Archive for October, 2016

Awaiting Opportunity – #120A….(60’s)

October 31, 2016

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Saying goodbye to the Dugout Club was without fanfare, Gary deciding to take a breather before checking the piano bar opportunities.  An evening found, Helen, Gary’s mother in-law mentioning if she could ask a favor, inquiring if he would drive her to Houston to retrieve her 58 Oldsmobile Fiesta Wagon.  Helen having purchased and loaned it to her ex-husband Frank Grider,  whom had returned to Oklahoma city to constitute a painting business. 

    Frank having dropped out of sight the past couple of weeks,  and Helen’s concern being answered with a call from the Houston Texas police department,  the Olds had been impounded.  Gary’s wife Kaye,  deciding her and young Scott would encompass Gary and Helen to the reaches of Houston.  The four leaving Oklahoma City,  traveling in  Gary’s 63 comet,  discovering the five hundred mile drive to be very arduous, but  with the completion of the all-day venture, the four welcoming the advent of Houston and its surroundings.

The evening stop, the four enrolling a motel room giving the travelers some needed rest.   The beginning of a new day, the family entertaining a luncheon tour of  Galveston,  the overcast wind-driven waters of the gulf preventing a very much desired stroll to feel the delicate sand and consume  the semblance of the gulf.   The afternoon finding Helen completing her transaction with law enforcement, a trip to the impound garage, her Olds being released, Gary electing to pilot the paroled 1958 Oldsmobile Station Wagon back to Oklahoma City, Kaye to drive the Comet.  Both cars to caravan the return  by way of Waco,  Helen desiring to have a fleeting look at a town bearing many memories.  

  Continuing on, with a stop in  Arlington to  reside the night with  Kaye provincial cousin, Gary still somewhat confused at the actual relationship,  as Helen was also an only child, the relative being Helen’s cousin’s daughter, Mary Ogier, unable to meet her husband Paul, a pilot for Delta Airlines  who was on a flight.  The morning found the convoy of two autos making application from Arlington to Interstate 35 and a welcomed return to Oklahoma City.  Gary’s only comment about the venture was. the world of family and relationships never-ceasing to amaze one.

After a brief time off, the pianist was ready resume his ambition, having giving some thought to a possible new endeavor.   Approach  piano bar virtuoso Jim Mullens,  about forming a twin piano presentation.  Gary having no difficulty finding Jim’s phone number, placing a call,  discovering he also resided in the southwest part of town, the two agreeing to meet.  Gary setting up his Wurlitzer and Amp at Jims residence,   and with Jim’s piano, the two auditioning each other’s talent, singularly and together.   The session completed, interesting considering the contrasting styles, Gary satisfied with “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” 

Gary deciding to make a call to the Sallee booking agency, Ruth communicated an overture received from a Holiday Inn representative, soliciting a Piano Bar entertainer for a series of engagements.  The bookings would entail 30 day engagements at subsequent Inn’s,  providing wages, lodging,  and discount meal privileges.  A further inquiry revealing it would commence  with the Holiday Inn at Chickasha,    a 45 minute drive on the H E Bailey Turnpike,  with the subsequent place of assurance at a  Holiday Inn in Harlingen Texas,  a venture of over eight hundred miles.   Gary finding the offer interesting but realized, extended travel was out of the question, but  tentatively accepting the agents offer,  having something else in mind.   The thirty days of commuting to Chickasha,  would provide an opportunity for the musician to search for a more applicable contingency in Oklahoma City.

Discovering A Treasure – Jan Lawhon…. #121 the 60’s)

October 30, 2016

Jan Lawhon – opening a new door

Booking agent Ruth Salee penning Gary to a four-week club date contract for six nights a week at the Chickasha Holiday Inn, 40 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.  The motel located just off the H. E. Bailey turnpike exit on Highway 81.  The musician finding the club accommodations very facilitating, having a small raised platform bandstand with a console piano and a small dance floor situated to the right of the entrance door.  True to his contract, he was furnished a room and accorded discounted prices for meals, but being only forty-five minutes from  home, he saw no need to utilizing the accommodations unless for some unforeseen consequence.

The weekday evening clientele was mostly made up of road weary salesman, with a scattering of locals, the club normally having a last call by midnight.  Gary finding the  weekends more enjoyable with an opportunity to get re-acquainted with many of the locals who remember him from the Untouchables and their performance at J.C. Hunters El Rancho Club.  A secondary benefit was the El Rancho Club’s presence, discovering that  J.C. would cash his Holiday Inn check, Gary very much surprised, as a general rule Clubs never cashed payroll checks.

Oklahoma City Key Magazine display

The Chickasha engagement about to come to a conclusion, the pianist having never given much thought that a Holiday Inn’s featured live entertainment until now, and this experience opened a new venue of opportunity.  Gary having noticing a display in the current issue of Key Magazine about a new Holiday Inn on South Meridian Ave. in Oklahoma City, and after inquiring  thru the grape-vine, discovering that Herb Carpenter, the manager of the Hi Low club had sold his interest and acquired the franchise for the Pirates Cove,  in the new Holiday Inn West.   Gary was well acquainted with Herb, as a previous employer giving the Untouchables their first longevity sit down job in the City.

