Bill’s Bio – Chapter 12

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.)

Bill’s Bio – Chapter 11

I Reorganize


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
  • Bill’s Bio – Chapter 10

    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…

    Getting Home From Aspen, Colorado

    Getting Home From Aspen

    (Posted 4/12/08)

    It’s Friday night and I am sitting in a hotel room in Grand Junction, CO, wondering how the heck I got here.  I didn’t want to come to Grand Junction.  I didn’t plan to come to Grand Junction… ever. (I also didn’t plan NOT to come to Grand Junction – it just never occurred to me to come here.)

    But here I sit in a hotel room in Grand Junction, CO, wishing I was in my living room in Coarsegold, CA, which is where I had planned to be yesterday….

    So what happened?

    Well, it all started about a month ago.  But I’ll start at 3:15 – AM – last Tuesday morning.  That’s when the alarm clock went off, and I bounded from the bed and skipped to the bathroom to take a shower.  I had a 6:10 AM flight to Phoenix, where I had a 10:00 AM flight to Aspen, where I would rent a car from a girl named Alicia so that I could drive to Basalt for a visit with a client.

    It started out well (if you could call an alarm clock going of at 3:15 AM “well”).  It seemed to go downhill from there, though.  My long suffering wife, Judy, Had been up ‘til about midnight doing some work, and she needed to take me to the airport.

    (I should interject, here, that her car had been in the shop for about a week, having a minor transmission overhaul/ solenoid/ pump/ pump drive/ torque converter/ pump bearing/ TCC solenoid/ sleeve/ harness/ output sensor/ transmission additive/ transmission fluid/ valve body kit/ overhaul kit/ intake manifold gasket replacement/  thermostat replacement/ coolant sensor replacement/ new gasket set/ antifreeze/ oil filter and motor oil job.  I just got off the phone with her and she picked up her car – leaving my car plus $3,134.16 as ransom – and drove it home. She got four miles when the “Service Engine Soon” light came on…  I shall refer to moments like this one as “Aarrghhh” moments…)

    We had hoped that her car would be fixed by Monday night so she could avoid chauffeuring me to the airport and arriving at her job at 5:00 in the morning.  (Judy is a librarian and there aren’t a lot of libraries open at 5:00 AM, so she was about half a day early for work.)

    At any rate, I was ready to go at about 4:05 and she was just about ready to get out of the shower.  This was an “Aarrghhh” moment.  I was tense.  She was just wet….

    Somehow, we managed to get to the airport by about 5:00 (it’s a forty-two mile drive) and I was happy enough.

    Made my 6:10 AM flight with no issues to report.

    Made the connection with no issues to report.

    Got the car and made the drive with no issues to report.

    Got to my hotel, checked in, fired up my laptop, got a wireless internet connection and worked for the rest of the day with no issues to report.

    Went to bed about 8:00 PM and watched TV for awhile with no issues to report.

    Opened up my current book and was reading.  First issue to report:

    • I felt a slight disturbance in The Force in the form of something walking across the hairs on my arm. (You know how if something touches your hair you can feel it? – Not much, but just enough to know that something is out of place…)
    • I looked, and sure enough, there was some sort of insect traversing my arm on the hairs that live there. It looked kind of like a mosquito, but it was black (A Gnat, perhaps?).
    • Naturally, I evicted the offending creature with a slight – though crushing – swipe from my opposite hand.
    • Then I happened to spy the lamp table next to the bed… There was another. In fact, there were five others crawling around the table. I quickly dispatched them with one of the Wendy’s napkins I had secured from the “restaurant” where I bought “dinner”.
    • Then I found more buzzing around the lamp shade and the wall next to the table.
    • This was indeed a surprise, but it afforded me a rare opportunity to partake of the manly sport of “hunting”.

    Once I had eliminated all of the bugs I could see, I started looking for all of the ones I knew had to be present that I could NOT see.  There were none in the bed or the bedding, as far as I could tell, but I did find a few dead ones around the homestead.  It was like they had just “dropped like flies” or something…

    Once my hunting expedition was over, I went back to bed, though I must say that I didn’t sleep well (I never do the first night or two out on business trips) – but now I had extra incentive to practice the fine art of insomnia.  I kept “feeling” things crawl on me, but every time I checked it out there was no trespass occurring.  I’m STILL feeling things crawl on me…

    This was an “Aarrghhh” moment.

    The next morning I arose early with the intention of getting some work done and checking email.  (It was 5:30 AM local time, and I thought that someone an hour ahead of me might have had something important to say.)

    I hit the “Send/Receive” button in Outlook in an effort to hurry along any impending incoming emergency news flashes that might be waiting to be read and replied to.

    Nothing appeared.

    I didn’t remember if the “Send/Receive” button actually turned pink when I clicked on it (mine turns pink, though yours may turn a different hue), so I clicked it again just to make sure I had applied the exact amount of pressure required to suck in any waiting communications.

    Nothing again.

    At this point it was time to perform the requisite early morning manly duties, but  before heading off to the bathroom, I decided to click the “Send/Receive” button one more time – it had already been almost a minute since the last clicking – just to make sure I didn’t miss anything before I got distracted.

    Something this time…

    But NOT what I expected…

    Down in the lower right hand corner there was a message that said “Disconnected”…

    Well, I thought, I can fix that.  And I could, too, if there had been a wireless network available with which to work, but there wasn’t (except for the infamous “Free Public WIFI” that is next to impossible to connect to.  That’s probably why it’s free.)  This made no sense to me – The “hotel network” was there yesterday and last night, so why isn’t it there now?  I worked on it for two hours – all the way up to the time when I had to get ready for my first meeting with the client, and all I had to show for it were yellow eyes…

    This was an “Aarrghhh” moment.

    I figured the system must be temporarily down, got ready and left for the office expecting that the network would be up when I returned to my room.

    When I arrived, I was greeted by my friend Jesse, and he led me to his office.  We were talking in his office, and I noticed through the semi drawn blinds that it was snowing outside.

    I exclaimed, “It’s snowing outside!”

    “Yeah, we’re supposed to get about eight inches tonight,” he said.

    “Do planes take off from Aspen if there’s that much snow?”

    “Depends on what the conditions are like.”

    I truly like, and enjoy being with, the people in this company, and this greatly mitigated what otherwise might have been an “Aarrghhh” moment.

    Around 11:00, it was decided that lunch would be at 12:45 in a restaurant next door. Around 12: 05, I was talking with my friend of 20 years, Kate, and it was decided that I had overdressed for the occasion, and was sent back to my room to change to a pair of jeans (the hotel was just across the street).  I went, and decided that I needed to check email.  I figured that the system must be up by now, and was confident that I would be able to get some requests handled.

    I fired up my computer and attempted to log into email.


    I checked for the Hotel Network…


    I decided to see if moving to another location would improve the situation….  I went to the side of the room closest to the hotel office, where I figured the router must be…


    I finally decided that I would take my computer to the absolute “closest to the office” spot in the room…

    The network appeared!!

    There were only two things wrong with this:

    • While the network appeared, there was no signal.
    • Even if there was signal, I really didn’t want to be sitting on the toilet answering email.

    I finally gave up and went to lunch, stopping on the way in the hotel office to report that the network was no longer available in my room.

    “It’s not?” said the girl at the desk.

    “No, mam, it’s not,” I responded.

    “That’s strange,” she declared.  “Well, it works here in the office, so you can come here to get email if you like.”

    I was almost nearly late for lunch, so I simply thanked her and left.

    This was an “Aarrghhh” moment.

    For the next day, ‘til my flight was scheduled, I had no internet service in my room.  When I wasn’t on site at the client location I spent lots of time in the office…

    Thursday morning, the day that I was scheduled to get into the rental car, return it to Alicia in Aspen, get on a flight to Phoenix to catch a flight to Fresno, I was meeting with my friend Dustin (who had been out of the office the day before), and we were about to go grab a bite when my cell phone rang…

    “Hypercom, this is Bill.”

    “Hi Bill. This is Deborah in the travel department.”

    Immediately, I felt an “Aarrghhh” moment coming on.

    “I have some bad news,” she continued.  ”Your flight out has been canceled.”

    “Is there another flight available?”

    “Not until tomorrow,” and she went on, “I even tried to get you on another airline.  There’s just nothing available.”

    “What time tomorrow,” I queried.

    “The same time as the the one that was cancelled today,” she replied. “I took the liberty of getting you on that flight, if that’s OK.”

    “Well, it sounds like there’s no choice.  Thanks for booking it.”

    This presented another problem.  I had already checked out of my hotel, and they were booked.

    “Deborah, I need a place to stay tonight.”

    “Did you check out of your hotel?”

    “Yes, and unfortunately they are booked tonight.”

    “So you need a room for the night?”

    “Uh… Yes, I do.”

    She named some hotels and the prices and mentioned some of the extras that they offered.  I mentioned that I would like to have one with reliable internet service so I could work in the morning.  Other than that, I don’t need anything fancy.  I picked the least expensive place that met my communications needs.

    “I’ll see what I can do. Will you still be at this number for a few minutes?”

    She had called my cell phone….

    “I hope to be at this number for several years longer.”

    We hung up.  A few minutes later she called back.  She had secured a room for me and gave me the name and address in Aspen.

    This could have been an extreme “Aarrghhh” moment, but, again, these are great people to be with, so the “Aarrghhh-ness” was diminished.

    When I was finished at the client location, I headed to Aspen (about an hour’s drive from Basalt in a snow storm).  I checked into my hotel and immediately set up my computer.  I selected the Hotel Network.

    It disappeared before my very eyes.  I was in the furthest room from the office…. I picked up my computer and started walking around the room, hoping to find the “sweet spot”.

    Sadly, the network didn’t come back.

    I walked outside into the weather with my computer, again, hoping to find the one place on Planet Earth where the hotel network would make itself available.

    It didn’t come back.

    This could have been a real bad “Aarrghhh” moment, but there were a bunch of other networks (including the ever present, but unattainable, “Free Public WIFI” network), and I thought I would give one of them a shot.

    The “Gorman” network was a hit!  I spent the rest of the day working while being connected with that network – Thank you Mr. or Ms. Gorman whoever you are….

    I was happily bee-bopping along when, at about 4:30, it hit me…. I realized that the thing I fear most about travel had befallen me…

    I had outstayed my supply of clean underwear….

    I had enough socks, shirts, and everything else, but I was living in my last clean pair of skivvies.

    This was truly an “Aarrghhh” moment of the second order (close in spelling to “odor” – a potentially bad one….)

    I immediately got up, got on a jacket and started making my way through a veritable blizzard and out onto Main Street.  I walked around the town of Aspen looking for a Wal-Mart or a Kmart or a Sears or some sort of department store.  If there are any of those places in Aspen, I sure didn’t find them for six blocks on Main Street.  And I didn’t find them on any of the streets three blocks either side of Main Street.  I don’t believe they exist in Aspen.

