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Hollywood’s Funniest Feud Is On!—Pat Boone

Look what came in this morning’s mail,” Pat said, pointing to a letter he’d just received. “It’s from Jerry—Jerry Lewis. Listen to what this crazy guy says!” he fumed good-naturedly to wife Shirley.

Poor Pat, old man!” he read. “Now that Laury’s been born, you’ve got four wonderful children but not a second baseman in the bunch. You poor guy! You’ll never have the fun of bandaging cuts made by toad-stickers, putting splints on legs fractured falling out of apple trees and removing fishhooks from corduroy britches. No, Pat old boy. You’re stuck with four soft, sweet-smelling little females who look at their Daddy with adoring eyes, bring him his slippers after a hard day’s work, climb up in his lap and curl around him and tell him how fabulous it is to be his daughters. Little charmers who go to bed without terrible fights. How dull, old pal!”

“Dull!!” said Pat, pushing back his breakfast plate so hard a piece of bacon flew off.

“Thanks, dear,” said Shirley, picking it up gingerly off the tablecloth.

“Dull . . .” repeated Pat soberly. “Quiet as mice, he says! Man, has he got the wrong picture. If I’m lucky, and Linda hasn’t pattered into my room before seven o’clock, then Cherry gets me at the breakfast table. Right, Shirl?”

“It certainly is, Honey,” Shirley Boone said, grinning.

“Jerry should only know about our breakfast table ritual. The way Cherry won’t eat her bacon and eggs, but loves my bacon and eggs! If he could only see Lin—.” Just then Lindy, who had been eating her own bacon and eggs but didn’t want to be left out, hollered ‘ ’old me, ’old me.’ ” Pat hoisted her up on one knee while Debby, insisting on getting into the act, too, climbed up onto his other knee.

“Man, I’m lucky if I end up with any breakfast!” Pat turned and hollered, “You know, Shirl, one of these days I expect to look up and see baby Laury crawling in for her share. Jerr’s right—little girls love to curl, but not around me—around my bacon and eggs.”

“Not to mention the pawpaw ponies,” added Shirley, coaxing her husband.

“How could I forget?” laughed Pat.

Shirley suddenly got up, ran to the kitchen work table and brought back a notebook and pencil.

“What’s up?” asked a puzzled Pat.

“If we’re really going to answer Jerry, don’t you think we better put it in writing?” she teased with a wicked smile.

“Wonderful idea. Here we go then.” He smiled as she wrote:

Jerry, old boy, pawpaw ponies come from Texas. They have toy horse heads with bodies made from loose blanket material. We have two of them. The loose material fits over each of my knees. Cherry straddles one and Lindy the other—Debbie perches behind Lindy. Then I bounce my legs up and down like a bucking bronco and away we go!

Try it sometime, before breakfast, Jerry old pal, old pal! It’s murder. After a few minutes my legs are dead tired, but the kids are just getting warmed up and screaming, ‘Faster, faster, faster!’ At the end of the ride, they’re too exhausted to fight—which is a good thing, ’cause I’m too exhausted to stop them even if they did.

Shirley, becoming more and more interested in the “bomb” Jerry had set off in the Boones’ household, leaned over to read the letter. “What’s he mean by ‘. . . but at least the doctor recognized you this time!’?” she asked. “You didn’t tell Jerry that story?” Pat nodded and they both giggled as they remembered the day Deborah Ann was born in Hackensack Hospital.

Pat was singing at a state fair in Springfield, Mass., and couldn’t make it home in time. So before leaving he asked Don Henley to stay with Shirley in Leonia “just in case.” And when that “just in case” happened on Saturday, the day after Pat left, it was Don who rushed Shirley to the hospital. And from what Don had told the Boones later, he was more nervous than even Pat would have been. The doctor who was going to deliver the baby had never met Pat. So, when he saw Don, all anxious and fluttery, escorting Shirley to the labor room, he went up to him and shook his hand. “Hello, Mr. Boone,” he said. “I’ve seen you on TV many times. I’d recognize you anywhere.” He couldn’t have looked any less like Pat Boone if he’d tried, but he was so flustered, he forgot to tell the doctor he was wrong.

