Archive for August, 2016

A Search For Certainty……….#150 (the 70’s)

August 30, 2016


.  A morning drive to the North side of Oklahoma City, Jan having a scheduled doctor’s appointment to  inquire about a intrauterine contraceptive device,  a doctor’s assessment required for an IUD application.  The couple taking the elevator to the upper level doctor’s office,  Gary seated in the lobby with five month old Robert patiently waiting for Jan’s return.  Upon exiting the doctor’s office and waiting for the elevator Gary sensed a perplexing apprehension from his wife,  inquiring if there was a problem concerning the IUD.   Jan with an expression of surrealism replying with hesitation, “the doctor says  I’m pregnant”.  The unexpected revelation leaving Gary somewhat awestruck, not knowing exactly what to say but noticing Jan’s subdued conjecture,  smiled and said  “It looks like we’re going to have an addition to the family”. On the way home the repercussions of the news enters one’s mind, one thing was definite,  a new horizon of responsibility was unfolding,  the unexpected proclamation bringing with it the presence of a heaven-sent reality.

.  The recently acquired 4 door 1966 Pontiac Catalina was a boat of a transport,   with a 4 barrel 421 cubic inch engine.  Jan’s 1971 Torino,  its transmission having been floundering for months, finally succumbing to its task from shuttling  “Ole Blue to Oklahoma City”,  Gary giving it a leave of absence.   It wasn’t unusual to find the family exiting Oklahoma City early on a Sunday mornings.  Gary able to push the Pontiac on his backdoor northwest route,  the Pontiac’s four barrels whooshing its hollow sound,  the car having a mind of its own,  ignoring the posted speed limit,  the 175 mile trip time being considerably shorten.  Gary’s visits and Sunday morning church attendance enhanced a more favorable  acquaintance, especially with the apostolic community and Jan’s  expedient family, her parents finally coming to  accept the composition of a musician.

.  Having been party to the acclamation of live music in Oklahoma City for the past 16 years Gary was aware that it had tempered.   The number of nightclubs supporting live entertainment and dancing having greatly diminished,  the once working man pop culture of the past was no more, concert events and country music was rising to a crescendo.   The departure of Bob Wallace and Kenny Kannada’s who sought work with a country band left Gary without a musical cornerstone,  the perfected constable was no more.   The Kelly Q’Ellar Agency, his ensconced contemporary musical establishment able to provide Gary a continual source of employment, the pianist turning down opportunities to return as a solitary piano bar performer, but accepting non-responsible sideman positions.

.  Norman Powell and the Five Penny’s were noted as an accomplished country music presence in Oklahoma City.   A family acquainted band,  Norman and his two daughters making up three members of the group.  the youngest daughter Linda, playing drums, Penny, the star vocalist  addressing the bass,  and Norman appreciating the guitar and adding vocals.  Norman and Gary apparently having a mutual friend, country singer Kenny Kannada,  who was currently playing with a band at the newly opened Rhinestone Cowboy Club,   just across shield boulevard on southeast 59th Street.   Kenny,  having heard about Norman’s daughter Penny having a finger reflex problem,  losing dexterity, and was unable to realize the bass,  mentioned  Gary and his keyboard bass to Norman.

.  Norman contacting the keyboard musician about going to work, mentioning he liked the idea of adding a piano to the already guitar only sound of the band.  The Pianist having just accepted an offer to return to the Holiday Inn in Chicashaw, but not as a solo performer, but as a sideman with a drummer and guitar player whom he had never worked with.  Gary wasn’t comfortable with giving notice before he even starting,  but couldn’t resist the offer to work in a family orientated atmosphere, accepting Norman’s offer.  The pianist now joining the ranks of Oklahoma country music performers, aware he was in good company with the Buck Owen’s look alike Norman Powell and his family.  What Norman didn’t know was,  by acquiring Gary, he also had the opportunity of Jerry Willis on weekends, whom Gary pre judiciously considered the best all-around lead guitar player in Oklahoma City.

.  During the summer months,  Spring Lake Amusement Park entertainment and publicity agent,  George Grube,  deciding to sponsor crowd drawing daytime concerts.  Gary having been acquainted with George for years,  was surprised when Norman announced the Five Penny’s were to go to Grube’s office to meet with a photographer for Springlake publicity pictures, to be used for the recently booked series of matinees.   Norman being the owner of an auto repair business, able to retreat from his daytime occupation on the days the The Penny’s were scheduled for a matinée performance.  Gary realizing even with the added gratuity from the matinees it was difficult making ends meet,  and was becoming more cognizance of Jan’s maternal condition of the approaching event.   A realization, with the addition, he would have to search for a certainty of income.

From Out Of The Blue…..#151 (the 70’s)

August 28, 2016
A true texans with a horned adorned cadillac

A true Texan with a horned adorned Cadillac

.  Jim was a Dobie Gray vocal talent able to perform a perfect Drift Away,  the guitar playing singer having sit in with Gary on several occasions.   It wasn’t his music talent that elicited the pianist attention, but word of his recent endeavor,  having leased a lesser known private club adjacent to the Broadway Motor Inn on the Northwest Highway’s junction with the Broadway Extension.  The pianist having notice the rundown motels location during his commute to Edmond during his Derrick Club days, especially with its extra-large billboards on the highway, exclaiming rooms for $16.95 per night, registering an apprehension for a servile clientele, better known as ladies of the night.  Visiting with Jim, finding that his recent acquired club’s prospect for entertainment was dependent on the completion of the ongoing motels renovation.  During their conversation,  Gary found out the remodeling was not being done by a contractor,  but the owner and a journeyman carpenter,  who in turn hires transient workers  from off the road, and  was having trouble keeping a full time crew.  An alarm bell going off,  realizing opportunity was knocking, Gary deciding to check out the motel situation,  curious about the possibility of employment.

