February 29, 1976 I celebrated my 10th Leap Year Birthday by having a party at the Memphis Hilton hotel for 300 of 'my closest friends', more about that in a minute. There was a reception from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM in the Toastmaster's room with cocktails, appetizers and a jazz trio followed by a sit down dinner, in the Director's room, featuring Prime Ribs, Yorkshire pudding,Caesar salad and a band ending with desserts and dancing in the Corporate room with another band and a singer.
Needless to say, if you know me, the 5 tier cake was a carrot cake with cream cheese and walnut icing. The whole affair was on the front page of the Commercial-Appeal society section and hundreds of pictures were taken which is a good thing as I was drunk the whole evening, (that wasn't inthe newspaper story), and only remember minutes here and there including a 'thank you for coming' speech sitting in front of the bandnext to the singer and not making sense!
Regarding those 300 'friends' there was my lover, Johnny, his parents, most of the employees of the business I had started, Our Weigh, plus about a dozenpeople who had lost 100 pounds and more under my guidance , 2 tables of gay friends and friends who had flown in from Chattanooga, Atlanta, Kansas city, New York, St. Louis and so on. It was the people who weren't there that was a bummer such as my Aunt Flo who was the first one to show me unconditional love, my father who had come to Memphis the year before and we were on the verge of a reconciliation, a group of people who decided to stay with Bernie when we split, not to forget Bob, Nina, Jean, Ladye, BJ, Chuck, Bob, Gene, Joan, Addie, Joe, Issac and, yes, Bernie himself (which didn't surprise
me) and my brother and his family and many others. Of the 300 people there I have only heard from and/or seen 5(!) of them since 1979--goodthing I have albums of pictures of them! LOL
I promise there will be no mention of food in Part 4 but right now I want to share another memory of that time. Memphis was sort of a hub of many cities within reach by car in a few hours such as Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Hot Springs, St. Louis and, one trip we took, was on July 13,1974, to Fort Smith, Arkansas, on the far west boundary of the State. Why? Food, of course.They were offering, to anyone who could eat it all, within an hour, a
free meal of a 72 ounce sirloin steak, a shrimp cocktail, a salad and abeverage. I still have the notarized bill stating that I did it. The next day I had to go on radio and talk about being a Weight Watcher!!! LOL
I didn't drive a car until the age of 33, October, 1969, when I moved to Memphis. Up to that point I had lived where transportation was readily available or I had friends to rely on. Before I left NYC Bernie said I should have a few driving lessons because I would really need a car when I got to Memphis. Joan took me down to Wall Street on a Sunday in her VW Beatle, with a stick shift, to give me a few lessons and without going into the gory details, and her pulling her hair out, after an hour the lessons were over! When I got down to Memphis Bernie spent a weekend teaching me how to drive, then that Tuesday I got my license and three days later the company leased me my first car--a brand new1970 white Cadillac convertble --which I would walk into the dealer 5 years later and pay cash to own it.
Coming up: Our Weigh, Weight Watchers, Gig Young, Chuck, Bob, picking greens, Overton Park and Overton Square, Cotton Carnival, mid-South fair, Jwags, Mudd Island, the pyramid, my last trip to Memphis, Issac, Joe, red light, Pink Palace, Millington navy base, Carbondale, Jackson, Jonesboro, Chattanooga and, oh yes, SEX IN MEMPHIS