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My friend Larry Rigdon and I go way back. I’m talking “Wonder Years” back. We went to the same elementary (primary) school and we were good friends during those formative “Stand By Me” years from 12 to 16. In fact, as you’ll hear in this conversation, 16 was kind of a hard cut-off point, because that was the year Larry had to move away from Plano, where we grew up. He never got to finish high school with our class of friends. It just so happened that I called Larry when he was feeling nostalgic and had been looking at YouTube videos and Google Maps and stuff of the places he grew up, so that really colors this conversation.
Plano is a suburb of Dallas, Texas.
According to Wikipedia: The city’s population was 269,776 at the 2010 census, making it the ninth most populous city in the state of Texas The city is an affluent hub for many corporate headquarters such, Dell Services, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Ericsson, Frito-Lay, HP Enterprise Services, Huawei, J. C. Penney, Pizza Hut, Tech Mahindra Americas Inc and Toyota Motor North America, Inc..
In 1983 it was dubbed “The Suicide Capital of America,” as nine suicides among Plano high schoolers drew national attention to the town
There was also an epidemic of heroin abuse among young people in the 1990s.
In his book, “It’s Not About the Bike” Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who grew up in Plano, described the city this way:
“It was the quintessential American suburb, with strip malls, perfect grid streets, and faux-antebellum country clubs in between empty brown wasted fields. It was populated by guys in golf shirts and Sansabelt pants, and women in bright fake gold jewelry, and alienated teenagers. Nothing there was old, nothing real. To me, there was something soul-deadened about the place…” “It’s home to Plano East High School, one of the largest and most football-crazed high schools in the state…” “In Plano, Texas, if you weren’t a football player you didn’t exist, and if you weren’t upper middle class, you might as well not exist either.”
I’m not saying Lance’s description is the only way to describe Plano, and we all know he has a rocky relationship with truth, but it gives you a taste.
But it was also just the neighborhoods where Larry and I grew up.
So that’s the background, now on to Larry Rigdon.