Conversations with denny

These are email conversations with Denny having to do with his early years in Dallas.

the ’60’s/ Dallas
the corals/ other bands
howdy-dallas.jpeg copy.jpeg
corals.png
 

my first band, the corals formed when i was in the tenth grade. other fellas were older, so the next year, after a couple of those guys moved on, we added a couple of other folks.  next year, same thing....so every year in high school, we reformed..those recordings reflect the first two. first band was two gtrs/ bs /drms, second, we added a harmonica/ piano player/ singer, and a different bass player and drummer. just me and the other guitar stayed...another singer, too, joined us, i guess. i’m not even sure had a band to call the corals, when i was a senior. can’t think of who the singer would have been..after i got out of high school, no more corals..i was only constant member for the 3 years (if we were together 3 years)...we were real amateurs, i was just a child, really.. never would have occurred to me that we were good enough to actually make a record….same for my college bands, i was embarrassed by all of them…and college bands were temporary, too, since i knew i’d have to eventually make some kind of decision about the draft…if i had been free to pursue music, who knows what would have happened. even w/o my draft/ military situation, i was wondering what i’d be playing, in a few years, once i got to be too old to play at teen dances. i didn’t even think i could get away with chuck berry/ jimmy reed, in college. was wrong about that, i was happy to learn…

 but a problem i had back then, and even after i moved to austin, was that i was too nice a guy to try to run off players that weren’t very good. in high school, after the first corals the last two drummers were kinda not good. that can severely cripple a band, as we know.. but i guess i thought it didn’t really matter that much, since all was temporary, anyway.

 

i did play with some good outfits, in college years, but the best ones were temporary/ part time, too. i’m wondering what the band sounded like, when i played with trini lopez’ younger brother, jesse. he played tenor, sang, and was the band leader. probably the most professional band i played in, but it was just a side project for him..he had another ‘real” band, for the more professional gigs and touring…that might have been a good band, maybe the best band i was ever in, at least as far as the quality of players, but is funny, i usually completely forget about that group….i don’t really know if we were good..i think so, but??? jesse was a good front man, probably learned from trini, who was older and got real famous in early mid-60’s..i think jesse eventually stole my girlfriend…

 

i never had a name for pachuko, was never played, anyway, seems like....a friend, after hearing me play my other song, said, "you ought to call that, the lost incas”…i don’t know why…but it stuck..

Stu Gilbert's Questions in Green:

 

cool, i didn't know that. how'd you get that gig? actually, how did you get w/ any of your college bands? audition? or just thru people from your high school who knew you played? the fraternity? that guy who i met who first told me, his exact words were "all he [you] ever did was sit in his room and play guitar, i don't know how he graduated" so at least one person knew you could play

 

i had friends that played with jesse (Lopez), probably met him through them…one of the bands was with a couple of friends from big spring…

 but like here, people of like minds/ interest, meet each other. the best bands i played in, were just thrown together for a few gigs. i did a few gigs with a couple of the nightcaps, after they broke up, mario and gene haufler. other bands were formed and played for just the summers, in between semesters. one would have been good, except for the drummer. i think his claim to fame, was that he played with sam the sham…i doubt if he recorded with him, though (wooly bully)… all these bands played dallas clubs and parties at college.

 i did play, at least briefly, with some good players, but, as usual, there was no future in any of it, either because of the draft thing, or people weren’t serious about pursuing a real career with it. hard to explain, the climate from the early through the late ’60’s. so many different social changes, upheavals..was all very frustrating/ confining for me, liberating for others… i had fun, interesting experiences along the way, but, mostly frustrating. much anxiety, many obstacles i didn’t know how to overcome. i guess it turned out ok, but was a very long period of delayed plans, with many unknowns, hardships…has made almost everything since then, seem almost “easy”…but not quite..at least since early ’70’s when my enlistment was finally over, my main obstacles were my own stupidity, bad decisions...

