Born in New Braunfels, Texas and grew up in Victoria. In 1968 my family moved down to the Mississippi delta, 60 miles south of New Orleans, a place called Buras, different world. Best people you will ever meet.
A girlfriend back in Texas, Sally and her friend Roxy had run away from Victoria, and found themselves in Louisiana. They decided the find me. I was a junior in High School. The school called me down to the principals office and there was Sally. I said "sure I know her" guess they didn't believe whatever story she had told.
Sally and Roxy had picked up some dweeb in Houston. Sally wanted me to go with them to San Francisco. I didn't really want to leave my family, we were functional, but, I thought "how long would we last on the road?, how bad would I feel if something happened to her and I hadn't been there?" I don't think they had a plan since they were travelling east and not west.
So we panhandled all the other students at lunch time and picked up $4.50. Off we went down the road.
We caught a few short rides and then got picked up by a black guy that was making some kind of runs between New Orleans and Chicago. So to Chicago we went. On about Missouri some trucker saw a black guy with a couple of young white girls and guys. Sally and I were asleep in the back seat when he ran us off the road into a deep ditch.
The crash busted the guys radiator and we had to stop every 50 miles or so to put more water in it.
We made it to Chicago and asked to be dropped off in the hippie part of town. We made our way to the closest head shop. It was December in Chicago and we were dressed for south Texas weather. The only help we could get was an offer from "these friends and fellow travelers, marching onward through the fog" to take care of the girls but me and the dweeb were on our own.
So, with the girls, out of Chicago we go.
We made it to a truck stop. We were still in Chicago's Cook County. I had recently read a magazine article about Cook County Jail, how gangsters ruled and what happened to unlucky visitors. I stood on the highway outside the truck stop ... every 18 wheeler that went by sent a cold wind that blew through my clothing, it was so cold the wind went past my bones and directly though my soul and out the other side.
It was late, we had a few dollars on us, so we went into the truck stop. We took a booth and ordered some soft drinks.
The state trooper at the counter had been looking our way. A trucker wearing the clothes of a vagrant walked by the table and dropped a $5 bill without saying a word. We ordered hamburgers, we hadn't eaten in awhile, no one could finish their burger, but it was good to eat something.
We had change left and I took it back to the vagrant and thanked him. He looked, to me, like he needed the money more than us.
Dweeb was running around talking to the truckers to get us a ride. Proudly he came back to the table and said there were some cowboys hauling cattle that would take us all back to Texas, they just wanted some free love from the hippie chicks. Pissed off, I went to the truckers and told them that we weren't that hard up for a ride and they should get those kind of thoughts out of their minds. They told me that I should go back to my booth and sit down while I could still walk. They allowed me to exit.
I got on Dweebs ass. I told him he just about liked to have gotten me a real ass whoopin. Dweeb get's scared and goes back to the cattle haulers and tells them that the deal is back on. He sets up a time for us to meet at their truck and comes back to the booth and tells us we are safe for now, we just got to get out of there in the next hour.
I noticed the vagrant motioning to me to come outside. I followed, I didn't know until then that he was a trucker. He told me that the state trooper had left and would be back in 30 minutes. If we were still there, we were going to jail. Cook County Jail. He offered to meet us on the side road back of the truck stop.
Hearing this, we all met up with him about 10 minutes later. He put all four of us in his cab, we had to lay down so no one could see he had picked anyone. His company would have fired him.
We ride the rest of the night, sleep wasn't possible. He stopped in a big parking lot and had us sneak into his car and lay low. After what seemed like a few days, he came back. He took us to his house. We met his family and his wife fed us breakfast. He was much better off than I had thought.
Later he takes us almost out of Illinois. He wouldn't take us over state lines so we were on our own to get over the bridge. It was a beautiful bridge.
A few rides later we get picked up by a relocating newspaper story writing guy. He was from New York city and was headed for a gig with some paper in Kansas City. We stopped at a motel and had our first bath in five days. We slept like the dead.
We traveled the next day, the old guy talked to us about life, he had lived a hard one and was down on his luck. That evening we stopped in Joplin, Missouri. Roxy wanted to go home and the old man was going to put her on a bus. Sally and I decided we would go on to Kansas City and get some kind of work. The old newspaper hack had to get him a bottle, parked on a side road, drank it and passed out. We went to a pizza place. I remember playing The Crazy World of Arthur Browns' "Fire" on the juke box. The kid's our age there were pretty snubbish to our looks. We went back to the car and waited for our philosopher to wake up.
The Joplin Police Dept. had gotten themselves some state of the art night vision binocluars, which they pointed and espeyed our way. To jail we went.
We all got our one call. All of the other kid's parents got in their cars and were in Joplin the next morning sobbing. My Mom asked to talk to the Joplin Police Officer.
The other kids parents somehow figured it was all their fault and promised to be more attentive. Dweeb was estatic, he just knew he was going to get his own car.
So, the next morning they were all gone, Dweeb took the cigarettes, so here I am jonesing. The jail didn't have bars, just a slot that opened twice a day with a plate of food. I hollered and asked about our newspaper hack/philosopher of life. Someone yelled back he wasn't in good shape.
We were picked up on a Friday night. The next Monday I was taken down to the local Western Union to pick up bus fare sent by my folks. I was taken to the bus station in handcuffs and let go after I purchase my bus fare back to Buras.
