Gentleness On My Mind: Glenn Campbell, a Boy, a Bathroom and Non-Hysterical Times

What a lovely memory Ike Brannon shares in The Weekly Standard. He was 5 years old, traveling with his cousins on a camping trip. The year was 1970, and Glenn Campbell was one of America’s biggest stars, country or otherwise:

…One afternoon I had an urgent need to go to the bathroom, so my uncle pulled into the next service station and I ran out, alone, to the bathroom. While I was standing at the urinal a wasp landed on my shoulder and I froze in fright.

The man next to me noticed it, too, and whispered to not move an inch while he slowly moved his free hand in position to make the kill.

Naturally, I immediately tried to shake the wasp off, which caused me to be stung just as Glen Campbell’s hand hit my shoulder, hard, right where I had been stung. I burst out in tears and I made a mess of the task at hand to boot.

Campbell went into parent mode (he had three kids at the time), cleaned me up and carried me in his arms to my aunt and uncle to explain what happened. The adults chatted for a couple minutes while waiting for me to catch my breath, my aunt took a photo of me with him that’s forever lost, and we went on our way.

The incident stuck with me not just because of the celebrity encounter; as I grew older I came to appreciate what an awkward situation it must have been to be alone in a bathroom with a screaming 5 year old, and how he handled it with grace and aplomb.

Brannon goes on to say that this is a lesson in parenting he took with him: How we can ask kids to do the things we know are best for them, and the won’t always comply.

But the lesson I take is this: Most people, famous or not, will help a kid. Even in the men’s room.

Rest in peace, Mr. Campbell. – L

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Glenn Campbell, a stranger who did not pose danger.

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14 Responses to Gentleness On My Mind: Glenn Campbell, a Boy, a Bathroom and Non-Hysterical Times

  1. bob magee August 9, 2017 at 11:47 pm #

    Would never happen today. Mother would knock off the wasp

  2. gap.runner August 10, 2017 at 1:13 am #

    Bob Magee, you are right that this would never happen today. What would happen today is: a) The kid would have gone into the women’s WC with his aunt because he would not have been allowed to use the toilet alone, or b) The aunt and uncle would have called the police and had Glen Campbell arrested as a child molester. After all, Glen Campbell was a man and we all know that every man is a pervert/child molester.

  3. Ashleigh Dowden August 10, 2017 at 5:43 am #

    I totally love this story. Thanks for passing it along.

  4. John B. August 10, 2017 at 12:30 pm #

    If this kid were traveling with his uncle today, the story above would be slightly different because the kid’s uncle would have accompanied him to the service station bathroom. Heck, it would be unthinkable today to allow a 5-year-old boy to enter a public restroom unaccompanied.

    BUT for shits and grins, let’s just say the aunt and uncle allowed their 5-year-old nephew to run into the service station restroom by himself, in 2017. Then let’s say the exact same thing happens only with Bruce Springsteen where he smacks the wasp on the kid’s shoulder just as the wasp is stinging the kid. Bruce Springsteen then cleans the kid up and carries him out of the restroom and to the kid’s aunt and uncle.

    In this day and age, the kid’s aunt and uncle would have went ballistic. They would have immediately called the police and then lectured Mr. Springsteen on approaching children he doesn’t know and picking them up. Upon the police arrival, Mr. Springsteen would have been questioned on his activities with the child in the restroom. The story would then have gotten out to the press and the headlines donning the newspapers the next day would have read, “Bruce Springsteen Investigated for Child Enticement in Public Restroom”. Of course, the investigation would have turned up nothing BUT Mr. Springsteen’s career and life would essentially be OVER. The public (and that nut Wendy Murphy) would have deemed Mr. Springsteen guilty of child molestation even though he was found innocent of any wrong doing.

    Not only that, but the blogosphere would have been relentless on the aunt and uncle for allowing their 5-year-old nephew to enter a public restroom unattended. They would have been investigated by Child Protective Services themselves and disallowed to ever watch their 5-year-old nephew again without another adult present.

    This is the day and age we live in folks, sad to say. Over reaction, over reaction and more over reaction with any incident involving a minor. Not just a YOUNG child mind you, but ANY kid from 0 to17-years-old!

  5. HotInLa. August 10, 2017 at 1:22 pm #

    I was at the movies with my girls, 7 & 3, last week. When we were exiting the stall in the ladies room, there was a woman with 2 boys waiting. The boys were larger than my tall-for-her-age 7 yr old. I was shocked to say the least. I let my 7 yr old go to the bathroom by herself.

  6. Crystal August 10, 2017 at 2:25 pm #

    I love Glenn Campbell for many reasons. 🙂

  7. Anna August 10, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

    “Heck, it would be unthinkable today to allow a 5-year-old boy to enter a public restroom unaccompanied.”