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Subject: Re: nightcaps

funny to think how popular they were, mostly at teen functions, playing almost nothing but blues. they were really popular, maybe the kings, at least for a few years there, around dallas, when i was in high school. girls, everybody, liked them... they weren't fabulous, i guess, but they had a "sound", and most of the teen guitar players tried to play like him. they were better live, than their records. just funny to think of teenagers digging on blues. but we did.

 can't remember how long they reigned, but it wasn't all that long. i played a couple of pickup gigs w/ mario, the bass player, and gene, the rhythm player, later, when i was in college. i never spoke w/ the singer or drummer. dave called me after he saw i made comments about them in the chronicle, to thank me. i don't even remember being asked about them, because i was back in dallas, looking after my mother, when they came to play the continental for a reunion gig. i think speedy set that up. i heard it wasn't so good. most of them hadn't played in a long time, and they were a long time from being at their best, and i think they were probably very nervous. after jimmie, me, probably gibbons, others, were saying how influential they were (we were all younger, by a few years, even me). 

 anyway, dave called me up to say hello, thank me for saying whatever i said. i doubt if he really knew who any of us were, even jimmie, and billy. i don't know, but he was older, and wouldn't have been involved in our subculture, and since he got into insurance, and all, he was pretty out of any kind of scene..

 like i said, there were folks in all that stuff back then that were a year or two older than me, but very few, except for the ones that really started the whole thing. plus, times just changed, and passed them by. like this other band, that came to town a few years later, that blew everyone's mind, i think i talked about them, jerry fisher and the nightbeats, out of oklahoma. they were the next step. not for teens, but for the pill popping hipsters (real ones) and college students. they tore it up for a few years, and then there time was gone, after all the psychedelic stuff came in. they tried to adapt, but it wasn't going to work.

 so, dallas and ft worth had some really good music back then. probably not as good as a lot of stuff in many other places at the time, like all the other big cities, like philly, L.A. NY, chicago, new orleans...they had so much more, but we had it good enough. we always had a handful of good bands, for each era, even if they were mostly regional...and james brown and ray charles and jimmy reed and lots of other folks would come to town...it was nice, really...

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State Fair
 

"the AK one was always disappointing. wasn't much fun”……..that’s how i felt in later years, when i’d go down, just for the heck of it, when i was in town…every time i’d say, i’m not coming back here again…but i would, after long intervals.. emma and i were gonna try to go last year, just for the heck of it, an excuse to go to dallas, but it didn’t work out…i’d gotten the idea they’d tried to whiz bang it up, but i don’t know…they have tried to restore the art deco buildings, statues, etc..that are all over it..

 

 when i’d go, later on, it was so CLEAN, and QUIET…no smells, no loud noises. no freaks, no trash..….automobile bldg. exhibit was boring. shabby…used to be kinda glamorous…women in evening dresses on rotating platforms, showing off the new features on the new cars. ...was a peek at the new models….…whole families got excited about them…eveybody, just about..but that’s when cars were something to get excited about…..the radio studio where Kat’s Karavan broadcast from was just across the lagoon/ pool, from the auto building, in the larger General Exhibits Bldg..….was where the Nightcaps recorded their album…you could go in when they were on the air, in the daytime…

 

 was where i saw Elvis, in ’56, at the Cotton Bowl (not during the actual “Fair season”..

 

 also on the grounds was the State Fair Auditorium, where as i child we went to see Spike Jones, then Jimmy Reed, the Clovers, many others, then Cream, Hendrix, all in the same building…bo Diddley…i’m sure i’d mentioned all that…but you’ve gotten me on a nostalgic trip... trip………………………………….

 

   you can probably see why i go on about the fair…was a source of all kinds of entertainment/ excitement, that lasted into the ’60’s..saw a lot of cool shit………………………..

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early Dallas shows

From: Stu

 

"was real important that somehow i go that show, no matter what i had to tell my parents. was even on  a school night."

ha! that's awesome. did you get away w/ it?

can see how all that would be intoxicating to a young teen, even if you weren't you and into the sounds and the music of it.... lucky you didn't live a small town in the middle of nowhere, that you had access to all that, so close 

 

From: Denny Freeman 

 

i don't have a clear memory. and some of these shows i was very young. i don't remember how i got to the shows.  i remember a cousin from longview being in town, and taking us to one show. was young, just barely old enough to have a license. might have gotten a "hardship" license to drive my aunt around. 'cause he was only a year or two older than me. but had a '54 ford. a kid's dad, down the street, took us to see elvis, in the cotton bowl, in '56. i have a vague memory of the bo show, and i remember elvis wore a green coat with a white shirt and black pants, and that the cotton bowl was set up for viewing just on one side, looking down on the field. not as many people as i thought would be there. don't remember much about the show. i remember jimmy reed wearing a green suit. 

 the show my cousin drove us to, was at the "sportatorium", on the south edge of downtown dallas, where they had wrestling matches. i remember  a lot of black kids, and wondering if i should be scared. was in the times when rock n roll was considered juvenile delinquent music. kinda "dangerous".. i'm pretty sure i saw smiley lewis, which was pretty heavy. i don't know who else i saw. was my first show, i think. was maybe 1956. don't know if was before or after elvis. seems like i was in the seventh grade. was real important that somehow i go that show, no matter what i had to tell my parents. was even on  a school night. was a pretty intense scene. funky place, lots of blacks, i think. seems like was some kind of new orleans big show. no telling who all i saw. smiley lewis is the only name i remember. don't know why i remember that. i think i already knew his "one night of sin". 

