Notes From The Cactus Patch

Tall tales from Texas about characters I know and have known. Who knows, you might be one of them.

Fast Food Testing

The fast-food industry needs to step up to the plate just as Walmart, Target, CVS, and Walgreen’s has done. The CEO’s of these companies have pledged space in their parking lots for drive-up Corona Virus testing tents. Novel Idea. Pull up to a tent full of people in hazmat suits and get swabbed and disinfected. I don’t know how the rest of America feels, but I am afraid of people in hazmat suits. It always turns out bad, or they wouldn’t be wearing them. Young children tend to be easily frightened, so screaming kids trying to escape from the car is not a good scenario. Let’s use a kinder and gentler approach.

Why not have Ronald McDonald, The Burger King king, and Jack from Jack in The Box stand by the order speaker and offer free food or a toy with every swab? Since half of America eats at these places, its a perfect solution.

When Good People Go Stupid

By: Phil Strawn

My pal Mooch called me a few minutes ago from the HEB grocery store. He is standing in the toilet paper aisle, watching two middle-aged women fistfight over the last 8 pack of Northern toilet paper. He and another male shopper are betting on the skinny gal because she was moving faster, and had the other older women in a Nolan Ryan headlock.

We continued our conversation as he walked the store, commenting on how low the stock is on each aisle, and how stupid people are acting. You would think Channel 5 called for snow flurries tonight. Suddenly, Mooch screams and starts cussing at no one in particular. ” HEB is sold out of pork rinds and beer!” he yells into his flip phone.

Now, I know this virus is severe. Rednecks cannot survive without pork rinds, and beer, its a food staple and will last for years in any bunker or deer camp. They are gluten-free, fat-free, and carb-free, so at least a boy can eat healthily if he is quarantined.

I could hear a scuffle over the phone. Voices yelling, carts bashing into one another; general mayhem. Mooch said,

” I’ll call you later, buddy, there’s a brawl at the Red Barons Pizza freezer, and I have to get me some of those.”

Just In Case You Forgot

Yes, folks, she’s in the news again. Popping up here and there, accepting little awards and being fussed over by an age group of devotes that don’t know what the Vietnam war was, or when it happened. Just in case you forgot what “Hanoi Jane” ( Jane Fonda ) really was, and is, I included this adorable picture. I think it catches her best side. I would assume she took some excellent color shots of our POWs with her fancy camera and shared the photos with their families back in the United States.

Hipster Dogs Are Among Us

By: Phil Strawn

Pictured for your educational pleasure is a sweet little dog with a strange name. “Graphon Chardonnay” is what’s known in 2020 as a “Hipster Companion Service Dog.” I’m sure little Graphon would rather be out pissing on trees and digging holes in flower beds than wearing a beard and leather jacket. Dogs look odd in human clothing, and they look alien when they sport the same beard as their owner.

While strolling the “hot new neighborhood” on West 7th street a few weeks ago, my wife and I stopped into a small outdoor café for lunch. It was one of those sunny February days where it wants to be pleasant, but you still need a coat if you dine outside. A teaser day, us Texans call it.

A nice looking couple sat down next to us with their small dog. They were dressed in expensive “Fort Worth Hip” to the tee. The young man had a formidable beard, a ” Stallone” pork pie hat, Ray-Ban sunglasses and skinny jeans. The woman was dressed similarly but without facial hair. These aren’t your poor retro-hippies, these Kats have dough, good jobs in IT and live in an expensive high rise overlooking the Trinity River. They most likely drive a Tesla or a hybrid Beemer.

The two diners immediately immersed themselves in their Apple I Phones. Hipsters are required to use Apple products only: Sorry Samsung and HTC.

I felt sorry for the little pooch, he didn’t have a phone of his own or even a bowl of water, so I asked a kind waitstaff to bring the wee fellow a dog bowel of H2O. When his bowl of water arrived, the man gasped and removed the water dish before the parched dog could catch a drink.

” Graphon does not drink regular water” he shrieked. ” He’s chlorine intolerant.”

Of course, I apologized for not knowing the dog was allergic to water, so I asked his father, what does Graphon drink?

The young woman looked up from her I Phone and smugly replied “Graphon Chardonnay drinks only Starbucks decaffeinated coffee, “Chateau La Pew” white wine and natural spring water from Tibet. He is also vegan and has an IQ of 165.” Well, holy hot-shit, I am impressed that this furball with two names is smarter than most of us humans; myself included.

I had already figured out these two were vegans, so when our juicy hamburgers arrived, we made a big deal of our meal, loudly commenting on every greasy bite we took. The two gave us the ” hope you die” look.

In my meat-eating frenzy, I accidentally knocked a French fry off my plate. The little genius, Graphon, caught it before it hit the ground and gobbled it down. His father screamed, grabbed the dog and began the “Heimlich maneuver ” until the dog coughed up the slimy fry.

” That fry is cooked in animal fats, are you trying to murder my dog! Graphon could die if he ingests anything other than his special veggies” he shouted. The woman was crying and having a small breakdown after witnessing her vegan dog eating the evil French fry.

The young couple was so traumatized, they took little Graphon Chardonnay and departed the patio. I got the last laugh. I slipped the pooch a nice bite of my burger while they weren’t looking. I’m pretty sure he is going to have some righteous gas.

I’ll Have An Order Of Fries With My Blessing

A Short Story by; Phil Strawn

On Ash Wednesday, I made a somewhat firm decision to give up my beloved Cheeto’s for Lent. Last year it was Ding Dongs and Pepsi Cola, and I wound up eating Twinkies and Dr. Pepper when after three days, I fell off the Lent wagon. At least, I stuck with my original plan. 

On my way to see Father Frank, my priest at Our Lady of Perpetual Repentance, I stopped by Walmart for one last Cheeto fix. Standing in line at the checkout, I noticed shoppers with a tiny ink cross on their forehead. Odd. Then, I saw the lady behind me sported a small “Pokemon” sticker on her forehead. She noticed I was staring like a goon and said, “our priest ran out of palm ashes, and this was all he had left. It’s the blessing that counts.” Well, she had a point. When the Holy Father runs out of blessed stuff, he has to make do with available products. 

I headed over to the church, finishing my bag of Cheeto’s and hiding it under the seat like a teenager does a beer can in the family car. 

Two blocks from the church, the traffic was hardly moving, and I think business must be brisk for the good Father. 

As I inched closer, I saw Father Frank standing at the curb, giving his blessing to the occupants in the car, leaning through the windows, and marking their forehead. Next car up, the same protocol. He was running cars through the line like a good day at Jack In The Box. Then it dawned on me, Father Frank was offering take-out Lent blessings to our flock. What a novel idea, so 2020. 

I pulled up to his curbside church and rolled down my window. The multi-tasking Priest handed me a pamphlet with a prayer, crossed himself, and touched my forehead. ” Go in Peace, my son,” he muttered and gave me the peace sign. “Sorry about running out of ash,” he said.

 ” Back at, you, Father,” I responded and drove away.

When I arrived home, my wife asked me where I had been for so long. I explained the trip to Walmart, the Cheeto binge, and then Father Franks take-out Lent blessing and such, thus the extended time frame. She was staring at me like a goon when she asked, ” did you find anything at the garage sale?” 

” What garage sale?” I replied.

She reached up to my forehead and pulled off a small round orange sticker with $1.00 written on it. 

The good Father has to make do with what he has available. It’s the blessing that counts. Right?

Traumatized By Puppets!

By: Phil Strawn

The asphalt parking lot is so hot it’s melting the rubber soles of my PF Flyer “tinny” shoes to the pavement. It’s July of 1957, and there are at least one hundred kids, including our neighborhood coterie of twenty-five standing on that lot, waiting to see our television idols, Mickey Mud Turtle and Amanda Opossum.

Piggly Wiggly Food’s hired the puppet duo from Channel 11, for the grand opening of their newest grocery store on Berry Street. With the following the show had developed, the folks at Piggley are betting on a full house, because every kid in Fort Worth, Texas, wanted to meet Mickey and Amanda up close and in person.

Without an introduction, the puppets popped up onto the stage of their television theater and launched into their shtick. The jokes are age-appropriate and corny. Birthdays are shouted out and then more jokes, but with no cartoons to kill time, the felt and cardboard critters are out of material and are bombing like the Hiroshima fat boy.

The Mud Turtle launched into a commercial for Piggly Wiggly, and the Opossum began her’s for Buster Brown Shoes, over-riding Mickey, which in turn made him mad, and he grabbed a small bat with his mouth and popped Amanda Opossum a good one. The kids loved it. Watching the two puppets fight is better than cartoons, any day, hands down.

I feel a tug on my shirt, and realize my mother is dragging me into the grocery store. As we pass the back of the puppet theater, a gust of wind blows the side curtain open and there, in living color is two adults, sitting on low stools with their hands stuffed up the butts of our beloved stars. Kids are good at fooling themselves into believing things that aren’t real. I know they are cheesy, cardboard, and fabric puppets, but destroying my imagination is serious stuff.

Mortified and traumatized from the scene I witnessed, my mother drags me through the air-conditioned store as she completes her shopping. There is no sympathy or coddling from this Cherokee woman. She mumbles something about puppets being stupid, and I feel tears forming on my cheeks. I may never recover from this destruction of my childhood.

Leaving the store, we pass the stage, and a man and woman are putting the puppets into their wooden boxes and autographing glossy postcards of the critters. I still have mine.

Father Frank Saves The Church

By Phil Strawn. This is an earlier post from March of 2012 when I lived in Georgetown, Texas, and was forced to shop in the Sun City HEB.

I visited my local H.E.B a few days ago to do my shopping for the week. Just so you know, I loathe shopping for groceries; negotiating the crowded aisles, pushing a cart that steers hard left, while trying to read your shopping list and dodge the blue hairs wanting to run you over. It’s more than any man my age should have to endure.

