Larry Keith

BioKeithAgingThough the Austin High School classes near to ours enjoyed much of the same good old days and places, I think of you from the Class of ’57 as my fellow travelers on the difficult journey through one of life’s most difficult passages. We understand each other in intricate ways, and moreso with those who accompanied the plodding trek all the way from elementary school (I went to Henderson). All that was a kind of process, faced together, were mutually influenced, as we hammered out ways to shape an identity, formulate will with practical limits, and select directions for getting what turns us on.

All the subjects we studied held some interest, and all had facets to bore the socks off anybody. That was my take on it, and it’s probably why I finished high school without any special passion for a particular field of work, for a career path. Main thing I wanted to do was meet girls, perfect a sales pitch, and, of course, enjoy the fellowship of buddies. Having a car and a little money was important to such a yen, so I had some jobs during high school. Threw the Houston Press, worked some at the Post, and spent one summer as assistant greens keeper at the old Hughes Club golf course (hot sun and 80-cents an hour, but for that you could buy 4 gallons of gas). That kept the ’46 Chevy 4-door running…and back then even an old Chevy held some currency in the girl-chasing game.

It was Mrs. Tuley, our art teacher, who decided I should be an artist. She saved my stuff, even retrieved some from the trash bin, and entered all that in “the Scholastic Art Awards Exhibit”… a sort of contest, with ribbons attached to the good stuff. Owner of “Texas Academy of Art” saw the show, and offered me a scholarship to their school. With nothing better to do after high school, a fresh school and still more girls to chase held some appeal, and going to Art school kept parents off my back about making something of myself (by which they meant get a job and move out of the house). I followed the path of least resistance.

Toward the end of that two-year art school (which I finished in 18 months), one of my instructors recommended me to the head of a Commercial Art Studio, and he invited me to join their operation. Wasn’t an employee, but rather I worked as a free lancer…getting paid for time put in on each job. First month I made $584.70, a veritable fortune back then. Convinced me that Mrs. Tuley made a pretty good career choice.

It was a mixed blessing that the working world is full of older folks, but the slow down in girl chasing allowed me to save up. In 1959, bulk of the girls were gone to college (if not married). I bought a ’54 Austin-Healy, a sports car, a chick-magnet. Thus I was well-wheeled for pursuing my main passion, and headed off to where the girls are. Checked in at University of Texas in 1960, and chased for two more years. All that wore me out and emptied my bank account. So, in 1963 I was back to the old drawing board, same position
I had left in ’60.

The studio incorporated, and I became Studio Manager, BioPlanebossing other artists around. Our clients were mainly advertising agencies, but we did a lot of direct work for
companies, too…did stuff for practically every bank, airline and oil-related company in town. (One of mine you’ll likely recall is shown at right.) By 1965 I was married to a little gal from one of the ad agencies, and made Vice-president of the corporation, managing 18 artists and a secretary. Trouble is, I don’t like to be a boss, and I don’t like to be bossed. Thus I resigned the company in 1967 and once more became a free lancer; got divorced in 1976 and became a single parent, chasing girls on the side.

Each phase of life, touched upon above, was crammed with stories to be told, but not in this context. Main thing I’d emphasize is that a satisfying life don’t happen on its own. As we pass through youth, the people around us add probably more to prepare us than the compulsory education and chance that mixed us together, enabling and enhancing observations of what makes the human experience rich. I couldn’t have chosen a better batch of kids to learn with and from. I cherish the whole of it…and still have a memory like you wouldn’t believe. Reunions just spruce up the icing already on the cake. That’s why I didn’t charge anything for the Class of ’57 horse logo.

By now I have hatched two kids, raised, educated them, and finally got the last one married off in 2003. Since man’s primary function on the planet is to catch a gal and do the above mentioned stuff with kids, my job was done. My daughter is in DC, while her hubby keeps the government computers running. Son is a Marine Staff Seargent, currently in Iraq (and a Houston fireman when not dodging IEDs) Nest is empty…begging the question about what to do with the rest of life. No problem here. I like following the path of least resistance. The girl-chasing, though still appealing, no longer offers rewards like in the old days. Already had a piece of property bought and a small cabin (built it myself, back in the 70’s), so I harkened back to my learning in high school…specifically from the book by Henry David Thoreau. Shucked all the complications and encumbrances and moved to the deep woods of East Texas. I’m 5 miles from Percilla, 7 miles from Slocum, and 11 from Grapeland… stowed away where I can’t bother anybody (though they can find me if the desire to be bothered comes over them). I eat when hungry, sleep when tired, hunt, fish, build stuff, make noise, pee in the bushes, and hear no complaints about any of
it from anybody. It doesn’t get any better than this.

My outhouse…best one in the county.

I also published a genealogy book and operate a web site about KEITH history, which you can peruse if you like at my domain.