Goodbye to All My Oldies but Goodies
by Tommy Towery
Class of '64
Last week I made a heartbreaking decision in a way, but one that needed to be made. It is time to dispose of my music collection I have been building since the early 1970s. It all started when I purchased a jukebox from a guy in East Texas back then and decided I needed 100 good 45rpm records to put in it. My first ones were the original ones I owned and those of my ex-wife. I started hitting the thrift shops, buying most of them for 25 cents or less. It became a compassion and most weekends I would seek out new songs and expand my search area. I hit yard sales and Goodwill stores and anywhere else I could find 45rpm records. It did not take long to get 100 songs, the problem was, there were many more than 100 songs I really loved to listen to. So, the quest continued.
About that time there was a record spinner that played at our squadron parties and at the officer's club who had many more songs that I did, and I and my friends loved to go to the dances when he was the DJ. I loved the way the crowds interacted with him and he gained almost rock start status among my crowd.
In 1978 when I moved to Omaha, my hunting range expanded as I was exposed to a whole new set of thrift shops, garage sales, and the availability of some songs that had eluded me in Texas and Tennessee. My collection grew exponentially. One of the places I went was an auction house that hosted dances on the weekends. I became friends with the people who ran it and was interested in my record collection. One weekend the DJ they had scheduled cancelled the last minute and they called me to see if I had the equipment and desire to fill in for him. Few people know, but I was a radio DJ during my college days and so I was not afraid of being behind a mike and in front of a live crowd. Using the turntable and stereo with massive 300 watt speakers I had obtained from my trip to the Orient, I was able to piece together enough to help them out.
After that I became a somewhat regular and the crowd changed to an older crowd that loved the oldie goldies as much as my friends and I did back in Texas. I added a second turntable and a mixer and a better amplifier to my equipment setup and I was ready to branch out. I took my act to the officer's club, which was strange, because most officers did not have hobby jobs like that, but again my oldie goldie night was well attended the one night a month we scheduled it. I picked up some wing and squadron parties and even a couple of reunions. To be honest, I was having more fun at the dances than the crowds, which is not to say they were not loving it.
When I was transferred to England I took all my 45rpm collection with me and again played at the officers club and even the NCO club and wing parties. I also had access to more songs, since the rock and roll records were as popular in England as they were in the States. While there I had some custom cases made to carry the records easier, and found that I could fill almost 12 of the custom boxes that held over 275 songs per box.
At first I used a Rolodex system to catalog my songs, putting the songs in boxes in alphabetical order by title and doing the same for the Rolodex cards. I had three sets of cards and people would come up and thumb through them to pick out requests. It was a great feeling to be able to play a song for someone who had not heard it since high school days. It brought warmth to my heart and a smile or sometimes a tear to their eyes.
The Rolodex ultimately was replaced by a dBase II database and I was finally able to quickly search the over 2,500 titles for specific songs by title or artist or even year. I moved the large collection back to the states for my final year in the military and had some very happy evenings hosting squadron parties, and even had a drunken full bird colonel wing commander join me on stage and grab my mike away from me so he could sing along with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." This was before the days of Karaoke, but he was having a memory moment.
When I retired from the Air Force and moved back to Memphis, I continued for a while looking for records, but by that time compact discs were becoming popular and I found I could get collections of oldies on CDs and take up much less space and weight than hauling around the 45rpm collection. I only played a few gigs before my new job, new responsibilities and family problems brought my record spinning days to an end.
I quit using the 45rpm records, but continued collecting the same music on CDs, again from thrift stores and yard sales primarily. Then the digital music age came along. I started converting my CD collection to mp3 files and soon I had about as many songs as I used to have in the 12 cases of vinyl records stored on a laptop hard drive. Today I have over 5,000 mp3 songs I have ripped from CDs I own or are in public domain.
I have been hauling and storing my music collection now for over 30 years and have thoroughly enjoyed having it. I call it a music collection and not a record collection. Record collectors are picky about label conditions and scratches and original covers and things like that. My records have names written on them, some have taped names and numbers from the days when we kept them in little boxes with handles so we could take them to record hops and private parties. We wrote our names on them because all the records were all mixed up at the party and in the evenings when it was over they had to be collected by the rightful owner. So most of my records play pretty good and some are in excellent condition, but some are poor, but the only copies of songs I could get. When I found a better one than one I had I would buy it and replace it but did not seem to get around to getting rid of the bad one. Hence I have many doubles and some triples of some songs.
A couple of years ago I gave the speakers, turntables and amplifier to a college friend who wanted to go retro with his entertainment system. I did not sell them, I gave them to him because I felt that was an honorable end to some things which had given me so much pleasure while I owned them.
My plan was to find a library or university and donate the collection to them when I finally decided I could live without it, but I have had problems finding any group that wants the records as a collection. Many people want to dig through them and take only the good ones but I hated to see a collection broken up.