 

 once i heard this music, and freaked out, i got educated real quick. was hearing doo wop, and r&b right off the bat, along with, soon after, elvis, gene vincent, bill haley. but i was discovering black r&b from the start. seems like i saw a lot of stuff, but maybe not as much as i think. saw several of the "caravan shows", where several acts each did their two or three hits. but jimmy reed was on at least one of those. so i saw a lot of folks in just a few shows. was exciting.

 radio was great, also. and record stores, pawn shops. much fun, excitement.

 didn't see gene vincent, buddy holly or a lot of others. but i did see some good stuff. was mostly for a teenage audience. somehow i still dig all of it, just as much, now.

 

Stu wrote:

was he just a 4 piece when you saw him (BO DIDDLEY), like in the video? your parents didn't care that you were listening to loud black folks?

 

hope they got it all, when they cut, so you dont have to go back. (non hodgkin's lymphoma)

From: Denny Freeman 

 

i don't remember seeing it, but could have. i saw bo diddley back then, don't remember what year, but was early on, at the State Fair Music Hall, the same place my parents took us all to see Spike Jones. a few years later, at the same place, i saw jimmy reed, ruth brown, the clovers, i don't even remember who all, on those rock n roll caravans. then a few years later, joe cocker, vanilla fudge, cream, hendrix, and others i forgot about. a great auditorium. seating for maybe 2-4,000, don't know the capacity. haven't been there since '68-'69. is still there. has musicals, things like that, i think.

 what i remember about bo is that for the first time, as i was sitting there, i was thinking, this is LOUD. even rock n roll wasn't too loud, in the early days. louder than tony bennett, but not like later. except bo.

 i think i told you all this already, sorry, if i did.

 my head hurts, a little.

 
 
this one is about the Deep Ellum area of Dallas, after seeing an article called The Traveling Man in Deep Ellum

Stu Gilbert wrote:

 

cool, thanks for that (though, now you got that ricky nelson song stuck in my head....)

so, was deep ellum kinda dicey in the 50s-60s too? this article kinda jumped from the 20s to the 90s. i think i've only been in that area once, and it was after dark so was advised not to wander around..

From: Denny Freeman

i never went there (Elm St) until the late 50's and that was to pawn shops, looking for guitars, records. my mother bought me my first strat there, in about dec 1958, a place called Jack's (or was it Dave’s) pawn shop. it had stopped being referred to as Deep Ellum by then…i’ve seen a building in the last 10-20 yrs that still had the sign, or the name was written somewhere on it, so, it was cool to see that the building/ name was still there, but long after all the pawn shops were gone. i'm not sure if the sign or whatever it was is still there, today, though it might be... there was a string of pawn shops called Honest Joe's Pawn.. i went to school w/ a daughter,, Evie a pretty jewish girl, very nice.

 

 as i said, when i was young, there weren't malls all over the place, and everybody came downtown to shop. not in deep ellum, but where all the tall buildings are. that's where all the department stores were, and other retail. street level stores were everywhere along all 3 streets. now the big new buildings take up whole blocks, but no one has come downtown to shop, for a really long time, since the malls sprang up everywhere. my mother, sister and i would ride the bus down there on saturdays, and my mother would do her shopping there. it was also just an enjoyable way to spend a saturday. when i was a little older, my friend and i would go down on saturdays, catch a movie, eat chili dogs on the street, go to the pawn shops, looking for 3 45's for a dollar, maybe buy some pointed shoes, go to McCords music store, lust after the new fender stuff.

 even in my 20's i'd go down for shoes, clothes, the music store, movies..

