The Musicians Union…………………#96 (the 60’s)

The Ford convertible,  jaded from its sprint of traversing mountainous palisades and decumbent plateaus,  enduring searing temperatures and component failure,  finally achieving a placard of recognition at Gary’s parents’ house on Greenly Drive in Oakland.  The itinerant musicians fulfilling a 25 hundred mile quest from Indiana,  adding  a new chapter to a musical score entitled, California.  Over a year having transpired since Gary’s last return home, an air of  the past remained, recollections, the experiences,  and memories of youthful endeavors,  his boyhood home still commanding an atmosphere from its anointed past.

Unloading the Ford of its melodious burden,  the three comrades would domicile in Gary’s old room,   the downstairs apartment with its private entrance, his parents welcoming Jerry and Glenn with an acceptance equating family.  The travelers ready for an intermezzo, a time to reflect and chronicle an itinerary, to survey the location of local entertainment facilities and make an assessment of their employment possibilities.

The music trio discovering an unexpected dilemma,  California was an organized labor union state.  For a musician or musical group to conference or audition for employment required membership in the American Federation of Musicians, an affiliate of the AF of L,   with its approximately 100 member national and international unions retaining jurisdiction over a craft,  and full autonomy of their own affairs, gaining the right to bargain collectively for wages, benefits, hours, and working conditions.

Gary and Glenn finding upon closer examination, all services, including bartenders,  waitresses, delivery services,  involving a public entertainment facility in the San Francisco Bay Area embraced mandatory union membership.  An inquiry to musicians union  Local 6 in San Francisco, found that union membership for non-residents including first quarter dues would equate to $185 dollars per member.   The Trio was taken aback with this precipitous cost prohibitive disclosure, aspirations beginning to ebb,  with their diminishing funds a solution was not readily conceivable.


Perseverance,  resolution prevailed, Gary was not without supposition, advancing a prospective solution,  a telephone call to his aunt Loretta in San Francisco presenting the bands obstacle.  The phone call to his Aunt enabling the nephew to present the bands financial predicament and the possibility of financing of their union membership with the promise of repayment


The three musicians arriving in San Francisco at her Steiner St. address, Gary recalling the last time he was there was after his uncle Dino had passed and he was in high school.  His aunt letting him use his uncle’s Cadillac for school, but it was short lived as the Cadillac Fleetwood was deemed property of the estate and would have to remain in storage until settlement.  Concluding their brief stay,  Gary’s Aunt counting out six one hundred dollar bills, with a smile adding not to worry about paying it back. Gary always believed his aunt Lori was special, now she was esteemed, the musicians extending their gratitude, Gary not so much for the monetary capital but for her confidence in their endeavor.

The 53 Ford convertible once again burden with instruments parlayed across the scenic Bay Bridge, taking the ninth street exit,  entering the Tenderloin District of San Francisco achieving their destination at 230 Jones St., an edifice constructed in 1924 and home to the American Federation of  Musicians,  Local #6.   Entering the reception area of  the august building, finding two others prospective members seated,  the three inductees receiving application forms and upon completing the calligraphic aspects were asked to remain seated until called upon.

Gary noticing that one of the waiting individuals entered a large open accommodation room, removed a violin from its case and commenced to perform.   The second  seated person rising, accompanied by a representative to another adjoining area, with sheet music in hand seated himself at a  piano invoking the composition.  After a brief wait,  a union representative approached the remaining three, cordially addressing them about retrieving their instruments from the car,  then questioning whether they  preferred to apply as a group or individuals.  The decision was forthwith, it would be a group effort, the three hastily setting up the instruments, the official observer remaining  present, the Untouchables rendering a version of Yellow Bird, an acknowledged new instrumental hit by Arthur Lyman.  The official nodding his approval, the association with the union was confirmed,  with their payment, the Untouchables were now card carrying union members of San Francisco’s American Federation of Musicians, Local 6.


Approaching the bay bridge,  the Untouchables in an animate mood, one of confidence and attainment, now possessing the credentials to prospect for fame and fortune in the world of california entertainment.   The convertible beginning its traverse across the top deck of the premier span,  the view enabling the returning homespun musician,  to evoke memories of the past.  Their return to Greenly Drive, the group now accredited and licensing to venture into the land of musical opportunity, researching the bay-area periodicals.  Glenn and Gary finding many  perpetuating entertainment established venues with their prospective business hours and locations.   A decision being made to constrain their initial pursuance to the East-Bay rather than San Francisco, realizing they were strangers in a strange land,  but concluding that assertiveness,  cultivates discovery.

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