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Danny Taylor 1957-2003

I moved with my family from rural West Tennessee across the state to Oak Ridge, TN in 1968.  Just in time for me to start the 6th grade.  At that time, I had never seen a swimming pool at a private residence, curb side garbage pick up or air conditioned class rooms.

Oak Ridge WIKI

In 1942, the United States Federal Government chose the area as a site for developing materials for the Manhattan Project. Maj. Gen. Leslie Groves, military head of the Manhattan Project, liked the area for several reasons. Its relatively low population made acquisition affordable, yet the area was accessible by both highway and rail, and utilities such as water and electricity were readily available due to the recent completion of Norris Dam. Finally, the project location was established within a 17-mile (27-km) long valley, and the valley itself was linear and partitioned by several ridges, providing natural protection against disasters between the four major industrial plants—so they wouldn’t blow up “like firecrackers on a string.)

Workers leaving the Manhattan Project's Y-12 plant at shift changing time, 1945

The location and low population also helped keep the town a secret. Although the population of the settlement grew from about 3,000 in 1942 to about 75,000 in 1945, and despite the fact that the K-25 uranium-separating facility by itself covered 44 acres (178,000 m²) and was the largest building in the world at that time, Oak Ridge was kept an official government secret. It did not appear on maps, and wasn’t formally named until 1949, only being referred to as the Clinton Engineering Works (CEW). All workers wore badges, and the town was surrounded by guard towers and a fence with seven gates.

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.
This past year saw me become a grandfather for the first time. Grandson Henry was born in January 2009. 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 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 fish bait because he had the munchies. Pissed Coach Paul Brewster right off.Danny Taylor ca. 1975

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 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. Got me to thinking growing up in OR
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. He had no children to carry his memory forward.

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. This year (2010) I was just sitting in
my RV and had a brain flash to check out the Danny deal. Good enough, I
get to post this up in real time this year. Danny deserved as much.

January 8th is Danny Taylor’s birthday. He would have been 53 years old.

Dan Taylor aka The Breeze aka Pukey 1957-2003

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

“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 21st
century 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 25 years have been nothing but gravy, pure gravy as far as I am concerned.

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.

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2 comments to Danny Taylor 1957-2003

  • David

    Hi Andy,

    Just curious where you attended 6th grade and Jr. High. I attended Woodland Elementary and Robertsville Jr. High.

    Also, I think I remember Danny. We may have had a class together or something.

    Take care.

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    • Andrew

      Hey David

      Woodland and Jefferson. Graduated from ORHS in ’74

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