    There were lots of really expensive looking places, but I don’t wear anything that I saw in the windows.  In fact, I don’t know any men who do.  (There WAS a Vintage Guitar shop that caught my eye, and I made the detour and went in there, but didn’t see anything under $3100.00, so I didn’t stay long.)  But there wasn’t anything else that looked like it might have what I was in the market for, so I avoided them all and headed back to my way back to my hotel, resigned to the idea that I was going to have to make some sort of unsavory decision regarding what to wear under my jeans the next day…

    I had passed a pharmacy in my wanderings, a block from the hotel but decided that they wouldn’t be able to provide what I needed.  But on my way back to the ranch, I decided to take a chance – after all, I didn’t have anything to loose and I might just luck out…

    I walked in and was not immediately impressed.  I DID find some tooth paste (on which I was running low) so I got that.  I also found some drinks, so I picked up a bottle of water and some protein bars.  I was getting discouraged when I happened upon a set of stairs and a sign that said “More Upstairs”.  I went up and started looking all around. Up one isle and down the next until…

    …I found socks…. And where there are socks, there are skivvies… And I found the make and model I prefer.  The problem was that they were too small (because of my waist size).

    The only ones in my size were of a style I have avoided my entire life.  I looked further, and ended up doing something my wife does that I had promised myself I would never do – I pulled everything off the shelf looking for “my” style in my size.

    It just wasn’t there.  I had only three choices

    • Buy them
    • Wear dirty underwear
    • You figure it out

    I was desperate.  They came in packages of three.  I bought them.

    This morning I donned one pair….  I have changed my mind… I will never go back.

    I’m not telling.

    I was up at 3:00 this morning because I just couldn’t sleep, so I decided to check my email for any important messages from other insomniacs.


    No more Gorman.  Only a couple of secure networks – neither of which was the hotel network – and an un-secure one called the “Sardy” network.  No bars… Oh yeah, and the ubiquitous and useless “Free Public WIFI” – Man, I hate that thing….

    I couldn’t go back to sleep so I tried counting guitars (really, I did – I freely admit I have an illness) and that didn’t help.  In fact, in my case, that’s a little dangerous (refer to “My Accidental Guitar”)….

    I was about done packing at about 8:00 when my personal cell phone rang (I carry two – one for work and one for personal use).  It was Judy calling to say “Good Morning” and to confirm that my plane was going to land at 6:10.  While we were talking, my work phone rang….

    “Hi Bill, this is Deborah in the travel department…”

    This was an “Aarrghhh” moment of the second stage, first order – there are not many worse than that…

    Yes, my flight had been canceled again.

    “When can I get out?”

    “I have got you on a United flight at 12:24 this afternoon.  Goes to Denver then LA then Fresno tonight at 9:10.”  “But,” she went on, “I couldn’t get you a seat so you have to get there as quickly as possible to get a seat assignment.  In fact, you should be there by 10:00.”

    I said, “I’m already packed, I’ll go now.”

    In the mean time, Judy’s call had dropped. I called her back and told her the change of plans. Then I ran out the door and dragged everything through the snow and went to the office.  I checked out, got my receipt and headed to the car.  I got everything loaded up and headed toward the airport.

    There is a gas station just across the highway from the airport that charges about twice the national average price for gas, as far as I can tell.  I needed to fill up the car (the needle still pointed above full – I didn’t drive it that much) so I pulled in.  I got out and went to open the fuel door only to find that it needed to be released from inside the car.

    I leaned in from the driver’s side and opened the glove compartment – no buttons…

    I looked around the steering column and found it – cool….

    I pressed it and heard the latch release, so I went to pull the thing open.  It wasn’t released.  I tried again.  Made the same encouraging sound, but with the same discouraging result… I tried to stretch from the button to the door to see if I could push the button and pull the door at the same time – Muhammad Ali couldn’t reach that far….

    This was an “Aarrghhh” moment.

    I made a remark to myself that has the general meaning of “Never mind”, and got into the car and took off across the street to the airport, parked the car in space number five, went into the airport to the rental desk and waited a couple of minutes.  There was a note on the phone that instructed customers to call this number during business hours, so I did.  The guy on the other end was just on his way back and would be here in about five minutes.

    That being the case, I went directly to the United counter and announced that I was ready to check in.  They found my name, but not my ticket.  The transfer had been started by US Air, but not completed.  They dragged me down to the US Air counter and asked me to wait there while the Frontier employee went out back to see if the USA lady was hiding out there. They found her, and came back to let me know.

    The USA lady came started typing on keys.  She found me, but wasn’t really the ticket counter person, so she called their customer service desk for help

    They told her that the reservation had already been pushed to United and that they had control.  They also gave her the United customer service phone number to give the United personnel.

    Then we both went to the United counter…

    She explained to them that they had control and the ball was in their court.  They got on the phone with the help desk and, after about another ten minutes, I had my boarding passes (three of them), my luggage checked and I was ready to go!  Yeehawww!

    At that point I went back to the car rental counter where I found the car rental man.  I turned in my keys and I explained about the gas door not opening.  He said he would go out and check it as he was leaving to go out and check it.  Five minutes later he returned, and smilingly reported, “Seems to be working now.”

    This was an ”Aarrghhh” moment.

    However, he also reported that the needle was still above full and he wasn’t going to charge me for gas.

    This was NOT an “Aarrghhh” moment.

    It was a little before 10:00 by then, and the security check point was closed ‘til 11:30.  I hadn’t eaten, so I got some breakfast.  Once I had eaten, I found a comfortable spot, directly under a bronze sculpture of John Denver’s head and popped open my laptop.

    Holy cow!!!  I could do email – and it was free – and it worked!

    This was NOT an “Aarrghhh” moment.

    I feverishly did email, picked up calls from my office voice mail and made calls until the magic 11:30 hour came about…

    I got in line to go through security…. I removed my shoes, all the metal on my person and threw all the usual things into the trays to be passed through the x-ray machine.  I showed my ID and boarding pass…

    “I need a male searcher,” came the scream from the girl who was checking me through. “Stop the conveyor belt and take all of this guy’s stuff off.”

    I had to go through the “patting down” process – they didn’t “wand” me because I had not set off the alarm – and have all my stuff dusted and tested for explosives.  Then they brought my clothes back to me (well, my coat and shoes) and let me have them back.  I also got to watch as they scanned everything else, and then dump everything out of my backpack and inspect it.  It was at that moment that I wished that I had stuck my dirty underwear in my back pack.

    Well, I finally got everything put back together and started up my computer again.

    It was a little after 12:00, when the announcement came:

    “Attention all passengers on flight xxxx to Denver.  This flight has been canceled.  All passengers on this canceled flight will be placed on the stand-by list for the next flight.  Unfortunately, all flights are completely booked ‘til Tuesday, and we recommend that you find other transportation to Denver.  That is all.”

    This was an “Aarrghhh” moment.

    I packed up my computer and left the boarding area…

    The line at the United Ticket Counter was fairly lengthy.  It had people checking in for the next flight to Denver, and everybody from my own, canceled flight waiting for assistance.

    Then came another announcement:

    “Attention passengers from the canceled United flight xxxx to Denver…  If you would like to continue to wait in the boarding area on a standby basis, please come to the baggage claim area to claim your baggage from the canceled flight and re-check it at the ticket counter.”

    It was beautiful…  If you wanted to stay on the standby list, you had to leave the boarding area, pick up your luggage, get back in line at the ticket counter, check it again, and then go back through the security checkpoint.  The flight was oversold, there were probably 50 or 60 people on the stand-by list for the next flight and your chances of getting a seat were about the same as my chances of ever (willingly) coming to Aspen (on business) in any month other than June, July, or August – maybe September – again.

    I called the travel department.  Deborah wasn’t there, but Rafael was.  I explained my dilemma.  We traded thoughts for several minutes.  He looked up everything out of Aspen for the next several days.  Nothing.  Zero.  Nada.  Zippo.

    He was going to do some further research and call me back.  He also asked me if I wanted him to get me a hotel for the night.  I said it looked like I would need one.  We hung up.

    I went to the car rental desk – Nobody was there, but they came back about 5 minutes later.  I gave them some “what ifs” and we talked about various scenarios:

    • How long a drive is it to Fresno from Aspen? – Probably a little over 20 hours. But Enterprise doesn’t rent cars to go one way out of state. We talked about Avis…
    • How long is the drive to Denver? – In this weather, probably about 5 ½ hours. That wasn’t bad. How was the road? – Probably slow and crowded – Are there guard rails over the pass? – There are wide spots (In my mind, at that altitude, in those conditions, there is no such thing as a “wide enough” spot – I HATE high places)

    I thanked them and returned to the ticket counter line, which was considerably shorter by then and got up to the counter fairly quickly.

    I told the lady who had helped me earlier that I wanted to check my luggage again and go standby.  Just then two things happened:

    • The announcement came that the next flight had been fully checked, and that the entire stand-by list was being moved to the next flight.
    • Rafael called me back.

    He asked me where I was.  I told him that I was attempting to re-check my bags with United, and he asked me if I could see the US Air counter from where I was.

    “Yes,” I said.

    “Can you get there easily?”

    I had started walking when he first asked if I could see it – actually, you could lean a bit to the left you would be in front of it.  I was already there…

    There were three people manning the counter, and I was the only “passenger”.  I made an announcement of my own:

    “Which one of you ladies would like to talk with my travel department?”

    Well, none of them wanted to, but I translated what needed to be said.

    Somehow, they managed to get all of the arrangements that had been transferred to United transferred back to US Air.  They had two seats left on a flight tomorrow (Saturday) to Phoenix, and from there they could get me to Fresno.  But the flight was from Grand Junction, not Aspen.

    Rafael told me that he had gotten me a room at the same hotel I was in last night – and for $40.00 less than the night before.  I asked him if it was under the same 30 day cancellation policy and he said he didn’t know, but he would find out.  I told him to cancel it if he could.

    This could have been an “Aarrghhh” moment.

    If he had gotten me a non-cancelable reservation, and I had a chance to get away before Tuesday if I didn’t have a non-cancelable reservation, it would have been yet another “Aarrghhh” moment.

    As it was, he was able to cancel without penalty.

    At 2:30, a van showed up and loaded about 8 of us and headed out to Grand Junction.  The airline paid for it, the hotel and meals (which I missed because I’m writing this…  But I can stand to miss a meal).

    About an hour after we left Aspen, someone flagged the van driver and told him that the right front tire of the vehicle was very low.  We stopped a few miles up the road and, sure enough, it was pretty low.

    He was attempting to add air, but the van had the wrong hub cap on the tire, and the nozzle on the air hose wouldn’t quite fit the space.  And he didn’t have a tire iron with which to remove the hub cap.

