he would die. My loving memory of Scotty…..thank you for risking your life doing my stunts….and thank you for the special and crazy parties we had together. Your humor and wit were always oblique and entertaining. I loved your individuality!
So on this Easter I would urge you all to think about your PASSIONS. Passions are how you live your life and Goals are things that you achieve. Passions are about process and goals are about outcomes. Have you ever thought about your passions, your ideal life? What do you love to do? What kind of environment to you love to be in? What kind of people do you love to be around? What turns you on and gets you excited? Take some quiet time alone and begin to think of these packed away passions. In tests, most successful leaders have extreme clarity regarding their passions and have often actualized those passions. Take the passion test and write down your 10 passions and then wait a day or two and review them and reduce that list to 5 passions. Then begin working and living for those passions and watch what happens. The New York bestseller, The Passion Test, the Effortless Path to Discovering your Life Purpose by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood is a wonderful book. Make sure when you have time, and if you feel that you are just existing and not really living with passion, that you read this book
For all of you….enjoy your Easter and the special time and memories…..…….remember to LOVE humanity, don’t judge, blame and label, but please love and nurture each other. Enjoy the spirits and the ambience of this special day.