Story by John Harris
First Impression–What an Asshole!
I attended Willamette University. Before my freshman year began, I pledged Phi Delta Theta fraternity. I lived only 60 miles from the University, so my mom and dad drove me down on the day I was supposed to check into the fraternity house prior to starting school. I was told where my room would be. It was a small room for two people–a bed, closet, dresser and desk on each side of the room. My dear mother took the time to make up a bed, put my clothes away and straighten up my desk. We then went out to dinner. I returned much later that evening, after saying goodbye to the parents. I quietly opened the door to my room to find my bedding, clothes and other items thrown to the other side of the room, and some stranger, sleeping like a baby, in the bed that my mother had so painstakingly made up hours before. Still naive, and not wanting to cause a ruckus in my new home, I made up the other bed and went to sleep. The next morning, finding the stranger to be a little bigger than me, I decided it prudent to approach the subject gently. After introducing myself, I casually mentioned that I had arrived early and made up the bed that he ended up sleeping in. Randy’s response was very straight forward; he said he “preferred that side of the room”. I’ve always appreciated brevity, honesty and a direct approach to things, so I said OK and let it go. I begrudgingly started to like him (how can you help it!!) until——-
After a couple of weeks getting to know the school, fraternity and each other, Randy and I decided to go have a burger and coke. He suggested a bar a couple of blocks away. The bar had a few pool tables. While eating, Randy asked if I ever played pool. I told him I had (a friend’s father had a pool table in the family room and I had played quite a bit on it). I asked him if he had played and he said no, and asked me how the game worked. We got a rack and I showed him how to hold a cue stick and how to play 8-ball. We played a few games and I beat him handily.
A few days went by and we went back for another burger and coke. Randy said it might help his concentration if we played for a little money. At the end of the evening I had won a couple of dollars. I felt a little guilty, so the next time there I bought his burger and coke. We played again, for a little more money, and I was noticing a marked improvement in his game. But I still won a little bit and continued to buy his burgers and cokes.
The next couple of times we either broke even or one of us one a few cents, but somehow I continued to buy the burgers. At some point in time, Randy said he felt he was improving enough to raise the stakes. I believe the first game after that I lost $10 or so (which was a small fortune to a college kid in those days) and Randy just marveled at some of the “lucky” shots he had made.
The next time, convinced I could make back what I lost, I suggested raising the stakes a little more. Randy’s unbelievable “luck” continued. At some later point in time, my discretionary funds exhausted and being too embarrassed to ask my poor parents for more, I told Randy I could no longer afford to play for money. It was at this time that, as only he can do, he laughed in my face and said “you’ve just been hustled, my friend!” I didn’t fully understand or even believe him until many years later when I saw the movie, “The Hustler” with Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason. I still couldn’t help but like the guy. Never really paid him back for his indiscretions, but do have one more story to relate.
The Golf Game
I grew up in a really small town and had never ventured too far. I didn’t know how rich kids from California lived. We didn’t have a golf course in our town until two brothers, who grew up on a farm, lost their mom and dad.
The boys hated farming, so decided to turn the farm into a 9-hole golf course. They did this without professional help. And, as a high school kid, I found I really enjoyed the game. We played in blue jeans and t-shirts (or no shirts in the summer), and I thought a 9-hole course on a farm was as good as it gets.
During our pool games, I found out that Randy also enjoyed a game of golf and I saw an opportunity to win some of my money back. I invited him home on a weekend to enjoy the Scappoose “country club”. On the first hole a herd of pigs ran across the fairway in front of us. On the second hole, a gaggle of chickens were eating on the green. And so it went. Randy was so rattled by this, that he barely made it through the 9 holes, and I was able to win back a couple of bucks. He refused to ever return to my home course. And I have since lost that couple of bucks and many more on some of the more “refined” courses where we have endured combat in the form of golf.
Randy remains one of my dearest friends. I have enjoyed his company and friendship for over 40 years. He is one of those rare individuals who can laugh at himself as hard as he laughs at you. He’s fun to be around. You just have to love him!! His friendship is a treasure to be cherished and preserved.
Happy 60th, you old fart.
Many happy returns–long life and good health.
Your roommate and friend, John
Randy Story by James A. Hughes
Relating a concise Wellington tale is a difficult task. Not for lack of information, nor examples, quite to the contrary. A bit like describing WW II–as a ‘major misunderstanding’.