    I was looking at it and decided to give it a shot.  I thought I had the nozzle forced into position and squeezed the trigger.  Sounded good.  Unfortunately, the sound we all heard was not the sound of air going into the tire…  It was the sound of air coming out of the tire….

    This had the potential of being a fist stage; first order “Aarrghhh” moment.  However, I left enough air in the tire to get us across the street to a Shell station with a mechanic on duty.

    Tire fixed, we proceeded on to Grand Junction.  We got to the hotel, I checked in.  My flight leaves at about 12:00 tomorrow afternoon….

    And that’s how the heck I came to be in a hotel room in Grand Junction, CO….

    To Hear The Song Inspired By This Trip, Just Click On The Link Below – Comin Home To You…

    Comin Home To You

    Bookmark and Share

    4 Responses to “Getting Home From Aspen, CO”

    1. Phil Says:
      April 14, 2008 at 7:30 am editI don’t miss travelling with you at all.
    2. Shawn Kammerer Says:
      April 14, 2008 at 8:10 am editDad,

    Regardless of your preference in underwear, I don’t think you’ll every be confused for a “brief” man…


  • billkammerer Says:
    April 14, 2008 at 9:28 am editIt was not a “brief” experience…
  • Janet Says:
    April 15, 2008 at 10:14 am editThere’s always a story… not always lots of glory….but it’s …right around the corner…just around the bend….always entertaining…. from my
    California friend… :o)
  • Bill’s Bio – Chapter 9

    In The Cold Again

    Posted 4/1/08


    So once again I was without a mentor.  I was mixedly emotionalized – on one hand I was totally jazzed with myself because I had out-taught my teacher and in only two lessons I had “challenged the course” and beat it.  On the other hand, I was fairly well bummed out because I had out-taught my teacher and was back out in the cold world of having to find another one.

    Well, at least she had given me a lead on a “more advanced” instructor.  Hopefully, I would be able to be slow enough so that he wouldn’t feel obligated to pull the eject lever after the second week. 

    I got into the car and told my dad that he wouldn’t have to shuttle me to this location any more, and told him why.  No need to go into his reaction to this news, it was pretty tame.

    When we got home, I put my stuff away in my room.  Then I went to the kitchen, pulled out 8 slices of bread, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of strawberry jam and a knife and built my customary snack of four PBJs and a couple of glasses of milk.  (For some reason, I ate everything in groups of four when I was a kid.  But I burned it all off somehow because I was as skinny as pencil lead – in fact, when I graduated from High school, I was 5′ 11 3/4″ tall and weighed one hundred forty pounds – and I stayed that way until I went into the Navy and gained forty-five pounds in boot camp.)

    Once my starvation had been remedied, I pulled out the name and number of the prospective next guitar teacher.  I pranced over to the phone on the counter and dialed the number.

    Ring… Ring… “Hello.”

    “Hello.. Is this Bob?”  (Probably not his real name, but I really don’t remember – Sorry “Bob”)

    “Yes, this is Bob,” he replied.

    “My name is Bill, and Mrs. ___________ gave me your name because you are a more advanced guitar teacher than she is.”

    “I see,” he said.  “How many lessons did she give you to get you to the point where you need to advance?”



    “Yes, two.”

    “How long have you been playing?”

    “About a month.”

    ” A month?”

    “Yes, a month.”

    “Are you some sort of prodigy?”

    “No, I’m Catholic.”

    At this point there was a short pause in the conversation…

    “Well,” he said when he resumed, “lessons are once a week for thirty minutes and… “

    I had heard this part before, and was ready to ask him how to get there when he said

    “… they are $15.00 per lesson.  And there’s a book that costs $10.00″

    At this point there was another pause in the conversation, this one lasting a bit longer… In fact, I hope he’s not still on the phone waiting for me to respond….

    Invoking my superior mathematical capabilities once again, I made the mental calculations… $15.00/week x 4 weeks/month = $60.00/month.  Add to that my guitar mortgage payment and that came out a whole lot closer to $70.00/month than to $13.00/ month.  Plus the cost of the book…

    I looked at the name on the slip of paper, wondering if I had misread it – It didn’t say “Johnny Rivers”.  It didn’t say “Bo Diddley”.  It didn’t say “George Harrison”. 

    It said “Bob”.

    I realized that I would not be needing directions to his house.  I’m not sure, but I think the next sound that Bob heard was ‘click – buuuuzzzzzz’.

    Wow… I was back in the frozen guitar lesson waste-lands  (Guit-Arctica, if you will) without a sled and a team of dogs to carry me out…

    I started considering my next move… What were my current assets?  Let’s see…

    • Guitar – check
    • Means of paying for the guitar – check
    • A guitar book – check, check
    • Complete chord chart – check
    • The ability to make chord changes – check
    • Time to practice and build on what I have already learned – check

    OK, what were my options?  I listed them…

    • Look in the paper for another teacher and hope to:
      • Find one listed.
      • Find one listed who would not severely and negatively impact my plan to pay off my guitar early and bank some cash toward future hard expenses (new guitar?)
    • Call Mrs. __________ and see if she had any other instructors to whom she might refer me who met the qualifications listed in the immediately preceding option.
    • Keep practicing on my own and get good enough to join a band.
    • Find some guys to learn to play with and see if we can actually help each other learn.

    Well, the third option won out, mostly by default. 

    • Newspaper was a bust. 
    • Mrs. ___________ couldn’t help. 
    • What guys?

    I started buying records and playing them with my guitar in my hands, stopping them mid song and picking up the chords and little lead fills and things by ear.  (Yes, the rumors are true… At this point I became – and remain today – an ear man.)  I ruined a few records, but learned some of the melodies and runs that the “pros” were playing on their recordings. Unfortunately, I ignored real music theory and basics by doing this, so I really didn’t learn anything important – like scales… (Oops… Are they important?)

    BUT it was just me – I had no-one to play with and, therefore, no-one to learn to play TOGETHER with.  That meant that I could play all the songs ever written for guitar by myself, but if I were to try to play WITH someone, I would be back at the noise making stage.  I would prove the validity of this down the road a ways…

    Then one day about half way through eighth grade, Balboa Jr. High School (now Balboa Middle School) had an after school dance. And they were going to have a live band!  Oh Yeah… Live Music…

    Basically, four guys in my class had formed a band and they were going to perform for the dance.  Obviously I decided that this was too good an opportunity to miss… I went just to see the band. (This, interestingly enough, became my habit down the road – I don’t think I have ever gone to a dance to dance – just to watch (or play in) the band – more on that a few chapters down the road.)

    I got there and they were just getting started. I remember the first name of one of the guitar players – Steve – and the full name of the bass player – George Hawkins – follow this link to read about George Hawkins:

    We didn’t know each other that well, just enough to say ‘hi” and use our respective names when doing it. We would run into each other in various “band” situations a few times down the road, but that’s another story for another chapter.

    The important thing here is that these guys were playing together and they sounded good. They didn’t sing, but they played a lot of the popular “surf” instrumentals of the day.  And, again, they did it well.

    That was my first exposure to a live band, other than the usual school bands that played at assemblies, etc.  And I learned a LOT just by watching what they were doing – I actually recognized the chords they were playing – and I learned that if I was going to do anything with music, I needed to find some other guys to work with.  And I decided that if these guys could find each other, I could find a few other guys with whom to join and put something together.

    And that’s exactly what I did… But not at Balboa Jr. High School…

  • Ms. Kathleen Ann Margaret Kammerer Marsh! Says:
    April 7, 2008 at 9:03 am   editI didn’t know anyone in Ventura became famous other than you. Who’da thunk.
  • Bill’s Bio – Chapter 8

    But I Might As Well Have

    Posted 3/29/08

    Immediately upon arriving home, I fled to my bedroom and unpacked my guitar, set up the amplifier and placed the book in a convenient place.  I went through all of the notes and exercises my teacher had put me through – and I continued for hours.  I actually picked it up pretty quickly, and even mastered MHALL that night, site reading.  (Site reading is the art of looking at a piece of music, translating it to the correct timing, strings and/or positions on the instrument, playing it to those specifications and doing it on the fly.)

    Then I went on to the next page and mastered that.  Then the next and the next and the next until I had gone through the whole book in about five days. 

    In that time I had learned about notes (whole, half , quarter, and eighth), time (4/4, ¾), sharps and flats (one note above or below a natural note) and the rest of the major and several minor chords.  You might say that I was pretty into it.

    And I learned just how badly finger tips could hurt…

    Next Tuesday afternoon, 3:00 PM…

    My dedication to the music lessons did not go un-noticed by my dad (or my mom or my brothers and sisters or the Fentons next door), so he was kind enough to give me a ride to my second guitar lesson…

    Doorbell, open, “hi,” “hi,” guitar, sit, book, review, next page, play…

    Teacher looked at me, sort of stunned.

    “You’ve been practicing,” she remarked.

    “Yes, I have,” I responded.

    “A lot,” she said.

    “Yes mam,” I answered.

    “Just exactly how much of the book did you go through?” she asked.

    “All of it,” I rejoined.

    “That’s fifty pages!” she exclaimed.

    ” Yes, mam,” I replied.

    “Turn to the last page in the book, please” she requested.

    I complied.

    “Please play this for me,” she insisted.

    I did so… Almost perfectly…

    “Wow… I don’t think you left anything for me to teach you,” she stated.

    I didn’t understand what she was getting at, and I was feeling pretty good about my progress – rightly so, as I was about to find out. 

    “Is that good?” I asked.

    She smiled and said “Well, it means that you have taken this seriously and are learning a lot of music in a short period of time. But it also means that I don’t think I can teach you anything more – you need a more advanced teacher.”

    I suddenly got it, and I was somewhat disappointed.  I was happy with her as a teacher, and didn’t really want to start looking for another one.

    I had made a great impression on a female, albeit a really old one (she must have been in her mid thirties) but I had just “learned” myself out of a teacher…

    By this time, my thirty minutes were up. She got a pen and paper and wrote the name and phone number of someone who she thought would be a better fit for my talents. I accepted it from her, and thanked her for having taught me and for the name of a new teacher…  I said goodbye, and walked out the door, not knowing that my formal music education had just ended for at least the next forty five years… Maybe forever…

    Sometimes being too impressive is as dangerous as passing gas…   

    1. Bert Moraga Says:
      June 25, 2008 at 2:26 pm   editBilly: The fascination with flatulence has got to stop. It’s offensive and revolting. One more reference to it and I’m putting down this biography…and might even consider suing you under some sort of environmental/greenhouse gas law. Got it?
    2. billkammerer Says:
      June 25, 2008 at 4:41 pm   editBert: I look forward to your reaction to chapter 16…

    My Accidental Guitar or How Ebay Works

    My Accidental Guitar or How Ebay Works

    Posted 3/22/08

    Well, ladies and gentlemen, here it is late Easter Sunday night, and Judy and I just got home from San Diego, hence, chapter 8 will have to wait til next weekend.

