Chapter 33

January 5, 2012

Happy New Year! We hope this finds you well and hard at work on your resolutions. Ours have already gone out the window, but that gives us more time for important things, like letting you know what’s going on in our little slice of paradise. So…

Jim Fillmore and Melody Watkins were married at St. Stephen’s Church on New Year’s Eve. The reception at the Convent and the dance at the elementary school gym were attended by about two hundred old and new friends of the couple.

The Convent was completely booked from Christmas Eve until the day after New Year’s. Jason Glenn and Harry Singleton are anticipating a nearly full house until March, at which time they say they will be spending two weeks in Los Angeles. Harry will be making his annual pilgrimage to the Getty and Jason plans to relax at Venice Beach.

Nathan Crane, Extension Horticulture Agent, met with the Miller County Agricultural Producers Association and reminded them of the up-coming Agriculture Census and pesticide license tests. The Ag Census will begin in March and pesticide license tests will be given on January 18 and 26. The Extension Clubs in Miller County will provide lunch both days for those taking the tests.

The Excelsior Book Club held its first meeting of the year on Wednesday at the home of Sherri Brown. The Club is reading “The Paris Wife.” Hadley Richards, Earnest Hemingway’s first wife, was Flossie Wentworth’s great aunt, so the book has particular significance for the group.

Jeff Barnett is still celebrating KU’s victory over KSU on the 31st, though the sting of defeat at the hands of Davidson hasn’t subsided. Jeff says losing to Kentucky and Duke is one thing, but Davidson? Not another loss on the season, right Jeff?

Speaking of KSU, Jennifer and Charles Singleton have been in Texas this week in anticipation of the Wildcat’s appearance in the Cotton Bowl tomorrow against Arkansas. Jennifer thinks it will be a blow-out considering how K-State has played this year. Charles, ever the pragmatist, says that he’ll just be happy with a win. Go, Cats!

Larry Long stayed in town for a couple of days after Jim and Melody’s wedding to spend time with his daughter, Stacy. He headed back to Philadelphia to be there in time for weekend performances of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The VFW will be closed for a couple of weeks while the electrical system is being replaced. Somehow, a bat got into the meter and caused a short that blew out all the circuits. The technician from Westar Energy said he’d never seen anything like it. Aren’t bats hibernating now?

The Miller County Commission passed its budget on Monday, increasing funding for roads, the Miller County Hospital, the Northeast Kansas Regional EDC, Extension, and the Arts Council. Thanks, you, Commissioners for recognizing the value of these organizations to Miller County residents and businesses.

Mahjong has been put on hold for a couple of weeks, according to Lori Mendenhall. It seems that everyone has either the flu, a cold or fatigue from all the New Year’s celebrations.

I can sympathize with those who are fatigued. Walnut Shade seems to have almost too much happening all the time, so off to bed and rest.

But until next week, I remain,
Your faithful correspondent

~.~

Careful readers of this column may remember that Jim Fillmore and Melody Watkins were planning on being married at the Convent, but the event grew faster than anyone imagined and in order to accommodate all the guests, St. Stephen’s Church was pressed into service for the ceremony, and later the elementary school cafeteria was opened for the dance that followed the reception. The happy couple were counting on a few of their friends from “the old days” to join them, but they were overwhelmed by those who actually did show up. The event was perhaps the biggest things to happen in Walnut Shade since the summer that Frederick Law Olmsted supervised the construction of the park and “boulevard system,” but that’s a tale for another time.

Suffice it to say, not only were Walnut Shade residents somewhat surprised when a bus marked “The Buckinghams” pulled up in front of the church, but imagine the looks on the face of the gate attendant at the Manhattan Airport when Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry stepped off the Dassault Falcon 20 that landed the morning of the wedding. Pete and Roger are the surviving members of The Who, the first major group that Jim and Melody and the then-Urchins opened for back in the ‘60s.

When they arrived at the church, Roger confided to Melody a notable absence. “Keith wanted to be here, you know, but he and Brian are haunting Mick this weekend.” Keith, of course, was Keith Moon, who died of an overdose in 1978, and Brian was Brian Jones, founder of the Rolling Stones, who died in 1969. Keith and Brian were great friends and they had once said that when they were dead, they would come back and haunt Mick Jagger. Together, that must have been some visitation!

