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I own Jim Garner an apology
I own James Garner an apology
Or course, I am not the only one because my aunt and uncle were with me at the time. It was 1957 and westerns were the must see on television for us to see what was happening on the Ponderosa ranch with the Cartwrites. It was also the year a new western show started, called Maverick.
We had gone to Seattle Washington to see the unlimited hydroplane races because a family member, Frank Woods, was working on one of the boats, the Coral Reef. Because we were related to him, we were able to get into the pit area and watch the boats and see the drivers walking around. There was a large tent there where we could eat and get coffee and donuts. All in all, it was uneventful unless you consider when my aunt said she could not stand a certain driver and I happened to see him standing right behind us.
I was 17 at the time, and for me it was a carnival and a circus all wrapped into one with lots of soda pop, ice cream and excitement all wrapped into one.
We had gone into the refreshment tent to get something to eat and drink when we looked at the Maverick Hydroplane and saw all the people standing there with cameras as some guy in a black suit and cowboy boots climb into the cockpit and look at the cameras to get his picture taken. That didn't take long but when he tried to get back out of the boat, his guns got stuck on the side of the cockpit and it took several people to get him loose.
We kind of forgot about him then since we didn't know who he was and he didn't seem too important so everyone kind of ignored him even though someone found out that he was the star of a brand new western series on television.
That man was James Garner and he came into the tent and sat down at a table by himself. My aunt, my uncle and I thought we should get his autograph while no one was bothering him so that when he got rich and famous maybe he would remember us. Then we took another look at him.
I don't know how many of you are old enough to remember 1957 but that was the year of Matt Dillon with his jeans, leather vest with the badge on it or the other western heroes who wore the things you would expect a law man or someone coming in from a cattle drive to wear. It was the time of cowboys, indians, and western heroes.
When we looked at James Garner though we was a man dressed in a suit fancy enough for a wedding or perhaps a funeral with a white shirt that had a frill around the sleeves that looked like the white you would see from a waterfall, like some french lace. He had that same frill at the neck as well and all in all looked as much like a cowboy to us as an airplane would look like a bird to an indian. We knew that man was never going to make it as an actor if he expected people to believe he was a cowboy and so not a single person in that tent went up to even say hello to that guy.
We watched the first episode of that show only because there wasn't anything else on and we really wanted to see how bad that show was going to be and how long it would last. As history proved, the Maverick television show was a tremendous success and James Garner went on to make many more great movies, and we regretted that we hadn't at least said hello when we had a chance to.
Jim Garner, I am sorry we doubted you and sorry that we ignored you, and if I ever should meet you again, I would be proud to buy you that cup of coffee and perhaps even a donut to go with it.