Becoming  Megowan

Part 1

Posted 4/11/09

Well, I gotta tell ya, getting to this chapter has been difficult… Not because I didn’t want to write it, but because I’ve been busy… distracted… unavailable… lazy…

So, ready to proceed to the next chapter, I showed up at the front door of the Megowan estate…  It was the beginning of  just about the best year of my life up to the time I went into the Navy… It was a blast!

I must have knocked on the front door, and somebody must have answered because I ended up inside the house. Honestly, the first thing I remember is not getting to the house from the bus station, not being greeted, not walking into the house, not meeting everyone in the family – I don’t remember any of that stuff…

The first thing I remember is Mr. Megowan and I alone in the rec room with the door shut… He had a pipe in his mouth…  I had teeth in mine…  He looked me in the eye… I looked him in the eye… And Then it began… The inquisition…

“So tell me about yourself”…

“So tell me about yourself.”?

I wasn’t actually expecting that exact question, and I went into an immediate Brain Fart – and it was about a twelve on the Richter Scale… This wasn’t just a deer in the headlights moment.  I don’t believe that the analogy has yet been developed to adequately describe whatever it was… I literally saw my life flashing before my eyes in an attempt to pick out something good to say…

So, with Kathy from the seventh grade in mind, all I could think of to blather was “Well, there’s not much to tell.”

Looking into Mr. Megowan’s face, I could easily see that this was not really the answer he was hoping for, so I continued the mental review of the events of my life in hopes of, quickly, coming across something that might be more acceptable a response…

Finally, after a mercifully short eternity, I clearly remember picking out what I thought would be appropriate facts about Bill.

  • I told him that I was the oldest of eleven living children.
  • I told him I was heavily influenced by my Irish Catholic grandmother.
  • I told him that my dad worked for Sears.
  • I told him that I played the guitar.
  • And, culminating my litany of self aggrandizement, I proudly proclaimed that I was way out of his daughter’s league…

Of all of the facts I had just put forth, this last one seemed to brighten his face up more than the rest…

I should interject here, that when I was in high school, I was the guy that all of the girls mothers wanted to have date their daughters.  Why was that?  It wasn’t because I was rich, or smart…  Pathetically, it was because, when a parent got to know me, I was generally considered to be safe.

Yes, I was the safe choice for a boyfriend for your daughter… Some parents even had a nick-name for me.  I was called… (Eesh – Do I really want to do this?)

They called me… They called me… This is difficult… They called me…(Deep breath)…

“Harmless”…

Yes… “Harmless.”

And, for better or for worse, it was true… I had never met a girl’s mother who couldn’t trust me.

Anyway, the point is that Mr. Megowan allowed me to stay.  The deal was that I could stay until I found another place to live…  That actually happened about a month or so down the road, but I’ll get to that later…

Just about immediately after my initial conversation with Mr. Megowan, I was made to feel right at home.  It was almost as if Mr. Megowan had exited the rec room and loudly proclaimed to the entire family that “You can all relax! This guy is way out of Colleen’s league!”

I would be bunking in with Colleen’s younger brother, Patrick, and one of her older brothers, Blair.

Pat was just starting the seventh grade, and Blair was home from college for the summer…

Blair had an interesting summer job, actually.  He was a courier for the blood bank (I think – or maybe the local hospital), and was on call just about 24 hours a day.  If I remember right, a shipment of blood would arrive at the Greyhound Bus station, Blair would get paged, hop in the car, get to the bus station, pick up the package and deliver it to the hospital or other appropriate place.

The interesting part was that he often got paged in the middle of the night, and being roomies, when he got paged, I got paged. There were some sleepless nights until he went back to school…

Being the curious sort, I asked him if I could go along with him sometime just to see what a blood courier did… Who knows? It might be something I might be interested in pursuing some day when I went away to college (it could happen – I was already away at high school, and it didn’t seem like that much of a stretch to going away to college.  As it turned out, it was a pretty long stretch…).  And it wasn’t long until I got my chance to get a first hand look at the intricacies of moving blood from point A (the bus station) to point B (the hospital).  (It would be a few years before I got to see the journey from point B to point C (the patient).)

I remember it like I was awake at the time…

…3:00 AM – the pager went off.  Blair and I each sprang from our respective beds, put on our respective pants, etc. and headed out the door…

What we encountered when we walked out the door was exactly reminiscent of the phenomenon known as Tulle Fog (pronounced “tooly fog”).  Tulle fog is an extremely dense, low lying layer of fog that inhabits the Central /San Joaquin/Sacramento valleys of California during the fall and winter seasons. I have driven through it from below Bakersfield almost all the way to the Oregon border.  The stuff may rise only ten feet above the ground or go as high as a thousand feet, but the altitude isn’t what gets you…

For those of you who haven’t experienced tulle fog, imagine a thick coat of oatmeal spread out over your windshield as you drive down the road.  Visibility can range from literally zero (0) to maybe six hundred (600) feet.  Most often, I have experienced between ten and twenty feet…

Ventura doesn’t get much, if any, tulle fog, but they do get sea fog, being on the coast. For some reason, tulle fog is what the sea fog was pretending to be on this particular edition of three O’clock in the morning…

Blair drove slo-o-o-o-wly…

We eventually got to the bus station where he picked up the package and headed out to make the delivery at the hospital…

We quietly drove along the freeway, not seeing where we were going but doing a good enough job of getting there anyway.  After awhile, we actually started a spirited conversation…

The topic of the newly invented and installed “lane bumps” came up immediately after we woke up…

__________________________________________________

Next… Chapter 24 -I meet my replacement…

 

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Megowan – Megowan…

Posted 11/23/08

-e driveway in my dad’s trusty (though somewhat damaged) steed and, once we launched onto Highway 99 in a Southerly direction, plotted a course for and headed toward Ventura. I knew that, a mere twenty-four hours later, my migration to the netherworld would be complete…

I had been mourning the fact that I was finished with Glad and that I would have to start my senior year at a new public high school (I had actually grown to love St. B’s).  I was pathetic… Poor little Billy… Tough guy Billy…  Going to throw himself a pity party…

But, with a heavy heart, I was ready to pick up my stuff from Scott and head back to exile in Stockton. 

My dad was going to pick up Pat at Shanne’s house and then we would go to Scott’s, and from there, back to Siberia .

But first I wanted to stop by St. Bonaventure.  It was a week before the new school year was going to start, and I wanted to see if there were any teachers, administrators, office personnel or students there – I wanted to say “hello” and “goodbye”.  Dad was in a hurry, so he just dropped me off on his way to get Pat. 

I don’t remember the exact details or sequence of events, but my expectations for my senior year were about to take a completely unexpected turn, and the initiation of that turn was to come in the form of one of my classmates…

For some reason Colleen Megowan was at the school when my dad dropped me off.  We bumped into each other, struck up a conversation and the subject of me not returning to St. Bonaventure came up… 

There were a couple reasons for my untimely departure…

  • No place to stay
  • No steady job to pay rent and expenses – like tuition, which was a bit of a stretch for my parents, and I really didn’t want them to have to pay it just because I wanted to live 1.2 light years from them, though they would have. (money from gigs mostly went to equipment and things like that, and would not cover all of my expenses when you threw in tuition)

When we got past that point of the conversation, Colleen said something that took me completely by surprise –

“Why don’t you stay at my house?”

“Huh?”

“I’ll talk with my parents and see what they say.  It couldn’t hurt!”

“Seriously?”

“Yes, of course!”

I was completely floored that she would even think enough of me to suggest that – We were friends and had been in several school plays together, but we didn’t share that many classes  because she was in all of the advanced classes, and I, of course, wasn’t.  And we didn’t hang out together… 

Sidebar:

Colleen is excruciatingly smart and I didn’t even come close to being in her league intellectually.  As it turned out, she is also excruciatingly gracious and a wonderful friend.  And as it also turned out, she learned that from her parents, and her brothers and sister all learned the same thing. 

Interestingly, in my mind, most of my closest friends in life out-brain me by a factor of about 2  – 1, including Judy, my wife.  (Though I DID marry her, so I can’t be that badly brained.)

End of sidebar…

Well, as grateful as I was for her offer to bring it up to her parents, I wasn’t too confident in the outcome of the conversation.  And even if they agreed, there was still the dollar angle to deal with.  But I was also completely wanting to stay in Ventura, so I said “Gosh, thanks!”

While I was there, I also ran into Fr. Thomas A. Meskill, the principal.  We got to talking and he asked me if I was looking forward to my senior year (which happened to be starting the next week).  I told him I wouldn’t be returning to St. Bonaventure for my senior year, and why. He expressed his disappointment that I wouldn’t be returning.