A strategy was initiated, it was a slow night at the club in Chickasha, the pianist making an excuse to leave early for home, only the objective was the Holiday Inn on South Meridian, not only wanting to visit with Herb, but also to check out the entertainment.  Upon arrival at the Inn’s location, he was conspicuous of the Holiday Inn West rural Oklahoma City location, a block south of Interstate 40,  its presence, adding a new dexterity to South Meridian Avenue the north south byway to the relatively new Will Rodgers World Airport.  The musician questioning its somewhat boon-docks location and also wondering why Herb  Carpenter would exit the very successful Hi-Low and invest in a club in the middle of nowhere.

The Pirates Cove

Gary was truly impressed with the clubs decor, especially with the booths seating positioned among the painted scenes of pirate activity and the ships rigging,   providing a captivating club atmosphere and high-lighted with its dance floor and circular piano bar.  A negro pianist was seated at the consul behind the piano bar and to his left stood an upright bass player, reminiscent of the Hi-Low’s Preacher Smith group, but to his right, on a raised carpeted platform, stood a  vivacious petite vocalist in a cocktail dress, positioned with a microphone and a stand up percussion drum affiliation.   The musician greeting Herb, Gary revealing his present music endeavor and past accomplishment, espousing a desire to present his capability.

Jan Lawhon

From out of the blue, Herb resounding with an interesting query about Gary working with the talented young vocalist, Jan Lawhon,  and inferring the probability of replacing the current group backing her.  During a break, Gary introducing himself to the commanding young Jan,  complimenting her vocal and rhythmic drum expertise, annotating  his past with Herb,  and mentioning his present Chickasha Holiday Inn situation.   The visit resulting in a cordial agreement to meet  the subsequent afternoon, to journey  to Chickasha where Gary’s piano and keyboard bass was set up,  the two to audition each other’s talent.

Recorded for Boyd Records Inc. in Oklahoma City

Gary providing the afternoons introductory journey south, discovering Jan to be very congenial, her vocal accomplishment demonstrating a resume of  talent,  having  recorded for Oklahoma Cities Boyd Records in the past, releasing several and even venturing a Hollywood audition for a possible film career along with many other  spotlighted endeavors.  Jan stating she was  currently a junior at the University of Oklahoma  striving for a law degree.

Arriving at the Holiday Inn in  Chickasha, the two providing a  bandstand presentation in the club,  each confirming their talent,  the two inherently compatible,  Gary discovering he was familiar with almost all of her vocal repertoire and if everything worked out, they could satisfactory start to perform with a minimal amount of rehearsal.  The returning drive to Oklahoma City, the two acknowledging a possible musical union to present to Herb, Gary coming to the conclusion that real talent isn’t elicit but intrinsic.

Jan Lawhon – Nonpareil….#122 (the 60’s)

October 28, 2016

Jan Lawhon

Gary finding Jan’s personality unambiguously unpretentious, an exemplar of congeniality, her musical repertoire capacious and never having experienced a person with such lyrical recall.   Her quality of voice totally acceptable and her timing impeccable, but for some reason standing before the upright percussion set of drums diminished  her ambiance.  Gary having a basic trap-set at his residence according it for Jan who found it more comfortable and relaxing being seated, especially between vocals.

Jan with her trap-set

The two discovering immediate success entertaining six night a week.  Gary at the piano bar playing keyboard bass and piano, Jan seated with microphone behind the percussion trap set on the raised platform stage.  The Pirates Cove decor was truly unique and the newly established Holiday Inn providing weekday seclusion for the road weary salesmen.  The Cove experiencing ever increasing numbers on Friday and Saturday nights as the word of a Jan and Gary venue spread.  The two settling in, to what almost seemed like a family atmosphere, making the acquaintance of Carl Ware the building contractor, George Moore the innkeeper,  Carl Wilcox the day clerk,  Bob Henderson the night clerk,  all installed by the coverall attired Lloyd Hobbs, the Holiday Inn owner and CEO of  H & H  Motels, Little Rock Arkansas.  Herb Carpenter, the clubs franchise owner, who you addressed as Herb when talking to,  but as Herbie when talking about him, delivered a star-studded cast to compliment the club, Wanda Marino and Mary, long-standing employees from the Hi Lo Club.

The Holiday Inn West

The 55 room Holiday Inn West

Gary having noticed another convenience at the new Holiday Inn location, besides its interstate 40 South Meridian location, a new Gulf Service Station, proclaiming the significance of Gulf Oils new affiliation with the Holiday Inn Corporation.  its credit card being honored by the Inn’s,  enabling lower wage earner who could garner a Gulf credit card,  the same opportunity as American Express courtiers,  thus greatly advancing  the availability.   The Holiday Inn remaining in an expansion mode, having opened with only fifty-five available rooms, the additional accommodations soon to  be recognized, and with  Hilton and Ramada lodging opportunities under construction on Meridian Avenue,  competition  would soon prevail.

