Archive for December, 2016

Uncertainty A Destination…………….#99 (the 60’s)

December 14, 2016
The Twilight Zone episode coming to life

The Twilight Zone episode coming to life

The 53 Ford was laden with the band equipment and the clock having started for Jerry and Gary’s 1600 mile trek to Oklahoma.  Gary’s view of his East Oakland hills childhood home on Greenly Drive was in recession,  the landmark hillside mass extracted by the Gallagher and Burk quarry and the edifice of Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, a station for 6000 during WWII extirpating the advancing dysphoria that comes with goodbyes.  His brief return enabled a search for congruity, to establish an imprint rather than to absorb and reflect on the caliber of  his surroundings, but giving thought to his flight as an  opportunity or a prospective but still questionable and with his departure the chronicles would  remain as written.

View of the East Oakland hills

The black 53 Ford Convertible peregrinating southeast on Mountain Blvd. to McArthur Blvd.,  then eastward,  the voyage just beginning.  Upon entering  Castro Valley an immediate complication, a dashboard red light beginning to appear once again serving  notice of a generator in distress.  A sense of deja vu  beginning to prevail, it was the same problem experienced on the bands trip west.  After a brief discussion the two musicians concluding that it was better to  resolve the problem now while in the civilized world rather than later in the middle of the Mojave  desert.   Exiting the highway into metro Castro Valley,  the search for an automotive repair  facility coming to a conclusion.  With the installation of  a rebuilt generator,  the two stalwarts once again resuming the ambiguous journey,  Oklahoma their ambition,  uncertainty a destination.

Traveling south to Bakersfield addressing highway #58,  a goodbye to the assiduous Highway 99, Gary noticing as they passed a hitchhiker adorning a denim jacket, possessing a small satchel.   Gary recalling and mentioning to Jerry his thumbing days at Fort Ord and the unforgettable ride in the eighteen wheeler auto transport tractor-trailer rig.  Continuing on the two still keeping a watchful eye on the dash as a lingering doubt still remained but confidence was prevailing,  the generator was behaving normally.  This trip across the arid Mojave expanse to Barstow and beyond should go without incident.  Unlike their first encounter with the summer desert heat, unable to put the convertible top up because of a hastily storage arrangement, but with the top up, the enclosed transport provided a more convening environment.

Approaching Albuquerque,  the unexpected

Neither Jerry or Gary having bequeath the weather a single thought,  residency in the bay-area tends to make a person circumvent weather extremes, especially in October,  but approaching  Flagstaff  the temperature began dropping and it began to snow.  Jerry mentioning  a concern about antifreeze, noting that the Ford was devoid of the weather accommodating substance.   The two deciding on a brief stop to eat and gas up at a truck stop in Flagstaff questioning about the weather, the local attendant reassuring them that this early season wet snow would not hamper their travels.  The attendant was right, exiting town the snow ceased,  the Ford procuring its downhill eastward  journey and with their decent the sun once again proclaimed itself.  It was leaving Winslow that the two once again encountered the  hitchhiker in a denim jacket with a small satchel,  both commenting that this was the second time they passed this person.  Gary having thoughts about a 1960 twilight zone episode, The Hitch-Hiker,  only it was Inger Stevens appraising the same hitchhiker several time during her travels.   The Californian mentioning the scenario to Jerry, both laughing but it was agreed  upon,  if the traveler appears again, they would stop and accord his plight.

Inger Stevens – Twilight Zone, The Hitch-Hiker episode

It was leaving Albuquerque the two  in the Ford professing an up coming truck-stop noticing the person wearing a denim jacket and carrying a small suitcase satchel standing, thumb extending facing the oncoming traffic, it was the phantom traveler.   Without hesitation,  Jerry pulled the Ford to the side of the road, the hitch-hike approaching, thanking them, introducing himself saying he was voyaging to Shamrock Texas.  When questioned about his thumbing conveyances, he related it was the big rigs that provided his rides, answer the question of seeing him more than once, concluding it must have been a coincidence, the Ford making a stop while the rigs with their passenger motivated, but the twilight zone still remaining ominous.

