Spotlight: DesertPirate (Randy Lowe)By Sharon Brown (Sharon) on February 21, 2011
|You might call him Pirate or maybe you know him as DP and sometimes he answers to Randy. I usually reserve 'Randy' for those times when I feel the need to yell at him for one thing or another, not often, mind you, just sometimes. He's been a good friend for several years and I probably could have written this article without his help but I thought if I did he might just start yelling back at me. I'd like you to meet my friend, Randy Lowe.|
You already know how much I enjoy writing. What you might not know is that there are others who enjoy it as much as I do. I met this week's Spotlight guest a few years ago when we (and a few other writer friends) wrote a short story together. He had a unique way with words and as is the way of most male writers, he had 'killer' ideas. In other words, he added a bit of the gory to our stories.
I promise there's nothing gory about this story, it's fun and open and honest. That's another characteristic I can always count on; when Randy answers a question, you can count on his honesty, and when he tells a story, you can count on it being fun. His words are truly who he is.
Let's meet this interesting man. He was born in Texas, grew up in Mississippi, lived again in Texas, then Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, Mississippi again, Arizona again, then California, then back in Arizona. It's been fun trying to keep up with him! Join me as we talk with the adventurous Randy Lowe.
I was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1955. I grew up in Laurel, Mississippi, the son of a house painter and a stay-at-home mom. My mom is still living at 86 years old and Dad passed away in ’02 at the age of 82. I have two brothers, one is now deceased, and one sister.
My earliest memories include our family living with my grandfather. "Papa" was a short German/Irish man who could be called 'mean'. He never was to me, but I've heard stories about him that didn't paint the picture of him that I remember.
My memories include him putting me atop Ol' Bob, the plow horse, where I'd grab hold of the harness and ride while he plowed.
Papa dipped snuff, it was the powdered kind, not the moist kind like Skoal or Copenhagen. He had a little wooden paddle that he'd use to scoop it out of the jar and dump it in his cheek. I thought it looked like chocolate and I wanted some of it sooo bad. One day he finally gave me a little bit of it after I'd badgered him over it for so long.
He put no more than the size of a kitchen match head on my tongue. It was bitter and it burned. I spat it out and told him "Papa, that tastes like last year's snuff." He laughed til tears streamed down his cheek. He told that story dozens of times up until the day he died.
My love for horses was born on the back of that old plow horse. When I was about 10 years old my dad brought home a little brown Shetland pony. I named him Thunder. He was stubborn and mean. He would bite me every time I turned away from him, but I still loved him. Finally one day my dad got sick of seeing the bruises on me from Thunder biting me and he took him away. He came back that same day with another one. This one was a Pinto colored pony that had never been ridden. I named him Traveler, the name of Robert E. Lee's horse. Traveler became my best friend. We rode in shows all over south Mississippi. We gained quite a reputation as a horse/rider team.
Traveler won literally scores of ribbons and trophies at these family events. He was kind enough to share them with a boy that loved every hair in his mane. I still think of him once in a while. Traveler passed one night and left me crying for days. Dad thought that getting me a new horse would be the salve that eased my tears and pain, but Cherokee Bill, a Quarter Horse Appaloosa, was not to be the cure for my grief. I learned to love "Ugly" (as we called him) and we won several more ribbons and trophies, due to the lessons I learned about riding from Traveler. However, I never really got over the loss of my dear friend and soon lost interest in riding competitively.
High school brought with it new interests; some of them not so savory. I dabbled around with smoking pot and other such stuff. I didn't let it affect my grades and I never "ditched" class until my junior year. The one and only time I did, I got caught.
In the third week of my senior year, I was in English class. The teacher, Coach Gatwood, called on me to diagram a sentence on the blackboard. It was a rather complicated sentence, so I suppose it was a bit challenging. I got up, wrote out the sentence and diagrammed it. I was livid. I asked him if we were going to do ANYTHING in his class that I hadn't learned how to do in 5th grade.
He made some snide remark about making sure we'd all retained what we needed in his class.
I got really upset and barked something back at him that was surely disrespectful. He sent me to the office. On my way, I stopped by my locker, gathered all my books and took them to the office with me. I quit school that day, never to return to high school.
I left with an older friend of mine later that week and moved to Houston TX. We both got jobs and rented an apartment together. Several weeks later Roy decided to go back to Mississippi. I stayed. A month later I turned 17 and five weeks after that I joined the Navy.
