Dedicated to a loved Spirit who has walked along in our lives

Christopher E. Douglass

August 25, 1979 - May 31, 2008
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Note from Abby

Billy's Sunday Night Sermon
By Chris Douglass


Here's a silly little article I wrote a couple of years ago:

As the Sales Director for Gadow Guitars, I spend a lot of time on the road. About two weeks of every month I find myself taking in the sites of America's highways and Wal-Mart's (interesting fact: no matter where you are in America, you're within ten miles of a Wal-Mart). People are always telling me how lucky I am, traveling all over the country, seeing the sites, meeting interesting people. Well, as far as the sites go, Wal-Mart looks like Wal-Mart no matter where you are. But as for the people, I've definitely run across my share of characters. Late one Sunday evening, en-route to Midnight Music in Pittsburgh, I had the good fortune of meeting one such character...

I exited the highway in a small town in western New York - the town shall remain nameless to protect the innocent. Suffice it to say it was within ten miles of a Wal-Mart - and stopped at the first bar I found. The Pats were about to put a hurtin' on the Bills and I couldn't resist watching this amongst New Yorkers. The crowd at the bar turned out to be a great bunch of guys and gals who took the New England thrashing with surprising humility. By the end of the game we had all consumed enough alcohol to put down a small pachyderm and were getting along quite nicely... all of us that is, except Billy.

At the other end of the bar sat a man of sixty plus years. He had been quietly keeping pace with the rest of us all night, ordering the occasional Budweiser between shots of whiskey. No one really talked to him, nor did he seem to feel the need to talk to any of us. He just sat and drank. About the time one o'clock rolled around, Billy started to stir; Fidget if you will. At first he just rocked back and forth on his barstool and irritably kicked his feet against the bar. After a minute or two of this he added the occasional grumble to his fidgeting. Before long it was hard not to look in Billy’s direction due to the spastic nature of his movements and the volume of his grumbling.

"Uh oh, here it comes." said one patron of the bar. "Here what comes?" I asked. "Billy's Sunday Night Sermon." another local stated in a tone that suggested I should have known. "Billy's what?" "Just watch, he does this every Sunday night."

First Billy escalated his rocking and fidgeting and grumbling to the point where it didn't seem possible that he could stay on his stool. Then his shoes came off. Then his hat. Before long Billy was wobbling on his barstool like one of those silly inflatable punching bags you had as a kid, struggling to remove his thermal underwear. Eventually he was stark naked, except for the Bills cap which he had replaced on top of his head. He then proceeded to climb his barstool turned soapbox and berate each and every member of the bar.

“&*^$ you and your $%@&!n bar! You’re all a bunch of #@%!n *%@$s! If I had my way I'd...” and on and on for about ten minutes.

Now, you'd think the sight of a little old man standing on a barstool in his birthday suit shouting obscenities would elicit some kind of response from the bar. I'm pretty sure it would be grounds for removal in most establishments. But here, in a small town in New York, it was largely ignored. Ignored that is, by everyone but me. I was fascinated. How was this possible? When did this tradition start? How could this happen every Sunday night and generate no reaction whatsoever? Did the bar patrons ignore this from the get go, or did they gradually come to accept this behavior over the years? What was Billy so upset about? How far away was the closest Wal-Mart? I needed answers!

By now Billy was on auto pilot, not seeming to be yelling about anyone or thing in particular, just yelling. Picture this. A screaming, naked old man in a Bills cap on one side of the bar, and a group of casually drunk barflies talking about the game on the other, neither seeming to care what the other was up to. View this situation through an alcohol induced haze and you have yourself the very definition of surreal.

I had to know what this was all about. When I asked the bartender, all I got was "That's what Billy does." So I decided to ask the man himself.

"What’s the problem Billy?" I implored.

The response I received was some sort of sign language involving two outstretched arms and two even more outstretched fingers. It was at this point I realized I would never get the answers I was looking for. Billy's Sunday Night Sermon was to remain a mystery, and I was better off returning to my beer. Shortly after this Billy finished saying he had to say, put his clothes back on, took his seat and ordered another beer.

Normalness ensued.

I'd like to say there's a moral to this story, but there isn't. So rather than waste time trying to make one up, I'm going down the street to the new Super Wal-Mart they built while I was writing this. I hear it’s nice this time of year.


We hope that Chris' words, actions and spirit will continue to inspire and uplift those that visit.

Chris, Shiva & Mystery Lady :)

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