    However, I thought I would take a few minutes and divert your attention with a short tale of educational woe… 

    While writing this biography, I have dragged up lots of memories about which I have not thought in at least forty years.  One of them, in particular, has had an immensely nostalgic effect on me – my first guitar – the Sears Silvertone Model 1457 with the Amp in Case manufactured by Danelectro Company…  Why I ever sold it, I’ll never know – oh wait a minute – I sold it to buy a Sears Silvertone Model 1488 guitar and Sears Silvertone Twin Twelve Model 1485 Amplifier…

    At any rate, I got to wondering if there was any information on the internet about the 1457 so I Googled it.   Google is stuffed with the thing. In fact, there is a picture of it at the end of chapter 6 that I found through Google.

    As fate would have it, one of the sites where I found “my” guitar was Ebay.  I clicked on the link from the search engine and – Voila!  There were several from which to choose.  There were also several model 1448s – the single pickup, ¾ scale (18 fret) pre-curser to the 1457, one of which sort of caught my eye.

    Not having any experience with Ebay, I started flipping through the pages and noticed that they all had a “watch list” button.  Apparently a free Ebay membership is required in order to use this feature, and when you use this feature, you get emails informing you that that particular auction is going to be coming to an end so you better get your bids in quick!

    It was at this point that I also discovered PayPal, and how to sign up for that…  It’s not at all difficult.

    I quickly built my watch list up to seven items, including a 1448 without the case included.

    As the first auction was coming to a close, I decided to see if I could snag a 1457 for under $200.00.  With two hours left, the bid was $125.00 (I had seen where they had gone for up to $1500.00 – In fact, Mick Jagger had just sold his for something like $15,000.00 a few weeks before and 125.00 sounded like a great bargain).

    At ten minutes left, I put in my very first Ebay bid – $127.50. I was the high bidder for about 30 seconds – it was exhilarating! Then I noticed a button labeled “maximum bid,” and I wondered what that was for.  I suspected that it was a way to name a max price I would be willing to pay for the item, and I confirmed my suspicion by utilizing the “help” feature on the site… I decided to get gutsy, and set a maximum amount of $180.00 and I became the high bidder again at $132.50 (I figured that nobody would get that high with only two minutes to go in the auction). 

    One minute left and I was still the high bidder…

    Thirty seconds left and I was still the high bidder…

    Ten seconds left and I was still the high bidder – This was easy!!

    Two seconds left and I was still the high bidder!!  Break out the champagne – I was going to get my guitar back!!

    Zero seconds left – the winning bid was $182.50…

    Wow… Somebody is really quick on the trigger…

    Well, after some thinking and searching for information on how that could happen, the next “my guitar” was about to end in about an hour.  This time I was going to be ready.

    This time, however, the current high bid was $214.00.  I did some unbelievable mathematics and decided that my max bid could be $328.08 (taking into account the advertised shipping costs) and waited till the auction was down to 20 minutes… I set my max at $328.08 and went away for awhile…

    When I came back I still had the high bid of $280.00.  I was hopeful…  while I was gone, I did some mental scheming and planning.  I decided that I could get away with going over my established limit by a few bucks, and that I wasn’t going to lose out on this one at the last second… I developed a new – never before, in the history of Ebay, tried – strategy.  It involved the use of two computers, nearly inhuman coordination between the left and right sides of my body, an ungodly amount of patience and self-control, and a new maximum bid of $356.16.

    The idea was to use my left hand to refresh the page on one computer so I could keep track of the high bids as time ran down, and my right hand to click the “place bid” button to enter my new max amount with as close to one second left as I could manage, thereby lifting my max bid to an amount I thought would be higher than the guy who was attempting to do roughly the same thing I was doing, but with less money.

    I still had the high bid of $280.00 at the three minute mark…

    I still had the high bid at the two minute mark…

    I still had the high bid at the one minute mark…

    At forty-five seconds, someone out bid me by $5.00…

    Left hand refresh… Left had refresh… Left hand refresh…

    At ten seconds the high bid was at $290.00 – the critical moment was almost here…

    Left hand refresh…

    Five seconds… still at $290.00… Right hand click – just a split second before the auction ended…

    WINNING BID!!!!!!!!!!!   WINNING BID!!!!!!!!!!!   WINNING BID!!!!!!!!!!!   WINNING BID!!!!!!!!!!! $ a few cents…

    Hmmm… I was chagrinned…

    I decided that I needed some practice.

    Ebay has a new tool called “Countdown.” It’s a free download, and it’s guaranteed not to generate unwanted spam or give your computer some sort of virus, so I downloaded it. 

    What it does, basically, is display all of your “watch list” items, as well as the items you lost out on because you were so cheap.  You select the item on which you next want to bid and it pulls up the time left and current bid info.  And it counts down…  Like a shuttle launch, only you’re more emotional about the Ebay countdown, for some reason.

    Well, I launched it, signed in and, sure enough, there were all of my watch list items.  And the ones I already lost because of inexperience and cheapedness. 

    The next auction to expire was the exact guitar I didn’t really want, so I thought I would just bring it up to the top, watch the process and analyze the machinations of the system. There was still about an hour and a half left on this one, and the bid was stuck at about $170.00. I left the page up and went away to get in some exercise on the home gym in the garage.

    When I came back, it was down to the eight minute mark and the bids were already up to $275.00. I could tell this was going to go berserk in just a few minutes – it had already come up over $100.00 since I started pumping iron.

    I sat down at my computer, and decided that I didn’t want this guitar, but I wanted to practice on the system.  I used my major mathematical skills (using square roots, cosines, triangles and the theorems I had made up in Brother Anthony’s Geometry class) to come up with the perfect dollar amount to lose the bid on this guitar.  $301.96.

    I also decided to wait till the clock ran down to five minutes before I placed my practice bid. 

    Five minutes – I place my maximum bid…  I am the high bidder…

    Two minutes – Current bid $280.00.  I was perfectly comfortable with that because I knew the real bidding starts at under one minute, and I’m only twenty-one dollars up.

    One minute – The screen goes red and the bids start coming in…

    Thirty seconds – $290.00 – Come on come on come on!!!


    Fourteen seconds – Somebody bids $305.00 – Yeah baby!!  I’m off the hook and I’m NOT going to put in another bid! 

    Countdown… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Auction over… My calculations were EXACTLY RIGHT ON THE MONEY!  I had this figured out…

    Hmm… It still says I’m the high bidder… I looked again… Yes, that’s what it says, alright…

    I went to my email and there it was…  The official “Congratulations! You Won” email from Ebay… 

    Wait a minute – that’s not true.  I was outbid by a couple of dollars…

    I investigated more closely…  I HAD figured it right. Unfortunately, I had transposed the “0″ and the “1″ when I set my maximum bid and had inadvertently set it at $310.96.  I had out-bid myself… I sat there in stunned silence…

    At this point, I realized that I had just spent $305.00 plus shipping on a guitar I didn’t want to buy.  Now comes the Primal Scream, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” as I left my office and stumbled toward the other end of the house…

    Judy DID NOT come out of her office at the other end of the house but yelled  “What did you buy?” just as I was walking in her door.  This was a tactical error on my part…

    There are few things that make a man more uncomfortable than “The Look“.  One that comes close is “The Question“.  It always starts with the words “What did you…” and ends with something like “do…,” “mean by,“  “expect,” “say…,” or “buy“.

    This, of course, was the “buy” version of “The Question.” 

    The usual male response to “The Question” is two fold.

    • Fold One: Deer in the headlights look on the face while trying to formulate a verbal answer that is at once believable and safe.

    • Fold Two: Falling all over your tongue while trying to put into words the believable and safe answer that you have not quite yet formulated, but you know that if you don’t say something RIGHT NOW it will be too late no matter how plausible your answer sounds.

    (Many couples have mastered the art of completely dropping the “What did you” part of “The Question” and just using the completing word or phrase, thereby saving effort on the part of the woman and jump-starting the misery for the man.  I am blessed that Judy utilizes the “Proper” form, giving me that extra second to try to come up with the answer that I know is not there.)

    Because I had entered her domain, I had to deal with the lethal combination of “The Look” and “The Question”.  Unfortunately, I often loose sight of reality when I put myself into this situation, and I can’t get a sentence out without breaking into laughter.  (This has been especially dangerous on occasion, but I can’t help it.)

    In one sense, this situation was different.  I had truly done this by accident, and no amount of clumsy wording on my part could change that fact.  However I was true to the male code and fumbled over my mouth to the point where I almost didn’t believe me and I KNEW it was TRUE.  I guess I can’t blame Judy for having her doubts….

    Well, to make a long story end, mercifully, sooner than much later, the guitar was delivered on Thursday.  It’s forty-five years old,  It’s almost the size of a large ukulele and it took awhile to get used to the fact that it only has 18 frets.  But when you take into consideration that it’s probably the best sounding guitar I own (and I own several), it’s well worth it.

    And, besides, I could have been practicing on a Cheeto that looks like Chuck Noris…

    Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that I have been banned from Ebay… And not by Ebay….

    Here’s a picture:

    My Accidental Guitar

    I’ll pick up with chapter 8 next weekend…

    Bill’s Bio – Chapter 7

    The First Guitar Lesson

    An Old Friend Returns

    Posted 3/15/08

    Tuesday afternoon, 3:00 PM… 

    Somehow I had managed to talk my dad into giving me a ride to my first guitar lesson.  I was excited to get started, and more than a little curious (and nervous) about the face that went with the cute voice on the phone…

    As I got out of the car, I did a quick inventory of all of the important things I needed  – $4.00 – check… Guitar – check…  “Every Good Boy Does Fine” – check. 

    That phrase had become my mantra over the previous four days.  I had no idea what it meant, but I was determined to make a good impression on the girl who had asked me to remember it.  (I had had a really bad experience about a year and a half earlier while trying to make a good impression on a girl in my class, back in Whittier…  I remember it all too well… It’s a painful memory, and probably accounts for why I’m still a bit shy around women…)

    (Begin harp music)

    …Her name was Cathy…  She lived just down the street from me, and we were in several classes together in the sixth grade.  She was smart and I was – me.  We didn’t talk much, but we had been neighbors and classmates since the fourth grade, and I thought she was kind of cute – she had blonde hair, a pageboy haircut, blue eyes behind, and framed by, some sort of tortoise shell looking glasses with fairly thick lenses.  Though I didn’t quite understand why, I really liked her and wanted to get to know her better. 