Around noon, a second business jet, a Learjet 60 XR, carrying Robbie Krieger, John Densmore, Ray Manzarek and Manzarek’s wife, Dorothy, and son, Pablo, landed. The entourage made it’s way to the Campus Holiday Inn before heading to Walnut Shade, arriving just in time for the ceremony.

“Robby’s always making us late,” John Densmore said to Jim as they walked in. “Remember that time in LA?”

“How could I forget?” And with that, Jim gave them each hugs and waived them to their seats.

Jim once told me about a 1968 love-in in Griffith Park in LA that was being headlined by the Doors. The bill that day included Quick Silver Messenger Service, Joni Mitchell, Leon Russell, It’s a Beautiful Day, Ides of March, the James Gang, and Uncle Mel and the Steamrollers. While Woodstock is rightfully famous, there were many, many multi-day rock and rolls shows beginning with the Monterey Pop Festival and those during the Summer of Love in 1967.

Uncle Mel opened the show at noon with their usual Dada finesse, standing stock still for the fifteen minutes of their set, not playing a note. The crowd, mostly stoned and in a happy mood, gave them an appropriate standing ovation when they left the stage. The other bands during the day thrilled the crowd and by 9:00 p.m. when the Doors were scheduled to begin, the anticipation was as palpable as the haze of smoke that filled the air. Now, those of us who frequent(ed) music concerts know that nothing starts on time, but by 9:45, the Doors had not appeared. At 9:30, from a pay phone in Sherman Oaks, Robbie Kreiger called John Phillips (who was promoting the concert), saying that he had left his guitar at John’s house in Topanga Canyon. A roadie had been dispatched to retrieve it, but it was going to be an hour or more before he would arrive, depending on traffic.

That’s when Uncle Mel was called to action; well, sort of action. Their instruments had been packed up hours earlier, but they were persuaded to go on stage and fill the time until the Doors could arrive. At first, Jim thought about borrowing guitars from the Ides of March, fellow-midwesterners, but Melody came up with an alternative: organize a Mitch Miller-type a cappella sing-along. At first, the crowd was perplexed about what was happening, but soon everyone was singing along to songs like “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore,” “Down by the Old Mill Stream,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” and “Be Kind to Your Web-Footed Friends.” The hit of the evening, of course, was when Melody started singing the theme from the “Mickey Mouse Club.” Ninety-nine percent of the people in the crowd had grown up with Mickey Mouse, so the song brought a wave of nostalgia. Imagine if you can ten minutes later the Doors showing up and launching into “Light My Fire.” Far Out, Man!

The wedding, itself, was pretty far out, too. It seems like every love bead, buckskin vest, bell-bottom, and headband in a 100-mile radius was pressed into service by Jim and Melody’s neighbors to create the wedding that looked like it could have (and most of us thought should have), taken place forty-five years ago. While the Rev. Dr. Katherine Derby actually performed the ceremony, several of the “ministers” from the commune Jim and Melody lived in for two weeks in ’68 in Monterey provided additional blessings and words of encouragement to the couple. “Digger” Shannon said a Buddhist prayer and Kate and Nancy Weaver, the sisters who sang back-up on the “Eve of Destruction,” did a lovely version of “Get Together.”

After the obligatory photos were taken (with a surprising number of Polaroids and non-digital cameras, dug out of closets and drawer especially for the occasion), the wedding party, which mostly resembled a parade of hippies from the old day, walked the two blocks to the Convent for the reception. Jason Glenn and Harry Singleton had cases of wine flown in from a small boutique winery in Napa they visited on their honeymoon and the food, including brownies(!), was provided by Jerry Hall. The wedding cake, also baked by Jerry, was a masterpiece of decoration and engineering. Shaped like the bandstand at the Miller County Fairgrounds, it was an hommage to the location of the reunion of Jim and Melody.

One would be tempted to say that the highlight of the day was the next installment that took place at the elementary school gym, but of course, the wedding was, certainly, the highlight. However, the dance/concert was an amazing event in and of itself, one that will probably never be duplicated in Walnut Shade, perhaps nowhere, ever, in the state of Kansas.

If you’ll remember, a bus marked “The Buckinghams” arrived in town earlier. It was indeed the reunion group headed by Carl Giammarese. As the wedding party entered the gym, they were met by the sounds of “Hey, Baby, They’re Playing Our Song.” When the song ended, Carl related how Jim and Melody had nearly wrecked the Buckingham’s career by playing their set at the concert in Overland Park. He then said that he had been waiting for years to return the compliment and with that, the band launched into “Midnight in Hanoi.”

