The Torpidity Of Prospects……..#100

The Medicine Park Hotel

Upon the bands return to Oklahoma, the Untouchables experiencing a lapse in full time booking opportunities, the American Legion, VFW, Am Vets, Elks and Moose Lodge were available, but all were weekend engagements,  additional efficacious bookings required delving into uncharted quarters.  Gary, Jerry and Glenn paying a visit to Medicine Park named after the Medicine Creek which flows through the center of town. The settlement was established on land purchased by John Elmer Thomas, a future U S  representative and senator in 1908, who envisioned a resort community to utilize the pure medicinal qualities of  medicine creek, which were well known by the plains Indian residents. Thomas naming the constabulary the Medicine Park Summer Resort and Health Spa.

The prospective musicians visiting the operators of the Medicine Park Hotel, The hotel, a defunct cobblestone and wood placard at the entrance to the 60,000 acre Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge.  The three story structure being completed in 1915, the fifty room hotel featuring a ball room annex, the focus of social activities in the 1920’s and 30’s.  The nearby Wildlife Refuge and Lake Lawtonka attracting thousands of people each weekend and throughout the seasons.

Medicine Park having become the “playground” for the state’s rich, famous and notorious.  Outlaws and horse thieves mixed with noted politicians and businessmen, soldiers and officers from Fort Sill, families, and the socialites established in the new cobblestone community.  the town’s colorful history filled with such figures as Will Rogers, Wiley Post,  Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd.    Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys became entertainment regulars  from 1929 through the late 1930s, with  numerous other famous bands of the day who made their way through Medicine Park in route to big city venues in Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Fort Worth.  Thru the years  the town and resort blossomed,  having upwards of 200,000 visitors annually , but after world war 2,  the hotel like the rest of Medicine Park, languished and moldered.

On a given weekend upwards of over 400 patrons would endowed a dollar to enter the hotel portals,  dancing and quenching their thirst for music and the amenities. The bands preparation included  acquiring printed hand bills, distributing them in the commercial parking areas of Lawton and outlying areas to broadcast their upcoming appearance.  The Medicine Park location, with its proximity to the wildlife refuge was secluded but still accessible to the local constabulary and the thousands stationed at Fort Sill.   The results of their visit, the two making a cover charge percentage agreement, the band providing a weekend musical interlude. The weekend found the cover charge gratuity far exceeding expectations from a large diverse attendance.

The night life possibilities of Altus was still a viable prospect, the town being representative of most military towns, the band having performed at the nonmilitary affiliated Colony Club, and Gary and Jerry  at the Pink Elephant with the Rhythm Tamers.   The band approaching the base NCO and Officers Clubs about bookings, discovering they were contracted months in advance and essentially used onpost groups, and with the VFW and America Legion remaining  mainstay engagements for Friday and Saturday nights.  Gary questioned whether it was the clubs  prominent music, or the clubs augmented game room that solicited the crowded weekend customers.   Inside the VFW, positioned at the entrance to the clubs game room was seated an uniformed deputy  in full regalia  representing the Jackson County sheriff department, inside, lining the walls,  the much sought after Las Vegas style slot machines.

The musicians were on the road again,  the band was traversing to Chattanooga Oklahoma,  26 miles southwest of Lawton.   This small community of five hundred was hosting their annual fall barbecue and rodeo.   Don, “red-eye”  Kinder,  a benefactor of Troy Elledge,  and the disbanded Rhythm Tamers,  having contacted the Untouchables to replace the defunct Tamers.  the band to perform at the late afternoon rodeo, and barbecue event,  followed by an evening moonlight dance.   The band setting up on a flatbed trailer adjoining the erected rodeo circuit arena,  to address the gathered array with several appropriate country songs.  Don Kinder presiding as the public address announcer for the rodeo event,  beginning with a welcoming announcement to all in attendance, naming the dignitaries responsible for this annual showcase occurrence.

It was the final announcement that froze Glenn, Gary and Jerry.  over the public address system came a proclamation   “would you all please stand as the band plays our national anthem”.  The two musicians looking at each other with a surprised expression,  never having been ask to play the national anthem.   Gary taking stock of the situation,  telling Glenn to play a continuous drum roll,  looking at Jerry,  saying, “the key of C,  redeye don kinder making a satisfying novice vocal attempt.   The bands Chattanooga rodeo national anthem  experience,  something to be remembered.

Glenn was struggling with his home life, and Jerry was seeing more of Frederick, having left the rental house he and Gary had shared.  Gary too having wandered, spending more time with Raydell Hennessy, better known as Jackie, the two having  reacquainted from meeting over a year ago.  Jackie introducing the pianist to her mother and young son from a prior marriage,  the relationship having its ups and downs, but without a clear vision of a future, and not speculating.

It was inevitable,  the bands bookings having become repetitious, innovation was at a standstill ,   Gary becoming solace in thought,  his world becoming an enclosure.  Having vacated the apartment,  as a necessity,  Jackie imposing on her estranged father Ray Carpenter for a place he could stay until other arrangements could be made.    Realizing a diversity of circumstances with the apparent paresis of the band,  the questionable relationships with Jackie,  immobilized  without transportation,  Gary’s  meaningful life was in checkmate, both professional and    personal,   the torpidity of prospect issuing him a summons,   return to California.

tp38

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