There was the time RB totaled his roommates “tortoise Porsche”–about $100,000 dollars worth in today’s market– The time he “attempted” to introduce me to liars poker. The birthday celebration RB had to endure being handcuffed to a lawn chair. His then spouse spent the afternoon crying–no doubt aiding an already strained relationship.
Then there was the time RB almost single-handedly defeated the Canadian National volley ball team. I witnessed this remarkable performance firsthand. I had been ‘pressed’ into service as an umpire or referee–still do not know correct term. Not being a great leaper, I did not fully appreciate the game. It did not add to the player’s confidence, I am sure, that between ‘chukars’ or whatever they are called–I kept thumbing through the rule book–increasing my knowledge many fold. Fortunately, RB (no doubt sensing my uneasiness) took over the contest–making my officiating inadequacies somewhat moot.
It was privileged to have been with Randy when we met the beautiful and talented cabaret singer, whom I, and I alone– nicknamed Songbird. This freckled-lass was of course–more
attracted to me than RB–but having a rather full social calendar- I acquiesced–and suggested they might enjoy each others company.
Then of course who could forget the infamous hot tub dialogue. After a football game several couples joined at our place. Admittedly, in a somewhat alcohol influenced environment Randy was discoursing on the merits of several ethnic groups. One couple, took slight umbrage, and indicated they were offended by his Jewish jokes. RB, being the clever and passionate fellow, relented that his company ” did a good deal of business with Jewish people, some of his best friends were Jewish–and as far as he was concerned –they were just the same as white people”. It remains unclear as to whether the couple accepted Randy’s apology.
All tales must pale however in comparison to the following–and God as my witness–this story is as correct as my memory can serve—admittedly an event some 25 years old.
RB had a Datsun 2000 sports car. A cutie it was. The car had a racing stripe–not like most stripes, but a distinctive stripe running at about a 45 degree angle–about mid front fender. Why I can recall this fact, and am hard pressed to recall my children’s birth dates–I know not. At any rate, on a very sad day in May– RB’s car was stolen. He was, of course, heartbroken. Four of us offered consolation, and recovery suggestions–but none could put Humpty Dumpty Randy back together again. A very sad RB he was.
But ALAS!–On a fluke–almost as though the Almighty himself had intervened, RB, upon returning from the MAC spotted his beloved Datsun 2000; racing stripe and all! Our hero, approaches the driver–snatches the keys from the ignition, and in a somewhat threatening manner informs the driver that this car belongs to Randolph Wellington Bowles!
All of us will admit that RB given proper motivation can work his 6’4″ buff frame to an intimidating presence. Apparently, the frightened driver would agree. In an impassioned and heartfelt way, the driver explained that the car was offered for sale–that he was on a ‘test drive’ in good faith–that RB’s actions had caused him ‘distress’ and legal action may be forthcoming. RB, realizing his error, apologized profusely–and in this pre-cell time, agreed to meet at a phone booth about three blocks away. Both arrived at the phone booth and parked about 50 yards away. From opposite directions, like two gunfighters they approached the phone booth– the driver waited till RB was about half way –then sprinted back to the Datsun 2000 and away into the night. RB gave chase, but to no avail–our little pin stripe was too agile and quick.
Randy came home to his buddies and said he had found his Datsun 2000. We did pre- high fives–what that was, I do not recall–and then as Paul Harvey would say ” he told us the rest of the story”. We agreed we should inform the local police. A young officer came by to take RB’s report. Upon completion, he remarked–” Let me see if I have this straight,,, your car was stolen –(RB nodded)–you found your car–and had the keys in your possession? (again RB nodded)–you had no question it was your car? (RB again nodded) You then gave the keys back to the thief? By this time I was laughing so hard I do not recall if RB nodded –but I do recall, the officer, upon leaving–saying ” if this should occur again, best you keep the keys in your possession”.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Pal! With the exception of Chris, I believe I have known
you as long as any here present–and what a pleasure it has been! YITB Jim
Randy Stories by Chuck Stockwell
Many years ago when Randy was young and active (about 100 years back) and before he was married to the vivacious and talented “Songbird” Randy and I made regular pilgrimages to Mount Angel to the Oktoberfest to soak up the local culture and bask in the ambiance of the rural setting. To help fill the time we occasionally wandered through the Beer Garden to partake of the many local brews and fuel up on sausages and corn. On this particular occasion we violated our 1 or 2 beer rule. Our wives also overindulged in liquid and eventually had to wander off to the “facilities”. The women’s restrooms were known for their long lines therefore it took considerable time for them to return. Randy, being the gregarious individual he is and forever the salesman, felt the need to explain the attributes of Kraft fat for deep frying to 2 young ladies sitting at our table. This was his standard “pick-up” line in those days before birth signs. Before long one thing lead to another and, when the wives returned, they found us dancing on the table with these 2 young maidens. (Randy’s “fat” pick-up line worked well) For some reason the wives were not please that we had found entertainment in their absence. Just when things got interesting for some reason we had to leave. Go figure. Huh Randy!