.  The front desk directing him to a section at the  rear of the complex, told that the person in charge should be there.  The sound of a hammering leading to a room on the second floor of the building, Gary entering a room,  a middle-aged carpenter at work.  The room sporting recently installed sheet-rock, unpainted and still lacking any ceiling, floor or door molding.  Gary apologizing for interrupting, then briefly stating his purpose, relating his experience and that he had heard they might need someone to work on a steady basis, then asking the all important question about a job.  Gary could tell from the man’s expression he was being scrutinized, finally receiving a tentative approval, told to show up at eight in the morning and they would go from there.  Gary had hoped his potential employer would have mentioned salary, but he didn’t,  so the inevitable question had to be asked, discovering starting  pay was nonnegotiable  minimum wage, but could change depending on the person.

.  Gary found his new employment acceptable, joining an ever changing crew,  engendering a repaired freshly painted and cleansing look to the rooms.  The work progressing,  the crew starting on the backside of the double tier rear structure, then arriving one morning,  finding he was the only one to show up.  Not sure of what to make of it,  he checked with the front desk clerk who was of no help, but mentioned they were expecting the motel owner who was driving up from Texas.  Gary having heard about the owner from Jim, that he was somewhat of an anomaly, an elderly man and played the part of a true Texan, wearing a white Stetson, western boots, and driving an unbelievable white Cadillac Convertible with hood mounted bull horns.  Gary returned to the project at hand,  then later in the afternoon noticed a bullhorn Cadillac parked near the entrance,  deciding to make himself known.  He was somewhat apprehensive but approached the unmistakable owner, introducing himself and the situation,  the Texan disclosing it wasn’t unusual for his “makeshift collection of nomads” as he referred to them, having moved on,  and for Gary to continue his work, utilizing the maintenance man if necessary until some other hires could be found.

,  The maintenance man was a person in his early fifties of American Indian descent,  apply named Chief.  Gary soon discovering he had lived and worked there for a number of years and like the furniture he was more or less a fixture and came with the  motel.  It came as no surprise that Chief was well acquainted with an afternoon partaking of alcohol and a indulgence of cannabis, which never seem to effect his work. .Gary found the motel unlike any others, the completed south building rooms at the rear of the complex were rented by the week or month to the street members of a renowned profession.   Work on the north side was approaching completion when Gary was approached by the desk-clerk manager to come to the office, there was a change in ownership, the Bravado Texan had sold the motel.  Walking to the office Gary’s immediate concern was about his status and paycheck,  soon being  introduced to the new owners, three Iranian brothers recent arrivals from their homeland.  The nightly news making all aware of the demonstrations and problems confronting the Shah of Iran and the recent mass immigration of Iranian to the United States.

.  Besides a change in ownership, Chief  seemed to have acquired a departure, his room remaining with all his belongings, but he was nowhere to be found.  Gary beginning to have a concerned,  conjecturing that he might have had confrontation during one of his weekend binges, or possibly one with the law.  With Chief failure to return, the newly acquired owners requesting  Gary remove Chief personal effects, relegating them to a storage area , and make his room ready for rental.  During the process,  discovering among Chiefs  possession were two jars filled with cannabis seeds, apparently saved when cleaning his resolve before lighting up.  Gary in a jester of levity,  instead of depositing the contents in the trash,  taking the proceeds of the jars outside to the banks of a water  drainage ditch behind the motel, dispersing the probable flowering seeds for a possible future generation of growth.  With the disappearance of Chief, Gary was approached by the new owners to fill a now vacant maintenance position.

.  The three brothers presented a difficulty to work for, first their broken English was a communication adversity,  second each of the three assuming an individual commanding authority.  Gary  finding it onerous to even complete a task  because one brothers project determination was interrupted by another brothers project, the maintenance  position arduous and frustrating,  too many supervisors,  a sense of embarkation beginning to prevail.  Then an omen prevailed with the arrival of a person whom he had met only on one occasion, the motels contracted pest-control exterminator, the Busy Bee Exterminating Company’s owner. Bill Guice was a slight soft-spoken man in stature and meaning,  Gary visiting with the pest control man about the difficulty of working with the Iranians and that in all probability he would be leaving as soon as he could find another job.

 .  Bill listened sympathetically  to his dilemma and then the quiet spoken man approached him with a recourse.   Questioning if he would be interested in enclosing a porch for an office addition to a house he had just purchased across the street from his rented office on SW 29th. Besides the front addition, the residential part of the house also needed some interior and exterior remodeling.  Bill saying that he wasn’t interested in a formal contractual bid, but if Gary was interested he would be hired by the hour,  pay him weekly by check like a regular employee until the job was completed.  Gary was awestruck, from out of the blue comes Bill Guice with an offer he couldn’t refuse.


Admirable Employer……………#152 (the 70’s)

August 26, 2016

A passing thought when discovered, but just a thought.

.  Gary having accepted Bill Guice,  the owner of Busy Bee Exterminators, offer to enclose the front porch for a his recently purchased house on southwest 29th street for a business office.  Bill explaining his resources were limited,  the company was on a tight budget.   The business employing his sister Helen, abiding as the bookkeeper, office receptionist and client dispatcher, his two  sons, Tim and Tom, a third son, Terry, available after school and on weekends.   Busy Bee was a full service extermination enterprise,  including pest control,  termite prevention, foliage treatment,  liquid lawn fertilization, coloring, and maintaining three apply administered fully equipped trucks.

.  Bill and his youngest son Terry having moved in to the recent purchase,  asking Gary to expedite the residential part of the house.  Gary being more of a layperson than a  journeyman carpenter or electrician,  the remodeling blueprint conceived as an idea, and was pretty much fixed in his head.  The porch already framed with studs, needing the framing for windows, office door, and interior sheetrock before adding the exterior sheathing and later the asbestos siding.  The progression was deliberate, the interior work more detailed than expected, especially when Bill decided he wanted the attic crawl space insulated, Gary taking advantage of Sears loaning a blower when you purchased a quantity of insulation.  The new office addition beginning to come to fruition, the replacement of the ancient fuse box with a  breakers box the finale, even with the additional projects the job was completed in six weeks.

