J. Geils

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I stood outside Wetherby Gymnasium feeling all grown up.   I could smell the excitement, the freedom, an occassional whiff of Smashburgers from the Dairy Cheer across the street and dirty denim.  There was also a strange smell, like burning rope, but not any kind of rope I had smelled burning before.  There was also the smell of what I remember Crosley Field smelling like when someone spilled a beer.

I was fourteen and it was the spring of 1972.  I was waiting  to see Rare Earth in concert.  This was to be my first true rock concert.  I rode to Morehead with a friend who was a junior in high school and was way too cool to be spending time with me, a lowly freshman. We came to the campus of Morehead State University to meet my brother.  He was a freshman at MSU and was living the dream, eating out three times a day, letting his hair grow out, going to rock concerts, and hanging out with college girls.

On this particular night, I was like my brother…living the dream or whatever you would call a 5 foot, 120 pound, near-sighted bantam standing amid a massive horde of college students.  Oh, and I did not have a ticket.  My brother, in his new  college wisdom, told me I would not need one.  He said when the doors open, the crowd moves so fast through the openings, the ticket takers don’t even try.

I felt the mass moving.  I looked up and all I saw was afros and beards and pony tails moving slowly against a cloudy sky.  Then a strange feeling came over me…I was floating.  I looked down and saw my feet were not attached to the earth anymore.  I was being carried by this throng toward the doors and all I could think about was staying upright.  This was my first experience with festival seating for rock concerts.

My feet never hit the ground until we were past the doors and inside.  At this point, it looked like a sprint for people with  no sense of direction.  We went everywhere.  My little group settled in the seats on the side, awaiting one of the hottest rock bands of the day.

There was rain in the forecast, but I don’t think cataclysmic gulley-washer was ever mentioned…for it came one…a big one.  Water filled the hallways of Wetherby Gymnasium so fast, I thought I was seeing animals coming in two by two.  But it was just the football team.

Some of the more chemically engineered students were body surfing out in the halls and concession areas.

There was some concern as to whether the band would go on due to all the water in the building.  Evidently the electrical engineering department was among those crossing over to chemical engineering that night  because there was going to be rock and roll as soon as the water receded enough to find the outlets.

All the water in the building activated my little bladder, so I had to go find the restroom before the band took the stage.  As I pushed through the men’s room door and headed past the urinals to the stall ( my bladder was not only small but also shy), I could see in my periphery there were other folks in the restroom.  I recognized the faces of Rare Earth from their album covers.  Their dressing room must have flooded because they were in the men’s room with all of their stuff.   And now Rare Earth was listening to me pee.

As I washed my hands, I kept waiting for some big security hoss to pick me up and gently urge me to through the door.   It never happened.  And as I took my time soaking up the moment and gazing in the mirror of the newly inhabited Rare Earth dressing room, I could see the images of the band watching this little imp at the sink who dared to interrupt their pre-show meditations.  Alas, no one said a word to me except the mass of black hair squatting against the wall.  As I made my way out, I recognized the conga player, Edward “Guz” Guzman and we made eye contact.  He said to me, and I’ll never forget, those important words,  “What’s happenin’ man?”  I surmised he did not want an answer.

I regaled my friend and brother with my latest escapade when I returned to my seat.  Rare Earth came on stage shortly and did not disappoint the water-logged throng.  Miraculously, no one was electrocuted…not by electricity anyway.

I took this photo of another concert I attended at Morehead State.  This time as a photographer for the university when I was a student.  The J. Geils Band came to Morehead and this shot of J. Geils is one of the better ones I snapped that night.  It was also lead singer Peter Wolf’s birthday and he brought out a bottle of champagne and poured into the waiting cups of the crowd near the stage.

There was a different type of mass movement that night.   The campus police moved to the stage but not because they were fans of the band.   At the time Morehead was a dry town and they did not appreciate the way Mr. Wolfe was passing out birthday wishes.

