Dupré: ‘Good night, Leslie’… ‘Gary! Quit practicing that damned trumpet!’

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, August 5, 2020

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As I lay sleeping in that netherworld publicized by Rod Serling, I heard the dulcet tones of The Waltons on a commercial for MeTV. My first thought was I’ve heard this song thousands of times and as a trumpeter, played it a couple more. Next I thought of all the hours I spent watching the show with my mother. Then I thought how much Olivia Walton was like my mom in that she was a fantastic nurturer for all her children, how beautiful Erin became as she matured, how deliciously wily and devious Zebulon was and how upset I was that none of my friends had the “men’s magazine” issue that Mary Ellen posed in.

WORD PROBLEM: There is one TV in Gary’s house; one father who works offshore every other week; one mother who can’t choose TV programming when Dad is home and this is Dad’s work week. How many TV programs can Gary choose? Go ahead, do the math.

Though at the time, I preferred thought-provoking sci-fi (Buck Rogers or Battlestar Galactica) or libido-enhancing shows (Wonder Woman or Charlie’s Angels – AKA Jiggle TV), I fondly remember spending time with mom and the Walton brood as she reminisced about similar, simpler times here in South Louisiana.

Suddenly, like a ‘bat outta heck’ (1/3 less menacing than the more common ‘bat outta hell’), I thought, “My God, I’m John Boy.”

Now,I’ll riff for a minute while the laughter fades from those of you who really know me. Some of you are thinking that I am Jason with lots of musical talent. Others may say I have Ben’s temper and stubbornness. Still more might believe I have breasts somewhat comparable to Mary Ellen (I might, but I don’t know! Thanks for NOT sharing the magazine – I do hope hers aren’t as hairy). Sneaky like Grandpa; A proud dad like John; Child-like as Elizabeth; Loves deeply like Erin, Mom and Grandma; Nothing like Jim Bob.

I never saw myself as John-Boy Walton, the writer. As with John-Boy (let’s abbreviate to a more dignified JBW), I am an eldest child with a fierce interest in family history which I adore writing about, am of a decent intellect, had ups and downs with siblings, have a lifetime’s worth of poignant yet humorous stories about family and friends, had much expected of me(of which I fell short more than once), had a father who, though was very different in personality from me, never tried to mold me into his image and had a mother who made me feel loved and safe all my life.

Perhaps what has made my similarities to JBW difficult to see were my advanced age, receding hairline, bulging waistline, notoriously fractured, irreverent and bizarre sense of humor, growing up near the swamp instead of the mountains and my over-attentiveness to the female form.

I am no longer a musician/educator and am now in publishing, where I take quaint stories from my past, inject biting color commentary, sprinkle in a little folksy wisdom, toss in some smart-assery, some righteous indignation (when applicable) and a smattering of obtuse vocabulary and you’d think you were listening to JBW read right out of his own diary – HA!

My first-ever creative outlet was art, until fifth grade when I went full-on into music. But I enjoy this newfound passion for the written word about as much as I enjoyed music, more so in some ways. I hurl creative insults (Cheetos-stained computer keyboards), weird similies (wafting in air in the way that a brick doesn’t), double entendres (sometimes I even hit a triple) and outright barbs (You big, stupid poopyhead!)

Comedy gold; JBW doesn’t deliver those pearls of wisdom!

The Waltons was a huge contributor to the common knowledge base of American culture. People of my generation probably get many of my references to characters from the show, just like when someone says, “Scotty, beam me up,” “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” or “Ward, I think you’re being a little hard on The Beaver, ” you get a feeling for what is really being said.

Mom, whenever I hear the Walton’s theme, I think of you and happy times. Thank you.

And if any of you know the whereabouts of that magazine issue…

Cue the trumpet!

Gary Wayne Dupré is enjoying his second career as the Administrative Assistant for L’OBSERVATEUR and can be reached at gary.dupre@lobservateur.com or (985) 652-9545. He’s an old man, so STAY OFF HIS LAWN!