Archive for September, 2016

A Return Of Dexterity…….#135 (the 70’s)

September 30, 2016

Gary at the Uptown Club – note the Rt. Hand brace…

Temporal progression of his disabled wrist and hand was dispiriting,  the appendages failing to respond after months of consecrated effort,  placing a rubber ball in his disabled right hand and with his left, tightening its grip on the disabled one willing his fingers mimic the motion and to squeeze.   Gary receiving a telephone call from guitarist Jerry Connell,  offering a five night per week engagement at the Uptown Club on North Walker, a consideration for Gary to return to the realm of music.   The pianist imparting his continuing  disability, discovering Jerry advocating not a need for a piano player but a bass player. The guitarist having worked with Gary in the past at the Pirates Cove,  knowing he played keyboard bass on his  Fender Rhodes Piano.  The question presented was, would Gary consider the opportunity of playing bass.   An overwhelming affirmative reply reconciled the pianist spirit,  a redundancy to reestablish  his profession.   The musician once again finding a contentment evolving from his left hand bass benefaction and as the weeks progressed  a sense of awakening began in his dormant hand, the numbness beginning to decline.  With his right hand poised over the keyboard each night, not operative but receiving it instructional command to perform,  a firmness returned,  at first to a finger,  then followed by a two, realizing by the grace of God and  his consciousness of mind he continued to send a musical message to the remaining fingers.   The wrist brace still remained,  but the dexterity of the fingers were  commencing to be more functional and with this he could see a light at the end of the tunnel.  It was during a night’s performance a welcome sight entered the Uptown Club, Gary haven’t seen or talked to Jan Lawhon for over a year, Jan accompanied with a friend introduced as Mickey Rogers.  The pianist visiting the couple recalling events of the past and from the conversation it was apparent that Jan and Mickey were in a relationship and that Mickey’s occupation was speculative in nature.

Jerry Connell

A continuing return of dexterity,  Gary appreciative of Jerry Connell confidence in a one-handed pianist, but like other Oklahoma City clubs the Uptown  was a  in the scrutiny for a diminutive accordance, business was slow, the band being furloughed to playing only weekends.   Gary deciding to call his Pirates Cove drummer Eddy Ferguson and wife Debby (Swisher) whom he had left stranded at the Cove when he experienced the loss of his hand. The pianist asking if they would be interested in getting back together if he could book them, the two agreeing.  Gary’s first recourse was a visit to Herbie at the Pirates Cove finding and not surprised that he was satisfied with the current band but suggesting to Gary that he visit with Mitch,  a subcontractor that participated in the construction of the Holiday Inn West who had retained the club franchise at the Holiday Inn in Norman.   Gary visiting with Mitch, offering to put together the same group that filled the Pirates Cove to capacity, Jerry Connell on guitar, Eddie Ferguson on drums, himself on Keyboard bass and piano, and Debbie vocalizing,  without hesitation Mitch agreeing,  the Cove component was reunited.

A rain pelted roar

The tornado warnings were issued,  the sirens giving notice, a stormy night prevailed as Gary proceeded down Interstate 35 (#77) toward Norman,  the buffeting winds accosting the musician,  the 1966 Ford 100 pickup being pressured with debris tacking its mobility.  The driver having difficulty seeing beginning to have  a concern on the outreach of the City of Moore and the trailer park residency of Eddy and Debby.  A sudden gust seemed to briefly lift the pickup, the wind-driven rain pelting with a roar, Gary thankful when the experience slackened. Upon arrival at the Holiday Inn,  Gary discovering a message from Jerry Connell waiting,  logging his unavailability because of the storm.   The Pianist awaiting the arrival of Deb and Eddy but as time waned his concerned blossomed finally  placing a phone call to their trailer park  residence discovering a continuous busy signal.  A determination for not answering the call coming from the television, a weather responder  reporting  a tornado having briefly touched down crossing highway #77  and N.E 154th causing damage to a trailer park.    Gary hesitant at first but then deciding to provide the storm captive audience with a piano concurrence, on the bandstand giving an explanation for the solitary performance mentioning he would be happy to play request.

Pat Paulson presidential candidate

Pat Paulson presidential candidate

It was later during that stormy night the pianist recognized the person attesting  the bar,  a renown televised entertainer from the most prestigious network program of the era,  Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In,  the Presidential Candidate of humor Pat Paulsen was firmly planted on a bar stool.   Gary introducing himself to the celebrated personality,  finding Pat having just concluded an appearance at the University of Oklahoma and was still adhered in Norman because of the storms ineptitude with his airline reservation.   Gary attempting to persuade the television personality to accord a microphone and join him on stage,  but his declination was absorbed in a glass of scotch.   Gary deliberating whether to  announce Pats presence,  a chance  the recognition might spur him to give a sample of his humor, but the pianist having second thoughts deciding Pat having already put in a days work.  The Norman Oklahoma night coming to a conclusion,  the storms having moved on, the musician tempted to stop at the trailer park on his way home but reasoned the situation didn’t need another onlooker.  A morning call from the two saying  the tempest played havoc with their trailer, moving it off the cement block foundation, but the trailer and contents were only jostled and the two were safe.   The pianist concluding it was another night to remember.

Entertainment Foreclosure……#136 (the 70’s)

September 28, 2016

The Traditions left to right – Jack Hughes, Jerry Cooper. Jerry Connell down front – Gary Willson

It wasn’t a surprise when Eddy and Debby approached Gary,  the  drummer and his vocal attraction wife deciding to expand their life in another direction giving notice, the two were no longer interested in remaining with the band.  Gary once again finding himself in search of envoys of music to fill the void with their departure.    A chance  introduction to  Jerry Cooper, a rhythm guitar playing vocalist and his drummer Jack Hughes, discovering they were in a  similar situation, looking for replacements  for their band.   Gary arranging to meet with Cooper at his day job as a T-Fal product pitchman at JC Penny’s in Crossroads Mall.   The pianist observing as Jerry demonstrated the attributes of the product in the housewares department, finally  taking a break the two concluding a possible union between the  bands would satisfy both groups needs.  Cooper having  appropriated the band name “Jerry Cooper and The Nite Beats”,  changing the spelling from that of a once local Oklahoma City renown group  “The Night Beats”, that digress to Dallas in 1964.  It was readily apparent that Cooper hope to exploit the Night Beats  past reputation.  The meeting concluding  a conditional decision being agreed upon, Gary insistent that the Nite Beats name being dropped, agreeing to  “Jerry Cooper &  The Traditions”.   The Norman Oklahoma Holiday Inn club owner Mitch somewhat disappointed with the departure of Debby and Eddie but having no alternative but to go along with the change, Gary could sense a wait and see attitude from Mitch, pondering whether or not the band would continue.

During an evening performance a very familiar person entered,  Jan Lawhon,  accompanied by her companion Mickey Rogers, Gary having been introduced to  Mickey when playing with Jerry Connell at the Uptown Club.   Seated with the couple, the conversation wasn’t a social  but business,  Jan relating that her and Mickey might be interested in hiring the band, Mickey having  procured the lease of a Night Club in the City.  Gary was somewhat taken back with Jan’s willingness to return to the bandstand, but with their years of  musical affiliation  at the Pirates Cove at least they would have an established repertoire.  The couple making an offer to hire the band,  the only immediate drawback was instituting an agreement was with Jerry Cooper’s ego,  the musician accustomed to having his name highlighted.  Gary discussing the opportunity with the others, Cooper, Connell and drummer Hughes agreeing to make the move.  The only concern being the three weeks before the club would be ready to open and Mitch, the Holiday Inn club owner would have to be given notice, knowing that he wouldn’t be too willing to let them remain if he found a replacement.

