RANDY’S EARLY YEARS
Randy was known for exaggerating. From an early age, he had trouble distinguishing truth from fiction. And that was true. It might seem like he was lying when he tickled his great-grandmother by telling her and his Oklahoma cousins that he had a lawnmower at home in Texas that could cut down a tree, but he could tell a “whopper” and believe it.
Everything about him, however, wasn’t exaggeration. He may not have owned the real Lassie like he told a friend; but when he told someone something like that, he was hardly aware of it. And such things waited inside him, until out of boredom, he started writing dialogue in high school.
Since he couldn’t read very well, he chose writing plays over other literary forms because plays had fewer words.
In back to back study halls his senior year, he had his first audience. A teacher caught him one day distributing copies of his dialogues and confiscated them, admitting that she didn’t know what to do with them. To her credit, she sent Randy to the Dallas Theater Center, where as a high school student, he attended an adult playwriting class. The teacher of that class was Eugene McKinney, who became a life-long friend and mentor of the playwright.
Randy started out in the theater by first studying drama under Dr. Paul Baker at Baylor University and at Trinity University, after Baylor made national news by closing Long Days Journey into Night and its drama department resigned en masse. If Randy had not made that fateful move from Baylor to Trinity with the drama department, he wouldn’t have met his wife Peggy and have one son by her.
RANDY FINDS EARLY SUCCESS
While still at Trinity, Randy first had one of his plays produced professionally at the Dallas Theater Center. Henry Hewes, then a widely know drama critic of the Saturday Review of Literature, called the play “most impressive” and wrote “it quite successfully catches the drag racing, girl-chasing flavor of two hotrodders who emulate and idolize the late James Dean.” Randy went on to have two other plays and a reading of another one performed at Dallas Theater Center. One of the playwright’s greatest honors was to have one of those plays, R.U. Hungry (Specialty, Short Orders), directed by Dr. Baker, the managing director of the theater.
AN ADVENTURER’S LIFE
Randy never attempted to stay in the theater and, as a playwright, feels that was a wise choice. After studying and working at Dallas Theater Center for only two years, he and his wife chose to join the Peace Corps. In the Philippines–apart from being extremely busy teaching drama and working in the theater–he got this ridiculous notion that he could somehow bring about world peace by crossing borders and used the idea as an excuse for becoming an adventurer. Ironically, one of the few books Randy read in high school was “I Married Adventure,” and that was what Peggy unwittingly signed on for when she married the playwright. She has since said that instead of an adventurer she thought she was marrying a playwright who would someday be rich and famous. We’re still waiting for that to happen.
On Bongao, an island situated near the tip of the Sulu Archipelago, Randy and his wife met a British world traveler who fueled the playwright’s imagination with a description of his trek across Borneo. Peggy soon found herself somewhat reluctantly tagging along on a trip that would last for three years and take the
couple the rest of the way around the world.
They flew to Singapore and bought bicycles in Malacca, Malaysia, riding them up both coasts of Malaysia and on north to Bangkok. Somewhere along the way, they acquired a companion, a white handed gibbon that rode on Peggy’s hip while she peddled as hard as she could to keep up with Randy. One, hard day they got lost looking for the Bridge Over the River Kwai and, before turning around, almost ended up in hostile Burma. They taught English in Bangkok and because of Immigration nine times crossed over into Laos. This was during the Vietnam War and crossing the Mekong then was not done without some trepidation.
From Bangkok and back through Malaysia, and, before such touring became popular, the couple rode their bicycles through Sumatra, Java, and Bali, pushing and trudging through jungles. Depending on the locals, they never knew at the end of the day where they might land. From Indonesia, they lived and traveled in
India and crossed Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and on into Europe by Landrover. They walked over the Alps into Austria, carrying their suitcases and gibbon, and landed flat broke in Vienna, where they lived and recuperated for a number of months.
From distant lands to the United States, Randy never gave up bicycle touring until after in 1976 when he, Peggy and their three-year-old son moved from Maine to Arizona by bicycle; and Randy soon after led a bicycle trip from Phoenix to Washington D.C. with a group of disabled people. By then, necessity had led
him into the field of social work (in preference to eviscerating turkeys), and he became a social activist. As such, his accomplishments have made a significant difference.
RANDY’S LIFE NOW
Now Randy has come full circle. In March of 2005, he retired from Child Protective Services in Arizona, a state agency for which he served as an investigator for sixteen years. Since then, he has continued his career as a playwright and has also written several short stories. Randy currently lives in Tucson, Arizona, with his wife Peggy and nine animals. He enjoys spending time with his grandchildren. He has also written an opera, three unpublished novels, and a short travel piece about Muko Muko.
The playwright is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America, Inc, The Authors League of America and The Society of Southwestern Authors.
Randy keeps pretty busy, but blogging is a way to keep his eye on the literary world.
Randy has written recently about his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. His wry sense of humor and daily bicycle regimen are his weapons along with the loving support of his beloved Peggy. It is now that Randy has returned to daily writing, keeping up his blog and is giving theater workshops five nights a week, often biking home in the evenings or taking the bus. Actively seeking historical designation for the site of the original “El Ojito Springs” in downtown Tucson, he has had it pointed out to him recently that he is the busiest retired man in Arizona.
Drop Randy a line when you’re visiting and he’ll be happy to chat you up.