(Part Three of Five)
If you set into motion a single day, and then again tomorrow set into motion another single day with the precise same details as the previous day, the results will be: Different!
And that is what we call life. The motions of each and every day that differentiate themselves from all others that have been lived. When the daily differences occur we most generally take note of some and never even notice the others. But, when the life-altering differences happen?
Back at the radio station in Muleshoe it’s 1978. December of 1978 to be more precise. I had been working at KMUL after leaving Dallas radio training for a little over 9 months at this point. And, as we often are prone to do, I decided it was time to go to bigger and better things. That was the opportunity that had presented itself to me by another friend I had made during those few summer of ’77 months while waiting to head off to Elkins in Dallas. My friend’s name is: Nick Black.
Now, I could easily get diverted here with the stories of Nick and his wife who I went to school with, but he might not appreciate that I am not telling the whole story as he remembers it. And, that would be fair as I always liked challenging him on most anything he had to say. So, as fate would have it, in December of 1978 I began working in Clovis, New Mexico with my friend Nick Black and at the #1 radio station in town: KCLV!
However, I created a pretty large vacancy in the staffing of the KMUL radio station by leaving and had been asked by Gerald Reid, a not so recent local Muleshoe graduate and the mostly top-dog of the station, if I had anyone in mind that might come to work to replace me. And I Did.
I called Mike Dry who was still unemployed and living with his folks back in Winters. Some of the details remain a bit sketchy even to me now, but Gerald, after having interviewed Mike who had driven up to Muleshoe that very weekend, had a question for me.
“Hey Slick. Are you really friends with that guy?”
When I left, I still had reason to keep seeing the KMUL folks on occasion as they were using my Radiotelephone First Class License which was required to be hanging on the wall somewhere inside the transmitter room. So, there was my license on the wall. And that little perk that had been told me back at Elkins that “it might someday lead to more pay” was indeed exactly what happened. As I remember, $150.00 a month, which worked out to $75 per trip. (For you math geniuses that’s 2-trips a month.)
And now we find a rich man on the loose and soon to be driving the streets of Clovis, NM and to top that: He works at the #1 radio station in town!!! (Okay, I was a small bit overly self-impressed in case you have not already figured that out. And I had not even worked On-Air at KCLV yet. Now That’s funny!)
“Yes. Why do you ask? Did he come up?” I thought I knew Mike had been up to Muleshoe but had not heard from him so was not sure if the interview thing happened or not. I looked at “Gentle” Gerald for his response. I expected it was going to be along the lines of the kind of thoughts like my first impressions of Mike back at school.
Side Note Time: Gerald was known to have a bit of a temper. He was not any larger than I was and me being the nice and courteous person I can be, I loved to provoke him to those little temper flashes. So, I called him Gentle Gerald. I knew he despised it, but after all, he called me “Slick”. Well, he called everyone Slick.
While I am on this side note I will give another example of my oh so kind methods of endearing myself to those for whom I worked. A couple years later in 1981 while I’m at the radio station in Clovis there was an older man who came to work as the Program Director of our station. His name was: Ben Noe (pronounced No). Now Ben would walk around and tell anyone that would listen, especially me for some reason, that he had been with KCLV in the 1960’s and again in the 1970’s and now once again in the 1980’s. So, the easy and obvious nickname for Ben was? “Has”. After a while I actually started addressing him as Uncle Has Ben. He just tolerated me. (Btw, I was still way too young and ignorant to realize that name I called him could have been construed as prejudicial. Hmm.)
“He was here.” Gerald had responded with a tone that made me laugh. “Tell me how it is you know him again?”
I told Gentle Gerald the story and he asked me a question that made me stop for a moment. “Would you hire him?”
I suppose that never really crossed my mind. But then I recounted the story about how Mike grew up working and about his dad and the large manufacturing company. I never said yes or no.
My response was only this: “I know he is a hard worker.”
Mike Dry started working at KMUL the following week. And, he was once again driving after having served the DUI suspension time. However, that little respite of time away from driving did nothing to curb his indulgences. In just a couple of weeks Mike and I leased a trailer house just outside Muleshoe.
I can very clearly still recall going outside and packing my things into my brand new Burgundy 1978 Chrysler Cordoba. What a great car that was. I walked around and found my Dad working in the horse lot. “Well, I’m leaving. I got a place with Mike and we’re moving in this afternoon.” I suppose that was the toughest and yet most proper thing I had ever done that involved my Dad. To this day I remember the semi-stunned look he had as he said “Well, I guess you know what you’re doing.” He walked over and we hugged. I then drove away from my home at The Farm on that December day in 1978.
At this time, mid-December 1978, I was still commuting daily from Muleshoe to Clovis and would often ride with friend Nick Black, swapping out the driving efforts on a weekly basis. This continued for a few months. Going to Clovis from Muleshoe fairly early in the mornings and returning back to Muleshoe as evening set in. And life in the two places could not have been more contradictory. One was total work. The other was total…
I can have a temper. Truth be known, when still a lad while growing up at the farm I had to learn to deal with that temper. However, the best teacher of some things is forced experiences. That happened in 1974 when I remained at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas for almost 5-months. When you cannot do anything for yourself you rapidly learn that all the rules totally change and there is NOTHING you can do but get angry and get over it. Again and again and again. However, when the time comes once again when you can do something?
