The strange demise of Warren T.
written by Ron:
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The mystery of a life ended too soon
The telephone call came at 10 a.m. on March 10, 1997. I’ll always remember
the time and date. The caller introduced himself as a friend of Warren T. He asked me if I was the fellow that went to school with
Warren. I told him that I was. There was a brief moment of silence and then the voice said, “I have some bad news for you, Warren
My relationship with Warren stretched back almost 50-years. We met
on the parks and playgrounds of Inglewood, California. I was playing baseball, football and basketball in all the junior leagues.
Warren was a writer, first for his junior high school paper, then for our high school newspaper. He tried to be athletic, but he just
didn’t have the coordination, the ability. So, instead of playing he wrote about athletes and their games.
I never knew much about Warren’s family. I went to the apartment where he and his mother lived. My feeling, even back then, was that
she drank. In all the years that Warren and I were friends I only saw his mother twice. Warren never talked about anyone else in his
family. No siblings, no father.
Warren spent a lot of time at my house. I think
my mother, father and grandmother adopted him in a way. All through high school Warren worked for the school newspaper, “The Sentinel.”
By his sophomore year he became sports editor.
Wherever I played Warren was
there, covering the game. In high school he traveled with the team and wrote about the players and the games.
Often, after the games, Warren would walk home with me and have dinner with the family. Later in the evening he would walk home. I
had no idea of what Warren’s life was after he left us.
I only knew Warren
to have a couple of dates in high school. Warren’s life was writing about sports.
Upon graduation Warren went to work at the local daily newspaper as a sports reporter. Two years later Warren was named sports editor.
Warren had a unique style to his writing. He had a tendency to make things slightly larger than life. Just a tad more exciting than
it really was. Even his personal life was touched with that extra touch of drama. He was a great story teller. If an extra adjective
made the story more readable he would throw it in.
I was beginning to feel
that Warren had become the brother I never had.
One day, after college graduation,
I phoned Warren at the newspaper office and asked him, “I need a job, Warren. Anything at the newspaper?”
In 20-minutes he called me back and said, “C’mon down, you have an interview with the composing room foreman.” I rushed to the interview
and was hired as an apprentice printer.
In the next few years I moved from
being a printer, to a district circulation manager to advertising salesman to the newspaper’s Entertainment Editor. I covered the
openings of shows and movies in the Los Angeles area.
Warren and I would go
to USC and UCLA football games, enjoying the perquisites of being writers and watching from the press box. Sundays would find us at
the Los Angeles Ram games. New Year’s day we were in the press box watching the Rose Bowl games and enjoying the free food.
The day after I got married Warren came to our small apartment to watch a football game with me on our new television set. He brought
hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone.
On holidays, when we would all gather
at mom and dad’s house for dinner Warren would be there with us.
In 1965 Warren
left the daily newspaper to become the public relations director for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. He had moved up in the
world – substantially.
Two years later I had moved to Hawaii, which would be
my home for the next three decades. Warren and I continued our friendship through the mails and the telephone.
We got together during my first return trip to the Mainland. He brought me up to date on his prestigious position with the Lakers.
He provided me with two Laker tickets, which another friend and I used that same evening.
A few months later, as we were talking on the phone, I told Warren that I would be coming back to the Mainland and we could plan another
get together, maybe go to another Laker game. Warren surprised me with his reply. “I’m not with the Lakers anymore. They let me go.”
“Warren, I’m so sorry. What happened?”
Warren offered, “It just didn’t work
out.” Obviously, he didn’t want to discuss what had happened.
When I said,
“Let’s still plan on getting together,” Warren’s reply jolted me. “I don’t think we should get together in person anymore. Seeing
each other could wreck the friendship we have. It’s better to remain friends by just writing and phoning each other. But we’ll still
be friends forever.”
I had no idea of what motivated Warren to make that decision.
I never saw Warren again, although we wrote each other once or twice every week and we talked on the phone at least twice a month.
We remained close friends, it was just different now.
Twenty years passed and
Warren and I continued our unlikely relationship. We had both settled into the correspondence and phone call friendship. From time
to time I would suggest that I could see Warren during a forthcoming trip to the Mainland from Hawaii. He remained adamant that we
do not see each other in person.
He told me that he was doing freelance writing
and public relations for a couple of small firms in the area. He told me to write down his new address – a post office box.
In 1995 Warren told me that I would have to address any correspondence to a friend’s business post office box. When I asked him, “What’s
up?” He said, “Oh, I’m just in between places.” Discussion over!
The day before
Christmas in 1995 Warren and I spoke on the phone and he told me, “I’ve got to tell you. I ran into some tough luck lately and, and,
and, I’m living in my car with my dog.” He confided to me that he waits for the local Sears store to open to wash up in their restroom
I was dumbfounded. I asked, “Do you need money? How do you live?”
“I have a part time job being a bouncer and a bartender in Lennox.” I knew
the area where the bar is located. It’s one of the worst areas in all of Los Angeles County. It was a biker hangout and a place to
make drug deals.
Warren a bouncer! He was a tall, skinny, frail guy. Impossible,
We continued writing, but the phone calls declined to once or twice
I sent Warren money every month. I hated thinking of him living in
his car, wanting for essentials. He would write and thank me. I had the feeling that he wasn’t earning much at that bar.
On a business trip back to the mainland from Hawaii I rented a car and drove to the bar one evening. It was the last place I could
picture Warren. Drug dealers, hookers and thugs were roaming around the entrance. I didn’t know if Warren was inside or not. I couldn’t
embarrass him, so I just drove off and never told him that I was there.
thing was happening to Warren’s handwriting starting in 1995. It was getting progressively smaller. His handwriting in a letter written
in January of 1997 was so small that I couldn’t read it. His next few letters were completely illegible.
By the end of January Warren’s letters stopped coming. I had no telephone number for him or for his friend. I didn’t even know his
friend’s name. Warren was lost to me.
Then, on March 10, 1997 I got the phone
call notifying me that Warren had died On March 8th.
His friend told me, “They
found Warren and the dog in his car. He had been dead for 2 days before they discovered him and his dog. The cops found him in the
parking lot behind Sears. He had a heart attack. The dog was alive.”
after they found him I received a letter from Warren. He had written it the day before he died. The handwriting was remarkably tiny.
All I could make out was …
“My dog is doing fine. I’m not feeling too well.
Hope everything is good with you.”
It ended, “Best regards, your friend Warren.”