Before ending this personal saga I’ve been writing .....
Here’s another dancin’ tune from the 70’s to briefly distract from politics!
Earth, Wind & Fire – "Boogie Wonderland"
UNUSUAL INCIDENTAL EXPERIENCES CONCLUSION....FINALLY!
Earlier posts beginning the previous month may be of interest since they reveal the start of this tale in which I describe my strange on-the-job training experience you can click on in Parts 1 and 2. I was employed in production for a TV station live talk show where I spent an interesting decade during which my personal life also went from single to married though that’s not part of this tale.
My saga related here just seems to have taken on a life of its own, evolving by triggering one TV show-related memory after another. Though there are other tales, some of which are best left unwritten, this is definitely the final unusual experience in this saga which has become an unexpected and unintended epistle that has taken on biblical proportions.
Continuing with an account of my friend, Jack Denton, the former TV show host’s career in the entertainment world, one of his acting roles I eventually learned was in a pilot for a new TV series years ago. One night, I was just surfing the channels, was surprised to hear his voice and see him, so stopped to watch the show. This was a detective story starring James McEachin.
McEachin was a former police officer, also an award-winning author, the first black man to have his own series on NBC called “Tenafly” but was cancelled after four episodes aired. This series had it survived the ratings cut could have offered a potentially worthwhile actor’s career opportunity, possibly providing some regular financial security if Jack could become a regular character on a long-running series though he had so far appeared in only one episode.
Coincidentally, shortly after the brief time “Tenafly” aired, early one evening my mother, my young children and I spontaneously stopped at a nearby local coffee shop as we were returning my mother to her home. Once inside we discovered it was very crowded so rather than wait for a booth we sat down at the counter. I looked up from perusing the menu and noticed at the opposite far end of the counter what seemed like a familiar face, but I couldn’t place it which drew me to periodically glance at him trying to trigger my memory.
Apparently, he noticed my looking and soon the waitress informed me that gentleman wanted to pick up our bill. I’d never had that happen quite like that before in a coffee shop, and didn’t exactly know how to react, concerned he might have thought I was flirting. I decided I felt safe with my family present and at that locale, so I nodded, mouthed thank you, having decided to risk graciously accepting his generosity as his smile wasn’t lascivious.
That experience periodically kept coming to mind the following days – who was that person and why did his face seem familiar? Suddenly one day it hit me -- that was James McEachin who I had happened to see on my TV for what I thought was the first and only time not too long before in that one episode when I discovered my friend Jack had a bit part on his now defunct TV series. In retrospect, after reading McEachin’s credits for this story I probably had seen his face at least once before in Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut movie, “Play Misty For Me”.
I wish I had made the connection then as I would have made an effort to speak to Mr. McEachin – could have laughed with him about the coincidence that Jack was on his show. Of course, he didn’t know that when he picked up our coffee shop check. He must have thought I recognized him from his short-lived TV series, may have thought I might even be a fan. Likely he was pleased to have found a viewer many miles east of L.A. in a coffee shop on famous old Route 66.
I never happened to talk with Jack about that coincidental serendipitous happening with James McEachin either which he would have appreciated hearing. A current internet search with links on his name earlier here reveals Mr. McEachin has led a very interesting life, had a close call with death in the military, is aged 90 years now.
When Jack suddenly died years ago due to a massive heart attack, I was shocked, not believing it when I first received a written notice, since I had never before been the recipient of a reproduced form in the mail announcing a person’s death which is what I received.
In fact, I thought it was one of his quirky humorous acts and the ‘death’ was of his professional name, Jack Denton, his way of saying he was retiring. I rationalized that he was still alive under his birth name. I learned I was wrong but only after phoning his number. When he didn’t answer the rings I left a somewhat joking questioning message, then asked him to call me, a call which wasn’t returned. As time passed and I didn’t hear from him I wondered if he was still angry I hadn’t attended his FDR appearance in “Annie”.
I finally phoned Jack’s attorney I had never met, an old friend of his from another state where Jack had a radio show before coming to TV, though this was a Los Angeles area phone number on the notice I received. He explained Jack had really died. I schizophrenically began recounting my last memories of Jack to his old friend, in my effort to process the reality of his death. The attorney then informed me Jack remembered me in his will. He had willed me an item I realized had significance to both my husband and I who had met as a consequence of the TV show.
Jack’s attorney initially told me that he had in his possession the item willed to me, which was one of two trophy statues sitting on his desk, that he was looking at as we talked. He wondered if I remembered what it looked like, which I didn’t exactly. When I asked, he said I didn’t need to be present for any reading of the will, didn’t say when it would be read, but then I never heard anything further from him. Maybe it had already been read as I thought about it later.
Finally, I called to make arrangements to take possession of the trophy, but the attorney declared he didn’t remember or even know what happened to it, so I never received it. Given their long-standing personal relationship I have found it hard to believe that the attorney didn’t remember or know what happened to the trophy. I also think he should have made more of an effort to let me know I needed to arrange to retrieve the trophy before he disposed of it in some manner. Knowing Jack, I think he would have been highly displeased his wishes weren’t respected.
I don’t think the attorney would have kept the trophy for possible monetary value, but I could only vaguely recall seeing it when it was presented to Jack on one of the shows – though on second thought, there could have been some valuable signatures on it. Thinking the attorney might have just kept the trophy for himself, I called the state Bar Association to query what recourse I might have to obtain the item but they offered nothing, so no satisfaction there. Decades later, recounting the story to another attorney friend who had known Jack, he commented he wasn’t surprised I didn’t get the trophy statue as he said that all attorneys are crooks. That’s certainly reassuring.
Perhaps the attorney took it upon himself to decide Jack would have changed his will to exclude me given his angry outburst that I had shared in my shock at learning Jack really was dead. I don’t think Jack would have done that. Had he lived, having gotten out of his system whatever prompted his extreme reaction toward me as I described in this saga’s Part 2, I believe that eventually Jack would have resumed contact with me. However, just knowing Jack sensitively remembered me in his will with a meaningful item both my husband and I could appreciate is emotionally touching and sufficient for me to hold in my memory bank.
I wonder if others have had at work or in other settings experiences that they thought of as unusual, strange or even bizarre as I described my week-long on-the-job training experience at the beginning of this saga, or maybe subsequently you’ve had other thoughts triggered.