.  Gary being asked to accompany Bill and his sons on an extensive  termite job, Busy Bee having been awarded the termite prevention bid for the Midwest City Library,  which meant drilling  treatment holes every 18 inches around the perimeter of the outside and inside  walls of the building, which had concrete carpeted slab floors.  With the completion of the library project, Gary wasn’t surprised when Bill proposed that he  remain as a fulltime employee, adding,  he needed someone to reinstate customer termite damaged,  and to assist with pest extermination.  Gary suspecting the real reason was to supervise his three sons, Bill’s sister Helen having related,  she had received complaints about their lack of enthusiasm on the job when dad wasn’t around.    Gary finding Bill’s soft-spoken demeanor, his older sister Helen,  and the three boys easy to get along with, their relationship beginning to feel more and more like family, Gary agreeing to the proposal.

.  The Musician discovering the exterminating business to be intriguing at times and mundane at others.  A most interesting aspect was the roach treatment of a complete apartment complex, gaining entrance to every apartment and observing the diversity of the apartments physical environment.  Gary witnessing everything from passed out naked person,  to a stash of drugs left on a table. It never amazed him of the denial expressed by some customers to the extent of their roach problems, especially those living in the upper echelon Nichols Hills community.  The most thorough method to rid a residence of an extensive roaches problem is to don a  mask with a fogger filled with pyrethrum, the pyrethrum affects the roaches nervous system making them scurry from their hidden recluse before succumbing leaving an unexpected visual host of expired roaches

.  During the servicing of the Apartments near the state capital, which served as an auxiliary residence for many of the congressional delegates, a surprising event took place.  The complex management providing a passkey,  and as always Gary announcing himself before entering.  During an entry with no response  the occupant  apparently having left, the suite being maintained by E Melvin Porter,  a notable black State Senator from Oklahoma City District 48, and the past president of the Oklahoma Chapter of the NAACP.  Starting as usual, he began spraying the diazinon along the baseboards in the main room, upon entering the bedroom,  he stopped noticing that on the bed in plain sight was an open metal carrying case,  it contents drawing his full attention, it looked to be  filled with bundled 20 dollar bills. A passing brief thought about the mother lode of bills, but only a thought. without hesitation, he immediately left the room deciding it would be best to continuing his work in another apartment.

.  The Musician beginning to have a concern about his undertaking,  a musical endeavor several night per week and his Busy Bee employment.  Jan was approaching the final days of maternal expediency,  and once again, even when reminded Tiffany Rose came into the world as a Robert, she still insisted the newly arrival would be a girl.  Her and Robert spending more time with family in Kiowa, Gary could see a change in Jan, the Apostolic Christian Church having a profound influence on her, the absence of makeup and jewelry, her hair styling or lack of it in keeping with Church tradition.   The visits to Kiowa, the Murrow family, the introduction to the Apostolic Christian Church, its old world approach to a new world America had its influence.

.   Gary noticing a change in himself, for the first time questioning his presumptuous objective in music, accepting the precept of obtaining a music goal which was once foremost,  and had influenced all his adult world decisions for better or worse.  Music still flourished within, but with an open mind,  and new sense of approach, this time when an alternative opportunity knocks, he would answer


Concluding A Nine Month Journey……#153 (70’s)

August 24, 2016

Jan and Sandra Lynne

.  The overture having commenced announcing the coming event,  Jan’s labor pains beginning a prelude to the aria nine months in conception.  Gary patiently placing a telephone call to his friend and trumpet virtuoso, Bob Kneemiller and his wife Pat, the couple having agreed to watch year old Robert, enabling the expectant couple to proceed  the short distance to South Community Hospital.   Jan enduring her distress, her water having broken, the labor pains persisting more frequently, less than two minutes apart when the Kneemiller’s arrived.   The couple without hesitation expeditiously proceeded to the hospital,  entering the reception area Gary immediately giving a quick but obvious explanation, Jan immediately provided a wheelchair and whisked upstairs to the maternity floor.   Gary being directed to Admitting,  hurriedly addressing the forms for Jan’s admittance,  when finished questioning the person as to the floor for labor and delivery.  Arriving on the third floor he was instructed not to a labor room, but  questioned about observing the birth and with an urgency was instructed to a fitting area,  adorning the required gown,  cap,  gloves and shoe covering.

.  Entering delivery Jan reclined on the birthing bed,  her awareness of activity partially recessed because of medication, the administering nurse speaking to her,  Gary standing at the foot of the bed beyond the physicians  able to view the event that was about to transpire.  He was very much aware of his wife’s voice with an expression of pain, knowing her desire to cognizance of this miracle as she   attempting to comply with the given instructions.  The newborn emerging from its protective womb,  shedding the protection of her past environment, Gary very much in awe able to witness the unveiling testimony of God’s gift.   Sandra Lynne Willson having fulfilled a nine month journey arriving at 5:44 p.m., on July 29, 1978.   Dr. Reynolds her attending physician finding her 5 lb. 4 oz. weight unacceptable for immediate release, mother and daughter to remain the night.

.  The arrival of Sandra found an awakening of Jan’s family, her parents visiting Oklahoma City for the first time, her sister Gayle Robb and daughter Shawna traveling from Iola Kansas to assist with the new family addition.  Gary recalling Jan’s conviction that Robert was supposed to be a “Tiffany Rose” and thankful for a princess named Sandra who could have been a prince named Christopher Roth, Jan’s alternate name if the new addition had been a boy.  With the advent of  Sandra, the family asserting numerous journeys north to be with family and especially with Jan’s desire to become a sister in faith with the Apostolic Christian Church.