TG&;Y – at 74th and S. Penn

Jan and Mickey having secured the Dungeon Club occupying  the below street level of the ‘Crows V” Restaurant located in the renovated once cathedral like monolithic St. Johns  Episcopal Church at 3125 Classen Blvd.   This midtown large two-story church structure having been remodel to resemble the declination of a castle, Gary having never visited The Dungeon Club but had seen the past advertisements for the Kelly Q’eller Trio, a semi-jazz group.   Gary was somewhat surprised when Jan and Mickey made a proposal asking if the pianist would be interested in helping with the improvements to the club before its grand opening, offering to reimburse him for his time and effort.  Gary never one to turn down opportunity agreeing to help, the  first major improvement discussed in a cleanup effort was to replace the white, now yellowed tobacco smoke-stained 24 x 48 inch ceiling tiles. After pricing the expense for new tiles and with some thought, Jan and Gary came up with an alternative solution.   Securing aerosol spray paint at a cost of 99 cents  per can from T G & Y  (Tomlinson, Gosselin and Young),  in black and red colors the two would remove each of the old stained 24 x 48 inch panel,  painting them either red or black,  replacing them in a  checkerboard pattern and in the darken light of the club the finished product providing a colorful semblance of new tiles.

Jan Lawhon

The grand opening of “Jan’s”  was enhanced, Jan having purchased shirts for the band and scheduled a session with photographer at the Hal Owens Studio.  Gary and Jerry Connell being familiar with Jan’s music, several rehearsals were for the benefit of Cooper and Hughes to establish their acquaintance with the Lawhon presence.  Just prior to the club opening the Oklahoma and Midwest City newspaper entertainment section advertised the club and return of Jan to the Oklahoma City nightlife scene, issuing a direct invitation to the many who experienced her and Gary at the Holiday Inn West’s, Pirates Cove Club.   A folding business card made to stand on a table , the front  with a stairway logo stating: ” Welcome to Jan’s your stairway to entertainment” in bold print .  The inside reading: ” The song styling of Jan Lawhon with Gary Willson at the piano,  featuring Jerry Cooper and the Traditions”  The  opening night living up to expectations, Gary and Jan greeting many acquaintances from the past.  A strict disciplinarian, Mickey installed a non-drinking and smoking policy on the bandstand, Gary very much in favor of this needed professional attainment, including a scheduling of regular rehearsals, a first for the other band members, something he had propagated with Jan in the past meeting at his residence as a convenience because of her OU college schedule.  The pianist noticing a change in Cooper, the vocalist demeanor having diminished, no longer a headliner, there was a sense of animosity, Hughes and Cooper never before  having to conform to someone else’s concept of music.  The first three weeks found an exceedingly number of friends and old customers, but then a decline began to sit in, attendance was dropping, a search for the reason discovering the debilitating attendance had nothing to do with the entertainment, but the location of the club.  Classen Blvd being a main thoroughfare to downtown Oklahoma City and after visiting with customers found that they were concerned with the constant appearance of the patrolling black & whites, unlike the Holiday Inn which was adjacent to Interstate 40 and seldom frequented by local law enforcement.  It seemed the hand writing was on the wall, the continual Black & White’s presence was something the loyal aficionado’s of late nite indulgent didn’t want to confront.

Gary was privy to an undisclosed facet from Mickey and Jan, he had remained resolute in his silence,  not sharing with the band of an upcoming possibility.   Mickey having set a eight-week temporal decrements on the club’s financial disposition, and would make a judgement as to its  projected fiscal potential and whether to continual the endeavor.  With the eight-weeks of litigation about to expired, attendance never fulfilling expectations,  Mickey true to his word announcing the verdict of closure.  Gary somewhat dismayed but accepting the reality,  but also appreciative of receiving a recognizing never bestowed, for the first time he was a double wage earner, being paid for playing the piano, and a second stipend gratuity for fulfilling the role of  keyboard bass, a wage for each hand.

Unexpected Aspirations…….#137 (the 70’s)

September 26, 2016

A growing community

Jan Lawhon’s envisioned vehicle of return to the nightlife entertainment of Oklahoma City ending, her and Mickey Rogers club ownership aspirations pilgrimages into history, Gary, Jerry Cooper and the Traditions a causality of Jan’s Club’s demise.  Gary having been privileged to the club’s possible closing was aware of a booking opportunity at the Derrick Club in Edmond,  a small but growing community north of Oklahoma City and when inquiring discovering the  club fortified by an acquaintance from the Pirates Cove, Bill Diehl.  The Colombo, Peter Falk looking Bill from Chicago,having made a transition to Oklahoma City years earlier as a union organizer conducting the unions business out of the Holiday Inn West.  The musician wasn’t surprised that Bill had remained in Oklahoma as he was an astute visionary and opportunist, as evidenced by  securing the lease of The Derrick Club.  The band accepting a five nights per week offer, Jerry Cooper’s expertise of the Doobie Brother,  Jim Croce and Loggins & Messina  enliven a capacity house mainly on weekends drawing from the Oklahoma City metro area.

Bill Diehl’s resemblance to Colombo.

Bill spending less and less time at the club finally  mentioning to the band that he spoken with the owner of the building and was putting his $500 per month contract club lease on the market for a walk away price of $1500, halfheartedly asking if the band would be interested in acquiring it and as part of his sale pitch offering to exhibited the club’s financial records, demonstrating as operators the band could marginalize the entertainment overhead expense.  A discussion of convenience between Cooper, Hughes and Gary was the engendered,  a possible partnership was up for consideration. The three deciding to move forward with the purchase of the lease,  each to contribute $500.

Jack Hughes on the drums

The night of acquisition, Gary with a $500 check in hand making a fathomed discovery, he was the sole responder to the agreement,  Jack Hughes venturing no expenditure,  Jerry Cooper accrediting that he would provide monetary support for cosmetic enhancements to the club  equal his agreement share.  Bill accepting Gary’s token $500 and a promissory note for the balance, Gary’s wife Kaye and longtime drummer friend Glenn Froman witnessing the transaction. The lease transferring event concluding, it was the band’s first night as club proprietors, Gary about to embark onto the bandstand when drummer Jack Hughes approached, from out of nowhere, Jack with one blow to Gary’s jaw  sending the pianist sprawling to the floor,   Hughes immediately pouncing upon the now prone pianist,  making threatening accusations  but presenting no other physical response.   The pianist responded with a call for someone to remove Jack from his endowed position, a glance at the 220 lb. Glenn found no response.   Gary’s 95 lb. wife Kaye arriving, clutching Jack’s shoulder with a resounding  “get off my husband”.  Jack rescinded his position,  the pianist arose,  the blood trickling from a well endowed split in his lip,  the what and why perplexity of what just  transpired remaining, the open mouth onlooker projecting a scene of bewilderment.

Jerry Cooper

Glenn Froman

Jerry Cooper immediately taking Jack aside seeking an explanation,  but discovering the drummer unresponsive to giving a reason for his actions even to his closest friend and also refusing  to fulfill his percussionist expectation on the drums.   Gary approached his friend drummer Glenn about playing, informing Jerry, Cooper again visiting with Jack, returning stating that Jack still refuses to play, but would bow to Glenn using his drums.  Gary having maintained what he thought was mutual respect with Jack, but Hughes younger and  bachelor, the two having little in common except for their shared interest in music.  Gary finding Jacks action perplexing but a lesson was instilled, the drummer never acknowledging the rational of his action that night and from  henceforth the pianist would question the drummers character.  Gary receiving  later disclosure from Cooper that was somewhat chilling,  Jack was in possession of a .32 caliber handgun that he carried in a briefcase that was always with him, realizing if Glenn had intervened instead of his wife Kaye, there might have been  an entirely different outcome.

