Thursday, June 25, 2009

God Bless, Farrah

As a guy who came of age during the Charlie's Angel TV series starring, amongst others, Farrah Fawcett, I think I was like many other male teens of that era: the above iconic poster graced my bedroom wall for several years. Over the years I had the opportunity to meet her, and she was always very nice. I certainly didn't know her well at all on any level, I just had the opportunity to meet and talk with her a couple of times for a few moments in the 70's and the 80's.

Rest in peace, Farrah. And as importantly, I hope your dear sweet father is watched over from heaven above during this difficult time, as well as the rest of your family.

I came to know Farrah's father James Fawcett, or Jimbo as he is called by his friends, back in 1976. Working as a busboy at Champion's Golf Club, like many of my male peers, I not only had a Farrah poster on my wall but several Farrah t-shirts. One day, I wore a white Farrah t-shirt under my white dress shirt and black bow tie. The red bathing suit image of Farrah was pretty visible through the dress shirt. While I thought that was pretty cool, my matronly manager, Bettye, did not.

As I was being gently lectured by Bettye about the atmosphere of quiet elegance that the noted golf club restaurant sought to create and why my Farrah shirt was interfering with that plan, the older man who owned the janitorial service and who always sat in the bar of the restaurant drinking coffee was laughing out loud.

While his crews readied to clean the restaurant as it closed, the older gentleman regularly drank coffee and sat in the closed bar part of the restaurant as the customers left and we began setting up for the next day. He was a fixture at Champions, and was always pleasant and kind when I asked if he needed more coffee during his near-nightly visits.

When he began laughing as I was being redressed by my manager, my manager conjured a rare smile and sort of haughtily said to him "Well, I've got the wrong audience for this lecture, don't I?"

That made the man laugh even harder. Bettye then introduced me to Mr. Fawcett. I didn't believe her. Although he was a very nice looking and well groomed man, I couldn't imagine that Farrah's dad would have to work, even as the owner of a janitorial company.

I already knew that Farrah's parents lived in Champions, the subdivision that surrounds the world famous golf course sharing it's name. I lived in a nearby subdivision that was plenty fancy and nice but not as upscale as the Champions area. I also knew that he was basically a retired oilman from the Corpus area, and the word on the street was that he had been quite successful in those endeavors.

But Mr. Fawcett, or Jimbo as he immediately requested I call him, was a very modest fellow. The uniform I saw him in over the next twenty years or so was basically a white short sleeve dress shirt, khaki slacks, white socks and white Ked's deck shoes. He aways wore pressed clothes with a crease in his shirt sleeves and pants, Jimbo used to tell me that as a man your shirts and pants needed to be pressed with a visible crease because it looked sharp and commanded respect.

During the five months or so that I worked at Champions, I talked lots with Jimbo. He liked to walk me to my car after my shift, because he thought I had a very nice car. It was a very hot-rodded 1970 Mustang Mach One, and it looked fast when it was parked. He always liked to hear me start it, and if he heard some unusual sound in the very loud engine of the Mach, he'd let me know it sounded like my timing was off.

One night, he brought Farrah and his family up to the club for dinner. I worked there with a schoolmate named Brad Hamilton, who had gotten me the job, and he was as enamored with Farrah as I was. Let me assure you, no water or tea glass at that table stayed less than totally full as they received the five star treatment.

When the restaurant had cleared out, we were invited to sit and visit with them for a few minutes. Farrah gave us some t-shirts and a photo and it was quite exciting. She acted as if she was very happy to meet us and talked to us about our lives for a few minutes. I thought I was a cool dude.

I got to know Jimbo pretty well over the next few years, as I grew into adulthood. I'd run into him at the gas station, stores and restaurants. Whenever we'd run into each other, we'd usually visit for 15 or 30 minutes. As I grew from kid and drummer to college student to police officer to law student, he was always very interested in what I had going on. Just a genuinely nice fellow.

When I got out of the police academy at age 21, I wanted to buy a state of the art bulletproof vest. We were issued *just ok* vests at that time by the department, but there were new vests that featured thin steel plates in the heart/lung area to better stop bullets. The high-tech vests cost over a grand back then, with several carriers. I wanted to establish some credit and went to the local bank for a loan to buy the vest.