“Look at this, Pat,” Shirley said, pointing to another paragraph of Jerry’s letter. “I think this is sort of sweet: “. . .I know that when Patti’s having a baby, I go through all the pangs of pregnancy—morning sickness and cravings for strange foods. How’d you make out?”

Pat’s expression softened for a moment, thinking back to the time before each of his four little girls was born.

I guess I don’t empathize before the baby; I sympathize during the labor, Jerr,” he wrote after a minute. “I bet you never fell asleep next to your wife in the labor room like I did! It was back in Denton, Tex., in 1954. July 7th, to be exact. That was when our first youngster, Cheryl Lynn, was born. We were both so excited, thrilled and exhausted. It was three in the morning and Shirley was drowsing on the hospital table. I was nodding in a chair. She looked so comfortable, I climbed up on a table next to her, closed my eyes and fell asleep. The nurse apologized when she had to wake me, explaining that she couldn’t move the expectant mother into the delivery room unless I got off the table. Under the circumstances, I forgave her.

When Linda Lee was born, it was different, though. That was October 11, 1955, and I was in class at Columbia. I was listening to an English lecture, when, right in the middle of my notes, I’d write, ‘It’s a boy!’ or ‘It’s a girl!’ I still don’t know what the lecture was about.”

Flipping through the pages of Jerry’s letter, Pat laughed: “Hah! Look at this, Shirl! Just look:”

One thing’s for sure, Pat, old boy. Life may be dull around little girls sometimes, but never around little boys. Take my son, Ronnie, for instance. He’s nine and the pioneer-adventurer type. He’s certain to be the first boy on the moon. When the first American ship gets there, Ronnie Lewis will be waiting to welcome it and serve as translator for the moon-men. He’s a direct action boy. No fuss, no frills, just action.”

“He thinks he’s got action,” sputtered Pat. “I wish he could see our Lindy. Good name for a pilot, too, Lindy. Better than Ronnie. Guess we’ll have to call our space ship The Spirit of Leonia, N. J. Nothing to do but tell him about Linda to show him how wrong he is.” Pat leaned back in his chair.

Linda Lee Boone may be only two and a half, but she’s discovered something very important—the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. When she wants something, she asks for it directly. And she asks over and over and over again. We either go out of our minds or give her what she wants. It’s as simple as that.

Like Ronnie, I guess, it’s the results that count with her. Say she wants a glass of milk. She’ll say ‘ ’ilk.’ If it’s early in the day, and we’re still not too beat from meeting her many demands, we may take some time out to correct her pronunciation. ‘M-ilk,’ Shirley will say slowly. ‘M-ilk,’ Finally, Lindy will repeat, ‘M-ilk,’

Good, Shirley will say, ‘now what does Lindy want?’ And my daughter will answer, ‘ ’ilk.’ So we give her ’ilk.

My guess, however, is that it will be Cherry who’ll beat Ronnie to the moon. She’ll climb up on the highest chair or window sill and perch on, or hang from, the most dangerous spot. As she looks down at us, she’ll say, ‘Don’t worry, I won’t get hurt. And she doesn’t. If she falls, she climbs right back up before we can stop her. That’s the kind of spirit that space pilots will be made out of. Ronnie may be on the moon to welcome the first official American space expedition, but Cherry will be there to welcome Ronnie.”

Pat, coming to the next to last page of Jerry’s letter, stopped to let out a big howl. “He talks about Scotty, his three-year-old. Scotty is a real charmer, you’ve got to admit that, Shirl. Aren’t I right?”

“So, what does he say?”

