A Celebrated Arrival………….#108 (the 60’s)

Never to young to start – Dorson Scott Willson

A celebrated arrival, Thursday July 11th 1963, the Willson family blessing the world with a 6 lb. 8 oz. son at Mercy Hospital, their son named after his great-grandfather Dorson Willson,  the couple agreeing on the middle name of Scott, tantamount to one of the seven mercury astronauts Scott Carpenter, so as to not to saddle the new arrival with an elderly calling name such as Dorson.

The new-born being the center of both grandmothers attention, Gary’s mother Betty having flown in from Oakland, his father and sister Nancy  arriving by car.  The two grandmothers first visit to the hospital was omnibus,  Helen, while driving to the hospital amidst a five-inch downpour,  exited the Exchange Avenue bridge unaware of the standing high water,  the car coming to an abrupt halt, water entering at door level.

Gary’s families stay seemingly brief, and with their departure came a new realm of responsibility, the couple soon discovering the proximity of Kaye’s Mother and Grandmother,  living but four doors away was a blessing.   With the family expansion and Kaye’s return to work,  Gary continuing to pursue his night-time musical ambitions, but finding it necessary to adjust his daytime schedule to accommodate the new commitment.

A learning experience was enhanced,  a 2:00 a.m. rocking chair and bottle feeding when coming home from the club,  an early morning wake-up call,  rising each weekday morning to fashion eight bottles of formula from condensed milk and corn syrup in a sterilizer,  but drawing the line with washing diapers, placing a call to employ a scheduled diaper service.  Adjusting to life’s new atmosphere, so ever grateful  for the willingness of Grandma Sarah to attend to Scott when needed, allowing him to pursue his avocation, and retain a measure of diversified activity.

The Untouchables were engaged at Gene’s Spa-Yen Club at the corner of S.E. 29th and Air Depot Blvd.  in Midwest City,  the crossroads ascertained as the northwest boundary of  the prestigious Tinker Air Force Base.   William Eugene Anthony’s  enterprising business was circuitous,  a private club, a  restaurant – bar and liquor store all-encompassing this paramount corner location.    Gary finding Gene and his  wife Ruby very affable and their business practice somewhat anomalous, the clubs distinctive clientele adhering to strict procedures and dress codes.  Nonmembers desiring to secure club admittance were required to sign in as guest and a requirement on weekends, that all male customers entering after 8:00 p.m. to adhere to a dress code that included a tie, which could be borrowed from an ample supply held in custody at the entrance.

During an evening performance, Gary became aware of an inquisitive person giving his Fender Rhoades #112 the once over.  During a fifteen minute break, the  person approached Gary, introducing himself as the pianist with the Righteous Brothers and that the touring recording artist would be performing tomorrows afternoon and evening  at the Spring Lake Amphitheater.   He related he had called several  music stores in search of replacement reeds for his Wurlitzer electric piano,  only to discover none were available,  but a person at the Hammond Organ store mentioned that Gary had the only Wurlitzer electric in the City and that he was playing at the Spa Yen.  Gary having discovered long ago from experience,  to keep a supply of the hard to find Wurlitzer replacement reeds.

Without hesitation he offered what the Righteous Brothers pianist needed,  and in exchange,  he was issued an invitation to attend the matinée as a guest, and a introduction to Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield.    The following afternoon, Gary and Kaye arrived at the amphitheater,  Gary mentioning the situation at gate, being seated,  the two waiting but apparently the pianist was too involved with the show to give Gary the promised recognition.  The couple remained enjoying the show, Gary giving thought at its conclusion about approaching the pianist once more, but deciding  it wasn’t that important.

An unexpected phone call from The Ruth Sallee Agency,  Ruth inquiring if the Untouchables would be available for a private engagement two weeks from Saturday at the exclusive Sportsman’s Country Club at  Northwest 39th and Meridian Avenue.    Ruth then extended a question to Gary that had never before been queried,  Would you have a problems playing a Gay function?”   Gary hesitated,  speaking for himself,  saying that “he didn’t have a problem with the clientele,  but would like to confer with the other members of the band”.   Gary never having been in the Sportsman’s Club,  asking about the facility.  Ruth explaining,  the Sportsman’s Country Club was a gated estate,  with on-ground parking,  and for this booking,  off duty Oklahoma City Police officers would be present for security,  and payment would be made by Robinson Janitorial Service, a downtown company that serviced high-rise business offices.

Gary placing calls to the other members of the band relating the  particulars of the engagement.  When explained,   Glenn’s reaction was one of curiosity as was sax player Larry Burns.   Jerry never questioned or commented when told of a Gay booking.  Ruth was correct about the security,  an uniformed officer was at the entrance gate directing passage to the parking area,   where another officer stood watch over the parking that was rapidly being consumed with luxurious Lincolns and Cadillac’s.   Upon entering,  the Untouchables finding the stage addressing a large dance floor and banquet area, the participants already beginning to encompass the ballroom.  Gary’s curiosity was fastened,  having faltered about groups such as this,   but never acquiring an association.   Surveying the assembly,  discovering the men outnumbering the women,  four to one,  which for a dance wasn’t  unusual,  the grouping covering a wide age spectrum,  giving an appearance of normalcy.

The first songs finding a listening audience,  but when the dancing commenced Gary immediately recognized something was amiss with guitar playing Jerry,  he seemed to be paralyzed,  his expression was one of perplexity,  then realizing he was trying to make sense of the scene before him,   the couples on the dance floor all dancing with like genders.   It was obvious,  it became apparent that Jerry failed to comprehend when  being informed of the distinction,   he mistaken the meaning of the word Gay as denoting happy.   During an intermission Gary made the acquaintance of the Robinson’s,  the custodians of the gay groups association,  finding the steward and his wife participating only as administrators and organizers for the activities of the gay alliance.

It became very apparent that many prominent business celebrities were active members of this shadowed community.   The band concluding their engagement to a very divergent but appreciative audience,  discerning their first exposure to a new culture diversity and an experience of empathy, but appreciative that music knows no bounds.

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