Jerry Connell

The weeks ahead, discovering the beginning of what could have been a successful partnership  beginning to fade.  The band,  a trio Monday thru Thursday,  with Jerry Willis playing lead guitar and sax on Friday and Saturday nights,  it was just a matter of time before the so-called partnership crumbled, Gary offering to withdraw from the club if compensated for his investment amount.   Cooper and Hughes now working in conjunction at first accepting Gary’s offer,  the pianist about to return to his piano bar calling,  but the two reneging on the agreement, not coming up with the compensation and after a brief attempt to operate, they locked the doors walking away.  Gary having to make a decision, whether to write off his investment or accept the challenge.   A call to his friend  Jerry Connell in Midwest City, informing him of the circumstances, inquiring about his playing availability, discovering Connell willing to return to the bandstand and take a active part in club as a partner,  investing some financial assistance’s.  With Connell on board,  Gary’s immediate concern was acquiring a drummer, his good friend Glenn having once again returned to Indiana, but had another person in mind.

Bob Wallace

Bob Wallace was scripted, his self-assurance attenuated personality was blazon, but without a doubt substantiated by his vocal talent and percussion ability.  Gary meeting this slender tall resemblance of an Elvis in the past during the Derrick Club’s Wednesday sit-in night, his smirking curling lip projecting an attitude of ascendancy.  With the departure of Jerry Cooper and Jack Hughes, Bob Wallace’s’ arrival was heralded as an asset, his duo presentation,  drums and vocal was recognized as an ordained deliverance for the band.


A Realm of Justice…………..#138 (the 70’s)

September 24, 2016

Bob Wallace

Kenny Kannada

  Gary’s good fortunate was short-lived,  Jerry Connell was having family problems.  Jerry’s wife Donna wasn’t happy with Jerry’s Derrick Club affiliation and gave him an ultimatum resulting in him apologizing to Gary but bowing out of the Derrick venture.   With Jerry’s departure, Gary and Bob began a duo Monday thru Thursday, Jerry Willis still on the Bandstand Friday and Saturday nights.  Gary would arrive at 10 a.m. every morning to ready the club for it 12:00 noon opening, early one afternoon a guitar conveying  six-foot two Stetson adorned musician named Kenny Kannada entered  asking Gary if he needed a singer, Gary replying there was always a need for a good vocalist.  Without hesitation, brandishing his guitar Kenny took to the bandstand, Gary activating  the P.A. system the Stetson adorned musician demonstrating his talent.  A bouquet of sound enhancing the atmosphere,  the guitar playing singer hosting the songs of country music icons with just enough impersonation in his voice to give them recognition, without a doubt the pianist recognizing an immediate hire.   Gary soon discovered the lanky musician retained an essence of humility,  a warmness of personality prevailing in his character, a trait that would be recognizable and retain an immediate acceptance from an audience.  Gary was astonished how providence could change from a need to an abundance.

The Derrick Club on Broadway in Edmond

The Derrick Club on Broadway in Edmond

The Oklahoman adjoining  community of Edmond,  population 16,000, was a closed environment to interlopers in the beverage dispensing business,  a hierarchy status was established, the established bars and clubs resenting the sudden procrastination of the Derrick club.    Gary was a believer  in innovation advancing the advent of a live radio broadcasts from the club, a first for Edmond.  The KWHP radio truck accompanied by a search light flooding the nighttime sky,  it’s beacon giving notice, a drawing card for club that in itself had become an attraction.  As advertised on the radio that night,  upon entering each customer would receive a numbered ticket stub, a drawing to be held  for five hundred dollars for the lucky person. The drawing to be held the following afternoon at the radio stations location, hosted by Dave and John, the broadcasting sales representatives who initiated the idea.  Gary was opposed to the idea because of  financial reason, he didn’t have $500, but taking him aside Dave and John explained the drawing was a scam, it was engineered, the winning ticket would be palmed by Dave, the person winning would be a employee or an acquaintance whom would receive a nominal fee for her deceptive participation.   Gary still didn’t like the idea but a justification was pronounced from the broadcasting reps, unbeknownst to the public, deception  was common practice in the advertising profession.  The Derrick Club’ beginning to have an adverse affect on the competitions,  the  success of the club causing some consternation, Gary concluding it was the addition of Kenny Kannada and Bob Wallace that was making the difference.  With the success of the club came a continuous  scrutiny and  pressure from local law enforcement and now the state ABC Board  apparently having been instigated by the long established competitors.

Nationwide Oklahoma based Kerr-McGee service stations

The narrower State Highway Bridge across the Ohio River at Paducah Kentucky

The narrower State Highway Bridge across the Ohio River at Paducah Kentucky

The eighteen wheeler was accomplished behind the Derrick club,  Paul Ambrose the responsible pilot,  a cousin to Gary’s long time friend the anomalous Glenn Froman.  Paul was inhibiting the accolades of the Saturday night entertainment  awaiting a departure hour to direct his transport east,  his trip a journey of frequent stops,  the final destination Indianapolis.  In the past, Gary having made his Master Charge credit card available for Paul to use, especially after spending too much of the company traveling expense money at the club.  Paul making an offer for Gary to accompanying him on his delivery escapades,  to experience  the vivacity of an  ‘over the road driver’ and visit his good friend Glenn whom had returned to Indianapolis.   Gary concluding he need a break from his routine and being Saturday night the club could do without him until Tuesday, yes he would accept Paul’s invitation.   At 3:00 a.m. the Kerr McGee Corporation big rig loaded with a cargo of antifreeze pulled out, the two were on their way to Indiana with stops in Arkansas and Tennessee.  Gary impressed with highway perspective from  the Freight Liner, its panoramic view, with the CB  on channel 19  there was a continuous vocal narration from highway transport navigators.  Paul ascending his first stop in Conway Arkansas, Gary recalling that the music icon Harold Jenkins Harold borrowed the city name,  knowing him as Conway Twitty, the name Twitty also borrowed from a town in Texas.  Memphis was the second stop, Paul unloaded a portion of his load at a Kerr McGee station, a local convenient distribution storage point, before continuing northward crossing the Ohio River at Paducah Kentucky.  Paul entering the bridge approach when discovering he was not on the 4 lane interstate bridge crossing, but on the narrow 2 lane  State Highway 45  crossing.   Oops! he was already consigned to the bridge when he noticed the sign, ” trucks wider that 96 inches prohibited”,  it was too late, there was no area for a turnaround,  continuing across the bridge the good-natured Paul making light of the problem, noting that it was funny that they hadn’t seen any truck traffic on the approach to the bridge .  The consigned delivery completed, the two travelers soon accosting the Indiana state line and Indianapolis, Paul dropping Gary off at Glenn’s. Gary somewhat disheveled and tired from the lack of sleep making every attempt to enjoy a night-life excursion provided by Glen The following afternoon a weary traveler achieving flight reservation, not sure how to evaluate his experience, leaving it at that an experience.

