Willie and the poor boys.

jkmn304 (19)Willie Nelson, Louisville, Davenport and the Dallas Cheerleaders.

We just missed working with the Carolina Crew in Milwaukee. We got there finally, after working only one day, they were ready to leave. From Milwaukee we went south to Davenport, Iowa. My brother Gary had gone back to working with Arnie Fields and his crew back in Phoenix for a couple of weeks. It was just me, Tex, Debbie and a bunch of gimps from Macon, Georgia, in Davenport, Iowa. These guys were so green that they hadn’t ever dropped a stick of “iron” on their own. The gimp crew worked for Wayne Holland, who had helped to train me in Orlando. Wayne wanted us to work with him to help train his men. Since I owed Carolina so much money for the damage that Tex had done to the motels rooms in Atlanta, I felt obligated to help.

The gimps had brought along some gals they met on the way, One was Sophie, a full blooded Sioux, with a foul mouth. They were staying at an eight dollar a night place. I was getting down on my money; I think I might have I stayed there one night. I guess I preferred the “Days Inn” because I required a little more comfort. I needed to get out and hustle to make up all the money we’d been blowing, so I could afford my lifestyle.

One day, we are out pitching by the river, near the paddle boat landing. A black stretch limo appears from out of no where. Out jumps Jimmy Carter, campaigning, shaking hands and waving to the crowd. Then his daughter Amy pops out, Tex acted like a crazy man, he threw an apple core he was gnawing on, at her (missed) and said “Amy, get your ugly ass back in that car”. Secret Service got all up in our face then. Amy must have said something to them, because they let us go and they boarded an old style paddle wheel steamboat so that they could kick the stump on down the downriver.

I worked all week, made some money back and was ready to get away from Iowa for a while. It was getting on towards winter and the area was near desolate to a Florida boy, the trees were leafless, the grass was dead and brown and the fields were barren. I had heard about our family reunion on my Dad’s side, in Bloomington, Indiana. I figured that we might enjoy ourselves, even if just for the weekend, so off we went, me and Tex in the Trans Am east bound and down. We left Debbie back at the motel to fleece Wayne’s gimps out of their money while we were gone. Poor guys, they were “babes in the woods” in her hands.

I did a four wheel power slide into the parking lot to a bunch of picnickers and some one hollered out, “Hey, it’s Roscoe’s boys”. We had stopped to buy a trunk full of beer and ice, when we popped open the trunk, like a ghost, my brother Gary came walking out of nowhere. He had taken another break from Arnie to come to the family reunion.


That’s the way it was for years, Gary and I would join up, without making plans, work together for a while, when we started getting on each other’s nerves, we’d split up again. Arnie was a good leader and good for Gary. Me, I was a good motivator; I wanted to make money and do as I damn well pleased. Arnie made me welcome; we would read the bible and pray together always, we were brothers in arms. I have to admit, my life was less confusing when I was around Arnie. Tex eventually went to work for Arnie and stayed with him for years; it was a relief to me, when he did.


Gary had flown to Bloomington, he rode back with us when we started to head back to Davenport from Indiana, traveling down Interstate 40. We could see the Louisville State Fair from the highway. Tired of riding in the car all afternoon, we stopped to check it out and were surprised when we found out that Willie Nelson was putting on a live show in the rodeo arena. The last feature of the rodeo before Willie’s Band could start, was the bare back riding. We were just three of the thousand’s of people lined up against the rodeo fence hollering for Willie to come on stage. The last bronc made things hard, because he didn’t want to be caught after his “ride.” The wranglers tried to pen him up but the rip snorting bronco was like “Houdini. He would escape every time it looked like they had him penned up. Willie hollered out over the PA system “Can any body catch that damn horse?”

At the time, Tex and I were standing up against the rodeo fence, Tex reached down and grabbed a candy apple from a little boy’s mouth, stood up on the second fence rail and leaned over. I had him by the back of his belt to keep him from falling over. He held that apple out to that horse and hollered “Hup,” the horse turned to look, distracted he came trotting over wanting to eat that apple. The wranglers came up and easily roped the horse. Then, Tex gave the boy back his candy apple.

