Good for a laugh -7th segmant

It was late May of 1976 when we loaded the bobtail truck for a few Texas shows with Willie and Band. We did Odessa again, Amarillo, Wichita Falls, and Mickey Gilley’s before he enlarged his compound and built the arena.

Gilley’s was big for a dancehall. You walk in, and the dance floor is right in front of you. Look to the left, and it goes about a hundred fifty feet, maybe more, of tables and chairs. Look right, and it’s the same thang. There were pinball machines along the front wall from one end to the other, like I ain’t never seen. The place was the size of a football field, filled with Cowboys and Cowgirls, drinking adult beverages like it was water.

The movie Urban Cowboy had not come out at this time, and I didn’t see a mechanical bull, but it could have been corralled back in a corner, and I just didn’t see it.

There was plenty of excitement and expectation, for the show that night. Leon Russell was on the bill with Willie, and he played first, then Willie, and Leon Joined with Willie for a few songs. Leon was a big favorite of mine after the release of Asylum Choir 2, with Marc Benno, in the early 70’s, and being able to work a show with him was one of the many great benefits of working with Willie.

After the show, the load-out was much more challenging than the load-in. We had to bring the equipment in through the front door, and out the same way. When the show started, there was not a lot of dancing, as people crowded the area in front of the stage to be as close as possible. As a result of the crowding, there was a lot of spilled drinks and some broken glass, in our direct path to the front door. We had to sweep a path to roll in our road boxes, then had to wipe the beer and beer soiled dirt, on the concrete floors, off of the cables, as we loaded them into the cable boxes. Do not read me wrong; I am not complaining, just an exercise that comes along with doing a show at Gilley’s, with Willie and Leon.

Speaking of a difficult load-in, load-out, the Sportatorium, in Dallas comes to mind. The ramp was steep. There was a hard left at the top and a hard right at the bottom that made it difficult to maneuver the lighting trusses. The place was a wrestling palace, the stage was the wrestling ring, and when it was full of people, it became very hot, everyone soaked in sweat. It could have easily been a wet t-shirt contest. Any show in Dallas was a sell-out with Willie playing.

There was another venue in Dallas that Willie would play called The Longhorn Ballroom, located in a rough part of town. A convenience store was located across the dirt parking lot, that I had gone over to for some reason. A fellow approached me, offering me a good deal on a watch. It just so happens that my watch had played out. He said it was a Bulova, so I took a look. Looked good to me, he said forty bucks, I said O.K. and bought it.

As I approached the ballroom, Bo and Scooter were standing outside and had seen the deal go down. When I got close, they started laughing. These two cats are extremely street smart and knew what had happened. I had this big ole grin on my face and was so proud of my new watch. I asked them, why are y’all laughing? Bo says I see ya bought a new watch. I said, yea, got a good deal; it’s a Bulova, and they both broke out laughing. Bo was laughing so hard he tried to speak but couldn’t. He finally was able to say; you better take another look. I looked, and what looked like Bulova to me the first time, actually said Bolivia.

The both of them were laughing so hard, they had tears in their eyes and had to lean on their suburban to keep from hit the ground, they were laughing so hard. I said I’m going to get my money back. The laughter stopped, Bo and Scooter both got serious. Bo says’s, were in the Dallas Badlands, get in the suburban, and we’ll go with you in case there is any trouble. We all got into the suburban and headed over to the store. Bo said, you know this could get real serious, as he showed me our defense. Bo doesn’t take any chances.

When the guy that sold me the watch saw me he headed across the street, so I hollered at him, hey I want to buy another one of those watches. He stopped and came over to where I was standing, and I said give me back my money, while Bo and Scooter were holding jiggers for me (standing by with the protection in case there was trouble).

He was shaken up and made the mistake of saying he had already turned the money in. It turns out he was selling the bogus watches for the store manager. I said let’s go, and we went inside the store. I said to the guy behind the counter, we know what’s going on here, give me my forty dollars back, and we will go away. To my surprise, he did just that, and we left.

I thought that was the end of that.No, no, no. Not with Bo and Scooter. For the next few weeks they called me Bolivia, and of course, not wanting to let a good, funny story go to waste, they felt obligated to tell everyone about it so they could have a good laugh as well.

I had gotten my money back, and knowing how a good laugh is good medicine, I was able to laugh right along with them.  Every time I heard the story told it got better and better. The whole episode was a lesson learned, and I appreciated Bo and Scooter backing me up.

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