Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Charlie Waters Memorial Service

October 26, 2014
   A long one yesterday. Ten hours on the road to Kingman and back for Charlie Waters' memorial service. Fortunately, I met Exit bandmate, Wayne Rutschman, at I-17 and the Carefree Highway and he rode with me.

   The memorial service was wonderful. Excellent eulogy by John Waters and heartfelt comments by his kids. Got to see a lot of old friends including Karen Johnson Collins, Karen Richardson, Salty and Mary Jane McGovern, Michele Gilpin Bonham, Trudy Peart Burris, Sherene Davis Petry, Mickey and Zibby Campa, Hubby Grounds, Bob Burford, Fred Grigg (we're going to make a road trip to Laguna Pueblo to look up Mister Ottopopie, who, according to Fred, is still living), Catherine Lamb's mom, Richard Glancy, Phyllis Morton, Richard Montez, Dan and Darlene Harshberger and a dozen more I am forgetting and will no doubt hear from.

  Several journalists who worked with Charlie came long distances to be there. Here is the crew from the Los Angeles Times who drove 8 hours each way to be there. Great people.

The LA Times crew at Charlie's memorial reception. Great people.

   And here is a publisher who came from Chicago. He worked with Charlie at the Fresno Bee and had great stories about their relationship.

The former publisher of the Fresno Bee and a good friend of Charlie's

Charlie started a band while he was working at the Las Vegas Review Journal with some of the newspapermen he worked with. Actually, Charlie allegedly said at the first jam session, "I've been in a band. This is not a band." So the guys, for a time, called themselves Not A Band. But then Jane, who was also in attendance, kicked them out of their practice pad (her living room) and so they also like to call themselves Jane's Eviction (ah, journalist humor). Anyway, here they are performing a masterful set of songs Charlie loved, ending with "Hotel California."

Not A Band members rock out

Philbert Watahomogie, BBB and Coach Les Byrum at the Charlie Waters Memorial reception

   A Havasupai and natural scorer with a sweet jump shot, Philbert was the star of our eighth grade basketball team and Coach Byrum can still site stats from our championship 1961-62 season. Great to see them both. Philbert is now the Vice-chairmanof the Hualapai Tribe at Peach Springs, Arizona. Les has been the mayor of Kingman several times over. Both are featured prominently in "The 66 Kid."

The surviving Exits: Terry Mitchell, BBB and Wayne Rutschman

We lost Steve Burford last year, and Wendell Havatone a couple years before that. And now Charlie. I feel a bit like a Civil War vet (who will be the last to go?)

   I had almost forgotten that Charlie wrote my blog for several days while I was in the hospital after my heart attack while playing drums at our band reunion in March of 2008. Here is a taste:

* Moment to remember, Part II: We hadn't seen Terry Mitchell in more than 40 years. He had moved back to New Mexico and continued to play until he lost part of the middle finger on his fretting hand in a roping mishap three decades ago. He was the last guy we finally tracked down and only came after encouragement from his lovely and persistent wife Kathy. When I stood next to him as he belted out "Gloria," I shivered. Moments later, he grinned and nodded when I quietly asked if he remembered a quick chord change and turn-around as Vern paid tribute to Wendell Havatone on "Your Cheatin' Heart." And for just a moment, everything seemed right in this world.

 * A big smile: When brother John sang "For What It's Worth," two dozen women on one side of the hall erupted in cheers and whistles. And shortly thereafter, when we launched into "Just Like Me," the entire area in front of the band was full of women dancing and raising their arms and cheering and throwing money. After the set, Larry said that the old Exits must have really been something in the old days to receive such a reaction 45 years later. I smiled and told him that it's called "salting the mine." Twenty-five percent of the women were old and dear friends; the rest family.

 Finally . . .

 We joke a lot about our hometown of Kingman, but when the proverbial chips were down, its people did what they always have done---they came through for nine Kingman kids and their friends. The most oft-heard phrase heard after our nightmare began shortly after 2:30 p.m. last Saturday was: "What can I do to help?" And they meant it, working at the door or behind the bar, or showing up the next morning to help clean the hall.

___________End of Charlie's blog comments. For a full taste, go to:

Charlie Guest Hosts The BBB Blog

   And speaking of cleaning up the hall, at the end of the reception yesterday, I rounded up the surviving Exits, plus Mike Torres and John Waters and we joined the Not A Band members to perform a rousing finale of "Gloria" to try and clear out the place. Hint: we didn't succeed.

The Exits Try And Get Everyone to Exit

"I do not spoil the grandchildren. And I keep my mouth shut when my wife is."
—Bill Cosby