The crowd erupted, everyone applauded, Willie hollered into the microphone “Hey, Y’all give these boys a hand, thanks fellas,” then unscripted, he invited us to come on up to the stage, he said “Y’all come on up here boys.” We didn’t need any prodding, eagerly we got up on stage and he introduced us to the crowd, then he asked us to stick around. We got to stand on the stage during his performance; televised, we were “live” from Louisville.” Tex had been a stagehand for “Lynyrd Skynyrd,” he was right at home and sat on an amp behind the band, just like back in the old days.

After the show, Willie thanked us again; he extended an invitation to us to join him and some of his crew in his dressing room, a jockey/horse trailer combo. We sat around chatting and drinking Jack Black with cans of Seven Up that we all used for chaser. Can you believe it, we were “Outlaws” by nature and here we were, fixing to party with one of the most famous “Outlaws” ever, Willie Nelson. I couldn’t get over just how small he was in person. Well, he did cast a big shadow. We smoked a joint that Tex had rolled up in pink paper, he said it was because it was “senso” and he wanted everyone to know it was something special. Willie told us an old joke, “Hey this is good stuff, I can remember when you could get a dime for a dime.” Tex told him, “Not this stuff you can’t, I get it flown in frozen from Seattle, via Fed-Ex.”


We passed the bottle around a couple of times, all of us high, laughing and joking. Willie wanted to know what could he do to thank us and Tex said “better ask Mike, he’s the boss”. Surprised? Oh yeah I was, he caught me unawares,
Tex had put me on the spot, just thinking off the top of my head, I said, “Well, I always wanted a Dallas cheerleader,” just kidding you know, what was I suppose to say? How about a yoyo? I will say this, Old Willie was game.

Willie had his limo brought up, about 6 or 8 of us loaded up, after stocking the bar in the Limo at the drive through liquor store; we went to Clarksville, Indiana across the Ohio River from Louisville. The limo pulled up in front of a topless bar, with a sign that says, “Girls, Girls, Girls. Debbie does Dallas, Dallas Cheerleaders tonight only.” We go in and because of Willie’s status; we got a table put right in front of the stage. We ordered a few rounds of drinks, then we broke a couple of hundred dollar bills, our money and change laying on the table, the lights started flashing off and on, then here come the dancing girls.

When it was time for the girls with the cheerleader outfits to dance, we watched them parade around and then do their cheerleading routine then Willie grabbed a $100 dollar bill off of the table, put one foot on the chair and one foot on top of the stage. With one arm held behind his head and the other arm extending forward with the hundred dollar bill pointed towards the nearest blonde, like Tex did with that horse and the candy apple, he hollered “Hup.”

The next day, we’re driving west bound, now we got two of the dancers with us, why? I don’t know, I had broken up with my girlfriend about 4 months before, Debbie was back in Davenport if I needed one, that’s where were headed, back to Davenport. The crew had changed motels. Sophie had been put in jail for not paying her room rent. Since Debbie started hustling the gimps, the guys were not paying Sophie any attention. I guess she was broke. I sold a load of tools to “cash up” and I was ready to travel. I had enough of Davenport, it sure ain’t no place to be for the likes of me.

I had two trucks that we loaded down with tools and the Trans Am. Mandy and Blondie were the two dancers that had joined up with us. They were riding in the truck with me and Tex, Debbie was riding with Gary. I remember thinking it was a good thing that it was good that Gary was there to drive my car. Tex and I rented a “tow bar” from “U-Haul,” pulled the Chevy truck on a tow bar behind the big Ford Super Cab.


On the way out of town, we stopped at the red light at the foot of the bridge leaving town. I glanced into the review mirror, right behind me I could see that one of the local cops had pulled my brother Gary out of the car and had him spread eagle on the hood of the car with a gun to his head. I jumped out of the truck, what do you expect, Heck, that was my brother, I grabbed a steel hoist handle and threatened the cop. I told him to back off, that we would comply with what ever he wanted, just put that gun down. We agreed to follow him back to the police station. When we got there, we were all placed under arrest.

Gary and Tex had gone to pick up the two dancers Blondie and Mandy, that we had stashed at the eight dollar a night motel; they were still wearing their Dallas cheerleader outfits. As a joke, Gary decided to stab the waterbed with his knife but that wasn’t good enough for Tex. Trying to be funny, he stuck two of his fingers in the hole and pulled it apart, it was an upstairs room so it didn’t take long for the management to find out.

