John Kelso: Waiter, Garbageman, Mattress Store Mascot, Humor Columnist

Capturing the spirit of Austin since 1977

In most cases, it would be offensive to describe someone who has just passed away as a member of a “dying breed.” But we have a feeling John Kelso would have been OK with that description.

Kelso, a longtime and beloved humor columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, died Friday from complications sustained after a fall. He was 73.

Although he retired as a humor columnist in 2011, he continued contributing to the Statesman. One vivid way to remember (or get acquainted with) Kelso is to cycle through the paper’s wonderful slide show of 48 photos. There’s the one of Kelso working as a restaurant waiter in 1981; another showing him collecting the trash; and a shot of Kelso street-side in 2009, dressed up as a local chain’s “Factory Mattress Guy.”

That last assignment generated an April 24, 2009 column headlined “Despite Mattress Outfit, There’s No Lying Down on the Job.” And this lede:

Ever since I got locked in the men’s room of a gas station in Baton Rouge, La., I’ve been reluctant to get into tight spaces.


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