Since I was a boy, my parents had always told me about the wild and crazy circumstances that my grandmother, Pauline Ewing, had in her life. Most especially when it came to meeting some of Hollywood's most elite. Now whether or not these were true, I can never be sure. But when you're a kid, the motto is 'Gotta trust Grandma'.
Most of these stories that I will relate to you had come from my own mother, as my grandmother had never spoken of these things to me. I wasn't sure if she was embarrassed or simply did not want to 'toot her own horn' as it is said, but needless to say that I was enthralled at the idea that good old Grandma Pauline had met and known some of the greats,
The first, at the top, everyone knows as John Wayne himself ('The Duke'). It had turned out that Grandma had been living in Balboa Beach, CA, at the time when she had happened to have met John. In fact, the two had actually met in a bar and had become fast friends as it was a place that he had frequented often. On one particular night, she was actually meeting my dad there when two other patrons had began hassling her at the bar. She politely had told them that she wanted to be left alone. Not taking the hint, the two men pressed on. In that moment when John had arrived, he had taken the two mens' heads and slamming them into the top of the bar, making them lose all of their teeth! With that from what I had known of the man and read, this was something that I could have very easily believed. It had been unfortunate that he had left that night as the reason that he was there was so that she could introduce him to my father. They had missed each other by a matter of seconds.
My next story I had some proof from some of my grandma's old pictures that I still have yet to find. In the seventies, she was the manager of the Black Angus Hotel in Salem, OR, where quite few more celebrities that she had come to meet had graced her doorstep. Here's the next one:
That's right, the original Wild West cowboy and crooner himself, Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans. They both had actually come to Salem frequently to do shows and when they came through, they always stayed at the Black Angus. She had come to know them quite a bit over the years while they lived, and she was also on good terms with Roy's horse, Trigger, who always slept in their room with them. They had corresponded when there was time, the last I remember, and they also made time for Grandma when they could, even if it was just a little bit.
Ready for more? Check these two out! :
That's right, guys! Jack Nicholson and Michael Douglas! In 1973, Academy Award Best Picture winner 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest', was being shot in Salem at the Oregon State Mental Hospital just a few miles away from the Black Angus. She had actually had a chance to meet both of them briefly along with the rest of the cast as they were also staying there during the film's shoot. I don't know what her impression of them was, but I was told 'they're good people'.
Now, last but not least:
Drum roll, please! Mr. Englebert Humperdinck, the man that made 'Please Release Me' one of the best love songs for its time. The last I remember about this, she had met him in California while she was at a beach party or water skiing or something. Again, not much info there.
Now, I know that this is somewhat hard to believe, but these days you could run into just about anyone anywhere. But, if it is true, I wish that I could thank every one of these guys for what they did for her. Pauline passed away some twenty-six years ago from cancer, and whatever they did or whatever was said, I know that it meant a lot to her. My mother I'm sure still tells those stories, and I've been telling them for a while now.
So, if anyone of you guys are reading this, I just wanted to say 'thank you' from the grandson of a hotel manager from a long time ago who might have booked your room and tried to take care of you the best that she could. From the bottom of my heart, I wish you the best!