.  A term of repentance was the first requirement, to demonstrate and acknowledge the wrongdoing in one’s life and to make amends,  privately or personally,  approaching those whom you have offended,  giving a penance for your censorial action and beseeching absolution.  The traditional repentance temporal for those seeking affiliation with the Church  was thirty to sixty days,  the Elder Ministering Brother Ron Nelson setting a date for the attendance of the total congregational membership for an open discussion of the aspiring sister and her new-found life in Christ,   Gary being granted special permission to attend what was referred to by non-church members as A Proving, the baptismal open to the friends would follow the coming Sunday.

.  The change in his wife was phenomenal, Gary being introduced to something new, discovering a totally new world, the  Apostolic Christian Church steeped in German heritage much like the Mennonites of Pennsylvania still complying with the customs of the past.  The serving of a meal between services on Sunday,  the tradition of the men sitting on one side and the women on the other, their cappella hymns, no choir or musical accompaniment in the sanctuary,  only in the fellowship hall  and absolution from many worldly acceptances.  Jan was the second daughter of Bud and Helen Murrow to find the Lord through the Apostolic Church,  older sister Gayle called upon joining her mother and her mother’s line of heritage as a sister in faith.  Bud although having wed into a family of devout believers and through the years without hesitation attending services every Sunday, having bared witness to the multitude of  blessing bestowed upon the brothers and sisters of the church but inexplicably never achieve the conviction to publicly acknowledge what was apparent in his character, an undeniable faith in the Lord.

.  Gary found his father-in-law to be a man who never smoked, indulged in any form of alcohol or cuss, and never one to anger or argue.  His beliefs and opinions if stated were just that,  a statement, end of discussion.  His passion, though seldom expressed was the life of a prior generation, he enjoyed the solitude of farming, his time with a horse, the reading of Louis L’Amour western novels.  But most amazing, this quiet ready to help person, when called upon, possessed the analytical ability of a mathematician and the skills of a carpenter which enabled him to catapult, from the life of an employee to a fortuitous building contractor employer.  Gary acquiring a better understanding of his new Kansas family, and with Jan’s transformation, for the first time he recognized the blessing of a spiritually anchored life.

Need A Ride Stranger?…………..#154 (the 70’s)

August 22, 2016


.  Gary felt like he was adrift in a prosaic world,  the ongoing experience of an eight hour day with Busy Bee, coupled with a weekend music ambition, plus struggling to find musicians, especially with his best friend guitarist Jerry Willis having recently remarried and no longer was enthusiastic about playing.  An atmosphere of uncertainty prevailing,  Jan understandably wanting to move closer to her family and the Apostolic Church.  Unbeknownst to all, Gary having silently also reconciled his desire for a change, his ambition and 16 years of music having finally played out.  Oklahoma City once a bastion of opportunity to a young man, now held the cobwebs of past endeavors.   His employment with the exterminating company was only meant to be a temporary means of income,  Jan’s suggestion of moving to Kiowa was not without merit, but in principle Gary knew it would mean starting a new life in a new land,  and like the morning sunrise, giving birth to a new day, its presence would embolden the perspective of the future.

.  It was late fall during a visit to Kiowa that Gary made some employment inquiries,  filling out an application at Humphrey Implement,  located just west of town with its proclamation,  Combine City USA, then moving on to Coontz Implement and the Kiowa Service Company, a John Deere dealership.  Gary soon discovering that agricultural related hiring was almost nonexistent in the winter, that once the winter wheat had been drilled in the fall, the farming activity all but came to a standstill until spring.  With the winter months traversing, the Christmas holidays having come and gone,  Gary having set aside any conjecture about a job in Kiowa when in February he received a call from the Kiowa Service Company.  The call was from the owner of the John Deere dealership, Steve Miller,  mentioning that he had been visiting with Bud Murrow, and wanted to know if Gary was still interested in going to work and that if he was, he would have a parts job opening in March.

.  Jan reminding Gary of a promised, “if you can find a job and we can find a house, we can move”.   With the Kiowa employment opportunity,  a renewed energy emerged, the  couple researching the town for an available home.  Jan was intrigued with a vacant  four bedroom, two-story dwelling on North 11th Street,  the two-story house having apparently been empty for a long period of time.  The couple able to gain entrance,  and with further investigations discovering the water heater and water pipes had frozen with damage to the kitchen and bathroom, it was apparent the previous owners had failed to winterize it, but the vintage residence was structurally sound.

.  When approaching Jan’s parents about its location, they were astounded that Jan didn’t recognize or know the structures history.  The house  was  “The Home Place,”  build for Jan’s Grandfather  Henry Roth.  It was the house Jan’s mother was born in when it was situated on the families section of land, 4 miles east of town on the state line road.    At the conclusion of World War 2 and in the fifties,  long time Kiowa resident Roy Keifer bought many of the abandoned farm houses adorning the rural countryside, Roy blocking up, and transporting these once vivant houses into town,  placing many of them on lots on the northeast side of town,  soon to be  known as  “Keiferville”.

.  Gary’s first step was to  inquire about ownership of the discarded property,  discovering the Farmers Home Administration having title.   Visiting the FHA office in Medicine Lodge, discovering the property was in receivership,  having been vacant for over a year, the previous owners walking away.  Gary inquiring what it would take to gain title,  being told it could only be attained if it was brought up to an acceptable federal standard.   Gary and the FHA agent coming to an agreement, the property was valued at 75 hundred dollars and an additional 2000 could be added to the mortgage agreement for improvements to meet standards.  Gary’ father in law Bud,   a building contractor, agreeing to position his construction crew to accomplish the improvements and ready it for a mid-March accommodation.