The geriatric inhabitants of “Clan Sun City” have christened this store as their domain, and they make their own rules of engagement. I’ve had my toes run over, my legs pinned between a grocery cart and the dairy cabinet, rammed from behind for being too slow, and was verbally assaulted by an 80-pound octogenarian because I got the last loaf of “dollar bread.” The old bag pulled out a flip-top Motorola cell phone and threatened to call 911 to report me, so I reluctantly handed over the loaf. She shook a bony finger in my face and growled, “And your little dog too.”

Wednesday is the big day for the sample gals to push their wares on the shoppers. You can’t go twenty-feet without a chirpy hostess wearing her “Pioneer Woman” apron wanting to stick a sample of food in your face. Forget trying to get away, they track you until you stop and then thrust the toothpick impaled morsel into your protesting mouth. I unwillingly managed to taste sushi, sausage roll, carrot cake, cheese whiz, and wine before I could get to the first aisle, and by then, I needed a Prilosec OTC, so I bought that as well.

Shopping completed, I proceeded to the checkout stand. As I rounded a corner near the book section, I bumped hard into a table, partially blocking the aisle.

There, sitting behind a 6-foot fold-out table, was Father Frank, the priest from my church, “Our Lady of Perpetual Repentance.”
On his table is a stack of leaflets, bottles of water and give away key chains shaped like the Virgin Mary. It’s been a while since I have seen the good Father, so we exchange our pleasantries.

After a brief howdy conversation, I asked Father Frank why he is staffing a table at a grocery store?
With a deep sigh, he explained, “The church is losing so many of the flock that the diocese has put me here to drum up new members.”
Not wanting to offend by asking delicate questions, I say, ” I suppose you have to start somewhere, and the crowd here is about the right age to be finalizing their looming Heavenly travel arrangements.” He thought that was prolific and says he will use that phrase in a future sermon.

Now, more curious, I ask him about the giveaways laid out on his table.
With a big smile, he explains, “The bottled water is actually blessed holy water, bottled right in my church by altar boys. We figure if it’s good enough to drive out demons and christen babies, it is strong enough to cure the pallet and insides of foul offenses. It has a slight hint of mint, so it may be used as an alcohol-free mouthwash in a pinch. I drank a bottle a few days ago and was confined to the rectory bathroom for many hours. Nothing like a happy gut and pleasant breath you know”.
I said, “Yes, I know that feeling, and my cousin Beverly could have used a case of that for mouthwash if you know what I mean.” He said he did and gave me a bottle to aid in her deliverance.

The good Father is on a roll and excitedly explains that they have made considerable changes to his church to attract new members.
Handing me the leaflet to inspect, he proudly proclaims, “look at these pictures! We now have a glassed-in section of pews with flat-screen monitors installed on the back of each bench so the young ones can access their computer games and social media during the sermon, that is piped into the enclosure by a high powered HD digital audio system.
In order to save parishioners time, confessions can be uploaded via your home computer or smartphone, and communion has an optional wine flight, that, for a nominal fee, comes with a small crystal goblet.”
Am I not hearing him, right? Preteen kids gaming in the pews, computer confessions, wine tasting? How about the singing choirs, the fire, and damnation, the rock hard pews that make your butt sweat and your legs go numb? A church service is supposed to make you miserable, not comfortable.

I tried to interrupt, but the good Father was in over-drive, as he continues to exclaim: “the most daring change and the one I’m most proud of is the conversion of the adult Sunday school room to a sports bar for after service football games. It’s a brilliant concept, come to church, then walk across the hall and watch the game on 70 inch flat screens. We call it “The Blue Nun Sports Bar,” and with the help of Mother Prudy, I recruited some of the younger nuns from the Abby to come over and wait tables after their service. The sisters are doing a great job, but grumbling about the miserly tips and are threatening to hold a sit-in.
I told them to stop offering a repentance prayer over every beer served, and the tips may improve. It’s best to reserve a blessing for food service only.
Next thing I know, they are wearing tight fitting t-shirts with ‘We Aren’t Your Mommas Nuns’ on the back. I don’t know what gives with these younger sisters. The piercings, tattoos and spiky hairdos are not what I‘m used too. Nuns are supposed to be stoic and mean, not cute and hip.”
Well, I say, ” you’re certainly doing everything you can to increase membership, I may have to come to see you next Sunday. I need a good dose of religion and football.”
I shake the good Father’s hand, bid him adieu and shuffle on to the checkout.

On my way out of the store, I notice, tucked in by the potting soil and flowers was a table staffed by a young, tanned, rock star, poofy haired, frock clad fellow flanked by two bikini-clad girls handing out free cold beer and hot dogs.
The sign above them read ‘Rolling Rock Love and Peace Community Church Membership Drive.’ I was thirsty, so I scooted on over. Looks like Father Frank may be in trouble here.

The Dreaded Report Card

by Phil Strawn, based on personal experience

There is a school system on the East coast that is changing its grading system so every student can “feel better” about themselves. This smells suspicious, and is likely extracted from the same rotten bag of education as  “everyone gets a trophy.” Every letter grade is now lowered by five points, promoting a grade of “C” to a “B” and so on. Who benefits from this PC madness?

From personal experience, I can tell you that bringing home a low grade on your report card does have negative consequences. The younger you are, the fewer repercussions from your Mother since you are still her baby. As you age, the fear factor increases.

There is nothing that scares a kid more than bringing home the dreaded “F” or even the slightly better “D.”

You slow walk your way home, looking for every excuse to prolong the firestorm that the small piece of cardboard is going to create. You’re begging God to intervene and miraculously change that red “F” to an acceptable, blue “B.” Nothing changes, and you accept your fate. God is likely a teacher on the side.

With a cheesy fake smile on my face, I hand the report card to my mother, hoping for leniency.

Everything is fine until she sees that miserable sixth letter of the alphabet. Her happy smile fades, and she paralyzes me with that squinty-eyed mom stare.

My young life flashes before my eyes; I’m a goner. In desperation, I blame everything except my own stupidity. I fall to my knees, squeezing out fake tears, begging for forgiveness. She has none of it. The mom court is adjourned. I await my sentence.

Short of being sent to the “orphans home,” my mother’s go-to threat, I guess I get off good. No cartoons for two-weeks, no playing outside for a week, no Hostess cupcakes or Saturday baseball for a month, which is alright, its winter.

My next report card was better; no bad grades. My fear of personal failure and my parents were a determining force in my education. Everyone wants to make good grades, and many students struggle to meet those expectations. If that bar is lowered, then the students that excel will be punished, and the students that strive to excel will take it for granted.

Hey Kids! It’s Fun Being Sick

By Phil Strawn

Kids are an intelligent species. They know far more about human interaction and theatrical interpretation than their parents suspect. I can’t put a date on when this anomaly was discovered, but people with fancy degrees first noticed this behavior in the early 1950s. My neighborhood may have been ground zero for their study.

As a bunch, the kids in my neighborhood were healthy. We ate mouthfuls of dirt, sucked on pebbles, and ingested every foodstuff imaginable without washing our hands. This was perfectly acceptable to our mothers. Our young immune system was that of a caveman: we laughed at germs.

The only malady that affected us, kids, as a species, was the Monday morning tummy-throat-aching body-virus. This malady usually broke-out in early October, after a month of school and a thirty-day incubation period. It spread like wildfire through our four-block coterie, mostly affecting boys, but the girls were losing their immunity at an alarming rate.

On the second Monday in October, most of our first-grade class was infected. The symptoms were: headache, stomach ache, sore throat, and body aches. When our mothers asked how we felt, we would point at the affected area and groan, eliciting additional sympathy.

The first morning was the worst, then by noon we recovered enough to watch cartoons and eat some ice-cream, then after supper, the symptoms worsened, and mom made the call for us to stay home another day. Sleeping in was mandatory, and if we were recovered by lunchtime, we could go outside for some fresh air. This bug was known to not last more than 36 hours, tops.

Six-year-olds can’t grasp the enormity of a situation the way their parents can. As a group, we were unaware that our symptoms matched those of the dreaded Polio Virus. Our kindly school nurse, fearing the worse, calls the health department for back-up.

Two blocks away at George C. Clark Elementry, our diligent principal cancels all classes and has the entire building sanitized by a nuclear cleanup team from Carswell Air Force Base. The newspapers are on this like white on rice.

Lounging in bed eating Jell-O, and watching cartoons, my cohorts and I am unaware of our neighborhood pandemic.

Tuesday, mid-morning, a contingent of doctors and nurses from the health department, arrive to access the outbreak. They plan to visit every affected home and test every sick child. Large syringes and footlong throat swab are required.

Skipper, my stalwart best buddy, was the first to break. With two syringes sucking blood from his boney little kid arms, he sobbed and said he was faking it. Roger Glen ran screaming from his house when he saw the size of the needles, and Annie gave a signed confession. The pandemic was over.

Most of us couldn’t comfortably sit for a few days, but we were all healthy until the next school year. That’s when the Chinese Bird, Cat, and Rat Flu got us.

Living the Keto

My wife and I are on day 4 of the keto diet. Tonight we are having keto pizza. Looks yummy, right? Well, it is after you remove the pepperoni, the cheese, the peppers, and everything but the crust, then you eat the meat and veggies and toss the rest. I told her tomorrow I’m going to Whataburger for a keto swiss and mushroom burger. I’ll figure out the particulars after I order the sandwich. Last night I dreamed of a McDonalds Filet of Fish and french fries, even though I haven’t had one in years. This keto thing gives you nightmares. Got to go now, too weak to type.

Son of Greenjeans

If you were a kid in the 1950s, then you knew who Captain Kangeroo and his sidekick Mr. Greenjeans were. Their television show was broadcast five days a week in glorious black and white and viewed by millions of kids on tiny television screens. ” Don’t sit too close to that TV, you’ll go blind.” That was the stern warning from every mother, and here we are today, all wearing glasses, or blind. How did you expect us to see the Captain and Greenjeans on an 8-inch screen?