BUT he also offered me a job on the spot, working after school…  And I would be working with my best friend, Bob Moraga, who had graduated the year before and was going to be attending Ventura College!  Way cool!

“Huh?  Seriously?”

“If you can find a place to stay, I will give you a job working 10 hours a week around the school, mowing lawns and keeping up the landscaping.”

Landscaping?  That sounded a lot like “Gardening” to me…  Old feelings returned… My stomach bounced off the soles of my feet… Please, God, don’t let him tell me they grow their own vegetables for the rectory… I decided that I would not tell Fr. Meskill about my adventure with Mr. Powers’ tomatoes. 

“And I’ll pay you $2.50 and hour,” he continued.

Using, once again, my superior mathematical skills, I quickly calculated that this would get me $25.00 a week.  That probably wouldn’t cover tuition, etc., but it was good of him to offer.

But that’s not where he stopped – He suggested that I go see Monsignor Hurley, pastor of Our Lady Of The Assumption Parish – next door to the school.  That’s because he was in the habit of granting scholarships to deserving students at St. Bonaventure…

“You’re kidding!  Really?”

“Yes, and I will give you a good reference.”  (I had no idea how he was going to do that part of it and keep a straight face, but whatever he said, did the trick.)

“But my dad will be here to pick me up in about 30 minutes!”

“Then we had better hurry…”

Somewhere in there, Colleen must have gone home – she only lived a block away -, asked her parents if I could move in, incredibly gotten a “Yes” response (*albeit with conditions) and come back to the school before my dad returned to pick me up. 

* Mr. And Mrs. Megowan agreed to let me move in until I could find a more permanent place to spend the school year.  And they wanted to meet me.  There wouldn’t be an opportunity on this trip because my dad was pressed for time, but they agreed that our meeting could take place when I returned the next week.

So, in review, in the hour that passed between my dad dropping me off and picking me up, I had

  • Found a place to live
  • Found a job
  • Found tuition assistance

And the final part of the miracle was:

  • My parents agreed to allow me to come back to finish high school in Ventura

(This wasn’t the last miracle that year in which the Megowans would play a major role.)

A few days later I returned to Ventura, ready to begin a new year of school, start a new job, meet my new “family” and pick up in the band where we left off. That’s when I discovered that I had been replaced in the band by a new lead guitar player…

That was sort of a shock…

Click here for Chapter 23…

Click here to go back to the beginning…

Bill’s Bio – Chapter 22

November 15, 2008

What happened to Chapter 21?

Posted 11/15/08

“Huh? What happened to Chapter 21,” you’re probably thinking. Well, the fact of the matter is that:

  • There wasn’t anything that really applies to this biography that happened in that chapter
  • I didn’t feel like writing about it
  • I thought I would just go directly to Chapter 22 to skip having to write chapter 21 and still feel like I have been keeping relatively current when I look at the list of Chapters on the page (meaning Chapter 21 makes a good place holder for the nothing I have written lately, and I don’t feel so negligent about the vast spaces of time that have been passing between chapters)

OK, if I must, here it is…

Chapter 21…

 How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Early the morning after the last day of school, I woke up on a Greyhound bus bound for Stockton, CA. I had all of my worldly possessions with me, except for the two most important ones – my guitar and my amplifier… I had left them at Scott’s house because I couldn’t fit them into my suitcase… or my other suitcase… or my pocket.

It was bad enough that I was leaving the band, but not to have my pride and joy was nearly intolerable… More on that later…

That summer was somewhat, though not a lot, interesting… The “highlight” was a hitch-hiking trip to Lake Tahoe. My sister’s boyfriend, Danny Johnson, and I took off one day to get jobs at Lake Tahoe. We brought everything I owned (somehow Danny didn’t actually own anything himself except a car that had a great 8 track sound system, but not a working transmission – which explains why we were hitch-hiking in the first place. But it was awesome for “cruising” the curb in front of my parents’ house – which was where it was stuck – and listening to really good music, well presented).

List of what we had with us:

Five suit cases

One suit bag

Two sleeping bags

One duffel bag

One $15.00 Sears Silvertone acoustic guitar that my brother, Bob, owned.

Seriously, that’s what we were dragging along with us. We must have looked honest (or pathetic) because we actually got a ride all the way to the lake within thirty minutes of the time we stationed ourselves on the Hammer Lane onramp to Highway 99 North…

The unfortunate part of “everything I owned” was the cash part… We had exactly $11.00. And with nothing more than that $11.00, a dream and everything I owned, we headed out.

We weren’t complete morons, though. We had a plan… A plan of action… A financial plan… And as a public service to those of you who need to know how to develop a financial plan, I would like to divulge, in sub-atomic detail, our plan for financial solvency for the rest of the summer…

It was simple, really – a two step approach:

Step One – Make my $11.00 last as long as humanly possible.

Step Two – Get jobs as quickly as humanly possible.

In order to get to Chapter 22 sooner rather than later, I will now summarize what would have been the rest of Chapter 21, had I decided to write it:

Got to Tahoe

Found a place to “camp” on the beach

Found (literally) something to eat

Went looking for jobs

Didn’t find jobs

Kept our (my) belongings in an old beached boat

Slept on the beach

Put on some slacks, ties and sport coats

Went looking for jobs

Didn’t find jobs, but got complimented on the improvement in our appearance (if not our smell) since the last time we went into the same places looking for jobs

Ran out of money

Drank the lake water – reputed to be 99% pure – I must have found the impure 1% because I –

Ended up in the hospital

Got “adopted” by two families with cute daughters who felt sorry for us

Hitch-Hiked home after three weeks of basic starvation and scuziness

Got home, expecting to find a refrigerator full of food

Had to break into my own house because nobody was home when we got there

(How can a house with 13 people plus dozens of neighborhood kids living in it be devoid of all life except the dog?)

Figured out where everybody was when we opened the refrigerator – they were grocery shopping

(I’m not kidding – there was literally nothing in the fridge or the cupboards)

Almost got into a fist-fight with my dad when they got home because I was starving and wanted to eat something and he made me wait for dinner!!

Danny’s Powerglide Transmission fell on my face when I was under his car helping him work on it

End of the summer…  On to Chapter 22

I wasn’t too worried about never seeing my guitar and apmplifier again because my sister, Pat, was spending the end of the summer with the family of her friend Shanne Dickfos**, and my dad was going to be driving down to pick her up and bring her home. I would come along and pick up my gear.

Well, the day finally came and my dad and I hopped into the family station wagon (I left out the part about the dent we put into the front of the car… It’s better that way…) to go fetch my stuff… Oh yeah, and Pat…

We pulled out of th- Whoa… Look at the time! I guess I’ll have to pick this up later…

 

 

** Shanne’s is an interesting name, if for no other reason than the fact that she had four siblings, all of who’s names rhymed with “an” – Dan, Fran, Nan and Jan. Collectively they were the Dickfi (plural of “Dickfos”).

Bill’s Bio – Chapter 21

November 15, 2008

 Nothing To See Here…

Move along… Move along…

Bill’s Bio – Chapter 20

October 25, 2008

Interplanetary Travel

Posted 10/25/08

 

With the addition of Daamen, the subtraction of Tim, the newly named Glad, the incorporation of Burnt Tripe and the hiring of a manager – Daamen’s dad, the configuration of the band was now pretty much set for the next three years… There were occasions when we would have a “guest” member along, but mostly it was the five or six (including Al and often Bob and sometimes Tim) of us.

We did everything together – not just music… Beach… Disneyland… Movies… TV dance shows… Family relocations… School plays… Looking for Sheep Man… Everything.

There were lots of good times and a few rough ones, too, I guess, though I really don’t remember many of those (well, there was the Vox amplifier incident, but I’ll skip the more lurid details on that one. Basically, I bought a new amplifier without my dad’s permission.  That was bad enough, but Daamen’s dad co-signed for it.  That was pretty rough… Suffice it to say that my dad brought it up to me a couple of weeks ago… It’s been over forty years and he’s still ticked.  But there’s a nice picture of it at the bottom of this page.  Dad – don’t look there…). We went along for a couple of years adding songs to the list and playing gigs around Ventura County, and a few in LA, but nothing extraordinary happened until the middle of our Junior year in high school…

That’s when something really extraordinary happened – or, I guess I should say, something really ordinary happened…

As was his custom during his tenure with Sears, my dad was transferred half way through the school year. This time to Stockton, CA. (For those of you who don’t know where Stockton is, it’s about 1. 2 light years from Ventura – about a parsec further even than Bakersfield, where my Beach Boys albums lived.) The chances of me getting to band practice and gigs, much less to school, were somewhat limited if I moved to Stockton…

Once again, there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth on my part. And the world was about to come to an end… Again… Woe is me… Bummer…

“Moving??!! What do you mean we’re moving?? We can’t move! It – it – uh – it’s not time to move yet,” I complained.

