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.