ON FINDING ROCK AND ROLL   (From Play is Where Life Is by tp-page 40-41)

(with a nod to Jack Hussey)

Jack had migrated to Robbins having attended “rural” Westmoore until his junior year. Jack was a whole new story. His grandfather, with whom he lived, was a chicken farmer and did well. Plus Jack would work hard. He was always working wide open and making money. We called him “nickels and dimes” later in college, as he played every jukebox he passed (six songs for a quarter).

Jack also liked girl children, sports, and cars, anything that went fast. We played all sports together in high school, plus college basketball.

Jack always had a handful of money. One trip he and I made featured me getting off work at 9:30 pm, riding 157 miles to the Myrtle Beach Pavilion. Jack told me “I’m going down there and play every pinball game they have until I beat each one.” My allowance went fast but I watched the sun rise at the same time I watched Jack complete the whole Pavilion circuit. We rode back to Robbins.

The beach was magic. We’d sneak into El’s Pad at Ocean Drive and watch the big kids. I remember hearing “Don’t Be Cruel” continuously for three hours at the outdoor jukebox and dance floor across from El’s, next to the ocean. We had a white guy who could rock. Actually, Jack was more like Jerry Lee Lewis and all those songs remind me of Jack today. I sent him the Jerry Lee CD last year (2006). “Great Balls of Fire”.

I owe Jack. He hauled me everywhere, caught my passes, lent me money, and took me to the Rock and Roll Shows.

Sure enough, if you watched the Raleigh News and Observer in the mid to late fifties soon you’d see an ad for a show at Memorial Auditorium in our capitol.

This wouldn’t be one act. Sure there were “head liners.” Mostly “Fats” Dom ino, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, The Sherelles, Ruth Brown, and on and on. All the great ones and they’d come in bus loads. Sometimes as many as a dozen different performances or groups. We’d go early and watch them pile out of the buses. Occasionally Jackie found a glass jar full of quarters and half-dollars, his grandfather had buried on the farm. The old man didn’t trust banks because of “The Depression”. Upon finding one of their treasures we were apt to follow the shows from Raleigh to Greensboro or Winston-Salem, over to Charlotte on consecutive nights.

This was pre-integration. The blacks sat in the balcony and fought with the cops who wouldn’t let them dance in the aisles. One night the ruckus got so bad they dropped the stage curtain on “Fats” as he sung “Blueberry Hill”. Another highlight featured a golden suited Marvin Gaye, who while singing a medley, began to discard garments of gold. First, a coat, then shoes, a golden tie and shirt. Finally, as he revealed golden boxer shorts, Marvin and the band switched to “I’ll be doggone.” Classic!

Jack had a “56 black and white befender- skirted Mercury and it would fly. And he’d let it. Minimum 80 mph. The route to Raleigh featured a long sharp curve that Jackie had set the record on while rounding it, and he’d try to top his “personal best” every trip.


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