December 31, 2008
The last day of a year I'll never forget. No, wait, let me put that a different way: I'm damn lucky I got to live to see the last day of this year.
Many friends have told me "it wasn't your time" but somehow that doesn't quite cover it. I'm not sure what does, but, with all due caution, I have high hopes for next year. For one thing, the Wipeout episode at the Elks Lodge in Kingman, Arizona really made me focus my attention on all the things I want to accomplish before I leave this theatre of war.
Yes, I appreciate my family and friends more than ever, but when you come as close as I did to exiting it really focuses your mind on the goals of a lifetime, that I sort of took for granted ("Oh, yeh, I've plenty of time for that.").
One irony: when I graduated from high school in 1965 we had a class party at the Elks Lodge. I took Jan Prefontaine as my date and we sat in a booth near the stage. That booth was almost exactly on the spot where I had my heart attack. I mean it couldn't have been more than five inches from where I fell, face first on the floor. And, of course, my mind goes to the absurd. Imagine if Jan would have turned to me at the class party and said, "Robert, you are going to have a heart attack on this spot, 43 years from now."
Yeh, right, Jan. I'm never coming back to this godforsaken spot unless one of my best friends talks me into it while arguing in late 2007 about the things we want to do before we die.
Ha. Thanks Charlie Waters.
Keep reading, because the irony just gets thicker and thicker.
The other funny thing about that date is that my Aunt Doris, of Osage, Iowa came out for my graduation and when she heard from my mother that I was taking a "Catholic girl" to the party she took me aside and said, "Robert, I hope you aren't serious about this girl. She's a Catholic and we are Lutherans. Mixed marriages like that never work out."
Fast forward to 1971 and I hitched a ride back to Iowa to attend my cousin Mike Richard's marriage to a pretty, doctor's daugther, in Des Moines. When we got to the church for the ceremony I was stunned to see the Virgin Mary and all those gothic Catholic Saints staring down at us. It finally dawned on me that Doris' only son was marrying a Catholic girl. At the reception I reminded my Aunt Doris of her strong admonition to me a mere six years before, and she said with a straight face, "Oh, there's not that much difference between the two religions."
But perhaps her original warning had more merit than I thought. In 1974 I married Terry Townsend (we met at Mr. Lucky's) but we divorced a mere four years later.
And, yes, she was a Catholic.
And, ironies of ironies, I had lunch with my favorite ex-wife yesterday at El Encanto. Terry also brought along her mother Marge (my favorite ex-mother-in-law) and her brother Mark. We laughed and laughed about the funny things that have happened to us in the past thirty years. It was either that, or cry. Ha.
News From The Front Lines
"I'm a True West Maniac and I just received my January/February magazine. I look forward to each issue and have loved them all. In this issue I found the short story on 'Honky-Tonk Days in Arizona' and just had to drop you a line. Please tell Jeb Rosebrook how much I appreciate the article. I was born and grew up in Phoenix and remember all those places. It was a trip down memory lane and I loved it. Thank you. As a teenager, in the mid-sixties, I went to JD's to dance and listen to Mike Condello (I went to North High with him) in the basement but had to stop and listen to someone on the main floor singing C&W. It was Waylon Jennings and I thought, this guy is good! I was into Rock and Roll then but later came around. Tell Boze I now live up in his old stomping grounds, Kingman. Again Thanks."
Well, I guess you and I have more than a few things in common. I went to JDs quite a bit and saw Mike Condello in the basement. In fact, on one memorable trip with my best friend Charlie Waters (also from Kingman) we and our dates heard Mike play an entire Beatles album (I want to say it was Sgt. Peppers, but it may have been Revolver), song for song—in order!—and we just sat there with our jaws on the table. Charlie and I were in a Kingman band called The Exits and we knew we'd never approach that level of technical ability in our lifetimes.
I went to JDs on December 18, 1967 with Renee Prefontaine (yes, Jan's sister) and at midnight, when I turned 21, I got in to see Waylon and the Wailers (or Waylors?) upstairs. My first legal drink and I got his autograph on a photo to boot. A great memory.
And speaking of Kingman and the Exits, Charlie and I are having our second annual Exits Exit next March 28 at the Kingman Fairgrounds. Be there or be square.
"You can lead a drummer to the Elks, but you can't make him think."
—Old Vaquero Saying
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