Jerry and Gary’s arrival in Lawton fulfilling thirty-two hours of continual travel since leaving Oakland and that including their Castro Valley generator replacement stop, the two weary traveler ready for hibernation.   Glenn having rented a two bedroom duplex for June and the baby, extending an invitation to the recent arrivals, it could serve as a temporary reside for the two pending getting their own  accommodations.  Gary discerned it would take time for the group to reach a status of ascendancy,  but by renewing the initiative and boosting their certitude the band would be ready for the challenge.

The Torpidity Of Prospects……..#100 (the 60’s)

December 12, 2016

The Medicine Park Hotel

Upon their return to Oklahoma the Untouchables experiencing a lapse in full-time bandstand opportunities, the American Legion, VFW, Am Vets, Elks and Moose Lodge were available but all weekend engagements, additional efficacious bookings required delving into uncharted quarters, Gary and Glenn paying a visit to the operators of the Medicine Park Hotel.  The hotel, a defunct cobblestone and wood resort at the entrance to the 60,000 acre Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge that borders on the North Firing Range of Fort Sill.  The elevated floors having been condemned for residency, but the cardinal ball room of this historic structure still having a purpose.  On a given weekend upwards of 400 patrons would endow 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 adjoining the wilderness of 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 cover charge gratuity far  exceeding expectations from a large diverse attendance.

Well guarded but not secret

The night life possibilities of Altus still a viable prospect, the town being representative of most military towns, Gary and Jerry having performed at two non military affiliated clubs with the Rythm Tamers the Pink Elephant and the Colony Club, then later with Glenn.  The band approaching the base NCO and Officers Clubs about bookings, discovering they were contracted months in advance and essentially used on-post groups, but the VFW and America Legion remained a mainstay engagement on Friday and Saturday nights.  Gary questioned whether it was their prominent music or the clubs augmented game room that solicited the crowded weekend customers.   Inside the American Legion, 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.

GoodKnight Park Chattanooga Ok. scene of a Labor Day rodeo

GoodKnight Park Chattanooga OK. scene of a Labor Day rodeo

The musicians were on the road again situated aboard Jerry’s 53 Ford,  the band was traversing to Chattanooga Oklahoma,  26 miles southwest of Lawton.   This small community of five hundred was hosting their annual barbecue and rodeo.   Don  “red-eye”  Kinder,  a benefactor of Troy Elledge and the succumbed Rhythm Tamers having contacted the Untouchables to replaced the defunct Tamers, the band to  perform for the daytime rodeo & barbecue event and the out-of-doors evening moonlight dance.   The band setting-up station on a flat-bed 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 please stand as the band plays our national anthem”.  The two musicians looking at each other, 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” then reaching back to his childhood days when he played at home for family gatherings, the anthem returned, “Red Eye” Don Kinder contributing a novice vocal attempt seeming to have satisfied the country folk rodeo crowd.

Don “Red Eye” Kinder

 Glenn was having difficulty with his home life and Jerry was seeing more of Frederick leaving the rental house he and Gary shared.  Gary too having found other interest spending more time with Raydel Hennessy, better known as Jackie,  the two having got 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 was one of mutual understanding, both without a clear vision of a future and not speculating,  but accepting  each other.  A monotony was building, the bands progression was almost at a standstill, Gary becoming solace in thought with questionable answers,  his world becoming an aposiopesis,  beginning to have doubts he could change the status quo.  Realizing the diversity of the situations, the uncertainty of his relationships with Jackie,  the apparent stagnation of the band,  being handicapped without transportation,  imposing on Jackie’s estranged father Ray Carpenter spending nights at his house,  meaningful  life was in checkmate,  both personal and professional, the torpidity of prospect issuing him  a summons,  return to California.

Decry Of Autonomy……………..#101 (the 60’s)

December 10, 2016
Grayhound Scenicruiser

Greyhound Scenicruiser

The decision to return to California having been made.  Prior to his departure, Gary arrested his Wurlitzer electric piano to serve a sentence within the confines of a pawn brokerage establishment,  finding it necessary to capitalize on a  financial disbursement for its confinement.   Acquainting Glenn that he would forward the piano’s bail after accessing his destination, a decision as to its disposition to be made at that time.   The sudden advent of departure was of no consternation, the concerns addressing the band finding an impetuous attitude and a loss of focus was evident, Gary reasoned,  disappointment was inherit.

