When Dottie West Met 'Just a Kid Out of High School'

In the late '60s, when I was considered "just a kid out of high school," I had the good fortune to meet both Dottie and Bill West. Dottie didn't know it but, without any prodding, she was going to settle an argument between my mother and myself about my future as a writer.

Like all sensible parents, my mother wanted me to stop pipe-dreaming and get a sensible job, and I, well, I naively had visions of becoming an overnight discovery.

Mother took me to the Lone Star Ranch near my New Hampshire hometown, where Dottie was appearing, and found Dottie so surrounded by fans that we couldn't get near her. So we approached her husband, Bill, and talked for a while about my potential.

He said that I was far from ready as a writer--something about gaining maturity--but that there was a lot of visible potential in what I was doing. Then he flipped my mother out by taking us over to Dottie and telling her that she had to look at what I was writing!

Dottie took a quick glance and invited me to come into her bus to talk about lyric writing. Now I was the one flipped out.

She offered--without any promises attached--to try to smooth out and cut a diamond in the rough. She insisted that I pick maybe six of my best lyrics, make two copies of each, put the first set of copies in a self-addressed, stamped, registered letter sealed with a wax seal before being mailed to me for my protection. The second set was to go to her at the Grand Ole Opry, and, if she had time, she would help me learn.

Things didn't work out the way any of us envisioned. Dottie's career really took off and we lost touch. I'm still working on writing, and I've done a lot of growing up since then--and my mother sends me books and articles she hopes will help.

I'll never forget Dottie and Bill West's kindness and encouragement. Goodby, Dottie. Thank you!

ANITA THERESA LAFOND

Los Angeles

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