The burning question we all had was, did Mr. Greenjeans wear “green jeans?” We were kids, with no color sets, it made us crazy. Was this man green?

A few months ago, I was taking a short -cut through a Fort Worth neighborhood to avoid road construction and noticed a weirdly dressed man using a hand pump sprayer to paint his yard a deep shade of kelly green. I stopped and watched as he worked his way from the curb to the house. Long even strokes, coating the brown grass to imitate spring’s favorite color. It was then I noticed his house was green, the cars in the driveway were green, his clothes and skin were green, and a small dog sitting on the porch was also green. What the hell? The man saw me staring and motioned me over.

I parked my car and walked up to the fellow, feeling a bit foolish for interrupting the work of a stranger. I introduced myself and complimented him on his handy work. He thanked me and extended his hand to shake and said, “names Levi, Levi Greenjeans, nice to meet you.”

” That’s an unusual name, sir. The only time I’ve heard that last name was on Captian Kangaroo, and that was sixty years ago,” I said.

The green fellow laughed and say’s, ” that’s the family name. Mr. Greenjeans was my pop. My sister and I grew up in a green world, so this is pretty natural for us. Dad’s been fertilizer for a good many years now, so it’s up to me to carry on the family brand.” I agreed, he looked pretty good for an old green guy.

I didn’t want to pry or be too forward, but I asked, ” Sir, what might the family brand be?”

“Call me Levi,” he said. ” You know that song ” The Jolly Green Giant?, I wrote it and collect mucho royalties. That Tom Jones song about green-green grass of home wrote that one too. The Green Giant food brand, that’s mine, also, copyright infringement made them pay up. Home Depot has a Greenjeans color named after Dad, I get change from that and a shiny penny from Youtube for the Captain Kangaroo videos.” This dude has turned green into green cash.

I am impressed and honored to be in the presence of one of the famous Greenjeans family, but now is the chance to get the answers to my childhood questions. I am afraid of coming off like a six-year-old Duffus, but I asked, ” did your dad wear green jeans and did he have a green face, and was the captain a nice man, and why did he have a big mustache, and did your dad really have a farm? There, I spat it out, and I am an idiot.

Levi chuckled and said, ” dad wore green jeans, and his face was green from stage makeup. The captain, bless his dead heart, was not too friendly. He wore a mustache because, on the first live show, a little kid threw a Coke bottle at him and split his lip, the stash hid the scar, and that’s why he disliked kids. He carried a small cattle prod under his sleeve, and if the kids got to close, he would shock them. Pretty funny stuff to see them jump. And the final answer is yes, dad had a farm and grew veggies and raised prize-winning Llamas. Recently, my sister Denim planted forty acres of butt-kicking pot that we will sell in our “Mr. Greenjeans Apothacary Co-op in Denver.”

I thanked Levi for his kindness and started to leave when he stopped me. Extracting a green sharpie from his pocket, he signed his name on the front of my white Eddie Bauer Polo shirt. ” hang on to that shirt brother, it’ll be worth some cash one day.”

Everyone Gets A Trophy!

Good Lord, what has happened in the great state of Iowa? The most sacred caucus in our country has been dusted, busted and is no longer trusted. Either some geek tweaked the app or there’s a Russian in a basement somewhere in Iowa messing with the internet signals. I’m barely a step above neanderthal when it comes to AI and such, but damn folks, cant you at least get this right with all those Millenials you have working on your behalf?

I ran into an old liberal buddy of mine at Whataburger this morning at breakfast. That’s what us Texans do, we eat biscuits at Whataburger and talk shit about everybody, family included. My pal Squeaky had his pet chihuahua nestled in his chest-mount baby carrier and was feeding him bites of sausage from his sandwich. Squeaky is not your average Democrat. For most of his life, he was redneck, four-wheel driving, gun-toting, Alamo loving, beer drinking Republican, that had a Rebel flag hanging in his garage.

While hunting wild pigs in San Saba, Texas, Squeak ran his ATV through a bob-wire fence and messed up his vocal cords, so he now sounds like Mickey Mouse when he speaks. While he was lying there close to dying, he said the ghost of former Democratic Texas Governor Ann Richards visited him. Hovering over his body, giving him sips of sweet tea, she said if he converted his political affiliation from conservative to liberal, he could live on. We thought it was complete bull-shit, but he swears it true: and he’s still here.

I grabbed a biscuit and coffee and sat down across from Squeaky. His chihuahua, Giblet snarled his teeth at me, so I gave him a bite of my hashbrown to take the edge off. Small talk and trashing family finally got down to the Iowa caucus, which I knew he watched last night. He takes it seriously, even posting a picture of the brisket and sausage he was smoking for the event.

I know Squeak is kind of fragile after his accident and cries easily, so I gingerly asked him, ” what did you think of that hot mess of a caucus last night?” I’m not a tender guy when it comes to politics. He looked at me kind of squinty-eyed and said, ” My boy Buttercup says he is the winner. Somebody tried to mess with those computers and put comrade Bernie and Pochahontes in there, but Mayor Buttercup is gonna be the nominee.” I know that Mayor Pete’s name is hard to pronounce and remember, so I didn’t offer a correction. I agreed with him on that, Mayor Pete is the less frightening of the bunch. ” What if there is no clear winner?” I asked.

Squeaky didn’t answer right away, but pondered the question a good five minutes, thinking between bites of his sausage biscuit. I was afraid I had offended him in my usual way, but he surprised me when he answered, ” well, I guess everybody gets a trophy and a pizza.”

Life Is A Percentage Game

The Mooch-o-Matic 2020

A few weeks ago, my buddy Mooch and I were driving to Glenrose on a little road trip. We often take an adventure when we hear of something worth investigating. The stranger the better to occupy our precious time.

Mooch heard from someone at the feed store that a lady owns a pig that recently received the “Purple Paw,” the most prestigious civilian award an animal can receive for bravery. We have to see this pig for ourselves since Glenrose is right in our back yard.

Two hours of searching, we find the lady and her pig living in the RV Park by the river. This one is a wild goose chase. It seems her little boy didn’t win a prize in the stock show, so she took a purple TCU lanyard and tied a large gold-painted Mardi-Gras coin on the lanyard, making the pig a medal. This satisfied the whining child and turned the pig into a big shot. Now the kid and the pig think they are hot stuff and are raising hell in the RV Park. The expedition wasn’t a complete waste of time, we ate barbecue at the “Squealing Piglet” and topped it off with some pecan pie and Blue Bell ice cream.

Driving back to Granbury, the oil message light came on warning me I had ten percent oil life left on the old Honda. I bragged to Mooch about how smart my car is, and it seems to know everything. I mentioned, jokingly so, that it would be great if some pharmaceutical company could invent a device to tell us, humans, how much life we have left. Mooch, ever the tinkerer, has a small invention lab in his shed and is always coming up with strange things. He said he would look into that. I knew he would.

A week goes by, and Mooch shows up at my door with a white box under his arm. We sit at my kitchen table, and he pushes the box over my way, urging me to open it. Before I could get the lid off, he yells, ” I did it, its the invention we talked about, its a Mooch-O- Matic Life Meter, we are going to be wealthy.”

I open the box and pull out what appears to be a digital children’s thermometer. On the back are a crudely installed USB port and a sticker reading made by Mooch 2020. I’m impressed that he could invent something like this so quickly. In my book, his rating just increased by twenty points.

Knowing Mooch was about to explode with pride, I ask him,”What’s in this thing and how does it work?”

Mooch proudly exclaims, ” I took a “Tommy Bear In The Summer Sun” children’s digital rectal thermometer, added two chips from a Nokia flip phone, the activation strips from a “Ellen’s Own”digital pregnancy test, a chip from a Martha Stewert Meat Thermometer, a few innards from my old Firestick and a USB port so you can save the information. Now all that’s left is to test it on a human. I tried it out on my dog Rex, and damn if he doesn’t have 35% life left. The cat saw me testing Rex and is hiding, so now it’s down to you and me. How about you be the next participant?”

I reluctantly agreed to be the first human to test the Mooch-O-Matic. I entered the bathroom, inserted the device into the proper orifice, and waited until I heard the three beeps that signaled the reading was complete. After straightening myself up a bit I exited the bathroom and gave the device to Mooch. He scrolled through a menu and then blurted out, “holy crap, you have 25% life left, you lucky S.O.B.”

Well, there ya go buddy, I’m going to be watching many more Super Bowles. Mooch then took the device into the bathroom to test himself. After ten minutes, I’m getting worried so I knock on the door.

In my best-concerned tone, I said, ” Mooch, you okay, little buddy, you didn’t fall and break a hip, did you?” Mooch opened the door, and his face is the color of snow-whites butt. With a shaking hand, he handed me the device. I looked at the reading and was shocked. Mooch has 1.5% life left, which translates to, he could assume room temperature any minute or by morning at the latest. We are both speechless, and Mooch has tears in his old watery eyes.

Without saying a word, he leaves the house, and me holding the prototype of our disappearing wealth. Just for testing sake, I pulled a previously frozen whole chicken from the fridge and inserted the Mooch-O-Matic into the deceased bird’s butt. Three beeps later, the soon to be chicken dinner that has been dead for who knows how long, reads 35% life left.

I thought for a moment about calling poor Mooch to tell him his device is faulty, but he owes me $200.00, so I’ll let him sleep on this until he pays up.

The Little Buckaroo

The little buckaroo, early 1950s

I was young, barely talking, so I couldn’t say Trigger. It came out as twigger. The other little buckaroos in the neighborhood mocked my speech impediment. I was three years old, so what. I rode the wilds of Sycamore Park, ducking under low branches, hearing Indians in the trees, and Buffalo calling. I rode the banks of the swollen creek, watching turtles feed on the carcass of a carp. I was in my intended element, a cowboy. Then the owner of the Little Pony Picture Service lifted me off and put the pony in the trailer. Bummer.