.  March having arrive, Gary thanking and bidding his friend and Busy Bee owner Bill, his sister Helen and three sons a goodbye.  The couple making ready everything for the move, agreeing it would be best for Jan and the kids to stay at her parents during the actual  moving process.  Gary driving the family to Kiowa, returning  to Oklahoma City and calling upon his good friend Jerry Willis who offered to help with the encumbering  project.  Gary’s plan was to lease a U hual truck for a one-way trip to Kiowa, returning it to Alva in the morning, then taking a bus back to Oklahoma City, where jerry agreed to make himself available and transport his friend from the Greyhound Bus Station to his car.  Gary having secured the truck, the two filling it to capacity, discovering there was still a quantity of boxes remaining,  but not enough to warrant a larger truck.   Gary deciding to acquire a trailer and hitch from U Haul for the Pontiac, like the truck it could be returned in Alva.

.  Gary getting a late afternoon start to Kiowa, thankful,  Bud and Jan’s uncle Charles Terry available to help with the unloading,  It was decided to store everything in the bedrooms, as Bud’s carpenter crew hadn’t completed all their work, and would be best to wait for Jan’s input on the furniture’s location.  With the dawning of a new day, Gary returning the truck to Alva, walking the short distance to the convenience store that served as the Greyhound Bus stop.  Sitting back in his seat, it was nice to let another provide the driving.  With his arrival at the Greyhound Station in Oklahoma City, initiating a telephone call to Jerry,  his friend responding saying he was on his way.

.  Gary patiently waiting, thirty minutes having passed but no Jerry.  Placing a second call but again no answer.  Another fifteen minutes, a third call and still no answer.   then a surprising  perplexing event.   Kaye, Gary’s ex-wife pulled into the Bus Station parking area, rolling down her window smiling   “Do you need a Ride Stranger?”.    An explanation was in order,  Kaye explaining:  ” Jerry’s car battery was dead ”  and the only person he could think of to call was her and she was happy to oblige.  Gary very appreciative of his ex-wife’s concern.  The  move to Kiowa was completed with the return of the trailer to Alva. it would still  be a quasi-period of time before the family could occupy the house, Bud apologetic for the delay,  but his contracted business jobs took priority.   Jan’s parents advocating, the family could reside in the basement bedroom of their home until Bud’s construction crew could finish up, Gary was more concerned about Kiowa Service Company,  he was to start work Monday morning.

Kiowa Service Co. – An Agronomic Introduction….#155 (the 70’s)

August 20, 2016

Kiowa Service Company

.  It was Monday, March 19, 1979, a day after his 38th birthday when the entered the John Deere franchised Kiowa Service, a stranger to the agricultural and farming world of rural Kansas.  Gary was greeted by a younger person behind the parts counter,  introducing himself with a cordial smile as  Jerry Whitney, the Parts Manager.  Gary briefly explaining the situation, Jerry acknowledging that he was expecting him, and with assurance the two walked across to a smartly furnished corner office.  Looking up from a desk, rising, extending a hand, introducing himself as Steve Miller, welcoming the newcomer to Kiowa Service.

.  Steve Addressing the Parts Manager to introduce Gary to the facility, and to get a new employee form from Sandy Palmer, the office manager.  As the two were leaving, Steve reminded Jerry,  he wanted Gary to get started with Homer on assembling the new parts bins. The company tour beginning with the time clocks location, a first step and the beginning of an uncertain journey,  finding Jerry Whitney an applicable instructor,  more than willing to educate this novice to the world of John Deere.  The recent employee from Oklahoma City experiencing some difficulty making acquaintances in his new environment, but meeting someone who recognized his dilemma, sales representative Larry Swonger taking it upon himself to intercede.

.  Kiowa Service proper  encompassed more than a city block, bordering Main Street on the north, across Miller Street on the south, 7th Street on the west, 8th on the east.  A long abandoned ice house and the town’s telephone company building occupying space on Main street and the relic of an old shop building on the corner of 8th and Miller.  adjacent north of the business office on 7th  stood an old building used as a paint shop, the domain of Service Company painter Leon Gashler.    Across Miller Street was an old warehouse with an extended wooden loading dock and on the corner of Miller and 7th was a building housing a feed grinding mill, the grinding unit still intact, a heirloom from a bygone era.  Kiowa Service having been given a face lift inside and out,  the sales department receiving two new offices,  the parts department extended with a new concrete loading dock.  The service department expanded, now in a 72 by 96 foot attached metal building, with an additional attached 72 by 96 foot building for pre delivery implement servicing still under construction.

.  Kiowa was home to four farming implement services, Humphrey Implement, a Massey-Ferguson  dealership owned by Bud Humphrey, Shoson Implement, a Case Tractor Dealership managed by Norvin Price, Coontz Implement  and the John Deere franchised Kiowa Service owned by Steve Miller, his brother John having an interest.  The agronomic application was a new assessment, Gary a long time resident of city life discovering a knowledge deficiency,  never having acquainted the variety of farming implements employed by the agricultural community, a totally new learning experience.

.  Miller and his brother John having raised the standard, the John Deere franchise no longer the laid-back agricultural store once owned by Fred “Jumbo” Shoe bah,  previously known as shoe bah Implement.  The Steve Miller enterprise expanding to the third largest employer in the Township.   The spring of 1979 finding Kiowa Service in transition, with wheat prices of two sixty two, in 1978 having risen to 3 75 and futures pushing 4 dollars plus, Steve Miller saw the handwriting on the wall, Katy bar the door.

.  Gary’s finding the retail parts counter a challenge, John Deere having a separate parts manual for each tractor model and every implement, and as a novice, not familiar with any of the farming equipment terminology and wasn’t surprised at the looks he received from the local farmers.  It was Larry Swonger who finally clued the novice in,  on how to deal with his lack of knowhow, it was basic and simple,  and it satisfied,   making the customer feel knowledgeable,  just turn the book around and let them find what they were looking for.