For the rest of the evening, various configurations of the Buckinghams were joined by Pete and Roger and John and Robbie and Ray and… by Larry Long, the Urchins original bass player, who had moved to Philadelphia and eventually became principal bassist for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Jim and Melody also took turns singing and generally having a great time with the musicians and the guests.
The evening ended with Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry playing “Our Generation,” a song whose true significance, I’m afraid, was lost on many of the under-60 year olds. In some ways, you just had to be there, then and now.

~-~

January 5 is the birthday of Marshall Green’s great-uncle, Hubert “Hub” Green. Marshall and the rest of the Green family celebrate Hub’s life each year and what a life it was. Born in 1902 in South Bend, Indiana, there was only two things he ever wanted to do: play football for Notre Dame and learn to fly. Hub’s father taught physics at Notre Dame and Hub literally grew up in the shadow of the golden dome of the administration building and the football stadium, then Cartier Field. Hub, and his brother, Grant (Marshall’s grandfather) often snuck into the stadium at night just to sit in the bleachers and dream about playing football in front of 30,000 screaming fans. Only Hub got to do that; Grant suffered a knee injury playing lacrosse in high school and wasn’t able to try out for the team. Hub told Grant that he would play for both of them and be twice as tough as any other player on the field. He kept his promise.

Hub won a spot on the freshman team (at that time, freshmen weren’t allowed to play on the varsity) as defensive lineman and the center on the offensive team. The Notre Dame coach, Knute Rockne, early on recognized that Hub was particularly adept at anticipating when to snap the ball so that the defense was caught off guard. During the game against the Nebraska freshman squad, the Nebraska coach objected to the officials that Hub was doing something illegal. This was long before the advent of instant replays, so there was no way to review what was going on on the field. The officials, however, kept a close eye on Hub the rest of the game and determined that nothing he was doing was prohibited by the rules; he was just very, very good at his position.

Hub’s sophomore year was mostly spent watching the first-string center, Norris Walters, play exceptional football, but in the last game of the season, Norris was hurt early in the first quarter and Hub was called on to finish the game, which he did in great style recovering the fumble of his quarterback and running it in for a touchdown. Hub’s sophomore year was also notable for the emergence of what is known in football history as the “Four Horsemen.” By 1924, Notre Dame was terrorizing every team they played and were named the National Champions at the end of the season. Three of the Four Horsemen were named consensus All Americans and Hub missed that honor by one vote. Grant vowed that if he ever found out who had voted against Hub, he pound him into the ground. Fortunately, no such violence ever occurred.

Hub stayed at Notre Dame and went on to receive a Master’s degree in chemical engineering and after graduation, he went to work in the oil fields in southern Kansas and Oklahoma and quickly became president of a small oil company that was later bought out by Phillips Petroleum Company. Hub stayed with Phillips and moved to Wichita to oversee gas field development in southern Kansas and while he was there, he at last learned to pilot an airplane, his second great desire in life. His love of flying began when he was seven and his father took him and Grant to Dayton, Ohio, to see the celebration in honor of the Wright Brothers, who had just returned from a triumphal trip to Europe where they demonstrated their Wright Model A Flyer to the kings of Great Britain, Spain and Italy. After that, when they weren’t playing football, Hub and Grant could be found in the city park testing and demonstrating their hand-built gliders and model biplanes.

When World War II began, Hub tried to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps, but at 39, he was considered too old to fly. Against the wishes of his family, he went to Australia and joined the Royal Australian Air Force, which was in great need of pilots of any age. Hub was part of an RAAF squadron that flew anti-submarine patrols of the shipping lanes around northern Australia. During one of these patrols, Hub’s plane was shot down and his body was never recovered. While not an Australian, for his service to the country, he received the Burma Star and a citation for bravery. He also received the Empire Cross from Great Britain and was recognized by the U.S. Air Force in 1967 for his special contributions to the defense of a strategic ally during the war.

While Hub never visited Walnut Shade, as far as Marshall knows, I’m sure he would have felt right at home here. We celebrate football and brave people every day.

About stclairc

Abstract artist, photographer, writer
This entry was posted in Observations, Psychedelic, Serendipity, Small Town Life. Bookmark the permalink.

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