The Greyhound Scenicruiser adhering to its post at the Bus Station at 2nd and C  Ave. in Lawton   waiting for the traveling cortege to board, its ambition Oakland California.   Gary seated in the confines of the darken bus as it accepted the highway, not the conveyance of choice or expediency but opportunity,  the passenger indecisive in thought, endeavoring for perspective but objectivity still at a lost.   Awakening from his slumber as the Greyhound entered the small town of Pecos Texas  halting its progression giving pause for the passengers to stretch their legs.  Gary deciding to journey around the town square of this once anomalous railroad town,  imbuing the predawn cleansing air,  clearing the blemished atmosphere of the coach from his lungs.   Once again addressing the diminutive  station, discovering he had  subsequently let too much time wander,  his scheduled Scenicruiser having departed.   The stationmaster was quick to satisfy the situation, unbelievably  relating, another bus to Oakland would  arrive within the hour.

Greyhound station Pecos Texas

A shared traveling campanion

Regrouping from the perplexity of his miscalculation the abject musician boarded his supplemental transport continuing the venture to Oakland.   Seated at the rear of the conveyance dozing thru the predawn hours  waking to view the mesquite and sage brush span of southwest Texas.  Striking up a conversation with a fellow traveler, the new acquaintance mentioning it would be a time consuming journey to Oakland,  this Greyhound wasn’t an Express,  it’s was traveling to Oakland via,  El Paso, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angles, then  north to the Bay-area.  Gary doing a quick calculation, with stops included,  in all probability it would be another 30 hours before reaching Oakland.  It was during the stop in El Paso the fellow traveler, an elderly merchant mariner traveling to board a ship in Oakland, made a hoisting suggestion that Gary concurred with.  Listening to the mariner discourse his occupational adventures of the high-seas, the musician exchanging anecdotes of his experiences,  the two entertaining a bottle of orange flavored russian fortitude, better known as vodka to lessen the affliction of their travel.

It was early evening when the Greyhound coach dropped anchor in Oakland,  depositing the  weary recent advents.  Gary placing a phone call and with arrival of the 54 Plymouth,  Father and son relinquished the downtown bus terminal, the two stopping  before accessing the Greenly Drive residence,  Gary and his dad according a cocktail lounge not as father and son but commencing a conversion with glass in hand as two friends united, an acknowledgement never before experienced.

Gary’s mom and dad

Gary was home less than a week when a phone call painted a new picture.  The call was from Troy Elledge presenting the argument that he was needed and should  return to Oklahoma.   Don “Red Eye” Kinder,  farmer,  benefactor, promoter of Troy and his old band the Rythm Tamers offering to finance his return, wiring him the money and would also obtain the pawn ticket from Glenn to retrieve  the Wurlitzer Electric from its captive location.  Gary curious to the reason for this sudden interest, Troy disclosing that Kinder was going to finance a recording session with him on the west coast and was going to include the band.   The musician questioning the vicariousness of the conversation and  once again a paradox riveting his essence of resolve having just returned home.  His past departures from the family having embolden a sense of solitaire, feeling somewhat estrange from his kindred contingency and this trying dilemma conveying his decry of autonomy.  Gary searching for a logical reason to reject the Oklahoma offer, aware that there was but one identity capable of issuing a discordant to his returning to Oklahoma,  he waited for it to surface but to his wonder his parents remained silent.

