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                        THEN                                                    NOW



           I have been patient.  I have waited for about twenty years to get on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show.”  I hope that I can get on the “Tonight Show” before Johnny Carson decides to hang it up.

          Maybe I should start from the beginning.  Way back in October of 1965, I had gone to New York City to train to be a medical supply salesman.  I was just out of the U.S. Air Force and I had recently found some Spanish silver on Padre Island, off the Texas Gulf Coast, while on a treasure hunting expedition.  I decided to take the silver reales with me to New York and use them as an entree to get on the “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.  I was just a young man from a small town and I thought the story about the Spanish treasure would be interesting to other people.  I was really naive!  If Mr. Carson agreed, I was going to show him and his young sons the thrill of finding Spanish treasure on Padre Island.  At that time, when the conditions were right, a person could walk along the beach, like my friends and I did and just pick up 400 year old Spanish coins, as easily as picking up seashells.

          There I was, in the big city and I was going to figure out a way to talk to Johnny Carson!  If you have ever tried to get to a big celebrity like Johnny Carson, you know that unless you have the inside track, it is not easy to do.  Maybe there is an easy way, but I do not know it.  I went to the building where the “Tonight Show” was taped and started asking where I could find Johnny’s secretary.  I made the question sound as though I was not interested in seeing Johnny Carson, just his secretary.  I walked up to a security guard and asked where I could find Johnny Carson’s secretary.  I did not even know her name, and the guard said, “You mean Jeannie Pryor?” I said, “Yes.”  Now I had a name and off down the hall I went!           

          I made it up to the next floor and I was stopped by another security guard who asked me where I was going.  I played it cool and said, “I’m looking for Jeannie Pryor, you know, Johnny’s secretary.”  He sent me down the hall and up a few more stairs.  By this time, I was doing great!  I had gotten past two checkpoints and I was on my way to a personal visit with Johnny Carson.  There I was with a briefcase full of Spanish treasure and on my way to stardom!  My stardom seemed to collapse when I next talked to a lady who claimed to be Jeannie Pryor’s secretary. I had not planned for her to have her own guard and checkpoint.  I was stopped cold in my tracks and told to go home and write to one of their talent scouts.

          I was to be in New York for only a few days and being the type that doesn’t give up, I hired a secretarial service to type a letter to Johnny.  I figured that with a little ingenuity and some guts, I would meet Mr. Johnny Carson, face to face. I made up a package with the letter and pictures of the old Spanish silver.  If I did not get to see Johnny Carson, I would mail the package to him while I was there in New York City.

          With a little amateur investigating, I learned that Mr. Carson kept his limo and driver parked out on the front street.  All I had to do was wait until his show was over and when he came out to get into his car, I would meet him, talk with him, and tell him my story, along with giving him the package.  I understand now that you cannot tell when he comes and goes and I understand that the man likes his privacy.  I know how he feels.  I also like my privacy.

          One of those evenings while I was in New York, I was able to get into the audience of the “Tonight Show.”  The people who wanted to see the show had to stand in line and when all the seats were full, the line was cut.  I was lucky.  I got in the line early.  Anyway, there I was, sitting just a few yards away from my man.  I had my briefcase full of Spanish treasure and didn’t have enough guts to move. I briefly considered just getting up out of my seat and walking up on stage, but decided I didn’t want to spend the remainder of my time in New York City in their jailhouse.

          Well, back to the “wait outside by his limo ploy”...Pink Panther, eat your heart out!  I waited and I waited and finally, there he was. I walked up to him, introduced myself, and attempted to explain my mission and give him the letter and the pictures.  He was quicker with the word than I was.  Remember, I was only a young 24 year old kid from the country and he is the world’s greatest talk show host.  He recommended that I take the envelope to one of the talent scouts the next day and he would look at it after they had a chance to review it.  He acted as though he was in a hurry and talked as he was getting into his limo.  Before I knew it, he was gone.  My pipe dream went up in smoke again.

          Well, Johnny, I don’t give up.  I thought of every possible way to get invited onto your show.  My next thought would be to write a good book that would help a lot of people.  Then, maybe then, you will invite me to your show, even if it is for the last 30 seconds of your show.  I do not want to be on when you have one of your guest hosts.  I want to visit with you.

          In the beginning, I cannot say what my real motivation was, but now, I would like: one, to be on your show; two, and meet you; three, sell my book to all those that might gain from it; and four, get rich off my book and go fishing.  I know one appearance on your show is not going to sell my book.  But, it would be a nice send-off.

          John, I am much older and wiser now.  I have written a great book.  The book will help a lot of people.  I have waited for twenty years now and, if necessary, I will wait for another twenty years. By the time I finally get on the “Tonight Show,” I hope you are still there and still as funny as always.

          I have had over fifty different jobs and occupations.  I have lectured at different places around the world.  I have counseled professional basketball teams, doctors, lawyers, and U.S. State Dept. officials in time of world crisis. I have counseled Playboy bunnies, housewives, general laborers, criminals, students, children, and at least one Indian chief!  I have counseled people from all over the world and have worked with servicemen who have been everywhere, from Pearl Harbor to the Bay of Pigs.  I have worked with Vietnam veterans and former prisoners of war.

          I have been in the selling game, selling everything from $0.29 toys to $20,000,000.00 buildings.  I have been successful and I have been busted.  I have been to jail three times.  Once for not having an up-to-date fishing license; once for having a broken turn signal on my car; and the other time, for attempting to sell my wife’s San Antonio Spurs game ticket for less than the price marked on the ticket!  I learned one thing on those three occasions: DO NOT, I say, DO NOT, argue with the policeman or the judge!

          Through my travels, I have gathered enough information to teach the human how to be successful, healthy and happy.  With this book, I have made my contribution to society.  Now it is time to hang it up and go fishing.

          John, through your show, you have helped many people.  I know that you would do anything to help your fellow man, because as anyone can see, you are a good person.  I have waited and waited and, if necessary, I will continue to wait.  I am looking forward to our visit.  I will see you on the “Tonight Show.”*

     *I wrote this chapter in the 1980's.  Here we are in the 2000's
         and Johnny is gone!  I missed my 15 minutes of fame......


Chapter 21..The Child


   "I met the younger Johnny in the late '60s."
                                              .....Tom Ray

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