After a two-year hitch in the Navy, (I might as well have joined the circus!) I returned to Mississippi where I got my G.E.D. at the local community college.
A year later, my older cousin had graduated from the University of Florida. We traveled west and wound up in Yellowstone Park WY. Near broke, we both got jobs there. I started out washing dishes, then later tended bar at the Bear Pen Lounge in the Old Faithful Inn. That's where I met my son's mother. She was working as a waitress.
We moved to Montana later that fall and my cousin went on his way back to Florida . November brought a snow storm to Missoula, MT, where we were living, and it was more than a "southern" boy like me could abide. My girlfriend was less than enamored with the cold as well and we left for warmer climes. She was from Arizona. We moved to Phoenix the first week in November of 1975. A week earlier we had been in 3 feet of snow and now we were laying poolside in 95 degree heat. I've always liked the heat since.
A couple of years later, in June of 1977, my oldest son was born. We had moved to Mississippi for a short time and he was born there. By October that year, we had moved back to Arizona.
When my son was two and a half, his mother and I had a parting of the ways. He and I moved out and lived in a few places before settling in Cottonwood. He was in third grade when we moved here, and he graduated from the local high school here. I raised him (mostly) by myself through high school. (I got two child support payments in 15 1/2 years...twenty dollars each.) After his graduation I got involved in local politics which had always been an interest of mine and helped me get over the ‘empty nest syndrome”. I served as Vice Mayor of Cottonwood for the four years of my second term on the City Council.
Our Mayor was not fond of traveling out of town, so he sent me to represent the city at the state and regional level. Janet Napolitano, the current Secretary of Homeland Security, was the Governor of Arizona at the time. For a Democrat, she was a pretty good Governor for my home state.
Just about the time I was getting ready to run for office the first time, I met a gorgeous woman where I worked. I've never been at a loss for words before, but this woman had me spellbound. When I was around her I would fumble for words and generally make a complete fool of myself. After nearly a year of bumping into her in the cafeteria at work and saying hello in the parking lot, I finally got up the nerve to ask her out.
She accepted and we went out to a nice dinner in Sedona, followed by a movie date a few weeks later and one thing led to another until we were married two and a half years later in June of 2001.
When we were first dating, I told her I was going to run for City Council. Her first reaction was laughter. I don't mean a chuckle. It was almost uncontrollable laughter. I think it gave me just that much more resolve to work and make this happen. In March of 1999 I was elected by a wide margin in the primary. Of course I got the "Throw the bums out and elect the new guy" vote. But it was a grand victory nonetheless.
In January of 2003, at a Super Bowl party at my son's house, he and his wife announced the imminent birth of our first grandchild. In September that year we were blessed with a beautiful girl child as our first.
Two years later they gave us another granddaughter in the summer of 2005.
Our middle son, Lisa's eldest, brought us our first grandson the following spring and a year and a half later a second one.
We are now the proud grandparents of four wonderful children that for some odd reason believe we walk on water. I think it's actually clouds.
Lisa and I came into our marriage, each with children of our own and a story about why we were single at that point in our respective lives.
Blending our lives with all the baggage we came in with hasn't always been easy, but it certainly has been worth everything. We now live back in Arizona after a short stint in California.
We live in a rural community near Cottonwood, with our dog Fido, two cats, Opie and Tilly, and four chickens. (Each of the chickens are named for deceased aunts and uncles of ours). We now get to spend more time with our grandsons who live a couple of miles away.
I work in a hardware store in Sedona and Lisa is a student adviser at a boarding school nearby.
We live a simple and quite happy life, one blissful moment after another!! (And I've got some beachfront property near Yuma you might want to invest in too! He said, joking!!!)
Even after all this information and all his twists and turns, I found I had a few more questions for him.
Could you tell us, Pirate, who was the most influential person in your life?
I think the greatest influence on my life has been my parents. My father was an uneducated man but he knew more about America and its history than most of the so-called leaders we have in government today. He instilled in me a love of our system of self rule, of our Constitution and the rule of law. Between him and my 8th grade Mississippi History teacher, Mr. Myrick, I was hooked on politics by the time I reached 13. My mother instilled in me a love of gardening, a love of all things beautiful. She also took me to church every Sunday and taught me that putting God first in everything in my life would make even the worst day bearable. That alone has probably kept me alive on more than one occasion.
