MY FIRST TRIP TO THE STATION!
Every year when the local communities hold baccalaureate services for the graduating Seniors I am reminded of my life at that very time.
It was late spring and: The year was 1977.
“We are the Wolverines, Oh thank heaven! Senior Class of ’77!”
We chanted that up and down the High School halls like the world depended on our dedication to each and every word. But, at the time and for us? I suppose it probably did.
I was (19) years old and due to graduate high school in a couple weeks. I was older than most all my classmates as I had been held out of school in 1965-66, second grade, because of doctors advice on trying to manage the arthritic rage that was attacking my 7-year old body. I went back to school the next year and began in second grade, again. The first attempt the year before was right after we had been adopted. I would go to school and then disrupt the class with crying because of the pain of hot and flaring joints. And then? “No School For You!” To be honest, I kinda liked it.
In 1977 my Mother drove me to the radio station in Muleshoe. That’s in Texas for those of you living outside the Earth area. And while I had not yet received the doctors permission to secure a drivers license, I did drive all the time. Just not in town. Well, not in Muleshoe.
So, we arrived and we both went in and sat down on the two person seating chair that was right inside the door as you walked in. There was a small walkway between the chair and the front receptionists desk that we faced as we sat. The Owner of the station was Mr. Gilbert Lamb. Everyone called him Gil. He was a tall fellow, probably about 6ft 5in. Perhaps taller. And he was aging pretty rapidly I suppose. He had to be in his mid-sixties. He had a big Jimmy Durante type nose that fit his face perfectly and when I found out that in his earlier life he had been a circus ring announcer and a carnival barker? Well, I thought that was about perfect.
We were there to see if Gil was interested in allowing me to explore the possibilities of working at his radio station. KMUL. It was an AM & FM station that played a little bit of everything. Music from the 1940’s to religious to country to rock ‘n’ roll. I was there to play the latter I expect. But, the facts were: The station catered to the local communities and Gil had his own radio show that ran twice daily. The Mule Train! The program ran (Live!) beginning around ten in the morning and then, just when it ended, the disc jockey working in the studio would re-wind the tape recorded show that had just aired and get ready to “run it again” starting around 12:30pm. Although the now-taped show had originally lasted over an hour, I supposed there was a group of folks that could not listen in at the morning broadcast. So, we played it all over again beginning at noon-thirty. All the same mistakes and goof-ups and coughing and laughing and well, it was Gil’s station. So, we ran Gil’s program.
This part really has nothing to do with what I was intending to write about but, the introduction to the Mule Train Show was an old 45 record that had been recorded by Frankie Laine back in (1949). The captivating song was of course entitled: Mule Train (click on this link to hear the inspiring song). So, there would be a brief introduction of sponsors and away we went with the song. (Oh The Humanity!)
Then after about an hour and when the show was wrapping up, Gil would give the signal. You had to be alert for this one or else he would pay you a visit later.
Before we could start the Mule Train song that would wrap the show up, there was this studio tape that had the sounds of horses hoofs or mules, I suppose, walking on the pavement. Klickity-klack. Klickity-klack. The time came that Gil would be saying, “Well folks, it’s time for the Ol’ Mule Skinner to head on down the road.” And then, he would point his long and aged finger my way which was my cue to start the klickity-klacking tape. “Get up there Jenny. Come on Bessie. Ahh, Pearl stop that. Hee-yahhh!!!“ and Frankie Laine would begin wailing out the Mule Train song played again right on cue as we wrapped up another scintillating show. (Oh The Humanity… for real!!) And so, it is at this high-brow station where I was with my Mother, sitting and waiting for the Ol’ Mule Skinner to come out front and talk to us… which really meant talk to me.
Gil Lamb prided himself as a local celebrity. And when he walked in and sat down at the desk I was a bit awe struck with the forwardness of his demeanor. Very kind and very affable. But, I could tell he was used to running the show. And after a few pleasantries we got to the point of my being there. But, unknown to me, there was another agenda cooking. I did not realize that the station ran another program twice daily that highlighted folks from the community. Now, while I was not from Muleshoe proper, our address on the farm was Route 4, Muleshoe. But, I attended the Springlake-Earth schools and Gil decided on the spot that I was from Earth. So, this would be an opportunity for the radio station to reach out to the Earth community with a story about one-of-their-own. (Anyway, I always liked to say “I am an Earthling!”)
He began digging into my personal history a bit and when he discovered that I had only a couple years earlier had total hip replacements on both hips? The local community story began to take fashion. The Bobo Insurance Company. They were the sponsors of the program. I’ll admit that I thought BoZo several times through the months that I would work there. So, Gil called me “the next six-million dollar man” after the popular show that was on at the time featuring Lee Majors as the star that had been fixed up with all these bionic parts. I was embarrassed by it but, I wanted him to consider me for a job so I responded accordingly. The show ran twice daily over the next three days. And, of course we tape recorded it off the radio at home and played it for anyone who dared to venture within earshot of that tape recorder. Such is the life of a young “future six-million dollar man!”. (I still have a copy of that tape. Imagine that.)
Now, back to where this all started. I did get a job working at KMUL about (10) days before I was to have graduation ceremonies. And, as things worked out, I was required to be at work when we went through the Baccalaureate exercises. So, I missed it. That was an early lesson in real life as a radio employee. Low man on the pole gets to babysit the tapes being played and monitor the big equipment and then make sure we “signed-off” with the appropriate playing of The Star Spangled Banner. However, I did make it to Graduation ceremonies.
I would receive my drivers license the following year when I returned from Dallas after having attended a radio licensing trade school. And I would drive to Muleshoe from the home-farm at 5:30 in the morning, Sign-on the station and get ready for the exciting times ahead for the day.
Klickity-Klack!… Klickity-Klack!!… Hee-Yah!!!
GLB – The End.
Ps: I had many Leal’s meals while working at KMUL. Jesse Leal and Gil Lamb were very close friends and I often went with Gil to eat and visit with Jesse. Man, that now seems like several lifetimes ago. However, it still causes me to smile when I think about those days.