.  Gary’s continued employment seemed assured,  disappointed in his starting wage of $3.15 per hour,  having left $6.00 an hour employment in Oklahoma City, plus discovering  Steve Miller had visited with his father-in-law Bud Murrow,  extracting a conditional agreement if Miller employed Gary, down the road Bud wouldn’t hire him for his construction crew.  The transition from the briskness of a vibrant  City to the patience of a rural community was sanctioned, Gary beginning to accept the change of his life’s proclivity, its meaning and the beckoning of the new horizon.


An Agglutination Of Meaning …#156 (70’s)

August 18, 2016


.  Occupancy achieved,  the Willson family crowning  a residency in Kiowa at 324 N. 11th,  Jan and Gary rendering the front downstairs bedroom, Robert and Sandi,  residing in the two upstairs berths.  The turn of the century non-insulated draft prone structure,  providing a quandary in maintaining an acceptable temperature disposition.  Gary immediately beginning a caulking exercise on the established vintage window frames,  providing some relief from the temporal audacity and blusterous Kansas winds.  The two-story edifice, once a family icon,  was moored  a scant eight feet from the rear property line, a single strand wire cattle electric hot wire separating the house from the adjacent pasture acreage.  The acreage,   a provisional residency for seasonal grazing cattle.  The couple learning  during harvest,  the property was aptly named  Thoroughbred Trailer Park,  providing hookups and RV parking for visiting wheat harvest Custom Cutters.

.  The owner of the property north and east of the Willson’s newly acquired residence belonged to Chuck Payne, his house residing on the northern section of a pasture,  Jan acquainted with the Payne’s, their son Kent a member of her high school class.  Payne by profession,  was a well-established plumbing, heating and air contractor working out of his shop located adjacent to his home on N. 11th.   Gary found it was rumored Chuck had a reputation for his abruptness and was held with questionable esteem by most of the community,  mainly an antecedent of his required plumbing fees,  and his gruff nature.  Gary assessing the backyard or what little there was of it,  when a slight balding older man approached, introducing himself as Chuck Payne, mentioning his acquaintance to Gary’s father inlaw Bud Murrow, then acknowledging the Willson’s new residency.  During the conversation,  Chuck with a concerned look mentioned  the cattle hot wire,  telling Gary he would move it further away from the house so the family could have a little more back yard space.  Gary finding Chuck a very pleasant person, thanking him for the consideration and within, acknowledging something about the man others may have failed to recognize,  compassion.

.  He knew this day would come, with the budding family there was a need for an additional vehicle.  Gary inquiring at work if anyone knew of an inexpensive car for his wife to get around in,  discovering that Chuck Payne had a 1970 Volkswagen Beetle for sale.  Gary visiting with Chuck,  found him hesitant in selling it, noting that it had what he called an irregular problem, most of the time it ran find, but there were times when it would just die.  After a test drive, the excursion going well,  Gary considering what Chuck had said and the implied risk, deciding it’s considerably low price was an overriding factor.   The German made conveyance proved to be non-compliant.  Jan with two little ones on a trip to Alva having car trouble, Gary visiting with Keith Rathgeber at D and W Body and Repair about the intermittent problem, surprised when Keith offered to buy it.   The couple once again in need of a car,  deciding to venture to Wichita in search of a more appreciative application.  Traversing East Kellogg,  known as automobile row,  probing for an inexpensive  but reliable mode of transportation.  The endeavor successful,  Jan returning home,  driving a small red 1976,  2 door 4 speed manual shift, front seat only Chevrolet Chevette hatchback. The Chevette wasn’t exactly what they wanted,  but the good news about the compact, besides being air-conditioned, the rear compartment was perfect for mounting a platform that would accommodate child restraining  car seats.

.  With the approach of wheat harvest,  Gary discovering a new demeanor prevailing at the Service Company and within the abounding farming community.  An aura of concern with the readiness of the wheat,  a meaningful watch of the sky, the elements now dictating their time-table for garnering the fruits of their labor.   Gary exposed to a new experience,  witnessing a whole community bonding with nature to complete the harvesting cycle, a prerequisite for an agricultural ambition.  What the rural community took for granted,  the new John Deere employee found engrossing, the word livelihood used in context to a farmer,  was more than just a descriptive word,  the label fulfilling an agglutination of meaning,  and encompassing the effort and toil of the farmer.

Something Lost, Something Gained…..#157 (80’s)

August 16, 2016

.  With the sound of the four barrel carburetors consuming its motive, Gary pushing the 66 Pontiac towards Hennessey Oklahoma  to rendezvous with his daughter Marlo and her mom at the Dairy Queen.  Kaye and Gary splitting the mileage difference agreeing on this mutual meeting place 68 miles from Oklahoma city and 90 miles from Kiowa,  Marlo able to spend some time in Kiowa with her Dad,  Jan  and little Robert and Sandi. The assemblage concluding, the sun having set, Gary and Marlo started north when the Pontiac began  what sounded like a the continuous backfiring thru the carburetor, Gary having experienced a backfire before but not a continuous one, deciding it might be best to return to Hennessey.

Entering town, the backfiring continuing, Gary discovered a well-lit service station and garage,  the Pontiac halting with the motor still running, the attendant approaching, listening for a moment and ventures an opinion, ” you’ve got a  intake valve stuck open, thus the backfiring thru the carburetor, apparently a valve push rod may have come off”.    The analysis was logical to Gary,  deciding that if he took it easy on the way back,  meaning drive a little slower,  he was confident the remaining seven cylinders would provide ample providence for their return.  The trip back seemed to take forever,  Father and Daughter sharing an unusual voyage to accompanying  sound of an orchestrated carburetor.