A dedicated OU fan

Guitarist & Sax – Jerry Willis

Jan’s educational enrollment at OU limiting their rehearsals to accommodate her academic  schedule.  Gary according an index card approach for recording novel indemnities with unusual chord structures to facilitate unfamiliar new songs.   The musician was sustained with the inaugurated accomplishment of the Pirate Cove,  a limited responsibility and a charismatic vocalist satisfying the customer assemblage with the past and current array of musical intuition.   Gary advocating adding a portioned  accompaniment, approaching Herb,  suggesting a trial weekend augmented with the talents of his good friend guitarist Jerry Willis, who accompanied him on weekends in the past.   The Pirates Cove having finally come to full fruition, the weekend addition of Jerry ensured the continuance of the clubs prodigious capacity and success, drawing an increasing audience from  the bounds of the city.  Gary experiencing the best of two worlds, a piano bar paradise, the Pirates Cove Club, and a pianist dream, the talent of a Jan Lawhon.

Another New Dawning………#123 (the 60’s)

October 26, 2016

   

The words of President John F Kennedy on September 12th 1962 were forever embedded.   We choose to go to the Moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.

    

No single space project was more important than the enlightenment of Apollo 11 leaving the bounds of earth, achieving orbit before its sling-shot 238,900 mile venture. The   excursion would endure three occupants, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin a four-day journey before reaching their adventurous destination.  Sunday, July 20th 1969 discovering two of the three enriching their lives and the lives of all humanity,  descending to a never before explored  unoccupied realm to research  discoveries never before encountered.   Their objective fulfilled, ascending to join their compatriot,  a return  passage to earth to address a jubilant rewarding  public, the world welcoming a new dawning of mans exploration of the moon.

    

Gary’s wife Kay’s benediction was rapidly reaching fruition, the physical attributes displaying progress of the coming event.   The prodigious presence displayed among the populace was noteworthy by her appearance as the advanced condition was subject to a impromptu exodus.  Kay, her ninth month of pregnancy about to conclude accorded a decision to join her husband in accomplishing a Saturday night entrance to the Pirates Cove.  At the piano bar presentation, Gary and guitarist Jerry Willis paired with Jan Lawhon were in the midst of performance when Darlene,  Jerry’s wife approached remitting a communication to Gary at the piano,  “Kay’s water just broke, and her labor pains have started”.

The musical group immediately proceeding to intermission, Gary conversing with the expectant mother questioning a program of conjectures.   Kaye concluding, because the labor malady had just begun and the band having only one set remaining she could wait for the conclusion of the music interlude.  Gary insisting that they leave for the hospital but Kaye suggesting that Jerry’s wife Darlene could transport her to South Community Hospital on SW 44th  giving her time to be admitted and Gary could follow immediately upon the conclusion of the remaining session.

     

Gary arriving at South Community Hospital meeting Darlene thanking her, soon discovering the maternity floor void of populous except for the white-clad nursing personnel at the nurses station and to his surprise discovering Kaye was in delivery. The vigilance  beginning,  time having no motion when seated in a waiting area of a hospital in the early hours of morning,  especially with an expectation of a new arrival.   The quiescence was finally breached with the gifted presentation of a daughter,  Gary and Kaye proclaiming the bestowal of Marlo Cherise on July 27th, the world to acknowledge another new dawning.

     

It was daja vu or similar with the arrival of Marlo,  it seemed like turning the clock back, for the second time in his life experiencing the accountability as a newborn’s  father, and once again finding his daily activities altered with new family responsibility.  With Kay’s return to work he recalled his morning routine of the past with his son Scott,  the early morning wake-up call, rising to fashioning bottles of formula from condensed milk and corn syrup in a sterilizer, but times had changed. The sterilization procedure no longer a necessity with the advent of Similac, the days of home produced formula having gone the way of the horse & buggy.  Also with the introduction Pampers disposable diapers, the need for the pickup and delivery diaper service was no longer needed.

                     

Gary appreciative and every thankful that his mother-in-law and Kaye’s Grandmother resided  but four doors down the street, and that Great Grandma Sarah never hesitated to babysit when called upon. With the new family addition, Kaye’s FAA position and Gary’s steadfast employment at the Pirates Cove, a meaningful ere’ of life’s purpose was experienced, contentment prevailed with another new dawning.

Jan Lawhon and The Cove….#124 (the 60’s)

October 25, 2016

Gary, Jerry and Jan

The Holiday Inn West access to Interstate 40 enabled residency for the many  whom traversed the highways of discovery pitching a diversity of occupational endeavors.  Their weekday nightly patronage of the Pirates Cove provided Jan and Gary not only a sense of accomplishment but one of satisfaction.   Another benefactor of the Meridian Ave. location was Oklahoma City’s Mike Monroney FAA Center providing edification for air-traffic control and flight-instructors, the professionals and students from across the nation in attendance,  the assemblage also contributing to the Pirates Cove’s nightly capacity.