“Well, Bill,” my mom said, “actually we CAN move. We’ve been here five years and that’s longer than we have ever lived anywhere before.”

“What kind of logic is that,” I responded.

“I’m your mother, and I don’t need to be logical,” she retorted, “but the logical thing would be to go where the food is. In case you haven’t noticed, there are a few more of us in the family now than when we first moved here.”

I had to admit my mother had a point. We were now up to eleven living brothers and sisters (not counting the three stillbirths/miscarriages interspersed in there. There wouldn’t be any more, though, largely because my mom kept dying on the delivery table with the last three, and the doctor decided that he had revived her for the last time – she had a hysterectomy about ten minutes after my youngest sister, Debbie, was born – right after he re-started her heart again.)

That, of course, wasn’t the only reason for my dad to accept the promotion, but it was enough for me to accept the situation.

Especially after what happened next…

Somebody came up with the idea that I should not leave in the middle of the school year. (Considering I had been in over 20 schools before I got to high school, that sounded sort of ridiculous. I had NEVER before NOT changed schools in the middle of the school year, but now someone thought it was a bad idea to do so, and who was I to disagree?)

I actually had friends who had parents who liked me and, to make a long story short, Scott’s parents offered to let me stay with them for the remainder of the school year! And for minimal (token) rent!

Surprisingly, it was not at all difficult to convince my dad that this was a good idea.

There were a lot of benefits to the idea:

         My parents would have one less mouth to feed (more or less) because…

    I could stay behind when the rest of the family moved to the Degoba System. 
    Scott could have a brother with whom to share his room and his chores. 
    I could have continuity in my junior year in high school. 
    And, oh yeah, we would not have to break up the band and I could continue to   make the payments on the briefly mentioned Vox amplifier. 

So that’s what happened – I stayed on Earth when my family moved away.

God Bless the McLanes…

It was a great few months. The McLanes were terrific people for letting me stay with them – they made me part of the family, and I am very grateful to them. Still, it was the first time since I was very young that I lived in a house that wasn’t completely overrun with humanity, and it took some getting used to.

There was no scrambling to get to the bathroom in the morning ahead of my sisters (never mind my brothers – they were mostly younger than my sisters and they didn’t stand a chance). Scott and I weren’t around that much, but when we were, everybody had a place to sit, and in the same room, if we wanted. And discussions were…organized? (I can’t quite put my finger on the exact term, so “organized” will do fine.)

It seemed quiet… Almost too quiet… But it was nice, and I have a lot of good memories of that time.

One great memory I have is of Scott’s reel-to-reel tape recorder. We used it to record some of our practices, and even a gig or two. And we also recorded some songs off the radio. Each night after the lights went out, in the darkness before we fell asleep, we would listen to Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side Of The Moon”… Back then, it kind of creeped us out… so, of course, we then had to listen to The Moody Blues’ “Nights In White Satin” to clear the “moon” out of our heads… When it was over, one of us would ask the other “You want to listen to it again?” and the other would answer, “OK.” Most nights it was a one “moon” and two “knights” thing.

But, time goes on and, sadly, the school year ended (that was the first time I was sad to have the school year end)…

…It was time for me to move to Stockton… And so I did…

Second star to the right and straight on until morning…

My Vox Berkley II Amp

My Vox Berkley II Amp

3 Responses to “20 – Bio – Chapter 20”

  1. Bert Says:
    October 26, 2008 at 7:40 pm   editYou mean you STILL have that Vox amp????? I can’t believe that it would still be in one piece. Remember the guy at Vox Hall “I think Vox is great stuff.” (We didn’t dare look at each other when he said those words.)
  2. billkammerer Says:
    October 26, 2008 at 8:13 pm   editI don’t have it – I thought YOU had it!! (Technically, it was NEVER in one piece…) I just found this picture on the internet. I DO have a Vox Valvetronix modeling amp, though.

Ype, I remember that, now… Thanks for reminding me! )

  • Kathleen Marsh Says:
    October 27, 2008 at 11:21 am   editI know what you mean about keeping up with a variety of conversations all at once. However, by growing up with the ability to converse in six different conversations at once, it has helped me in not only with my parenting skills but my keeping up to date on work projects and office politics.
  • Bill’s Bio – Chapter 19

    September 9, 2008

    We Embark On A Life Of Crime

    Posted 9/9/08

    Seventeen. The significance of this number cannot be overstated…

    Seventeen is, when spelled out, the smallest number with nine letters in the English language…

    Seventeen is the seventh Prime Number, and the third Fermat Prime number:

    In mathematics, a Fermat number is a positive integer in the form: f_{n}=2Ù {2Ùn} + 1 *

    where n is a nonnegative integer. The first eight Fermat numbers are

    F0 = 21 + 1 = 3

    F1 = 22 + 1 = 5

    F2 = 24 + 1 = 17

    F3 = 28 + 1 = 257

    F4 = 216 + 1 = 65537

    F5 = 232 + 1 = 4294967297 = 641 6700417

    F6 = 264 + 1 = 18446744073709551617 = 274177 67280421310721

    F7 = 2128 + 1 = 340282366920938463463374607431768211457 = 59649589127497217 5704689200685129054721

    (Don’t ask me how I know that)…

    Seventeen is the exact quantity of two-dimensional space (plane symmetry) groups…

    And finally, and most significantly,

    Seventeen the precise number of times the police were at my house at 801 Logan Ave., Ventura, CA… **

    Yes, the police got to know us fairly well on the East side of Ventura, toward Saticoy. That’s because Daamen and I lived out there… And because we needed a place to practice… And because my house was the most convenient place to do it… Or, at least, the one that had the parents with the most tolerance for loud music (my dad was actually quite supportive in this regard – Translation: he worked on Saturdays)…

    And because we had a neighbor who didn’t like rock music on a Saturday afternoon…

    Seventeen times the same two officers showed up at our garage door and complained about the person who had complained about the “noise”. They always let us finish whatever song we were in the middle of practicing when they pulled up, and even, once or twice, requested a song before they asked us to turn it down. They liked us, and told us so. But they had a job to do and we understood…

    Finally, after the 17th raid, it was decided that we needed to spread the wealth around the various homes and neighborhoods of the various members of the band. This was a big sacrifice for us all for several reasons, but one giant, outstanding reason outweighed all of the rest…

    My sister had a lot of girlfriends… Many of them liked to hear live rock music… They knew they could find it at one place in the neighborhood and there was always a reasonably large group of them at my house on Saturdays, We had a built in audience and fan club. And they were all girls…

    We were feeling a bit like rock stars – We were a band – We had our own light show – and, most important of all, we had our own set of female groupies. We were in hog heaven and really enjoying ourselves – until we lost our regular place of practice…

    The “evil” neighbors were NOT the Fentons – they were actually glad that I had learned to play something more than just the first eight notes of “Cupid”. They even complimented me on my guitar improvement, and on the band. They even invited me to bring my guitar along when I was on the job, baby-sitting at their house.

    Nay, ‘twas not the Fentons what turned us in…

    And it wasn’t the Simons, either – They lived too far away to hear us, and in a direction not facing the garage door…

    It wasn’t even the neighbors directly across the street, either…

    It was a neighbor about a block down the street, as you looked out through the garage door, who sounded the alarm … Seventeen times.

    But all was not completely lost. Our friends , officers One and Two, suggested that we talk with the neighbor and see if we could come to some sort of arrangement. We thought that was a GREAT idea, and got into a discussion on exactly how to proceed.

    When the discussion was ended, I, somehow, had become the ambassador who would make the contact, invite myself over and negotiate any arrangement that I could get out of the lady…

    As it happened, she was an acquaintance of my mom and I had been introduced a couple of times, and we had her phone number. I called her and requested a meeting (I have no idea how I forced myself to do that, but I got it done).

    She invited me over and so I went…

    I realized that I was about to get into a negotiation with the Wicked Witch Of The West, and I wasn’t any too positive about the outcome… I was scared to death, and this time it had nothing to do with methane…

    Knock knock…

    Door opens…

    “Hi Bill,” she greeted me with a friendly smile.

    “Hi Mrs. WWOTW,” (not her real name).

    “Come on in,” she welcomed me.

    “Thanks,” and I went in.

    “Would you like a soda pop?”

    “Uh… Thanks.”

