“Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.”

Norman Vincent Peale – author, The Power of Positive Thinking


Television and I were born about the same time, 1951.

I grew up watching The Ed Sullivan Show,  Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, The Honeymooners,  The Lone Ranger, Superman, Leave it to Beaver, The Twilight Zone, I Love Lucy…

The list goes on for miles.

My favorite entertainer was Red Skelton.

He offered this advice, “Have a little laugh at life and look around you for happiness instead of sadness. Laughter has always brought me out of unhappy situations.”

Red performed a long list of zany characters; Clem Kiddlehopper, Sheriff Deadeye, Cauliflower McPugg, San Fernando Red, Willie Lump Lump. His most popular was Freddie the Freeloader –  a hobo clown who was always cheerful no matter what misfortune he stumbled into.


*          *          *

The year was 1980.

My checkbook balance and Freddie’s held the same number of zeros when I learned Red Skelton was coming to town. He would be here for a stage show and to autograph his famous clown paintings at a local gallery.  At the time, I couldn’t afford a ticket to the show or a painting. However, with the same indomitable spirit that “Freddy the Freeloader” was famous for, I came up with a plan to not only meet Red Skelton, but to make him laugh too.

Making my way to the art gallery on the day of his visit was no problem. Waiting my turn to see him was a little more challenging. In spite of the fact I was early, the line to meet Red already stretched to the moon and back. But I had a mission. I took my place in line and waited…and waited…and waited…

Finally, the magic moment arrived. “SHOW TIME!”

I was standing in front of the show business legend, Red Skelton.

“Mr Skelton,” I began. “I would like your opinion on something. I just did my nails. How do they look?”

I shook his hand with my right hand as I opened my left hand which was balled in a fist and revealed six carpenter nails. Red looked at me and I looked at him. Together, as if on cue, we both laughed. I said a quick “Thank you” and made my exit.

No, I didn’t own a Red Skelton clown painting. And no, I wouldn’t be in the audience at the show that night. This didn’t stop me from having a good time. I felt a surge of pride as I walked out of the art gallery and that night I went to sleep with a smile on my face. I had met Red Skelton and I had made him laugh.

“I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty.

I have learned the secret of being happy at anytime in everything that happens.”

Philippians 4:12

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