The cops found a joint rolled in pink paper that Tex had hid in his jeans, when they shook us down. The State Attorney was adding up the damages and the charges and the fines, for all of us, plus trying to stick us with the foul mouthed Indian girl Sophie. She was in the back, cussing and fussing, just hollering for us to get her out of there. It made for a lot of confusion. The cops looked at us and said if she’s with you, you guys have got to get her out of here, please.

I asked “How much is my bond, I haven’t done anything?” I got to admit it did look funny, we had 3 women with us, plus one back in a cell hollering at us. “Get me out of here!” You could take one look at the girls and know what they were about. Me, I’m trying to convince them that I’m just a normal hard working guy that had over 6,000 dollars on him. The cops said my bond was $50.00 for public nuisance, so I paid it. I went over to the east Indian motel owner who was getting ready to press charges against us and said, “Hey, your rooms rent for eight dollars a night, you’ll probably lose a few nights rent, how about fifty bucks for that? You can get that waterbed fixed for less than twenty bucks, here’s fifty more.” Then I told him, “carpet might cost another two hundred and here’s another hundred for your trouble ….that’s only if you don’t press charges against us.”


The state attorney pleaded with him not to do it. He said “Can’t you see, he’s playing “Lets Make a Deal” with you. He’s trying to play you for a fool. You got to stand up and show him you can’t be bought.” You could see the calculator in the motel owner’s mind working, when he was staring at the money on the table. In the blink of an eye, the man scooped up the cash and said “I will take the money, I will not be pressing charges.”

I turned to the State Attorney and said,” I want my fifty bucks back and the pink joint, because you don’t have probable cause”. He hated it and didn’t want to do it, but he didn’t have any one to press charges. He said that he would only give us back the joint, if we promised to bond Sophie out too. He shook his head slowly from side to side in disbelief and asked me “How soon can you leave town?”

I heard Sophie screaming and I asked how much her bond was, they said 105 dollars plus sixteen more for her room rent. I said to them, “I just paid the rent, She’s not with us, keep my fifty here’s fifty-five more, thirty minutes after we leave you let her go, and we get to keep the pink joint. The cops said “Oh no, you got to take her with you”. I refused to take her with us. I told them “No, y’all can just keep her, give me back my money.” They changed their mind and let her out 30 minutes after we left. We smoked that pink joint on the way to Kansas City.

The Fugitive out of Nahunta


Working Atlanta back in ’79, I was on top of the world.  I had just started my own sales crew.  I talked the powers that be at Carolina Tool into sending me a tractor trailer load of equipment on consignment.  Before the equipment got there though, my crew of gimps got homesick.  Seems like they were missing their girlfriends.  Without warning they quit on me.

I intended to run an ad in the paper and hire a new crew.  My younger brother Gary was a real life saver.  He took a break from working with Arnie Fields in Phoenix.  The plan was, Gary was going to help me train my new crew then go back to Phoenix to work with Arnie.

I needed some cash in my pocket before I ran the hiring program.  Gary and I tested the water in our new territory, each of us going in different directions every morning, seeking fame and fortune.

Atlanta was good to us.  I sold several loads of equipment and it wasn’t long before I was cashed up.  I wasn’t ready yet to rest on my laurels yet, but not far from it.  We were staying in the Days in by the airport, Hart’s Field on I-75.  Carolina Tool had a corporate account with the Days Inn.  As long as I sold their equipment, I didn’t have to pay rent, which was a real blessing.  Gary and I worked Atlanta all week, then would catch a $49.00 flight back to home to Jacksonville for the weekend.  We would do a little bit of partying, then fly back to “Hotlanta” to make some more jack.

Thinking back now, it was a terrific lifestyle.  The hardest thing I had to face everyday was the morning traffic on I-420, the bypass around Atlanta.  It wasn’t as tough as the traffic in Houston on I-620 but still, it was bad enough.  Gary and I would eat breakfast at 7 a.m. sharp, go back to our motel room, say our daily prayer. Then we loaded our trucks with a fresh load of equipment for the day and would sashay down the road looking for what we called a “mullet” to buy our load.  Afterwards, we hit the bank to “hammer our check,” then it was a rush back to the motel to rest and see which one of us got back first.