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

December 8, 2016

Entering Oklahoma City

Gary having returned to Lawton Oklahoma from California,  the journey a 3200 miles round-trip vacillating experience accomplishing nothing  but a promise of  asseveration’s’, back to square one.   Rythm Tamer’ Promoter Don ” Red Eye” Kinder fulfilling his promise to enable Gary to return to Oklahoma,  including the retrieval of the pawned Wurlitzer Piano from the brokerage firm.   The Untouchables reunited with aggrandizement and with prognostications of  working with Kinder and Troy Elledge.   A convocation of the three musician, Glenn, Jerry, and Gary with Troy and Don was arranged with an expectation of planning rehearsals and a time frame for traveling west for the recording session.  The group waiting with promise and opportunity to displace the apathy which was beginning to infiltrated their resolve.   The appointed time having arrived and passed,  band member Jerry Willis returning to Frederick to inquiring about Don and Troy,  discovering that Kinder, 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  anomalous Glenn proposed exploring Oklahoma City,  having come to realize Lawton and southwest Oklahoma was a deadend street, the Untouchables were ready for a change and the  possibility of relocating to the commodious city that might open the door to a host of bookings.  The band relinquishing the idea of hearing from Don and Troy, Oklahoma City  distinguishing as the nations largest city in area,  so might an array of opportunities be the largest in the nation.

Oklahoma City

Commodious Oklahoma City

The band journeyed north from Lawton on Highway 62 on a Friday, brushing the communities of Elgin,  Cyril , Cement,  before traversing into Chickasha,  followed by 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 nations largest area city.   The journey on Highway 62  terminated at Newcastle Road ending at  SW 29th St, the southern cross town  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 S.W. 29th St.   The band negotiating a two night booking starting that night including a complimentary room.  The patrons of the club were an added benefit, more than happy to provide a wealth of information, providing the names of a substantial number clubs that booked live entertainment,   the newly arrivals amazed at the prospects. .

The Untouchables discovering that unlike the loosely enforced liquor laws at the Moose, Elks, Am. Vets, American Legion, and the so-called private clubs of southwest Oklahoma, Oklahoman 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 was the set-ups, ice, soft drinks, water, etc..  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 their name.  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 it became known as a Key Club.   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 Trio

The Untouchables Trio

Vocal time for Gary

Vocal time for Gary

Glenn's showmanship or antic but entertaining

Glenn’s showmanship or antic – but entertaining

The Untouchables finding  Oklahoma City night-life very accommodating ,  the city having no restriction on dancing,  the private clubs all non-union, contracts verbal with payment in cash and more important, regular  house bands were for the most part non-existent.  The 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 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 sound wise, also having a monetary advantage  and another factor was the band not only took pride in their music arrangements but also in their appearance,  dressing smartly in suit & tie.

Rental at SW 30th & S. Kentucky Ave.

Harris Roach Powder since 1922

Harris Roach Powder since 1922

The initial booking leading to others, the three musicians acquiring a sparsely furnished rental house behind the SW 29th St. Horseshoe Club on S.W. 28th St and Kentucky.   The rental house’s location and price seeming ideal, but the musicians soon discovering the reason it was so readily available during their first nights of occupancy.  The first night, the band returning from the club, tuning on of the lights in the darken abode, spotlighting an agglomeration of unexpected hosts.  The house was crawling with invaders, the floor seemed in transit with hundreds of scurrying roaches, 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 24 hour 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 exterminating 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 continued in the rental house for the remainder of their thirty-day lease and every night the uninvited hosts with their blue powder covering would abandon their concealment and proudly display their colorful selves.

 

 

Perception of Liberation…………#103 (the 60’s)

December 6, 2016

The Horseshoe Club_SW 29th & Kentucky

Oklahoma City proving to be complementary,  the Untouchables fostered a following entourage that insured the commission of engagements.   The financial countenance being minimal,  but enabling two members of the musical  escapade,  Gary and Jerry,  to develop a savings curriculum,  Glenn the being the exception,  a good portion of his income consumed by his frequent visits to Lawton and his family.   A farewell to the blue roach rental behind the Horseshoe  Club, the three discovering a residence  on S. Barnes St,  the owners having converted part of their home into a small  two room rental with stove, small refrigerator and  separate street entrance.   The band’s new-found lodging providing  a suitable shelter, an adequate station for meals and a restful night’s lodging, but its size was somewhat claustrophobic and lacked any privacy for after work entertaining which in most cases wasn’t a necessity as they were the recipient of invitations.