    During class one day, we were instructed to form teams of two for some assignment or other.  I was about to team up with one of my buddies when I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I turned around and almost swallowed my tongue – there was Cathy – standing before me and looking all cute…

    Our eyes locked, and for a short eternity, I was completely lost to all that was happening around me…  My universe had suddenly contracted to the exact space in which Cathy and I were standing… There were no stars, no planets, no moons, no sky, no sea, no people… There were only her eyes, and I was immersed in those two pools of blue – It truly was one of those incredibly rare moments in life when time becomes completely frozen in its temporal tracks.  And then she spoke… To ME…

    She said “Billy, will you be my partner?” 

    My heart joined my tongue, stuck in my throat… I didn’t know what to say… I – I stammered, searching for words, just – just the right words… What were the words I needed at this exact moment???  Where were they? The words that would be etched in her mind for all time as the most perfect, the most wonderful, the most – the most – the most – perfect statement that anyone could ever deliver at this, the most perfect moment in my life, so far??

    Search as I might, the words wouldn’t come… So, rather than say something imperfect, I did the next worst thing… Simply stated, I farted.  It wasn’t of the great bull moose variety, mind you (I doubt it was heard in the principal’s office), but it was loud enough…  I had heard it, she had heard it, she knew that I had heard it, I knew that she had heard it. And, worst of all, we each knew that the other knew that we had each heard it…

    This, of course, broke the spell…  She must have assumed that my flatulence was just my way of saying “No,” because she just turned away and found another partner.  

    It is still, today, the most humiliating moment of my life.  And it’s also one of my great disappointments.  My one chance with the girl of my dreams, gone in an audible puff of methane.

    Fortunately, it was not long after this that my dad was transferred to Ventura…

    (End harp music)

    With this memory making its way through my mind, I carried my guitar to the front door and, after a moment deciding if I really wanted to do this, I rang the bell.  A minute later the door opened and there she was… The person attached to the voice… Clearly this was NOT a first date, and I could stop worrying about any untimely releases of methane gas – at least from me…

    She introduced herself and I did the same.  I wish I could remember her name, but I, at least, remember mine, and I’m of the belief that one out of two is better than none out of one.

    She was actually very nice and made me feel quite comfortable in her home.  She led me to the living room and we sat, facing each other at about a forty-five degree angle, on two folding chairs.  She had an acoustic guitar sitting on a stand next to her chair and a wire music stand positioned so that we could both see whatever might be placed upon it.

    She said “Why don’t you take out your guitar and we’ll get started?”  

    I opened the case and extracted my Sears Silvertone Model 1457 electric guitar, and was pleased at her gasp of amazement… I could tell she was greatly impressed, and I knew that I had made the right choice of musical instruments. 

    Next, she retrieved a book from an end table near her chair and placed it on the music stand. She opened it to a page with a picture of a guitar fret board, strings labeled with their names.

    Now I had seen this before in the pamphlet, and heard it on the instructional record that came with the guitar, and I was glad to start with something familiar. We went over that chart and she made me name and play each string a couple of times and in different orders.

    OK, I had that down pretty well so we moved on. Time to tune…

    She demonstrated the proper method of tuning the guitar. I had that part figured out already, too, but I paid close attention in case there was some trick to tuning a guitar that may have been left out of the pamphlet. There wasn’t.

    She could see that I was already proficient in the tuning of a guitar so, again, we moved on.

    She turned the page, and there appeared a couple of bars of music – you know, with lines and stuff. 

    F ———————————————–

    D ———————————————–

    B ———————————————–

    G ———————————————–

    E ———————————————–

    This also looked familiar, but I didn’t understand it.  She was pleased that she had found the limits of my musical knowledge and she proceeded to tell me what this all meant.

    “Do you remember what I asked you to remember,” she asked.

    “Yes, mam,” I replied. “Every Good Boy Does Fine.”

    “Excellent!”  She was obviously impressed with my memory.

    “Here’s why I asked you to have that memorized before you came here today.”  And she explained to me the significance of that phrase. It’s a mnemonic device – an easy way to remember things.  (Another lesson in life.)

    It seems that each of these lines represented a musical tone.

    The bottom line was an E note. The next one up was a G, then B, D and F.  Hence,

    “Every Good Boy Does Fine.”

    Then she showed me how they related to the fret board on a guitar…

    Starting with the second fret on the D (fourth) string, she showed and had me play the E, G, B, D and F notes in that and various other orders.  Over and over and over again.

    I got that down, and we moved on down the page… This time, same lines but the labels were different.  They were between the lines, and the letters were F, A, C and E… they spelled FACE, like what’s on the front part of your head. 

    She had me start on the third fret of the D string this time and put me through the same exercise with those notes.

    Then my time was up for the week.  She said, “Here’s your homework assignment for next week. I want you to practice what we went over today. And,” she continued as she turned the page, “learn this song.”

    Mary Had A Little Lamb…

    At least I didn’t fart…

    Bill’s Bio – Chapter 6

    Every Good Boy Does Fine

    Posted 3/8/08

    Yeah, I know… Me, too…  I was practically dumbstruck… nearly completely without words.  And the only words I could think of at that precise moment was a two-part phrase beginning with the word “holy” that had actually gotten my mouth washed out with soap a few years earlier… 


    With that event still fresh in my memory, I decided that silence is the better part of swearing, so, silent I remained… 


    But I had just made an enormous leap in my understanding of rock and roll!  And though I was a bit numb at the prospect that I might really learn how to play a musical instrument of ANY sort, consciousness began to seep back into my, well, consciousness…  and the realization that I now knew something about music briefly gave me the sensation that I had died and gone to Heaven…


    Well, maybe that’s stretching it a bit…  But it was pretty neat to know that I actually knew something about something about which I knew nothing just a few hours before.


    After the initial shock of my first major musical discovery started to wear off, I gathered my wits about me and pressed onward…


    It was time to really start practicing in earnest, though I didn’t actually look at the book (except for the chord chart) that much for awhile – I just practiced “Cupid”.  I knew the fingering of the G, C and D chords, but making the chord changes was a different matter altogether. 


    I realized that no band would have me if it took me 30 seconds to switch from a G to a C and back again, so I practiced… a lot.  I got pretty good at going from G to C and C to G, but the transition from C to D was a bit awkward for me.  Then, of course, there was the transition back to G from D.  How could something so simple be so hard? ** (The answer to this question is a footnote at the end of this chapter, but you don’t need to go there now.)


    After about a week of practicing the G, C, D chord progression in various combinations, I finally got it down pretty well, and without too much trouble, I had taught myself to play several other rock classics of the day (correctly, if not quickly). 


    There was


    • Bye Bye Love, by The Everly Brothers
    • Peggy Sue, by Buddy Hollie


    And, of course, the number one played song of all time


    • Louie Louie, by The Kingsmen


    It was a challenge to sing and play at the same time for awhile.  And the fact that:


    • (The rumored lyrics in Louie Louie + My voice)

    = (soap + rag + my mouth)…


    …Made me content to skip the vocal portion of that song  and concentrate on the guitar part alone.


    And so I progressed, eventually picking up more songs as I went along. 


    Until one day I wanted to learn “Come Go With Me” by the Del Vikings…


    Oh-oh… It was time to learn the First Mathematical Law of Rock and Roll…:



    “If 90% of rock songs require the use of only 3 chords, then the other 10% MUST require the use of a different number of chords.”


    …And the Second Commandment of Rock and Roll:


    “Less than .00000000000000001% of Rock and Roll songs require the use of fewer than 3 chords.”


    Because “Come Go With Me” did not meet the criteria of the Second Commandment, it, mathematically speaking, required the use of more than 3 chords – in this case, 4 chords.  I was fortunate that 3 of the 4 chords needed happened to be the exact 3 chords already in my inventory of practiced chords.


    AND it was time to learn the Third Commandment:


    “Not all chords are Major chords.”




    The learning was coming fast and furious, now, and I decided that I needed help in managing my education. But who could I get to teach me?  I was pretty sure that Mr. Powers was out (refer to chapter 1).  I would have asked my dad, and I really think he might have done it except for two things:


    1.   He didn’t know anything about how to play a guitar and

    2.   He hated rock music


    I thought about asking the Fentons if they might be of assistance, but I wanted my progress to be a surprise to them (as it would turn out, it would be a complete and utter shock).


    Reality set in – I would have to lay out cold hard cash and pay for guitar lessons.


    I went to the family room, picked up the current edition of  the Ventura Star Free Press, turned to the classified ads and started looking for something that looked like it might contain guitar lessons.  I found “Music Lessons.”  Hmm.. That sounded promising…  Yes, guitar lessons would probably be in there…


    “OK, let’s see… Piano lessons – lots of those available.


    “Violin lessons – several of those going on.”


    There were Flute lessons, Tuba lessons, Trumpet lessons, Drum lessons (too late for that), Harp lessons, Cello lessons, Viola lessons, Voice lessons, Harmonica lessons, Accordion lessons, Saxophone lessons, Xylophone lessons, Obo lessons, Piccolo lessons, Ski lessons (What???), Bassoon lessons, Organ lessons, Bell lessons, Triangle lessons, Autoharp lessons (John Sebastian played one of those, so it couldn’t be all bad), Harpsichord lessons and at the very bottom of the last column of the right hand page, Tambourine lessons…


    Wait a minute… Everybody needs guitar lessons!  Where are the guitar lessons?


    I was stunned.  I let the classified section of the current edition of the Ventura Star Free Press slip from between my fingers and settle slowly to the ground…


    Fortunately, it settled with the next page facing up, and there, at the very top of the very first column, was the end of the “Music Lessons” section of the classified ads.  And right there was an ad for – you guessed it – Kazoo lessons.  Kazoo lessons!  And there were 4 people teaching kazoo right there in the city of Ventura, California!


    BUT just beneath the Kazoo lesson listings was one more final line in the “Music Lessons” section.  It didn’t even have a bold header.  In fact, it didn’t have a header at all… It was lucky it had a space separating it from the last kazoo ad, just above it…  It was a simple, though, to me, very powerful ad… It was just 3 scrawny “words”:


    Guitar Lessons 555-5555   


    (Not the real number)


    It was sort of sad, really, but it was exactly what I had been seeking.


    I called the number, and a female voice answered “Hello.”  I was somewhat taken aback by the voice of a woman – up to that point in my life (with the exception of my Grandmother – refer to chapter 1), I don’t think I had ever spoken to a girl on the phone and it threw me for a loop.  I stammered a reply “Uh – h-hell-o.  Do you give, uh,  g-guitar lessons?” 


    “Oh my, yes,” she said.  “Would you like to learn to play the guitar?”


    “Uh… Yeah.  How much is it?  Th-The guitar lessons, I m-mean?” 


    “$2.00 per lesson.  Lessons are 30 minutes long, once a week.  And there’s a book that costs $2.00. How does that sound?”