One morning, I was the first one back to the room.  I was “home” by eleven a.m.  Gary arrived soon afterwards.  He showed up with an old school chum, Tommy Jones, AKA “Tex.”  Tommy’s sister Jean was in my homeroom class back in high school for 3 years.  She sat next to me in typing class one year.  I never was much of a typist.  I just enrolled in typing class to be near a bunch cute girls.  I was the only guy.  Jean would type my name on her paper during speed trials and turn it in as mine, just so that I could pass the class.  Tommy told me that Jean later went to work for the State’s Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville and later the FBI.



Tex was an ex-grip for some guys that we grew up with that had their own band.  You may have heard of them, “Lynyrd Skynyrd.”  But that was then.  Now he was working for his grandpa out of Nahunta, Georgia at the Farmer’s Market in Atlanta.  He was hustling a truckload of watermelons, sleeping in the truck, there at the Farmer’s Market.  He was scratching a broke ass. “Diamond Jubilees” were going for $2.50 apiece and the profit margin was slim, very slim.

Gary ran into Tex, right in the middle of a sales pitch.  When Gary flashed a roll of hundred dollar bills.  What we called “Bat-hides.”  Tex’s eyes swoll up like boiled eggs and said, “Wait just a minute, I’m loading up.”  He grabbed his trunk off the back of  grandpa’s flatbed and tossed it into the back of Gary’s pickup.  He just left his grandpa holding the bag, so to speak.jkmn304 (12)

This was Gary’s opportunity to head back to Phoenix.  Just as soon as he could train Tex and break him into the business, he could go back to work for Arnie and see his girlfriend too.  One night we were out clubbing.  Gary pulled out his harmonica while the band was on break and got on stage.  That’s how Gary met Buddy Allen (Buck Owen’s son), at the Twilight Lounge.  They became friends and flew back to Phoenix together that night.  I didn’t want to see Gary leave; he was good company and excellent help.  Together, it was us against the world.  My responsibilities were in Atlanta at the moment and I didn’t have any girlfriends to worry about.  I wasn’t all that familiar with Tex, but knew his sister well or at least I thought I did. I thought that was good enough.

My daily goal was to maintain a wad of $10,000.00 cash, at all times.  I never quite got there.  Oh I hit $8,000.00 or a little more a time or two, but for various reasons it would dwindle down to around $6,500.00, which was my norm.  There was a problem working with Tex though.  If he knew that I had a wad of money in my pocket, he would figure out a way to help me spend it.

We worked every day, Monday through Friday.  As lovable a guy as Tex was, he stretched it to the limit often enough.  On Fridays, say I made a sale about 1 p.m,  Tex would want to drive to the South Carolina coast to see this new band he’d heard about that later became famous as “Alabama.”  He told me that hey had a fiddle player that was awesome.  He wanted to go see them every chance we got.  He liked to party and rub elbows with the guys on stage as often as possible.  I was getting in over my head, spending more than I was making for a while.  I stopped flying home to Jacksonville every week end.  It became more like once a month if not longer than that.

I flew in to Atlanta one Monday morning.  I went to the Baggage Claims to get my suitcase, but it was missing.  I waited for the next flight, no bags, so I made an $800 claim, they paid on the spot.  I took a cab to the motel and there’s Tex with my bags.   He couldn’t see the sense in doing things the straight way; he had to bogus up everything he touched.  I would get on to him and he’d hang his head for a little while.  Next thing you know, he’d come up with another hair brain scheme.  Let’s go drink beer and throw the empty bottles off the 14th floor.

All of this, plus lots more, got to wearing on me like a sore tooth.  The bars closed at 2 am but we knew how to find several after hour places.  On most nights, we wouldn’t go home until the sun come up.

All these extra curricular activities made this Jackman, a very dull boy.  We hustled and made some chumpchange at night, but I was there to sell tools and that’s how I wanted to earn my money.  I wanted to leave Atlanta.  I tried to rat hole my money and not tell Tex exactly how much I had.  Not putting all of the blame on Tommy but with him around, I never seemed to get to my “safe zone”.

