Another Affliction……………..#112 (the 60’s)

A every lasting event….

It was 12:30 p.m. November 22, 1963,  the television was channeled to WKY in Oklahoma City awaiting the Tom Paxton Show to begin, today’s guest,  the renown piano duo Ferrante and Teicher.   Gary was attentive as Tom Paxton started his opening,  but coming into view walking towards Tom with his back to the camera was Ernie Schultz the stations news director.   Abruptly turning, facing the camera, a hesitant voice making an announcement,   “We have just received a call from our Dallas affiliate,  President Kennedy has been shot, the network will be interrupting momentarily.”

Gary’s first reflection was one of  unwarranted disbelief but then the network broke in.  The tragic event of President Kennedy’s death traumatized the nation,  the impact of his death would not only affect the national scene, but the lives of those close to home.  Gary’s  immediate concern was the effect this grievous event was having on his wife who was visiting his parents,  Kaye having flown to California earlier in the week with their  four-month old son Scott.   A California phone call confirming the turn of events was affecting the normative at the elder Willson residence, which wasn’t very pleasant to begin with as Kaye wasn’t accustomed to the proclivity of Gary’s family.  Gary suggestion that it would be best to fulfill her round trip reservation rather than the hassle contingency of an early return.  With her arrival home, Kaye wasn’t looking forward to returning to work and the prospect of despondent co-workers at the Federal Aviation Agency.  The nation in mourning,  the federal government immediately inaugurating a thirty-day moratorium on all  celebrating events including live entertainment at all military installations.  The proclamation having an immediate effect on the band, the moratorium depriving the Untouchables of several crucial military base engagements.

The sudden cancellations of Military base bookings found Gary on the phone reaching out for engagement opportunities  opportunities from outlying  clubs in Harrah,  Seminole and securing a date at the Midwest City Country Club.  Gary receiving a callback from the owner of the Iwana Club in Seminole, an oil boom town of 25,000 in the 1920’s but now a rural community of five thousand.   The Untouchables fulfilling a weekend booking,  the  clientele comparable to  that of a VFW or Am Vets club,  middle-aged community folk, the band  targeting a variety of old  40’s standards ,  a flavoring of country western and pop hits from the 50’s including  rock n roll to an appreciative crowd.  The Untouchables with their piano, bass, guitar, two tenor, alto sax and clarinet variations of sound providing a music change from the monolithic sound  of the guitars, drums and bass groups that normally inhibited the nightspots bandstand.

Greeting a new friend

Greeting a new friend

Hammond F100 Extravoice

The pianist road weary Wurlitzer 112# model electric piano was succumbing to primordial demise, the internal action having  attained a halting deposition, the Pianist discovering his keyboard appliance was tired.   Gary was cognizant of a Wurlitzer dealership  on N.W. 23rd,  less than a block from the larger Hammond Organ Studios and acquaintance Larry Flowers who’s  family owned the Hammond Organ Oklahoma City franchised.   Gary conversing with Larry inquiring if there was anyway possible for him the secure a Wurlitzer, but to no avail.  Larry having tried to get Gary in playing an organ in the past,  mentioned a fairly new Hammond product that was on the market called The F100 Extravoice.  The single  keyboard 52 key appliance with a one octave bass pedal array also administered the ability to incorporate the sound of other instruments, but contradictory to a normal organ which proclaimed musical instrument impersonations, this reproduction of instrumentation was similar to a synthesizer.  Larry affording the Hammond to Gary on a trial without assumption and if not captured by its performance just return it.  The Extra Voice was put on trail with the band, in all fairness Gary wasn’t an organist  but it still seemed a dismal substitute for the Wurlitzer.  Feeling somewhat apologetic when returning it, knowing Larry’s down-the-street competition had a new Wurlitzer 120 model..  As in the past the first alteration Gary performed on his recently acquired Wurlitzer  #120 was to remove the pedal activated sustain bar from the lower two octaves to allow it to perform simultaneously as a keyboard bass and a sustainable piano  something he rendered to his previous Wurlitzer’s.

Welcome to Sheppard Air Force Wichita Falls Tx.

Welcome to Sheppard Air Force Base  Wichita Falls Texas

With the year coming to close, the moratorium on military entertainment coming to close, the future once again looked promising .  A New Years Eve booking was traditionally the “il numero uno” night of the year,  a band compensated three times the normal booking fee for this festive occasion.  The Untouchables having booked  the prestigious Midwest City Country Club,  the patrons all nonpareil in their  attire,  the tables lavished with hor ‘d vor’s,  the band welcomed to partake of the surroundings.   Upon conclusion of the nights musical interlude,  Gary accepting the gratuity for the bands labor, the clubs management paying in cash as was the accepted means of transaction,  unlike the Military Bases who paid by government issue check,  but willing to  cash it.  The club requiring  no documentation or  signature of acceptance,  Gary always suspicious that the declared amount of the bands fee was amplified by the club for tax write-off purposes.   Gary recalling the statement “nothing ventured,  nothing gained”  the band gladly accepting the undocumented  cash donation for its labor   The band looking forward to the coming year with  the return of  principal military installations at Tinker, Vance, Ft. Sill, Shepard and  the ten-hour excursion  to the West Texas with its  array of Abilene, Big Springs and San Angelo.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

The assassination of President Kennedy having a grievous effect on the nation,  Gary like many other young adults struggling with an introduction to the political arena discovering the paladin of leadership abruptly removed  having the door of their  acknowledgement slammed shut.  Overcoming the thirty-day moratorium on federally sponsored  entertainment was of little consequence compared to overcoming the  political vacuum left by John F Kennedy,  concluding that adversity breeds character.





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