 

 all the Deep Ellum nightlife was long gone, of course, when we moved to dallas, in 1952.. was just machine shops, small businesses, commercial, light industrial, i think, mostly white, w/ the pawn shops at the end nearer the edge of downtown, where the tall buildings ended, about where pearl (a blues club now closed) is now, except on elm st., which is 2 streets over.. all those overpasses, there by pearl, weren't there, of course. so it looked very different.  some day, you should drive on main, elm and commerce, starting on the other side of the freeway over/underpasses, where Deep Ellum starts. it runs for several blocks, away from the tall buildings, and is obvious where it all ends. in the 80's, someone figured it would be a good area for a bar, so one opened up, then another, and another, and so on, and it turned into the new Deep Ellum area. it probably was the same kind of area as the old 6th st. in austin, before all the bars, if you can imagine that. one/ two story buildings, mostly. there are pictures, somewhere of what it was like. i don't know when all the nightlife came to an end, probably in the '40's, '30's?...

 

 like other bohemian areas, the new deep ellum, attracted some galleries, lofts, bars, clubs, restaurants, etc., and like other bohemian areas, it eventually got spoiled, when the amateurs, out of towners, rednecks, and then the rappers ruined it all. began to have more serious crime, shootings, etc,..sorry, but true..is making somewhat of a comeback, but it'll be a lot better off if it doesn't have the kind of music venues that attract bozos. before it all got ruined, there were a few good venues, and a few bands got launched from there. i played several nice gigs, there, over the years..the dallas folks were pretty proud of it all. i drive through it sometimes, just checking it out, and it seems to have some life there again. there are some vintage/ antique stores, specialty stores, restaurants, so it's probably better in the daytime, than at night. a lot of lofts were built around there, and there has been a big movement, w/ some success, to attract downtown living...like austin, when i first moved to town, everything looked completely different. none of the glass buildings or any other really tall modern buildings were there. dallas had tall buildings, just not that tall. until the 70's or 80's, the tallest structures in austin were the tower, on campus, and the capitol. so all those tall buildings are fairly new, and both cities looked very different, when i came along.

honest joe's:w guns.jpg
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more DEEP ELLUM 

cool. the photo from 1959 is about when i started going down there. Joe Goldstein's daughter, Evie, was a friend. a year younger. pretty girl, very nice...lived right behind the Casa Linda shopping center, where the weekly teen dance (Teen Timers) was, on friday nites, where i heard that band, when i decided to try to learn to play the guitar, to be like that guy..

the pawn shop where my mother bought my strat was down there, on elm st., and i think was  "Jack's Pawn Shop". most of those stores are long gone, of course, but i noticed a shop still had that sign out front, above the sidewalk, until not too long ago. was a bar or something, but the sign/ building was still there. the building would still be there, but the sign is gone, and i can't tell/ remember which building it is/ was.

 

from john…."God, I loved Honest Joes.  All those switchblades and brass knuckles.  I also loved the used record store, the Fun House, and Johnny Miranda Standard Brand shoes.  I remember Eddie and Evie Goldstein at BA.  Long time ago.  Crozier Tech scared the shit out of me."

 

that club i played, Pearl, where you came, was at Pearl, but on Commerce, one of the 3 main streets in downtown dallas. (Kennedy was shot exactly at the opposite end of downtown dallas the west end.) the next one over (north) is main, then elm, where those pawnshops were. all those freeways divide roughly, where downtown starts to end, going east, and all those little shops/ storefronts began. the freeways make everything look completely different, down there. would have changed by now, of course, anyway. but when i was young, none of them were there, except Central Expressway (75) (one of the first freeways in the country, was a picture in one of my school textbooks), but it ran out right about downtown. (started there and went north).

 

 there were storefronts all along all three main streets, downtown, of course. long gone, replaced/ displaced by the new buildings that take up whole blocks. and in the sixties, the shopping centers started springing up, like everywhere in the U.S., i guess, and people stopped going downtown, to shop. into the sixties, i was still going down there for shoes, on commerce and pacific, and shirts, and McCord's Music Store, and the records at the pawn shops and used record stores, down by them. and the movie theaters were there...the whole downtown area is obviously radically different from back then, like other cities, and i don't know my way around, anymore. but much of my youth was spent down there. my mom and sister and me would ride the bus down there, on saturdays, for shopping, and later, i'd go on my own. my friend and me, first on the bus, and later on, by myself, in my car. dates at the movies. i even saw "2001, a Space Odyssey", down there, at the Majestic (still there) w/ a couple of friends, very stoned.

sorry, i guess i'd told you much of that. but that photo took me right back.