Why A Wine Cave, You Say?

Prototype Wine Cave for Hidey Hole Wine Caves in Granbury Texas

Wine Caves are back in the news. The beleaguered, but smiling, Mayor Pete can’t catch a break. One measly fundraiser in a friend’s elaborate wine cave and the press brands him an elitist – extended – pinky finger – chardonnay guzzler. You know most of the folks in Hollywierd have them. I’m betting that Brad Pitt has one in each home. Hugh Hefner had multiple wine caves stocked with excellent wines and even better bunnies. I’m pretty sure the Cowboys owner, Old Smiley Jones, has one for wine and another for scotch. Hell, everyone deserves a wine cave, so that’s why I am launching my new business, ” Hidey Hole Wine and Survival Caves,” because every citizen deserves to have one.

I called Hector, a buddy of mine in Granbury that owns a concrete business and asked if he could dig a tunnel and a large room under the foundation of a home without the house caving in.

” Hell ya, man, I’m a concrete dude; we know how to dig,” he proudly exclaimed. He gave me a price, which was much less than I had planned, so Hector is on board. His cousin lays block and stucco, and another cousin finishes interiors, so I have my crew in place. I placed an ad in the local DFW “Wine Sniffer” magazine, so now, I set back and wait for the work to come rolling in.

Update from this morning, ” Wine Sniffer” magazine rejected my ad on the basis that it sounds like Rednecks and Mexicans digging holes under houses. How did they know?

“This Aint Your Grandmas Scooter”

The day after Thanksgiving, I made my usual trip to the grocery in search of any food item that didn’t resemble a turkey. It was a fruitful excursion. I came away with ice-cream sandwiches, Ding Dongs, and Kinky Friedman salsa. Dinner was sure to be interesting.

As I was leaving HEB, I noticed a gathering at the far end of the parking lot, so I wandered over to see what the fuss was about. Being close to Sun City, a throng of seniors usually means a medical condition or someone got mashed by a car. 

There, gathered under a brightly displayed “Scooter Town” sign, was a throng of senior citizens, milling about a display of personal electric scooters, or as I call them ” fancy wheelchairs.”

I squeezed into the mob to have a better view and was surprised at how beautiful this “new generation” of personal scooters were. The throng was “oohing and ahhing” as if they were witnessing the unveiling of the new Cadillac at the State fair car show. One old-timer commented to his wife that “these new-fangled scooters made his one at home look like a Model T.” I had to agree; they were light-years better than the one my Aunt Beula used to ride around Santa Anna, Texas.

One particular scooter caught my eye, so I moseyed over to check it out. As I was bent down, admiring the tires, the salesman walked up and said, “go ahead, sit in her, crank her up and take a test drive.”

” Aren’t these supposed to be for use in the house and grocery stores?” I asked.

“Heck no, he said, these aren’t your Grandma’s scooter boy, these are the new generation of senior transportation. You can drive these babies anywhere. Take them to the store, the post office, the gym,  Luby’s, the doctor- where ever. They are 100 percent street legal, and the best part is you don’t need a license. So…when the kids think your a vegetated pabulum sucker and take away the car, you can get one of these beauties and keep on trucking.

He was in full salesman mode now, and continued to explain in further detail:” take this model you’re looking at here, this is our newest one, The Woodstock Retro.

Notice the authentic tie-dye seat, the leather fringe appointments, the custom paint job, that is an exact copy of John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls Royce. Upfront here, we have the hand made-Tibetan copper bull horn, and in the back, there is a 2500 lb wench with a carbonized cut-proof chain. The tires are reproductions of the legendary Goodyear Redline radials wrapped around these special little Krager Mags. To finish off the package, we’ve included a Lear-8 track tape player, a leather stash bag, and that cute little bird sitting on the guitar decal”.

“Why would you need a bullhorn and wench?” I asked.

” the bull horn” he exclaimed ” is for yelling at people that get in your way, such as punk kids or anyone disrespectful to old folks, and,  if you’re still feeling frisky like back in the day, it can be used to voice your opinion when protesting at Wal-Mart or the Social Security Office.

The wench and chain have come standard on our California and Oregon Protest models for years are for attaching you and your scooter to tree, gate, power plant, or structure of your choice. That cut-proof chain makes it tough for the police to get you unhooked.

Now, how about a test drive there.. boy?

I agreed and eased onto the cushy seat.

After a few minutes of instruction, I was ready to roll. I turned the ignition key and felt the “hard bump” of a  powerful transmission lighting up.

” Go ahead, gun the throttle, listen to those pipes,” said the salesman.

I gunned the throttle, and the digitally-reproduced sound of a Harly Davidson roared out of the side pipes. He was right, this was not my Aunt Beula’s  scooter.

The salesman sternly warned me to take it easy because the controls were extremely touchy. With that warning clearly ignored, I pulled the sleek little scooter onto the parking lot and accelerated down to the exit.

The salesman didn’t say anything about “not” driving in traffic, so I figured it would be alright to at least cross the street and take a spin around the Dairy Queen.

While waiting at the exit to cross the street,  I thought some tunes would be cool, so I reached down and pushed the button on the Lear 8 Track, and Steppenwolf blared from the two Bose side-mounted speakers. I also mashed a small button next to the sound system labeled “Turbo.”

“What the hell! Let’s see what this baby can do,” I yelled.

With “Born to Be Wild” blaring at 250 DB’s I gunned the throttle.

Now, I expected a decent surge of acceleration, but “I didn’t expect” that sucker to raise straight up on its rear wheels and do a “high ho Silver” wheelie across Williams Drive.

With absolutely no control of the scooter,  I shot down the busy street like an NRA dragster, narrowly missing a bread truck, an eighteen-wheeler, and three suvs by mere inches.

As I roared by a Cadillac, the lady behind the wheel crossed herself and showed me her rosary. With that sign, I figured “what the hell, I’m going to die.”

Pinned to the back of the seat by the G-Force, hand frozen on the throttle, I somehow made a hard right turn into the parking lot of the Dairy Queen, spewing dirt and gravel on cars waiting in the take outline, as I did a rubber-burning 360 and came to a stop.

The “little beast” expelled a  tiny raspy -cough from the shiny side pipes, shuddered a few times and died.

Stunned and disoriented, I dismounted the scooter, and on shaky legs, departed, leaving the little beast where it died.

Driving home, I decided that I ever need one of those scooters, I think I’ll buy something safer, like a Harley.

My Interview with Mike Dugo of the 60s Garage Band website

The Orphans 1967. L to R: front-Danny Goode, Jarry Davis, Marshall Sartain, rear-Barry Corbett, and Johnny Strawn

From the Dolphins to the Orphans and then ATNT, Johnny Strawn was a key player to the Dallas music scene in the 1960s. Though still currently performing, Johnny looks back at the time spent in his early bands as “absolutely the best time of my life.” Here are his recollections.

An Interview with Johnny “J.P.” Strawn A Key Contributor To the 60’s Garage Band Days in Dallas, Texas.

[Mike Dugo] How did you first get interested in music?

Johnny Strawn: My father played with the Light Crust Doughboys and Bob Wills in the late forties and through the fifties. I grew up with western swing, jazz and country music, as well as a good dose of the musicians that played it. My father tried his best to discourage me from playing an instrument, but when he realized I just wanted to have fun, and it was ingrained in me, he taught me a few chords on my Gibson J45, and I was hooked.

[Mike Dugo] Was the Orphans your first band?

Johnny Strawn: My first band was The Dolphins, formed around ’64 in Plano. We were together in different forms until we morphed into The Orphans in late ’65.

[Mike Dugo] How did that come about?

Johnny Strawn: Jarry Davis, Barry Corbett and myself formed the original band with a bass player and keyboard player from McKinney Texas – Ronny and Johnny; I can’t recall their last names. We were pretty good, did mainly the top 40 stuff you heard on KLIF and KBOX.

[Mike Dugo] What about the later line-up?

Johnny Strawn: The final version of the 1967 Orphans was Johnny Strawn, vocals and lead guitar –  Jarry Davis, vocals and rhythm guitar-  Danny Goode, lead vocals and bass –  Marshall Sartain, vocals and keyboards- Barry Corbett, vocals

[Mike Dugo] I’ve been in contact with James Goode, whose brother, Danny, was in The Excels with him. I assume this is the same, Danny?

Johnny Strawn: One and the same. Danny did play with the Excels in the early sixties. There was a whole group of musicians from McKinney that played in quite a few bands. Danny and James of course, Billy and Donny Cave, Don McCutchin,  Gary Crawford, Joe Copeland, Don Davis, Danny Haynes and others I can’t remember.  Plano and McKinney fed off of each other for talent. Whenever someone left a band in one town, the phones started ringing in the other looking for a replacement. We all played together at one time or another.

[Mike Dugo] Where did the band typically practice?

Johnny Strawn: We started out in a vacant storefront in old downtown Plano. Jarry’s mother was a real estate agent and had good connections with the city fathers. She got us a building where we could leave all of our gear and practice anytime we needed. Plano closed the sidewalks at dusk in those days, so evening practice sessions were undisturbed. Most nights in the summer when we did practice, the main street would fill up with kids, parked and listening or sometimes dancing. It was a lot of fun – kind of like a country beach party movie. The only thing missing was the beach. After a while, it got to be a bit much for the city fathers so we turnedJarry’s garage into a studio with soundproofing and carpet.

[Mike Dugo] What type of gigs did you initially land?

Johnny Strawn:We started out playing parties, then school functions, then skating rinks, sock hops, teen dances and then clubs … pretty much in that order.

[Mike Dugo] How would you describe the band’s sound?

