Ramblin’ 4/20/17 (And the Summer of ’73)

Have mercy! It’s been far too long since we rambled! The truth of the matter is that I have been doing a whole lot of reading (James Lee Burke) and very little writing. I need to do both. We shall strive to do better.

It’s April 20th or 4/20. 4/20 is a huge day for many who partake of cannabis sativa. Here is an article that seeks to trace the origins of  this “high” holy day.

*Disclaimer*  The editorial staff at Ramblin’ in no way condones the use of mind altering substances. But if one chooses to do so… be cool. My apologies to Jeff Sessions.

And what has Apple Music conjured up for us today? Rock Hits: 1973.

1973. Whew! That was the year that was. It started with my second attempt to master an academic agenda at Auburn University, which also failed for a second time, and ended with the University of Alabama being upset by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Sugar Bowl on 12/31. Yes, the Tide was a 7-point-favorite and there were many of us in Wilcox County who lost a goodly sum of money on that contest. I won’t name names but you know who you are.

Sigh.

From mid-March through mid-September of ’73 I was a disc jockey at WMFC AM radio in the “Hub of Southwest Alabama”, Monroeville. Six days a week. Sunday through Friday. I went on the air at 6AM and completed my shift at “high” noon.

We opened with gospel music and a Church of Christ preacher and then news, weather, and sports. At 7:08 AM we went to pop music. Suffice it to say, the powers-that-be did not care for Led Zeppelin at 7:08. Fine. Next day, ‘Shout Bamalama’ by Wet Willie. They didn’t like that either.

They also didn’t like me smoking cigarettes in the control room, speeding away, while I drummed my fingers and waited for the preachers to conclude their devotionals. There was also a Southern Baptist minister at 9 AM. I don’t think he liked me. His daughter did, though.

I was summarily dismissed from my position in September. I won’t go into details. You’ll have to speak to me personally about that little “misunderstanding.”

Sigh.

To my knowledge there was no official “4/20” celebration in the “Hub City.” If you came to 328 Lazenby St. during those days I can assure you there was one. There would have been on 4/21, 6/22 and 7/23, as well.

Also there were cattle owners in Peterman and Tunnel Springs that were puzzled by a few “long hairs” so interested in their pastures in those times.

Again, details will have to be obtained form moi.

The Psychedelic Summer of ’73 she was.

*See disclaimer above*

Some of those songs from that eventful time? Money, Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, We’re an American Band, Kodachrome, Live and Let Die, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and Stuck in the Middle With You.

And so, late September found me running hard on my $35 per week unemployment check, falling for a young lady down there, and, then, back to Camden, AL and reuniting with my homies. As one, now prominent citizen, said as we were riding around and sipping Schlitz one October afternoon, “Welcome back to society.”

Auburn went 6-5 that fall. It was the year they went to an 11 game schedule. It was also the first year that freshman began to play, again, on the varsity. I attended the Chattanooga, Ole Miss, LSU, Houston, and Florida games. They went 3-2 with the losses coming to LSU and Florida.

My mother talked me into going back to school at Troy and I applied there and was accepted late that autumn.

It was there, in the dog days of the summer of ’75 (which was becoming far too similar to the summer of ’73) that I found myself, late on the night of August 1, prostrate at the altar of the Episcopal church in Troy begging God to forgive me and come into my life.

He did.

I was, five years later, ordained as a Southern Baptist minister. As one of my fraternity brothers told me several years after the ‘event’, “Bird, they still talk about it down in Troy.” I wonder what those long-suffering preachers who, patiently, tolerated my presence in the WMFC control room would think about that. God bless them.

Amazing Grace… truly.

May that same grace be yours today.

 

 

 

 

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May Day

 

“May Day is related to the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. May Day falls half a year from November 1 – another cross-quarter day which is also associated with various northern European paganisms and the year in the Northern Hemisphere – and it has traditionally been an occasion for popular and often raucous celebrations.”

This information on May Day is taken from Wikipedia. The entire article/definition is quite interesting. But I wonder if any of us give a second thought to May Day. I do.

It was May 1,1976 in Troy, AL. I had graduated back in March but would not formally matriculate until June. I was in town for a alumni party at the Lambda Chi Alpha house.

The LXA house was then back on North Three Notch Street. The brothers and sisters of Lambda Chi loved that old house and we retain fond memories of her to this day. I distinctly remember the azaleas that blossomed this time of the year. They were beautiful.

When we think of Spring we often think of a new day, a new season, a time of renewal and a time of resurrection. It was certainly that for me in 1976. On August 1 of the previous year, 1975, I had surrendered my heart to Jesus Christ and on this May Day I was “ready to roll.

May Day fell on a Saturday in 1976. On Friday night a group of us friends had gone to a James Taylor concert at the Troy gymnasium. I hand’t seen James Taylor before and I haven’t seen him since. I do remember he was quite good. His encore that night was Steamroller Blues and his take on it was a rousing one indeed.

