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

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.

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