A Commodious Location…………#102 (the 60’s)

Entering Oklahoma City

Gary having returned to Oklahoma from California,  ,  spending less than a week in Oakland.  The journeys, a  3200 mile roundtrip vacillating experience, accomplishing nothing  but a promise of  asseveration.   Rythm Tamer Troy Elledge wanting to assemble a band for a west-coast recording session.  Promoter,  Don  Red Eye Kinder offering to render the cost if Gary would return to Lawton,  including the retrieval of his  Wurlitzer electric Piano from the brokerage firm.    The three musicians,  Glenn Jerry and Gary looking forward to meeting with Don and Troy to plan rehearsals and time frame for traveling to the west-coast for the session.

The band members patiently waiting with promise and expectation, but silence.     band member Jerry Willis deciding to return to Frederick to inquire about Don and Troy,  discovering Don, his wife Martha  and Troy had already embarked for the west coast.  Gary was somewhat surprised especially after the expense for his return,  but  more disappointed at a lost opportunity for the band to expand its expertise to a new forum.  It was then an  anomalous Glenn came to life,  proposing the exploration of Oklahoma City,  having come to realize,  Lawton and southwest Oklahoma was a dead-end road.  the Untouchables were ready for a change,  and the  possibility of relocating to the commodious city might open the door to a host of bookings.  The band relinquishing the idea of hearing from Don and Troy, and with Oklahoma City  distinguished as the largest area city in the nation.   so might the array of opportunities be the largest in the nation

The band journeyed north from Lawton on Highway 62 on a Friday, brushing the small farming communities before traversing into Chickashay, a more than one stoplight town.   followed by the settlements of Blanchard, Newcastle,    and the notifying marker,  “Entering  Oklahoma City”, which was conveniently placed ten-miles before reaching the first signs of civilization.   The city limits entrance location giving validity to the statement  “the nation’s largest city.

Highway 62 merging with Newcastle Road,  then then joining  southwest 29th street, a southern crosstown access east to Interstate 35.   The band but a few blocks into Oklahoma City proper, discovering opportunity at their initial inquiry,  happening upon a sign advertising live entertainment at the Airline Motel, on southwest 29th.   The band negotiating a two night booking starting that night,  including a complimentary room.  The patrons of the club being an added benefit, more than happy to provide a wealth of information, providing the names of a substantial number of clubs that booked live entertainment,  the newly arrivals amazed at the prospects. .

The Untouchables discovering that unlike the loosely enforced liquor laws at the so-called private clubs of southwest Oklahoma, Oklahoma City presented a venue of its own.  State law dictated that wine and hard liquor could not be sold at lounges,  bars, clubs or any establishment except a liquor store.   What could be sold were the setups,  ice, soft drinks, water, and of course 3.2 beer.   To entertain this service for liquor, the facility was required to have a private club license and customers were required to register as members or sign in as a guest,  and as such, would provide their own bottled liquor which the club would conveniently label with the customer’s name.  The entrance door to most of the reputable clubs, in most cases were locked.

The entrance door to most of the reputable clubs, in most cases were locked.  To enter the establishment one would activate  a door buzzer and it would either be answered by a club employee or buzzed in from the bar.  The other options was,  if a membership had been attained, a key would be issued to the member allowing access to the door and they became known as  Key Clubs.   Non-member customers were closely scrutinized, the club management always vigilant for the ABC Board (Alcohol Beverage Control Board),  because it was common practice for the clubs to provide over the counter illegal sales from what was discretely  referred to as house bottles. .

The Untouchables finding  Oklahoma City night-life very accommodating ,  the city having no restriction on dancing,  the private clubs all non-union,  contracts verbal for the most part, with payment in cash and more important, regular house bands were for the most part non-existent.  The commodious City was virtually a gold mine of musical opportunity, with over 20 private clubs sponsoring live entertainment,  not including the nationally known service organizations, or the likes of the exclusive Petroleum or Oklahoma City Golf & country club.  It was not uncommon for a band working five nights a week to find the group performing Thursday at one club,  Tuesday & Wednesday at another,  and a Friday & Saturday for a third engagement.

The city night-life encompassed a variety of music genre, the Untouchables repertoire spanning everything from 1930′ pop standards, 50’s top ten classic to the rhythm & blues and the rock n roll  sound of the day.  The five instrument sounding trio able to compete with a five piece band instrument wise, also having an advantage price wise and another factor was the band not only took pride in their music arrangements but also in their appearance,  dressing smartly in suit & tie.

The initial booking leading to others,  the three musicians acquiring a sparsely furnished rental house behind  the Horseshoe club on southwest 28th and Kentucky.   The rental house’s location and price seeming ideal,  but the musicians soon finding the reason it was so readily available during their first nights of occupancy.  The band returning from the club their first night to their rental, tuning on of the lights in the darken abode, spotlighting an agglomeration of unexpected hosts.  The house was crawling with cockroaches, the floor seemed in transit with the scurrying dwellers, well sheltered and concealed by day, but rising to the podium at night.

Gary having never experience roaches before, and the first reaction was to immediately part company as it appeared they were outnumbered.  Cooler heads prevailed, deciding to find a chemical solution, Gary and Jerry making  a trip to a local open convenience store explaining the situation, but finding no remedy,  asking about available options.   The store  attendant conjecturing,  there was a 24 hour drug store downtown that might provide a product for relief.   A foray downtown to the corner of Sheridan and Broadway, the skid row section of town, the two inquiring about something that would exterminate roaches, the attendant pointing out the only available product,  Harris Roach Powder.

Returning to the rental,  an abundant supply of blue colored boric acid roach powder was distributed throughout  and the musicians awaited the results, the three deciding to resume a search for a suitable rental.  In the meantime,  every night the uninvited occupants with their blue powder covering would abandon their concealment and proudly display their colorful selves.   A commodious performance,  for a commodious location.

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