Posts Tagged ‘ PRIDE ’



Proudly I am solely me.

My search for understanding

is a never-ending spree.

The gift I treasure most is

the wisdom that belongs to thee.

If your thoughts are only dubious,

that’s enough to stir up

a ruckus in my tuchis.

Sure, I’m somewhat of a

gullible fool who

failed in school.

Through life, dyslexia

has been my anchor.

No way can I take reading

comprehension to the banker.

Yet I’ve always felt free

to think as I please,

soliciting knowledge from

you modern day Socrates.

Even when reliability

turns to dust, I trust.

For me, believing in the

worthiness of others is a must.

Writing essays, poetry and human

interest stories about people

such as thee, has proved

to be my fait accompli.

Despite society’s judgemental rule,

a learning disorder has always

been my inspirational tool.

It’s a stubborn confidence

I have found. At times

I’ve run it into the ground.

Listening to the rantings of others,

you might discover thoughts so profound.

Naturally, there’s no guarantee that

such philosophies will astound.

If it happened to me,

it could happen to thee!


 — Boots LeBaron —





imageStuntman Bert LeBaron, with arms spread in flight,

was about to knock out a machine-gun nest manned

by prison guards in the 1947 Burt Lancaster classic

movie “BRUTE FORCE.” Esquire Magazine ran a full-page

photo of my airborne dad without giving the Hall of

Fame stuntman-actor credit. That’s the way it was

in Hollywood back then. Although today their names

are entombed with crew members in end-credits, stunt

people are still ignored by the motion picture and

television academies. Since more than 50 stuntmen

and women have died for Hollywood over the years,

don’t you think the survivors deserve Academy

recognition? At least for valor? What pisses me off

is to hear actors ooze B.S. (Don’t tell me they don’t!)

taking credit for “gigs” performed by athletes like

my old man. And now, digital animation is replacing

the acts of such stalwart guys and gals. After

35 years of proudly calling himself an actor-

stuntman, Bert LeBaron, who would never qualify as

another Laurence Olivier or Tom Hanks, developed

a heart problem that put him out of action physically

and financially. (His last stunt was doubling actor

William Bendix in a TV sitcom) When the film capital

of the world showed no compassion, he tried selling

encyclopedias. When that failed, he couldn’t even

support himself peddling newspapers on the streets of

Hollywood. Having nowhere to turn, he stepped into a

handball court at the Hollywood YMCA where he was renting

a room for $10 or $15 a week and purposely popped his

heart playing the game he loved more than women. He

died in 1956. I call Bert and his unheralded comrades

“stuntmen without faces.” I loved that womanizing rogue

whom my mother shed twice in divorce courts. My father

had so many ex-wives and girlfriends, they were lost

in the midst of his mind. Nevertheless, stuntmen and

women deserve to step up to the podium and accept a

golden statuette for their sensational athletic feats.

So tell the actors who, for the sake of publicity

or self-aggrandizement, to: Put A Cork In It! Their

crime is they continue to take credit for stuntwork

achieved by filmdom’s “faceless” others. In my book,

that’s a felony punishable by truth.


Boots LeBaron







     When I ran across Brother Thomas Lee Campbell, the Church of Christ minister was 74.   He had just climbed a rickety 12-foot ladder. He was standing on the ledge of a church billboard replacing one of his “sermonettes” in the City of Hawthorne, California.

     For 18 years, the former Pepperdine University professor had been climbing that ladder weekly, introducing potential parishioners to philosophic humor on his billboard.

     He gleaned his sermonettes from conversations, magazines, books and anywhere else in the universe he could find them. Here are a few, which might indicate that Brother Campbell was a guy who enjoyed life and, despite his religious convictions, had no fear of bringing a few laughs into a world where many have forgotten how to take things lightly.

     We’ll begin with his favorite sermonette:     “Need exercise? Try kneeling.”

     “Biting remarks are often the result of snap judgements.”

     “Biscuits and sermons are both improved by shortening.”

     “A weak moment with the bottle can mean several weeks in the jug.”

     “Don’t be afraid to swallow your pride — it’s non-fattening.”

     “Obesity in this country is really widespread.”

     “Anybody who says life’s a bowl of cherries is bananas!”

     “Remember: Life begins not with a kiss but with a slap!”

     “Seven days without prayer makes one weak.”

     “Cars are not the only things recalled by their maker.”

     “Being young is a fault which improves daily.”

     “Bragging: loud patter of little feats.”

     “Temper gets us into trouble; pride keeps us there.”

     “Shortest traffic sermon: Keep right!”

     “Every family tree has some sap in it!”

     “God honors no drafts where there are no deposits.”

     “Be sure the tune is worth playing before tooting your own horn.”

     “Pity the child whose dad is more concerned about his golf swing than his offspring.”