We left the concert in good spirits and went back to Dill Hall for some fellowship. We laughed and talked and had a great time and jabbered about the concert. As the night grew late we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

I walked a dear friend of mine back to her room. I asked her if she were busy tomorrow night. There was that Alumni party at the fraternity house and I felt I needed a female companion to escort to the event. She said she had to go back to her hometown and gracefully bowed out.

I didn’t give it much more thought that night or the next day. I don’t remember the specifics of what I did during the daylight hours Saturday but I’m sure it was filled with visiting friends. I do love people and my heart was filled with joy during those days as it is even today.

Well the daylight gave way to dusk and I had not even attempted to secure a date for the evening. So I went back to Dill Hall to see another old friend, Jo Norman Barrett, Jo Ellen.

We exchanged hugs and greetings (I loved to greet everyone with a hug back then and still do but not as often I’m afraid). Then I asked Jo Ellen if she knew of anyone that I might ask to the party which was coming up within the hour at this point. We mulled over a few names and couldn’t come up with a suitable person. It seems nearly every candidate was either gone home or previously engaged in some manner.

Finally Jo asked, “What about Melodye Vergeson” ? I said, “Melodye with a ‘E’ right ? I had seen Melodye once in my life at Challenge Life which was a Sunday evening celebratory event for Christians. She was sitting a few rows in front of me with a friend of hers.

I remember the garnet Alpha Gamma Delta jersey she had on that night with her first name across the shoulders on the back. She was holding hands with her friend and he was listening to her as she talked while she wept. It turns out she did a good bit of crying back in those days. I would later give her a nickname of “Waterworks”. That was one of many monikers I would give her over the years. Her most prominent one today is “Paul”. But I digress.

Back to Dill Hall. I told Jo Ellen that I thought she must be dating the gentleman she was seated with at Challenge Life, that one time I had seen her. Jo assured me that they were not dating. I then okayed her to give Melodye (with an E) a call.

Well, lo and behold, Melodye was at her residence at Clements Hall, was not busy (which was odd since it seemed she was the president of every organization on campus at the time) and she agreed to go out with me. I could pick her up in 30 minutes ! She got ready fast and she continues to do so to this very day. She can get ready faster than I and it’s embarrassing that a girl can get prepared to go out more quickly than me ! Thanks “Waterworks” !!!

I pulled up to Clements Hall in the circular drive they had out front in those days. I left my yellow Pinto wagon parked by the sidewalk entry, got out, bounded up the stairs (yes I bounded in those days) and walked into the dorm. Melodye came down promptly, of course, and we walked to the car.

When we arrived at the Pinto with the faux wood paneling, I opened the door for her. She got in, I closed the door and ‘bounded’ around to my door and settled into the driver’s seat. My first words to her were a question. I asked her where she was from and, with her right forefinger fingernail on her bottom teeth, she sheepishly replied, “Thomaston”. I gleefully replied, “Thomaston? Well I’m from Camden”! (The two towns are only 30 minutes apart and located in southwest Alabama).

We now fast forward to May 17. It is a Monday night. That day was the first day of my summer job as Youth Director of the First Baptist Church of Geneva. I had driven from Geneva to Troy for the third date I would have with Melodye with an E. Our first two dates had gone remarkably well and I was very excited about this third date.

After I picked her up we headed for the golf course there at Troy. This is where we were to do a great deal of our “courting”. We spread a nicely patterned quilt on the ground. The grass was freshly cut and it was very warm, as it often is in Southeast Alabama in mid May.

Something palpable and electric was in the air that night as we took our places on the quilt. We continued the conversation we had earlier begun in the yellow Pinto wagon on our way there. Just small talk as I recall.

As the evening progressed the talk’s topic deepened somewhat in tenor. We lay there holding hands and looking at the stars as we conversed. Then we paused briefly and a short lull fell upon the proceedings. That is unusual for us.

I felt something coming over me. “What in the name of this world am I about to say”, I thought to myself. I cleared my throat and said, “Melodye, I love you”. Uh oh. Had I lost my mind ? I was truly nervous at this juncture. But she sweetly replied, “Bird, I love you too.”

Heavens above, praise the Lord and WAR EAGLE !!! Had I just heard what I just heard ? Now my heart had really begun to beat rapidly. Where on earth was this conversation headed ??? I felt something deep inside of me that urged me to ratchet this thing up to the next level.

I grasped her hand more tightly, gazed into her eyes and said, “That’s not all, I want you to marry me.” Oh dear Lord ! I have gone and done it, I thought. But then I heard the sweetest words I had ever heard in my life, Melodye with an E said, “I will.”

So ! That is my May Day story. As I type through my tears of joy and reflect upon what happened back in the Spring of 1976, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to God who put this union together and sealed it with His love.

A glorious May Day to everyone and may God bless you !!! Let’s have a “raucous celebration” !!!

To be continued…