Glenn and Gary

A pungent smell of gunpowder

Upon his evening arrival at Will Rogers World Airport, Gary placed a phone call to the Derrick, canvassing  for an available person to retrieve him from the airport,  his pickup still deposited at the club,  a club waitress volunteering to drive to the airport  to retrieve him.    Resuming his presence at the club, later Gary found himself alone in the process of closing, a known patron Donny Sledge entered with a look of disdain.  Approaching Gary  demanding an explanation for his girlfriend picking him up at the airport,  followed by an accusation of an illicit relationship.  Gary was perplexed,  explaining he had just returned from Indiana and  had no idea who was going to pick him up at the airport.  His explanation having  no avail,  Sledge evolving a handgun,  wavering it in a threatening manner, then discharging it, the projectile rifling overhead  striking the wall just above the musician.  The explosive sound reverberating in the empty premises,  the pungent smell of gunpowder adding to the complexity, Gary momentarily shocked at the action of his assailant was at a loss for disposition.   Sledge  retreated to the door,  his final words before exiting,  ‘if you mentioned this you’ll be goner’.   Gary hesitating unsure of what to do, then administering a call to a club acquaintance,  a retired lieutenant from the Edmond City Police department,  awakening him relating the accusations and actions of Donny Sledge.  Indecisive,  Gary asking whether or not to report the incident to the authorities, a negative response from the ex-lieutenant telling him to remain silent,  giving Gary assurance that he would resolve the incident.  The musician  discovering two days later that Donny Sledge was  stopped for an alluded traffic violation and was arrested for  weapons possession,  a direct violation of his parole.  Gary concluding there still exist a realm of justice.








A Restoration for Dignity…#139 (the 70’s)

September 22, 2016
A visitor to Lake Thunderbird

A visitor to Lake Thunderbird

It was secured from its temporary storage domain having been neglected and abused,  no longer a proud stature of its adumbration but a memory of attainment being retained.   A new concession was accorded,  a redemption to again accommodate its intended ambition.  A renewal of esteem to be enhanced with the tenderness of application,  a restoration of dignity would prevail.  The residency of purpose was to install a meaningful artistry,  once again providing awareness to its physical attributes,  a brush of countenance would again endure with the ensconcement of a majestic allurement  the results bringing a once forgotten prominence.

The 1954 18 ft. aluminum hull 8 passenger Lonestar seaworthy vessel finding a home at Gary’s S.W. 46th Terrace residency   The musician having discovered the vessel relegated to the weed infested back-lot of a boating sales concern on South Shield Ave. in Oklahoma City,  a despairing sight,  its presence adorning a trailer and an undersized 35 horsepower Evinrude motor.   Its past history was of the Texas Gulf,  the vessel small in stature for a proud  inhabitant of the sea,  a neglected relic of the past .   A restoration,  a gleaming white coat of paint,  the wooden interior beckoned an ocean blue coat,  new light fixtures,  the twelve volt electric starter,  forward and reverse controls all renovated for activation.  A celebrated launching at Lake Thunderbird in Norman was instilled,  although the diminished power train was inexpedient,  the 35 hp Evinrude would suffice for the pianist aspirations,  providing a recreational ride around the lake for his family and a platform for fishing.

Marina at Lake Thunderbird

1954 18 ft. Lone Star

  When Gary first bought the Lone Star in 1970 the journey to lake Thunderbird was found to be somewhat of an obstacle ,  the 35 mile road trip, the boat ramp insertion and extrication of the craft was time consuming and with an additional problem,  the Oldsmobile Wildcat having no trouble pulling the craft but the 63 Comet was a different story.  The Lone Star was wider, longer and  towered over the smaller struggling Comet, the added weight making it difficult to obtain 60 mph.   Gary making an inquiry at the marina about a rental slip, discovering an unsheltered inexpensive rental space for one hundred dollars per year.  A visit with band member  Jerry Willis asking if he would like to share in the slip expense and use of the boat,  the majestic Lonestar finding a new residency.   The first family lakeside gathering found his wife Kaye, young Scott,  Marlo and an unexpected invite,  his mother-in-law Helen venturing on the waters of the resplendent lake for an excursion around a portion of the 60 mile shoreline.

Lake Thunderbird

 An abundance of crappie

An abundance of crappie

An early morning expedition to Thunderbird finding Gary,  Jerry Willis,  his wife Darlene, her three sons Corky, Ricky, Donny and  friend Donna aboard the 18 foot Lonestar,  all excited about a fishing venture.  The Thunderbird fishing emporium was apparent to bass,  catfish,  bottom feeding carp and the ever schooling crappie with some other unacquainted species.  The motley crew having little or no luck in the coves, Gary deciding to venture to the lakes dam site where he had success before and it wasn’t long before an array of schooling crappie began to flourish.  The pianist knew it was time for an immediate conversion from single hooks to the multiple hook crappie rigging.   Darlene having never before fished, on her first cast with the multi-hook rigging,  the bobber disappearing, a retrieval discovering three crappie on her line,  an exclamation of exhilaration prevailing,  Gary admitting that he had never achieved an introduction to fishing like that.  The schooling crappie adventure concluding,  the group returning to Jerry’s residence discovering a total of 82 crappie harvested with one disposition.  Gary discovering  no one was interested in cleaning the catch,  save Jerry’s eldest son Corky, noting the difference between people who fish and true fishermen.

White caps on the lake

Dave and John the sales representative for KWHP radio remained regulars at the Derrick Club,  Gary having acquired the stations services in the past to promote the club.  Dave having being very inventive,  renting a large carbon arc searchlight, stationing it outside of the club to correspond with a special night broadcast, the beacon in the sky seen for miles designating the club’s location.   Gary having related his fishing stories about lake Thunderbird, the two bachelors having never been lake fishing deciding they were interested.   The 2:00 a.m. closing having arrived and passed, Gary and the prospective fisherman remained in the locked club awaiting a time to leave for Norman so they could arrive at the lake just before dawn.  Entering the marina boarding the 18 ft. aqua transport,  the fishing gear still in the rear bench where it was stored,  the three consigned with an ample supply of beverage, bait and expectations.  Proceeding with diligence in and out of several coves but this morning finding the submerged marine life elusive, Gary having experienced that the ideal time for the fish to bite had arrived and would soon erode.  The late morning overcast sky was darkening the musician was aware of the possibility of  thunderstorms,  a tornado watch having been forecast,  but was confident they could abscond to the marina if a menacing weather status developed.

The expedition continuing, the wind beginning to expedite briskly and for the first time it was noticed that a white-water crest was beginning to develop on the lake.  Off in distance, southwest of the lake there appeared to be a wall-cloud forming, the boat beginning to bob with the swells, Gary decided it was time to depart and return to the marina.   Activating the starter button the motor turned over briefly but then came to a halt, the battery having lost its initiative.  Dave and John having a concern look on their face and it deepened when Gary told them that he had never pull-started the motor before and being the slightest of the three he gave it his best, the motor barely turned over.  The much bigger John volunteering but the Evinrude was in decline, failing to even fire and with the craft  buffeting, the water lifting the boat that was beginning to drift, it was apparent the anchor no longer was set.  The riveting motion and drifting continued, as did the adrenalin, the three deciding to don life jackets, although Gary mentioned that the worst that could happen would be that they would drift ashore.   A scanning search for other lake activity found a vacancy  save a person in a small ten foot boat being swept along by the waves toward the marina, Gary making an effort to stand up,  maintaining his balance, waving for recognition.   The person in the boat noticing their quandary, turning about into the wind-driven waves to attempt their deliverance.  The small craft tossed about, a rope line being cast, the person aboard fastening it to enact a tow, the Lone Star towering over the rescue boat,   Gary realizing the only reason the smaller boat could make any headway was because the marina was downwind..   Entering the marina area,  the normally subdued waters of the slip area were abashed with white water,  the waves splashing dockside, the boats moored in their slip bobbing like corks,  the towed Lone Star cresting against the docking area, Gary leaping to the boardwalk and with the tow line in hand conveying the craft to its appointed disposition.

A resulting conversation with the two advertising entrepreneurs finding their first lake fishing experience would probably be their last, especial if accompanied by  a journeying tornado touching down.





