Mason County News
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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 • Posted September 29, 2010

Don’t Answer the Door…

George Dolan, who tickled funny bones daily in his Fort Worth Star-Telegram front-page column for some three decades, was, at the very least, a unique person.

Blackie Sherrod, his best man and sportswriter extraordinaire, nailed it squarely in the foreword of one of Dolan’s books: "Before God made George, He broke the mold."

Dolan cackled heartily at every opportunity, whether he was the "prank-puller" or the "pratfaller." Had he auditioned for the movies with Curly, Moe and Larry, there might have been "Four Stooges."

He could "take" as well as "dish out," though he was usually on the "taking" end. If someone flipped the switch to reverse a revolving door, it would be Dolan changing directions abruptly, his 360-degrees of circling laughter for all to hear….

* * * * *

Many readers would have sooner given up their morning coffee than miss a single column. And many a newspaper has been coffee stained by readers breaking into guffaws ‘twixt the cup and the "quip."

Friends who knew George best graded him "A+" for both writing and speaking.

Few knew, though, that to him, speaking was far more daunting. Though he never broke a sweat as newspaper deadlines closed in, when speaking engagements neared, he was in for sleepless nights. He thought speaking fees would limit his oral presentations. For most conventions and organizations, fees didn’t stand in the way….

* * * * *

He once kicked himself for accepting a speaking engagement without first checking the Dallas Cowboys’ schedule. He took great delight in watching the ‘Boys on TV. Sure enough, speech and game kick-off were scheduled at the same hour.

He’d never been close to a VCR, but decided to buy one of the new-fangled gadgets. He "studied up" on operating instructions, checking and re-checking settings on game day.

He bought ear plugs to insert following the speech, and made gentle threats to his friends to "leave him alone" to enjoy the game a few hours after the fact. On the drive home, he resisted turning on his radio, fearing he might learn the outcome of the game. Dolan hung a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the front door, and took his phone off the hook….

* * * * *

He chuckled victoriously when the VCR worked perfectly.

The kick-off coincided with a Western Union telegram delivery. His wife Melba (the "westside housewife," as she was known in his columns), signed for it, tossing it immediately to her hubby.

He cringed, fearful that the telegram might bring bad news. It did. His buddies at the newspaper had pooled their resources to send the telegram, which, of course, revealed the game’s final score….

* * * * *

This vignette came to mind the other day when Gary and P. J.Gramling might well have used a "Do Not Disturb" sign. They were on a tight schedule, hustling to be on time for an out-of-town wedding.

P. J. heard the doorbell, and through the peep hole spied a man with paint bucket, brush and stencil. He was eager to paint the Gramlings’ house number, 2005, on the curb, for "just $20."

She explained that they were trying to leave town soon, and might not even have $20 in cash. But, the man looked like he needed the money, so she and Gary looked under cushions and emptied piggy banks….

* * * * *

They came up with $10, and the man agreed to do the job for half-price. He promised to go "the extra mile," painting the numbers on both sides of the driveway.

When the Gramlings backed out of the driveway, they saw the neat numbers—shiny black and well-spaced—on both curbs. Trouble was, they were transposed, "2500" instead of "2005."

They figure the painter may have been in a hurry, too, or maybe he gave "half effort for half-price." Or maybe he’ll come back on an upcoming Saturday morning, with a "re-do" offer for just $25, or maybe more….

* * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com.

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