    We sat down and started talking. We talked for a few minutes and broke the ice …

    This didn’t seem right – she was being too nice. And there were no flying monkeys…

    Finally, I got up the courage to get to the reason for the visit… I don’t know what I said. I don’t know what she said. I don’t know how long we were saying whatever we were saying, but after two soda pops and a long conversation, we had a friendly agreement that we could both live with –

    The band would agree not to practice exclusively at my house, I would let her know a day ahead of time when we would be there and she would have time to arrange ear plugs or a shopping trip or to take the kids to Disneyland or something.

    It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. True, we wouldn’t be practicing at my house very often at all after that, but the few times we did, there were no police…

    And there were lots of girls…

    * Unfortunately, some mathematical symbols (super scripts and sub scripts) don’t translate very well (at all) – those u’s are not u’s.  And 22 + 1 does not equal 5, but 2 to the second power plus 1 does!

    ** 801 Logan Ave., Ventura, CA no longer exists because a subsequent owner of the house had some major construction done and now the house faces the cross street – The house is on the corner – so the address has changed.

    1. Bert Moraga Says:
      September 10, 2008 at 8:26 am   editWell, Billy…you’ve done it again!

      This chapter could have just as well been titled: “Driving Mrs. WOWCOWTOW Crazy With Loud, Abrasive Music Because We Were In Love With Ourselves And Our Music”.
      Hmmmm? How does that sound?

      Luv,
      Bert

    2. billkammerer Says:
      September 10, 2008 at 5:16 pm   editHey Bert! That sounds about right…

      B

    3. Patrick Says:
      September 11, 2008 at 12:52 pm   editA fun chapter. Wish I coulda met Mrs. WWOTW– always been a sucker for free soda pop. And you looking for the flying monkeys was a nice touch.
    4. Kathleen Marsh Says:
      October 27, 2008 at 11:10 am   editI had no idea the address changed on our house. Pity.

    Is Your Soup On Fire?

    (Posted 8/24/08)

    A couple of days later, some, or all, of us approached Daamen with the opportunity of a lifetime – the rare chance to join the finest rock group bearing the name “The Roamin’ Five” in the entire school… He was indeed pleased at the prospect (as a member of such an exclusive club) of being accorded severe respect and admiration by the rest of the student body.

    Well, maybe not. The truth is, I really don’t remember a few things about the situation… 

    1. How we approached him 
    2. What we said 
    3. What he said 
    4. How hard he laughed at the thought of joining us 

    In fact, I may not have been directly involved in the invitation/begging/negotiation at all… All I know is that, somehow, Daamen ended up as a member of the band.

    And, somehow, Tim ended up as not a member of the band…

    That’s right – Tim left the group. I honestly don’t remember exactly why he left the group, but he did. I DO recall there was some sadness involved, though. But I also remember that he still remained close to us all, and hung out with us and helped us out with gigs, etc.

    This was kinda like credit card debt – You make a purchase. Then you make a payment, and somehow still you owe more than you did when you made the purchase in the first place… Gain one – lose one – gain one back – lose another one…

    This, of course, required some realignment of who was to do what…

    • Mike continued to play the drums 
    • Daamen played the organ and became our lead singer 
    • I continued to play lead (only) guitar, singing backup 
    • Scott became the bass player singing backup 

    So far, of the original members of the “Roamin’ Five”, two had roamed completely away. We had to change our name before we all found ourselves explaining to our dads why we spent all this money on instruments we weren’t using… 

    The search for a new name began. 

    The search for a new name continued. 

    The search for a new name went on for sometime, actually. 

    And then, one day, it stopped because of something that three people we never met did… 

    Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton became a band… Cream… And they recorded a song that we made our own… I’m So Glad… 

    From that day forward, we were known as “The I’m Sos”. Haha – That’s a joke, son… 

    We could finally stop calling ourselves the “Roamin’ Four”. We were now “Glad”. 

    Along the way, we also got fancy… We brought on a new guy as part of the act – Al Gandi. With Al, we created our own light show.. Oh yeah – Strobe Lights, Black Lights, Colored Lights, colored oil Blob projections and all. Then someone got hold of my guitar and painted designs around the periphery in multi-colored fluorescent paint. We came up with a great logo, and that was painted onto Mike’s bass drum in equally fluorescent paint. We were very psychedelic, and from that point on, we were really fun to watch, if not listen to. 

    I think we were the only band in town with it’s own light show, and everybody heard about us. 

    This led to a new challenge – what to name the light show? One day we were all sitting around the lunch table discussing possible names… 

    • Big Al’s Magic Lights (Al was actually pretty short) 
    • Gladolightor 
    • Glad’s Light show 
    • Glad Lights 
    • Things That Go “Flash” In The Night 

    Finally, Bob Moraga came up with what I considered to be the winner: 

    Burnt Tripe 

    That name said it all (To this day I’m not quite sure what “IT” was, but whatever it was, it was what it was and it was completely said in the name “Burnt Tripe”). 

    To me, it was perfect. To everybody else, no name was better. So that’s what we named it – nothing. We didn’t give it a name, officially. But to me it was, and will always be, “Burnt Tripe”. 

    Can you say “Moo”?

    Episode 17

     A New Beginning

    or

    We’ll always have Tazania…

    Posted 7/12/08

    Tazania… (Pronounced Tuh-zaaay-nee-uh)

    It was a Monday…. It was raining, and that should have been the first indication that it was going to be a lousy day…. It’s always raining in Tazania… hot, tropical, steamy rain that makes your clothes stick to your skin like they were dunked in warm maple syrup before you put them on in the morning… and makes the scum on your exposed flesh build up so thick you could scrape it off with your finger nail the way you would scrape a layer of butter off a cube with a butter knife… every day of the week…. Except Mondays…

    It always snows on Mondays…

    Mondays can always be counted on to provide a cooling, comforting respite from the muggy conditions of the other six days of the week…. Oh, the snow wouldn’t last more than overnight, that’s for sure…. White, cool, powdery all day on Monday, only to have its pristine brightness metamorphose into a murky, lukewarm mess with the always timely arrival of Tuesday… and the rain… and the heat… and the ever-present mud that saturates and mixes with the pure, white, cold powder and turns it into a putrid, brown slush – precisely like what happened to my heart when she walked out on me… on that hot, steamy, rainy Monday… in Tazania…

    But I digress…

    Havert was gone. And with him went our organ… And my Beach Boys albums…

    All gone to the the barren wastelands of Bakersfield… And with only two days notice. And with them went my plans to insert some Beach Boys songs into our repertoire.

    Havert’s dad had received a job offer that he could not turn down. The problem was that he had to be there in a few days – hence the quick departure.

    Fortunately, we were not relying on his sister’s microphone by this time, so we were OK in that department.

    But that didn’t make the fact that we had lost one of our brothers in music any easier to deal with. We either had to find a replacement or change our name.

    “A-one and a-two and a-three and a-four…”

    The music starts…

    Spectator 1: “My, this band has improved somewhat, wouldn’t you agree?”

    Spectator 2: “Why, yes, quite so.”

    Spectator 1: “I think they are rather miss-named, though.”

    Spectator 2: “How so?”

    Spectator 1: “Well, they are called The Roamin’ five, and there are only four of them.”

    Spectator 2: “So there are! Strange, I seem to remember a tall fellow in the back playing the tambourine. At the time I thought he was the only one of the lot with any talent.”

    Spectator 1: “Yes, that’s right, I remember now. I wonder where he got off to.”

    Spectator 2: “Who knows? He probably ran off to Bakersfield to hide in shame after the first time we saw them perform.”

    Mutual hearty laughter….

    The four of us continued to practice and hone our skills, but it sounded sort of empty without the organ (or tambourine). We also continued to attend dances and study other bands…

    One night, we went to our own school dance, at St. Bonaventure, to see the band. We got there and were surprised to see some of our classmates, Peter Barta, Daamen Krall and one other guy, up on stage. Peter was playing guitar, One Other Guy was playing drums and Daamen was playing – a Vox organ!!!

    Three things to be impressed with here:

    • Daamen could play the organ.  
    • Daamen had an organ to play. 
    • Daamen had a Vox organ and amplifier – the very same brand of amplifiers that the Beatles used. 

    We all looked at each other with a brand new shiny gleam occupying each or our eight eyes in it’s respective socket…

    …And an idea began to germinate in our collective mind…

    Motherly Advice – PAY ATTENTION!!!

    Posted 6/17/08

    What do you mean “What do you mean you broke your leg?”   I thought you knew that!  Well, here’s the story…

    If you go to wikipedia and type in “Break a leg”, one of the many (one) response(s) that pop(s) up will be:

    “Break a leg” is a well-known saying in theatre which means “good luck“. It is typically said to actors before they go out onto stage to perform.

