Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Pheasant and Jim and their DJs

Hi Bill

This morning I awakened thinking about Mom and Dad’s good friends, Peasant and Jim. I’m sure you remember them because Mom and Dad got together with them frequently to play cards (pinochle). Their sons were older than me, closer to your age, and attended Altoona HS, where you graduated. Since you are eight years older than me, you probably knew them long before I had joined the family. Anyway, our parents (Marie and Jim) were very good friends with Pleasant and Jim, and I remember that they often got together, either at our house or at Pleasant and Jim's house in Altoona.

Jim and Marie (HS Grad Photos)
Now that I think about Pleasant and Jim, I realize that I don’t remember you hangin’ with the parents and their good friends at either our house or P&J’s house. That makes sense, I guess, because you were (and are) eight years older than me. Therefore, you were probably out and about having fun with your good friends, Ernie and Eddie, or others, while I was way too young to be roving with friends during the evenings.

I usually had to accompany the parents when they visited Pleasant and Jim. During most of those visits at P&J’s house I just sat in their living room watching TV and being bored, although I did enjoy the candy, cake, ice cream and pop that the adults provided for me. I don’t know how they were able to tolerate my sugar highs during those visits. They probably just ignored me.

Anyway, I have fond memories of those get-togethers at Pleasant and Jim’s very small two-story house in Altoona. That house, which was not far from our Grandpap’s house, was seemingly situated under the grandstands for the Manson Park athletic field/stadium. That meant that it was very noisy, and it was difficult to find a parking place near their house, when there were football games or other events being played/held at the stadium. It was also very noisy during visits with Pleasant and Jim when events were taking place. It is interesting to realize now that back in those days most working-class people did not earn much money and they couldn’t have large houses in quiet neighborhoods.
Little Clark

During those pinochle visits I often had to just sit and watch TV while Mom and Dad were playing cards at Pleasant and Jim’s house. However, those visits were not always long and boring. Sometimes, their youngest son was at home when the parents were playing cards. He was a teenager while I was maybe 10 or so and he would usually entertain me when he didn’t have other things to do.

I will never forget the visit when he and I were disc jockeys. He took me upstairs to his very small bedroom, where he had a record player and lots of vinyl records (both 45 and 33&1/3) crammed into every possible space. That was very cool and I thought we were just going to play some records. However, he turned out to be much cooler than just a record collector! He told me to sit down and asked me to pick a few records to listen to. Of course I was happy to pick some 45s that I liked and handed them to him. Then he turned on the turntable and put one of the records on it. In addition, then he turned on some other equipment that had a microphone attached to it and told me we were going to be disc jockeys. Of course I can’t remember what all he said and did. However, I certainly do remember that I had a lot of fun. He had his turntable, amplifier, and microphone connected to a transmitter that covered a small area of the city of Altoona around his parent’s house. He did not have a broadcasting license, of course, but he told me that it was totally legal to broadcast (without a license) low-power AM radio signals that covered a small, but densely populated area of the city around his parents’ home. He was the disc jockey and did most of the talking and I helped by retrieving records, putting them on the turntable, setting the needle on the records, and removing and replacing the records between songs. He would introduce the records he was playing and he said a few words about them. He actually had regular listeners who even called him with requests to play certain songs. He persuaded me to do some talking to the mike, but I was too nervous (and dumb) to do very much “DJ-Speak.” However, it was one of those magical times that young boys and girls often have that remain forever in their memory. Unfortunately, I never pursued a career in broadcasting, but that was probably a lucky decision for me. I don’t know whether P&J's son became a disc jockey, but I like to think that he became a very famous one at a powerful radio station.

Clark holding Timmy with Brother Bill
As you know, Pleasant and Jim remained very good friends with Marie and Jim and I got to know them fairly well. Of course, you had already gotten to know them very well before I was old enough to do so. You also know that their friendship continued throughout both of our childhood and college years. After Dad’s death their friendship with Mom was even more important and it continued. They were good friends and good people. They took Mom along on several road trips while I was finishing college and after I graduated and became a working adult. Mom’s friendship with them was a critical factor in keeping her grounded and providing a satisfying social life for her. Even though you and I were not around, she was not alone. She still had her long-standing, reliable and trustworthy friends, Jim and Pleasant, who helped enhance her life. Unfortunately, sometime, while I believe I was working in Omaha, Jim (Pleasant’s husband) died and Pleasant (and our Mom) was devastated. Pleasant  and Mom still remained good friends but things were just never the same. I believe Pleasant also died shortly after her husband’s death.

Jimmy and Marie
Pleasant and Jim were “Good People” and I am grateful that they were longtime good friends with our parents. Their loss was difficult for Mom. Luckily, she still had two sisters, i.e., our Aunt Helen and Aunt Pauline, to keep her going.  

Bill - You, Jane, Pat and I remain, and I know you are still as determined to continue this lifelong adventure as much as I am. Please let me know what you’re up to.

Take care

Sincerely, Clark