Johnny Strawn: Our sound was all over the place. Remember back then, you played a lot of dances, so everything you did was meant to keep them on the dance floor: Soul music, Beatles, Bee Gees, Rascals, Hendrix, Doors, Steppenwolf, Cream, Stones, Vanilla Fudge, Jefferson Airplane. We did a pretty good mix of tunes. We used to change costumes in between sets to go with the music. Jeans and such, then Nehru shirts and beads, then it got a little complicated after a while, and we had to have as much room for wardrobe as equipment.

[Mike Dugo] Did you play any of the local teen clubs?

Johnny Strawn: Oh yeah, we played them all on a regular basis. The Studio Club, LuAnn’s, Strawberry Fields, Phantasmagoria, The Cellar, The Box and some more I can’t remember in Dallas and other cities. We used to do a lot of double bills at The Studio Club and LuAnn’s; that was a big thing back then. I remember playing a lot of them with Southwest F.O.B. We were playing at LuAnn’s one weekend when during the Jimi Hendrix song Fire, our drummer put lighter fluid on his cymbals, lit his drum sticks, then hit the cymbals and ignited them. It got a little out of hand and it burned up his drums. That kind of stuff wouldn’t fly nowadays, but back then, we didn’t think of the repercussions. The crowd loved it, sort of like The Who, only with real fire and smoke. Miss Lou Ann was not pleased and banned us from the club for about six months. We eventually worked our way back into her good graces. Ron Chapman the famous DJ on KLIF and KVIL remembered us as the band that nearly burned down LuAnn’s. Some legacy.

[Mike Dugo] How far was the band’s touring territory?

Johnny Strawn: All of Texas, some of Oklahoma. We didn’t go too far from home in those days. Three of us were still attending high school so traveling during the week was tough. 

[Mike Dugo]Did the Orphans participate in any Battle of the Bands?

Johnny Strawn: We did a few that I remember. One (was) at McCord’s Music, and one at the Arnold and Morgan music store. I remember The Dancing Bear, Us Four and maybe the Redwood Page (also competing). We won one of them but placed second at the other.

[Mike Dugo] How did you hook up with Mark Lee? I know he also managed Kenny and The Kasuals?

Johnny Strawn: Mark Lee heard us at the Studio Club and approached us. We signed a contract with him and, after that, we really started getting busy. We played every weekend and some weeknights I recall. He booked us to open for the Iron Butterfly at Strawberry Fields when they did their first tour. We were so stoked; we did one of their songs off the album. The song was Possession, I believe, and we really nailed it. They didn’t appreciate that, and to show us just how much (they didn’t), promptly relieved me of my Vox Wha-Wha peddle and our drummer’s velvet Nehru suit. A hard lesson learned by all. Mark put us up to it knowing it would torque the Iron Butterfly, and afterward, he just howled at the whole scene it created. He tried to see us perform as much as possible, usually at Studio Club or LuAnn’s. I’m not sure where Mark is these days or what he’s up to, but it would be nice to talk to him again. He wasn’t much older than we were – maybe mid-twenties or so.

[Mike Dugo] How popular locally did the Orphans become?

Johnny Strawn: Pretty popular. After signing with Mark Lee, we really took off. We were well known in Texas and Oklahoma.

[Mike Dugo] There was reportedly another local band named The Orphans. Did you ever come into contact with them?

Johnny Strawn:

No, we didn’t. 

[Mike Dugo] Did the Orphans ever record any singles?

Johnny Strawn: We recorded a single in 1966 at Summit Sounds on Greenville Ave. The title was “Leader of My Mind.”I wrote the tune – kind of a Byrds’ folk-rock thing with harmonica. It got a little airplay locally and was on the Fashion label. We recorded another single in 1968 after we had changed our names to The ATNT. The title was “No One Told Me About Her” with the flipside of “Cobblestone Street.” Danny Goode, Barry Corbett and I wrote the tunes. The second disk got good airplay locally and in south Texas, but never made much money. It was also on the Fashion label. Artie Glenn and Smokey Montgomery produced both records. They also produced Paul and Paula and Bruce Chanel at the time. 

[Mike Dugo]

Why did you change your name to The ATNT? What did it stand for?

Johnny Strawn: Jerry Deaton, a guy our drummer knew, wanted to manage us. We were happy with Mark Lee and turned him down numerous times. I guess he was a little sour about the deal and had the name “The Orphans” copyrighted, and then threatened to sue us if we used it. We liked ATNT {Alice talks “n” talks} and Jerry’s mother was the inspiration for that name. Later, we found out that he had managed another band called the Orphans for a while, so that was the reason for all the drama. He copyrighted the name so we had to change. 

[Mike Dugo] Are there any vintage live recordings or unreleased songs?

Johnny Strawn: I still have a few copies of our second

record, “Cobblestone Street”; the first one I assume is lost forever. Barry Corbett, our late drummer, had some 8mm films and some live tape recordings, but now that he’s gone, they may be lost forever.

[Mike Dugo] Did the band make any local TV appearances?

Johnny Strawn: We did the “Mark (Marky Baby) Stevens TV Show” a couple of times over at the WBAP studios. All the film went with Barry. There may be some of that program in a vault somewhere. It was all lip-sync to your record.

[Mike Dugo] Why did the band break up in the ’60s?

Johnny Strawn: I was forced to leave the band over a disagreement with our rhythm guitar player. It was either study to pass my final exams in my senior year or practice. I had to make a choice, so I did. Pretty petty stuff really, but what do you expect from teenagers? The band stayed together a few more months after that and then broke up. Some of the guys continued to play with other groups.

[Mike Dugo] What about you? Did you join or form any bands after ATNT?

Johnny Strawn: I didn’t play too much until about ’74 when I became involved with the progressive country music scene in Austin and Dallas. I played with various people around town and some in south Texas and did some pick-up and studio work. I joined the Trinity River Band in late ’79 and played with them until ’85. I also played with The Light Crust Doughboys from time to time and did some studio work on the five-string banjo. I was fortunate to play on the Light Crust Doughboys album, ” One Hundred-Fifty Years of Texas Music.” 

[Mike Dugo]What about today? How often, and where, do you perform?

Johnny Strawn: I am a project manager in commercial construction, and do a lot of painting and artwork – mostly Texas art. After 35 years, Danny Goode, who I played with in ATNT and the Orphans, called me and asked me to be part of their group, The American Classics. I joined them about two years ago and that’s what we do nowadays. The band consists of Danny Goode, bass and lead vocals; John Payne, lead guitar and keyboards; Jordan Welch, drums; and me on rhythm guitar and vocals. We play about once a month or so around Dallas Fort Worth, mostly private parties. We recently played in Deep Ellum, and will probably be back down there soon. We stick to mostly ’60s music – it’s what we know well. It’s good to still be playing rock music at this age. You really never outgrow it.

[Mike Dugo] How do you best summarize your experience with The Orphans?

Johnny Strawn: It was absolutely the best time of my life. How could you not enjoy being a teenager in the ’60s and playing in a popular rock band? The people we met and played with, the experience that we will all carry with us the rest of our lives. It was just a part of life that helped shape us into what we are now – being part of that change in our country, that decade. It was a time of turmoil, but it was also the last year of the innocence we grew up with. Teenagers these days are so hardened. The music then was happy and said a lot. It would move you, whether you played it or danced to it. The music now has a meaner, harder edge, and reflects the times we live in.

Interview with Phil Strawn for the Big D 60s website

The ATNT playing Flower Fair 1968, Dallas Texas. Foreground: Johnny (Phil) Strawn, Jarry Davis, Barry Corbett (drums) Danny Goode, and Marshall Sartin

Big D 60s musical humans: My friend William Williams has asked me to scribble some text for his website devoted to rock bands in Dallas during the 1960s. To gather information for the text, I am circulating the following questions (and a few random thoughts) in the hope that they might spark memories and inspire participation.

In my view, the 60s did not “end” until about 1973, and in some ways, the period has never ended. Our “generation,” of course, faces the recurring question: Did the 60s seem such a unique period because of the sweeping social and cultural change of the era? Or was it simply due to our youth? I.e., might every generation feel that the world underwent some sort of major transformation during that generation’s “coming of age” or struggle to find/create its own identity?  Or some combination of the two explanations?

On a separate sheet(s) of paper, answer as few or as many of the following questions as you wish. Email is okay, too, but printed on preferred. If you hate to type but want to respond, dictate your thoughts onto a cassette and send that. Also, feel free to provide answers to questions that I have not been alert enough to include here….

1. Q: Name.

A: Phil Strawn, but I went by Johnny Strawn back in the sixties.

2.Q: Instrument(s)

. A:  In those days, it was strictly guitar, but later on I picked up five- String Banjo and mandolin.

3.Q: In what part(s) of Dallas did you live?

A: I was born, and grew up in Fort Worth Texas, but spent my rebellious and formative teenage years in Plano Texas. My family moved there in 1964 when there was only one red light in the middle of town and the Dairy Queen was considered fine dining. It was the only restaurant in town where your family could enjoy a deep-fried dinner and your dad (or mom) could burn rubber on your way out of the parking lot (after circling three times of course) and no one cared. In the “1964 Plano”, it was a blood rule, If you didn’t live and die football, you better mosey on over to Richardson or Dallas, where all the “city folk lived”.

4. Q: What band(s) were you in?

A:  My first band was with a classmate, and friend, Jarry Davis, or “Jarry Boy” as his buddies liked to call him. We called ourselves, The Dolphins, or Blue Dolphins, or The Laughing Dolphins, depending on the mood of the band that particular week. It included myself, Jarry, Ron Miller on drums, and Warren Whitworth on bass. Warren really didn’t play bass; he borrowed one from a cousin and had the largest amplifier.