As the months progressed the two acknowledging a steady increase in regular city customers thru the work week and with the addition of Jerry Willis on weekends it was a thriving success.  Attorney Leo Thompson, a alumnae  of the University of Oklahoma College of Law was a fixture at the piano-bar weekday nights, it was obviously  he was captivated with Jan was who was young enough to be his daughter,  never failing to tip and request his perfunctory favor song, ” Till There Was You”.   Jan mentioning that on occasions Leo would insist on donning her with gifts, and from Leo’s cordial and father like demeanor the pianist was confident that their relationship was paternal.   Gary was somewhat puzzled about Ron another piano-bar regular, a slight bi-speckled,  self-proclaimed NASA engineer,  whom the pianist had questionable doubts until Bob Henderson the Inn’s front desk night clerk approached the piano bar to inform Ron of a message,  Gary able to over-hear  ” Someone called from the airport, the planes ready for your return to Houston”.

Jan Lawhon

Joy Lawhon

The pianist life at the Cove becoming one of unanimity,  working with Jan was like a working with a family member, the two able to communicate because of their analogous propensity in their music.  Gary never ceased to be amazed with Jan’s photogenic lyrical memory, Glen Campbell having just released a big hit, “Gentle On My Mind” , the young lady able to recall the lyrics in one sitting, especially the tongue tying last verse…

.        I dip my cup of soup back from a gurgling, crackling cauldron in some train yard
.             My beard a roughened coal pile and a dirty hat pulled low across my face
.       Through cupped hands round a tin can I pretend to hold you to my breast and find
.            That you’re wavin’ from the backroads by the rivers of my mem’ry
.       Ever smiling, ever gentle on my mind

Apparently talent was an inherit quality,  the Pirates Cover being introduced to Jan’s younger Sister Joy, who like her sister demonstrated a quality stage presence, exhibiting her vocal talent with a acoustical guitar.   The two sister somewhat contradictory in physical stature, Jan very petite, Joy a statuesque blonde proclaiming a flavor of the  hippie generation sporting a Haight-Ashbury wardrobe.  Gary confirming, although the two were about the same age, but there was a mindset generational gap,  Joy mentioning she was having difficulties having a pay phone installed in her apartment.  When ask why, she said it was just a way of expressing herself.  The two sisters, both graduates of Midwest City High School, diametric in personality, however they blossomed when vocalizing together,  a perfect harmony.

Gary Willson

A musicians friend – a fake book

It was during an evening presentation break that Gary and Jan were approached by an emporeutic person inquiring about their exigency for sheet music and if they might be interested in what he had to offer.   The pianist questioning his mitigation, the two accompanying the person outside to the parking lot, accordingly viewing the opening of the trunk of his car.  Displayed were stacks of bound music manuscripts,  better known in the music world as fake books.   Gary having never seen such a wealth of music, each books containing over 1000 songs with lyrics, chords and a single note melody line.  A gold mine of opportunity was thought to have been discovered until the price for each was acknowledged.   The pianist exploring the mother lode find, setting three large volumes,  standards,  show tunes, current hits aside, then because of the price having reconcile himself to obtaining a single volume.  Jan who had briefly departed, reemerged with club owner Herb Carpenter in tow,  excitingly espousing the find to Herbie,  the club owner without hesitation according the full cost of their selections.

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Little did Gary know the two would continue their music affiliation for over two years,  the pirates cove remodeled and expanded twice to accommodate the abounding clientele.  With Jan’s final departure, the ensuing years found Gary remaining at the Cove to highlight other instrumentalist and vocalist thru July of 1972, only later, to be reunited with Jan in a return to open her own club.

Proviso’s in Music……………..#125 (the 60’s)

October 24, 2016

A flowing uncertainty

The envisage of the professional musician was arbitrary,  Gary observing two categories of proviso’s of music.  Performers,  who have mastered the technique of instrumentation and assert the works of opportunity,  and the Expressionist,  those who are receptive to interpretation,  reflecting a language of compassion, emotion attesting its invitation.   Gary sometimes questioned his resolve, will an artist paint for the blind, will an author write for the apathetic,  will musician play for the deaf?   Some nights discovering an apparition of discontent,  but posturing  before the keyboard,  all disparity would absolve with the  embarkation of his musical presence,  an acknowledgement is conveyed with a testimonial to his chosen profession.

