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Danny Taylor 1957 -2003 –another anniversary observed.

Danny Taylor

The following essay was posted to a Yahoo Group of Oak Ridge High School Alumni by me in 2004. Every year I amend it a bit, add a thought here or there and update it according to what the past year has allowed; always thinking I have lived another year and Danny didn’t.

It has no RV related content and references (illegal) activities which have long since passed any statute of limitations. “R” rated for profanity and drug references.

We are all who we are because of what we were. We all know where to go because of where we have been. I said that.   Read on…

My annual homage to “Pukey” Taylor …..

January 8th was Danny Taylor’s birthday. He would have been 54 years old.

Danny Taylor was much on my thoughts this past 2010 holiday season and yet again, I managed to miss the anniversary of  his passing by a few weeks.  It looks like after 7 years of doing this, I could get it right.    I thought about my kids and My Bro’s kids.   They are all older now than the Danny Taylor I hold in my mind from 1975.   Life is just an odd damned thing.  When Danny and I reconnected in 2002 or thereabouts, he already had the cancer.  We were mid 40’s grown men and still acted like we were drinking  warm Schlitz out of a “QB” (quart bottle) and getting silly ass stoned.   I never saw Danny face to face after 1975 and maybe, for that very reason,  he is still skinny and goofy and grinning an infectious grin in that little corner of my brain where he is still very much alive.

In 2009, I became  a grandfather for the first time. Grandson Henry was born in January. Circles within circles; the cycle of life continues and I am thankful that I have seen enough years to enjoy most of the good things life has to offer. Some of us are torn away too early it seems; part of a grander scheme or karma or whatever. I struggle to understand it.

Anyway, back in the day, there was this guy named Danny Taylor and he was pretty much a fixture in any goings on me and my brother were involved in. Usually when you saw my brother, you also saw Tim Collins, Bill Jamison and Danny Taylor. Unlike some of you, I can’t remember a lot of specific details due to brain slippage but some things do stand out. Taylor couldn’t dance worth a damn and I always thought it was because of those funky earth shoes he wore. Made you walk sorta funny too. I remember following him out to Melton Hill Dam one day as he drove that yellow MGB with the top down. Sorry ass car didn’t run worth a shit but I remember getting really high before departure and then watching that little yellow car weave through those hills and curves. It was pure bliss. Taylor so drunk and so cold he stands in the campfire out at Melton Hill Dam and chars the bottoms of his bell bottoms off well above the ankles — wonder how he explained that one? And that nickname “Pukey” was well deserved. That boy couldn’t drink anything without throwing up regularly and repeatedly. My brother tells the story about one of the ORHS Football campouts where Danny ate the fishbait because he had the munchies. Pissed Paul Brewster right off.

This little observation from my brother—

“Coach Brewster’s obsession with corn, fish and God arose from an
experience that happened during the “Football Fishing Trip” circa
1974. Danny Taylor, God rest his soul, in an effort to fight off an
attack of the “munchies” consumed a goodly amount of the corn that
Coach Brewster had brought along as bait. In a remote location and
faced with a bait shortage we concentrated instead on smoking big
marijuana’s and drinking tall ice cold beers. After that Coach
Brewster was known to ramble incoherently from time to time about
corn, fish and God.”

So what happened was Danny turned out to be a State Librarian for Tennessee. That sounds official and impressive and I guess he was good at it because they let him keep doing it year after year.  He also managed to marry above his standings quite a bit and dearly loved that woman that wore his ring.  I never met her or talked to her and her name has slipped from my memory.  Danny never failed to speak of her in awe. I am glad he found a good woman before he got his ticket punched.

He got this really obscure stomach cancer sometime after the turn of the century. He told me the only other people that routinely came down with this cancer were Japanese fishermen.  I guess librarians would know stuff like that.  Got me to thinking growing up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee was fraught with danger that maybe we didn’t even realize. Well, that was enough to scare me pretty bad but it never got old Dan down. He would go through chemo and get to feeling better and then it would just slam him down again. I am thinking that is the way cancer does you. The Cancer got the best of him in 2003 — 4 days short of his 46th birthday.

So I told myself then that I would remember Danny on his birthday every year. My thought process was that if I remembered him every year, he would never die in our minds. Every year I always miss it a little bit. Seems like the past couple of years the interval has been growing so obviously I need to tighten up.

Dan Taylor aka The Breeze aka Pukey 1957-2003

“When it comes to dying, we are all just a bunch of amateurs.” Waylon

“Hell No! You can’t have my stereo when I’m gone, so don’t ask.” Dan Taylor May/2002

“I remember cruising along I-40/75 with Danny Taylor in his yellow MG headed to K-Town for “Mott the Hoople” tickets. Smoking a “horsechoker” and having a blast till we rear-ended a Caddy. Nobody was hurt, but what a rush!” Nick Jones — 2003

Come to think about it, the ones of us that made it into the 21stcentury were just plain fortunate. We did things and took chances that were crazy. I figure I used up my last Get Out of Jail Free card about 1985, so the past 26 years have been nothing but gravy, pure gravy. But, let me tell all of you something, I enjoyed the hell out of ORHS. Danny was a part of that and now, as I think about him, I get a real shit eating grin on my face and a warm spot in my heart. That will be Danny’s legacy to me – and that is the order of things as it should be.

End Note: They Call Me the Breeze by Lynyrd Skynyrd.   I never listen to this song that it does not take me straight back to 1973 and Pukey Taylor.

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5 comments to Danny Taylor 1957 -2003 –another anniversary observed.

  • Joel

    Good post.

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  • Ed Prigmore

    Have been reading your blog for a while. Didn’t know till today you were from Oak Ridge. I grew up in Loudon, graduated in 1962. Small world isn’t it? Ed

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    • admin

      Small world is right Ed and getting smaller every day….
      Yep, I was there in East TN for quite awhile. ORHS ’74

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  • Cindy Gatewood

    Thanks Andy for the homage to and reminder of Danny.

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