The only progressions he knew, were in “E”, so everything was in that key (early power chords).  We used cheap Silvertone, and worse amps, and these god-awful Japanese electric guitars with five pickups, and a cluster of switches that did nothing. It was impossible to keep them in-tune, so we went with something close. The equipment was crying pitiful, but we managed to sound decent. In late 64 and early 65, Jarry and I formed “The Orphans”, with Barry Corbett on drums. The original spelling was “Orfuns”, but our drummer was “on the outs” with his parents, (as usual) and never the ones to pass on “drama”, we became “The Orphans”, as in, “children without parents”. A few years later, there was another band in Dallas with the same name, and things got sticky with attorneys, copyrights and such, so went switched to “The ATNT”, But that’s another story.  We realized during our first practice, that Barry, was “Phil Spector’s twin from a different mother ”. He amazed us with his musical lunacy. This boy could hum notes on a perfect pitch from a dead sleep, and play any instrument or piece of machinery. He once played a song on a lawnmower, and it was pretty darn good! He also was equally versatile on keyboards and Indian Sitar (even had his own makeup tin for the dot on his forehead). On bass guitar, was Johnny Malone, and a keyboard player, Ronny “the frogman”, (can’t remember his last name), both, strong-boned “chicken fried” country boys from McKinney Texas. They were also darn good rockers.

Got to love those jackets and boots

Barry’s father, noticing the improvement in the band, helped us purchase some decent P.A. equipment and new drums for Barry. We begged  “Lil’ Spector” to get the gray Ludwigs that Ringo played, but instead, he purchased these “ LSD looking Slingerlands with a “swirl margarita” 3-D finish.” If you wore those cheesy 3-D glasses from 7-11 while looking at them, and the light was right, you could see the “summer of love” two years before it took place. The new drums were complimented with a 1950’s garage sale, rotating colored light, from an aluminum Christmas tree display. We were so impressed with the setup; it became our first light show.

We all had menial to worthless summer jobs of sorts, so we took our paltry wages, stored in tobacco bags, and visited Larry Morgan, at Arnold and Morgan Music in Garland. Larry, noticing our inexperience (as well as our little bags of gold) helped outfit us with new gear. We purchased huge Fender Showman, Custom and Vox amps and Rickenbacker, and Gibson guitars. We were afraid to look at the total, so we handed Larry the money, signed a note, took our spoils and left. We now had the “proper tools of the trade”, so it was time to make some money to pay the debt.

Along with the fall, came high school football in McKinney, and we lost our bassist and keyboards. We put the word on the street for replacements and were surprised when, two “older musicians”, (again from McKinney) auditioned for the spots.

Danny Goode (brother of James Goode) had recently played bass with The Excels, and Marshall Sartain, who was a classically trained pianist, caught in the “throes of musical and parental revolt”, had just purchased a new Farfisa organ. He was a mix of Van Cliburn and Jerry Lee Lewis, and we never knew who would show up at the gigs. He either came looking a little “too sharp”, or like he had been on a week’s bender in Shreveport with his second cousin. He was one hell of a keyboard player and gave “Lil Spector” some friendly but serious competition.

After Danny and Marshall joined, the sound of “The Orphans” was born. It had been a “stick chewing labor”, but the monster it produced was worth the waiting. The first song we played as a group was perfect! causing us all to take a step back to collect ourselves. It was as if we played and sang together for years.

Miss Alice, our manager(Jarry’s mother) was so astonished; she seated herself in an aluminum lawn chair and summoned a cardboard fan and a stiff drink of Jim Beam. Apparently, she suffered an attack of “rock n roll vapors”. Shortly after that, she discovered Valium and was better at dealing with us, and our music.

Armed with fresh talent, and newly seeded dedication, we committed to practicing three nights a week. First, using an old storefront in downtown Plano (until the merchants ran us out) and then, remodeling Jarry’s large garage into a studio complete with soundproofing and air conditioning. Our practices became a social gathering on summer nights. We would walk outside during a break, and find a full-blown street party in front of Jarry’s house. It was somewhat of a “countrified beach party”, complete with beer, muscle cars burning rubber, rock “n” roll and a trail of teenage broken hearts. We agreed life didn’t get any better than this, at least until later on.

5.   Q: Musical influences

A:  I was raised in a musical family.  My late father, Johnny Strawn played the fiddle (violin if you are from north of the Red River) with the Light Crust Doughboys for over 50 years, and with The Red Foley Show known as the Ozark Jubilee broadcast out of Springfield MO. and with Bob Wills and others.  We didn’t own a record player or a radio, or need one; we had the real musicians! It was common for; Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, Billy Hudson, Glen Campbell, Paul Blount, Carroll Hubbard, Bob Wills, Smokey Montgomery, Ralph Sanford, Ronnie Dawson, and others to be there playing or visiting when my father was home from the road. My musical influences were all over the map, starting with Country and Western, (or hillbilly) Fort Worth Western Swing, jazz and big band.  Later on, with inspiration from Ronnie Dawson and the Big D Jamboree, I latched on to rock n’ roll. I learned an early lesson from Ronnie. If you played guitar on a stage and could shake your ass and sing, you got any girl, any time. It was a simple equation; play guitar and sing, watch girls go “ga-ga”.That’s the real reason Ronnie had that big smile on his face, and any guy that says he didn’t take up guitar to “meet girls”, is a liar. I know.

My sister and I, being babes recently removed from mother’s arms, innocently assumed that everyone lived with a house full of “ goofball musicians” And if you didn’t play an instrument, you “weren’t quite right”. Later on, we learned it was definitely the other way around.

7. Q: What clubs and/or other venues did you play?

A:  Starting out, we played the lightweight gigs; school functions, the battle of the bands and private parties given by students, for students. Sometimes, we were lucky and made a few bucks. The times we didn’t were all right with us, because we always wound up with the cutest girls. We booked better-paying gigs, as we became well known; larger school proms, college fraternity parties, company parties, and street dances.

In later 65 into 66, we started playing clubs in Dallas and Fort Worth. The Phantasmagoria, Studio Club, LouAnn’s, The Box, The Cellar in Dallas, and later on Strawberry Fields, Panther Hall, Bronco Bowel, and some clubs in Houston, Oklahoma and Surfside Beach. We played all of the venues in the area, and now, I now wish I had kept better records of “where and when”, because all of those old venues are gone.

8. Q: Were you ever forced to quit playing early at a gig because you played too loud / played too many original songs / your appearance scared the audience?  A: “Turn it down!” Those were the first words spoken by the “adult in charge” of any function we played. They never asked us to stop, but I do remember a few high school principals diving for the power cords because we were making the chaperones (teachers) “writhe in agony”. It never failed, as soon as we struck the first chords of “Satisfaction” or “Gloria”, the old ladies (teachers who were sorry they were chaperones) grabbed their heads and began staggering around like “zombies” from “Night of the Living Dead”. The louder we played, the more they jumped and wailed. We had no idea that music could inflict such pain on anyone “over forty”. Although now, we have personally“ felt the pain.” We played a few original songs, but mainly the current tunes on the radio. No one gave much attention to the original music. If the songs were not on the radio, they didn’t exist. The kids wanted to dance to the tunes they recognized from KLIF or KVIL.  We were a polite bunch of clean-cut guys most of the time; we didn’t become “scary” until 1969.

9. Q: Describe any other unusual experiences you may have had while playing a public engagement. A:  Good Grief! That could take pages, but I’ll keep it short. Let’s see…playing with strippers at the Phantasmagoria, “musical arson” at Lou Ann’s (these are in the recent recollections on the BigD60’s site). The LouAnn’s weenie roast is my favorite. We were doing Hendrix songs (as were most of the bands in Dallas) and decided to use” real fire” during the song “Fire”. What a brilliant idea that was! Stanley Hall, our equipment manager (pre-roady days) squirted lighter fluid on our drummer’s cymbals so they would ignite when struck with a lighted drumstick. The fluid accidentally dripped onto his drum set, and when it ignited, the drums, as well as cymbals, flamed up. If you can imagine, the crowd, fueled by brown bag booze, whooping it up and urging us on, thinking it was part of our act. We were oblivious to the danger we had created, and kept right on playing, “basking in our moment of artistic adulation”. Lucky for Lou Ann’s, and us, we received a free pass that night. We didn’t burn the place down but learned a life lesson. The wise words of our parents hit us full force, “don’t play with matches, you’ll burn the house down”. The only thing left for us to do was “ shoot our eye out with a BB gun”, and we were working really hard on that one. It was a long time before LouAnn’s asked us back.  I think Mark Lee “paid them” to let us return, but they frisked us for matches and lighter fluid at the door.

Another memorable gig was a time we played the high school Christmas Dance in Ennis Texas. We had recently acquired a new ride in the form of a “ lumbering, black Cadillac Hearse”. To that visual, add this; a psychedelic painted equipment trailer, Nehru jackets, Beatle boots, beads, and peace symbol jewelry, semi-long or ratted up hair, and a newly found attitude. We were, (and very proud of it) a girl’s parent’s worst nightmare.

Upon arriving at Ennis High School for the gig, we were welcomed by the stoic social committee, also known as the “defensive line”. The colorful but “ rock n’ roll illiterate” students thought we were “dirty hippies” from Dallas, and gleefully proceeded to harass the band. It didn’t bother us too much. After all, when you wear paisley Nehru shirts and jewelry, you have to expect a little of that.

This warped adulation went on all evening, and after four hours of relentless name-calling, request for songs from Mars, and some rather amusing and inventive heckling, our rhythm guitar player “Jarry Boy”, (a kinder and more gentle guy you’ll never find), had reached his limit. You never know when someone will snap, one second he’s a normal guy, then with no warning, turns into Norman Bates. The band watched amusingly as Jarry stopped playing, and started to shake like a “Chihuahua dog passing a peach pit”.  He calmly walked to the front of the stage, gripped his beautiful new Cherry Red Gibson 335 guitar like a Louisville Slugger, and swung it like Roger Maris going for the strike zone. He smacked the main antagonist, a “plug” of a fellow, weighing in at around 250 lb. (and standing about five feet tall) up the side of his head, sending the poor boy staggering into the crowd. It was a mighty blow, and we heard the spine of the beautiful Gibson crack as it was delivered.