We we’re still working Atlanta, that was our problem.  He knew where the whores were, the best place to shoot pool, the location of all the “dives.”  We timed our days to catch Happy Hour at the Marriott for the free buffet.  After it got dark, we found the best places to cop dope.  He even knew which escort service to call.  Tex preferred the ones that used girls from his “Lynyrd Skynyrd” days.  We discovered that Lisa worked there; she was the sister of our high school chums Jim, AKA “Bird” and Doug.  Doug was a railroad engineer for CSX railroad.  Tex told me that it was said that Doug use to bring back a kilo of cocaine from Miami every Thursday for the entourage of the boys in the Skynyrd band, on the down low.  Lisa would come by our room at least once a week with one or two of her girlfriends and we would paint the town red, from dusk ‘til dawn.  Drug use wasn’t high on my agenda, but when you have lots of money in a strange city and you want to hang out with the kind of girls that we did, well it didn’t hurt to have a little bit of pot.  It turned out that they usually wanted something a little stronger than pot.

Tex Rockport
Tommy “Tex” Jones

Well after all, we didn’t hang out in any churches.

Back in those days, I enjoyed smoking pot.  Tex liked to shoot “T’.  The best place to find it was in the “hole.”  The “hole” was a large city project community on top of a hill in southern Atlanta, just outside the loop.  You made your request at the bottom of the hill at the stop sign, then drive on up to the top of the hill.  Out of the gloom, a guy would step out of nowhere with your product.  You paid him and drove on.

We made a purchase one night after dark and went back to the motel.  Tex fixed up his works in a spoon then shot a whole gram at one time, half in each arm.  Then he completely destroyed the room, tearing the sink from the wall and the toilet away from the floor.  His new girlfriend Debbie and I couldn’t watch it anymore.  We left Tex  standing on leg, butt naked except for his cowboy boots and felt hat.  He was staring off into space.  We went to the Twilight Lounge, trying to kill time and make a few bucks.  It was something that we did together as a hobby, to make “chump change.”  Tex couldn’t participate because he would get jealous and throw a fit, ruining everything.  With me and Debbie there wasn’t any emotion involved.  It was just wham, bam, thank you M’am and we would be on our way.

Debbie was an ex-biker chick. She won the Tattoo Contest at the Silver Slipper on Stuart Avenue.  She and Tex had been hooked up every since.  Debbie and I were on the same level, partner’s in crime.  With us it was all business.  Business first, business last and take care of your business in between.  We went to the Twilight Lounge on Cleveland Road.

I found a place at the bar to rest my elbows an order a drink.  It was just a few minutes before she brought a “john” up to me and presented him to me and introduced me as her “old man.”  She said, “He wants to talk to you.”  Atlanta is home to a lot of high rollers, foreign and domestic.  I could tell this guy wasn’t what we call,“much from around here.”  He said to me, “Your wife, how much for your wife?”  After looking at him up and down, I tilted my Stetson back, took a swig out of my drink and looked at him again.  I couldn’t help but notice all the gold chains hanging from his neck.  I said “For you mother f–ker, four hundred bucks and no blow jobs, I got to kiss her.”

I can remember counting his money.  It was four hundred dollars and one peso.  I reached into my pocket, then dangled the keys to the Trans Am, high in the air.  I said to Debbie, “Here take the car.”  I added, “wait a minute.” Then reached into my other pocket and peeled off a twenty from my bank roll and told her, “Here, you’re gonna need some gas.”  Then I pulled two ones from the wad and said, “Oh by the way, bring me a pack of cigarettes.

I handed her the money.  I turned to the bar to order another drink.  Staring at the mirror, I could see through the open door.  Debbie peeled out of the parking lot with the “John,” stopping on the corner to get gas.  Staying in the car, she gave the mullet the money to go inside the store to pay for the gas and to get the cigarettes.  Just as soon as he turned his back to enter the store, she pulled off and returned to the club.  She wasn’t gone no more than about five minutes.  I was waiting for her in the parking lot, with a drink in each hand.  I got into the passenger seat.  Deciding that we needed to go check on Tex, we headed back to the motel.

We found Tex still standing on one leg, naked, except for his cowboy boots and hat.  He was staring off into space.  The room was demolished, water streaming from broken pipes.  Debbie and I joked about having sex in front of him, just to see if he was faking or not.  He didn’t even flinch.  In about 30 minute’s time, the glaze over his eyes disappeared.  He put his clothes back on and acted like he was mad.  I thought he was mad at us at first.  I was relieved when he said  “Mike, that there dope warn’t any good.  I need to make a ride, will you back me brother?”