The rental on S. Barnes with on street entrance

The rental on S. Barnes with a street side  entrance

The accumulation in a savings account,  empowering Gary to fulfill a long desired aspiration, the acquisition of a car.  S.W.  29th St. was a main east – west thoroughfare on the south side connecting Highway 62 from Lawton to  U.S. 77 and Interstate 35,  on the east side of  the City.   Many of Oklahoma Cities pre-owned car enterprises finding this roadway very profitable with many  locations.  Once having accumulated a sufficient amount of funds, Jerry supplying the transportation, the Pianist began a car shopping endeavor discovering his long desired  avidity for a certain genus on the used car lot,  a 1954 Oldsmobile Convertible.

A first car – 54 Olds

A certain stature evolves with the purchase of your first automobile,  a perception of liberation,  knowing you are the publisher of your purpose and have the capability to pursue your quest.   The  remembrance from his early teen years surfacing again, the fragrance of mowed hay,  the damp moist aura,  the open air carriage bathed by a moonlit effervesce,  the recollection of Mountain Blvd all associated when cruising after work at the Signal Station in Ted Riley’s  1950 Olds convertible.  The airings of the convertible conveyed a license of deliverance,  but the vivacity of ownership began to wane in proportion to the automotive number of faults that soon materialized from purchasing an inexpensive used car.   The presence of reality never wanes, a bargain is not always a bargain,  the new auto owner discovering that brake master cylinders do cost.  Driving down Classen Blvd., he impinged the brake pedal in anticipation of stopping, the pedal depressing to the floorboard with no effect but finally managing a  successful stop.  Upon examination, ascertained brake fluid present on the firewall below the master cylinder,  a good indication of  a of the problem.   After refilling the cylinder, Gary progressed the Oldsmobile to Brotherton’s Garage on S.W. 29th and Agnew.  He was acquainted with  Hap and Ronnie Brotherton, both members of the Oklahoma Stock Car Racing Association’s board of directors, who in the past commissioned a performance by the Untouchables at their awards banquet.  Ron replacing the master cylinder, offering some professional automotive advice to the musician, “trade it.”

Glenn Froman

A dream of a car – 57 DeSoto

DeSoto’s push-button transmission

Glenn needing to make a trip to Lawton, requesting Gary to follow his Plymouth Station Wagon to his wife’s families residence where June was staying, the drummer ceding his car to June to for the coming week.  Upon completion of the task the two exiting the town, the pianist noticing a two-tone white and Flamingo Pink swept fin 1957 DeSoto decorating the lot of a pre-owned car emporium and without hesitation pulled into the small used car lot.  The dealer approaching the two, Gary making an  inquiring  about the DeSoto’s  vendibility,  noting that it lacked any  posted sale markings.   The dealers explaining  it was a recent trade-in and it was yet to be serviced or detailed for a sale.  There was no question in the pianist mind that he would be leaving in the DeSoto even though he found it difficult to breach the bond with his first means of transportation,  but acumen precludes affinity remembering the advice of Ron Brotherton.   Gary never one to barter asking up front what it would take with the Olds as a trade in.   The dealer allowing $250 as a trade-in, the amount Gary had given for the Olds, the dealer accepting the trade-in as a down-payment with a $450 balance,  no cash changing hands.  Gary and the finance company now the proud owners of 1957 DeSoto Fireflite,  air-conditioned two door hardtop,  with a 341 cubic inch,  345 horsepower,  four barrel carburetor endowed engine.