This week I put the collection up for sale on Craigslist at a very reasonable price but have had no takers as of yet. As I worked on getting them ready I read the titles of the songs and my mind raced back to my younger days at Bradley's, the Armory, the Coliseum, and the living rooms and backyards of many of my classmates and the dances I enjoyed at all those places. I read the titles of songs that reminded me of young love, and great friends, and trips and cruising the Parkway between Jerry's and Shoney's Big Boy. I so loved those memories, and they will stay. I don't need the 45rpm vinyl records to keep the memories alive.
I don't know if any of you are interested in them or have a group that might be interested, but if you are, please let me know. I have them all boxed up, all in nice sleeves, and ready to get out of my garage, I hate to give them to Goodwill. I know someone must want them.
Memphis, TN - Here's looking a you kid. If any of you found your ears burning this last week then the story above should explain why. I have had a lot of good memories pass through my head, but it is time to start clearing out the stuff in my life. I don't want my family to face the problems I had to face when I lost my mother so I thought I would try to get a long head start and finally clean out some things that I really don't need any more.
Masters And Reunion 2014
John Drummond, Jennifer ,and I held our annual Masters reunion again this year. John came to meet up with his friend Dan Scott, from Virginia so they can attend Thursdays opening round of the Masters. We've had beautiful weather, after Monday's rain cleared out most of the pollen that always hangs heavy in this part of Georgia/Carolina. John and Dan have been coming to Augusta to attend the Masters for better than 20 years and the last few they have stayed with us.
It is always a great experience each April, for the three of us to enjoy another mini-LHS-reunion. This year we held a fish fry at the house for John, Dan and 10 of their friends and business associates. John and Dan have been coming to the Masters for over 20 years and each year, they plant their chairs on hole 16 and then walk the course. They'll walk the course and follow their favorite golfers through the day before coming back to finish the day sitting at 16th.
Back in my single days when I lived in Augusta before, in the early 70's, I knew a guy who worked for the Richmond County Sheriffs Department. Back then the Masters hired Deputies to spend the night on each of the 18 holes to guard the greens against vandalism. Our friend drew the famous 16th hole with the large pond fronting the green. The first night he said he could hardly sleep for all the frogs croaking. But the next night, he brought a burlap sack an frog gig and cut down on the noise considerably. That Saturday while the tournament was being played, he and several of our friends cooked and ate grilled frog legs while watching the Masters on TV. Great memories then and now.
John DrummondClass of '65
This week we will look back at "Gunsmoke", which started as a radio Western in 1952 and aired until 1961, even after the TV series began in 1955. Running for a consecutive 20 years, until 1975, it remains the longest-running prime time drama series in TV history. It was shown On CBS and was in black and white (as were they all in the 1950s) until 1966 when filming changing to color. With 635 total episodes, it won 3 Emmy awards and was rated the #1 show on TV from 1957-1961, and rated in the Top 10 from1967-1974.
Set in Dodge City, Kansas, the leading characters of "Gunsmoke" were Marshall Matt Dillon (James Arness), Miss Kitty (Amanda Blake), Doc Adams (Milburn Stone), gimpy-legged, squeaky-voiced deputy Chester (a very young Dennis Weaver) who was later replaced by Festus (Ken Curtis). From 1962-65, a then-unknown Burt Reynolds joined the cast as a half-breed named Quint, the town blacksmith.
Though the term "sexual tension" probably did not exist in the 1950s, censors would have prevented TV critics from using the term to describe the relationship between Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty. We all thought there would come a day when romance would bloom between the two main characters, which was probably part of the reason we kept tuning in, but I don't think it ever happened. (Sorry, but I lost track of the show in the final few years. If Matt and Kitty ever got it on, and I hope they did, will someone please tell me?).
The show's opening sequence was a fast-draw face-off between Marshall Dillon and an opponent on the empty main street of Dodge City. In over 20 years, the Marshall never lost.
TV Trivia questions: 1) Miss Kitty was a saloonkeeper/proprietress in Dodge City; what was the name of her establishment? 2) James Arness had a brother, whose last name was NOT Arness, who was also a well-known television actor; what was his name? Hint: he played the leading role in a Sunday night TV series during the late 1960s, with a spy-based theme.
From the Draft of the
Book I am Currently Working On
Friday, April 10, 1964
101st Day - 265 days to follow
School was O.K. today. After we got out Paul, Bob, and I went over to see where Pat G.'s party was going to be held. Then to Brenda's for a few minutes; then, home. Got cleaned up and Bob picked me up at 7:00 P.M., then we went and got Jan, Brenda, Barbara W., and Diane. Went to the school then for the Senior Banquet. It was a very good program. After it was over we got our annuals, The Silver Sabre - Lee High's first. Went to the party then.
When we got there half the people were already drunk. It broke up at 1:00 A.M. instead of 3:00 A.M. Went out Jerry's then. David F. joined up with us, also Betty and Patty; we lost Diane and Brenda. Went riding around in David's car then went bowling. I got a 132.
Bob and I got everyone home at 3:30 A.M., then we went and had breakfast. Got in at 4:15 A.M.