A Perception Of Despondency……#140 (the 70’s)

September 20, 2016
The Derrick Club on Broadway in Edmond

The Derrick Club in Edmond

The   proprietorship of the Derrick Club taking a toll,  enacting a triad of volition,  physically,  mentally and financially.  Gary on the bandstand at night,  returning before  11:00 a.m. in the  mornings,  his journey on the Broadway Extension serving two purposes, a frequent stop to pick up  supplies and the daily housekeeping chores making the club presentable for the night and the noon liquid lunch  patrons.  The entertainment aspect of the club’s fiscal operation was a roller coaster  often  barely breaking  even,  the weekends producing just enough profit to instill it’s fortitude to continue.   A visit from Freedom Oklahoma businessman Bob French approached Gary during a band  intermission, Bob the proprietor the Freedom Cattlemen’s Cafe,  questioning if the band  would be interest in playing an upcoming dance at the local VFW.  Gary having no idea where Freedom was but the money was exceptional even if it meant having to find a band for the Derrick for a Saturday night.  The band all in agreement, the gig was on.

Gary Willson

Leaving from the Derrick, Bob Wallace joining Gary in *Ole Blue, Gary’s 66 Ford pickup to Freedom followed by a  number of loyal fans, the small panhandle town located about 30 miles west of Alva on highway #64.   Once finding the VFW in this small community,  some of the follower from the  Derrick helping to unload and  set-up the band equipment, Gary somewhat questionable about the attendance, especially in a small town that doesn’t sponsor any nightlife.  The band starting promptly on time but it turned out to be one of those night you had to settle with a lackluster crowd, Bob French blaming himself for the poor turnout.  The bands appearance completed, Gary more than ready for the return trip to Oklahoma City when in the midst of  packing up the equipment he heard a popping sound and a voice  call out,               ” someone’s been shot”.   Dropping what he was doing, he rushed outside,  standing by the door was Chuck  a groupie from Edmond who had been helping with the band equipment,  he was holding his left shoulder wincing in pain saying that he had been shot,  babbling that  Norman Phillips,  another Edmond follower,  was the shooter.  An ambulance having been called but  would be a while having to travel 35 miles from Alva.  The sheriff’s department arriving almost immediately at the scene,  the musician realizing it was going be a long night.   Asking the band to finish loading his equipment in his pickup, Gary making a decision to ride in the ambulance to reassure a disheveled chuck that he was going to live.   The ambulance arriving  at Share Medical Center, discovering he wasn’t alone for very long, apparently the Woods County Sheriff had asked the other members of the band to meet at the hospital to answer questions about the who, what and why of the incident,  the narrative of the circumstances providing little as there were no witnesses save Chuck.   Jerry Willis returning Gary to retrieve his pickup and with the dawning of a new day discovering that chuck wasn’t the only person injured by the  incident,  the band was a victim too.  The local papers  propagating the incident about the shooting and the name of the visiting Oklahoma City band, the publicity not a good introduction for the Traditions.

Main St. Freedom Oklahoma

Main St. Freedom Oklahoma

The introductory journey to Freedom although disastrous  provided another opportunity.  Bob French who booked the VFW was somewhat of an entrepreneur.  Besides owning Cattlemen’s Cafe in Freedom,  he was involved with the RCA and the National Finals Rodeo held annually in Oklahoma City, having procured the publicity rights to, of all things a bull, not just any bull but the retired Tornado owned by the legendary Jim Shoulders and unrideable 220 time until paired with  Freckles Brown.   He also projecting himself as a personal of friend of the icon country band leader and singer Red Steagall another Rodeo familiar celebrity.  Gary receiving a Sunday night phone call from Bob mentioning  he was at the Havana Inn on the 39th St. Expressway, asking if Gary would meet with him.    Gary accepting the invitation, finding Bob waiting in the Copa Habana Club, the man from Freedom apologizing for his past failure but asked about booking the band at a club called Vel’s Nite-Lite in Alva.  Questioning if the band would accept a Friday and Saturday Booking if the money was right and he could arrange it.  Gary saying he would give it some thought and for Bob to get back with him.  Later in the week  a phone from Bob confirming he had spoken with  Veldon Wolley the Nite-Lite’s owner about playing a scheduled Friday and Saturday and if they didn’t want to commute or spend money on a motel he could make arrangements for the band to  stay in a friends furnished double wide.  Gary having two weeks to once again find a replacement band beginning to wonder where this new-found road would end.

Veldon Wolley’s Nite-Lite Club

Gary’s wife Kaye helping out

Unlike the journey to Freedom, there were no tag along fans joining the band on their first Alva appearance.  Gary and Jerry Willis in Gary’s pickup,  Bob Wallace, Kenny Kannada with their own transportation.  Unlike single night road engagement using just the Fender Rhodes, Gary loaded the Wurlitzer spinet from home with the rest of the band equipment wanting to make a good impression at the Nite-Lite.  On arrival discovering  that numerous posters plastered the outside of the club and other having been distributed announcing their engagement, the only problem,  the posters had the name of the band wrong, announcing band as the Persuaders not The Traditions.   Gary surmising that Bob French was responsibility for the name change and in all probability not wanting to advertise a  band involved in the Freedom shooting incident.  Entering the club Gary found the  Nite-Lite  a prodigious club, belaying its outward appearance like many others in rural Oklahoma.    It was a large 10,000 sq. ft.,  windowless building able to seat well over 200,  the corner raised bandstand providing ample room to accommodate a band.   The Nite-Lite also providing  sporting activities with three pool tables, air hockey and other gaming machines.  The club, probably by design,  slipping under the ABC Board’s radar,  catering to an early evening underage college beer drinking consignment from Northwestern Oklahoma State  College and  being  Alva’s only  late night after hours liquor serving establishment.  The club providing after hour’s enlightenment for  the 2:00 a.m. closing customers from the Elks,  VFW,  Moose and other civic establishments.   Gary finding this new source of income,  a more profitable even after the expense of hiring a replacement band for weekends at the Derrick.

A despondency began to infiltrate the character of the musician,  the correspondence with the daily communion to  the Derrick Club become a burden, finding it a non-fulfilling enterprise,  the endeavor once again a solitary responsibility and investment, what began as a shared interest was no more,  Gary desiring a way out.   A visit with previous proprietor  Bill Diehl to see if he was at all  interested in the club,  discovering that he had found other means of opportunity.   Gary finally writing off his investment, the financial aspect was no great loss, but the time effort he invested was.   The Derrick would close its doors, bowing to the custodial care of receivership, a walk-away solution.   Gary’s home life was experiencing the same tribulation, there was an apprehension of a failure, the couple beginning to find little meaning in their relationship.  A cloud of depression descending, enveloping one of  despondency, a lack of communication halting a search for a solution.

Gary, Jerry, Donna and Bob

The ongoing  engagements in Alva an ongoing  success with a discovery of bookings at the Moose Lodge, Elks Club and other established venues on subsequent weekends when not booked at the Nite-Lite, the out-of-town bookings giving a relief from the depression brought on by  the confines of life in the City and the absolution of responsibility. Veldon  Woolley,  the owner of the Nite-Lite Club  offering the band a steady weekend booking if they would no longer require a contracted wage but would be willing to accept control of the door and play for the cover charge.  Gary convincing the band to accept the challenge, the club already at times overflowing and the number of customers  was continuing to grow.    Jerry Willis’s wife Darlene and her Oklahoma City Cattlemen’s Cafe co-worker Donna volunteering to monitor the door on Friday and Saturday nights, the club attendance exceeding all expectations.  With the weekends booming,  Gary and Bob Wallace deciding to expand the entertainment  journeying to Alva a day early performing Thursday nights as a duo.


