My dad, James Whitmore, Part Four

My dad was sitting in his big leather chair. I think it was leather. This was the talk. He was going to lay down the rules.I had just returned from a road trip on his dime – in point of fact I had stolen money rom him to finance the trip – that had had taken me from my luxurious home in Rustic Canyon just below the Pacific Palisades to Elk City, Oklahoma. Elk City was not the final destination I had in mind. It was just the place I ran out of money. I telephoned home collect and my dad wired me the money and now was ready to have the talk.

It was pretty simple really. I was grounded. I was 16 or so at the time. That’s what they used to do in my day. They would ground you; meaning you were confined to the home, except for work and school. I don’t remember how long.

Next rule was no more girl. She was trouble, he said. She was trouble, but I was going to work around that rule. I liked having sex with her. Sorry for the bluntness.

That was that. The talk was over. He welcomed me home again and told me he loved me. My dad.

Now, my mother was a different story. She was angry. Thought I was selfish, arrogant and a liar. All true by the way. I stayed out of her way.

I had taken my little sojourn during the school year so I was truant. The school knew what had happened and was not so pleased to see me back. Another person not so pleased to see me back was my younger brother.

He was working hard on the football field, becoming a great high school football player. I went down on the field to see him and he shunned me as if I had a communicable disease. He wanted nothing to do with me.

The school, Pacific Palisades High School, didn’t either. I was told it would be better if I went to another school; a place where such kids with problems as mine go. I had gotten a job as a delivery boy for Bay Liquors in the Pacific Palisades. My brother had worked there, so I was hired because of the family connection.

I was sitting one day on a stool at Bay Liquors, not attending school because they had in essence booted me out, and my dad came in and asked: “What are you going to do now?” Or words to that effect. I said “nothing. Work here.”

He would have none of it. He looked at me with that intensity, eyebrows narrowed, jaw clenched, and said, “I am not going to give up on you. You are going back to school. We will find you a school.”

My dad was a powerful force for good. So, we went searching for a school that would take me. Not many takers. In fact, despite his fame and money, there were no takers. Until one day.

Part Five: False claim of pregnancy, a new school and some success.


About stevewhitmore

Former award-winning newspaperman and broadcast journalist, both radio and TV, spanning three decades. Army-trained paralegal, court bailiff and prosecutor's lead investigator for the 8th Infantry Division's Judge Advocate General's Corp., Mainz, Germany. 1973-1975.
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