My Most Angry
Night Experience Ever. Mike and I were having quite the time at that trailer house. Non-stop music and most anything (everything) else night after night. I would get home from Clovis to find the party usually going pretty strong already. Things worked well between us and although he had his quirks, which included doing whatever he wanted to, I knew there were still a few quirks I held as well. However, some things are strictly out-of-bounds. Or so I thought.
It was our scheduled time for me to ride with Nick to KCLV in Clovis. This meant my keys were left in my bedroom at the trailer. Since we never locked the trailer door it was not a problem for me. After all, that’s how things worked at the farm. So, if I ever did arrive back at the trailer and Mike wasn’t there the getting inside was not an issue. I saw Mike’s car when Nick dropped me off then drove away. I assumed all things were as normal.
“Where is my car??? Has it been stolen. What is he doing in there that he did not notice someone stole my car.” I stormed into the trailer and started yelling into the silence. That should have been the tip-off right there. However, in a rage I in went into my bedroom only to see that the keys were indeed missing. So, I look around the trailer for a note or something to clue me in. Maybe he made a trip to the store. But, his car is right outside. This makes no sense.
Call him on the cell phone? Well, maybe in 20 more years. After all, it’s still 1979.
I went out to find that his car was unlocked and the keys were in the ignition. Typical. So, I got in and started the engine. All good. I put the car into Reverse and….. Nothing. I revved the engine and tried over and over. Nope, not happening. Then I recalled seeing Mike laying under his car one day out in the driveway and only about ten feet off the road as he pulled into our trailer parking spots. I forgot all about that until just this moment and I began wondering what that was all about. I had never asked him. But, I will.
I killed the car and went back inside while struggling to think about my options. If I call the police and he gets picked up for stealing my car will he then be thrown in jail? Was he drinking and driving in my car and getting another DUI and my car would be who knows where and I would have to go get it and how much will that CO$T and when might that happen and… the phone rang. It was a friend of Mike’s who was asking to talk to him. Now, I’m not a brain surgeon or anything but it does not take long to figure out that some people’s friends have an elevator shaft that stops going up at the IQ charting of about 65. So, we hung up.
I called around Muleshoe to some different friends of mine and got a ride to another of Mike’s friends house only to be told by his Mom that he had gone downtown. “Okay, it’s Muleshoe. Will you please take me downtown and let’s find him.” Where did we find him?? At the stinkin’ laundromat where he was just sitting and ogling some cute teenage girl. Not all that bad I suppose but, not right now. And as I am walking inside he sees me and I immediately ask “Where is Mike and where is my car?”
We called him: The One Timer. His real name was Paul. I will leave the last name out in respect for his deceased parents. Well, he is also deceased come to think about it. But, I had my own experiences with The One Timer and he was one of the very few friends that Mike and I had in common. Still not a lot in common but, he was a local fellow so that made him more tolerable for me I guess.
We got into his (parent’s) car and went out to the trailer. On the way he began telling me that Mike’s car was having trouble and that Mike had received a call from a girl in Winters and he was going to go down and see if she would come to Muleshoe to live with him.
I slowly diffused enough to try and go to bed that evening. When I got up around 3:30am to the noise I knew that Mike was back home. So was she and… her baby. I didn’t even get into the living room area, filled with his albums I might remind you, when I heard him say “I’m goin’ to bed man.”
He handed me the keys and we all went to bed. The three of them to his room and me back to mine, alone. And that was super fine with me. It was finally the end of that day which had been set into motion at the start like any other only to wind up being: Different!
I got up again the next morning still angry. So, I decided to drive my own car to work in Clovis and, by myself. I let Nick know not to stop and take me today.
As I started my car I noticed that the gas tank was low. More anger. But, still enough gas to get to work.
I had a great 8-track tape player installed in my Cordoba and immediately noticed that it seemed a bit askew inside the dashboard. More anger as I drove west toward Clovis. It was then I noticed it. Mike had left his case of 8-track tapes inside my car. Down goes my driver’s window. Out comes Deep Purple into my hands as I pull the tape from the cartridge before tossing it out the window. Over and over again all the way to the Texas border town of Farwell.
Uriah Heep, gone! Led Zeppelin, gone! Foghat, gone! ZZ Top, gone! Mott the Hoople, gone! Thin Lizzy, gone! Jethro Tull, gone! The list is exhaustive.
I suppose there were farmers and ranchers who would find those destroyed tapes for decades out on the open plains of west Texas and wonder “How did this happen?”.
Well, there you have it. An angry young man with a tape in his hand can be dangerous.
Mike did not ask me about those tapes and I never told him what I did it. I felt much better that night when I arrived back at Party Central in Muleshoe, Texas. Home Sweet Home. Well, for just a bit longer because here comes the spring of 1979 and a move to Clovis is on the horizon.
And yet, for all the experiences so far with Mike? It’s 1980 that still awaits us both!