My dad, James Whitmore, Part Eight

So, back to dad. Mom was more than great. The last column showed that. I will address more of her support later but now back to dad.

Dad found Oakwood High School for me and it changed my world. For the first time in my short life, I was not only accepted but applauded. I was the star of all the plays done at the time. The school wanted to have a flag football team. I joined and was the quarterback, defensive safety, kicker, punter and kick returner. I was playing all the positions. We won some games but lost more than we won. But I was having a blast. My studies were going better. In fact, when I graduated from Oakwood I had brought my grade point average up to an A. My life had become special.

It went to my head. I became a legend in my own mind. I had girls. In fact, three believed they were my exclusive girlfriends. I was a liar and a cheat. Life catches up with you. The three of them met and found out and it was my hell to pay. I deserved every bit of it.

My mom came to my high school graduation and that was special. She was the only one that came from my family and I appreciated her presence. I was grateful that I was not the kid without family representation. I was still drinking, though, and that was causing problems. Arrest problems.

But first a funny story. After graduation, there were the usual parties and I went. And I drank. One moment, I was flirting with this beautiful girl. She was very interested and things were looking good. I kissed her and she embraced my advance with enthusiasm. I moved in for the kill when all of a sudden I threw up all over her and me. I had been drinking most of the day and my body decided enough was enough. Needless to say, my chance of physical intimacy with this beautiful young thing was over. Her desire was extinguished by my vomiting on her.

And being a good drunk, I got in my car and drove away only to be pulled over by the police. Back to the Los Angeles County Jail for me. After being booked, fingerprinted and assigned a cell, I was given the chance to make a phone call. I called my dad. He’d get me out of this. For sure.

Wrong. It was early in the morning when I called; maybe about 3 a.m. He picked up and the ensuing conversation is based on my foggy memory. It think it went something like this:

“Hello.” dad’s muffled voice came through the phone. Obviously, I had woke him up, like so many times before. “Hi, dad, I’m in jail. Can you bail me out?”

“No. And don’t call me any more. I’m not helping you.” He hung up the phone. Now in County lock-up there was usually a line for the phone. So when dad hung up, I was screwed. I had to figure out a way to call somebody else quickly. I did, ”saying wrong number.” Everybody yelled at me. The cops moved in to stop the second call. But it was already done. I had called my dad back to mention my full name, thinking, perhaps, he did not know who I was.

“Steve, stop calling. You’re on your own.” He not only knew who I was, he was sick and tired of bailing me out. I hung up the phone and was ushered into another room where I was issued county jeans and a jean-type shirt with a number stenciled on the back. I was in jail and I was going to stay a while.

Part Nine: Botched attempt at college. TV series. More jail.


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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