     “Kindness is the language which the deaf hear and the blind see.”

     “Taxes are staggering, but they never go down.”

     “Many things are opened by mistake — especially the mouth!”

     “If you aren’t pulling your weight, you’re probably pushing your luck.”

     “Life’s like an onion. We peel off one layer at a time and sometimes we cry.”

     “A spouse with horse sense never becomes a nag.”

     “First they thought the world was flat, then round. Now some think it’s crooked.”

     During Brother Campbell’s ministry, which at the time had reached 56 years, he had seen a “great deal of happiness and sadness.” Religion, he noted, “doesn’t take away your problems. It just simply gives you the strength to face up to them and endure them.”

     The trouble with the human race, he said, is we have a tendency to “magnify the faults of people many times over, but fail to consider their off-setting virtues. I’ve seen individuals who developed from seemingly nothing into tremendous giants of usefulness.”

     Had he ever lost faith in God?

     “No. Never in God. I’ve lost faith in myself, alright.”

     How does he look at life?

     “You can’t take people for granted. You have to look at them every day as a new person. You shouldn’t hold grudges against people you’ve known in years past because people change. They aren’t the same today as they were yesterday. That’s right, people do change! Continually.”


     — Boots LeBaron —




     Having lived with dyslexia since childhood, I had no idea that my lack of reading skills, my inability to spell, work with numbers, or even my artwork, had anything to do with the circuitry between my ears.

     Neither did my parents, teachers or adult co-workers.

     That brain-based learning abnormality specifically impairs a person’s ability to read and comprehend. Dyslexia has clouded my existence from pre-school through decades of adulthood. Even at this stage in life, I continue to omit or add letters or words when writing. Yet as a reporter, a writer-publicist and freelancer, I’ve published thousands of stories throughout my adulthood.

     Whenever I sketch a human figure or draw a cartoon character, I must concentrate on what side of a foot or hand to place the big toe or thumb.

     Knowing what I now know about my conceptual malfunctions (Rudolf Berlin, the German ophthalmologist, coined the term dyslexia in 1887), I wouldn’t swap my impulse center for any other set of gray cells, no matter how brilliant, conniving or ingenious they might be.      

     When neurologists and other knowledgeable researchers began delving into the auditory, visual, mental-concentration factors and creative roots of dyslectics like me, I began to feel good about my brain disorder. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it. But I’m convinced that such a biological mishap is an endowment, a phenomenon capable of reaching impressive heights and depressive lows.

     Like my fellow passengers who ride the same dyslexic train, we are a massive group of unique men, women and children. Like it or not, our “short-circuitry” enables us to board a streamlined express that’s creatively and intellectually on the fast track.

     For dyslexia does not affect the intellect; nor does it relate to I.Q. But it does have to be identified, then nurtured and harnessed.

     Back when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was U.S. President (1933-45), I was a rudderless kid, a child actor, growing up in Los Angeles sharing a tiny one-bedroom apartment with my single-parent mother and grandmother.

     Granted, I was confused and floundering, unconsciously searching for my humanity. Occasionally, even as an adult, I was a target of ridicule and verbal abuse.

     So I know the sting of humiliation. It must have hurt, but I didn’t bleed, I didn’t hide. My mother, grandmother and rogue Hollywood stuntman father gave me different kinds of love. Maybe that’s why I never felt stupid, naive, illiterate, incorrigible or any of those coarse descriptions.

     Even today, I might hesitate before confessing that I ain’t well educated. That kind of attitude erupts with a tinge of pride. I’m no ignoramus. Like a lot of my brothers and sisters, I come with a different set of smarts. Many years ago at a cocktail party, Ernest Hemingway told me that he flunked high school English and that F. Scott Fitzgerald “couldn’t spell for shit.”

     That brief encounter with the man I wanted to emulate lifted my spirits. Of course, my favorite writers were also J.D. Salinger (“The Catcher In the Rye”) and Mickey Spillain who introduced Mike Hammer, a private eye in such popular books as “The Big Kill” and “My Gun Is Quick.” To my way of thinking, they were all classics and easy reads. That included several of Hemingway’s novels.    

     Now that I’m running neck-and-neck with Methuselah, I want to emphasize that dyslexics aren’t all lost souls. They are scientists, actors, magicians, CEOs, exercise consultants, blue-collar workers, artists, doctors, lawyers, felons, politicians. You name it.

     Had it not been for George Roberts a journalism teacher at Los Angeles High School in the late 40’s who introduced me to writing, I might have wound up like a few of my friends doing the convict shuffle in The Big House.

     How do I know this? I ran “makes” on them when I was a police-beat reporter for The Los Angeles Times. My first Times’ job was separating postcards on weekends while I attended Los Angeles City College on the GI-Bill. Then I worked in the circulation department, and took a drop in salary to become a copy boy working in editorial. Eventually I wound up writing TV log listings, a weekly FM radio column and interviewing TV actors.