I think the electrical engineers were called into duty that night, because someone pulled the plug quickly.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

 

 

 

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Remembering Park Drive-In

image_1-1Today I am feeling a little nostalgic…

I don’t know if looking at this photo made me nostalgic or nostalgia came  so I looked at this picture.   Either way today I am thinking about the past.

I took this photo of the Park Drive-In.   It  seems like only a few years ago.   It sat outside of Maysville, KY on a hilltop on Route 11 before descending into town.   I would pass by this old drive-in on my weekly commutes between Highland Heights and West Liberty.   It seems like only a few years ago but in reality it was taken about twenty years ago.   I liked the Peter Bogdonavich-Last Picture Show kind of effect it had when I developed it.   (Yes it was actually shot on Tri-X film and developed and printed in my dark room, before being reborn into the digital world).

I never saw a movie here but every time I drove by and saw the remains, I would think about all of the teenagers and adults that enjoyed an evening at the drive-in and how it was another part of my generation’s past that was slowly slipping away.  And I would always think about going to our drive-in  outside of West Liberty.

At one time West Liberty actually had two drive-in theaters.   We had the West Liberty Drive-In and the Morgan Drive-In.   The funny thing is, there is not much flat land in our area that wasn’t used for farming, so these drive-ins were located in bottom land of the Licking River.   More times than not, my movie experience included watching the last half of the movie through a thick fog.   If you factor in trying to hear through bad window speakers, my movie experience is not too different now.

My dad always told me that listening to that loud Gary Puckett music would make me go deaf.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Morgan County Office Building

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This building is very familiar to most folks who grew up in Morgan County, Kentucky and have lived there anytime from the 1930’s til now.

Currently this building houses offices of the Morgan County government. Many of us Morgan Countians know this building has the “old” Morgan County High School. This school building was opened in 1937. It was built as part of the Works Progress Administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s tenure in the White House. His wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, actually came to West Liberty to dedicate the new school.

This school building stopped being used as a high school in 1974, my junior year. We moved to the “new” high school in August of 1974. I was part of the first graduating class of the “new” high school. Now those of you who are good at cipherin’ numbers should be able to calculate that the “new” high school has now been in use longer than the “old” high school. I think it’s time some of us should probably drop the “new” in our description of the current high school.

As was usually the case in years past in small towns in Kentucky and probably America, the school buildings that were built in this era of history housed more than the high school grades of the school system. This was the case at Morgan County.

I started in this building in the fifth grade. It was close enough that I could walk to school with my brother and some friends. This daily ritual changed over the years. My brother, who was four years older, graduated when I entered high school and for some reason my friends wanted to get to school on time so they stopped waiting on me. Evidently my punctuality gene stopped working at about fifteen years of age. I think I was late every day of high school. My leisurely walks to school turned into all-out sprints.

I “stayed back” in the eighth grade with two of my friends. Now for those of you who do not live in eastern Kentucky, this was a fairly common occurrence among boys who thought they had prominent athletic careers ahead of them. Staying back or repeating an early grade would give the young athlete another year to mature and thus be able to dominate those of the proper-aged-in-the-appropriate-grade athlete. It seems this premise only works if the said repeatee would actually grow to be larger than those he was supposed to dominate. In my case that, unfortunately, was not the case.

When I told my wife, who is a product of the parochial schools, that I “stayed back”, she thought a repeat of the eighth grade meant something else entirely so she started speaking slower to me. I knew I had to tell her why I added another year to my education experience so she would not question my intellectual capabilities. However, I was in a quandary. If I told her that I stayed back for an enhanced athletic superiority, she would think it foolish since I obviously had not had much of a career. So I told her the other reason, “that it was to make me more mature as a person.”

“Well”, she replied, “that did not work either.”

If you like this photo, you can see more of my photos here.

Basketball Goal Over Barn Door

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10…9…8…We were counting down to a new decade on New Year’s Eve in 1969. I was 13 years old and spending the night with my best friend.

As we watched the countdown on TV, I was cradling a basketball in high anticipation for the perfect execution of this brilliant display of athletic prowess that would occur in a few seconds.