    The expression reflects a theatrical superstition in which wishing a person “good luck” is considered bad luck. The expression is sometimes used outside the theatre as superstitions and customs travel through other professions and then into common use.”

    Hence, when my mom told me to “break a leg” (generally considered a bad thing), she was, in fact, saying “good luck”, (generally considered a good thing.  Unless you are an actor or other performer, in which case the term “good luck” is generally considered a bad thing and to tell someone to “break a leg” is considered good.)

    And, as it turned out, good luck (broken leggedness) prevailed – especially since we had to work so hard to be blessed with the luck. 

    Another lesson in life:  The harder you work, the luckier you get… Or you could say that “If you try real hard, you’ll end up with a broken leg.”

    “Wait a minute,” you say, “You only came in third.”

    You’re right!  We DID come in third.  But if you frame it such that we probably only came in third at our first gig, and we were the only entertainment, then coming in third at our second gig was a huge improvement…

    …And that’s how we looked at it….  

    • The first time we came in third out of a field of one (we were that bad).
    • The second time we came in third out of a field of seven (we were that much better).

    We felt victorious… 

    We continued practicing at the same rate, learning more songs.  And we also got some small jobs playing at parties, and the occasional school dance. 

    We also started going to dances and other events where there were other bands performing, just to watch them, get some ideas on new songs to learn and learn some stage presence.  Scouting the competition, as it were…

    One memorable Friday night, the Ventura Recreation Center was having a dance.  The band was one that we had not seen, but had heard was pretty good, so we all decided to go and check them out to see if we could come away with some good tips.  None of us was old enough to drive, yet, and it was several miles from Scott’s house.  We decided not to ask Scott’s dad for a ride and elected to walk…

    Back in those days, there was still a fair chunk of open space in Ventura, including lots of citrus groves and a few small farms, etc.  We decided to take a short-cut along a more “rural” route. 

    It had turned dark and we were walking along,  joking around,  talking “band” talk and generally having a good time when the inevitable happened… Someone had to “relieve” himself…  I don’t remember who it was – not me, though.  But, hey, we were out in the middle of nowhere with several miles still to traverse before we arrived at the Rec Center, it was dark, and when you gotta go, you gotta go.  So whoever had to go, went.  That caused a couple of others to have to go, too, so they also went. 

    This illustrates another mathematical law:  

    • The Commutative Property of ‘I Have To Go To The Bathroom and There Is No Bathroom Around In Which To Do This and No Prospects of Finding One Soon’ 

    Havert was good at math, so he decided that it was also his time to go. So he did…  Right onto an electric fence…    

    I don’t believe I’ve ever heard another sound quite like the sound Havert Seally made when he did that.  I don’t really know how to describe it…  It was… not of this world… 

    But, of course, the rest of us fell on the ground laughing, and we continued to do so ’til our stomachs hurt and there just wasn’t any more laughter left in us…  Somehow, Havert failed to immediately see the humor in the situation, though he was more open to it later on… 

    This became permanently etched in my mind as “Havert Seally and the Electric fence Incident”…  And I’m still laughing… 

    (***At the risk of introducing a bit of crudity into this chapter, I am about to type a word that may be offensive to some.  If you are one who may take offence, please skip the next paragraph…  And please don’t hold it against me – it has to be said…)

    There are many ways to call attention to yourself…  Whizzing on an electric fence is not at the top of the list of the best ways to do it…   

    …However, It does bring to mind a lesson that my mother taught me: 

    • Always go to the bathroom BEFORE you leave the house… 

    Having witnessed the possible consequences of failing to follow motherly advice in this area, I have become an expert at always going to the bathroom before I leave the house…   

    Thank you, Havert, for serving as my roll model…  Bzzzzzzt!   

    This event was followed by the naturally expected jokes concerning the consequences of having made this kind of mistake.  The ones that seemed to stick best were the ones that had to do with his new speaking voice…  Kinda high… 

    Enter The Beach Boys… 

    As mentioned earlier, I am a Beach Boys fan, an enthusiasm, sadly,  not shared by the rest of the band members.  As a result of everybody else’s ambivalence toward America’s Band, we didn’t have any Beach Boys songs on our list of music.  One of the “reasons” given by the guys was that we didn’t have anybody who could sing the high parts…   

    The Electric Fence Incident did more than give us all (well, almost all) a great laugh – the jokes that followed it gave me an idea…  Maybe Havert could now sing the high parts! 

    Unbelievably, Havert didn’t know any Beach Boys music – He had never heard them.  He really hadn’t.  I was amazed…   

    BUT I could fix that – I had every Beach Boys album ever made, and I was going to make sure that Havert would hear them and practice the songs before I brought it up to the other guys again.  When they repeated the excuse that we can’t sing them, I would have Havert demonstrate that we COULD sing them…  It was going to be great… 

    The next week, I brought all of my Beach Boys albums to Havert… 

    The week after that he moved to Bakersfield.   

    With my Beach Boys Albums…. 

    Exit The Beach Boys… 

    Enter the Roamin’ Four…

  • Kathleen Marsh Says:
    October 27, 2008 at 10:55 am   editHow could anyone not hear of the Beach Boys? What kind of animal is this Havert, anyway?
  • I Break My Leg

    Posted 6/10/08

    Saturday:  Sears Days minus one week…

    We had convened at Havert’s house in the morning for an intense rehearsal of the six songs we had chosen to perform at the battle of the bands competition…  We had mikes…  We had drums…  We had new large amplifiers…  We had new guitars…  We were working hard…  We were getting it right…  We were hitting the vocals…  We were being a band…

    But mostly we were being loud…  

    Havert’s parents and sister had begun to make it a practice to leave home while we were rehearsing.  Not that they didn’t enjoy having us there, sharing their home, eating their food, drinking their soda-pop and, generally, contributing to the cultural expansion of their minds.  They just had something to do somewhere else when we showed up.  Amazing…

    We decided that Havert was not going to play the tambourine this time (there is not much worse that can happen to a guitar player than to be shown up by a tambourine player). 

    Thankfully, his dad found a friend who was willing to loan him a truck, and we would be transporting the organ to the show.  This was a very good thing because one of the songs we had mastered was “Green Onions”, with a large organ part to be performed, and it just wouldn’t have sounded right played on a tambourine.

    For the Battle of the Bands, we decided that we would skip “And I Love Her” and we replaced it with the equally romantic and beautiful love ballad, “Hanky Panky”, by Tommy James And The Shondells. (In fact, we completely dropped “And I Love Her” from our play list, making “Hanky Panky” – if you don’t count “Louie Louie” – our only bona fide love song for the next month or so.)

    As the days running up to the “event” went by, we practiced our chosen selections on a few more occasions, but didn’t want to over-do it… 

    Friday:  Sears Days minus one day…

    We all got together one more time at Havert’s house for a short run-through of all of our songs.  We were ready this time…. Really, we were

    We decided to leave all of our equipment at Havert’s house overnight and pack it all in the truck with the organ in the morning…

    We all went home…

    I remember talking with my mom that night.  There are only two things I remember from that conversation.  One was my mom saying,  “Well kid, you’re -”…

    That’s as far as I let her get… “Well kid, you’re – “. 

    I had done everything I could think of to make this go well…

    • Changed some songs
    • Practiced everything over and over – including what goes where and when
    • Got a new guitar and amplifier

    …And I wasn’t going to let her jinx it by telling me that I’m “on my way” again…

    So she just said, “Break a leg!”  That’s the other thing I remember…  “Break a leg.”

    Saturday morning:  Sears Days minus a few hours…

    My dad dropped me off at Havert’s house on his way to work.  Everybody got there within about 15 minutes of each other.

    We started loading up.  We got the organ into the truck and tied it down.  Then the amplifiers.  Then we made a discovery concerning the drums.  The drums wouldn’t fit into the truck with all of the other stuff in there.  OK… Well, we could just load them into Scott’s dad’s car with the rest of us and our guitars (Havert was riding in the truck with his dad)  and get them there that way.  There were only three problems with that:

    1.     If we put the drums and the guitars in the car, we couldn’t put the band in the car. 

    2.   If we put the band and the guitars in the car, we couldn’t put the drums in the car.

    3.   If we put the band and the guitars and the drums in the car, we couldn’t have a driver (Scott’s dad) and somebody would have to ride a bike. *

    * In this case, only the guy on the bike would get to the event and only he and Havert could perform.  This was not part of the plan…

    We all wanted to get there at the same time and unload and get ready to set up together. 