    “$2.00 a week?” 


    I started calculating the cost of lessons each month – about $8.00.  Add to that my mortgage payment of about $7.00 and the $2.00 for the book.  That came to $15.00 per month plus the book.  If I was not too extravagant with the candy and soda pop, I could swing that easily enough just on my babysitting jobs. Plus the fact that I was about to be confirmed, and I figured that would be good for $30 or $40 from relatives, etc.  Hmmm… Too bad you can only be confirmed once…

    “OK,” I replied.  “How do I get there?”


    I told her where I was coming from, and she told me how to get to her house.  It was about 5 miles, but I would find someway to get there…


    My mind was spinning… For the first time in my life, I was talking with a female on the phone – AND she had given me her address – AND I was going to go to her house…  I was a bit nervous, actually – did I just make my first date?


    Then, just before we said “goodbye,” she said “I want you to remember one thing  before you come over next Tuesday.  Can you do that for me?”


    “Yes,” I replied.  “Um… What is it?”


    “Every Good Boy Does Fine.  See you Tuesday,” and she hung up the phone…



    My First Real Guitar…


    Sears Silvertone Model 1457 with the Built In Case Amplifier


    ** ” How could something so simple be so hard?”


    Here, another great lesson in life was revealed to me:  The words “Simple” and “Easy” are not synonyms.  I don’t even think the actual definitions share any letters in common.  I wanted them to be the same, but the best I could do was to make up my own definition of each…  After much contemplation, I decided that:


    • The concept of Simplicity is conceptual
    • The concept of Easiness is procedural

    For instance:


    • The concept of a G, C , D chord progression is simple, not confusing.


    • The process of putting them together on the fret board of a guitar for the first time is hard, not easy.


    So that (applying the Bill Kammerer “’swapping the order’ law of equality” to the second statement):


    • Simple = Not Confusing
    • Easy = Not Hard

    By doing this, I was at least able to come up with definitions that shared a common word:  “Not.”


    The only thing that I could determine about the mutual sameness of the two concepts is that they are “NOT” the same.


    Therefore:  Simple  Easy


    (This, sadly, was the closest thing to a mathematical equation I had ever achieved up to that point.  In fact, it was better than the theorems I made up, from scratch, for future  (un-studied for) math exams in Brother Anthony’s geometry class at St. Bonaventure High School  – Yet another topic not to be covered in this biography.)


    1. jrosile Says:
      March 9, 2008 at 8:29 pm   editDad, I FINALLY got to sit down and read. I planned on reading the first one again and then chapter two to go on to three sometime later or tomorrow. I couldn’t get away from the computer until I finished Chapter 6! Hilarious!
      I can’t wait to see more. )
    2. Ms. Kathleen Ann Margaret Kammerer Marsh! Says:
      March 10, 2008 at 9:16 am   editI remember you practicing “Louie-Louie,” over & over again. It was interferring with my favorite TV show, “Felix the Cat.” I missed quite a few episodes during that period of your new-found love affair. Thanks, man, you owe me one.
    3. Bert Moraga Says:
      June 25, 2008 at 2:16 pm   editBilly…I’m deeply concerned that you may not have been paying tax on all those gardening and babysitting fees. If we compound 35 years of interest and the penalties applicable…well, let’s put it this way: Can you say “the Slammer”? Hmmm? Not to worry I’m here to help. For a reasonable retainer I will be glad to negotiate your case for you.

    Bill’s Bio – Chapter 5

    The Answer

    Posted 3-1-08

    You know, flying can be an adventure…  I flew this week, and it was not an adventure, but it was somewhat interesting, in a masochistic sort of way. 

    The interesting thing about my hometown airport is that you cannot get anywhere from here. You always have to go somewhere else to get where you want to go…

    Of equal interest is the fact that the reverse is also true – you can’t get here from anywhere else, either, without going somewhere you don’t want to be before you can get home… It’s not unlike the concept of Purgatory…

    I had been sitting on planes and in airports since early afternoon, so imagine my elation when, after a 3 hour layover in Las Vegas, 11:25 PM finally rolled around and it was time to board flight 2791 to Fresno (my home airport)! Woohoo!  Everybody boarded and we were all ready to take off.  Then came the wonderful news that the 1 hour 10 minute flight could be done in 30 minutes because the route could be changed due to the lateness of the hour. (I was soon to discover that this was a lie.  Oh, the flight time could be reduced, but not – really – for the stated reason…)

    This, indeed, was wonderful news and was greeted with great joy by all of the passengers – The entire plane was abuzz with excitement…  Then the pilot announced that we would be taking off at a speed of 150 miles per hour – I have never heard that announcement in my entire travel life, but was happy to know that we wouldn’t be just-a-moseying down the runway and attempting to launch into space at 5 MPH.

    11:55 PM:  We push back from the gate and begin to taxi to the runway.  The anticipation starts to build…

    12:10 AM:  We are still taxi-ing to the runway.

    12:15 AM:  We are still taxi-ing to the runway.

    12:25 AM:  We are still taxi-ing to the runway.

    Keep in mind that we are actually moving this entire time. The lady sitting next to me asked “Shouldn’t we be going faster than this?”  I think we were taking a few warm up laps around the city of Las Vegas.

    To say that the people on board were anxious would be a severe understatement…  To say the flight attendants were probably considering taking over the cockpit and getting us off the ground before Global Warming is declared dead is probably a lot closer to the truth.  (The flight attendants were not immune to the frustration.  The one in the back of the rather small plane turned to one of the passengers and said “come on – take off already!”)

    Finally, at 12:35 AM the wheels went up and we were actually flying!  And we DID make the flight in 30 minutes!

    At some point during the “Sunday drive,” I figured out the trick for reducing the flight time:  You can’t do it by changing course in the air. You have to do it by driving ¾ of the way to your destination before you take off.  Really – it works!

    Right about now you are probably wondering what this has to do with the Central doctrine of Rock and Roll.  Well, absolutely nothing.  But it has EVERYTHING to do with keeping you in suspense…

    Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

    Many of you clicked on the ‘Mystery Link” at the end of Chapter 4.  I applaud you for your industriousness!

    For those of you who didn’t go that way, the link led to a once in a lifetime opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the Great Secret of Rock and Roll.  Those who went there got a chance to guess at what the Secret is, and, I must say, there were some good guesses.  For example:

    • “To make the music easy to dance to” – that was really close, but not quite right.
    • “Good beat to dance to and simple lyrics” – That one was even closer, but still a little short.
    • “To channel Elvis” – this was my personal favorite, but not even on the same stage as the real truth. Sorry…

    To those of you who got it right, you are either guitar players or incredibly good guessers.

    Anyway, now that I had become enlightened, I was stunned at how simple Rock music really is (or was at that time, which, of course, was the time when I was discovering how simple it was).

    Once I figured out “Cupid”, it was just a matter of listening to other songs I wanted to learn to play and adapting what I had learned in “Cupid” to those pieces.  If my new-found knowledge wasn’t so exciting, it would have been really boring and I may never have progressed beyond “Cupid.”

    OK.  Are you ready?

    Really ready?

    You’re not just saying that to make me get on with it, are you?

    If you’re not ready, you had better say something RIGHT NOW, because if you don’t I’m gonna tell you and spoil the surprise…

    So if that’s where you are, you better shut your eyes before you read the next line…

    Not this line – a couple of lines down…

    The “Real Secret” of Rock and Roll is…

    90% of rock songs require the use of only 3 chords… 

    OK, those of you who weren’t ready can open your eyes now…

    1. Ms. Kathleen Ann Margaret Kammerer Marsh! Says:
      March 4, 2008 at 10:23 am   editWell, I hope the last episode of “LOST!” isn’t as jaw-dropping. I don’t think my heart can take it!

      On another note, at least your plane took off and landed safely!

    2. Shawn Kammerer Says:
      March 20, 2008 at 9:39 pm   editI’d just like to say that rock music has evolved substantialy since my father’s musical enlightenment; that 90% is now down to 85%. 10% of the remainder figured out how to include a fourth chord, and the other 5% forgot how those first three chords went, and abandoned the whole concept of chords.
    3. Patrick Says:
      August 4, 2008 at 8:18 am   editShawn’s right, but I wanted to add that (so far as I know), the first well-known rock groups to use more than three chords were The Beatles and the Beach Boys.

      Not that the three chords have ever really been eclipsed. Think of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” for example. Three chords, and it still waxes lesser songs on radio station playlists everywhere.

    Bill’s Bio – Chapter 4


    Posted 2/22/08

    IMPORTANT!!!!  To hear the result of 44 years of practice and experience, PLEASE click on the link below to hear my present day rendition of “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”

    Mary Had A Little Lamb

    But I digress, or rather, progress beyond the limits of this chapter.  I just thought you would like the opportunity to see how far I have come since my eyes almost rolled out of their sockets after seeing my $1.59 plus tax “investment” get shot to pieces…  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do much with that particular number…

    At any rate, there I was, once again, hanging ten on the precipice of melodic disaster… (That’s surfer lingo.)

    And once again, I managed to keep myself from wiping out…  (That’s surfer lingo, too. Dude.)

    I said to myself  “Quick – do something constructive… Play er, uh, the first 8 notes of ‘Cupid’ – that’ll make you feel better!”

    And so I did.  And so it didn’t.  But it didn’t make me feel any worse, either, so I figured I had bottomed out emotionally.  And when you have bottomed out, it can only get better from there.

    “OK”, I told myself, “let’s assess the situation… I have a real guitar… I have employment so I can pay for the guitar… I have a book that will show me how to play something other than the first 8 notes of ‘Cupid’…” I decided to turn another page in the “instructional” book…

    As is often the case with fate, that one little act of hope taught me a great lesson and made a huge difference in my life…

    The lesson? As long as you get up again after being knocked down, you win.  You only loose when you stop getting back up…  (Well, 99% of the time, anyway – something about “living to fight another day” comes to mind…)

    (*For example, if you are lying on the ground because some kid 3 times your size was pummeling the snot out of you, and he vows to continue to do so if you get back up, and not stop until you are completely devoid of snot, it’s probably a good idea to stay there until he goes away  – Hence the “living to fight another day” exception to the rule.)

    Had I given up at that point – if I had let my disappointment turn to despair – If I had just chucked it all right then and there and said “The heck with it – I’ve had it!  I’m taking up crochet!  Mother, buy me a needle… No, wait – make that two needles;”  if I had done any or all of those things, I would not know how to play “Camp Town Races” today. 