.  The morning finding Gary removing the right side valve cover from the thirteen year old Catalina,  discovering the culprit pushrod was still in place but worn beyond adjustment, the would-be mechanic confident a replacement could resolve the quandary.  Gary checking with Gerald Elroy at Jarvis automotive, discovering it wasn’t a stock item and it migh take a while to receive one.  Conferring with Jerry Whitney at work about his automotive dilemma, Jerry suggesting that he might explore the vacant Jack Beasley Ford Dealership building on 7th St.,  Steve Miller  Kiowa Service owner having purchased and the now defunct building still retained numerous parts in its parts bins.  Obtaining the entrance keys to the demise Ford establishment,  Gary with the Pontiac push-rod in hand began searching the depleted bins for a reasonable-fact-simile and to his astonishment, finding a valve push-rod that was almost an exact replica. Upon inserting the replacement a question still remained,  would the provisional endowment endure, only time would tell.

.  It was less than two-week when once again the Pontiac resumed the backfire chorus  through the carburetor, Gary deciding to consult a higher authority,  Larry Foster,  the John Deere service manager,  Larry without hesitation forwarding,  in all probability it wasn’t the push-rod,  but a worn lifter arm.   With the advent possibility of a more serious problem, Gary concluding it was time to bid farewell to his $200 Pontiac, deciding it was time for him to shop for another vehicle, preferably  a pickup.   An attentive resolve finding a Kiowa resident, Mike Mayberry with a restored 1951 Dodge four speed, the pickup  having been utilized  on s farm for many years, an asking price of $350.  Gary was interested, countering with a $250 offer, after a two day lull, both parties finally agreeing upon $300, Gary taking possession of the 28-year-old relic from the past.

.  The pickup bringing back a reminisce of learning to drive in his Dads similar 1940  Chevrolet pickup,  both having a four speed floor shift with a grandma lower gear, hand choke and throttle, floorboard starter,  but the dodge having a low-geared ratio rear end, at its best able to go 60 mph with a tail wind.  The Dodge rear windows a classic one with rounded corners, the uniqueness of the 28 year pickup qualifying as a classic.  The trucks red  paint faded and well worn, Gary deciding to touch it up with a John Deere spray-can red,  but didn’t stop there,  painting the rest of the pickup. It wasn’t a paint shop finish but did clean up its appearance, plus he got the paint at cost, the normal retail markup of John Deere products being around 40 percent.  Gary having mixed feeling about acquiring the pickup,  being a classic it was one of a kind,  but the departure of the Pontiac, with its 421, 4 barrel engine was somewhat of a  status symbol, being thought as a poor man’s G T O

.  The parts department proving not to be an experience,  but an expedition into the world of John Deere, his work application required the use of a forklift,  the movement of pallets, 55 gallon drums of motor and hydraulic oil, even being called upon to load calm bine headers onto flatbed trailers,  plus an ability to operate the divergent motorized equipment for display. The Service Company was not only a farming implement store,  but also having a complete line of John Deere lawn and garden equipment,  but the best-selling mower was something new to the community,  the Dixon Z T R,  Steve Miller having acquired a distributorship for the zero-turning-radius mower.  Gary never ceased to be amazed at the inventory amassed at this agriculture utility center, it’s


Propinquity To The Lord…………..#158 (80’s)

August 14, 2016


.  The building presented no outward displayed emblems of divinity,  only a declaration in large  black letters fastened to a painted 36 foot cement block wall,  position between the two frontal accessions  proclaiming its presence,  Apostolic Christian Church.   The east entre finding a wide extended  covered portico, able to accommodate two vehicles for those disembarking from a means of transportation.   Upon entering the large foyer and bench lined windowed petition, its three doors providing a south entrance to a large Sanctuary, and directly across the corridor a south outside egress with adjoining restrooms.

.  The sanctuary seating providing ample allowance for all in attendance,  the back side of the  pews according the resources utilized in the celebration of service’s.   The king James Bible,  The hymns of zion, and zion’s harp hymnals used in vocal affirmation of Jesus Christ.   A single podium adorned the raised unannounced pulpit, to the rear on either side,  chairs provided for the alternate and visiting Ministers.   A backdrop of curtain providing a shroud for the baptismal immersion vessel,  but high above the beamed ceiling,  adorning the wall is a stain glass window portraying a cross,  the only outward symbol of religious reflection.

.  Traversing the foyer to the west,  a fully adorned kitchen and dining area with two large U-shaped counters with fixed restaurant simile stools.  A complete kitchen,  enabling a fellowship meal to be served between Sunday morning services and a provision for joyous recognitions and austere occasions.   Additional restrooms and a fellowship hall in the west accession,  with ample arbore folding chairs and a piano,  the only musical application in the House of Worship,  its primary prevalence,  for Bible Study and singing amity.   Opposite the kitchen and dining room,  three  Sunday School classrooms,  providing the three-tiered grade levels found in public school.  Classes attended during the first morning service.

.  The seating for services remained steeped in tradition,  with the membership women separated from the men by the center aisle, the nomination of all hymns coming from the congregation.  From the Pulpit,  a canonical ministering brother offering an opening prayer, then without a preconceived script,  randomly opening the old testament reading a scripture,  providing a deliverance on the passage, its message and significance, followed another hymn, the King James Bible  again randomly opened,  this time to the new testament another reading enhanced,  once again the epistle is dispatched with principle to those in attendance. A closing hymn,  followed by a consummating prayer articulated from a congregated Brother  to conclude the first service.

Gary being a new arrival was at first perplexed,  never before experiencing such an atmosphere of expressed unity,  adorned with total humility and solace of purpose.  An admiration for the congregation, the displacement of facades addressing worldly vanity,  the shedding of self-adornment luxuries, and  fashionable  attire in appearance, a reluctance to participate in self-proclaiming public endeavors.   The church elder and ministering brethren, not school by man to proclaim the word,  but called upon by the lord thru their convictions, to stand before the crown of redemption and administer to the assemblage.