It was after 2:00 a.m. and Herb Carpenter the owner of the Pirates Cove was departing the club,  Gary,  sales representative Julian Kersey and attorney Leo Thompson  in conversation, ascertaining to Herb they would ensure the locking of the door when exiting.  The three remained in conversation for thirty minutes,  Leo venturing behind the bar to decant each a bourbon selection, the attorney returning with the liquid inspiration in hand,  the discourse continuing without interruption.   The phone ring was noted  several times, the pianist hesitant in acknowledgment, the club being destined as closeted for the night.   Giving its continued call,  Gary finally responding, it was Bob the night desk clerk from the lobby on the line.   Bob’s statement was perplexing,  “there’s beer running down the hall and into the lobby”,   the musician immediate response was “you gotta’ be kidding”    Exiting the club, hurrying down the short distance to the lobby area, finding  Bob was correct in his assumption,  there was a foaming liquid retreating from beneath the club entrance door and  navigating down the hall to the lobby.

   Re-entering the club and tracing the exiting liquid path, Gary discovering the culprit.   Leo, after venturing behind the bar,  had removed his coat, placing the garment on a draw beer spigot.   The pulling weight of the coat apparently turned on the tap,  the brew flowing down the apparel,  bypassing the drain.  Once finding the floor, the fragrant liquid flowed under the bar to the entrance door and down the hall to the lobby.   A question was raised on how much of the 15 gallon keg had been dispersed on it journey from the  club,  the answer remains in a state of uncertainty as likewise was the disposition of Leo’s coat.

A new volition for in-car music,  the under dash eight track tape player having made the automotive scene.  Gary visiting with a regular club customer who worked at a custom auto accessory shop on NW 10th installing car stereo systems,  including eight track players.  During the conversation about automotive eight track players,  the customer mentioned that they had some old trade-ins and if Gary wanted one, he’ll give him one.   The installation of eight track player was simplistic, Reba Green,  a Cove waitress finding out about his eight track appropriation  introduced him to a new group on eight track, the Mystic Moods Orchestra, their brass and string selection having the sounds of nature in the background, thunder, rain, wind.  Gary enjoying the diversity of the Pirates Cove clientele, it wasn’t unusual for road traveling tradesmen through the week to make gifts of their demo products to those who provided the club services.

The Pirates Cove 2:00 a.m. closing at times was advantageous.  Jan Lawhon who often visited with George Moore the Innkeeper during breaks, having acquired the okay to raid the closed kitchen,  and on occasion Gary would accompany her.  The double door refrigerator was stocked with various luncheon meats and condiments, the two sitting in a booth across from counter area,  able to partake of a sandwich to cap-off the night.  Even though this wasn’t a nightly event, the early morning resolution coming to a close after some of the late night customers started inviting themselves for a visit.  Bob Henderson the night clerk visited with George that he had a concern about persons wandering back in the kitchen area, all good things coming to an end, halting their club closing incursion.  Gary becoming aware,  the 30 plus hours a week at the cove was becoming an integral part of his life, acknowledging and satisfied with its direction.

Equestrians And Celebrities………….#126 (the 60’s)

October 22, 2016

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The Haymaker sales company, an entrepreneurial bartering and salesmanship of quarter horses and thoroughbreds, an enterprise established and promoted by the celebrated star of movies and the TV western series, Tales Of Wells Fargo, Dale Robertson. Dales equestrian dynasty, designated as the Haymaker Farm and Ranch, located in Yukon Oklahoma, a rural Route 66 neighbor to Oklahoma City. Annually the Haymaker Ranch would administer a sales of their prime registry legacy, with invitations extended to select equestrians and acclaimed celebrities around the world. Gary and Jan Law hon according the luminary status, accommodating Dale Robertson and the assemblage converging on the Pirates Cove at the Holiday Inn West.

The musician wasn’t taken back when discovering Jan Law hon was already acquainted with the movie and television star,  Gary knowing full well that her family was well established in Oklahoma City.   An introduction to Dale and his entourage was accorded,  but  the pianist more impressed with Dale’s older brother,  a more congenial person,  not surrounded by those of the populace seeking association with a celebrity.   Chet Robertson was the authority for the quarter horse and thoroughbred investments and ranch operations,  having also served as Presidents of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse,  and Oklahoma Horseman’s Associations.   Gary finding Dale’s brother’s conversation concerning his past more arresting,  especially when the brother found that Jan was an OU student.

Chet mentioning that he had graduated from Classen High in Oklahoma City and was offered a full scholarship to OU,  but accepted an athletic one from the University of Tennessee,  able to play in both the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl, but adding that after the war he finished college getting his degree from OU.   Chet relating some incidents involving his brothers career and his association with those from the west coast,  but  found his life in Oklahoma more rewarding.  Gary was surprised to find this rancher,  whose life was filled with the presence of celebrities, still pursued many personal passing ambitions, his stories dwelling as boxing promoter was much more audacious and engaging.   The pianist could relate to the boxing conversation,  able to share the past,  recalling the names and places of Chet’s attendance and promotional experiences.

Gary and Jerry Willis stepping out of the club into the lobby,  both thought they recognized the tall large burly rugged looking person making his way to the Pirates Cove entrance.  The two hesitating with their recognition of the visitor,  but after he spoke there was  confirmation,  it was  Chill Wills.   The Keyboard initiator having acquainted several celebrities in the past and was hesitant,  knowing that sometime they liked their solitary time,  but Chill Wills facial expression was the same familiar  one seen on the big screen,  an inviting pleasantry.

