I Knew Him/Her When

Articles Sent To Reminisce Magazine From People Who Have Had, Or Know Someone Who Has Had, A Close Encounter With A Celebrity.

From Ester DeBar
TODAY Glendale, California is a thriving city with high-rise buildings and roaring freeways. But in the 1920s, when I attended school there, it was a small neighborly community dotted with orange groves.
My most vivid memory of that era is of an eighth-grade classmate named Marion. Handsome, intelligent and very shy he was often picked on by bullies. Marion made friends with the local firemen and often hung out at the station with his Airedale, "Duke". I lived a block from the station and noticed the firemen began calling him Duke, too.
One day when Marion showed up with a black eye, a fireman gave him a lesson in self-defense. He learned fast, and the next time a bully picked on him, Marion let him have it! After that, the kids respected him.
In high school, Marion walked past my house delivering newspapers. He'd changed, becoming taller, stronger and better looking. Eventually he was the most popular guy in school. He was elected class president, became an honor student, acted in plays and wrote the sports section of our high school newspaper while I wrote the social column.
His football talent helped our team ("The Dynamiters") win a Southern California championship. Marion was then awarded a scholarship to the University of Southern California.
He took a summer job at a local movie studio and played some bit parts in movies, then bigger parts in Westerns. His career took off, and he became know as John Wayne.
Many years later, when John Wayne passed on, a newspaper carried the headline "Mr. America Has Died". It was hard for me to believe this shy boy from Glendale had achieved such worldwide fame.