Today has been full of many different moods: anxiety, waiting for the banquet to begin; pride, the pride of being a senior; melancholy, remembering all the memories of high school; depression, knowing that you are about to leave your childhood behind you; and happiness, of being with your own friends and having fun with them.
The Senior Banquet is not as memorable as the Senior Prom, but thanks to the journal I kept, at least the event was recorded and because of it I can still remember some of the night. To me and my classmates, perhaps the most memorable happening of the night was not the program presented or the food consumed, but rather finally getting our hands on our first high school yearbook.
Unlike the other two high schools in the city, because of the status we were given in the growth from a junior high to a full-fledged high school, we did not have yearbooks for our sophomore or junior years. Some classmates had some from their Lee Junior High days, but for many of us, this was our first.The yearbooks we received that night were our sole physical common scrapbooks of the days we spent during the previous three school years of our lives. The juniors in the school would have this one and their own, and the sophomores would be like normal high school students across the country and have three years of memories, in the form of pictures and words bound into concrete proof of their existence.
The common practice was to get your friends and teachers to sign their names and simple memories inside the book next to their photographs. The most popular students would have their books completely disfigured with the graffiti of all who wanted to be remembered by the owner. Some, less popular or just shy, would have only a few signatures. But, to them, the lack of quantity would be made up by the quality of sincere notes of love and friendship and lasting proof of the importance placed up the value of shared friendship. These would not be template sayings written by the same people on the same pages of everyone’s yearbook, but a deep, personal note that would endure for years.
Over the years we take out the yearbooks and look at the friends’ pictures and read the notes they left for us and prosperity. We smile at some and others bring a tear to our eyes, knowing the friend that wrote those words when they were young and had most of their lives ahead of them are no longer in our lives. One dear friend of mine, one very responsible for me sitting here tonight and making these entries, would inscribe the date a classmate died in the margin next to the picture of the classmate. It was her way of keeping up I suppose, but I feel that would only make me more upset each time I looked at the yearbook.
A couple of years ago I took my flatbed scanner and scanned my yearbook and the books for the classes of 1965 and 1966 into files on my computer. This insures me that for as long as I have access to a computer I will not lose the memories in case of flood or fire. I even posted the scanned yearbooks to an archive site on the internet that collects and preserves books, music, and video files. Many of my classmates no longer have their yearbooks, lost in moves, natural disasters or divorces. I doubt many just threw them away. Yearbooks are a precious part of our pasts for many of us.
I also maintain a weekly website for the three classes of 1964, 1965, and 1966 and whenever I find out about the passing of a classmate I take the digital file and post it for all of my readers to not only learn of the death of the classmate, but also to remember how he or she looked back when we were young and alive. Unfortunately the list grows bigger more often these days. The pictures of the yearbook sever one more purpose for me. Each time we have a class reunion I take copies of the photos of the classmates who have left us since the last reunion and build a video tribute to them using the pictures and setting the presentation to appropriate music. It is a fitting tribute and a somber moment in a time of celebration. It also brings back most of the emotions I expressed in the last paragraph of this day’s journal entry in 1964.
From Our Mailbox
Subject: In the Traveller
Patsy Hughes Oldroyd
In reference to John Drummond’s article about Paladin in last week’s Traveller, I can only contribute a small part of the answers. I did watch Have Gun Will Travel because daddy always liked it, and since that was what he had the tv tuned in to, the rest of the family watched it also. I can remember that those words, Have Gun Will Travel, were on his card along with a little chess piece. I cannot remember what else the card said, but it was probably something referring to his ability as a gunslinger for hire. He was the cowboy version of 007, and I can recall him turning to the camera, bending down, and then raising his gun to the camera almost like 007 did at the beginning of all his films. Paladin was always in a ritzy hotel dressed in dapper suits until he was hired to travel somewhere. Then he would don his black gunslinger attire and go right some wrong for the person who had hired him. He was a true knight even without the armor. Good stuff. I wish that we could have more movies and tv programs like that now instead of all the junk about drugs, mass murders, and reality shows about dysfunctional familys.
Thanks John for your article to the Traveller about this great tv series from back in the day when everyone in the family, including the kids, could actually sit down together and watch a quality show.
So sorry to see that another one of our ’65 class members has died.
Tommy, I did so very much enjoy the last Traveller and your “Space A” travelog. You are certainly an adventurous soul, and I am envious of your energy and patience!!!
I do hope to see many of you at the next Lee Lunch Bunch on Thursday, April 24. Please see the details in the Traveller’s Upcoming Events section.
Subject: Tonto's Horse
Barbara Teeter Kennamer
BHS Class of ‘66
I truly love your weekly newsletter and even though I didn’t go to Lee High School, I knew many who did. Those were great times growing up. Huntsville was a small town at heart with significant growing pains and all us kids basically knew many of the other kids our age throughout town regardless of what school they attended.
To answer John Drummond’s question about Tonto’s horse, his name was Scout and he was a paint. We only had a black and white TV so I don’t know if Scout was a black and white or brown and white paint.
Thanks for all you do.
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