Gary having formed an opinion about cinema performers, putting more credence in  character actors than the marquee featured stars, liking character roles to that of  harmony in a musical score, both providing a sequel of provisional  landscape,  enabling thee atmosphere for the  creativity.   The two musicians stopping  Chill  in the hall,  introducing themselves to a patient congenial  Chill,  conferring that the two were members of the band,  then relating a particular scene from one of his motion picture  and listening to his comments.   Gary asking if could he introduce Chill and if he would he address the Cove audience with his famous ‘Francis  “The Talking Mule” voice.

Returning,  the musicians halting their performance,  Gary giving an introduction to Chill Wills,  the capacity audience welcoming the star with a  resounding applause.   The mountain of a man proceeding to the piano-bar,  and with microphone in hand,  confirming his famous Francis The Talking Mule voice.   Turning to Gary,  asking  if they knew,   ‘Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime’.   Gary never having played it,  but that never stopped him before,  playing a impromptu intro.  Chill,  holding the microphone, and to everyone’s amazement,   journeying  to a perfect impersonation of Dean Martin.   The capacity audience again resounded with accolades as the smiling  Chill Wills returned to his table.

Gary concluding that his introduction and visit with Chet Robertson was more impressive than that of his cinema and television acclaimed brother, and the applauded Chill Wills, was found to be like his screen portrayals,  a bigger than life congenial man with a bigger than life congenital heart. The Haymaker event providing a lasting memory.

A Pie Car Destination…………#127 (the 60’s)

October 20, 2016

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Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus having arrived in Oklahoma City with performances scheduled at the Fairground Arena,  Gary was not surprised at the array of circus participant and employees assessing the two mile journey from the Fairgrounds to indulge in the room accommodations and the  provisional refreshments  at the Holiday Inn’s Pirates Cove Club.   A conversation during an intermission by the pianist according an introduction to a Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey circus employee.  John was the rigging supervisor for the Flying Caceres,  an Argentine trapeze coterie that was performing with the circus’ Red Tour.

Gary  discovering there were two Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus groups traversed the country by train,  the Red Tour and the Blue Tour.  The musician finding John chronicle of circus life engrossing, Gary recalling the exploits of reading Toby Tyler, first published in 1881 in his childhood,  mentioning  his plans to attend a matinée performance with his young son Scott.   The circus artisan returning with a surprising invitation,  asking if father and son would like to join him for a behind the scene tour of circus life.   Gary without hesitation confirming his acceptance, John inscribing for them to meet him at the trains  Pie Car around  ten tomorrow morning.

The late morning,  father and son finding themselves at the railroad siding adjoining the fairgrounds in search of what was designated as the Pie Car,  the appointed place of consignment to commence the tour.  Inquiring with who he presumed to be a circus employee,  Gary discovering the Pie Car was circus vernacular for dining car serving as the mobile kitchen and dining room for the performers and workers.  A staff of five  preparing meals around the clock averaging 1,000 – 1,500 meals per week and  with  over 17 countries represented on the train the chefs finding recipes from each,  preparing a main line meal from a different country at least once a week.  Gary and his son  directed to Pie Cars  berth among the sixty car rail expedition that extended over a mile when traveling.  The two boarding, seating themselves,  striking the time, beginning to have doubts as to Johns  circus allegory and then their fear was abated as he appeared.

The threesome entering the fairgrounds arena building,  beneath the seating in the catacombs,  the preparation for the afternoon matinée was commencing.   In the animal holding area John led them towards a row of elephants, their posterior side prevalent,  a worker slapping the pachyderms  voicing a indistinguishable  command so the three could walk between them.  Gary questioning about the command,  their guide nonchalantly discerning that most elephant commands were spoken in German and everyone including the performers could speak what was known as a ciazarn, a circus dialect,  a blend of six languages, a time-tested means of  communication.   Six year old,  Scott was wide-eyed walking among the menagerie of well-disciplined animals and the ongoing bustle of activity, their guide asking if the six-year-old would like to sit on them, the boy sizing up the feat but declining.  Venturing into infamous clown alley,  in reality it was a capacious dressing room, the make-up creations were in progress and an overwhelming sense of celebration was experienced, a conversing dialect  of languages and excitement, Gary reasoning,  Clowns will be Clowns

Their circus guide introduced the two visitors to the rigging pulleys and nets, their host registering that he was not part of the assemble crew,  although he was well acquainted with the task having acquired years of experience in that position, that his responsibility was to measure and ensure the proper tolerance and tension was applied to the rigging apparatus.   Gary concluding, there was a myriad  of dedication and concern to be a circus laborer or performer,  your entire existence orbited in your discipline as many of the performers were called upon for roles in other segments of the program.   The tour continuing, the guest observing a heighten sense  as the performers attention focused to detail readying their preparations for the afternoon matinée.   John finally announcing he would have to depart as it was time to ready his crew for the upcoming performance,  directing Gary and Scott to a seating section beside the Circus Band, a corded off section  reserved for guest and dignitaries, The Ring Master making his appearance, the musician realizing that The Show Must Go On.