You've lived so many places in so many states, if you could 'go home' again, where is the place you'd most like to visit?
I am 'home again' now in Arizona. But if I could just take off and go someplace, it'd be somewhere I've never been. I've had the pleasure of visiting half the states in the U.S. I'd like to see the other half. Interestingly, the one state in the South I've never been to is Kentucky. I hear it's beautiful there. A good friend of mine has described it to me in some detail.
Well, come right on, DP, I'll leave the light on for you! Another question for you, what's the greatest piece of advice you'd want to give your grandchildren?
I am loathe to give advice to anyone. I live by the adage that free advice is worth about what you pay for it but I do like to sprinkle tidbits around. I think what I'll probably tell my grandkids more often than anything else is 'never give up on yourself, eventually you'll surprise even you.'
I'm curious now, how would you describe a best friend?
It's a little difficult for me to describe a best friend. Outside of family, I don't have that many friends. Don't get me wrong, I have many friendly acquaintances, but my best friends are within my immediate family.
I suppose if I were pressed to describe a best friend it would be someone that I could have a candid conversation with about all the things in my life that make me who I am and not feel like I was being judged by them. I'm still waiting to meet that person.
Don't underestimate yourself, Randy. By the time our Cubits' buddies read your story, I'll bet you'll be surprised about the number of real friends you truly have. If you had a choice, what would be the job you'd choose above all others?
I spent the past 40 years of my life preparing for the job I have right now. I sell hardware to people who, for the most part, don't know how to use what they're buying. It's my job to teach them how to use what they're leaving the store with. After only six weeks on the job, I have customers that wait for me to help them. I may have found my niche. I'm almost chuckling as I say that, but the only job, at least at this point in my life, that I'd rather have is writing an opinion column for a blog. But.....that's right....I already do that! (See Randy's Cubit here. )
Yes, you for sure do. What about hobbies? Do you have time for them?
I build things!
My work has been varied throughout my life. I've been a house painter, a pest control operator, a gardener, a carpenter, a maintenance man and a hardware salesman. I even owned a hot dog stand for a time.
Working with my hands give me great personal pleasure. Some of the things I've built or have been a part of building, give me pleasure just knowing that someone is enjoying them.
I built a tree house, really more of a perch, in Solana Beach, California. It's currently being enjoyed by a couple of children and their parents.
Another little closet make-over was built for a friend of mine who got married after several years of single life. He needed to be able to maximize the room in his meager closet.
A back yard was rock and dirt with a stark concrete slab two weeks before the picture above was taken and before my son and I showed up. That son of mine has quite the imagination, don't you think? From his drafting table to reality in two weeks...
The one thing I built that means more to me than anything else is this toy box I built for my granddaughters. I have three more to build, one is underway and the other two are in the planning stage. This one in the photo is Honduras Mahogany and American Red Oak.
One more thing then I'll let you go back to your woodworking and your writing. What do you look forward to, in society, in your private world, for your future?
I look forward to a time that people actually take responsibility for their own actions. I believe our society has gone to 'hell in a hand basket' mostly because of a lack of personal responsibility.
For me personally, I look forward to each day as it comes. Life has been wonderful for me. I look around me and see so many amazing things, so much I haven't experienced yet. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.
What a great attitude, and what a great story. Thank you so much, my friend, for sharing your life and your thoughts with us. All eyes are on you now, Randy! We'll be wishing you well.
Folks, you can share your comments with Randy in the threads below. Be sure to scroll over the photos for descriptions and click on them to enlarge.
Thanks for joining us in this week's Spotlight. We'll see you again next Sunday.
|Arizona, childhood, interview, Mississippi|
|I am a retired Art and Humanities teacher living in western Kentucky. I love writing and art with equal measure, but I also have a passion for nature and plants.|
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Comments and discussion:
|Subject||Thread Starter||Last Reply||Replies|
|Good to see your face again!||BookerC1||Feb 28, 2011 12:56 PM||3|
|Missed seeing this||MaryE||Feb 27, 2011 11:01 AM||0|
|intelligence vs. education||Lance||Feb 25, 2011 9:07 AM||0|
|Hi, Randy!||nap||Feb 23, 2011 6:32 AM||4|
|You've done it again!||Aguane||Feb 22, 2011 11:37 AM||2|
|What a surprise!||TexGun||Feb 21, 2011 9:21 PM||2|