*Ole Blue yield to the flashing light of the Alfalfa County Sheriff’s car, the officer was congeal, he was astonished that Gary and Wallace didn’t see his police vehicle when approaching his stationary presence on the side of the rural highway.   The pickup, with a Wurlitzer spinet piano,  P.A., column speakers,  full drum trap set,  Fender Rhodes electric piano and other amplification adorning *Ole Blue.  The 66 Ford being brought to a halt  by law enforcement on the county road, for a speeding violation,  75 mph in a 55.   The Woods County sheriff deputy was good-natured,  an explanation of the band equipment found him acknowledging with a smile he hadn’t had any reports of a stolen piano and refraining how he always parked his vehicle in plain sight so  oncoming traffic could see him so as not to interrupt his noon-hour roadside lunch.   A citation being issued,  the two continuing on to the Nite Lite in Alva.

Kenny Kannada

Kenny Kannada’s concert Jan Murrow

The regular Alva residency of the cascading band from Oklahoma City was the Western Motel, finding Bill, the owner,  giving the group special budgeting price accords for their regular weekend stays. Gary discovering his primary income discerned during the  week consisted mostly from the transports of commerce  the big rigs.   The bands motel occupancy would find Jerry Willis on many occasions accompanied by his wife Darlene and several friends that worked at Cattlemen’s in Oklahoma City,  Bob Wallace with his current friend Vicki and one afternoon poolside everyone couldn’t help but notice Kenny Kannada introducing a striking concert from Kiowa Kansas,  Jan Murrow.   Gary remaining resolute in his confines having invited his wife Kaye to join him on several occasions, but getting the same declination, given the same reason, they needed her at work on weekends at the FAA Center.   The musician realizing mixed feelings when away from his Oklahoma City domain, a prevailing solace but an encroachment of concupiscence began to permeate his solitude, a need of something or somebody.

Vulnerability and Dereliction….#141 (the 70’s)

September 18, 2016


Kiowa – 1 mile

Gary’s  home life dissidence becoming a factor, an encroaching  desire of withdrawal surfacing,  the musician still able to continue fulfilling his musical comment finding that the out-of-town weekly excursion to Alva provided temporary relief from the inner self-inflicted turmoil of Oklahoma City.  A lack of communication with his spouse propelling no chance of abatement,  with a resolute atmosphere prevailing the toll of adversity of the past year events having vividly been etched within.  At a loss for direction a decision to let circumstances dictate the path  and the future.

The throes of summer finding Nite Lite Club and the Persuaders remaining an overwhelming success being approached with several booking opportunities.  An evening finding Gary  being introduced by Kenny’s friend Jan to her boss Judy Jantz,  the owner of  a ladies apparel establishment in the state-line  Kansas community of  Kiowa and the president of the Kiowa Chamber of Commerce.  Judy asking about the availability of the band to play a Labor Day weekend dance.  Gary informed that Kiowa was well-known for its gala Labor Day presentation, the visitors to the event doubling the town’s population.  The City sponsored weekend event renown for a free afternoon bean feed, craft exhibits,  a tractor pull, a amusement ride concession and the Labor Day dance.  The offer spurring Gary’s interest and without hesitation accepted Judy’s offer to play the labor day weekend event.   Judy and Jan continuing to attend the club several weekends in a row, but when Kenny Kannada made a decision to give the band notice because of a sultana obligation in Oklahoma City,  Jan continued to attend conversing with the band during their breaks.  Gary was conscious of his station but when in  the company of Jan an acquisition of compatibility began to evolve registering an inauguration of more than just concern, in a moment effeteness and dereliction accepting Jan’s suggestion that they venture to her place in Kiowa for breakfast.  During the coming weekends before labor day Jan would frequent the club and when in her company Gary discovering a blinding solace never experienced before,  a patented subjectiveness over shadowing his resistance and vulnerability.

Labor Day – Kiowa

Janet Murrow

The Persuaders didn’t please everyone at the labor day dance, when Gary had signed the contract Kenny Kannada was with the band, and Judy Jantz with the chamber of commerce expecting the country music talent to be performing.   *Ole Blue, Gary’s 66 Ford pickup, as penned by Bob Wallace, was loaded with the band equipment for the return to Oklahoma City,  spending the night in Kiowa the pianist was not looking forward to the calescent drive back to the City in the non-air conditioned Ford.  Viewing a Wichita newspaper,  discovering the central plains and the southwest all attesting to the exceedingly high temperatures, with the exception of  Colorado Springs,  the thermometer augmenting a high of  sixty degrees.   An agrarian accord enveloping Gary, a wild but definitive plotting purpose surfacing,  an excursion to find cooler weather,  Colorado Springs meeting the criteria.  It being cool and less than a day’s journey,  Jan’s air-conditioned 1971 Ford  Torino availing the transportation.  The Musician having no qualms about leaving the tarp covered equipment in the bed of the pickup parked in the residential area of  the quiescent domain of Kiowa.  The only concern was voiced by Jan saying that her Aunt and Uncle, Esther and Charles Terry would be able to view the parked pickup in front of her rental from their residence on Coates Street. With the sound of John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High on the radio the ensuing journey began, the couple looking forward to the of cooling atmosphere of Colorado Springs.

an’s 1971 Ford Torino

The road to Seven Falls SW of Colorado Springs

The perdition of the Nite Lite presenting a quandary for the band, Vel apparently never anticipated that the Persuaders would continually draw such a crowd,  coming to the conclusion that relinquishing  the door cover charge to the band instead of paying a contract wage was a mistake.  He could do the math,  witnessing the loss of income deciding to renege on the agreement, the band  having no alternative but to agree to his terms at least for the time being.   No longer established as a fixture, the band  wasn’t without recourse,  enhancing other opportunities, partaking of the acquaintances made in Alva, availing  the Moose,  the Elks Lodge, an open air dance in Anthony Kansas and even a very high paying private barn dance sponsored by a wealthy farmer.

Gary’s home life continued on a downhill slope coming to a defining moment, congruent with his spouse, a decision was made that it would be in the best interest of both parties  for him to dislodge himself from the residence.  Packing nothing but his clothes he enrolled in a one-bedroom downstairs apartment in the Penn Apartments at S.W. 36th and Pennsylvania Ave not far  from his home for the past 11 years.  The budding relationship between Jan and Gary  was on hold  because of the miles of separation,  the music commerce in Oklahoma City was in transition,  the number of accomplishments providing live entertainment was in declination.   An application of the past years of experience finding Gary utilizing his talent for retention,  traversing the highway when the expediency of local expenditures failed,  a combination of travel and local acuity filling  the band calendar.   Gary having a serious discussion with Jan about her moving to Oklahoma City, understanding the difficulty she would have confronting the contentions of her parents about residing with a married man almost eleven years her senior.  Gary also having a concern but accepting the inevitable, he would have to meet her parents.

Silent disapproval………#142 (the 70’s)

September 16, 2016
The Penn Apartments

The Penn Apartments

The musicians first impression of Jan’s parents was one of apprehension considering the situation, outwardly they displayed a politeness that could be considered typical of parents when introduced to a friend of  their daughters, but beneath the surface he suspected a cloistered disdain because of his circumstances and his involvement with her.  To him the Murrow’s assessment of the musician seemed  more of a reaction to Jan’s past discretionary prose, Gary surmising that the retrospection of their daughters two prior marriages, having been recounted by Judy Jantz,  may have had something to do with their sentiment.  Jan’s first marriage a full white gown church ceremony, the groom having just fulfilled his naval service military obligation,  the marriage inaugurated briefly but abruptly ended with him according an annulment.  Her second and recent marriage was to a motorcycle enthusiast whom she soon discovered was prone to physically abuse, resulting with her filing for  divorce. Helen,  Jan’s mother,  openly displaying a concern about her daughter’s undertaking a move to Oklahoma City, but for some reason ignoring Gary’s marital status or questioning a concern about his intentions,  just a silent amplification of disapproval.

