“Hello, my name is Clark Gable,” said the man sitting next to me in the airport.
I turned to greet him. His Master’s hat from Augusta was the second thing that caught my attention — the first, of course, was his name.
As we shook hands, I’m sure I had the same look on my face that he’d seen many times during his seven or eight decades on the planet.
I didn’t bring up “Gone With The Wind” or “The Misfits.” I just smiled and let him bring up his name.
It didn’t take him long to bring it up. He wasn’t kidding. His name is Clark Gable. And yes, he was named after the movie star.
My wife and I were waiting on our first of two flights that would take us to see Paul McCartney in Lexington, Kentucky.
As I listened to Mr. Gable begin to tell his life story and describe his love of golf, it occurred to me that the former Beatle and the man next to me were about the same age.
“So, tell me about your career,” I said.
“Well, in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, I sold women’s underwear,” he answered.
He explained that he had often dealt with problems with hotel, airline and other reservations due to his name. People often thought that any reservations he made were a joke, so they would cancel them; often leaving him in a lurch.
“That had to have been tiring. Did your name hurt you in sales?” I asked.
“Oh, no,” he responded. “Women’s underwear and Clark Gable went together quite well. They always remembered me,” he said.
I bet they did.
We talked about our mutual love of golf. I told him that during my broadcast career, I had interviewed Byron Nelson. I mentioned how nice Mr. Nelson was.
Mr. Gable said he met Byron Nelson in a department store and told him how much he appreciated all he’d done for the sport. He said Mr. Nelson was just as cordial to him as I said he was to me.
Mr. Gable’s phone went off a number of times while we were waiting for the boarding call for our flight. His family was checking on him.
That’s a nice thing. You hope that when you’re in your twilight years that there are still people around who care how
you’re doing and check on you.
“Boarding Group 6. Please make your way to the counter,” came the overhead announcement.
I thanked him for the conversation, and we shook hands. My wife and I grabbed our bags and we headed to the counter.
The flights were on time and uneventful, save for some turbulence while climbing to 35,000 feet somewhere over Tennessee.
Turbulence is one of life’s two major tests of a person’s faith. The other is when a relative announces that they’ve joined Amway.
I’ll take turbulence every time.
Lexington, Kentucky, is a beautiful city. About 300,000 call it home. We spent a day downtown at a bluegrass festival and farmers market. The residents voted to spend $35 million to restore the old courthouse there. It’s now the visitor’s center and a huge tourist attraction.
The old Lexington courthouse reminds me of the photos of the beautiful one Smith County, Texas, officials foolishly knocked down in 1955 to build a “modern” one.
Paul McCartney put on a great show. Almost three hours. It was nostalgic and, at times, a little emotional.
There was something unifying about 23,000 complete strangers singing “Hey Jude,” together.
Not a bad thing at a time when our country is about as divided as it can get.
We left the venue agreeing that the trip was one of the biggest moments in our lives.
Hey, it’s not every day that you start a trip visiting with Clark Gable and end it singing with a former Beatle.
John Moore’s book, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now, is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can email him through his website at www.TheCountryWriter.com.