Through thick and thin, I was always “In.”  Tex and I got into the Trans Am, minus the T tops, wearing our Cowboy hats, pulled down shielding our eyes with an attitude, heading for the “Hill.”  We were on a mission.  When we got to the bottom of the hill, Tex told the “jitterbug” that came out of the darkness at the bottom that we wanted to see the Big Man.  If we didn’t get to see him, there was gonna be trouble.

We drove to the top of the Hill and a second “jit” came out of nowhere and scrunched up in the back seat.  He said, “So you fellas wanta see the “Big Man?  Okay, well let’s go.”  I noticed he was wearing what looked like a MAC-9 or 10 on a shoulder holster.  It didn’t stop me from hauling ass into the projects and doing a four wheel power slide right up to the front door.  Tex already had his door open, he was almost to the front door before I came to a complete stop.

After the password or whatever was given, the door opened to a dimly lit downstairs apartment, full of men.  They all seemed to be black as midnight.  These guys were lieutenants standing guard around the Big Man.  All of them were heavily armed.  Big Man was sitting in the middle of a curved sofa, across his lap was a sawed off shotgun.  His right hand looked like it might be holding something too, but you really couldn’t tell for sure because it was tucked down in between the cushions of the couch.  He was so big that he used up most of the sitting space.  Tex shoved the “jits” out of the way.  I was walking right behind him until he stopped short.  I took a step around him and there we stood.

We were side by side staring at the biggest man I ever saw.  Even sitting down he was huge.  Tex told the big man, “Me and you got a problem, that dope you sold me warn’t no damn good.  I wanna know just whatchu planning on doing about it?”  Big Man seemed calm, he released his grip on whatever it was he was holding between the cushions of the couch.  He laid the sawed off shotgun on the coffee table in front of us.  He leaned back and told Tex “to take it easy and have a seat, maybe we can work things out.”

Before he sat down, Tex reached in his pocket and pulled out a .25 automatic in the palm of his hand.  It looked like fleeing cockroaches in there for a second, every one scurrying for their gun or to find a place to duck and hide.  Tex took the little pistol in the flat of his hand and slapped it on the coffee table.  He said, “I just wanted you to know where I’m coming from Big Man.  I didn’t come up here to start any trouble.  Just as long as you are a stand up kind of man, there won’t be none.”

There were at least 15 guys in the room.  It was me and Tex against a small army.  I think I was the only one in the room without a gun.   I remained standing.  It seemed like an out of body experience.  For a second there things didn’t look too good for us homeboys.  The hair on the back of my neck was standing up.  Then, Big Man smiled from golden earring to golden earring and said, “Relax Tex.”  He had a fresh bag of dope brought out.  He replaced Tex’s “gram” with an “eight ball.”  He addressed me and said, “Here you go Pahdner.”  My new nick name I guess, then he shoved about an ounce of what he called “good herb,” in my direction.  Turning to face Tex, Big Man said, “I like your style Tex, you’re welcome here anytime, now, are we straight?”

When we returned to the Days Inn, we saw flashing blue lights; the parking lot was roped off with crime scene tape, barring our entry.  A police evidence van was parked in front of our room.  Off to one side, in the middle of a stairway was Debbie.  She had gathered our belongings before the police got there and was waiting our return, nonchalantly.crime cene 555

We loaded up the trans Am with her and our belongings and decided to leave Georgia and headed to South Carolina to see our friends from Ft. Payne, “Alabama,” one last time.   Yes, it was a good time to put Atlanta in our rear view mirror.

Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon

I got beat up pretty bad by the cops in El Monte, California, because I had a southern accent and they thought I was drunk.  It took me a little while to recoup.  I needed a break to heal up, Dad told me that he had some work for me to do, when I got to feeling better.  I healed up pretty good, maybe a scar here or there, but still in one piece.  The work for Dad was boring to me, after living on the road.  Dad didn’t pay much, so after a couple of months, I started selling cars again.  After six months, I was ready to get back on the road and sell some tools with my buddies.  I left Jacksonville in my ’76 Datsun 260Z with a 5 speed, nice car for a cruise, went to Atlanta to look for my nephew Glen.  He was 15 and his Momma told me he had left home and went to Atlanta to live with his sister Patsy.  When we hooked up, I told Glen to load up, come with me, let’s go sell some tools.