 
 
early ’60’s 

Rosemarie Patronette wrote: 

 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Mg0Rc-RCCxE 

From: Denny Freeman 

To: Stu Gilbert

 

this is a reply to rose, for the vid she sent. got me to thinking about the early sixties (i've been doing that, lately) 

you've heard me go on about most of this...but, just another take on that time period...i do miss it. not so much my particular life, but the "times"...

 

From: Denny Freeman 

Subject: Re: \uD83D\uDC8B\uD83D\uDC8B\uD83D\uDC8B

To: Rosemarie Patronette 

 

thanks for that. 

 

lately have been reminiscing about the early sixties. would like to do a do-over. i was old enough to see what was going on, but i was mostly an observer. life was very frustrating for me (starting in 1962, which was when i got out of high school, and lasting for many years), due to the draft, and the avoidance of it. i couldn't just play music or whatever. the military threat was always right there, influencing everything, all the time. if i didn't go to college, i would  have gotten drafted. but i didn't want to be there, so it was a waste of time, and then in 1966, my back was up against the wall, i had to do something re military service, so that's when i joined the navy air reserve. i felt like i was in prison, but could walk around, outside. so much anxiety, like i was in invisible chains. and, all around me, all these new exciting things were happening, but w/o my real participation... first the days, like in the vid, 1964, etc., and then the dope days/ hippie crap a few years later. i partook in some, of course, but was just the observer, not really a part of anything. everything was temporary, while i tried to figure out how to get to the next step. i didn't feel freed until the early seventies, when legally, my navy contract expired, although i'd been inactive for a couple of years.. so long to be dealing with so many obstacles. i saw hendrix, took drugs, went to cal., saw stuff, played some gigs, did some stuff, but was so limited. 

 

didn't mean to go into that, but the point is that i have fond memories of the early sixties, when the fifties were showing up in the rear view mirror, and i was growing up a little, and the sixties were starting to look really good. i'd go sit in bars, drink gin and tonics, smoke Kools, listen to jimmy smith on the jukebox....i loved the clothes, the cars, a lot of the music. was actually exciting, w/o the darkness that was to come very soon, in the later sixties. that was exciting, too, but, was a shame, really, to lose some of the innocence, expectations, of the early part of that decade. i wish i could go back, experience it, on my own terms, with freedom to  go wherever i needed to, all that. and i can't think of a better place to have been than Los Angeles. what a paradise that must have been, back then....i might have even met a young rosemarie, the prettiest girl in southern california........... 

 

fredrico corleone wrote:

did she send it to you for the song, or the girls? (wait, was there music? the gold chick was a little distracting...)

wished i could have experienced some of what you have. granted, the future has always been unknown, no one knew then what we know now.... but, seems more visceral, then. would be interesting to have gone drinking/smoking w/ you....

 

i'm not sure, actually, what it was that made her send, probably just the overall '60's vibe, that she thought i'd enjoy. it shows that some of that stuff was kinda silly, but in a fun way. some of that music from the time, is also a little silly, but also kinda fun, nostalgic.rose is younger than me, too, like emma. in the '50's they were too young to dig what i was digging in my early, mid teens, but by the later '60's, we were starting to converge , when they got to be 18-19, and i was early mid '20's, and that worked. i was lucky because i was old enough, in the '50's, to dig the first rock and roll, and in the '60's, was young enough, to dig that stuff. 

 

 when it got to be about 1967, more and more middle class white kids were starting to smoke pot, let their hair grow, maybe take LSD, get political. everything got more serious, more dangerous. the war, drug fatalities, innocence beginning to get lost. was exciting, but got darker. the years from maybe '62-'66, or so, into 1967, were kinda nice. there was still some optimism about everything. but before long was manson, altamont, viet nam being more of a thing, the black panthers, all that...a lot of polarization. funny, but, austin, in 1970, when i moved here, was very nice. in spite of all that other stuff going on, there seemed to be a kind of innocence here, compared to modern times. was a happy-go-lucky, kinda care-free vibe... pretty girls everywhere, music, partying, swimming at the lake, drinking, smoking pot, the armadillo, all that. austin was still being "formed", folks just starting to discover it....you can probably see all this in the photos you've seen.

