A slice of my life.
After getting out of the Army in 1971, I rambled around the country trying to find myself, never staying anywhere for too long.
Then I fell in love.
In the hot summer of 1974, I got engaged to Shirley Ann Holloway. I was working for Pinkerton Security at the time. One of my assignments was to guard a gated community in Newport Beach full of Hollywood bigshots and stars like John Wayne.
Mr. Marion Robert Morrison (his real name - he never legally changed it) always waved to me when he drove thru. Sometimes he'd pause in his green Ford Station Wagon, and chat for a few minutes.
Just general stuff. I remember complimenting him on getting an Oscar (1969) for his starring role of Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.
In all fairness, I didn't keep up with the private lives of stars, so all I knew was The Duke was married to Pilar Pallette, a hot Peruvian actress with one movie to her credit.
He asked me a few questions about Vietnam one day after finding out that I served there in 1970. Nothing too embarrassing.
One day the subject got around to love. He was a bit cynical of it, and talked about two previous marriages that ended badly.
I told him that I asked someone to marry me and she accepted. His face was a study of fleeting expressions as he digested my happy news.
"Well...I wish you the best partner. I really do," he said. There was an odd look on his face that I only understood a few days later.
A friend told me, after I shared John Wayne's odd response to my good news, that Wayne was separated from his wife. The irony did not escape me.
I was finally transferred to another job, a bank, a couple of months later. On my last day of guard duty in Newport Beach I saw The Duke for the last time. We wished each other luck.
Five years later John Wayne died of stomach cancer...still just separated (not divorced) from Pilar.
Time for me to walk on down the road...