.  The church membership constituency discovering many affluent community members,  Marvin Ott,  the president of the Bank of Kiowa,  his farming acreage encompassing the church property,  a donation for its construction.   Farming establishments,  the Farnys, Kissling, Freiden, Guthrie, Allenbach, Schrock, Roth, Tanner, Nelson and many other proprietors of sections or partial sections of Kansas and adjoining Oklahoma land expanse.   A volunteer contribution when a financial need was discerned,  the biblical tithing an available provision,  but never an offering plate during a service, the only employed person receiving gratuity, the person maintaining the cleanliness of the facility.

.  Gary appraised the Apostolic Christian Church a welcomed anomaly,  the communication of the brethren,  the fellowship of accordance,  the directive of submission,  a total acceptance of communion with Jesus Christ.   An aura of solace enveloped the assembled,  a radiance of warmth was fluid,  its presence perceived by all,  a supposition of their propinquity to the Lord.

A Broadening Kiowa Commerce …#159 (80’s)

August 12, 2016


.  A temporal tranquility was resolved in the family’s N. 11th street residence, an endowed progeny, Jan able to  espouse to a full appointment as a stay-at-home mother, with Gary maintaining a work week appurtenant to Kiowa Service Company.  A review of his income, the minimum hourly wage having been raised but still lacking a require prerequisite, the couple looking for a means of additional financial input.  Jan having discovered a hidden talent during the kindred visit to Gary’s family in California, she had a habit of attesting a knitting agenda to occupy her  time.   Gary’s  Mother interceding with a suggestion that crocheting was a faster and a more applicable contention,  proceeding to instruct her already needle dexterity daughter-in-law the artistic composition of crochet yarn interlace.  Jan proving to be a very astute study, impressing Gary’s mother by immediately mastering the much faster and satisfying  new-found art.

.  The south rear entrance of the house when located on the farm was a basically a screened in porch accessing the kitchen, a place for the farming family to shed the garments of their labor before entering the house.  Sometime during the past.  the porch was enclosed with windows and permanent door,  its private entrance,  an area ample to embrace a possible business opportunity that Jan had been considering, an in-house crochet, knitting, yarn and accessories shop.  Gary being somewhat skeptical,  but admitting his ignorance about the number of knitting and crochet advocates in the farming community.  His first concern was making the area acceptable, but Jan was already ahead of him,  having decided to approach her father asking him to apply his talent to her idea.

.  Bud agreeing to his daughter’s request,  suggesting instead of horizontal and vertical shelves, the wall console would be assembled at 45 degree angles, thus enabling a more effective means of stacking the rolls of yarn.  Bud setting to work making an unfinished entrance into a comprehensive small display room.  The shelving installed, the room painted and made ready, entrance bricks being laid as a walk from the driveway, the only thing left was the purchasing of inventory.  Gary well aware of their financial situation, pleasantly surprised when Jan mentioned that she had already talked to Marvin Ott at the Bank of Kiowa about securing a loan for the inventory.  Jan’s Yarn Basket was open for display at 3 24 north 11th Street,  a newspaper advertised grand opening announcement providing  an influx of local congratulatory customers,  their crochet, knitting and accompanying accessories needs fulfilled.

.  The Murrow Construction Company was in an expansion mode, the building of a new shop and office was in progress,  a 28 x 72 ft. shop and office being constructed to adjoin the Murrow residence at 1019 Dickinson St..   Bud acquiring and introducing a new paint distributorship to the community, Porter Paint,  a renowned application,  catering  contractor quality emulsions to prospective local and professional consumers.  The small construction company with Don Palmer as foreman thriving with increasing business opportunities, Bud having bid on a  major but very unusual construction project for the old Hardtner Achenbach Hospital that was in process of being converted into a long term facility to include the mentally challenged and handicapped.

.  The new ownership concern desiring to have the facility entrance remodeled to replicate the four column entrance to the White House in the nation’s capital.  Gary wasn’t surprised that his father-in-law would bid on such a project, as he had just completed work on another unusual undertaking, an exceeding large monolithic cross as a backdrop for the pulpit of a church in Medicine Lodge.  Bud having secured the Hardtner bid resolving some of the complexities of the project,  especially the construction of the columns, something that wasn’t a yard item at the lumber company. Gary admiring Bud’s ability to manage the paradox between his construction vocation, paint distributorship and his after work farming endeavor.

.  Gary was at awe with the increasing business at Kiowa Service,  finding the John Deere enterprise in an amplification mode,  the new assembly shop being completed, a removal of the old warehouse and loading dock,  the relic of the Feed Grinding Mill being abolished,  a new metal warehouse application constructed.   The preferred rows of displayed tractors,  now enhanced with a large consignment of the new  77 20 combines and headers,  the dealership in transposition towards  a new horizon.  The once apprentice parts person finding his mentor, Jerry Whitney mentioning that he wasn’t enthused about Miller’s combine inducement,  preferring to remain true to his focus on tractors and their accompanying accessories.  Gary very much aware of the direction and vision of the enterprising Steve Miller,  cognizance  of  the changing diversification in parts inventory, Steve arranging for him to attend a two-day John Deere Parts instructional class in Wichita.

.  The migratory green machine wheat harvesters from Canada discovering Steve Miller’s compliment of combines accessible,  their ranks capitalizing on John Deere’s volume discount,  the Custom Cutters as they were labeled,  with one party purchasing as many as five of the 77 20 harvesters.  The once proliferate tractor sales now limited mostly to local farmers, the Kiowa Service wheat harvesting combines sales reaching a broad spectrum of the Harvest trail from Texas to Minnesota.  Steve Miller’s ever broadening John Deere business  highlighting  the small community of Kiowa with Deere & Company and on the national map of commerce.  Gary witnessing the blossoming of a thriving enterprise.