Category Archives: Holy Grail

Holy Grail # 6–Poker Games & Particle Board

We played a lot poker in college. The games were penny ante because none of us had much money. Dealers choice. Usually 5-card draw or 7-card stud. Occasionally someone would throw in a game of 5-card stud or bankroll a round of blackjack. We usually started right after dinner, consumed lots of beer and continued until well past midnight. Typically everybody won or lost $5-$10. Many poker games took place at the Sigma Nu house.

Normal Street Poker

I lived at 600 E. Normal during my first senior year. I shared this 3 bedroom, 1 bath place house with three roommates. It had all the essentials: dart board, round dining room table perfect for poker games and of course a stereo. One of my roommates was Rick Simpson. He had an awesome stereo. Between us we had two receivers, two turntables, two cassette decks, and four speakers. He had a top-of-the-line Pioneer SX-1250 receiver with JBL speakers.

Because we had no money we constructed a stereo cabinet of cinderblocks and particleboard. The bottom layer consisted of six cinderblocks, two on each end and two in the middle. Two 8″ x 8′ particle boards formed the top. We stored our albums in melon crates.  These fit perfectly in the 36″w x 16″h x 16″d spaces between the cinderblocks.

Layer two held the receiver in a 30″w x 8″h x 16″d slot. Once again, this was constructed with cinderblocks and topped with particleboard. Two cassette decks between three cinderblocks made level three. Finally,  we put my turntable (a direct drive Hitachi model) on top.

Poker Down on the Farm

One of my fraternity brothers, Mike Haldeman lived in a small farmhouse on the outskirts of Springfield. Situated on a few acres, this humble abode was located off Battlefield rd. a few miles east of Glenstone. In sharp contrast to my particleboard and cinderblock furniture, his house was full of antiques.

In addition to being a savvy antiques buyer Haldeman was a skilled poker player. Occasionally we would hunt rabbits during the day and play poker at night.

Mike was a huge Neil Young fan. Every time I hear Neil Young songs I am transformed back to those days.

Decade is a compilation album by Canadian musician Neil Young, originally released in 1977 as a triple album, now available on two compact discs. It contains 35 of Young’s songs recorded between 1966 and 1976, among them five tracks that had been unreleased up to that point. It peaked at No. 43 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart, and was certified platinum by the RIAA in 1986.

Coming Soon – Reading The Good Book

More details coming next weekend. You can purchase The Good Book through Amazon by clicking here

Holy Grail # 7–Part Time Jobs

“Welcome to putt putt. Would you like to play all of our courses today? We have three 18-hole courses, and you can play all three for just $1.50. That is three for the price of two.” I pitched this line to our miniature golf customers. Jim Loudermilk hired me for this part time job at Putt-Putt golf on S. Campbell. It was the summer before  my high school junior year.

“Attention putt-putt golfers. The next person to make a hole-in-one with a red, yellow, blue, or green ball will win a $.50 discount coupon. You can use this coupon toward the purchase of your next game.” Jim was a master at marketing his course. We had “Super Saturday”, from 9:00 to noon ($.75). In addition, Mondays were “Dollar Days” from 9:00 to 5:00. Both gave you unlimited play plus other fun and games.

One month I took a few of our younger regular customers and we hung free game placards on doorknobs. Jim paid these youngsters $0.03 / card, which was great money for someone in Junior high. Once, after a particularly successful day distributing 500 free game passes we celebrated with a trip to Dairy Queen. They later confided they threw away one package of 100 cards in a dumpster.

Daily Putt-Putt Jobs

I completed several jobs each day in addition to selling tickets to new customers. These included:

– Blowing leaves and debris off carpets
– Cleaning rest rooms
– Washing and waxing golf balls
– Stocking soda and candy machines
– Updating the marquee

Kmart Sporting Goods

“Attention Kmart shoppers. Your flashing blue light is now in the sporting goods department. For the next 10 minutes pick up a Rabble-Rouser fishing lure for just twenty-five cents.” Announcing “Blue Light Specials.” was just one of my Jobs at Kmart sporting goods.

I was an avid sportsman during my college years. I camped, hunted, and fished. Therefore, I could not ask for a better job. I always knew when essential gear was going on sale.

Interestingly, Kmart paid it’s employees in cash. I remember traipsing to the office, punching my time card and collecting my cash envelope. Subsequently I would return to the sporting goods  department to buy that week’s specials.