    This wasn’t a transportation problem… This was a Brain Teaser… 

    Here’s what we ended up doing.  It was pretty simple, but it seemed inconvenient at the time… 

    Fortunately, we were the third or fourth band scheduled so we didn’t actually HAVE to show up at the same time.  One of us could fit into the car with all of the guitars, drums and driver.  That person would go with the stuff and, with the help of Havert, his dad and Scott’s dad, would unload the equipment. Then that person, Havert and Havert’s dad would stand watch over the gear while Scott’s dad came back and picked the rest of us and taxied us to the stage.

    That worked fine.  And it had the added bonus of motivating Scott’s dad to encourage Scott to get his driver’s license as soon as it was legally possible.  And that later spilled over onto Mike’s parents…. 

    After watching – with a critical eye – the first two or three bands perform, it was our turn. The bands that went ahead of us were really pretty good, we thought.  But we really thought we could out-do them…

    They gave us about 15 minutes to set up. 

    We set up our gear – the organ wasn’t that bad – we just had to maneuver it into place and plug it in.  Got the mikes, and amps into place.  Tuned our guitars again just to make sure they were right.  Quick Sound Check.  

    We were ready…  The introduction…  The first song…

    “One-two-three-four!”  The music starts…

    On the fifth count, Scott, Mike, Tim and Havert started playing Walk Don’t Run in the key of “A”, and I started playing Walk Don’t Run in the key of “A”.

    That’s right, we all started playing the same song at the same time in the same key at the same speed and in the same time signature! 

    We were rolling… We were rockin’ and rolliin’…  we started out well and we didn’t screw it up the entire first song!  When we were done with the first one, people actually applauded! Somebody liked us!  Wow!! 

    Then we went on to the next song – Same thing!!  We didn’t blow that one up, either!

    Hanky Panky…  We nailed it… 

    It’s All Over Now…  No it wasn’t!  We hit that one right on, too…

    When we were done, some people actually cheered!  And it wasn’t just our family members, either…

    There were also a couple of people there who had witnessed our first foray into the world of Rock and Roll at the apartment building.  They sought us out to say that we had substantially improved from the last time they had seen us “perform”.  (Actually, what they said was that we were “not nearly as bad as we were last time”. In fact, we were “pretty good”.)

    When the votes were tallied, we actually came in third out of seven…  We were jazzed! 

    My new guitar and amp were vindicated. 

    We were a band.

    I still possessed my Beach Boys albums…

    And I had broken my leg…

    Guitars And Golf Shoes

     Posted 6/1/08

    Before we all left, we decided that we needed to practice more, and set a time to do so.  We also decided that we would each speak with our parents and make sure that they would hold off on getting us any new gigs until we gave them the “all clear”. 

    Once we had that arrangement out of the way, and with our gear in tow, we headed for the door.  I walked up to my dad and brother… Bob had an enormous grin on his face… I looked at him and said “Shut up”.  My dad gave me an affectionate slap on the back. 

    As we walked out, I asked my dad what he said that made the guy standing next to him laugh so hard.   

    “Well,” he said, “I said ‘You see the kid with the red guitar?’ The guy says ‘Yeah’ and I said ‘He used to be my son’.” 

    That didn’t immediately make me feel a lot better, but I thought it was one of the best lines I had ever heard him deliver and it DID make me laugh pretty hard…  It also taught me another lesson in life:   

    If you look for it, you can find humor in almost any situation, and if you do, it can be a great stress relief.  That has really come in handy on many occasions… 

    Failure can be a great motivator.  The pain and humiliation didn’t last that long.  In fact it spurred us all on, and made us more determined to be better prepared the next time…  And we intended that there would be a next time… 

    So…  We got together the next day at Havert’s house.  We came up with a plan of action on how we would, in the future, make sure we all knew what songs we were going to be playing when.  We also rehearsed the six songs in our repertoire several more times to make sure we had the words and melodies down… 

    We started practicing at least three times during the week and for long hours on Saturdays.  And we added a bunch of new songs to our list of “known” music.  Havert’s parents really put up with a lot those first few weeks…  Really…  A lot… 

    We also pooled some of our money and bought a couple of mikes and stands and plugged them directly into the second channels in Tim and Scott’s guitar amps.  AND Mike’s parents helped him buy a real drum set!!  Woohoo!  

    We were progressing in our equipment and our proficiency… 

    Then one day my dad came home from work and told me that Sears was planning a weekend “Sears Days” event a few weekends down the road, and that a Battle Of The Bands contest was going to be part of the promotion.  He asked if we might be interested in entering.  I talked with the others and we decided that we were ready this time.  Except for one thing… 

    While I was the first in the band to have an instrument, I was now the one with the least “professional” equipment.  I had fallen behind in the hardware department… My five-watt amp could not be heard with the other instruments.  And, being that I was the lead guitar player, it was important that I stand out, volume wise. 

    I had been saving my baby sitting money for quite awhile, and had more than a couple of hundred dollars to my name.  And I was ready to sell my existing guitar and amp to make up the rest of the needed funds for a new guitar and amplifier.   

    My dad didn’t completely understand this requirement… 

    I need to interject here that my dad is an avid golfer.  And he’s a really good amateur golfer.  I know this is true for several reasons: 

    • He told me so.
    • He made me caddy for him from the time I was five years old until after I was married.
    • He has stopped buying new golf shoes after a bad game. 

    When I was a kid, whenever my dad shot a really bad round of golf, he would go out and buy a new pair of golf shoes. This was because, naturally, the current pair of new shoes didn’t work as well as they should have.  Apparently, a bad pair of shoes can cause a swing to go bad, or make the ball follow a trajectory (relative to a good swing) not possible as dictated by the laws of physics.  My dad must have owned fifty pairs of golf shoes by the time I was eight years old… 

    This third reason brings me back to the story at hand… 

    I presented my dad with the “bad golf shoe” analogy.  I compared my “old” guitar with his “old” bad golf shoes… 

    My dad understood the importance of a good pair of golf shoes.  Well, he understood that I had caddied for him for more than half of my life at that point and I understood his rationale for getting new golf shoes every time he had a stroke (pun intended) of bad luck on the course… He just looked at me with a smile and approved the purchase. 

    A week later, I had made the leap to my next guitar – a Sears Silvertone model 1488 Jaguar.  And Silvertone model 1485 ammplifier.  (See pictures at the end of the chapter.) 

    And we had a third mike… 

    And we were a week away from our second gig… 

    And I still possessed my Beach Boys albums…

     

    My second guitar

    My Second Guitar and Amp…
    My \
     

  • beginners piano Says:
    June 19, 2008 at 6:16 am   editNice Site!
    http://google.com
  •  

    The First Gig

    Or

    But The Show Must Go On

    Posted 5/25/08

    Friday night: Gig minus eighteen hours…

    For some reason, my mom and I were in my sisters’ room sitting on one of the beds, talking.  We were discussing the coming events of the next day and I don’t remember a single word of the conversation except her statement of encouragement:  “You’re on your way, kid.” 

    That’s it.  That’s all I remember.  “You’re on your way, kid.” But that’s enough…

    Saturday morning:  Gig minus five hours…

    A few of the details are a little fuzzy…  It was a scramble… 

    We were not able to get Havert’s organ to the apartment complex, so it was decided that he would play the tambourine… 

    We also didn’t have a real microphone available to us, but that was fixed because the apartment owner had one and he was going to be using it and would let us do the same…

    We had come up with a name for the band at school the day before, during lunch.  “The Roamin’ Five” – as in five entities that were wandering around aimlessly.  It fit.  More than we realized at the time…

    We had rides to the gig.  We all got there. 

    The event was held in a large recreation room, and there were actually a fair number of people in attendance, milling around talking and partaking of free refreshments.  There wasn’t a stage, just a place in the corner where the owner and a few dignitaries (people from the chamber of commerce, etc.) were making some welcoming remarks.  There was a ribbon cutting ceremony and a big cake. 

    The owner had us set up, off to one side, during the speeches, etc. We went about our business in a calm, professional manner, doing our best to look like we had done this a hundred times before.  It must have looked impressive – plugging in cables, erecting the single drum stand and symbol, and tuning our instruments – because nobody had started laughing, yet…

    When we were all set, we took our respective positions…  I’m sure we looked magnificent…  Me with my Sears Model 1457 dual pickup guitar with case in amp, Scott and Tim with their brand new guitar, bass and tiny amplifiers, Havert – by far the tallest of us all – with the tambourine we borrowed from somebody or other, and Mike with his red plastic snare drum, the symbol sticking up from the side.

    I had some stage experience because I had been in all of the school plays throughout Jr. High School, as well as having been in the school chorus in earlier years.  I DID have a slight case of the jitters, but nothing I couldn’t handle.  As for the other guys, who knows???

