Duane Gundrum

Duane Gundrum
Grand Rapids, Michigan,
February 12
Writer, professor (did his Phd work in political science and holds another graduate degree in communication), former computer game designer, previously a counterintelligence agent, and currently an all around strange person. Author of 13 novels of all different types. Lives a life that is sadly in the shadow of a room full of stuffed animals who have a lot more Facebook friends than he does. Writes a lot of humor, even if his mommy is the only one who says he's funny. Also the creator of the comic strip, The Adventures of Stickman and the Unemployed Legospaceman. *********************************** My first book, Innocent Until Proven Guilty, is now on Amazon in the Kindle store. See the link as part of my links below. *********************************** If you're interested in my science fiction novel, Thompson's Bounty, the link for it is at the bottom of my profile, under Professional Writing. The link is for the Kindle version, but the paperback version is also available on Amazon. ************************************ My blog can now be subscribed to on Amazon. See my links below. ************************************ If you want to friend me on facebook, feel free to send me an invite to www.facebook.com/duane.gundrum ********************************* For twitter, follow me at DuaneGundrum.

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 27, 2010 9:10AM

Daily Lunches with Dom Deluise

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dom deluise 

 My best friend's name was Roland. Throughout my childhood, he and I did pretty much everything together. We lived in a run-down apartment complex that had two buildings that mirrored each other; he and I lived in the same mirror apartment of Apartment I, as in the letter. At the time, our neighborhood was quickly transforming itself from a place of the poor, slightly indigent population of Santa Monica into a full-blown crack neighborhood where the difference would be represented by an apartment that used to house a small band of prostitutes replaced by a den of drug dealing hooligans who would end up preying on the rest of the neighborhood. When we weren't listening to sirens and random gunshots, we were trying to find new places to stash what little food we had where the swarms of cockroaches might not find them (but never really succeded). My mom, an uneducated diabetic who was slowly dying because she could never afford the medication she required, tried to make ends meet for us, but she lived a hard life right up until she no longer had the energy to continue trying.

As a result, Roland and I spent a lot of our time away from where we lived, getting ourselves into childhood trouble that never really amounted to anything bad. We were both good kids, so the shop owners tended to ignore us, focusing more on the real thieves and criminal elements that tended to inhabit these areas. Childhood was often a continuous search for some place safe, and this often brought us to the local mall, which had just been built, catering to the wealthier segment of this city that was slowly fighting a battle against the element from which Roland and I emerged.

Next to the super structure new mall was an old Sears building that was still struggling to remain somewhat relevant in an age that was ushering in Banana Republics and "soon-to-be-opening Starbucks" coffee shops. This was the place where Roland and I used to play hide-and-seek. The employees left us alone, as we were pretty much harmless, and we had the run of the store to do as much playing as we desired. At one point, we discovered the large men's clothing section was a great place to hide, often sneaking into the middle of the racks of clothes, where Roland always failed to look for me. It was then and there that we started to notice there was one customer who was always shopping in the men's clothing section. He was hard to miss because he has one of those faces and statures that is so memorable. I am talking about Dom Deluise.

Dom Deluise, for reasons that were never revealed, shopped at Sears almost every day during the summer Roland and I used to play in that store. And he would always recognize us and smile. We thought nothing of it because it was so cool seeing someone who was pretty much at the top of his game. My mom was definitely a fan because even though we could barely afford it, she always managed to take me to any movie that had Dom Deluise and Burt Reynolds in it.

After Roland and I were done playing games in Sears, we always walked down the street to McDonalds where we would often ask for a cup of water and then try to sneak Coca Cola from the soda machine. Every day it was pretty much the same routine.

And then we started to see Dom Deluise show up at McDonalds. Every day he would come in and eat lunch. I don't know when it started, but at one point, we were invited to sit with Dom and he would always buy us sodas. So every day for an entire summer, we had lunch with Dom Deluise, where he would talk to us about all sorts of things, none of it Hollywood related. Years later, I think what caused him to take an interest in the two of us was that we never once talked about his movies, yet he knew we had to know who he was, but all of our conversations were more about us, and the conversations were always interesting. Sometimes we'd talk about space travel, about different types of cars, and about anything that seemed to be of interest at that moment. And it was always so much fun.

Then he would part ways with us, and we'd continue on with our usual antics, and I'm sure he went back to his real life that an adult was often required to lead.

My mom could rarely afford to eat out, but every now and then she would take me out to dinner at a fast food restaurant. One evening, she decided we were going to eat at Carls Jr, which was one of our favorite fast food restaurants back then. Anyway, so I remember ordering my food, getting a tray and then walking with my mom while we were looking for an empty booth to sit. The place was somewhat crowded on this evening, and as we walked down the aisle, my mom got suddenly stiff and stopped me, pointing surreptitiously at a booth. "Look, that's Dom Deluise, the actor who is in all of those Burt Reynolds movies."

I had seen him, and at that instant, he had recognized me, his face lighting up. He stood up and said magnanimously, "Duane, so good to see you. And this must be your lovely mother."

My mom just stared at him and then back and me, not sure of what to say. But Dom continued on. "Duane and I are good friends, Mrs. Brown (he had remembered that my mother and I had different last names from our many conversations). Please join me."

