A Prompting Inducement – Ft. Sill Pt.7 #88 (the 60’s)

The 6:30 a.m. Army reveille 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, Gary assuming  the professional soldiering upper ranks were  prejudicial about enlistee’s nonmilitary activity.

Gary’s introduction to the anomalous world of Glenn Froman and the subsequent forming of a musical 4 piece band 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 3 2 beer nightspot called the Baltimore Club,  located in the basement of the Baltimore Hotel,  located on the southwest corner of 1st & C.    The club,  across the street from the negro section of Lawton,  with a whites only sign posted above the outside downstairs entrance door.  Lester Prestige,  the owner allowing the two to operate the establishment on his 3 2 beer license.

One of the attributes of the club was an old upright piano, Gary 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 weekends at the Golden Horseshoe Club with  Glenn and Jimmy Clay,  and was wondering if he would be willing to sit-in with them,  explaining that their band,  The Rythm Tamers’ was competing in a talent contest broadcast on Lawton’s  KSWO  TV,  Channel 7, on  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.

The Rythm Tamers’,  with Gary’s addition,  now a  sextet for the contest, winning the second series of the televised talent contest, but on the third  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 in musical enterprise on weekends but with  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, with  Floyd Davis on bass,  Winly  a serviceman stationed at Altus Air force Base on tenor sax and an accompanying drummer.

The provocation of the fast changing events was at an essential stage, Gary suffering a privation of conscience, a need to remove himself from the situation,  applying for leave, planning a trip home to pause and reflect.   Tom Holt, a Rickenbacker guitar playing friend also in the military at fort Sill  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, stating he doubted the car would make it to California.  Gary hesitating but accepting Toms offer, filling the trunk with and an ample supply of bottled recycled oil, and extending an invitation to Penny, a lady friend from Cement Oklahoma who had worked at the Baltimore club as a waitress,  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 downhill slope. Once this began, the remaining venture to the Bay Area found the car having to remained running when purchasing gas and adding oil.  Gary’s arrival with his undisclosed companion causing some family consternation,  but Penny’s presence was accepted

Their stay was brief but satisfying, joining the family for an extended weekend at their Pioneer cabin building site on Highway 88.  Gary recalling his boyhood ventures in this sierra mountain eminence of tranquility.    The couple’s stay about to conclude,  Gary looking into the fords problem, replacing a missing valve spring keeper, the car effectively had been operating on five cylinders, but Like Tom, Gary was skeptical about the ford able to make another 16hundred mile journey.

Approaching Fresno,  the Ford began acting up again,  a 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 empower the return  to Oklahoma.

Arriving in Lawton the travelers finding the trip somewhat exhausting,  Penny 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 Troy in person about his addition to the band.  At the Frederick turnoff south of town, Gary having no trouble finding a passing rural farmer to provide transportation to the small rural Oklahoma community. The towering grain elevators  blossoming on the horizon, the small township coming into view.   Frederick, 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.

Gary finding a pay phone at what appeared to be the remnants of a once vibrant bus station,  knowing  Troy was steadily employed and a family man with children, 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,  offering to pick him up,  relating that they would have to wait until Troy returned home from his day job.  The two returning to Jerry’s parents residence, Jerry living at home since fulfilling his navel enlistment.  Meeting in the late afternoon with Troy,   The pianist 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,  a sequestered certainty beginning to make itself visible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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