Entry 17: Late 64 into 65
Life became layered for me in late 1964. I was busy with my work and things were going on all around me that would change everything about life as I knew it. In many ways it was like what Peter, Paul and Mary then later Ritchie Havens sang about. Life was wheels within wheels turning with an occasional something that would stop all of the wheels. Then they would all start up again.
There were meetings and whispers at home that none of us were privy to. Money was being talked about and of course being from the mid-west, that was a subject that was more controversial than sex. It was going to take a lot of dough-ray-me to open a music store and I think my Mom and Dad had no idea how much it would be. They also had no idea where they would get all of that cash. Banks were met with. Relatives were finally approached and somehow the goal got closer.
My mom was having hassles at her work with Wurlitzer in Ann Arbor. She was scared of what the store manager would say and then what the company would do to sabotage any plans. Finally with some sore feelings the company said she could leave the Ann Arbor store but they would not sell her pianos to sell at her new store and she could not open anything within a 25 mile radius of Ann Arbor. Even the store manage, a friend up until now, was markedly unfriendly after Mom told him. But, Mom and Dad persisted and somewhere in North Carolina or where ever Kimball pianos were made, a factory began working on the inventory that would someday be on the floor of Flanders Music.
In my work life things kept growing. Every time a kid would quit his paper route because he didn’t like getting up at 4:30 a.m. to deliver the Detroit Free Press in our part of Ann Arbor I would get a call asking me to take over another route. I finally ended up with 125 dailies and 250 Sundays. It was here that I picked up the idea that if you say you are going to do something, then you do it.
I had a bicycle with the huge baskets on the front and back sides that looked a lot like a prototype of a modern Hummer. Everyday I loaded it up with papers and zoomed around the west side of Ann Arbor. When I took the last route to increase my Sundays to 250, I somehow talked my Dad into helping me on Sundays. At 5:30, after I had put together all of the papers in the garage, adding the advertisements to the regular paper, I would tiptoe down the hall towards their bedroom and gently whisper, “Dad…Dad…the papers are here.” He would grunt and say, “Yaaaa”. After he made coffee and I had loaded all of the papers into the back of our station wagon, we would be off. I would hang out of the back of the car and at appointed spots Dad would stop and I would run up a bunch of papers along the way.
At some point my Dad must have figured out he deserved something out of the deal so he talked me into helping him buy some speakers to put in different parts of the house. He said that if I gave him the money to buy the speakers, he would run the wires all over the house from the basement and that when I did my chore of washing the dishes once a week I could listen to what ever I wanted to. I was rolling in the dough, so I thought, ‘what the heck’.
After I was finished with the dishes, I would go into my room and turn off the light and listen to a Public Radio station I had found out of Detroit. In the olden days they called a certain form of broadcasting ‘Free Form” radio. The DJ would play what ever they felt like. My taste for the strange was being fed by this station. They would play comedy from weird people.
Then they would play folk music from people I had never heard of.
Then they would go back to comedy.
I loved it all. And I began to learn names of people who were just as strange as I felt. It was a grand time for a 14 year old. And it kept me from asking my Mom and Dad too many questions about if this whole Flanders Music thing would ever come about.
My own music still centered around the Beatles and those bad boys the Rolling Stones. Device technology was not as fast developing as it later would become. We had a new invention called a ‘Transistor Radio’. It was a small, maybe slightly bigger than a pack of cigarettes with no speaker, but a cord with a small ear bud that you shoved into your ear. I would go through a routine of trying to hook it up before I hopped on my bike with the baskets full of papers. I had to stop every-other-block to shove it back into my ear, but I did have music as I rode for the 5 miles or so of my route.
The Beatles continued putting out music and people gobbled all of it up. In August they actually came out with a movie so we could see them sing and do their zany things as the good guys of the British Invasion.
The other guys were not as clean and wholesome and their music was not as popular but they just wouldn’t go away. Their music was more raw and more sensual. I kind of liked it.
It seemed to me that people started to become disenchanted with the Beatles. Many wanted them to be the lovable simple lads from Liverpool and they wanted all of the songs to sound just like “I want to hold your hand.” In December they put out an album that was sophisticated and contained some bold new sounds. I loved it because I wanted to see where these accomplished musicians were going.
An event that stopped the wheels from turning occurred in early early 1965. I had gotten up at my usual 4:30 and it was snowing a little bit. The papers had arrived and I was getting my bike ready to launch when by about 5:15 a gigantic snow storm hit Ann Arbor. I started peddling but soon had to give up because the snow was so deep and I just couldn’t move. I abandoned my bike on a corner and thought, well, I am only about half way done, so I better start walking. My customers paid me to get them a paper every morning, so I better get at it.
It was rough going and the time kept bringing more and more snow. I realized that I was the only thing moving on any of the streets, this kid with a big newspaper bag hanging from his shoulder would trudge up a sidewalk, open a screen door and plop a paper in. Soon it was 2 then 3 hours that I had been walking. At one house the housewife came to the door and said that my Mom was worried and had found my collection book with my customer’s names and addresses so she was calling everyone. Each house told me to go home, but I kept saying, ‘but I’m not done yet.’
Yes-sir, my customers were the only ones in Ann Arbor who got their morning papers that day. Events can put a stop to everything around you, and if you had a job to do, you somehow found a way to do it.
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