Welcome to Skippin' Rocks

I originally Started a blog to run off at the mind on politics, hopefully witty and humorous ramblings, and just random thoughts. But, I'll make a new one for that and stick to short stories here. I hope you liked what you've read so far.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Music Faded and the Dance Ended --- Part 7 (From Enchantment to Despair)

Playing lead guitar in a three piece band was new to Pat. He really poured his heart and soul into it, though, and developed his own style that turned out to be great. I’ll never forget how he played ‘Steel Guitar Rag’ on that Gibson of ours; he kicked ass. His singing and entertaining of the crowd was exceptional as always. We played for the crowd and for each other. We loved our music, and the folks seemed to like us too. We had a number of new-found friends following us around from place to place. There was always a welcome table on the breaks.

Musicians came out of the woodwork, in those high times of the seventies, and everybody and their brother had a band, it seemed. Some of them were good and worked together for years; but a lot of them didn’t last but a few months. And, some of them never got out of the garage, at all.

The beer joints would only sign a one-month contract because that was what they thought they needed to do to keep the crowds. We would do a month or two, here and there, in the taverns, for fill-in, but we stuck mainly to the lodges and clubs. The atmosphere was more relaxed, and it was great to play more of the laid-back ‘Night Life” sound along with pure country and 50’s mixed in. And, you never had to worry about getting your throat cut, a beer glass thrown at you, or some drunk falling into your equipment.

We had built a pretty good name for ourselves and then one day Pat decided that we needed to dress the same --like the other popular bands were doing. But, it wasn’t going to be dress shirts, slacks, and vests; it was going to be blue jeans and flannel. It had to say: we’re Home Brew!

Pat stopped by some store and bought three red gingham style flannel shirts. They were the only three-of a-kind shirts they had that day and the only problem was; they were all XL and I wore a Medium.

I went up to Pat’s to see what he picked out; and when I put mine on, it was like throwing a blanket over me (way too big).

Pat said, “Don’t worry Chazz, I can fix that!”

He went to the back room and brought out a sewing machine. He had Sharlene go find the straight pins.

With the pins in his lips, he had me hold my arms up and straight out for fitting. I was a little uncomfortable with this. My hero? Sewing?

Pat pinned up the slack, then took my shirt, turned it inside-out, and went to about sewing it up. He trimmed the excess fabric, and threw at me and said, “Try this on.”

Damned it didn’t fit just right and look pretty good, too! (Jack of all Trades).

On stage, we were cool. Not only were we were ‘down-home,’ but, sort of professional looking at the same time.

We were playing the Corvallis Eagles lodge on a three month contract one summer when a middle aged couple came in that I didn’t recognize. Their names were Ken and Joan.

Ken was tall, thin, and sported a fine Stetson hat, Justin boots, and a leather vest. Joan had blonde hair, a thin frame, and a face that looked as sweet as her personality was.

They danced together beautifully, and to almost every song. They requested song after song and fortunately we knew most of them. They became our biggest fans. They showed up every weekend and I would notice if they were late coming in. we spent most of our breaks at their table. They were fun and open to us.

One night Ken and Joan came in with their three daughters and their only son-in-law. I had gone to school with all of them, but never ran in their circles and never really knew them. I do remember having a bit of a crush on the youngest daughter, Jane (for some reason she reminded me of Mickey).

We had a great time on the first break. We were introduced to everybody and carried on the conversation of the moment. The break went by way too fast.

We started the next set and Ken danced with all of his daughters. When he and Jane were dancing past the front of the stage, Jane would give me a connecting look with her eyes and flashed me a warm smile. I was stunned! Pat was the one that always got this kind of attention.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of her the whole set.

Just as we were playing the last note of the last song of the set, Jane picked up her purse and headed for the door. OH NO! I couldn’t get that bass off my shoulder any faster.

I hustled my way through the crowd as fast as I could, and just as Jane was reaching for the door, I asked, “you’re not leaving yet, --are you?

She turned to me and smiled. “I thought we could dance to the jukebox one time before you go,” I said, with confidence I never knew I had.

I plugged the jukebox and played ‘Welcome to My World’. We danced the one dance and then she left.

I was pleasantly surprised when she showed up with her mom and dad the very next weekend.

She came almost every weekend and I finally got up the courage to ask her out. She accepted, and we went for dinner and a movie on our first date.

I don’t remember where we ate that night, but I do remember the movie. It was a movie that you should never choose for a first date. It was called ‘The Groove Tube.’ I was really embarrassed until Jane started laughing and enjoying the show. She thought it was a silly idea for our first date.