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early ’60’s /Navy

...was the summer of graduation. i couldn't mess up. i couldn't stand school one day longer than i had to. didn't actually really matter, tho, because, by now, i had already joined the navy air reserve, so college wasn't needed, anymore. i just went, in the first place, to avoid military service. eventually, tho, that ran out, as a deterrent, and i had to make some kind of move. after i did my active duty, i thought, well, i already spent 3 years in school, so i might as well finish up. all a real waste of time. stupid, useless major...would be called "communications", today. was a bunch of radio/ tv courses. english minor. just an easy was to get a degree. what a waste. but i always had so many obstacles, to just playing in a band, and the world was changing so radically, so rapidly, that i just did the best i could, with the info i had, at the time. there were a lot of things i really liked about the early/ mid sixties. clothes, cars, some of the music. the next step, from the 50's. was exciting, optimistic, in a lot of ways. but my personal situation was not much fun. i had to figure out what to do, since i couldn't do what i wanted to do, which was just play music. if i did that, because of the draft, i wouldn't be doing it long. so i had to proceed with plans B and C. very stressful, disappointing, confusing. i always felt like i had to be this "pretend" guy, to get through all these obstacles, so that one day, i could have some freedom. took a long time. i graduated college in summer 1968, then worked at the freight docks to earn enough money to get to san francisco, where i thought it was all happening. had to get out of dallas. car broke down in southern cal, never made it up north. but then i stopped going to reserve meetings, after i checked into a base out there, and was kind of a fugitive, for the next 3 years.

 so, after my active duty (6 months), getting out of school, and getting out of dallas, i still didn't have freedom. if i stayed in the military, would have to have short hair, go to reserve meetings every month and 2 weeks every summer, all this while viet nam had now turned into that big mess. which made everything worse. i had to stay one step ahead of the navy, because you can't just "quit", or stop going to reserve meetings. every day i worried about everything. all i wanted to do was play, but everything was against it, in powerful ways. those days were exciting, because things were changing even more rapidly. exploding, really,and music, everything else, reflected it. but, once again, i couldn't really participate. and i felt obsolete, musically, but couldn't really find out. because if i blew everything off, started playing, they'd come and get me. the reserves were a bad choice, but all options were bad. you can't really be a serious musician, having to spend one weekend every month, and two weeks every summer, for six years, after doing 6 months of active duty. all with short hair, and being in the military. today i respect the military, but viet nam was such a convoluted mess that i felt like i was one of the bad guys, by being in it. was just a really messed up time, politically. was way too much "gray", not like WW II where it was obvious what had to be done, and no ambiguity about who the bad guys were. was awful, really, for everyone. so many people getting butchered, for what?

sorry i guess you've heard all that.

thanks for sending all those tunes. now we can put a lot of it to rest, forever.

 
the following are from email exchanges between stu gilbert and me. the first re Dallas in my youth….
 

Stu Gilbert wrote:

you moved to dallas? i thought you were born there....

was it still considered a 'black' area of town when you started going there (Deep Ellum), or had the white people taken it over by then? i know austin was kinda divided by 35, but did dallas have anything like that?....cant imagine that dallas was more integrated/free then austin.. or, by the late 50s, did it really not matter too much anymore?

 

so, before you moved to austin, where was there to play, in dallas? when i interviewed paul ray, we got really off topic, probably half of it has nothing to do w/ the ok, but he kept talking about playing clubs in on lovers lane, i think

 

 Denny Freeman  wrote:

 

i should have been born in hillsboro, in between waco and dallas, but my mother had joined my dad when he was stationed, briefly, in orange county, florida, at an army air corp base, in WWII ('44), and that's where i was born... my parents had moved from waxahachie, to hillsboro, before he joined up, and that's where he returned to after the war....... we moved to dallas when i was eight.

i don't really know where the blacks were living, then, in dallas. definitely segregated, but i never saw them, much, don't remember their "part of town"... these days, south dallas is code for black dallas. we moved into oak cliff, which is in south dallas, but not all of south dallas. it's a big city. today, south dallas, oak cliff, generally mean black dallas. although it's not completely accurate.

i don't remember elm street, that area, being very black, when i discovered it. i think all of the night life was long gone, but i would have been too young to know about it, anyway. but i don't think there was anything going on. at night, anyway...