     I had no idea that I was dyslexic. Neither did a lot of people who helped me along the way. Smokey Hale, the night managing editor at The Times, told me: “You want a real job? Leave all this Hollywood crap and I’ll get you transferred to the police beat.” Best move I ever made.

     Times reporters Jerry Hulse and Jack Smith (both became well-known columnists with best-selling books) were very supportive. Jerry was like a mentor. When I was calling in stories from “the beat” he showed me how to boil down a juicy homicide into a one-sentence pitch to the city desk. He tried to teach me how to put a story together. That took patience laced with compassion.

     When I left The Times and joined Glenn Rose & Assoc. to publicize the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, one of my unwitting teachers, thanks to Glenn, was Alan Scott, a screen writer who was credited writing screenplays for many of the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals.

     His office was a tiny room off Sunset Boulevard with barren walls, a cot, a desk, a typewriter and a few books. I’d drive him to a hotel near the cliffs overlooking the ocean in Santa Monica.

     During those drives we talked mostly about writing. Gems the screenwriter and playwright offered me ranged from comedy to dramas like “So Proudly We Hale,” a World War II story starring Claudette Colbert, Veronica Lake and Paulette Goddard as battle-weary nurses in the Pacific during World War II.

     Eventually, I went to work at Universal Studios. That’s when Willard Thompson, a Times editor, published my interview stories and gave me by-lines.

     Yet, my most fascinating adventure was working with a gang of hard-boiled police-beat journalists in the pressroom at LAPD’s Parker Center where I learned about life, death, human misery and crime reporting. There were no women “beat” reporters in those days. Yet I loved all those tough hombres.

     The L.A. Times was my MBA. I didn’t graduate magna cum laude but the adventure was irreplaceable. And I truly respected the news business and all the wonderful characters who covered the world.  

     Walter Lantz, an Oscar winning animator (Woody Woodpecker) and fine artist, taught me how to draw cartoons and paint with oils.

     For me, dyslexia was the ace I was dealt. It was a blessing in disguise. Because of my cerebrate wiring, I’ve performed my brand of creative sorcery that baffled well-educated others. Alone, I could come up with more substantial ideas than a conference table filled with smart asses.

     I can’t read a note of music, but I can fake it as a nightclub pianist with tips to prove it. I don’t read many novels or historic non-fiction. But I study humor, writing styles, and dabble seriously into any think piece that I can focus my eyeballs on.

     I’ve written hundreds of stories and poetic essays that have been published in newspapers and magazines. More than 800 of my free-lance columns appeared in The Daily Breeze and Los Angeles Copley newspapers. Some I illustrated with pen-and-ink drawings.     Parental love was my fortress in a silent storm where reading, writing and arithmetic were my bugaboos. I had lots of love, compliments of my mother, grandmother and actor-stuntman father who she shed twice in divorce courts. Although he never paid alimony or child support, I loved my deadbeat old man.

     Throughout life, I owe thanks to many people. That includes my wife JoAnne who not only gave me moral support for more than a half century, but somehow tolerated my idiosyncrasies. I have three grown kids, Beau, Brooke and Brandon. In different ways, they have learned to understand and even appreciate their father’s avant-garde thought-processing mechanism.

     So I have no regrets. Neither should any man, woman or child suffering from such a unique learning disability. As the years whiz by, I’ve concluded that dyslexia has been a rare gift that came in unorthodox wrappings.

     With pride, I will forever cherish my short circuitry.

— Boots LeBaron —

(THE HUMAN RACE by Boots LeBaron contains

 inspirational and humorous interviews, essays

and light poetry about life, courage, death,

women’s’ rights, business, romance & faith.

Buy it on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon)




Shouldn’t we wonder:

Must we bleed if  we blunder?

Absorbing  jabs of humiliation

Doesn’t come close to castration.

Young or old, meek or bold,

It takes time to get a foothold.

If we’ve blundered more than once,

Must we be barbecued at lunch?

Can’t we laugh at our woes

Rather than cynically oppose?

To debunk prejudicial brutality,

Use your wit and humorality.

To debunk society’s abusive parade,

The secret is not to be afraid.

If your weapon of choice is sarcasm,

Strike back with irrefutable  enthusiasm.

Belligerent  playmates, no matter who,

Deserve a kick in the ass by you!

When you counterpunch with caustic wit,

It’ll prove  your taunter’s the true nitwit.

Boots LeBaron

(Boots’  book, ‘THE HUMAN RACE,” shows you how

to counterpunch featuring inspirational and humorous

interviews, essays and light poetry.  Buy it! It’s available

on Kindle and on Amazon in paperback)

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