Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Notes on father... Hank Garland

I've been posting and following a blog about my father for several years.

I have family members who have the most strange imaginations I've ever come across. Paranoid and laced with conspiracy theories of the most outlandish sort, I've learned this lifetime that reality just isn't enough for some people. So for a while, I've dabbled in sharing a bit of my experiences on line. Truth be told, but for a handful of very special friends and of course relatives, I've not shared very much about my childhood. I was taught by my mother that you do not share, when your Dad is famous and is the bread winner. So I have little or no respect for tabloid types who wish that life had tapped their dance card for that 15 minutes of fame. Fame is not what its cracked up to be! <sigh>

Anyway... I've a few posts across the net about my childhood. Today I decided to post something of the truth that I'd not felt comfortable posting before now. Now its time to say something. I'm just tired... and frankly I've grandchildren and a daughter-in-law who might come across the insanity of my Dad's so called movie and the stories that surround it. It's just time to speak my peace before its too late. <wink> Hope you don't hold this against me... but if you must, I guess I can take it.. after all, I lived it! <sigh>

My post today:
There were no mafia hit men. <sigh> It was an automobile accident, period. I can add to this whole story the fact that my father was severally addicted to drugs and alcohol, and that he had visited a
psychiatrist prior to his accident. It's the most common story of all, given all the examples we've seen to date of people finding fame and the fast lane.  When you think about the disaster addictions have on peoples lives, imagine when you add the pressures of public life as well. This is the damage that my sister and I come from. There was infidelity on Dad's part. Drugs, alcohol, women and physical abuse. And frankly, my Mom wasn't prepared for dealing with this.  Dad was who he was. And for all his talent and generosity and his love, he was out of control towards the end. His friends were all deeply concerned and god bless them... silent about all this. We had nothing in the bank, what with a new house and car. After Dad's accident, his barber
brought us bags of groceries he'd collected from his church for us, because he knew we had absolutely no money! Dad's friends would give us a few dollars here and there Mom was too proud to ask anyone for help. We went from being well respected and part of the music community, to nobody with nothing, overnight. Tough lessons in store for all of us.

My uncle was not around during this time. That's why his stories have so many mistakes in them. It has to do with the lack of empathy in the stories. Don't confuse empathy with compassion or decency. It simply
means insight into a real life. Sure it was glamorous to meet big named stars and to go to the different recording studios to watch the creative process of making a record. It was fun being known in stores
and parties and such and  treated as if we were something special, but even at a very young age I recognized it was illusion. What people can't see, they seldom imagine correctly. Nope..... they imagine spectacular things that never happen in the real world. It's all just gossip in its different forms. If they knew what a monumental achievement surviving that life might have been, they'd faint! <smile>

My Mom was an ordinary midwest housewife with a great sense of humor and lots of love. She was also a punching bag for most of her so called glamorous life. My Dad was actually a genius, literally. He only had a 3rd grade education, but he had the intelligence of a college grad. He did manage to teach himself calculus and trig.<shudder> He also had the temperament of a genius. He had a wonderful laugh and loved practical jokes! Someday I may tell you about how he glued my mothers rubber flipflops to the bath room floor one night! <smile> They were full characters in a genuine life. And everytime I spoke to my father, he'd break down in tears and apologize to me for the way he treated Mom. He'd break your heart when he talked about her and how much she meant to him. I honestly believe he meant every word.... gods honest truth! <wink>


julia simpson urrutia said...

Your comments on the fans of Shakespeare ban page made me interested in you--and here I am on your blog page. What a strange coincidence that your dad performed with Elvis, who happens to be a big feature on my own blog (though not because of me, but because of my blog partner, Connie Kirchberg). Small world! Want to be friends on Facebook? The blog is at
Julia Simpson Urrutia
I also love your Facebook image. Awesome!

Larry said...

I became friends with Hank during the early 1980's. It was such an honor to meet and play music with the man that I had been following since the 1960's. After we became friends, we did a lot of playing together at his parents house in SC and I was thankful to know that my dream of meeting him (not to mention playing music with him) had come true. On one of our (USAF Band) albums, there is an instrumental tune called "Sugarfoot Rag Restomped." The album is called "Back to Back." I took Hank several copies of the album and he really enjoyed what had become of his song. I was sad when they moved to FLA, as my visits came to an end.