From there we went to Hardy, Ark. to see Gary, but Rae told us that he was out on the road, working with the crew, somewhere around Albuquerque, N.M.  I remember us taking a bath in the Spring River near Hardy, Ark. then heading to Albuquerque.  We got there about daylight.  We called the company 800 number and found out they were staying at the Red Carpet Inn on I-20, in Albuquerque.

Tex was glad to see me.  He was just coming out of the shower, when we got there. He handed me his towel and said “Here hold this” and streaked around the hotel, just wearing his cowboy hat.  He said that he was ready to get this day started right.

Arnie’s crew had about twenty head, uh, disciples might be a better word.  Arnie always had a strong grip on the bible, he was a real bible “thumper,” it was contagious, most of the guys had started out one way and come back around to living right when they were with Arnie.  Arnie welcomed me back, we held hands and had a group prayer meeting in the parking lot, then everyone left to go out to work, we were leaving Albuquerque and heading for Flagstaff, Arizona.  We agreed to meet up at the Red Carpet Inn.

Tex and I reminisced with about 2 six packs of Schlitz, and a truck load of tools headed for Flagstaff.  Tex flashed me one of his pink joints and I put it in my hat band to smoke later as a “victory joint” after we dropped our load.  As luck would have it, we ran out of gas, 1 mile from the exit to Flagstaff.  Tex told me to calm down, that he could pee in the tank and fill it enough to get us to the exit.  I laughed at him, he said “It’s true, I’ve done it before.”  I thought he was being crazy, told him I wasn’t going to watch, so I walked up the hill and sat under a tree.

Just has Tex started peeing in the gas spout on side of the truck, an Arizona Highway Patrol car pulled up behind him.  Tex acted like he was so shocked, he grabbed his heart and fell backwards on top of the Highway.  In just a few minutes they had an EMS helicopter out there, then they life-flighted Tex to a near by hospital

I just sat back under tree, I knew that another Jack truck would be coming up behind us sooner or later; I couldn’t leave the truck on side of the highway with a load of tools.  I kept thinking about smoking that pink joint.  After about an hour, another patrol car pulls up, they let Tex out.  He’s carrying a 5 gallon can of gas and wearing one of those blue wristbands that they put on you in the emergency room.  He waved bye to the patrolmen has they left.

Tex said that they checked him out; they told him that he just had “gas” of all things.  Well, it was after 3 pm, we hadn’t even made a pitch yet.  Then we drove into Flagstaff about a mile and I see a cowboy looking dude standing on his porch at a Trailer Park.  I was thinking that my Daddy owned a Trailer Park and he had plenty of money.  We got him for $2,500, made it to the bank and hammered the check.

Living on the road was our game, to be able to afford it; we had to earn more money.  We didn’t want to wake up tomorrow without a load but the crew was almost out of tools, sparking an idea when we met back up with everyone up at the motel.  We were concerned that we may not get anymore tools for the next few days to a week.  I told Arnie that we had another load sold and that we needed the equipment off the truck of anyone that was hanging out at the motel and not working.

That’s how I met Wayne Henry, he was a good guy, sorry Wayne, it was just business.  Tex and I left the motel to make it look like we really had the load sold, but we really just wanted to have a load on the truck for tomorrow and leave the rest of the crew waiting on the truck driver to deliver more equipment.  We were ready to go play pool somewhere and smoke that joint.

After getting more beer, we drove about 100 yards and saw an Indian dude wearing a hard hat and a bandana, on a bulldozer, he was wearing a lot of turquoise jewelry too and that’s what drew my attention.  He climbed down off of the bull dozer, gave us $2,750 cash and a $20 dollar bill to buy some more beer.  We finally got to smoke that joint.

We went back to the motel and pulled the same trick, we got a load off of Allen White’s truck, Wayne’s brother n law.  Next morning is Friday, Me and Tex are one of the few with a truckload of equipment; everyone else wants to leave Flagstaff before we order more equipment, because it was a small place.  Tex and I dropped Allen’s load to a lady that owned a Western Wear store, while we were shopping for new “JB Stetsons.”  While I’m trying on hats, Tex was bust stealing hat pins.

She wanted to know what “that was” on our truck.  When we told her our story, she wanted to know if she could buy it for her husband, he was a mobile blacksmith.  Then with an empty truck, we were ready to travel too.  It felt good to be back on the road after about 6 months.  Glen and I drove about 3000 miles to get there and I had sold three truck loads in two days.