Bud and Helen Murrow

Jan arrived in Oklahoma City with her poodle Mitzi having decided to discount the wishes of her parents and with her arrival the clouds of uncertainty all but disappeared in Gary’s world but at the same time realizing a new financial burden.  Gary having an idea, deciding to approach the Penn Apartment management concerning their rent, having discovered  the waiting period he experienced before moving into his apartment was cause by the unavailability of the a painting contractor to ready the apartments for rental.  Seizing on this information he informed the manager that he was an experienced painter and that in exchange for his apartment rent he would be on call to paint all vacancies on a ‘as needed basis’  with no per diem charge.  The lady  manager was more than susceptible to idea of no longer having to delay a rental because of a contractors schedule,  but would have to get an approval from corporate.  Gary soon receiving word  corporate giving its approval and his apartment and utilities were now considered complementary.  Jan deciding it was time to look for work but was having a difficult time finding employment applying but being turned down  at 7-11  for being truthful on her application about having smoked pot, but her perseverance paid off  accepting a night-time position  at a packaged sandwich endeavor, which supplied their product to 7-11’s and other small convenient stores.

The ventured new life finding the bands Bob Wallace retaining an apartment in the Penn Complex with his steady girlfriend Vicki who was expecting, Gary suspecting it was the reason for Bob to mellow from his normal lifestyle. The vocalist providing a daily acquaintance,  establishing a new perspective to Gary’s outlook discovering that he shared nothing in common with Bob except music.  Bob was a pot smoker, Gary having been exposed to it as an occupational hazard years ago and admittedly having tried it but came to discover that after smoking pot a five-minute song seemed to last ten minutes so he never indulged again and like his closes friends Jerry and Glenn the only cigarettes they smoked cost 35 cents and came out of a machine.  The local bookings were scares, the 70’s having brought a change to the club activity of Oklahoma City, the musician surmised the boom days of  the clubs like the top 40 music stations on radio were fast becoming a memory.

the communication of a successful operation

Gary lay prone beneath the 1966 Ford pickup in the Penn Apartment parking area  removing the  starter during the thunderstorm induced deluge hoping that new brushes  would reconstruct its performing appointment.   Once removed, the dissembling completed, the rotor and armature looking satisfactory, but the brushes appeared worn to the point of nonexistent, a glance at his watch telling him that  the temporal clock was evicting a halt to the starters final recovery.  It was t 120 miles to Clinton and for the band to start on time they needed to get started.  Jerry Willis arriving, both knowing there was no way the band equipment would fit in his car, the excursion would have to be made in Gary’s Pickup as is.  The slope of the driveway onto SW 36th providing just enough roll for Gary to pop the clutch, the motor turning over.   The rain having receded in Oklahoma City,  but resumed again when traversing west on interstate 40,  the plastic visqueen covering the instruments loosening,  but still provided ample protection.   Arriving at their destination with no choice but to  leave the Pickups  running while they unloaded the instruments.   Gary having some concern about getting it started after the gig but luck intervened discovering a United Supermarket Store  two blocks away with a slightly slanted downhill parking area.  The only casualty during the trip because of the loosen visqueen was the Fender Rhodes  a number of keys receiving moisture, when a single key was depressed it would be joined by another,  but as the night progressed individuality prevailed.  The night concluding *Ole Blue, Gary and Jerry finding an unassailable return to the City.

Gary, Jerry Bob and drummer Joey

The band’s recently acquired young drummer Joey Marino’s first telephone call wasn’t to much of a concern, but the second registered an uncertainty, Joey on the line explaining he had loaned Bob his drums and now was unable to locate Wallace.  Gary following up with Joey’s call,  making some inquiries but like Joey unable to discover Bob’s whereabouts. It wasn’t very long  when he receiving a phone call.   “Coach”, Bob never calling Gary by his first name always referring to him as Coach, “I’m in California and don’t know when I’ll return”, Gary somewhat taken back but the worse was yet to come  the shocking news, Bob saying that he had hocked Joey’s drums in Albuquerque for gas money.  Now wasn’t the time to panic, the band having several weekend Clinton  club dates still remaining, Gary needing a singer and a drummer. He heard that Kenny Kannada was still in town driving for a tow-truck operator and possibly available, but the question was finding a drummer.   A phone call to the Kelly Q’Ellar agency asking about a  drummer, Kelly surprising Gary mentioning that his trio was not booked and although having never worked with Gary’s band he would play the Clinton engagements himself and with Kenny available, the Clinton engagement was cover, but uncertainty still reigned.  Without a full-time singer and drummer he didn’t have a band, Gary somewhat hesitant about returning to a piano bar appearance.  In the past playing a piano bar was a option, but this time with the current circumstances thrust upon him there might not be a choice.

A Temporal Progression…………….#143 (the 70’s)

September 14, 2016

Returning to the Piano Bar

Gary no longer an aviator of the road having removed himself from the  band, realizing it’s been over ten years since enacting a solitary performance.  But once seated behind the piano bar at the Congress Inn on the NW Expressway the melodious conversation flowed from the keyboard with appreciative acceptance.   The musician was thankful for his Penn Apartment rent painting agreement and had a good working relationship with management, Gary and Jan having set their sights on an up upstairs  balcony endowed, 2-bedroom apartment with a fireplace and street entrance if and when it became available.  As temporal progression would have it, it became available the manager agreeing to let the couple make the  move.   Life at the Penn Apartments improving, Jan  responding to a front desk clerk position at a motel north of the Oklahoma State Capitol on Lincoln Blvd. acquiring some front desk experience working with band member Bob Wallace’s lady companion Vicki at a motel north of the Oklahoma State Capitol on Lincoln Blvd.

The Congress Inn on the NW Highway

Good for cementing everything but a relationship

Good for cementing everything but a relationship

Paul Ambrose, the cousin of the anomalous Glenn Froman also finding  residence at the Penn Apartments,  his latest project being to purchase a parcel of rural property and construct a residence.  Paul succeeding in his prospective,  acquiring land in nearby  Cleveland County, the property just south of the small community of  Noble, an unincorporated rural location but having no water or sewer facilities.  Paul determining an immediate enhancement of a well would be first on the agenda, followed by  the installation of a septic system asking Gary if he would be interested in assisting with the project for a token reimbursement for his time and mileage.  Paul contracting out the drilling of the well but his reflected heritage of  rural Indiana concluding a home-made cement septic system rather than a store-bought tank was in order.   The two workers intimating the ground  removal,  forming a split level  double tiered cement block application at Paul’s direction,  Gary retrieving his electric cement mixer from the S.W. 46th Terrace residence, the idol mixer once again finding a meaningful purpose.   The construction of a cement block residence beginning, the staking of the dimensions completed but discovering an immediate problem the two never having laid cement blocks  unable to  properly establish the all important corner blocks.  A call to a professional to square the corners enabled the two to begin the process of composition,  the walls of the project beginning to arise with a semblance of identity.

TransCon Terminal Oklahoma City

Paul having use his Kerr McGee eighteen wheeler employment as a stepping stone to a trucking company who had turned down him down for lacking sufficient road experience,  his new employer being the  nationally celebrated TransCon trucking company,  acquiring a  Oklahoma City to Los Angeles route.  During his Kerr McGee employment after his deliveries he would deadhead back to Oklahoma City, but with TransCon there was no deadhead, at times would have to lay over in Los Angles waiting on a return load.   The trucker finding the longer away from home time element limiting his availability for his home building project and to top it off  discovering that his live in girl friend was involved in extracurricular activity during his long haul road absence.   His disparity bringing a halt to both ambitions,  Gary somewhat what thankful to be relieved of his commitment to Paul,  the laying of the blocks wasn’t as difficult as he had anticipated, but the time to commute to Noble and the lifting and pouring of the 94 lb sacks of cement in the mixer what was troublesome.