 

i got out of high school in '62... from then until 1970, i went to denton to college, to avoid the draft, then into the navy air reserve, then back to denton, then to L.A, then back to dallas, and then to austin in 1970. my life, from '62-'70 was ruled by my military situation, first avoiding it, then joining up, then trying to get out of it. was very stressful, and reminds me, in a way, of my situation right now, in that i'm trapped in a situation that i can't get out of. i have a certain amount of freedom, but ultimately i'm very constrained. is now, was then, very difficult to do what i am/ was trying to, do..professionally, i mean, although it impacts every other aspect of my life. is very hard. i've spent my whole adult life trying to get out of/ stay out of, dallas. this is not where i want to be. i don't hate dallas, i just don't want to be here. was great, growing up, but then it was time to leave. was in austin nearly 20 years, then L.A., nearly 13. was on the road w/ Bob Dylan for nearly 5 yrs, so i was gone half that time, after i returned from L.A., the second time, in late '04.

 so, from '62 until '70, i did a little playing in dallas, mostly, but because of school, the navy, none of the bands were memorable/ amounted to anything. i don't even remember that much about the clubs we played in. i could remember, but there's not much point. was pretty insignificant. i'd remember the joints paul mentioned.. i met him in one. and we might have played some of the same ones.     but all my bands during those years, were basically weekend or summer bands. i never was able to seriously pursue being a musician, w/ no  obstacles, until i moved to austin.....so i was about 25, before i felt somewhat liberated, to try to be a musician. and i was still in trouble w/ the military, for another couple of years. all in all, a long frustrating story, w/ many hardships, disappointments.   but i'm still grateful, in the end....and as imperfect as austin is, that's where i need to be, when i'm liberated..again.....

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from email exchanges between stu gilbert and me, re a screenplay he was wanting to write…
about dallas in my youth

Stu Gilbert wrote:

 

-driving around w/ black folks in your car...... would that have turned heads, or would folks have just assumed they were your hired help? were they mainly allowed in the same stores as white folks? i get that dallas wasnt birmingham or mobile alabama or someplace like that....

 

-at that time, white high school kids wouldnt be listening to jazz, i know, but would they have been hearing soul yet?

 

-what was that black station you told me about, that you could pick up at night, w/ kats karavan on?

 

-at teenage house parties then, i know they wouldnt have been smoking weed, but they'd drink, right? would couples disappear into a bedroom, or would they/(the girl) not want others to know they'd done that?

 

and finally

-what the hell is a high school major? did you not have to study all the subjects, you could 'specialize' in something in high school?

 

wow, that was a lot, sorry...

Denny wrote:

 

more later…..

but for now……..

is true that girls weren't giving up much back then, not only teenagers, but after that, as well. less birth control, more stigma, etc. if a girl gave it up, eventually, everyone knew, and she was considered "slutty", as often as not. they had "reputations"...boys were really happy about the "women's liberation movement"….seems like all of a sudden, girls were a lot more ready to "go all the way", by the late '60's, i guess…the girls/ women felt "empowered", i suppose, but were they, really? was more fun for the boys, them too, ok, but there was a price to pay for all the sexual liberation…was a different world, anyway, especially for someone like me, who was already into his twenties, when all that went down.

guys, teenagers, from my part of town, all over, i guess, would go to via cunia, across the border from del rio, i think. "boys' town". i didn't go down, until college, but other guys did, in high school. but was a long drive, couldn't go too often. they would also get pills, while there...there was also a known whorehouse in downtown ft worth, the jackson hotel. i never went there. cops must have been paid off, because everyone knew about it. was right there, you could see it. the jackson hotel…

there were  guys i knew that took pills, in high school and college, before pot. red birds (downers), which was bad stuff. kids too young to get that tore down. one of my best friends had a terrible car wreck in his red '59 chevy convertible. i freaked out, ran out of the hospital room, when i saw him. a rod stuck into, and out of, the top of his head. other terrible things happened. i didn't do pills, never liked them, and the only time i ever took a red, was in austin, about '72-'73, and i went to jail, for dissing a cop.

there was a lot a lot of fun sexual activity back then, but also a lot of frustration, for the boys, not like there was only kissing…

 

don't know how to help w/ the story, an interesting concept, but i wouldn't know how it could come about. i have no idea what black kids were listening to. probably the same as us, but less of the white stuff, i'd presume. it was black music, after all, that made up the first rock and roll. so i don't know what a young black girl would be into, that she could turn the white boy on to. unless her daddy was a professor, or some other black intellectual, where, instead of kenny burrell, it would be more like somehow she learned to like charlie parker, miles, monk, early 50's jazz, maybe some bebop. some heady stuff, for kids, tho. but i remember sometime in high school, my guitar partner, who i took lessons with, went to california for the summer, or something. he came back all into the modern jazz quartet, maybe other stuff. i remember he tried to turn me on to it, but it didn't "take". i was checking out a lot of guitar players, so that's how i found out about kenny, barney, etc., but i liked them because they were guitar players. wasn't until the later '60's that i got into jazz groups that didn't have a guitar player. mainly blue note stuff. horace silver, lee morgan's "sidewinder"…