    I don’t know if it’s quite as bad as all that. My 5-year-old son routinely goes into public restrooms unaccompanied (e.g., at the grocery store, library, and rec. center), and also waits outside for me while I use the lady’s room, and nobody has given either of us a hard time. In fact, I’m happy to report that I recently learned that all the local rec centers have signs asking that parents NOT bring kids over 4 into the wrong locker room.

  8. Papilio August 10, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

    “Bruce Springsteen then cleans the kid up and carries him out of the restroom and to the kid’s aunt and uncle.

    In this day and age, the kid’s aunt and uncle would have went ballistic.”

    I would think that him being so famous and popular would 1) distract people from the situation and 2) make them think twice about pointing fingers without evidence. I might be completely wrong though… Very different situation, but it reminds me of how nervous Richard Gere was when a young filmmaker asked him to give her a kiss: https://youtu.be/o8GCw-Al534?t=92
    Even if she had been fifteen (sixteen is legal), I seriously doubt the police would have arrested him over this, given the situation, but he’s clearly not convinced…

  9. AB August 10, 2017 at 9:49 pm #

    This reminds me of a story someone told me of another famous singer who sadly has passed away recently as well. A lady told me one day when she was around a year old her mother was trying to juggle her on her hip and trying to find the keys to their hotel room. A man came over and offered to hold her while her mother looked for the keys so her mom just casually passed her to this guy. When her mom finally got the door open the man started laughing. When her mom turned to see why the guy was laughing here was George Michael laughing as she had peed all over his shirt. He had hugged her a bit too close and she got excited and peed on him. Her mom apologized but all he did was cuddle her a bit longer, chat with her mom, and sign them some autographs.

  10. James Pollock August 10, 2017 at 10:28 pm #

    “This is the day and age we live in folks, sad to say. Over reaction, over reaction and more over reaction with any incident involving a minor. Not just a YOUNG child mind you, but ANY kid from 0 to17-years-old!”

    This is going to feel like I’m picking on you, but (honestly) I’m not.

    But…

    First, you imagine a whole bunch of bad things happening. Then, you tut-tut over what a shame it is that these things happen. Except… these things didn’t happen. You imagined it all, start to finish.
    This is just a different flavor of the stuff where adults imagine all the bad things happening to the child who is left unaccompanied for two consecutive minutes, and then tut-tut that people would EVER put their children in that sort of danger.

    What would happen today is, in fact, that junior would run over to the gas station bathroom, discover that it requires a key checked out from inside the station to get in, and upon asking for said key, would have been told that somebody already had it.

    To balance out the negativity, here is (I hope) an amusing story.
    In my youth, there was a restaurant, a burger place, not far from my home. You couldn’t get to the bathrooms from inside the restaurant… you had to go outside, enter a side door, and from there you could get to the bathrooms. I used to hate needing to use a bathroom at this place. Not because of being afraid of going to the bathroom by myself, but because this was long ago that fast-food places were not designed and built from scratch with a drive-through lane. When they added a drive-through window to this place, they had to put the driveway part of the drive-through right next to the side of the building… where the door to the bathroom was. AND the cars driving up were coming from around a corner, and sometimes faster than they should have, because who expects a door to open into the drive-through lane?

  11. Kirsten August 11, 2017 at 9:41 am #

    What a wonderful story!

  12. John B. August 11, 2017 at 11:49 am #

    Quote: “I don’t know if it’s quite as bad as all that. My 5-year-old son routinely goes into public restrooms unaccompanied (e.g., at the grocery store, library, and rec. center), and also waits outside for me while I use the lady’s room, and nobody has given either of us a hard time.”

    @Anna:

    That’s actually very encouraging to hear Anna! Please keep up the good work in raising a very independent and responsible child. BUT, not to sound negative here, all it takes is one busy-body to give you a hard time about allowing your 5-year-old son to use a public restroom unattended and before you know it, CPS will be breathing down your back. But until then, I encourage you to just keep on doing what you’re doing!

  13. dancing on thin ice August 11, 2017 at 8:50 pm #

    He wasn’t talking about an encounter involving children, but 10 years ago John Kerry joked on the Daily Show:

    “You’d be amazed at the number of people that want to introduce themselves to you in the men’s room.”

  14. Michelle August 18, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

    This reminds me of a story someone told me about country singer Loretta Lynn. This couple was struggling with their baby and Loretta Lynn came up and said “Give me that baby”. They did, and Loretta Lynn did her best to try and settle the child who apparently stopped crying. The “child”, now in her 30s, was horrified because Loretta Lynn could have ran off with her. If this had happened in 2017, Lynn would be sitting in a cell next to Campbell and Elvis Presley, who was entirely too affectionate with little children.