To our surprise, when the guitar bounced off of “ the plugs ” head, it produced a beautiful thread of feedback that was so sweet. The rest of the band, never ignoring a good dose of feedback, and being the insensitive dip-sticks we were, launched into a Vanilla Fudge song.

We played beautifully, and with such feeling, while the “butt whooping” was in progress at the edge of the stage. We figured it this way; “Jarry Boy “ needed some theme music while he was in the process of destroying his guitar, “the plugs” head, and our freshmen careers with Mark Lee as musicians.  We agreed it was a superior show to the one that The Who had delivered a few months back at Memorial Auditorium. We were positive, Pete Townsend had never assaulted his audience with his guitar. The end of the song signaled the end of the dance, and non-too soon. Ennis was in our rearview mirror in mere minutes with most of the defensive line escorting us out of town. I’m not sure we even picked up or check. We pointed that hearse south, and headed for Dallas, via Houston for more holiday gigs.

Our chaperone, Miss Alice, thought we were “heathen children and should be whooped”. We politely reminded her that it was “her son” who wielded the “Gibson Ball Bat” and administered the “whooping to Opie”. Miss Alice (and the rest of the band) got through that tour and with a lot of help from Jim Beam and branch water.

Arriving back in Dallas a few days later, we rolled up to the Fairmont Hotel, where we were to play a Christmas party for a group of nurses and interns from Methodist Hospital. The concierge tapped on the driver’s window and with a big smile told us to” pick up the body at the loading dock”. We got a lot of funeral jokes. The crowd looked really young, everyone appeared to be well under thirty, and being the “swinging sixties”; they proceeded to act like they were the poster children for “out of control adults gone wild”.

Next door, in a smaller ballroom, a group of Braniff Airline employees (mostly flight attendants and pilots) was having their Christmas shindig… but with no band. Once the music started, it didn’t take them long to crash the party. The tiny airline bottles of booze were everywhere. I had my pockets stuffed like a squirrel’s jaws in October, as did the rest of the band. Adults were dancing on tables, chairs, and even had a “conga line” going on the bar top. We were joined on stage by volunteer go-go dancers (flight attendants and nurses) sort of like the “Sumpin Else” show dancers, but with some moves, Ron Chapman would have censored, and some we hadn’t seen before. The nurses thought we should be more sociable and “have a better time”, so they got the band “commode hugging” drunk. I am sure we sounded awful, but the crowd was so blasted, it didn’t matter. Our drummer and keyboard man turned up missing for a few days. We assumed they were somewhere in Oak Cliff receiving an “intense checkup” or, flying around Texas on Braniff.

10. Q: Contrast the environment for rock bands in the 60s/early 70s with that of today. It appears that originality is encouraged today, whereas “back in the day” it was actually discouraged. Why the heck?  A:  In the sixties, the radio was Top 40 format only. It was AM stations blasting the area with 50,000 Watts of rock music and caffeine crazed DJ’s talking so fast you understood half of what they said. FM “underground rock radio” (as it was tagged) didn’t happen in Dallas until late 67, and then, it was only one station with DJ’s that talked very little and were “oh so cool”.

If a band wanted to work, you played the tunes that were on the radio, and throw in a few of yours in between. The music scene in Dallas was innocent. There wasn’t a “Deep Ellum” to feed and showcase the bands. It was strictly a handful of clubs, private parties, and shows sponsored by the radio stations. A few of the department stores had traveling shows with bands and dancers, sort of a “rock n roll medicine show”, with local DJ’s hawking the store’s products.  A lot of the local “disc jockey’s” like Ron Chapman, Ken Dowe, Johnny Dark, Jimmy Rabbit, Marky Baby, and others, did emcee spots at the local clubs and were helpful in getting the local bands known. We always enjoyed doing shows with them. They built you up with this over the top introduction, and by the time you reached the stage, the crowd thought you were The Beatles. It actually made you try a little harder.

Tom Hanks made a movie a few years ago,” That thing you Do”, an accurate film about a garage band in the sixties, that had a hit record and their fifteen minutes of fame. The scene when they heard their record on the radio for the first time is a classic. They stopped their car, jumped out and were dancing around, acting like the kids they were. All so very “sixties”. I know that our band acted just as goofy the first time we heard our song on the radio, and I’m sure that most guys that had a 45 on the radio identified with that scene in the movie.

11. Q: What popular songs of the 60s/early 70s made you want to puke?

A:  I couldn’t stand most of the girl groups and the bubble gum tunes, The Archies or “ Come on Down to My Boat Baby”, The Royal Guardsman and the Snoopy songs. They made you want to fall on a sword, or run your car into a wall. But, these bands had tunes on the radio, and most of us didn’t, so as much as we slammed them, we were quietly envious.

12. Q: Did you perform original songs or all covers?

A: The majority of the songs we played covered. In 1968, we started playing more original songs, after our record was getting airplay. For a band to carve out their own signature sound, when you were expected to sound like Sam and Dave on one tune and Jim Morrison and The Doors on the next, was tough. It was confusing, but it made us better musicians. We didn’t stop to think that it took “ real musicianship” to pull that off, unlike today’s musicians that depend entirely on distortion for every song. I feel today’s young artists lack the drive to develop their musical ability any more than a handful of power chords aided by the latest distortion effects units. There are exceptions, but not many.

13. Q: What artists/songs did you really like back then which/who you now cannot stand or just aren’t too crazy about? If any.  A: I liked the Beatles, Rick Nelson, Simon and Garfunkel, Tim Buckley, Phil Oachs, Eric Clapton, The Rascals, The Doors, they were just a few. I never could get into the “girl groups” like The Supremes, The Ronettes, etc. it was chick music, and the only reason we ever allowed it on our radios was to pacify our dates. To get to any of “the bases”, you had to suffer through it. Although I dug Dusty Springfield, she had a lot of soul for a blue-eyed blond English girl and great musical arrangements.

14. Q: What, if anything, about being in a rock band in Dallas in the 60s/early 70s was different from being in a rock band during that time in, say, Cleveland, Denver, Seattle, Miami, Baltimore, St. Louis, Atlanta, etc.?

A: We played in Texas and Oklahoma, so I can’t be sure of how different it was in other states. Jarry’s cousin, from Memphis TN, played with The Gentry’s for a while and after hearing us, he commented we were too “hard edge and needed more soul”. Understandable, since everyone in Memphis was rationed a few pounds of it at birth. We always thought our music to be Texas rock n roll. Where else could you hear bands with a singer that sounded like George Jones playing “ Sunshine of Your Love”.

15. Q: Ditto for Dallas compared to the rest of Texas.

A:  Dallas bands appeared to be more polished. When we played in south Texas, we were always well received because we played a different selection of music than the home town bands. I think it was more of a local thing that dictated what you played. Dallas was an “Alice inspired rabbit hole” for Texas rock music, look at all the good bands and players that escaped from here, and moved to Austin. Q: Today, of course, Texas music is widely understood as being a unique genre all its own. So many of our best artists are not easily pigeon-holed as rock or country, for instance, which is refreshing in light of the mind-numbing monotony of corporate radio.

16. As regards Dallas rock bands of the 60s/early 70s, do you feel that you/they contributed to that unique nature or mostly responded to trends originating overseas or in New York and California?

A: It all started in Texas. The roll call would take pages, but most of your rock historians have written, and will testify that Texas was ground zero. Those of us who grew up and played the music here already knew that. Buddy Holly, Ronnie Dawson, Bill Haley, Waylon Jennings, Joe Poovey, Bobby Fuller, they were all known as rockers, but they all grew up playing country and could wear either hat with comfort. It was the same for us in Dallas and Fort Worth. We played rock, but could also play a Buck Owens or Willie Nelson tune, and didn’t mind mixing the riffs and phrases together to create a hybrid that was labeled as the Texas sound. In San Antonio and Corpus, they were infusing the Latino border music and really coming up with some hot stuff. (pardon the pun)

Q: How have your own musical tastes changed, if they have, as you have logged more years on the planet?

A: My taste in music hasn’t changed much. I’m still playing classic rock music in a band. And, I have learned to appreciate the older music as I’ve aged. Since the turn of the century, American music has chronicled every decade with its own style that’s easily recognizable as being from that time.  I think the 60’s experienced the most drastic shift in music, if only because of the meteoric changes in our society. The Vietnam War fueled the protest songs that changed folk music from “ethereal sweet sing-alongs” to caustic social commentaries. Rock music cast aside the innocent “love songs” and became gritty social anthems that mirrored the displeasure of the youth and the growing anti-war sentiment. Our nation’s young were becoming “anti-everything”. The song lyrics changed from “ sweet Mary Lou I’m so in love with you”, to “ what a field day for the heat, a thousand people in the street”. It was heady stuff. Because of those changes, that decade produced many of the best songs and songwriters in the history of music. They set the musical bar for years to come. I have learned to appreciate those songs for what they are; well written, well-played tunes documenting the “ideals” of a generation that “got the changes they wanted…like them or not”.

17. Q: Is there any music from the old days you’ve heard recently that surprised you in some way?

A: I’m assuming the old days, meaning 50’s and 60’? Yes, the music of the Beach Boys has caught my interest again. We didn’t cover any of their songs because the vocals were so difficult. But today, I marvel at what they did on record. The vocal arrangements alone would drive today’s bands to drink, or back to the garage. And, today, when I listen to The Beatles music, it sounds so simple and at times, raw, but try and replicate their songs live, and you realize just how talented and crafty they were. They changed the way we wrote and played. Their work represents songwriting at it’s best, and they challenged a generation of rock musicians to play more than four chords.

18. Q: What factors influenced the breakup of your band(s)? And if you no longer play music, what led to that? Do you ever desire to start again?

A: Let’s just say this, to this day, I have hard feelings about the breakup of our band. My exit was not handled well considering these guys were my friends. The band stayed together a few more months and then our keyboardist left for a commune and the rest drifted away. It usually ends that way with most groups.