Darlene Phillips

With the advent of  his luxurious transportation,  a realm of independence presented a new order of social activity, the element of nocturnal associations was always available in the realm of musical endeavors.   Gary presenting an interest having meant a striking lady employed with the FAA named Sue Mason.   Sue being the mother  of a  young son, making Gary aware of reality,  indulging in a very cautious relationships not eager or prepared for a resolute commitment.   Jerry too was also allocating more of his time with a newly found complement and with Glenn’s commuting to Lawton,  an air of independence began to surface with the more  limited use of their two bedroom rental.  Jerry deciding to no longer reside in the two room rental,  the guitar players relationship with Darlene Phillips and her family of three having escalated and was on the road to a serious commitment.  Unable to advocate the financial burden, Gary deciding to look for suitable quarters elsewhere visiting with an acquaintance  W. E. Curry,  a realtor with rental property, the two having meant at the Horseshoe Club.  W.E.  disclosing he had a room vacancy in his edifice at SW 33rd &  S. May Ave.   The office structure in reality was built as a residence, the entrée and living room having been converted into his reality office,  the two adjoining bedrooms were rental rooms with kitchen privileges.   The accommodations and the monthly rent was more than satisfactory, Gary taking W.E. up on his offer,  discovering the other bedroom was leased to  Tinker Air Force Base employee who also just  happened to own a 1957 DeSoto.

Gary would frequent the Horseshoe Club even though the bands subscriptive employment was  for two nights a week,  the owners Ross and Virginia Miller approaching him as a friend and the Musician having been acquainted with their daughter Barbara.   The Horseshoe’s private club clientele function like an association,  Jay, the affable bartender,  W.E.,  the realtor,  Eldon Dumas,  the electrical contractor, and employees of  the Federal Aviation Agency,  Tinker Air Force Base,  all with a common denominator, cordiality.   Late afternoons would often finding Gary conversing with a prospective nocturnal audience participant and on this occasion visiting with a Tinker Air force Base employee, making the acquaintance of  Helen Street.  Helen, a very cordial older lady accentuating her daughter as single young lady about the same age as Gary.  The amiable lady painting an engrossing narrative to the Musician,  the anecdotes provoking an interest, Gary very much intrigued, especially having never meant anyone name Kermece.

Dawning A Command Performance..#104 (the 60’s)

December 4, 2016

Gary and Kaye

It was Sunday evening February 18th, Gary stopping at the Horseshoe Club finding a substantial number of customers, it was Jay, the regal bartenders birthday, and among those in attendance was Helen Streets daughter Kermece.  Kermece or Kaye as she was perceived by non-family,  endured with her mother and grandmother, Gary experience this introduction as the inaugural of something more meaningful to come.   An attentive relationship was building between the two,  finding the two spending more and more time together.   Gary being introduced and feeling very comfortable with Kaye’s family,  the delicate lady was an only child as was her mother and having a mutual regard  for her grandmother Sarah, being the matriarch and the person most responsible for rising her granddaughter.  Also residing in the home was Sarah’s elderly but somewhat disabled husband E.W. Jones, having suffered an onset of dementia.  Her mother Helen a  vibrant lady having experienced the concave of being married several times, but knowing the value and security of full time employment having worked for the federal government since World War II,  still continuing with an important  position at Tinker Air Force Base.  Kaye having following suit with government service, employed with the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA)  shortly after graduating from High School.

Helen, Sarah and E.W.

The steward of the house - Dean Bray

The steward of the house – Deana Bray

Kayes good friend Dean Bray extending an invitation for her to move in with her.  Deana, a widow with a young daughter, occupied a very spacious three bedroom home just east of May Ave on S.W. 53rd St. and after  considerate contemplation Kaye acknowledged her  acceptance to the invitation.   Gary’s financial situation having suffered with the bands decline, his DeSoto payment in arrears.  Sharing his problem with  Kaye,  her immediately reaction was to help,  inquiring about his account then discerning she would like to compensate for the late payments and to his consternation taking it upon herself to discharge the entire remaining quantum without reservation. The incinerate summer heat found Gary and the air-conditioned DeSoto journeying to and from the Federal Aviation Agency record division office in the Home State Life building at 6th and Robinson,  ferrying the work empowered Kaye and Deana.  The affinity between the musician and his new-found Desire endured,  Deana recognizing the contingency, espousing  the musician with a like invitation to reside at her residency.  Gary tarried with the offer, but his concern was for Kaye and the impression it would have on her family.  After considerable deliberation, leaving the final decision up to Kaye, Gary giving W.E. Curry, his Reality friend his notice of vacancy having accepted Deana’s offer of residency on S.W. 53rd St.