Lincoln Blvd’s line of Motels

A return to the memories of the past accepting  a piano bar nightly performance at an old club with a new name, The Fifties Club.  The Untouchables last having played this  Classen Blvd. circle club over ten years earlier  when it was endowed as the Hi-Lo.  What was ironic,  the new owners Bob and Julie, a couple from Boston whom Gary remembered from the old Hi-Lo Club days mainly because of the their Bostonian accent.  Jan’s finding a front desk assignment at another  Lincoln Blvd motel which looked to be a steady position, Gary having visited with the two young owner entrepreneurs Art and Don on several occasions while waiting for Jan to finish her shift, the two very much aware of Gary and Jan’s relationship.  Gary did have some reservations about her fraternization with guest after discovering a letter written to a visitor from Australia that was worded such as for him to believe there was more going on than a platonic relationship,  but he and Jan worked thru the event.

Gary was blindsided by the news,  Jan announcing that Art and Don had acquired an additional motel in Albuquerque and that Art had asked her to join him.  Gary at first being naive at her leaving and at a loss to understand the unfolding events, then the cloud lifted, there was more going on than just a job opportunity recalling an earlier event the past week. Arriving early to pick her up, waiting a half hour, then watching as her and Art suddenly descended from an unoccupied room and when questioned she shrugged it off that the two were just checking a vacancy.  With the news about Albuquerque Gary confronted her about her and Arts relationship,  she answered by gathering her clothes and accouterments from the apartment loading them in her car, apparently having made up her mind to end her and Gary’s year-long relationship.   Not wanting a further confrontation he remained outside the apartment until the lady had finished then watched as Jan, her dog Mitzi and the Ford Torino left for  Albuquerque.

 With Jan’s sudden departure the increments of despondency prevailed,  the bereft of her presence giving misguided delusional thoughts about Gary’s worldly presence.  The Fifties Club nightly engagement and his music  providing a solace in attributions of despair, the club owners recognizing his despondency introducing the musician to an unexpected person, Arts previous girl friend.  Gary not interested in dwelling on subject of her and Art’s relationship but remained in conversation long enough to determine that she wasn’t surprised at what had transpired.  Gary making  a last effort placing a call to Albuquerque on Jan’s birthday, but being told that she was unavailable but found Art coming on the line,  the conversation was brief,  confirming Arts’ interest in Jan but non committal as to his intentions, Gary upon hanging up  placing a call to florist sending a dozen roses to Albuquerque.  The musician nights at the club were tolerable a result of meaningful resolve,  it was the daytime hours of painting in the solitude atmosphere of a vacant apartment that he would browbeat himself searching for an answer to whether he was the perpetrator or victim of the turn of events.  Gary having finished his responsibility at the Club for the night, owners Bob, Julie and another couple extending the musician an invitation to join them for a bite to eat, when he was told he had a phone call.  Gary perplexed, in all his years of playing never remembered having received a phone call while at work, answering it was Jan.  She was calling from the 7-11 across the street from the Penn Apartments,  unable to get in the apartment because she didn’t have a key to the deadbolt, Gary was dumbstruck, “what happened?”  Jan “We can talk when you get here.”.


The Impossible Dream…….#144 (the 70’s)

September 12, 2016



Gary having been blindsided by Jan’s abrupt decision to leave and even more awestruck with her return from Albuquerque.  Her arrival was short-lived, her Father to undergoing surgery in Wichita, feeling it was essential to be with the family.  Their renewed convergence found a lot of water under the bridge to attend to, but brought forth a promise and a pledge of certainty, including the enraptured vowels of matrimony.


The evolving circumstances having come unexpectedly, Gary acknowledging it was time to finalize his year-long emprise of marriage separation from Kaye with a final decree.  Having maintain a cordial repose with her, but uncertain on how to approach the subject of initiating the legal aspects to recede their 14 year marriage.  The two coming to an agreement, meeting in concert with her attorney on Classen Blvd,  Gary releasing the house and all possession, save his 10-year-old pickup, band equipment and clothes, the question of custody and child support a non-issue.   The meeting was  congenial with no animosity.


 At its conclusion,  they were within walking distance of a Beverly’s at 23rd and Classen Blvd.,  Gary asking, and Kaye accepting an invitation to dine, no longer as husband and wife but as friends.  Gary walking back to his pickup questioning a hollowness that came over him, a loss, experiencing an unexplained solemn emptiness or was it explainable?




Bud Murrow having come thru his surgery but remained in the hospital for an extended stay, Jan returning to Oklahoma City.   The couple discussing the  legal albatross that hovered over their heads,  not being able to marry in Oklahoma until the six month waiting period was absolved, Gary coming up with an alternative solution, the state of Texas.


Together the couple were on a mission, together shopping for the necessities to endow a marriage ceremony.  Jan discovering a pair of matching 16 kt. gold wedding bands embossed with a striking one of a kind rose design at Kay Jewelers and relegating their wardrobe to JC Penny’s, the bride finding a wedding suitable dress adding appropriate headdress, Gary sporting a new three-piece european style suit.  A decision being made, the couple deciding to journey to Wichita Falls, setting Thursday December 8th as the day of matrimony.  Gary researching Texas matrimonial law somewhat concern about any special out-of-state resident requirements.  The only Texas out-of-state requirement applicable to him was providing a copy of the divorce court filing which he had yet to receive therefore deciding it might best not to mention a previous marriage, let alone a divorce.


Gary calling upon Jerry Willis, his best friend and the best man at his marriage to Kermece (Kaye) 14 years ago to once again acquire the role of best man at a wedding.   Gary, Jan and Jerry engaging the Torino for the morning  2 1/2 hours matrimonial journey to Wichita Falls.  The threesome advocating a stop on the H. E. Bailey Turnpike for breakfast, glancing at the menu, the group was made aware they were traveling south, grits were available.


 Arriving at the  Wichita Falls County Courthouse, directed to the county clerks off in room 250 on the second floor,  the couple initiating the paper work being directed to a waiting area, their name to be called when a judge was available.  The small wedding party entering the judges chambers, a very congeal judge introducing himself , giving a brief explanation of what was to transpire and remarking that couples dress appearance was very presentable. Gary gathered from the intonation of the judges voice that not many Texans dressed for the ceremony.  With the Judge’s pronouncement, “I now pronounce you husband and wife”,  it seemed like the clouds of uncertainty had parted and a basking sun now lit the road of life.


 The drive back to Oklahoma City was somewhat anticlimactic compared to the anxiety on the way down,  upon arrival at their apartment Jan placing a call to her parents home in Kiowa discovering that her father who remained in the hospital had taken a turn for the worst, making a decision not to add to the families turmoil by disclosing the events of the day.  Gary wasn’t surprise,  during a visit to her parents overhearing a conversation between Jan and her mother that she could marry anyone she wanted to, but not that musician.  Jan’s decision not to mention the marriage wasn’t the worst news that day, informing Gary that she hoped he would understand but because of her dad’s condition she was leaving for Kiowa to be with family.


 Gary’s wedding day just got rained on, there were no words for his disconsolateness, spending his wedding night alone,  but even with this turn of events every cloud has a silver lining, including this day. The groom having achieved the impossible dream,  reaching the unreachable star, Janet Lea Murrow.