    Then, the introduction…  The owner took the microphone and made sure everyone knew who we were…

    “Ladies and Gentlemen!  It is my pleasure to introduce to you our entertainment for the next few minutes.  Let’s give a big hand to The Roaming Five”.

    Applause…

    The first thing that I thought was “Roaming? – with a “G”?

    The next thing I thought of was “Wait a minute – Scott’s counting and he’s all the way up to three.  What’s the first song?”

    After the count of four, Scott, Mike, and Tim started playing Walk Don’t Run in the key of A and I began playing Wipe Out in the key of E.

    Then my mind was filled with my earlier fears…

    Spectator 1:  “What is that song?  It sounds so familiar.”

    Spectator 2:  “Well, I think it’s a medley of different songs.”

    Spectator 1:  “That’s it!  But what are they?”

    Spectator 2:  “I think drummer, bassist and rhythm guitarist are performing Walk Don’t Run and the lead guitar player is playing Wipe Out.”

    Spectator 1:  “Why, yes, I do believe you’re right.  Too bad they are playing them at the same time.”

    Spectator 2:  “And in different keys.”

    Spectator 1:  “And with different time signatures. What’s that tall fellow doing?”

    Spectator 1:  “He’s playing the tambourine.”

    Spectator 1:  “So he is – and doing a right smart job of it, too, I might add.”

    Spectator 2:  “I quite agree.  He’s the only one up there with any real talent, if you ask me.  At least he seems to be doing his part in such a way as to not clash with the other instruments.” 

    I was completely in a fog… My mind was focused on my fears and I had no idea where, in the music, I was, or even what song we were supposed to be playing…  However, the show must go on…

    After our opening “medley”, Scott looked at me funny and announced the second song. 

    “Our second song will be Wipe Out,” he said.

    “Didn’t we just play that?” I responded.

    “You did,” he replied. “We played Walk Don’t Run.

    “But that’s not even in the same key!” I exclaimed.

    “That’s right,” he stated.

    Then I looked out at the audience…. I shouldn’t have…

    After nearly perfectly performing Wipe Out while everybody else was doing Walk Don’t Run, I managed to wipe out Wipe Out when everybody else was doing it for real….  But the show must go on…

    Looking for some moral support, I found my dad and brother, Bob, standing against the wall at the back of the room.  My dad turned to the guy standing next to him and said something (which might be revealed at some later point), and the guy started laughing uncontrollably….

    This, of course, played on my mind during the next number, Pipeline.   (For some reason, my dad loved that song.  He still brings it up today…)  But the show must go on…

    After that, I decided that I would not look out into the audience anymore.  But the show must go on…

    The first three pieces (and I mean “pieces”) out of the way, we went on to the next three – the ones that Scott would be “singing”.

    Somehow, I had managed to get myself together for the final three selections.  I actually played the right songs at the right time and in the right manner.  Too bad Scott had to sing them…  It was HIS turn…

    There was no microphone stand, so Scott had to hold it while he was singing.  This, of course, meant that he could not play his part on the guitar.

    The first was And I Love Her by The Beatles (Lennon and McCartney).

    I give her all my love, 

    That’s all I do.

    And if you saw my love,

    You’d love her too.

    La di da da.

    What?  La di da da?  What’s that?   

    He had forgotten the words “And I Love Her”… 

    Then we came to the Chorus… He started singing the right words, but in a melody that belonged to another song.  Not even one we had learned, yet.  And not in the same time signature…

    That’s when it got really bad…  I started to giggle… Then I started laughing…  And I couldn’t stop…

    Then Scott blew the last two songs out of the water and it was time to go…

    But the worst was yet to come…

    When we were done, the owner of the apartment complex came up and took the microphone and thanked us for our performance…

    “My thanks to The Roaming Five for their contribution to our grand opening gala!  Let’s hear it for them!”  At which point the entire place erupted in howling laughter…  There was no stage door… There was no curtain behind which to hide…  We had to remain exposed – naked for all the world to see – while we broke down our gear…

    Our first gig was a disaster… I screwed up the first three songs and Scott screwed up the last three.  If we had started over after the last song and done them all correctly, everybody would have thought we had done twelve different songs- that’s how bad it was….

    My mom’s words kept coming back to me – “You’re on your way, kid.”  On my way where?  I thought that once you went to Hell, there was no getting out….  

    ________________________________________________

    To go to Chapter 14, click this link:

    https://billkammerer.wordpress.com/14-bio-chapter-14/

    To hear actual non-church related songs by Bill Kammerer, Click on this link

    https://billkammerer.wordpress.com/some-non-church-related-songs-by-bill-kammerer/

    To hear actual songs by Bill Kammerer with a spiritual emphasis, click on this link

    https://billkammerer.wordpress.com/my-catholicchristian-songs-in-mp3-format/

    If you’d like to see some of my favorite Youtube music videos, follow this link:

    https://billkammerer.wordpress.com/some-of-my-favorite-music-videos-from-youtube/

    If you would like to contact me directly, just click on the email address below, or send me an email from your own email account. my email address is: 

    billk@sti.net

    Edit this entry.

    One Response to “13 – Bio – Chapter 13”

    1. Mike Says:
      May 27, 2008 at 5:28 am   editThe forgetting words sounds so familiar! Hmmmm? But for me it’s ” now how does that song start????”

    Well, you were on your way and we all still are on our way!

    The Start of What Mary C. Has Been Waiting for…

    Posted 5/18/08

    The Beach Boys – my all time favorite band.  This isn’t just a recent development born of nostalgia.  They were my favorite group from the first time I heard “Surfin’” on the radio.  And I had been collecting every Beach Boys album as fast as they released them.  I had a total of five of them (including the original “Beach Boys Concert” in Sacramento) at the time I met Havert Sealy.  And I met Havert Sealy through Scott McLane.  Havert lived just up the street from Scott…

    In order to avoid more “begats”, I’ll just cut to the chase and say that the first guy I met at St. Bonaventure High School was not Scott McLane.  It was Bob Moraga. 

    It was the first week of my freshman year at St. Bonaventure.  I didn’t know ANYBODY there and most of my class mates knew lots of people because most of them had gone to school together K – 8.  I was actually used to that situation because of the number of changes of school I had endured throughout my life. But this time I was on a mission so the circumstances of my “new-kid-in-school-edness” had changed.

    One day at lunch I was sitting at a table and this kid comes up and sits down across from me.  We just started talking and have been friends ever since.  His name was Bob Moraga and he became my best friend throughout my high school years, which is saying a lot because the guys in the band and I were very close. Bob was a sophomore.  (Again outside the scope of this bio, Bob and I had some screaming great times in those years. There were times we laughed so hard we almost threw up – literally. As a matter of fact, he once proved that a person could be making you laugh uncontrolably and you could be really mad at that person at the same time… It happened in the school library early one Saturday morning… But I digress.)  Bob, now Bert, remains one of two “childhood” friends with whom I am still in touch to this day.  (The other is Colleen Megowan – More about the Moragas and the Megowans later on.)

    I met Scott shortly after that, and then Scott and I met Mike Kinart, and then Mike and I met Tim Redd (Scott already knew Tim, if I remember correctly).   

    Somehow, we all figured out that we all wanted to be in a Rock band (except for Bob, who didn’t play an instrument at the time, but he became an unofficial part of the group just because he was such a great friend.  He even came up with a name for our light show for us down the road… I’ll get to that later…)

    We decided on a lineup of who was going to do what:

    Mike would be the drummer.

    Tim would be the bass player.

    Scott would be the rhythm guitarist and lead singer.

    I would be the lead guitarist.

    We were ready…  the fruits of my labor were about to be borne…  I had a band and we all wanted to play the same music….

    There were some issues, though:

    Mike didn’t have any drums.

    Tim didn’t have a bass.

    Scott didn’t have a guitar.

    Nobody had any microphones.

    Add to all that the fact that we were all “beginners” with our chosen instruments and we had the makings of the perfect “non-musical-music-group” storm….

    We had no instruments, but we had each other and that was a start.  Sort of.

    Fortunately, I had the snare drum with a little symbol that was mounted directly on the drum, so Mike could at least have that on which to practice.  Other than that, all we could do for a few weeks was make plans to become a rich and famous rock group. 

    And then, one day, we all had instruments to play.  But we still didn’t have microphones and Scott didn’t think he could sing loud enough to be heard over the instruments…

    Enter Havert Sealy.  Havert didn’t go to St. Bonaventure, so most of us didn’t know him.  But Scott did and he told us about him…

    He had a microphone.  And he played the organ.  And he wanted to be in the band.  And he had a microphone.