What’s His Name
While attending Willamette Randy was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. During those formative years Randy made many friends in the fraternity. Some of those friendships have lasted whether he sees them occasionally or on a regular basis. Occasionally Randy tends to forget minor details regarding those friends. One stands out.
During the Class of ’65’s 20th reunion Randy and a number of his classmates, after a pre-dinner party at Walt’s, a local watering hole where he spent considerable time studying and learning the finer points of beer drinking and behavior modification, attended the official reception and dinner. On entering the reception everyone was given a name tag to help with failing memories or altered appearances. During the reception Randy circulated and renewed friendship with a number of his fraternity brothers, ex roommates, and other friends. In surveying the room to see if he had missed anyone, he spotted a familiar face across the room and made a beeline for the individual. The fellow Phi and ex roommate smiled and greeted him warmly. Randy in his usual smooth manner carried on a conversation while trying to read the other’s name tag. He was not subtle – remember he had had a few beers. The “old friend” noticed Randy trying to get a good look at the name tag and avoiding eye contact. Finally, he took off his name tag and gave it to him. From then on this individual has been known as “Old What’s His Name”. Do you still remember his name? Wiley as in the Captain on the TV show 12 O’clock High was his nickname. Call me, if you need some help. Ask Cathy for the phone number.
Game-itis Ron Enna
Why anyone would want to spend precious time writing on a character like Randy Bowles is beyond me! However, the peer pressure is getting overbearing, and since the guy is on his final AARP stretch to the life beyond, respect of the elderly keeps my pen moving.
Randy has the most severe case of Game-itis of anyone I have ever encountered. Game-itis is defined in Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary as an overpowering affliction where everything in life has to be accompanied by a game or form of competition, often spurned on by a wager. Game-itis in its most serious state is the complete inability to perform regular activities of daily living without making a game of it. This can affect eating, dressing, toiletry and even sex functions. Remember that bulls-eye in the toilet at the house?
My first introduction to his problem was in Graduate School at Oregon where I first met Randy. In no time, he had me out in street, playing this stupid football punting game where you try to back the other guy down the block. I was the “other guy”, totally handicapped by a short kicking leg, and getting my first glimpse of the perverse smile he gets when he is winning.
Randy had Game-itis of every sporting activity, board game, card game and life event imaginable! The most serious I saw it get was when he spent hour upon hour mastering this dumb box game where you run a marble around trying to keep it from falling in the holes. What a complete waste of time!
I almost contracted Game-itis from Randy on several occasions, but being on the losing end too often cured me. I was fortunate to come out on top invariably in Gin Rummy (where he didn’t have a clue) and where money was always involved. The other game I championed was Boggle, a dice game forming words (where you had to be able to spell).
I do not know the stage of Randy’s disease today, and whether or not he’s under treatment. But, I can picture him at the Senior Center raking in the nickels at Bingo with that same perverse smile on his face.
To Whom it May Concern
There was a time when a young college student wanted to impress his date so he asked his fraternity brother if he could borrow his beautiful, red Porsche convertible. It has come to be said the call at eleven that night to his friend telling him that he wreaked his Porsche was one of the toughest he has made in 60 years. We never found out whether his date was impressed.
Mr. Bowles was always known for his great singing voice on serenades. It usually got louder as more beer was consumed. He also loved to sneak up in the women’s room at the DG house and borrow underwear. Mr. Bowles was a great pool hustler which greatly assisted his beer consumption.
Part 4 of THE BOOK of WELLINGTON will be published on November 2, 2014