Although I had a paid off Z-28 that was only two years old, because I had not ever had any other credit the bank v.p. was skeptical of loaning me the money. When I had entered the bank, I had found that Jimbo was hanging out in the lobby, drinking coffee in his usual attire. His janitorial service had the cleaning contract for that bank. We spoke for a few minutes while I waited to meet with the loan officer and bid each other goodbye.

As the loan officer was giving me a hard time, Jimbo appeared in his cubicle. Jimbo asked what the problem was, and the loan officer got nervous and stuttered and stammered, finally giving his opinion that since I had no credit history other than a paid off car that he was wary of giving me the loan, despite my law enforcement employment.

I found it strange that Jimbo was able to receive this level of information, being just the janitorial contractor, but I figured they must be friends. Jimbo then told the loan officer that he knew me personally and that I was a "good feller". The loan officer simply said "Yes sir, Mr. Fawcett" and Jimbo winked and walked away, styrofoam coffee cup in hand.

The loan officer left his cubicle for a moment and quickly returned with a much more courteous demeanor, and a check for the requested amount. I signed the necessary papers and was getting ready to leave. I asked the loan officer what had changed his mind about me.

The loan officer sort of winced and told me that "Mr. Fawcett owns a great deal of this bank, sir. He just does the janitorial service for something to do. I'm so sorry if I was difficult with you earlier, there was really no reason for it."

I thanked my friend Jimbo on the way out.

Later that year or perhaps the next, I was working an off-duty police extra job at the Astrodome. I had gotten lucky and gotten a regular spot working off-duty at the Dome, which paid well and offered frequent opportunities to work the myriad of events held there.

I was working one Sunday night at the exit where the Oiler's exited after the game. We were there to insure they got to their vehicles because fans waited for them there after the game. It was mostly crowd control, and certain players and coaches could park in that area, so that they could reach their cars without passing through the hordes that gathered there.

Farrah came that night to pick up her then boyfriend, Oiler's QB Dan Pastorini. Wives and girlfriends of players were allowed to come pick them up behind the barricades we had set up for crowd control. After she got behind the barricade, Farrah exited her vehicle and talked with me and some of the other officers that were working. She was very friendly.

I reminded her that I had met her some years before at the golf club, and that I was a friend of her dad. I'll never forget her response, something to the effect of how impressed she was that I remembered meeting her. I know she didn't remember me, but she sure was nice about it. A really nice Texas girl who had been brought up right.

I never saw Farrah again, but often ran into her dad over the next ten years in the neighborhood. We often laughed about him helping me get that loan, and he told me he had a lot of fun doing that.

A few years later, as I was a young DA, my dad called me and said he had run into a friend of mine who told him to tell me hello. It was Jimbo, and they had become aquainted at a local breakfast restaurant near their homes. It seems they had been seeing each other eating breakfast for several years, always speaking in passing to each other but never knowing who the other was.

One day, they were introduced, and of course both already knew who the other was. For many years thereafter, they were breakfast buddies, sharing family stories and solving the world's problems several times a week.

I haven't seen Jimbo in a long time, but if I could I'd tell him how sorry I am. She was a good girl with a great mom, dad and sister and they all had a great deal of love for one another. Some people like Jimbo make such a lasting impression upon you. A man with class, with southern manners, Jimbo always reminded me of a combination of a less ill-tempered Mark Twain and a Will Rogers type of guy. Funny as hell, nice as hell and smart as hell.

But above all, he loved his wife and daughters. My heart grieves for that nice man.


  1. Sounds like a truly classy family who didn't let success get to their heads. The kind of people anyone is glad to be associated with.

  2. What a truly touching, sweet story. I have tears in my eyes. I am so angry that Farrah was treated so badly by the press. She was so down-to-earth and friendly to EVERYONE. I can see she was like that due to her amazing father, who must be suffering so much grief now.

  3. How has her dad been since Farrah's passing? I hope he is doing okay, considering his loss...

  4. I don't know, but I think of him often and hope he is as good as possible. He's a strong man.

  5. I heard today that James Fawcett died on Aug. 23 -- just a few weeks ago. So sad that Farrah went before him. He seemed to really love her. At least they are together now.

  6. That's right, Anya, on all counts. I did a post about Mr. Jim last month called Rest In Peace, Jimbo.

    He did adore his Farrah, and his normally Santa Claus twinkling eyes would brighten even more at the mere mention of her name. And I know he loved her son as well. Dearly.