Encountering A Challenge…..#145 (the 70’s)

The 3216 SW 41 St. rental

With Christmas falling on a Saturday in 1976, Jan insisting they drive to Kiowa for Christmas Eve,  spend the night and return in the afternoon after Christmas dinner, Gary knowing he would feel more like a spectator than a participant .  Upon arrival the musician noticing that with no formal announcement of their marriage there certainly wasn’t any congratulatory conveyances from the family, it was almost like  if they ignored it, it would go away.  He knew the family was aware of it because when the time came to spend the night, Jan’s Sister Gayle, her husband Steve Robb and her family took the guest rooms and there were no raised  eyebrows when Gary and Jan spent the night at the Kiowa motel. Gary realizing the families acceptance would come with time.

The Murrow family – Gayle, Helen, Lynne, Bud, Janet

It caught Gary by surprise, a change of  management at the Penn Apartments adding a second alteration to his and Jan’s life.  The first being when she confirmed her suspicion that she was  expecting,  the second amendment being that Gary’s rental agreement with the complex the manager who had secured his apartment painting in exchange for his rent and utilities was no longer acceptable, the new manager was no longer interested in validating the agreement.  The couple beginning a search,  scouring the newspaper housing ads for an available rental desiring to remain on the southwest side of Oklahoma City.  After several weeks discovering a suitable three bedroom unfurnished house on SW 41 St. that accepted pets, the landlord mentioning that the previous tenants were a rowdy undisciplined group and that he and his wife were happy to have the young couple as tenants.  Gary asking the congeal owner if there was any way he could waive the deposit, that his wife was expecting their first child and there would be a lot of unforeseen expenditures, the owner agreeing to waive the deposit.  The couple encountering a challenge having little or no furniture moving from the furnished Penn Apartments, the rental having a lone appliance, a kitchen stove.  The Blind Store,  a composite facility of charitable exhibits similar to the salvation army used furniture outlet was located at short distance away on S.W. 29th and Woodland.  The store accommodating most of their larger item needs,  refrigerator, bedding, divan, table, chairs and other household furnishings all well aged but useable, the  accommodation beginning to project the semblance of a home.

Bob Wallace

Joey Marino

 Band member Bob Wallace having returned from California, looking up “the Coach”,   Gary having mixed feelings about Wallace after the stunt he pulled  pawning Marino’s Drums for gas money to drive to California.  Wallace having found work singing with a trio headed by a guitarist name Joey Lee, the group working three nights a week at a club on South Shields.   Gary’s Fifties Club booking was about to conclude as was the club, owners  Bostonian’s Bob and Julie, the couple having made a decision to relinquish their lease.  With the return of  Wallace to Oklahoma,  Kenny Kannada still in the city and Jerry Willis still available on weekends,  Gary once again began mulling it over about putting the band back together.  Joey Lee offering Gary a job to play piano with his trio,  after the first week Joey let the bass player go, Gary’s once again adding the keyboard bass.  Joey Lee was going with a striking girl name Fran working from 5 to 7 as a nude dancer at a strip club on SW 44th and High St, on occasion she would sing a few songs with the band, her and Joey able to sound identical to Dale and Grace when singing I’m Leaving It All Up To You.   Gary never felt comfortable around Joey, the pianist aware that Joey and Bob shared the same smoking habit and on one occasion stopping at Joey’s house to meet Wallace,  finding Joey at the kitchen table with two piles of black prescription capsules. It appeared that he had bought a ketch of Black Mollie amphetamine’s to sell and was opening each putting half the contents in the new empty capsules, selling the cut product, doubling his profit.   The band securing three nights a week and a Sunday afternoon jam session at the strip club and it was too long before Bob Wallace resumed playing the drums,  Joey Lee having discovered the previous drummer was mesmerized,  coming to work hours early to watch Fran and fired him.  The weekend nights going well but Thursday was slow,  Gary coming up with an idea about an audience participation night based on the popular TV Gong Show, after several weeks his idea got gonged.  It was during a sunday afternoon jam session,  Marino who’s drums Bob had pawned on the way to California found Wallace,  the drummer sending a person in to tell Bob that he wanted to talk to him outside.  Gary and Jerry both suspected something was up, expecting for Bob to say something about going with him, but  Bob went outside on his own.   About ten minutes later a battered and bloodied Bob stepped back inside, Gary was concerned with the open gash above Bobs eye, telling him he was going to need stitches, Bob refusing.   Joey having beat the crap out of the street savvy Bob, Gary suspecting that Wallace offered restitution and probably didn’t put up much of a defense when Joey wanted satisfaction as well venting all of his accumulated pent-up anger.

A maternal Jan

Gary and Mitzi

An outward appearance having arrived, the maternal expediency of Jan becoming prevalent,  accepting an offer from Art and Don to resume a part-time front desk appreciation at the Lincoln Blvd Motel,  the couple welcoming the  financial endowment.  The second bedroom having been spoken for with the up coming event, the remaining third bedrooms rendering a prospective room for an additional occupant to assist in the rental cost.   Julie, the daughter of the owner of the Island Club on S. Pennsylvania  seeking refuge from a dissevered home life experience  in search of  a  temporary residence finding the Willson’s offer accommodating.  The temporal experience during the months of his wife’s pregnancy the couple acquiring meaningful time together exploring the realm of Oklahoma City,  the museums,  the governing capitol buildings,  traversing to the  surrounding public attractions and a host of opportunities and if nothing else  just browse together at Crossroad Mall.  Gary participating in a new experience,  hand in hand a regular advance to the library or a preemptive journey to the Blind Store for the low-cost necessities to provide for the coming event.

 The musician introduced to a new source of income for the band, the Canadian Club,  an after-hours club just across the Oklahoma County line on highway #152 in Canadian County not far from the small hamlet of Mustang Oklahoma.  The unique club  procuring entertainment commencing at 2:30 a.m. and concluding at 6:30 a.m. but was better known for its backroom wagering sessions, invitation only poker, high stakes pool,  the club dutiful patrol by several well endowed bouncers.   It wasn’t unusual for disputes to be settled in the parking lot, the Canadian County sheriff’ deputies staying clear of the club, but a hundred yards east just across the county line you could count on a plain clothes or  Oklahoma County sheriffs car on duty monitoring those leaving,  probably more interested in the gambling participants than the after hours band nightlife.  The double exposure on friday and saturday nights, the two gigs encompassing ten hours,  the band finishing at the Island Club at 1:30 a.m.  giving them enough time to tear down and travel the 12 miles to the county line and set up, Gary concluding the monetary compensation was worth the added effort.

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