7…6…5…My friend was oblivious as to what was about to unfold. Now the basketball started to feel as big and heavy as the lump in my throat. “I have to pull this off. I will only have one chance”, I thought to myself as I went over the plan again in my mind.

4…3…2…Arising nonchalantly with a fake yawn, I did not wish to arouse the suspicion of my friend who I knew would try to steal my plan and execute it himself. A quick glance over in his direction assured me that he was as clueless as Custer. He was laying there in a sloth-like state after ingesting a concoction of chips and Twinkies and HO-HO’s and Oreos and washing it down with Coca-Colas and chocolate milk. He had enough sugar in him to ferment if I could sprinkle a little yeast on him.

You see in my mind, I was going to be a basketball superstar. I would start my organized basketball career this year and I envisioned record-setting statistics as a point guard-extraordinaire throughout my junior high and high school days at Morgan County. Surely this 4 foot 11 inch, 95 pound body would grow to NBA proportions.

Tonight would be the ceremonial and symbolic beginning of that career…if I could pull this off.

As I made a subtle move toward the front door, I peered one more time at my friend to gauge his level of awareness. Much to my surprise, he had the look my dog gets when a pork chop bone materializes in
front of her. He was rising to his feet as I bolted.

1…0…Happy New Year 1970!!!!

I was in a full sprint toward the front door. “What tipped him?,” I wondered.

The Twinkies must have kicked in because he caught me as I grabbed the door knob. We elbowed and muscled our way through the door as two pre-adolescent sumos who were not big enough or strong enough to move each other off their chosen path. We both were small enough to fit through the door at the same time, so there was no use in trying to push one another out of the way.

He was putting up a fight, but I still had the basketball in my possession. As we hit the front stoop and then the sidewalk, my boosters kicked in and my PF Flyers were barely touching the ground as I was able to separate from my defender, giving me a clear path to the basketball goal in the drive-way. It was then I put down my first dribble (because it had to be a basketball move to count).

With my friend, who was now my adversary, a step behind, I dribbled up to the goal and with all of the strength in my spindly legs pushing me upward to my destiny, I laid in the perfect lay-up. My friend hammered me after the release and we both crashed onto the frozen, now-January turf. I did it! I just made the first basket in the eastern time zone of the decade of the 70’s…and also drew the first foul.

My basketball career was not too stellar. My career scoring average probably begins with a “point”, as in .7 per game. I am still waiting on that NBA body to materialize. Though it can’t be validated that I actually made the first basket of the seventies, which turned out to be the pinnacle of my basketball career, no one has yet to dispute the fact.

I took this photo of an old basketball goal in Maytown, KY in western Morgan County. Basketball goals over barn doors were very common when I was growing up. Unfortunately, they are fewer in number now.

I want to wish everyone a very happy and healthy and prosperous New Year in 2013.

If you like this photo, you can see more here.

Taking Liberty Road Curve

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I saw the speedometer needle shimmy past the 100 mile per hour indicator. The landscape was blurring past like some angry impressionistic painting. I was so excited.

I was about eight or nine years old and was riding in a tan Pontiac GTO going up “new” Index Hill. That was not very difficult for the muscle cars of the sixties. Many of these cars were gone by the time I was old enough to drive and I remembered them fondly as they circled and peeled out of the Freezer Fresh drive-in. I circled in a 1965 two-toned (aqua/bondo) Corvair. I could not peel out.

This was the first time I had ever gone over 100 miles per hour in a car.

When the driver let my brother and me out of the car at our house, I told the driver in pre-adolescent lingo how impressed I was with his fine automobile and his daring driving skills. I also told him what every teenager would love to hear after cradling someone’s precious children in a land rocket speeding merrily along the road, “I’m going to tell my mother about this ride.”

Now the driver was not to keen about this certain revelation and informed me that my mom would probably not be too interested in the details of this little afternoon drive. He must have made an impression on me because, to this day, I have never told her.