High School – My Sweetheart, Jobs & Guitars

She wrapped her arm around my waist while I pulled her shoulders close. In this manner we walked the hallways of Kickapoo high school before our homeroom class. Just days before my dream girl, Kim Herbel accepted my homecoming invitation. I was clearly out of my league. She was a petite 4’10” cheerleader with tiny waist, big boobs, and a spunky personality. I on other hand was a nerdy, skinny senior. My only athletic accomplishment was making the golf team as an alternate. Our romance lasted until shortly before Christmas.

I got along well with her mother. Mrs. Herbel was manager of a store in Battlefield Mall that sold musical instruments. I took advantage of the employee discount to purchase my first guitar. This nylon string classical guitar served me well. I never took lessons and taught myself since YouTube was not available in the 1970s. One of the first songs I learned was Blackbird by the Beatles.

The Beatles, also known as “The White Album“, is the ninth studio album by The Beatles.  It was released on 22 November 1968. A double album, its plain white sleeve has no graphics or text otherThe Beatlesthan the band’s name embossed.  This was a direct contrast to the vivid cover artwork of the band’s earlier Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. No singles were issued from The Beatles in Britain and the United States, In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked The Beatles at number 10 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Holy Grail # 8 – Led Zeppelin IV

Led Zeppelin IV was a commercial and critical success, featuring many of the band’s best-known songs. These included  “Black Dog”, “Rock and Roll”, “Going to California”, “Stairway to Heaven”, and “When the Levee Breaks”. The album is one of the best-selling albums of all time with more than 37 million copies sold. It is tied for third highest-certified album in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America at 23× Platinum.Writers and critics have regularly cited it on lists of the greatest albums of all time.

My Stairway to Heaven

Silence filled the pews of South St., Christian Church as I clutched my guitar. There I was, on stage at the ripe old age of 15 with my brother Bert, age 12,  backing me on drums. This was my first live performance. How would the congregation respond? I began…

So far so good. I continued with the remainder of the intro (humming the part of John Paul Jones’ recorder)…

Time for the vocals. Those who have ever heard me sing can testify that perfect pitch is not one of my spiritual gifts. However in my best Robert Plant impersonation I belted out the lyrics.

There’s a lady who’s sure
All that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven
When she gets there she knows
If the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for
Oh oh oh oh and she’s buying a stairway to heaven

I continued my finger-plucked acoustic arpeggios as I sang the next verse.

There’s a sign on the wall
But she wants to be sure
‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings
In a tree by the brook
There’s a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiving

Winging It

Truth be told that’s all I knew of the song’s guitar part. However, I knew the lyrics so I carried on. It’s probably worth mentioning that I was playing a classical guitar. It’s nylon strings sounded great during the early part of this song. Alas, it wasn’t particularly well suited for rock’n’ roll. Nonetheless, I began strumming the basic chord structure.

Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it makes me wonder

 There’s a feeling I get
When I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen
Rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who stand looking

 Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it really makes me wonder

And it’s whispered that soon, If we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason
And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forests will echo with laughter

Bert Joins the Party

He hadn’t had anything to do until now but Bert took advantage of his moment in the sun.

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow
Don’t be alarmed now
It’s just a spring clean for the May queen
Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on

And it makes me wonder

Your head is humming and it won’t go
In case you don’t know
The piper’s calling you to join him
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow
And did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind

Time to lay down my version of Jimmy Page’s  epic guitar solo. (included here for your listening pleasure)

I would like to be able to tell you that I mastered that solo and performed live on this day. Unfortunately that was way beyond my abilities. My only option: skip the solo and head to the final verse.

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll
And she’s buying the stairway to heaven

So how did the congregation respond?  A few adoring fans (4th and 5th graders) “rushed the stage” for an autograph after the service. For one day at least we felt like rock stars.

The Tradition Continues

South Street Celebration! Band

In 1973 playing rock music at Church using guitars and drums was a radical concept. Today there are many forms of “contemporary” worship services. Instrumentation has grown far beyond the   piano and pipe organ.

Bert plays drums in a band at Trinity Church Kirkwood. Our brother Brian plays in the Celebration! and Bluegrass bands at South Street Christian Church. My church, Coker United Methodist has a contemporary worship service at 9:30 every Sunday. They also have an orchestra that plays on occasion in worship and during seasonal events such as Christmas, Easter and other festival occasions. My career as a performer would continue for a few more years (more about that in a future blog post).

I can’t say we started the contemporary worship service movement. However with the benefit of hindsight it does appear that Bert and I were early adopters of this idea. I look back on April 8, 1973, 45 years ago today with fond memories.