Old Curiosity Shop
By Bob Davis dnry122@yahoo.com

1971 Cross Country Trip, Heading Home
Thank You For the Music, Track 3

Another collection of songs that go along with stories:

Fight Fiercely Harvard by Tom Lehrer.  In 1990, Pat was invited to attend the 25th Reunion of her graduating class at Harvard (BA 1965).  There were several days of events; someone cynically observed that by the time the graduates have been out in the world for 25 years, they may be ready to make alumni contributions to the greater good of the University.  This whole adventure could take up an article, but the part that brought Professor Tom’s more civilized college fight song to mind was the gathering in a large tent on the field of Harvard Stadium, where, every other year THE GAME is played, when the Crimson stalwarts try their best to send those Eli-come-lately fellows from Yale home to New Haven wishing they had stayed down south.

If I Can’t Sell It by Ruth Brown, Creole Love Call by the Johnny Otis Orchestra, Do You Wanna Touch by Joan Jett.  The early 1990s saw Pat and me going to a diverse assortment of live music events.  Once by myself and then with Pat, I saw Ruth Brown one of my '50s faves at the Cinegrill in Hollywood.  The second time was after she was admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.  One interesting aspect of the Cinegrill was valet parking; I wished I still had my rusty old pickup truck with the “three on the tree” manual transmission.

A little over a mile way was the Vine St. Bar and Grill, a noted place for jazz in days gone by.  One night Pat and I went over there in my 1988 Dodge Aries, which I parked between a BMW and a Mercedes Benz.  It couldn’t have been safer if it was in Fort Knox.  The reason for trekking over there was to see the Johnny Otis Show, featuring his whole band with male and female vocalists.  Highlight of the program was their tribute to Duke Ellington with a rendition of “Creole Love Call” that just blew me away.  Since neither JO nor any of his musicians were getting any younger, I was glad that we made the scene.

Pinball Wizard by the Who.  One of the “must see” operations in England is Volk’s Electric Railway on the Brighton coast.  It’s not very fast, and it doesn’t go very far, but it’s been running since 1883, less than two years after Thomas Edison opened the first central-station power plant in New York.  After riding this historic seaside railway, I found an “amusement hall”, where I played a pinball machine in honor of the Who’s “Pinball Wizard” song: “From Soho down to Brighton, I must have played them all…..”

No wizardry here— didn’t get a replay, but never tilted.  Playing the silver ball in Brighton.

Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?  By various artists, dating back to 1908.  According to the song, Mr. Kelly was from the Isle of Man, which is famous among railway fans for its electric, steam powered and horse-drawn transport.  When we visited the Isle in May 1993, I even got to run one of their electric railway cars.  Here’s one of the draught horses, posing proudly with his tram. 

I Just Wanna Have Fun by Sheryl Crow.  By 1994, it seemed like we were going back to New England in even numbered years. We usually rented a car, and one day I went off to add another item to my life list.  Back in 1977, during the Dog Tired Tour, I had stopped at New Haven to ride cars at what was then the Branford Trolley Museum.  There’s another museum about 55 miles north of Branford north 14 miles north of Hartford.  Branford is fairly east to reach, using the bus service that replaced streetcars in 1949.  Connecticut Trolley Museum is another matter, like many railway museums, it’s in outer suburbia, with no nearby public transit.  Now I had a chance to visit both location, and after riding a trolley at CTM, I got on I-95 and headed south to the New Haven area.  On the way, I had the radio on, and the local station played “I Just Wanna Have Fun”.  What was amusing was hearing the line “until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard” which at this point was over 2900 miles away.

Your Funeral and My Trial by Sonny Boy Williamson (II), Going to the Chapel of Love by the Dixie Cups.  In Jan 1999, I was called for jury duty.  It was a capital murder case and it took most of the month.  Pat commented on how as the trial went on, I became more and more serious, and she was quite aware that  jurors are strictly forbidden to discuss the trial with anyone: spouse, significant other, friends, relatives, spiritual advisors, etc.  In recent years, jurors are also admonished not to do Google searches or any other on-line lookups pertaining to the case. After the trial was over, and I was back to work, a call came in on the unlisted outside phone line to the Telecomm Control Center.  It was my younger daughter, informing me that my ex-wife (her biological mother) had passed away.  Her sister, being closer, handled most of the details, and arranged for a cremation and burial at the church that she and her husband were and are active members. We had to clean out her apartment (in a non-descript two-story structure on the south side of Glendora, and wrap up her small business firm.  This kept the family busy for most of February and March.

But a much happier event occupied the latter part of the year.  Pat and I were married aboard Pacific Electric Red Car 418 at what was then Orange Empire Railway Museum.  Pat knew a judge who was a railfan, so he was delighted to officiate.  We obtained our marriage license at the LA County office in East LA— I think we were the only Anglos in the house (no worries, I’m an honorary Mexican).  For the big day, Nov. 6, 1999, family and friends gathered at the railway museum.  After the judge pronounced us husband and wife, he instructed everyone to remain seated.  The conductor rang the signal bell twice, the motorman sounded the air whistle and we were off to ride the museum main line to downtown Perris and back.

And here’s our 60 ton 560 horsepower wedding chapel:

Cool Blues Story by Evie Sands.  I’ve told the story about how Pat saw an item in the local live music column of the LA Times announcing an appearance by Evie Sands at the Borders in Pasadena.  One of the songs that made me a Sands fan for life was “Cool Blues Story” which she recorded with Lucinda Williams sitting in.  From her promo appearances to becoming part of Adam Marsland’s Chaos Band to releasing two all-new albums in the last five years, she has made the last 20 years of my life much more interesting than I could have imagined.

One of the parts she really aces is the guitar break on “Stuck in the Middle” which Adam’s Chaos Band played at my request on a couple of occasions.  I think this photo was taken right after I gave her a big thumbs up for her solo:

As the old time news reporters would say, “That’s 30” for this edition of the Old Curiosity Shop.  Tune in again for the next chapter of my long strange trip, or maybe we’ll borrow a line from Monty Python and do “Something Completely Different”.

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