My sister Sheila recently (2020) returned some letters I had written the family back while I was staying in the metropolis of Apache Oklahoma.
I had completely forgotten a prank I played on Oscar Caldwell back in 1973. The lovely thing is, you didn’t normally play pranks on Oscar – HE played pranks on YOU!
I had to give a talk as a Rotary exchange student, and Oscar had loaned me a projector so I could show my slides. I asked if he wanted it back tomorrow. ‘No,’ he said, deadpan, ‘That’s too late.’
I said How’s midnight tonight? ‘No,’ he said, ‘I’d prefer four in the mornin’.’
We left it at that. I gave my talk. With me was my good Apache mate Robbie Swanda and fellow Rotary students Eve Woodhouse from Durban, South Africa and Helen Worswick from Marandellas, Zimbabwe. The Swandas had generously invited them around and offered to put them up for the night.
After my talk, we went back to Robbie’s house and jol’d. Then at 3.15am, we drove out to Oscar and Sonia’s farm outside town in Robbie’s Mustang. I knocked persistently and Oscar dragged himself to the door where I presented his projector and said ‘Hope I’m in time! I thought you might be wanting to show some home movies?‘
Well, don’t tempt Oscar and Sonia. He blinked twice, called Sonia, said something like Damn! This kid’s alright, and hauled us all into the lounge where they proceeded to give us a LONG slide-show of imaginary trips they had taken to Mars, a distant star, Buckingham Palace, you name it! With lengthy, boring, detailed descriptions of things they hadn’t done, which had nothing to do with the slides – normal family pics showing Dallas and ?Dena – that they were showing!
Robbie and I laughed along, delighted at the wacky Caldwell humour, but the talk knocked Eve and Helen out – they rolled up and fell asleep.
When I went back in 1988 on honeymoon I went into Oscar’s barbershop and said,
“I got a haircut here in 1973 and I’m NOT HAPPY. I want you to fix it, please.”
He stared at me for a long time, the cogs in his head were whirring and spinning; his eyes were narrowed;
and then he pointed at me and said “PETER!!”
jol’d – partied