FROM THE VALLEY: Killer Bee In Parents' Backyard
BY TOM VALLEY
Back when my mother and father lived in the Tampa area, I used to call them on a regular basis. It was in the Spring of 1987 when I made such a call. Mom picked up the phone. We had a nice chat and she told me that things were fine. She was in a particularly good mood because, my brother, Tim, was there for a week to visit and help out in any way he could. My other brother, Mike, and I often did the same.
She explained that, as we spoke, Tim and my dad were outside in the backyard talking to the neighbor, Brian - and Brian's friend. Brian lived across the street. He and his wife, Toni, kept a close eye on my parents. And my brothers and I found comfort in their genuine concern - especially since we lived so far away. (I must add that Mom and Dad had others in the area who were of great value to the family. Like cherished friends, Sonia and Pablo Marchese. Fantastic folks.)
Brian was a well-known professional wrestler in the WWF, a very popular enterprise at the time. He wrestled under the name of B. Brian Blair and gained quite a following as one the 'good-guys' in the tag-team duo known as “The Killer Bees.”
I didn't follow pro-wrestling before I'd heard about Brian. But, admittedly, started paying more attention to the WWF after Mom and Dad told me about him. Since I'd yet to meet Brian, I was curious to see what he looked like.
Mom explained that Brian and his friend, had just bought new Harley-Davidson motorcycles and had brought them over to show Dad. Brian had his custom-painted with the signature yellow and black stripes of a bee. He was, rightfully so, quite proud of it.
I asked her if she knew who his friend was.
“Yeah,” she said, “Terry's been here before. He and his wife are going to have a baby. He's a 'rassler' … like Brian.”
“That's cool,” I said. “What's his last name? Do you know?” Maybe, I had heard of or seen him on TV.
Mom said, “I can't remember his last name. But he comes over with Brian a lot to play horseshoes with your dad and sit by the pool.” (Brian had yet to put in his own pool. And tanning was important for that healthy, TV/wrestling look.)
“He usually goes by some nickname,” Mom explained, about Brian's friend. “He's big. And he's got long blond hair, but actually … he's kind of going bald in the front. And he's got a long, yellow, droopy type of mustache …!?”
“Hulk,” I blurted out. “Hulk Hogan!?”
“That's it! That's his name,” she said, passing it off like it was no big deal. And it wasn't … to her. She'd never heard of him. Hulk Hogan and a Killer Bee were in the backyard with my father and brother. Holy crap! And to my mother, it was like they were just the average joes you'd see in line at Burger King or Dollar General. God bless my mother.
As evidenced by a picture my brother took that day and sent me, Mom went outside after I talked to her. The photo further indicated that the Hulkster, apparently, liked his new helmet so much, he didn't want to take it off.
Incidentally: If you've ever seen the movie “A Christmas Story” you'd know what my dad was like. Not only did he look a little like Darren McGavin's father-character, Old Man Parker, but he acted the same way.
Any new ginkus on the market - that would catch his fancy - would send him over the moon. And at this particular time, Dad's toy-of-the-month was his bazooka-like, over-the-shoulder, video camera. It was the size of a 4-door sedan and probably just as heavy.
I'm sure my father had no idea who the hell Hulk Hogan was either, but it didn't matter. He videotaped every damn thing and person he could with that monster contraption of his. Fire-ants, mailmen, trees blowing in the wind, everything.
He documented so much, he could never have had the time to watch it all. There were not enough hours in the day. The math was simply not in Dad's favor of becoming the next Cecil B. DeValley.
But that didn't matter, if it moved, it had to be recorded. Posterity was his priority. (Say that 5 times fast.)
This column is running long, so join me here next week for an article to conclude this story which I'll write and call … “An article I wrote to conclude this story.”
And that's the way it looks from the Valley.
Did you know that anyone who has ever seen “A Christmas Story” now pronounces the word “fragile” as “fra-jilly”? True! - Contact Tom at: Tvalley@Rochester.RR.com