A Bobby Vinton Clone

Bobby and the Runaways,  a Chicago combo,  dressed in tuxedo’s, black or powder blue, was an impressive group especially with Bobby,  the lead guitar and featured vocalist,  a Bobby Vinton clone.   Gary was first aware of the Runaways arrival when Kaye acknowledged  her friend and co-worker Deana Bray was smitten with the bands drummer.  The Runaways, a four piece band from Chicago entertaining several nights at the Embers Club at N.W. 10th and N. May Ave for an extended engagement.  Gary somewhat curious about a Chicago based band playing the Embers rather than the Copa or one of the other large motels that highlighted established out-of-town bands.

Glenn, The Untouchables drummer was under stress with financial and  family matters,  accepting part-time employment with his father in-law in Lawton through the week and without a drummer the bands engagements were reduced to week-ends status.  Guitarist Jerry Willis  having establishing a serious relationship with Darlene Philips, her position as a full-time employee at Cattlemen’s Cafe finding the musician occupying his off nights minding her three young siblings during her employment hours.   Gary recognizing the bands situation with Glenn and Jerry somewhat preoccupied, the incentive to progress and give the band direction was stymied.   The pianist desiring a more fruitful source of income and after a personal introduction to the Runaways by Deana, discovered the group had heard the Untouchables and Gary’s piano and to his  surprising making an offer for him to join the group.  Hesitating, the pianist acknowledged the offer, replying he would give it some thought, Gary later visiting with Glenn and Jerry both leaving it up to him to decided.  With the current lack of enthusiasm and the defection displayed  the keyboard musician accepting The Runaways offer.

Embers Club NW 10th & May Ave.

The management of the Embers Club making an exception in their booking schedule for The Runaways, the band featured five nights with an almost nightly capacity crowd, but as the weeks progressed it began to fade.  Gary could see the handwriting on the wall, Bobby and the Runaways tarry in Oklahoma City would be short-lived.  Bobby given Gary notice of their intention to move on to Albuquerque.  The next day they were gone, not saying goodbye or asking for the return of the two tuxes given the keyboard musician.  Gary wasn’t surprised at the suddenness of the band leaving town,  having become suspicious of the Chicago group when discovering the inner label of the tuxedo’s bore the registration of a Chicago uniform rental company.

  Gary visiting with Glenn and Jerry  at the Tempo Club about resuming his association with the band,  the two welcoming his decision to return,  having to give the guitar and bass that replaced him notice.  Gary’s keyboard bass and piano once again initiating a semblance of arrangements, instilling the enthusiasm and avidity to a composition, the return of the Untouchables unique sound.   What was more enlightening was discovering a renewed purpose with added resolve,  a new horizon,  Glenn moving his family from Lawton to Oklahoma City enabling the added productive weekday engagements.

It was a Sunday evening, September 16th,  the time having arrived, Gary having visualized this moment more than once,  wanting to express himself in some poetic way.  Looking at Kaye having expressed his love for her he finally  just said it, “will you many me” and then adding a gesture,  he kneeled down, “I’m on bended knee”  the dawning of his command performance accomplished.

Fulfilling Aspirations…………#105 (the 60’s)

December 2, 2016

Kaye’s 61 – 39 Hp. Triumph

The sanctification of wedlock on October 18, 1962 for Gary and Kaye was imminent,  Gary was without doubt, his future bride was a sterling treasure, complementing and fulfilling all that makes one’s  cup runneth over.  The subject of residency being discussed, whether to seek a place of their own or wait and see what the future holds.  Their understanding with Deana was congruous,  the couple seeing no reason to advance permutation, Deana’s hospitality was prevalent, animosity was nonexistent, the relationship thrived.

Kaye being slight in stature, all of 95 lbs. her automotive choice reflected in her proprietorship, the proud owner of a 1961 Triumph Herald.   A four passenger, two door,  4 speed,  39 horsepower British model with a top speed of 70 mph, befitting her countenance.   She was vocal in informing Gary that she found it very uncomfortable ensconced in the driver seat of his demonstrative sized push-button drive DeSoto.   Gary could identify with her reasoning, having listening to Glenn in jest referring to the specious two-tone, swept fin Chrysler product as a carriage befitting a hustler, a perfect pimp-mobile.   Gary having never thought of his prodigious car in that light but accorded to his bride-to-be that the hallmark DeSoto would soon find another to christen its protocol.