    That was about all we needed to know.  We took a vote and he was in.  (When could we get his microphone?)

    It was time… We were really ready this time…  We even decided that we could meet Havert and hold our first practice at the same time.  It would have to be at Havert’s house because his organ was a console model and his parents wouldn’t just let him take it any time he wanted.  (And none of us were old enough to drive it anywhere, anyway.  And even if we were, none of us had a truck with which to move the behemoth.) But he had a microphone, so we went along with it.

    We all gathered at Havert’s house on Thursday after school.  Introductions were made and we all set up our instruments.  Then we discovered Havert’s microphone…

    It was made of plastic.  And it was Pink.  And it had a picture of Barbie or some other fictitious person of that ilk on it.  And there was no stand to hold it.  In fact, it was permanently attached to a pink reel to reel tape recorder.  And it belonged to his little sister.  And we needed her permission to use it…

    I began to pray, silently, again…

    “Dear God, I don’t suppose you have a spare microphone you’re not using, do you?”

    We went ahead and practiced without a microphone….

    And even without a microphone we actually “learned” six songs in that first practice.  Three instrumentals and three songs with lyrics.

    I remember all of the instrumentals:  “Walk Don’t Run”, “Wipe Out” and “Pipeline”. 

    I only remember two of the songs with lyrics:  “And I Love Her” by the Beatles and “The Last Time” by the rolling stones.

    And then, the very next day, it happened….  The break we had been waiting for…

    One of somebody’s parents knew somebody who had built an apartment building.  That Saturday was going to be the Grand Opening, and that parent suggested to the apartment owner that he might do well to have a live band perform as part of the opening ceremonies.  The owner didn’t want to pay a band, so the parent offered our services free of charge.  This would be a win-win situation because

    1.     The apartment owner would be able to have FREE live entertainment at his grand opening and

    2.   We – the band – would get FREE publicity.

    We had our first gig lined up, and we had only been together for two days!! 

    And I still had possession of all of my Beach Boys albums…

    1. colleen Says:
      May 18, 2008 at 3:39 pm   editthe suspense is killing me…
    2. billkammerer Says:
      May 18, 2008 at 6:54 pm   editYeah… Me too… )
    3. Jennifer Gonzales Says:
      May 19, 2008 at 8:07 am   editOk, I what I really want to know is…………..what were you laughing about that made you almost get sick? It must be really good! I can not wait to read your next Chapter! )
    4. Judi JP Putnam Says:
      May 19, 2008 at 2:53 pm   editSorry I haven’t been keeping up. I had to go back and read the past 2 chapters. Life has continued its hectic pace (especially at the church.)

    I Reorganize

    or

    How to Make New Friends

     Posted 5/5/08

    1 And so it happened that, at that time, I was summoned by one or more of my parents and 2 was made to sit in silence whilst they 3 pronounced upon me the decree that I should not be attending Balboa Jr. High School in my ninth grade year…. 

    4 And, lo, I was NOT happy about it….

    And then, 5 in the fullness of time, it was revealed unto me wither I wouldst be spending my ninth grade year…

    6 And, again, I was NOT 7 happy about it… 

    8 “Thou shalt become a student at St. Bonaventure High School.”

    9 And there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth…

    “And further, 10 Thou shalt become a GOOD student at St. 11 Bonaventure High School.”

    And at that moment, 12 all of the birds in the sky fell to the Earth and were slain and their foul carcasses were gulped down by the beasts of the fields.  13 And the beasts of the fields, having consumed the decaying flesh were poisoned by it and 14 succumbed to the rotting flesh of the birds of the sky.  15 And the corpses of the beasts of the fields were devoured by the insects and other vermin of the land…

    16 And a great depth of darkness and a great storm of utter despair enveloped me, and I was alone…. 17 And the Earth ceased to revolve…      

    …Until it dawned on me that this could be a great way to meet new friends…. Friends who might be musicians, like myself…. Friends who might be in the market for a few other friends who might be in the market for a few friends who might be in the market for a spot in a band… one that actually wanted to play the same music at the same time and at the same rate of speed…

    I became cautiously optimistic that this might not be a completely bad thing.   The one possible caveat   was the adjective “good” preceding the noun “student”… I had to take an entrance exam….

    Historically, I was not a good student.  I was an OK student.  Barely.  And it only went downhill when I got to High School.  In fact, at dinner tonight, Judy and I were talking about high school, and the fact that I only did homework three times a year (the last week of any given quarter), and she came out with the statement “You know, it was really nice of St. Bonaventure to let you graduate.”  And she was serious… (In college, I was actually a pretty good student most of the time…) Yet another topic for another biography…

    But I had a few weeks to bone up on English and Math.  The only issue there was that it would seriously cut into my guitar practice time.  But I thought about it and decided that, if there was a chance that I could meet some guys with the same aspirations as me, it might be worth the effort to study up and pass the entrance exam.  Besides, I could do some studying while I was babysitting, so it might not cut into my first priority that much.

    I took the “long run” approach and managed to get into the school.  I started the following September…

    … And that’s where I met Bob Moraga.  Then Scott McLane, Mike Kinart, Tim Redd, Al Gandy, Havert Sealy and Daamen Krall…

    And not too long after that, I would loose my complete collection of Beach Boys albums…

  • Mary Alice Staggs Says:
    May 8, 2008 at 12:18 pm   editHi, Bill, Pat and Judy Byrne are in our small faith sharing group, and we met last nite…..Pat was tellling us about your website and just emailed it to me. I just wanted to say hi, hope all is well, and I will enjoy reading your bio here!! take care, our best to your family….Mary Alice at IHM
  • Recruiting Band Members – The Beginning

     Posted 4/26/08

    After the dance, I headed home, my enthusiasm reborn.  On the way home, I was going through all the names of all the guys I knew who I thought might be good ones to ask to join my band… 

    Wes Leavens…

    Wes was a buddy of mine who had a couple of pet snakes.  (Well, he was down to one pet snake because one of them ate the other when, at the teacher’s request, he took them both to science class to keep on display. We came to class one morning and there was only one (visible) snake in the enclosure.  We found the tail of the other sticking out of the mouth of the one that wasn’t going to have to be fed for the rest of the school year.)

    I have a very clear memory that involves these snakes, my sister when she was sick with the flu and her bed (she should never have left her bed to go barf in the toilet).  Oh yeah – and my mom getting really mad at me.  Not for this biography…

    Wes played the trumpet…

    Jerry Knudsen…

    Jerry was my best friend in school at that time.  One interesting thing that happened with Jerry and me is that I actually ran into him walking down the street in Hong Kong about six years later – small world…

    He was a lot taller than me, which has absolutely no bearing on anything at all, but it’s the closest thing to musical talent that he possessed. 

    Jerry couldn’t play a record…

    Jimmy Simon…

    Jimmy was my best friend all around.  He was a certifiable genius and he lived down the street from me. We had all kinds of adventures together – too many to name here.  We once had a water fight.  In his living room.  With garden hoses… 

    This was not a good thing, and his parents made sure we understood that, though they didn’t ban me from the premises. 

    Fortunately, the damage was minimal and our punishment was to clean the place up THOROUGHLY and to swear never to do it again.  I don’t know about Jimmy, but I can say unequivocally that I have never had a water fight in Jimmy Simon’s Parents’ living room since. 

    Jimmy played the Violin…

    That about covered the entire range of friends who might be interested in forming a band with me… And what a group we would make…  I could just imagine our first gig…

    …”One-two-three-four…” the music starts…

    Spectator 1:  “That’s an interesting mix of instruments.”

    Spectator 2: “Yes, isn’t it?”

    Spectator 1: “And an interesting sound, too.  What is that song?  It sounds so familiar.”

    Spectator 2:  “Well, I think it’s a medley of different songs.”

    Spectator 1:  “That’s it!  But what are they?”

    Spectator 2:  “I think the violin player is performing the Blue Danube Waltz, the trumpet player is doing Taps and the guitar player is playing Mary Had A Little Lamb.”

    Spectator 1:  “Why, yes, I do believe you’re right.  Too bad they are playing them all at the same time.”

    Spectator 2:  “And in different keys.”

    Spectator 1:  “And with different time signatures. What’s that tall fellow doing?”

    Spectator 2:  “I think he’s just being tall.”

    Spectator 1:  “So he is – and doing a right smart job of it, too, I might add.”

    Spectator 2:  “I quite agree.  He’s the only one up there with any real talent, if you ask me.  At least he seems to be doing his part in such a way as to not clash with the other instruments.”  

    Spectator 1:  “Right you are, old boy..”

    By the time I got home, I was thinking of ways to make new friends…