Inducement to Experience………..#88 (the 60’s)

Freedom of Expression

The 6:00 a.m. Army roll-call formation was adhered to but because of his off-post endeavors the PFC sometimes standing in civilian attire which was permissible, his military activity beginning to  assume the portrayal of an assignment rather than a duty.   The new-found music involvement having attracted the scrutiny of the units hierarchy and their disquisition was communicated with an overt direct aversion to his off base participation.  The military superiors instilling  discipline in many forms of accessory duty to compel compliance with their appraisal.   The soldier tolerating the aggravation , accepting  what amounted to calumniatory punishment, finding his name three-fold on the KP and Guard duty rosters, the professional soldiering upper ranks prejudicial about enlistee’s non military activity.

Gary’s introduction to the anomalous world of Glenn Froman and the subsequent forming of a musical trio was just a beginning.  With Glenn’s active military duty about to expire he entertained a joint partnership with Gary to lease a small vacant entertainment nightspot called the Baltimore Club located in the basement of the Baltimore Hotel located on the SW corner of 1st & C.  The club was borderline to the negro section of Lawton which was located south of 1st street, Lester Prestige the owner allowing the two to operate the establishment on his 3.2 beer liquor license.  One of the attributes of the club was an old upright piano, the pianist updating his repertoire from the jukebox.  When questioned about his ability he referred to himself as an apprentice professional, knowing that an apprentice professional is a misnomer but still an accurate chronicle of self appraisal, the  assessment of a non-existent product until realized  should be perpetually addressed,  instinctively corrected,  consecrated without interruption to the ambiance.  The young musician finding this a precedent in his musical ambition,  freedom of expression wasn’t commissioned  but structured,  he was a novice to the vocation,  but authoritative in his craft,  waiting for the edict to emerge.

The tall lanky sandy-haired musician Troy Elledge and his lead guitar player Jerry Willis introducing themselves to Gary at the Baltimore Club.  Troy mentioned that they had sampled the pianist ability one night while he was performing with Glenn and Jimmy Clay at Chester’s Golden Horseshoe Club and was wondering if he would be willing to sit-in with them,  explaining that Troy’s band,  The Rythm Tamers’ was competing in a talent contest broadcast on Lawton’s  KSWO  TV,  Channel 7,  Saturday afternoons.   The band having prevailed in the first preliminary contest and the addition of a pianist would enhance the band in the next round of competition.  There was  no hesitation from Gary, affirming confirmation, it was an inducement to experience a degree of professionalism with a local but imminent established  band.

Jerry Willis , Troy Elledge and Floyd Davis

Wenly and Floyd


The Rythm Tamers’,  with Gary’s addition,  now a  sextet, winning the second series of the televised talent contest, but on the third and final competition losing the write-in ballot vote.  The Pianist discovering a new resolution having the opportunity to work with this accomplished group, making an inquiry about the Rhythm Tamers’ base of operations and how often they performed.   The community of Frederick being the residential home for Troy and Jerry, the band engaging  musical enterprise mostly weekends but with an occasional week day gigs, their music expertise centered around country,  blues and of course Rock.   Troy the featured vocalist playing rhythm guitar,  accompanied by a Chuck Berry Fender-man emulator,  lead guitarist Jerry Willis,  Floyd Davis on bass,  Wenley a serviceman stationed at Altus Air force Base on tenor sax and an accompanying drummer.

California bound 49 ford

The provocation of the fast-moving events was at an essential stage, Gary suffering a privation of conscience, a need to remove himself from the situation planning on  a trip home to California, a pause to reflex.   Tom Holt, a Rickenbacker guitar playing friend also in the military offering to lend Gary his 1949 Ford,  but noting that when returning from a recent visit to his home in Minnesota the Ford started to burn an excessive amount of oil,  a quart to every tank of gas.  Gary hesitating but accepting Toms offer, filling the trunk with and an ample supply of recycled bottled oil, and extending an invitation to Penny, a lady friend from Cement Oklahoma to join him on this impetuous journey.   The Ford providing an uneventful mode of transportation on the non resting journey until reaching the California border, the  six cylinder engine refusing to start unless pushed or stopped on a down hill slope, having to resort to popping the clutch with it in gear.  Once this began, the remaining venture to the Bay Area found the ignition having to remained on with the car running when purchasing gas and adding oil.  Gary’s arrival with his undisclosed companion causing some family consternation but Penny’s presence was accepted.  An examination of the Fords motor problem, a missing valve spring keeper was discovered, the car effectively operating on only five cylinders.  Gary’s stay was brief but satisfying, the youth replacing the valve spring keeper on the ford so the two visitors could inaugurate a return trip.  Approaching Fresno the Ford began acting up again, suspecting a repeat of the valve keeper problem,  Gary turning about returning to Oakland.  A final decision was made, the Ford would best remain in California, arrangement with Tom for the title transfer and a sale could come later,  Greyhound would be empowered to provide Gary and Penny’s return  to Oklahoma.

Frederick grain elevators

Arriving in Lawton the travelers finding the trip somewhat exhausting,  the lady friend  continuing  on to Cement, Gary undecided whether to spend the night in town or return to base.  The experience of playing with the Rythm Tamers’ weighing heavy, Gary awarding a decision to journey southwesterly to confer with the Troy in person about the addition of piano to his band.  From Lawton and the Frederick turnoff having no trouble finding a willing rural farmer to provide transportation to the small rural Oklahoma community of Frederick. Oklahoma community.  With towering grain elevators  blossoming on the horizon, the small township coming into view, the town once a bustling Mecca during the second world war, a home for  The Frederick Army Air Base,  a training facility for twin-engine aircraft pilots, this once prestigious town now just a small sleepy rural agricultural placard like many others in Oklahoma.  On his arrival, finding a pay phone at what appeared to be the remnants of a once vibrant bus station and knowing  Troy was steadily employed and a family man with children, Gary deciding to place a call to Jerry Willis the Rythm Tamers’ lead guitarist.  He was somewhat hesitant in calling Jerry the two having only worked together on the television talent show.   Jerry answering the call offering to pick him up relating that they would have to wait until Troy returned home from his day job to answer and questions.  The two returning to Jerry’s parents residence,  Jerry living at home since completing his navel enlistment.  Meeting in the late afternoon with Troy, Gary professing his admiration for the band and his desire to play with the Rythm Tamers’,  the Band Leader without hesitation giving an affirmation never questioning Gary’s proposal.  The young musician aware of his conflicting military circumstance,  but for the time being accepting the path of consequence,  willing to chance a venture down destiny’s road, life’s sequestered certainty beginning to make itself visible.

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