Jerry says, ‘Scotty’s the matinee-idol type. He already uses smiles and wiles to get his mother to take down the cookie jar for him. And when we have company, Scotty takes over for us now with smiles—no doubt he will later with brawn. (And what can little fragile girls do when fans invade your house?)’ ”

“Ah, that’s his first mistake,” Pat chuckled. “Little girls always get their way—faster—’cause they stick to the charm.”

“We have our hands full with charm around this house,” said Shirley, as Pat looked up appreciatively at her.

“Like Debby,” Shirley added. Pat nodded and wrote:

“—You know, we ought to hire Debby out to the weather bureau. When it’s cloudy and overcast, all we’d have to do is have her smile and she’d light up the whole world.”

“Tell Jerry, Shirl. You can do it better than I—about our Debby charmer.”

Well, for one thing,” Shirl wrote down, “while Pat and I have brown hair and eyes, Debby’s hair is blond and her eyes are blue. With that combination and her smile, she could get into any cookie jar!”

“And Jerr,” Pat dictated to Shirley, with emphasis, “since you’ve been honest enough to tell me your twelve-year-old Gary is determined to be a comedian, like his old man, I’ll be straight with you. Our Cherry is already a performer! Yep, maybe you caught her. She made two live appearances on my TV show with rave notices (‘Just as cute as a bug in a corn-patch,’ one critic wrote).

When she wants something real badly, she can be the best dramatic actress you’ve ever seen. Did you ever see a youngster play sick? Well, it’s very convincing with tears, flushed face—the works. She’s very affectionate and shows her love, but if it’s necessary to get something she wants badly—she can turn on a look of love that would melt an iceberg. And Shirl and I aren’t icebergs!

On second thought, she’d make as good a politician as an actress. Her arguments can be unbeatable—like the time she asked Shirl for a hatpin to play with. Shirl said a firm, ‘no’ and explained it could hurt her. And our daughter’s snappy answer was, ‘I’ll be very careful, Mommy. I won’t let Lindy play with it; she’s too little. And I’ll stand real still when I play with it.’

Now how do you resist arguments like that? You don’t. All you can do is to lift her up and try to distract her. A piggy back ride may help. And, as a last resort, there’s always the pawpaw ponies.

Gary’s going to have to go some, too, to outsmart Cherry. You know what she said the other evening when we were looking at TV? ‘Look, Daddy, that’s so exciting! Exciting—at three-and-a-half. She uses big words—and correctly. When she does make a mistake, once in a while with her plurals, she corrects herself right away. It’s funny, she’s almost too conscious of words. If she has trouble pronouncing a word, or if she stutters over it, shell break down and cry because she didn’t get it right. One thing’s pretty certain: In a few years this gal’s going to get the last word in—and it’ll be the right one.

And don’t think that little girls are all fragile!” Pat nodded to Shirl. “Right!

Our Cherry’s a ball of energy. She quit taking naps a year ago. Who could keep her in the crib? She’s been able to climb out of it since she was two. But don’t get me wrong; the ladys not always racing around. And she’ll watch Rin Tin Tin without one second out for a cookie. Sorry to say, Jerr, you’re not one of her favorites, yet!”

Coming to the last page of Jerry’s letter, Pat mumbled through a part, then started to read the last paragraph aloud:

You know, Pat, I’ve always wanted a girl around the house—just because it would be nice for Patti, you understand. What sort of a deal do you think we could make to trade one girl for one boy? For maybe a week’s vacation? I realize it’s no even trade—you’d be getting the better bargain!! Oh, you don’t agree? Well, would you consider one boy for one girl if I threw in one garter snake, seventeen marbles and a cosmic ray gun? You have to think it over? Well, I’m willing to add forty-five horror comic books!

All love—and God bless the five Boone girls!” Jerry.

Shirley looked up from the paper she was writing on. “Would you like to trade one of us?”

“Are you kidding?” Pat looked at her in amazement. “Maybe someday it would be nice to have a boy of our own or adopt one. But right now—and you can put this down—five beautiful women love me. And I love five beautiful women.”





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