As the weeks went by, Jane and I drew closer and closer together. We would ride together to the clubs where I played every weekend, and when we left at 2:00AM, we would park on an old logging road near her folks place and have our ‘alone time’ until 5:00 am.

On my way home one night I fell asleep at the wheel. I was dreaming of driving down the straight stretch of road near my place when something told me: this isn’t right! I woke up to find myself heading toward a cliff. I swerved to the right and just barely kept from going off the road and crashing onto the rocks below. It would have been certain death, had I not awakened. I got home and the adrenalin kept me awake until sunrise.

Jane and I spent several nights together on that logging road. It was there where we had a very strange paranormal experience (a whole different story). It was also where I asked her to marry me. She said, “Yes.”

Of course I had to ask her father for her hand and Kenny accepted me into the family. We set the date and started planning our wedding.

One day Pat and I were heading to the Kings Valley store for something. We had just driven past the old Fort Tavern (where we first played for money together) when I turned and told him about the engagement and then asked him if he’d be my ‘best man.’ There was a very unsettling long pause, and then with the most sincere tone I’ve ever heard coming from Pat, he said, “Charley, I would be honored to be your best man.”

Although Pat and I didn’t spend as much time together, we remained the best of friends.

I built a shop on my parents place and Pat helped me out with the initial push out and the pouring of the slab. He helped me lift the walls, and as far as the rest of it goes; I did much of it on my own. I was getting to know my way around a tape measure, Skill saw and a hammer.

The front door on the manufactured home that replaced the old house that burnt down was falling apart and my mom and dad asked me to put a new one in. It was past mid December and very cold; it needed done badly. They acquired the door and Jane and I went out there for me to work on it.

It was just getting dark and I was nearly finished with the project, when the phone rang. It was Pat. He was on his way home from a Christmas party at work and stopped at the Elk Horn gas station to fill up. He called me up out of the blue and asked how the door project was going. We talked about it and a few other things and when he was ready to go, he said, “I’ll pick you up to tomorrow night.”

Pat and I hadn’t rode to work together in months so that sounded a bit strange. There was alcohol at his party so he could have been a little drunk.

I finished the door and picked up my tools. I needed to get Jane home so we headed for Philomath.

It was a dark, cold, and rainy night. When we topped Wren hill and started down the other side, we came to a near stop because the traffic was backed up for almost a mile. I knew there had to be a car wreck down there. We inched our way along then finally went past the crash site.

I looked over at the mangled car and knew it had to be Sharlene’s car. Nobody else had an orange Volkswagon fastback. All I could think of for the next six miles was: Oh my God! Sharlene and the kids! Oh no! Sharlene and the kids!

We got to Ken and Joan’s house and I bee-lined for the phone. There was no answer up at Pat’s so I called Ted’s place. Sharlene answered the phone and I told her what I’d seen. She called me back confirming Pat was in an accident and she wanted me to meet her at the hospital.

Jane and I headed for the emergency room at Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis. We were walking down the hall when I saw Sharlene and her Sister Charlotte walking toward us. When we met up with them, I asked, “How’s Pat?”

Charlotte looked up and said, --“He’s dead.”

I fell against the wall and started to collapse. Jane literally held me up. Pat was a lot of things to a lot of people and to me; he was a father, brother, and best friend all rolled into one, and then some. We lost him in a blink of an eye.

Pat left behind his wife Sharlene, his daughter Judith 5, and his son Travis 2.

I joined the family at the memorial service in the funeral home, and at the graveyard; Beau and I were the front two pall bearers. I was on the left and Beau was on the right. The only thing heavier than the coffin was my heart. My bloodshot eyes were fixed on the ground before my feet as we carried Pat’s flag-draped coffin past the honor guard and to his grave.

When the bugler played Taps and the honor guard fired the 21 gun salute, there was not a dry eye around, especially mine.

I went home, wondered around in the backyard for a while, and then ended up down by the river. I sat down on the root wad of an old leaning alder tree, dropped my head into my hands and cried for hours.

Patric Hanyan Kasner
Born August 5, 1946 -- Died December 22, 1977


aA said...

WOW. just WOW.

What a deep, powerful story. Captured simply and conversationally, rendered with respect and sadness.

What an important slice of your life, thanks for sharing with us

Diane said...

Oh Charlie Not a dry eye at all

Diane said...

I miss Pat and the family I have a feeling I should call Sharlene. Love you Always