Monday, July 25, 2011

Goodbye Lapeer... Hello Uncle Sam

Fort Wayne, Detroit

As I began my senior year in high school I started to take stock on my situation.  I'd actually started dating a girl from Owosso by this time, and was thinking about a future with her.  I'd also made some attempts to get into radio, but unlike Terry was not able to stir up any interest.  I even took some radio/TV courses at Flint Jr. College, but to no avail.  I wondered if I would ever get a chance on the air.  By this time Terry had changed his name to Terry Knight, and was brought to Detroit as the new “Jack The Bellboy” on WJBK.  This was a HUGE deal.  The “Jack The Bellboy” show was a prime gig, and had been a Detroit fixture for years.  

The InVictas, however were still going strong.  We were in demand at clubs, dances and functions throughout the area.  I'd managed to knock off some pretty decent sessions in Detroit too.  By this time I was able to get work at United Sound Systems, the top studio in Detroit and was learning the production side of things as well.

We'd still load up the gear and head out to far flung gigs from time to time.  I recall one job at a joint called The Music Box near Houghton Lake.  It was a huge, outdoor venue, and hundreds of people attended.  We did a good show, and decided to partake of a little party sauce afterward.  Now let me point out that we were NOT real drinkers in any way, shape or form.   For whatever reason Marsh overdid things just a tad.   As we were driving back to where we were staying, we heard a little voice pipe up from the back seat:

Pull over, I'm gonna be sick”

We pulled over, and Cary went outside to take care of his personal issue. But all in vain... I think Cary was suffering from the dreaded “Dry Heaves!” We drove on, and sure enough...

Pull over, I'm gonna be sick”

We did, same result. We drove on... then:


I'll bet it took the poor driver 6 weeks to get that car cleaned up!

Cary went on to attend the US Air Force Academy, and spent many years as a KC-135 tanker pilot.  I often wonder if he ever said to his co-pilot “PULL OVER, I'M GONNA BE SICK AND I REALLY MEAN IT!”

Dick and Jim were attending Flint Community College by this time and had their own crib.  I'd go over and hang with them, and loved the freedom that they had.  I was really feeling the need to get out of Lapeer and start my life.  It didn't look like I was going to get into radio any time soon, so what would I do?   I was no rocket scientist in school, that much was sure.  Unlike Cary who would graduate Valedictorian of his class, I was a full out dummy.  I had zero interest in any of that stuff.  NONE of those classes were going to be of any use to me in the career I'd chosen, so what good were they?  I barely graduated.   When the cold, hard reality of my situation finally struck home I was left with two choices; work at GM or go into the military.

Now back in 1963, if you weren't going to college a turn in the Armed Forces wasn't something that you chose, it chose you. There was a little thing called the draft in those days you see, and it  was expected of every, able bodied young man to serve the country.  Even those who got degrees often went in as officers after graduation, that's just the way it was.  So with some trepidation I hooked up with my pal Dave Murray, and we trooped over to Port Huron to sign up for the Air Force.  I'd taken the Airman Qualifying Exam, and actually done pretty good on it, nothing under a 90 . My highest score was in the mechanical field, odd since I'd never had a wrench in my hand in my life.   We signed the requisite papers, and bade the friendly recruiter farewell.  I remember him saying “I hope you enjoy it, most of the guys come back and tell me they hate it.”

Geeze, do you think I should've listened?

I remember leaving Lapeer on the bus for Detroit, my folks were there to see us off.  I recall the sad look in their eyes.  I was feeling kinda low myself, but that was nothing compared to how low I felt when I arrived at Ft Wayne, the induction center.  Soldiers screaming at me from every direction, medics sticking needles in my arm by the dozen, guys demanding that I drop my shorts and bend over... man it was brutal!  I seriously thought about just going home, I hadn't actually signed anything yet that I couldn't get out of, but I stuck it out.

I vaguely remember being hustled on a bus, and then corralled into a waiting room at the airport.  I had my little transistor radio with me and turned it on.  There was Terry having the time of his life on WJBK, playin' the hits in a nice, air conditioned studio.  No doubt there was a sweet little babe waiting for him when he got off the air.  And here was I, sitting on a suitcase waiting for a flight to who-knows-where and hatin' life.

We got on the plane, a damned Gooney Bird!  Couldn't they at least get us a decent plane?  As the plane lifted from the runway I looked out and saw everything I'd ever known sliding away behind me, then nothing... just the blinking of the nav light and the black sky

I had never felt so lonely and miserable in my life.

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