A Perception Of Stature……#128 (the 60’s)

October 16, 2016

The Holiday Inn West Pirates Cove club afforded many introduction to heterogeneous celebrities,  whether their attendance was the results of an extended business engagement or a halt in a traveling excursion.  Gary found the clubs accessibility to the airport and the nightly esteemed artistically talents of Jan Lawhon  were both contributing factors for visitors enduring the contemporary Inn.

   

 A group of industrial engineers with pyrotechnic expertise having assembled and were staying at the Inn, another  Canton Oklahoma oil well fire almost mirroring the 1965 fire having continued for days and was allotted national headlines.  Several capping and  extinguishing attempts ending in failure, the group anticipating the arrival of a renown acknowledged specialist,  a pivotal person for  compliance.  Gary cognizant of the currently newsworthy events,  aware of the reason for the accumulated congregation  and had captured an interest and definitive curiosity about the expected arrival of the  luminary.

 

The musician having witnessed the John Wayne epic movie  ‘ The Hellfighters’   and for some reasons having expectations  of a  6′ 4”,  cover-all,  hard hat,  oil slicked face leader of the oil-fire containment crew accessing the entryway of the Pirates Cove  to address the waiting group.  The luminary finally having arrived,  Gary witnessing a man of fifty plus years,  his faced weathered,  his once red hair now graying,   his physical presence no resemblance to the tall iconic John Wayne,  but the reputation of Paul  ‘Red’  Adair was statuesque and his ability iconic in the performance of his profession.  With Red and his crews arrival, the uncontrollable cataclysm was soon govern.

 

Gary having discovered  that calling upon visiting celebrities to come forward and perform  was somewhat futile,  the evasive reasoning was invariably,  “their contract wouldn’t permit it”.   Taking notice one night he immediately recognized  one of the two patrons having  just entered the club and during the  intermission break approached a now prodigious celebrity.   Gary and the Untouchables having backed this artist six years earlier at the Bamboo Club in Enid Oklahoma  a time when Roy Clark was somewhat unknown, having just experienced his first hit record.

The pianist introducing himself not sure if Roy would remember him, questioning the celebrity  if he remembered playing the Bamboo Club in Enid after his release of the ‘Tips of my fingers’, the good nature Roy with a smile responding, “who could forget the Bamboo Club”.   Gary followed up with another question,  “would he be willing to sit in?”  Roy responding that he didn’t have a guitar with him.   Gary acquiring a smile,  knowing that Jerry Willis’s  Fender Telecaster was reclining in the secure liquor storage room for Jerry’s Friday and Saturday night appearance.  Gary briefly leaving then returning, the six string fixture in hand, the guest entertainer acknowledge the telecast presence,  saying he would be happy to applaud the patrons, but  would desire some time to visit with his friend and put a dent in the bottle of scotch they brought in.

Gary and Jan returning giving Roy time to relax, Gary finally asking Reba, Roy’s waitress to ask if he was ready.  Gary acknowledging that Roy would perform,  announcing the presence of a guest and would everyone welcome Roy Clark. The country idol rendering  a thirty minute presentation, it was amazing after completing several musical exaltation,  the club capacity ventured from exiguous to  ‘standing room only’,

Gary wondering where did all these people materialize from, and concluded that Red Adair and Roy Clark have a common thread,  the perception of their stature is validated by the professionalism of their performance.

 

Essence Of Transport…………………#129 (the 70’s)

October 14, 2016

Gary Willson, the Wurlitzer and the Spinet.

The continued success of Jerry Willis guitar annotation  on Friday and Saturday nights convinced Herb  to prospect for an additional guitar virtuoso for the other four nights of the week.  Owner  Herb  Carpenter was not a connoisseur of musical attributes,  his aptitude of quality was somewhat questionable and paralleled that of most business applications using a bottom-line ledger protocol as a determining agent for hiring.   Gary and  Jan were both perplexed at the results of Herbie’s search,  anticipating a guitarist,  finding his quest resulting in an alto saxophonist from Kissimmee Florida.  Bob was new to the Oklahoma City area,  he and his wife residing in a Bethany apartment complex,  the two having found employment participating in its management.   Bob having played alto since his school years,  experiencing a band in Florida and was currently sitting-in with various city groups for enjoyment  when discovered and approached by Herbie.   Gary finding Bob very amiable, possessing a good stage presence and pristine ownership of the sound that flowed from the E Flat Sax.   The pianist was curious as to how Herb had approached him,  Bob relating how this customer, whom turned out to be Herb,  kept requesting the same song over and over again,  a disclosure indicating that the person may have sampled an abundance of liquid beverage.   Bob’s narrative continuing,  Gary’s suspicion being confirmed when he  acknowledged the repeated requested song’s title,  it was Boots Randolph’s current big hit Yakety-Sax.   Those familiar with the Pirates Cove club owner were aware Herb upon arresting several drinks his predilection of music would change from the quiescent pop songs to the more obstreperous  buoyancy of  country western.