So, my mom and I joined Dom Deluise for dinner, who spent the entire evening engaging my mom in a joyous conversation. My mom was obviously very nervous the entire time, but she was obviously having a great time nonetheless. When the evening was over, and we were walking from the restaurant, my mom hit me hard on the shoulder and said: "Why didn't you tell me you knew Dom Deluise!?!"

My mom got very sick and died a few years after this, but I'll never forget how wonderful of a time we had that evening. I had to move away from Santa Monica after that, so my lunches with Dom tapered off a little before that until they were just fond memories of childhood. But I have to say that they were wonderful memories.

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I loved this.. I saw this and he was such a beloved acator who we shall all miss. I still have his cookbook>:)
Rated with hugs
What a beautiful and revealing "slice of life" post.

Nicely written too......!

What a cute story. You had a blessed childhood, even if you didn't have it so good.
This is a marvelous, heartwarming story!
Great story, Duane. But why was he always hanging out in Sears and McDonald's?
I am so glad you managed to make it through a rough childhood, relatively unscathed. I am also glad that you confirmed my belief that Dom Deluise was an amazing person, movies or no movies. How nice that he let your conversations revolve around life, not just him. I am sure that these meetings were some of the fondest of your childhood! I am also glad that he could recognize a great kid! R
Bonnie, Linda, skypixieo, Kenny, & cartouche: Thank you for your comments.

Cranky Cuss: I've often wondered about that, myself, but I came to the conclusion that he hung out in Sears because he was always needing to find clothes (there weren't big and tall clothing stores prevalent back then), and McDonalds cause that was just his thing. Ran into him at fast food restaurants all the time in Santa Monica. I also kind of am under the impression that he was probably a bit lonely as well, which would explain why he was hanging out with kids (in a very innocent way unlike the horrific stories we hear these days about other people).
I used to see Dom at the swap meets in Ventura...or antique shops. On many occasions we would discuss a find, his or mine...he was always a delightful man. Glad to read you had such lovely encounters too.
What a delightful story and to have these memories always from your childhood. He must have made you and your friend Roland feel special and hopefully safe. Precious. Thanks for sharing. I thoroughly enjoyed this.
This is such a sweet memory. rated
kateasley: I only ever saw Burt Reynolds a few times, and almost always at a celebrity function. I always thought he would have been a lot of fun to be around.

BuffyW: I'm not surprised Dom showed up at swap meets. He seemed very frugal, yet he probably had a lot he could spend. And I mean that in a good way.

Gerri and Caroline: Thank you for your comments.
This is very well-written, and extremely touching. I have a feeling Dom Deluise continued going to Sears because of you and your friend. I wonder if he ever knew what an impact he had on your childhood?
Neat story. Confirms a long time suspicion about what kind of heart the man had.
Congratulations on your EP!!!! Great Job!
Best Wishes,
Way cool! I just love Dom Deluise...I was so sad when he died...xox
Delightful story, Duane. Have always enjoyed Dom's performances. Evidently he was the genuine article, too.
What great story! So often you hear that celebrities are assholes to the public. Dom DeLuise had three boys himself - if you are a Stargate SG1 fan, you would have known them as producers and directors and occasionally they would show up on screen, usually spoofing themselves. I always knew that the good-natured humor in that show came from them, and definitely originated in their father.
a friend of mine worked on the smokey movies. his fiamily had very fond memories of uncle dom.
A great story, Duane. As a pop culture junkie through the years, I particularly love these kinds of first person accounts. Good to know he was a decent guy.
What a great story! I enjoyed it so much. How nice of Dom to befriend you, your friend, and your mother. Makes him such a real person.
As you said, "He was hard to miss because he has one of those faces and statures that is so memorable." Which is why it is ironic that you posted a photograph of Paul Prudhomme instead of Dom Leluise. They look remarkably similar.

Here's a side-by-side with Dom and the photo of Paul you used (not created by me): http://totallylookslike.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/dom-deluise.jpg

Nice memories, though, thanks for sharing! =)
Sweet!!! I have to rate this, Dom Deluise for the win!!!

And lunch with? Frosting on the cake!! :)
Thanks, Marc for the heads up on the photo. I switched it with one that's actually of him. :)
When I visited Santa Monica from Long Beach I often frequented the supermarket of the stars. And there's the dry cleaner of the stars, etc,etc,etc.
Thanks for all the comments. I appreciate them. I just cleaned up what had to be about a dozen spam comments. It's amazing how much spam hits a post during the night. I just saw no less than four brand new spam accounts show up on the left side of the activity bar, indicating we'll probably see those names showing up on all of our posts as well.
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I drove a taxi in Manhattan in the early 70s and hated it. One afternoon I picked up DeLuise and his two hired wenches, destination the Plaza Hotel. I recognized him immediately but given the rebellious attitude of those times and the hard fact that I as a PhD in Biophysics dropout was a genuine hard core revolutionary did not converse with him, though he was trying hard to make contact. "Do you like driving a cab?" he asked. I shook my head, no. "Why not?" he continued. "Because I can't stand the fares I have to pick up," I clarified. He blanched and shut up. One of his hired wenches, who seemed genuinely turned on by the Mexican standoff, ran back after they got out at the Plaza, to tell me to wait a minute, thence dashing off and coming back two minutes later with a $20 tip. Dom was the best of the worst, a man with a child's mind, a very generous child's mind.