Tex and Gary wanted to fly home for the week end and wanted me and Glen to drive their trucks to Salt Lake City, Utah.  I parked my car at the airport long term parking, gave them 3 months advance rent and told them I didn’t know for sure when I would get back.  The airport was just a small mountain with the top bulldozed off of it.  Before everyone went home for the week end, Wayne asked me to drop off the U-Haul trailer that they had hauled equipment in.  So we dropped the U-Haul trailer right off the Interstate, behind a gas station and left.  Just me and Glen, one truck in front of the other, we each had a coolers full of bottled beer.  We took off through the Grand Canyon, heading north, looking for something to get into.


At a cross roads we came up on a stand of Teepees, with about five pretty young gals (I’m pretty sure they were Navaho’s) selling trinkets and souvenirs.  They were dressed in buckskin dresses.  What a spot for a party..

We had beer, women and Lynyrd Skynyrd in the tape player, not mention the Colorado River just yards away.  We all ended up in the river, when the girls Mom showed up, instead of raising hell, she took off her clothes and jumped in with us.

What they say about Indians can’t hold their liquor is true enough.  After about two beers apiece they weren’t ashamed to shed their clothes and go swimming.  Ever time I turned around I was trying on a turquoise ring or bracelet, or necklace, those girls got so drunk they didn’t care.  The insides of some of them tipi’s can be mighty nice.

Glen and I sold “made in Taiwan, Indian Jewelry” to the guys on the crew, for the next couple of months.  A 6 hour drive to Salt Lake took us about 12.  Glen ran out of gas soon after dark and we drove the last 50 miles with me pushing his truck, bumper to bumper, about 60 miles an hour up the interstate, after dark.



When Glen and I get to Salt Lake, the first thing Arnie asks us is “Where’s the stuff that was in the U-Haul?”  Huh?  Nobody said anything to us about it, we were just told to dump off the trailer because they owed back rent on it and didn’t want to pay.

We rented a mustang and shot back down to Flagstaff.  The Chevron dealer still had the trailer stored out back of his station.  I let Glen out around the corner to slip up on the trailer from behind to check it out.  Meanwhile I pulled up to the gas station and kept the owner busy by acting like a drunk asking for directions.  I stood in such a way, that the guy’s back was turned towards Glen.  I could see Glen walk up and he held his hands palm up to signify that he didn’t see anything in the trailer.  I noticed a dumpster behind him and waved at the dumpster with one hand while pulling my hat off with the other, to make it look like I was just wiping sweat off of my head.

Glen got the idea and searched the dumpster.  He found the cardboard box that held all of our sales literature, made in America stickers and fake serial numbers, plus the bogus warranty cards.  That left the hoist jacks, big heavy 30 lb. jacks that we needed for our engine hoists.

I looked around the guy’s back and saw them stacked in the corner of his garage.  I got animated with the guy and started laying on the drunk, lost tourist act, pretty thick.  I did the hat trick again, holding my hat with one hand, wiping my brow with the crook of my arm, while pointing to the location of the hoist jacks.  Glen caught on and just as soon as I got the guy to walk to the front of the store to point out where the interstate was, he started loading the jacks.  I would act real ignorant because Glen had to make four trips to get them all.  “How far did you say that Interstate was again?  The guy would point at it about 500 yards away and say “Its right there, you can’t miss it.”  I would come back and say “Are you sure that’s the one that will take me back to Atlanta, cause Atlanta is a long damn way and I don’t want to get on the wrong road.”  I could tell the man was getting aggravated with me, but I think he had the patience of Job, he said “Well that’s I-20.  I-20 runs all the way to Atlanta.”  Then I would come back with something asinine like “How far is the next gas station, cause I don’t want to run out of no gas, you know.   “Is that a dry county, cause back home we got lots of dry counties?”  Finally Glen came around the corner and gave me the thumbs up.  I would have liked to have seen the man’s old face when he went looking for those jacks.

Anyway, mission accomplished, we loaded up and got north bound, back across the south rim and down the canyon.  This time we only had one cooler full of beer when we stopped at the crossroads to see our Navaho girl friends.  It was just as well, cause the girls were in school or something, it was just mamma and mamma acted like she was glad to see us.  After an afternoon dip in the Colorado, we continued our trip.  When we pulled in to Salt Lake, every body wanted to know what kept us so long.