    But more importantly, I would never have learned how to play an “E” chord.  Because, you see, on the page facing “Camp Town Races” was the chord chart…

    So What’s the big deal about an “E” chord?  Well, if I hadn’t learned how to play an “E” chord, I would not have bothered to learn to play an “A” chord.  And if I had never learned how to play an “A” chord, I would never have learned to play a “B” chord.  And If I never learned how to play a “B” chord,  I would never have learned how to play the “F”,  “G,” “C” or “D” chords.  And If I had never learned to play the “G,” “C” and “D” chords, I would never have learned how to play the rest of “Cupid”…

    Yes, after a mere couple of days with “The Book,” I had figured out the rest of “Cupid”…  And my musical life changed in an instant.

    It was at this exact moment in time that the very genesis of my understanding of 50s and 60s rock and roll (and most of it since that time) started genesising…  It was not unlike the scene in “2001 – A Space Odyssey” where the apes started to become “aware” after their encounter with the monolith… 

    … A faint spark…  Then a flicker…  Then, a slight glow…  A little breeze and then flame… 

    It was almost Biblical (Refer to the Book Of Numbers – Also known as the “Begat Book” – A somewhat boring, but actually very important book in the Bible).

    “Mary Had A Little Lamb” begat “Clementine” begat “Camp Town Races” begat “E” begat “A” begat “B” begat “F” begat “G” begat “C” begat “D” begat “Cupid” begat… 

    …Holy Moses – All at once it was revealed to me…  And I was in complete and total awe… 

    …It was the dawning of my understanding of rock and roll… I had awakened… and in one great flash of light I understood the One Great Truth, the one Axiom above all other Axioms, the First Commandment, the Central Doctrine of Rock and Roll…

    1. Ms. Kathleen Ann Margaret Kammerer Marsh! Says:
      February 25, 2008 at 9:49 am   editI can’t stand it when stories leave you hanging…for goodness sakes, what was your epiphany?
    2. Patrick Says:
      August 4, 2008 at 8:12 am   editBill,

      Did you know that Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble do a great bluesy version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on their “Texas Flood” album? I bet you did. And, of course, Stevie Ray is a guitar god in most people’s books. Thanks for this chronicle!

    Bill’s Bio – Chapter 3

    The Adventure Begins

    Posted 2/16/08 


    Now that I was, once again, gainfully employed, it was time to attack the second of the things that weren’t great at the end of chapter 1 – somehow I had to convert noise into sound and then into – dare I say it? – MUSIC… I had to learn to play the guitar, if for no other reason than to keep the Fentons calling me back to baby-sit.  What does my ability to play the guitar have to do with remaining employed?  Well, the logic goes like this:

    1)     Their kitchen window was just opposite my bedroom window.

    2)    My bedroom was the only place in the neighborhood where my parents would allow me to “play” my guitar. 

    3)    The only actual “music” I knew how to play were the first 8 notes of the Johnny Rivers version of “Cupid” (that was THE part of THE song that made me finally decide to give up the drums – to become a real musician).

    4)    How much of the first 8 notes of “Cupid” could you listen to before you started to wish that the electric guitar had never been invented?

    5)    What would be the best way to make sure the guitar went away?

    See my point?

    Up to this time, I had pretty much relied on Professor Harold Hill’s “think system” to learn my chosen instrument.  It seemed the most convenient and economical way to get the job done…

    So, I thought…  I thought a lot…  I thought day and night…  I thought about all kinds of things… Winnie The Pooh had nothing on me – I didn’t even need a tree to think…

    Here is a sample of my thinking:

              That guitar of mine, that guitar of mine

              I cannot play that guitar of mine

              Could I play it if I had the time?

              Yes I could play it if I had the time,

              How I could play that guitar of mine


              Could I play it if I felt so fine?

              If I felt so fine, if I had the time

              Yes I could play that guitar of mine

              How I could play that guitar of mine


              Could I play it if I walked the line?

              Could I play it while my parents dine?

              While my parents dine, if I walked the line, ,

              if I felt so fine, If I had the time,

             Yes I could play that guitar of mine

             How I could play that guitar of mine


            Could I play it if I broke my spine?

           Wow… I don’t know…

    So, as you can see, I (and the Fentons) was stuck with “Cupid.”  For the first, though not the last, time in my musical life, I was in a rut… I was in a rut… I was in a rut…

              I’m in a rut, not in a hut

              I have a dog, but he’s just a mutt…


    Uh… Sorry…


    Anyway, I needed some sort of help. I went to a music store. I asked if they had some sort of “this is how you play the guitar” book. They did. I took $1.59 plus tax out of my “severance pay” and invested it into my future as a rock star.


    I was so excited – really, I was! All the way home I was salivating like Pavlov’s dog – hyperventilating in anticipation of learning the deepest, most profound secrets of all of my personal guitar heroes. I had in my hands the Mount Everest of rock and roll knowledge – this was surely the best $1.59 plus tax I had ever spent – or would ever spend – in my life… I was almost in tears…


    I got home… I stole away to my bedroom “studio,” closed the door and the window… I went to the closet and  pulled out my life’s most prized possession… I plugged it in and turned on the amplifier… I fought to control my emotions and my breathing… I took a deep, cleansing breath and closed my eyes for a moment of thankful prayer…


    I was ready…


    With a quivering hand, I opened the plain brown paper bag, in which the sacred document was wrapped… I set it down on the drum and stand my father had bought me in an earlier, misguided time… I was about to lay eyes on the Hope Diamond, the Arc of the Covenant, the actual Ten Commandments of guitardom… After another moment of self-preparation, it was time… It was the moment I had been born for, and for which I had waited my entire life…


    I could wait no longer… With my eyes closed, I opened the scroll… I took one more breath… I opened my eyes and – behold!  There it was… The song that would launch me into Music Immortality… “Mary Had A Little Lamb”


    What??!!! What the-? “Mary Had A Little Lamb”?


    There must be some mistake. I turned the page… “Oh My Darlin’ Clementine ”!!!



    And what are all these dots and lines???  Come on!!! Where’s the music???


    I had been bamboozled by some phony music store clerk who probably didn’t know the difference between a guitar and a rhinoceros. 


    This was humiliating… What was I going to tell my friends? “Hey guys, come on over and let me regale you with some heart thumping ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ – bring your own milk…” ?

    Where’s “Johnny B Goode”?  Where’s “Peggy Sue”? Where’s “Pipeline”?


    And where, in the name of all that is Holy, is the rest of “Cupid”?




    1. breakouteagle Says:
      February 16, 2008 at 1:16 am   editHa maybe you could play Mary Had a Little Lamb in power chords, that would rock! Good story.
    2. colleen Says:
      February 17, 2008 at 4:23 pm   editstill waiting to hear about the band i remember…
    3. Debbie Bronson Says:
      February 17, 2008 at 7:37 pm   editBill- I printed out all three chapters and read aloud to Brian and the boys as we drove up to Disneyland yesterday! We laughed so hard we cried. We’re not sure what we enjoyed more, Space Mountain or your story:). We are looking forward to more family entertainment! As your youngest sister, there certainly is a lot of information recorded that I did not know. It does explain a lot. Actually, now I’m feeling a little bit jipped on my infant and young childhood naps. As I’m sure they were shortened by your early introduction to “music!”
      I love you, your stories and your music,
    4. billkammerer Says:
      February 17, 2008 at 8:36 pm   editHey Mary C – I’m just getting reved up – The band comes in a couple of chapters down the road… B
    5. billkammerer Says:
      February 18, 2008 at 2:08 am   editHi Debbie – Hopefully, nobody was drinking Root Beer while you were reading… B
    6. Tim Kammerer Says:
      February 18, 2008 at 3:34 pm   editI did not know Dr.Suess played such an important role in your reasoning.
      I can’t wait for chapter 23 when you learn to light your guitar on fire and play it at the same time.
      Seriously, I am enjoying reading your bio.
    7. Corky Mitchell Says:
      February 18, 2008 at 4:35 pm   editHere I am, supposed to be working, and reading an amazingly funny story about an amazingly funny guy. It was nice to break up the day with some humor. I am looking forward to the next chapter. Thanks for sharing!
    8. Ms. Kathleen Ann Margaret Kammerer Marsh! Says:
      February 19, 2008 at 9:52 am   editYou know the sad thing is, I don’t remember hearing you play your guitar in the bedroom. I guess there was so much commotion, what with 10 other kids, a plethora of various pets, the TV and the various transistor radios broadcasting the latest Beatles music, who would have known you were playing your guitar?
    9. AlexM Says:
      August 15, 2008 at 4:29 pm   editYour blog is interesting!Keep up the good work!


    Bill’s Bio – Chapter 2

    Quandary Resolved

    Posted 2/9/08

    So there I was… Without a job… without income…  and unable to make the $7.00 monthly guitar mortgage payment to my dad… 

    Life, as I knew it, was at an end.  My music career was not far behind it.  The one thing you might call a bright spot (I’ll just call it a “spot”) was that Mr. Powers granted me what today would be referred to as a “Severance Package” – He paid me for the TIME I had spent destroying his tomato garden – $5.00 – on the condition that I never set foot within 50 feet of his house again.  (This was to come into play a few years later when I decided that I actually liked Terry Powers for more than just her dad’s tomatoes – but that’s another story, and is not within the scope of this current biography.  Hence, no further mention of this shall be made at this time – maybe for ALL time.)

    OK, so here’s the situation: I could make the first payment to my dad, but after that the prospects of me living up to my agreement with him were bleak… You have no idea the things that were going through my mind. 

    I thought of asking him for an allowance.  He was a Democrat at that time and I thought it might fly.  I decided against that course after thinking about it a little more.  It was a bad idea at so many levels, but the bottom line was that his shoe was somewhat larger than my butt.

    I actually thought of selling the guitar back to him and asking if he would loan it to me for an indefinite period of time when he wasn’t using it. 

    You’d have to know my dad…  suffice it to say that neither of those ideas would have succeeded.

    I am the first Grandson of a real Irish Grandmother – from Ireland.  To say she was Catholic is something of an understatement – somewhat akin to making a statement like “You know, Clem, I think there are other planets out there in the solar system somewhere.” 

    I only bring this up because to say I was influenced by her is somewhat akin to making a statement like “You know, Clem, I think there are other planets out there in the solar system somewhere.”  There have been very few times in my life when that influence grabbed me with the same veracity as it did at this time.  I began to pray…

    “Dear God, Is there any way you can turn back time by a week, just this once?”

    “Dear God, I don’t suppose you can loan me $99.95 plus tax and shipping, can you?”

    “Dear God, Why didn’t you just let me use the Sears catalogue for it’s intended purpose (refer to “The Cowboys” starring John Wayne, Roscoe Browne and Bruce Dern – 1972) and strike me blind before I got to the “guitar” page?