I kept my hand in music, playing progressive- country in the ’70s with different people. I played with The Trinity River Band for five years, but that became too demanding, so I quit and laid the guitar down to concentrate on my family and career. I played with the Light Crust Doughboys on occasion and did studio work on the banjo. I didn’t own a guitar and didn’t want one. When I decided to quit, I cut off the appendages. A severe move for a life long musician. But it was a cleansing of the soul is what I sought.

I started to miss music but didn’t have the heart to again commit to it. Then, two years ago, my old bandmate and friend, Danny Goode contacted me via email from After exchanging brief histories of our lives to that point, he asked me if I would like to set in with their band for practice. I didn’t own equipment and wasn’t sure I even wanted to re-visit that place. But, after a little encouragement from Danny, I decided to give it a shot. I borrowed one of John’s guitars and an amp. We played a few tunes, and once again, it was as if we had never stopped. Time stood still for a brief moment, and it felt great. So, I joined the band.

We call ourselves the “American Classics”, and we play 60’s and some early 70’s rock. We stay busy enough to make it fun, but not work. Danny and I played in “The Orphans” together in the ’60s, and John Payne (JP) played in “The Fabulous Sensations” out of Lubbock while Jordan Welch, our drummer played in a Dallas band “The Coachmen”. We played the same songs, so re-visiting them was easy.

The American Classics today playing Poor Davids Pub, Dallas Texas. Right to left: Phil Strawn on guitar, Danny Goode on bass, John Payne on lead guitar and Jordan Welch on drums

19. Q: As a geezer-in-training, how do you maintain a rock-and-roll attitude?   (If that is something you aspire to do.) (Aside from wishing you had the dough to have a dietician and personal trainer follow you around like Mick does.)

A:  Poor Mick, someone needs to feed that boy a cheeseburger, or a chicken fried steak.  We don’t have a rock-and-roll attitude anymore. We’re having too much fun when we play. To a man, we feel fortunate to still be playing, and doing it well, if not better than back then. We know it won’t last forever so we enjoy every gig and every practice as if it were our last. We figure that we have about five more years before we start to embarrass ourselves. When we need to mount our guitars on our walkers, that’s when we’ll stop.

20. Q: As the years ground by, and punk and grunge and rap and who-knows-what-the-hell-else became popular in the underground and then got co-opted by Madison Avenue, did you ever find yourself wondering what the hell is wrong with kids today? If so, did you wanna slap yourself upside the head?

A: The American  “Pop Music” industry has been in the toilet for the last fifteen years, with the exception of country music and some of the smaller “indie” labels that still find talented musicians to record “real music”. To find “good old rock”, you listen to the country artist. It’s the same licks from the ’60s but they’ve added steel guitars and fiddles. I recently heard Cross Canadian Ragweed and was expecting a country band, but these guys rocked.  They threw out fantastic 60’s fueled licks with hot country lyrics. I swear the ghost of Jimi Hendrix was in them.  Another great band today,“ The Derailers” out of Austin, “rock a billy” with 60’s overtones.

What’s wrong with the music and the kids today?  The destruction of our educational system, also known as “ dumbing down”. “Giving in” to students that are not willing to put forth the effort to learn. Once the kids figured out it was socially acceptable to be stupid, the music naturally, fell to the same level.

Grunge rock, a depressing form of music where every band sounded the same, arrived. It was infused by pathetic, morose lyrics written by boys who couldn’t pass a fourth-grade spelling test. These were the “Pied Pipers” that the record industry crammed down the throats of our children, who, (was so addled by years of playing video games while their minds turned to oatmeal) mistakenly believed that “ life imitates art”. After Grunge got a stranglehold, someone in L.A or New York, opened a sewer cover, and out crawled “RAP”. Which is, in no way related to music in theory or sound.

The numbing beat and gutter- laced words, encourages these kids to embrace hatred for everything good and just. You have seven-year-old children going around talking about killing cops, and “ getting some hoe’s”. The Madison Avenue record machine is no different than Enron or others of their ilk. They go, with no moral regret, straight for the jugular to make the buck, and will walk on the bodies to get to the bank. There is little, if any accountability in the mainstream music industry today. Do I sound mad as hell about this? I’m completely disgusted.

21.Q: What was best about the Dallas music scene back then? What was the worst? Name some of your favorite Dallas bands from back then.

A:  The music scene in Dallas was young and full of excitement. The kids couldn’t wait for the weekends to pack into places like; The Studio Club or LouAnn’s. The Oaklawn area was full of boutiques and clubs. You could visit Lee Park on most weekends, sit on the grass and listen to free concerts by local bands. Oaklawn was re-inventing itself into the “Height Asbury” of Dallas. Most of the local bands that played the “circuit” knew each other. Dallas was a large city, but enjoyed and embraced a small, but sometimes-cliquish music community. I enjoyed the sounds of The Jackals, The Novas, The Southwest F.O.B., The Coachmen and The Chessmen; those were just a few of the many.

22. Q: Were your parents supportive of your musical endeavors? Conflicts?

A:  In our band, all of the parents eventually came around and supported our endeavors. We spent so much time playing that they finally accepted the fact that we were not going to stop. My parents came to our gigs a few times, but usually left doing the zombie head-grab and staggered out the door. They couldn’t take the decibels, and though we would never admit it, we couldn’t either. Everyone in our band now is partially deaf because of the loud music onstage. We play much quieter now.

23. Q: Did rednecks ever pound the dooky out of you for having long hair?

A: Yes they did but in their own inventive way.

I was on the pier one summer night in Port Aransas, 1969.  I was walking with this cute girl I had met earlier in the evening. We had been on the beach with friends, sitting around a campfire picking guitars and drinking beer. I wanted to walk on the pier, to check the waves for the next mornings surfing. I had my Gibson (1940’s) J-45 slung over my shoulder, and was looking really cool. As we ambled down the pier, two “big old boys” made a crude remark to the young lady. I should have let it go, but I couldn’t.

My parents had taught me that you didn’t speak that way to a lady. So, with the girl almost in tears, and me not being in my right mind, I approached the offenders. They were sitting on their bait buckets, drinking Lone Star Beer, and trying really hard to keep it from running out of their mouth from lack of teeth.

I volleyed back with a tirade of “eloquent put-downs” that would have made George Carlin proud. I figured after slick words like that, they couldn’t possibly say anything but “ we’re sorry”.  I stood there, waiting for the apology I knew wasn’t going to come. When those two boys raised up from their “bait bucket lounger’s”, I was staring into the face’s of “Bubba-Zilla” and his spawn. That’s the first time I was ever conscious of sucking air through my lower orifice.

It was “way too late” for apologies, and, I didn’t have anywhere to run, so I stood there smiling like a raccoon caught raiding the trash can. The girl sensed that she was sharing my last minutes on earth, so she hauled-ass down the pier. The smaller of the “Bubba-Zillas” grabbed me  (with my guitar still attached to my body) and did one of these “WWF” moves, spinning me above his head to build up momentum. When I reached launch speed, he sailed me out over the railings, and into the night. For a moment, I had a good form going; spreading out like “Rocky the flying squirrel”. I was hoping to glide toward the beach and lessen the impact into the Gulf of Mexico, thirty feet below.

I was all right with hitting the water; I could swim to the beach if the sharks didn’t get me first. But, In the instant, before I hit, I remembered my Gibson J-45 had taken the flight with me. I was immediately sick.  I hit the water like a cowpie dropped from Babe the Giant Blue Ox. It hurt like hell! After floundering around in the surf for a while, I washed up onto the beach, gripping my ruined guitar. Through the mist, I could see the “Bubba-Zillas” illuminated by the lights, whooping it up and stomping around the pier. For a brief moment, I thought about going back up there and “ kicking some butt”, but then my head cleared, and I figured it was time to get a haircut.

I agree that the sixties didn’t end until the early seventies. No one wanted to let go of the music and the feelings that were so much a part of that short ten years. I had a great time. Thanks for asking me to share my memories.


Gene Fowler

3101 Dancy

Austin, TX – 78722

Ph. 512-322-0602

Open Your Heart and Mind

Trying times and uncertainty of the future can, as a nation, bring us together or drive us apart. America is under siege from abroad. The enemy is unseen, but is as deadly as the rifle shot from across the battlefield.

Sensationalism in our news media bombards us with doom. ” Run for your lives, we are all going to die!” warns the news person on the screen. Fear is eating at our souls, causing doubt in our beliefs. Non- believers are saying “we told you so.” They know nothing, but proclaim to be experts on how the rest of us should live our lives. Looking for answers from a flat-screen will leave you empty. Open your heart, mind and soul.

Search for your answers and solstice in the only book that matters. It’s daunting at best, all the Psalms and passages and big words. Writing was more formal long ago. Slang and abbreviations didn’t exist. Which one applies to me? They all do, depending on the day, the hour or the situation. My wife shared this one with me this morning. It fits the day, the hour and the situation. She knows her Bible.

Psalm 91;

“You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or the arrow that flies by day. Of the pestilence that stalks the darkness, or the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; But, it shall not approach you.” Keep the faith in our humanity, our country, and the king. In the end, its all we have. Stay open.

C – PAP To La La Land

I got a C-Pap machine last week. I have never slept better even though I look like a Borg from the television show Star Trek.
Mask, tubes, a device under my nose, a machine on my bedside stand, distilled water, filters, computerized mainframe. It’s daunting at best. My little computer box gives me a big star every morning, so I assume there will be a trophy arriving in the mail soon. I had no idea that I don’t breathe when I sleep? How did I not wake up dead?
My wife has been checking my vital signs for years, and occasionally thumping my chest to start me up again. Now, she can get some sleep without worrying that I have assumed room temperature.
This C-PAP device is like a self-driving Tesla. Hook up, turn on, and let it do all the work for you. Now all I need is a painless catheter so I don’t have to get up to pee.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: