My first encounter with fame was when I was 6 years old, living in a Little Rock, Arkansas, suburb. My dad was in the National Guard and his unit, for whatever reason, was supplying security for a horse show/rodeo. Maybe it was to make up for the harassment they received when they were called out at Central High School? That was a very difficult and dangerous time.
Anyway, Johnny Cash was the entertainment. My dad came home late, three sheets to the wind. Mother was trying to get him to go to bed and he kept resisting, telling her Johnny Cash was going to call. After a while, to her relief, he was out like a light. The phone rang and a deep, booming voice said, “Is Fred there?” My mom, not happy, answered “he’s asleep. Who is this?” The voice on the other end of the line said “well, ma’am, this is Johnny Cash.” Mother’s reply? “Well, I’ll be damned.” The next night we all went to the show – meeting Johnny Cash was my first brush with fame.
In 1974 I met Jimmy Buffett. He was an unknown at that time, living in Key West, driving an old beat up truck. I had seen him perform and it was love at first sight. I was working in a drug store, he came in to pick up a prescription, and I spilled it all over the counter.
Nothing like being star-struck!
Later that same year, the movie adaptation of Thomas McGuane’s “92 In The Shade” was being filmed in Key West. Karyn and I running errands in her Gremlin, beige with a brown strip, and stopped at Duval Street waiting for traffic to clear. I happened to look up only to see Peter Fonda and Burgess Meredith crossing the street. I screamed “shit! It’s Peter Fonda!” and my then almost 2-year-old nephew spent the entire drive home saying “shitpeterfonda, shitpeterfonda”.
Nothing like being star-struck.
I met Bucky Dent. He was signing autographs at a sports store and I lined up with all the little 8-year-old boys to see the cutest little shortstop in Texas. It was last minute and I didn't have anything for him to sign, so I quickly bought a baseball jersey and a t-shirt. I gave him the jersey and he signed it, then asked what I was going to do with the other. I told him it was to sleep in - he took it from my hands and wrote "To Fredi - Sleep tight. Bucky Dent".
Since then I’ve met Peter Noone, Charley Pride, Collin Raye, assorted politicians and local celebrities, but the one who meant the most to me was the GOAT, greatest pitcher of all time, Nolan Ryan. American Airlines sponsored a luncheon, and I was one of the lucky ones who was invited. I learned a very valuable lesson from Nolan - and no, it wasn't how to throw a fastball or beat Robin Ventura about the head and shoulders. I was dealing with a foot injury and in a walking boot. My boyfriend at the time thought he was a cowboy and mentioned his horse being foundered. I didn’t know what that was, and he told me it was when their bone fell through their hoof. I said “oh, like me?” and he snickered and said “yes, just like you.” When I met Nolan and Ruth, he politely asked me what happened and I told him I didn’t really know, but my boyfriend said I was foundered. Nolan started laughing, struggled to maintain his composure long enough for pictures.
Later I found out horses are foundered when they eat too much and are too fat for their feet!
Lesson learned: don’t use words when you don’t really know what they mean, especially when you're meeting someone famous.
They won't be star-struck.