    They say that God always answers prayer. Sometimes He says “Yes.” Sometimes He says “No.”  And sometimes he gives you next door neighbors named Tom and Kaye Fenton with a newly adopted baby boy named Robert.  And sometimes they just have to go out for the evening and need a baby sitter…

    Yep, that’s right.  I started baby sitting for the Fentons, God Bless them.  Wherever you guys are, I owe you my life, and I will love you forever.  (I hold absolutely no malice toward you whatsoever for finding a baby sitter who didn’t eat nearly as much as I did – you got me through a tough time in my life, and that year + was a great gig).  Thank you both…

    Then Fentons referred someone else to me.  Then someone else.  And then everybody started referring everybody else to me – It was like Amway without the soap.  I was working steady for $.50 an hour – Week in and week out.  I pretty much had the entire East end of Ventura, CA as customers.  Once I even baby sat for 20 couples at once on New Years Eve (That actually about did me in – can you blame me for eating so much?  What I really needed after that was to start drinking – which I rarely have ever done – but that would have been a good time to start if I was going to do it)!

    Well, long story short, I actually paid off my guitar within three months just from babysitting.  Oh yeah, and my “severance Package” from Mr. Powers…

    Next:  The adventure begins…

    1. colleen (aka mary c) Says:
      February 10, 2008 at 6:07 pm   editi’m enjoying the memoir…drop me a note when you post chapter 3…btw, you didn’t have the entire babysitting buisness in the east end of ventura sewn up–i managed to extract about 5 bucks a week (at 50 cents an hour of course ) from my neighbors…
    2. Phillip Parker Says:
      February 11, 2008 at 10:03 am   editAnyone who has ever heard and/or been the subject of one of your famous and/or infamous birthday songs has a much better understanding of life. Chapter 4: Songwriting will focus on your unique rhyming abilities!
    3. Ms. Kathleen Ann Margaret Kammerer Marsh! Says:
      February 11, 2008 at 3:12 pm   editDidn’t Pat get mad at you for taking all the baby sitting jobs?
    4. Your mother-in-law-in-law Says:
      February 13, 2008 at 7:07 pm   editBill, you are amazing!!! What a gift of writing (and singing AND playing the guitar) God has given you!!! I always enjoy hearing from you!!!Keep the chapters and music coming!!

      Love you,


    Bill’s Bio – Chapter 1

    I Begin 

    Posted 2/9/08

    Born on a mountain top in Tenn – oh wait – that wasn’t me…

    I was born in San Francisco, CA on January 9, 1951 at 7:32 in the morning, the first of 11 live births (and 3 stillbirths) in less than 15 years for my parents, William H. Sr. and Rosemary Joan Kammerer… No wonder I’m like this…

    Raised in the woods so – wait a minute  – that other guy again…  Raised in Northern and Southern California – my dad was transferred a lot.  Went to 22 different schools before high school – we didn’t moved THAT much, but we always seemed to move to a place where there were schools either not yet completed, or just getting ready to change districts. One year I went to 3 different schools and never moved out of the house we started the year in.  (I mean, the house in which we started the year.)  No wonder I don’t have any childhood friends…

    In the middle of the school year in school number 20 (South Whittier Jr. High School), we picked up and moved to Ventura – still my favorite place of growing uppance – and that’s when it bit – the music bug, I mean… I decided that I wanted to become a rock star in the 7th grade, and decided to play the drums. 

    It’s hard to play the drums when you lack… well… drums, so I absconded with most of my mother’s Tupperware storage “drums” and started banging on them with some broom handles that, somehow, became really short…

    Eventually, my dad bought me an actual snare drum for $11.00. I can still see it now – it was red and made of plastic, but it came with two wooden drum sticks, so how bad could it be? I was still using my mother’s largest round Tupperware storage container as a bass drum, and her metal pie plates as symbols, though.

    Unfortunately, it’s also hard to play drums when you possess a lack of rhythm, or rather, the coordination to move all of your body parts in different directions and at sequential intervals and have them all end up where they are supposed to be at the right time…

    For that reason and the fact that I still had only one “real” drum, and an entire trap set would cost several hundred dollars…

    I decided to be a guitar player, which, interestingly enough, is almost impossible to be without a guitar…  Calling on past experience, I decided to build one – really – I did.

    I went to the garage and dug up some wood (from an old table top, if I remember correctly), my dad’s Sears Craftsman Saber Saw, some nails, some Elmer’s Glue, some wire (with the consistency and thickness of heavy solder) and created something that resembled something that didn’t resemble a musical instrument of any sort…  But I had a great imagination and a stick with a big square part at one end, a skinny part at the other and 4 wires nailed in place and stretched between them (tuning was difficult)…  If I had only skipped the part where I actually constructed something, I could have invented the Air Guitar – I could be retired today…  (And if I had only been born 100 years earlier, I would have invented the paperclip – but I’d still be dead today, so what the heck…)


    Moving ahead to 8th grade…

    While I really enjoyed imagining that I could play the guitar and make the sounds that I had fallen in love with listening to the radio, there was still something missing…  Acutual sound… 

    I had to find a way to get an actual, professionally built, six string with a cable and an amplifier and real picks (my mother discovered she was missing parts of some of her Tupperware) ELECTRIC guitar… Desperate, but intelligent about it, I started to look for a way to make money… I was willing to do almost anything to earn enough cash to buy my first guitar…

    I figured I had become reasonably good at mowing the lawn, so I started wandering the neighborhood in search of employers.  It was a lonely time of life, at least for the next three hours… Then I struck gold – My sister had some friends around the corner – the Powers sisters – Betty and Terry… And they had precisely what I was looking for in a pair of girls – a father who had a lawn that needed mowing and who didn’t want to do it himself.  But it was better than that – he also had a garden in the back yard that needed tending (translate that to “weeds pulled”). He offered me $5.00 a week to keep the place up – I almost stopped breathing…

    I just had to go over there after school a couple of days a week to get all the stuff done and I could pay cash for a new guitar in only 15 weeks! Wait a minute – that’s like forever to an 8th grader. But I had a plan – it was brilliant (meaning it was stupid)…

    My dad worked for Sears – he was an executive – he had a charge card.  Not the ordinary Sears Revolving Charge, mind you – anybody  (except me) could get one of those.  He had a CLC (Check List Charge) card with no limit on it!  He could buy Neptune with that thing, if Sears could get the property rights. 

    This is where the “intelligent” part comes in.  Now that I had a job, I would attempt to convince my dad that I could make the monthly $7.00 payments on the guitar, case with the built in amplifier, cable, strap and PICKS. I really could and still have about $13.00 left over to blow on broken strings, guitar lessons and, mostly, candy and soda pop. Somehow, he bought into the idea…  I had my first electric guitar. It was great! Except for two things…

    1 – My first week on the job, I had put in a pile of time pulling weeds out of Mr. Powers’ tomato garden. Except the weeds somehow turned out to be tomatoes. Unfortunately, when you pull all of the tomatoes out of a tomato garden, two things happen –

    1)    There’s not much work left to be done

    2)  The owner of the tomato garden gets upset

    Naturally, this combination of circumstances leads to early unemployment… I had no way to make the monthly payments on my prized possession.

    2 – The second thing that wasn’t great was that, while I had become a guitar god with the above mentioned home made instrument, the real thing actually had 6 strings and made audible sounds (in this case, noise).  Now, I had seen The Music Man and honestly believed in the Think System.  (Actually, I still do to this day, to a point – you may recognize it in some of my earlier recordings.)

    Obviously, I was in a quandary… However, that was soon to change dramatically, as you will see in chapter two… 

    1. Ted Wilcox Says:
      February 10, 2008 at 7:51 am   editI am really looking forward to chapter 2!
    2. Phil Says:
      February 10, 2008 at 8:58 am   editWell, that certainly explains a LOT!!! Looking forward to the next installment.
    3. Bill Perry Says:
      February 10, 2008 at 2:10 pm   editVery good Bill. I really didn’t know much about you and your Brothers and Sisters. It didn’t seem like our families got to gether very much. Your Mother was a saint to put up with so many kids to keep track of. Anyway, the first chapter of your Bio was great. Looking forward to the next.
      Your cousin, Bill
    4. Koni Ritch Says:
      February 10, 2008 at 8:01 pm   edit… and you’re STILL charging instruments with promises of paying them off, later. Can’t wait to find out how this story ends …
    5. Ms. Kathleen Ann Margaret Kammerer Marsh! Says:
      February 11, 2008 at 3:08 pm   editThere’s a Chapter 2? I thought Mom was gonna kill you after the Powers’ tomato incident of the ’60’s! I can still hear her chidding you. It was rather funny, actually, ’cause you NEVER got into trouble!!!

    Bill’s Home Page

    Hey there! 

    Welcome to my blog site! 

    Links to all of the pages are found at the bottom of this page…

    You’ll find some of my songs here, as well as the ongoing biography of my Musical Life.  Some of the songs are from my early days of trying to figure out how to record and some are more recent. They all have a story behind them, and I will be filling that out as time goes by. 

    Most of the songs are of a spiritual nature, and were written for the kids at Church.  Some of them were written just because I was inspired to write them out of the blue, or because someone asked for me to do so.  If you are so inclined, you can listen to them by clicking on the “Songs with A Spiritual Bent”  link at the bottom.

    Some others are just for fun. You can find them under “Songs to satisfy the Rocker in me”  at the bottom.

    None of the recordings are “studio” recordings.  They are demos that I recorded using the computer I put together (read that “purchased”) specifally for that purpose and using a program called Cakewalk.

    The Biography has proven to be pretty popular, and is written in chapters – It may go on forever or it may stop next week.  But no matter how long it goes on, people are having fun with it.  Disclaimer:  The bio is from my memory, and I may have a few details wrong, but by and large it’s pretty accurate. Same story – link at the bottom…

    If you are a guitar player, especially if you started as a kid, you might relate to some of the stuff in the Bio.

    I’ve also started a page with some of my favorite youtube music videos – be sure to check them out.  I’ll be changing them around every so often…  Hmmm… Where’s that link… Oh yeah – at the bottom…

    Also some Fun videos – Short stories, old movie trailers, etc.  Film at 11.  I mean, link at the bottom…

    AND stuff that inspires me… Link just below the second from the bottom link…

     If you find anything  you enjoy in here, please feel free to share it with your family and friends – (I actually started this for MY family and friends).

    Bio Pages:

    Non-bio musings:

    Songs with a spiritual bent:

    Songs to satisfy the rocker in me:

    Fun Videos:

    Some favorite youtube music videos:

    Stuff that inspires me:

    The songs are in MP3 format.  They are all copyrighted, however you are welcome to listen and/or download them if you like. At this time there is no charge to do so, but I reserve the right to change that policy in the future. I do not grant permission to sell, or otherwise distribute for profit, any original music or written material on this site, or any sites linked to this site.

    If you would like to contact me directly, my email address is (Just click on it):

    You can also use this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to my update notifications.

    Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you enjoy your visit! 

    Bill K.

    Copyright 2008 Bill Kammerer

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