 

i also can't imagine a situation where young potential lovers, b & w, could meet, get to know each other, a little bit. could happen, and probably did, somewhere. might have been more likely, if older than high school kids. probably more likely to encounter each other, after they got out into the world, a little bit. would still be dangerous, awkward, unlikely, but history is full of unlikely scenario's. at work, on a campus, a chance encounter. it could happen, just wasn't common.

 

sounds like a good setup, for a story. maybe it should be a novel, first. i haven't seen it much, but maybe you could get ideas from "mad men"… that seems to evoke the vibe, of that time, although is set in nyc, i guess. clothes, sets, cars, for early 60's could be cool, if accurate. 

i talk about hendrix, cream, mainly in regard to guitar playing. the beatles changed everything before then, starting around '63, i guess. then all the other brit bands followed, and it was late '66/ '67 when the word was out that they smoked marijuana and took LSD. a lot of things happened in sort time periods, back then. seems like around 1960 rock and roll was getting watered down, pretty much, so a lot of new stuff wasn't interesting to a lot of us. made it easy to accept soul music..

got to go more later

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kat's karavan was actually on a white station that played adult type, mostly big band stuff, in the daytime (WRR).

the black station, i think was KNOK, not sure when it aired. back then, sometime. would actually play muddy waters, etc. in the daytime. probably slim harpo, jimmy reed. not all low down blues, and i can't remember what else they did play..of course around 1960, i think, muddy, john lee, jimmy reed actually crossed over, would play on the top 40 stations.

 

would have been very difficult for a mixed couple to go anywhere together. and i just don't remember many blacks at the places i went, clubs, etc. i'm sure they shopped in big stores, but i wouldn't see them in my neighborhood stores. probably all over downtown dallas, where everyone shopped, back then. segregated water fountains, i think, and movie theaters. i just don't remember interacting w/ many black folks. they would come into our neighborhoods to work etc. and then return to their parts of town, which i can't remember right now. don't even know where their parts of town, were, in dallas. i remember in waxahachie and hillsboro….

new question- did you have to wear a tie/jacket to school?

tried looking online, the jury seems to be out..... plus, there's a big difference between early and late part of the decade....

 

no, we wore what we wanted. sometimes jeans, sometimes not. i think it was religious schools that were more likely to require coat/ ties, other uniforms.

don't know where you'd find them, but you could look at school annuals, for glimpses of those times. i might have one or two, but haven't noticed them, in a while. 

was Ciudad Acuña, where we'd go. "boy's towns" were sections of towns where the whores were...wild, not much law and order. didn't seem dangerous, but you could get what you want. haven't heard anything about it in a long, long time, but it was the main place for texas boys to go, at the time. whores everywhere, cheap and pretty goodlooking. no problem w/ getting booze, either. you could pee in the street, if you needed to..

 

i don't know what the site is, or if i still have it, but there is a site that has the "top 100" songs, in various categories for many years, going back at least to the '40's.  is cool, and besides being informative, it has a lot of good music. but Billboard charts from different years also can give you a glimpse of what was happening. will send the top 100 thing, if i can remember what it is..

also, at half price books, or wherever, you can look at magazines from the early '60's, to get another glimpse. assume you've thought of these things. but, there's lots of sources, really, for research. even tv shows. not sure how unique dallas would have been. back then every town had a certain uniqueness, of course, because there weren't so many chain stores, restaurants, but there was also a lot in common. the music the kids were listening to might have been a little different in different regions, but there were still many things we all listened to. dallas wasn't the only place that listened to jimmy reed, but not everybody got to hear that stuff, even if he did chart w/ a few things. 

 

there was drinking going on, of course, at parties, and hanging out, here and there.

majors were like college, but not taken seriously. you had to take certain courses to graduate, and had certain electives that you chose, like college. at least when i went.

 

yeah, had heard of boys towns along the border, but always kind of thought they seemed like hollywood fabrications, almost. but then started coming to tx and seeing the symbiosis between texas and mexico.... and folks from houston, corpus, san antone, etc assured me that they were indeed real....

given how everything is so messed up and sketchy down there now, its kind of incredible to think about

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