Kermece (Kaye) Rice

From a musician’s perspective Oklahoma City was a boom-town,  displayed by a bustling nightlife commerce enhanced from agricultural products of fermentation and distilling and satisfactory entertainment.  Gary without cogitation  could ascribe twenty-five liquor accommodating private clubs that engaged in providing live music, and that was excluding taverns,  hotels,  motels,  veterans and civic organizational facilities.  The competition between these enterprising aggregations was intense, management discernment was ascertained by the financial  bottom line at the conclusion of the evening.   The Untouchables prodigious appearance, sporting formal array and socializing with the  audience during  intermissions provided entertainment both on and off the bandstand.  Gary concluding that music arrangements could sell a song,  but actions and presence embolden a performance.

The private clubs marshaling a 2:00 a.m. closing time as prescribed by the City,  but a persistence prevailed,  there were several unincorporated areas beleaguered by Oklahoma City and like earthworms after a rain, unregulated after-hour clubs began to surface.   One night after an appearance at the Excuse Club on South Pennsylvania Ave., the band followed the owner Hobart and his bi-speckled manager Don to a surreptitious after-hours attraction just south of the North Canadian River and east of Eastern Ave in a secluded no mans land  between OKC and Del City.  The band turning off Eastern Ave onto a ill-kept two lane road arriving at an almost windowless building surrounded by an array of cars on a make shift parking area.  Mary’s Hideaway  flourished with after-hour patrons, the already induced partying  fray finding the indifferent operating hours with great satisfaction.  In addition to the blaring jukebox,  Mary accomplished a 24 oz. charred sirloin with fries for a reasonable gratuity,  complimenting the unmitigated inducements served from the bar.  Glenn and Gary soon realized, this early morning rendezvous could model as a supplementary income provider.  The two approaching Mary inducing the idea of live entertainment,  the Untouchables finding an added after hours weekend  engagement.

Oklahoma City Civic Auditorium

Ray Charles at the Civic Auditorium

Gary recognized few musicians as true Icons in his melodious world, but one such Icon was making an appearance in Oklahoma City.  Ray Charles and his orchestra was to perform at the Civic Auditorium and the Untouchables just happen to be off that night,  the pianist suggesting to Kaye that they attend.  The soon to be matrimonial united couple looking forward to a live performance of  ‘What I Say’, ‘I can’t stop loving you’, ‘Georgia on my mind’, ‘Ruby’, ‘Born to lose’, a never-ending list of current gold-record songs.  Gary purchasing advance tickets for seating in the lower part of the Mezzanine Section,  the couple looking forward to the coming event, but then someone brought up the subject of going to an all black performance.  Most everyone in the country was aware of the ongoing civil rights demonstration, with Martin Luther King organizing marches throughout the south.  Gary having never correlated skin color with music, the performer wasn’t black or white but a musician and those in attendance weren’t there to patronize the color of skin, but to absorb the ambiance of the performance.  The night of the concert having arrived, Gary and Kaye both dressed appropriate for the orchestrated occasion as were almost all those in attendance.  The musician was aware that Ray Charles’s songs were overwhelmingly  received in his all white nightclub environment and taking notice before Ray was introduced, half of those in attendance were white.  Ray Charles was unbelievable, the only two downsides that only a musician perceived was his use of a Concert Grand piano in playing  ‘What I Say’ instead of the  Wurlitzer electric as on the recording,  the other somewhat disappointment was the lack of the prominent string sections that set the artistry for his country ballets but then again it was understandable, besides the Raelets he had to supplement his orchestra with arrangement reading musicians and in all probability with little or no rehearsal time most likely from local symphony orchestra contingencies.  Gary recognizing the event as an iconic  knowing that it could never match Kayes attending Elvis Presley’s April 19 1956 Oklahoma City Civic Auditorium appearance.