I took this picture one late summer evening on Liberty Road, outside of West Liberty, KY. I wanted to get a sunset photo as it set over a field of wild flowers. The sky was not cooperating so I sat there for a few minutes and watched a few cars taking this curve.

I got my tripod out and climbed on top of my Ford Escape. I always like slow timed exposure photos and started photographing cars as they took this curve. I like the above shot. It shows the stream of the headlights along with the subtle reflection on the guard rails and road. I also got a little of the color of the sky.

As I look at this photo, I think of all those teen-age drivers that had the thrill of driving those muscle cars and how fast they took this curve. I wonder if they ever told their moms.

If you like this photograph, you can see more here.

Wrigley Falls

Wrigley Falls sets in a picturesque little alcove off the side of the road, outside of the small hamlet by the same name.  Wrigley is located in  northern Morgan County.   And yes it is named after William Wrigley,  the son of the business mogul who gave us Spearmint gum and Wrigley Field in Chicago .   Mr. Wrigley was also a president of the Morehead & Northfork Railway that went through this small town  in the early 1900’s.

I have a strange “six degrees of separation” with the Wrigley family.  You see, my mother was born in Wrigley and lived there until she was a young girl and I also have seen two baseball games in Wrigley Field.

Some of my earliest memories of Wrigley involved my grandfather taking me fishing at Lost Point Lake.  I was only four or five years old at the time.   I also remember getting soundly beaten in a junior high basketball game in a small, crowded, steamy gymnasium that also served as a school cafeteria.  We were the “big, bad town team”.   It was my first encounter with a hostile crowd, not in the mean sense, just not cheering for us  so loudly.

I won’t say anything else about  that game because I have not come to grips with that defeat some forty years later.  It’s probably  one of the causes of some of my self-doubt issues or maybe my maturity level hasn’t progressed beyond the eighth grade.  The latter is the more likely case according to my wife.

I processed this picture in black and white because of the contrast of the falls that was shot at such a slow shutter speed.  It looks like a spotlight on a small stage.

If you are driving on KY Route 7, turn west on Route 711 and drive a couple of miles.  The falls will be on your left.  You can’t miss it…just like the Wrigley Wildcats couldn’t miss that fateful night many years ago in that small gymnasium.  Did I mention the gym was small?

If you like this picture, you can see more here.

Natural Bridge in Autumn

Natural Bridge State Park has always been a special place for me.  By the throngs of people walking the trails on this beautiful late autumn day, it looks like it is special for a lot of other folks, too.

Natural Bridge State Park is in Slade, KY, amidst the Red River Gorge in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Powell County.  In the fall of the year it is almost awe-inspiring sitting on the bridge and looking out over the cliffs rising up from the fiery colored forest.

My wife and I had to sit on the bridge because we were exhausted from the half mile hike up the trail and I mean UP the trail.   The trail seemed so much steeper since the last time I climbed up to the bridge ten years ago.   The trail climbs up through a forest of pine, spruce, rhododendrons, and some hardwood trees.   No matter how high you climb, you seem to have a sub-species view from the forest floor.  I have been to this beautiful park all of my life and in each of the seasons.  It never gets old for me.

I remember going up to the bridge as a small boy with my family.  I remember one summer when my mom played the organ every Saturday night in the lodge dining room.  My friends’ dad was the park manager at that time and we spent every Saturday running the trails.  It was a great summer for a twelve or thirteen year old boy.

Later when my wife had all  the mothering and wife-ing she could take for the time being and needed a break, she would gently urge the children and me to seek refuge elsewhere for the day,  I would take the kids on the forty-five minute drive to Natural Bridge.  They used up much of their stored energy hiking the trails to the bridge and afterward we would eat in the lodge dining room.

I took this shot from across the chasm on Battleship Rock.  It was probably the last warm Sunday afternoon of fall.  I was thinking of all the changes that I have been through in my life as I sat there with my wife looking back across the gorge at the bridge, and I noticed the bridge hasn’t aged a bit.

If you like this photo, there are more here.