Jan - the proud owner of a 1970 Olds convertible

Jan – the proud owner of a 1970 Olds convertible

It was totally unexpected, the sounding of the horn outside of his SW 46th Terrace residence drawing his attention, Gary going to the window curious as to who was causing the commotion.  Parked at the curb was a new red 1970 Oldsmobile Convertible and sitting behind the steering wheel was none other than Jan Lawhon.  Gary approaching, noticing the wide grin on Jan’s face, without hesitation she blurted out that the car was her graduation present, having just picked it up and wanted to share it with someone and it seems that afternoon he was the only person she could think of that might be home.  It was a hot afternoon and the first time the pianist had ever cruised around Oklahoma City in a convertible with the top down and the air conditioning running, but apparently it made the college graduate happy.

NW 68th St. entrance to the Haunted House

NW 68th St. entrance to the Haunted House

The Haunted House

The main dining room

It wasn’t unusual that on occasion Jan would call inviting Gary and Kaye to dine with her at the Steak & Ale or when the Sportsman Club on NW 39th street opened their dinning facility to the public, it was front and center for the three.  The most unusual invitation was to one of Oklahoma City’s most little known restaurants, The Haunted House, the only means to find its non-publicized location was to call and make a reservation.  It had been reputed that a murder had been committed in this large mansion now fashioned as an upscale dinning facility with valet parking.  The gabled, flagstone building, built in 1935 by automobile dealer Martin Carriker, featured flashy amenities for its time sporting a wet bar in the basement, a gas fireplace and a three-car garage. In 1963, the 74-year-old Carriker allegedly was shot in the head by his stepdaughter and two handymen. Before his stepdaughter was tried for the murder, her mother died and then she, after her acquittal, died of an apparent drug overdose.  Gary discovering the location was supposed to be on NE 68th but it ended just east of N. Kelly then resumed 1 1/2 miles further east in a wilderness section off of Miramar Blvd,  68th Ave coming  to a dead-end at the Haunted House.  If the entry road was any hint of what was in store for  dinning, there was no doubt it would be a  fulfilling experience.

The addition of the Floridian sax player was concurrent with Jerry guitar on Friday and Saturday Nights, the club now sponsoring a trio thru the week and a quartet testing the weekend.   Jan Lawhon’s two years music interest at the Cove was beginning wane,  her studies at Oklahoma University were accomplished and  a law degree was her next ambition.   A possible marriage also was on the horizon, her longtime boyfriend Len Cason completing Air Force flight training and was commandeered for duty in Vietnam.   As time passed it came as no surprise to the pianist that  Jan served  notice and would be leaving.

New Ramada opening across from the Holiday Inn West

Gary was reluctantly with the transition, a new era was exhibited at the Holiday Inn West and Pirates Cove,  an expansion to the Inn having been fulfilled with an 81 room complement and the addition of suites.   A search for Jan’s replacement having been promulgated,  an attractive folk singing  talent Carole Boyd auditioning with an array of exquisite vocal selections augmented with her 12 string guitar.  With the loss of Jan and the advent of Carole another requirement was necessary, the procurement of a drummer.  Gary was lamenting, he was back in the band business,  having journeyed this road before at Bob and Jerry’s Apartment Key Club,  witnessing two expansion and the demise of business,   To his surprise, The Pirates Cove maintained its level of capacity,  in defiance of the addition of a Hilton,  Sheraton, and Ramada Inn on the once secluded South Meridian Ave.   Carole attracting her own following,  delivering a moderate style of vocal conveyance,  Gary noticing the difference between Carole and Jan in their musical adroitness, Carole having to rehearse,  Gary arranging to meet with her several afternoon at the club on a regular basis to go over new material.   The regular rehearsal time was after lunch and before happy-hour a slow time at the club but soon attracted several regulars to witness the behind the scenes display.  On occasion the two would take the time to play request, the pianist introduced to George Grube and his younger lady friend Jimmie Joe.  Gary was aware that George was the owner of the Grube Advertisement Agency that did advertisements and bookings  for most the movie theatres, Springlake and Wedgewood Village Amusement Park.  He also became aware that Jimmie Joe wasn’t George’s wife but appropriately her favorite song was ‘The Sounds of Silence’.   As the months progressed the past recollections of a Jan Lawhon haunted the chambered abode of the Pirate Cove, a  silent apparition for her return must have found an essence of transport.  Gary not having visited with Jan in months noticing one evening that she had entered and was immersed in a conversation with Herb.  The pianist could tell from a distance that she had a desire to return to the Cove and unfortunately so could Carole.