The whole affair was a life experience. I really regret what it did to my family. Older now, with kids of my own I can understand what I put my parents through for that week.
During the whole trip I felt I had nothing to fear, that things would work out and nothing bad would happen to any of us. That is until I took the bus ride through the Ozarks with some crazed bus driver that kept trying to overturn the bus. Guess he was mad at his wife or somebody. The bus would sway toward thousand foot drops, as hard as I looked to see at least the side of the road the only thing I saw was certain death.
My family stayed in Buras until Hurricane Camille struck in September, 1969. We were told that the storm would turn north before it reached the Mississippi delta. Then given three hours to evacuate. The delta dikes had given way to a 25 ft. storm surge. Huge barges floated over the dikes and had to have a road built around them. Winds in Venice were clocked at 210 mph before the guage broke. You don't hear about anything but Biloxi because at that time Judge Perez had just died, his sons got into a power struggle until the feds took them down.
Just a note. When I was there in Plaquimine Parish there was a law that no one in a uiniform of the United States military could be served in a public place. Judge Perez was one hell of a dictator. The people loved him. He kept all the Mom & Pop stores in business and kept out all the chain stores. Not many chain stores wanted to put a million dollars worth of merchandise that far down the delta below sea level anyway.
We relocated to Belle Chase where none of the students from the delta were welcomed, especially one from Texas. I got suspended for pushing the principal when he assaulted me for my shirt tail being out. I think he hit his head on a brick wall. I was interrogated by the FBI for being the person calling in all the bomb threats until they figured out I was in school at the time the calls were made.
Dad told his company we were out of there. He was relocated to a job in Bishop, Texas, we stayed until the mid term of my senior year, January, 1970, then relocated to Kingsville, Texas near the job site.
Now to my Airplane story. It took awhile to get here, that is what a lot of people don't like about me. "Ask Kennon what time it is and he will tell you how to build a watch." Still there is a place for me somewhere.
There are a lot of side stories I have left out.
In March of 1970 Sally, Roxy and a good friend from Victoria, J. Paul came down to Kingsville. They were going to go to San Antonio to the Jefferson Airplane concert. J. Paul had an old huge some kinda Buick car. I pleaded with my parents and finally declared my independence. I was given only enough money to cover the concert ticket price. I guess that is semi-independent.
Believe me, we knew all of the Jefferson Airplane stuff. Volunteers had come out a while before, Wooden Ships is my all time favorite. I always thought Crosby Still & Nash were doing an Airplane song. I grew up in the age of Ultimate Spinach, Country Joe and the Fish, The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, Velvet Underground, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Cheap Thrills
We made it up to San Antonio. The only problem we had was "no money". The girs and J. Paul and I robbed a local store of a jar of mayonaise, bologna, bread, cheese, etc. It was hilarious when we went to the counter ... the girls looked pregnant and J. Paul and I looked hung. We bought something to drink. Don't know if the guy just figured we needed the food or didn't see our hyjinks.
We slept in the car that night at a roadside park and made it to the concert the next day. It was getting sunset when we got in.
I don't remember ever sitting down. Joints just kept passing through the crowd, someone handed you one, you took a hit and passed it on. It was the best I have ever heard the Airplane. It was more than that. They were prime.
Of course I got to see Gracies' tits and am still to this day in love with her. Gracie left just before the end of the concert. She said her little brother had been busted in California and she had to get back. This was the first concert I had ever been to and the best I have ever been to. I have seen the Rolling Stones, The Who, Steppenwolf, Johnny Winter, the final show of ZZ Tops World Tour (close second), The Band .... I know .... not as many as most who visit this site but .... l got to see the Airplane at their best.
Stange things happen later.
On the way back to Kingsville, J. Pauls car lost a wheel bearing. It started smoking the tires. We would have to stop every five to ten miles and let it cool off. So we stopped and had a picnic. Sally and Roxy set up a quilt and made a spread. It was great. We didn't know how we were going to get down the road the next ten miles but it didn't matter.
We saw an old sign about auto salvage or work or whatever. J. Paul turned around and we went down this long dirt driveway to a farmhouse set back off the highway. I knew nothing and to this day know very little about cars, bearings etc.
J. Paul told the guy of our problem. It was getting dark. The man thought he had a rear end that matched J.P's old car. It was half buried in the chicken coup. We dug it up. The farmer brought out a cutting torch rig and JP heated up the bearing until he got it off the old shaft. We put it on JP's car and were on our way except for paying for the wheel bearing.
J. Paul had an old stereo in the trunk of his car and a whole lot of albums, things like the Jefferson Airplane, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, etc. The Mexican family let us go into their house and set everything up, they didn't have a record player. JP left them with all his records and we left. They got me back to Kingsville just fine and headed on back to Victoria.
We wondered how the families kids were going to grow up with J. Pauls collection of music to listen to.
I visited Sally once about a year later, and the last I saw of JP was at a friends funeral.
Sally was as free a soul as she ever was and JP was riding harleys and nonconforming.
Me, I worked construction and travelled all over the country. Los Angeles three times. There for a few quakes...a 6.1 and later a 7.4. I steadily climbed through the ranks and after 30 years with the company I one day came apart. Too much stress over time they say.
I made a road trip from Texas to San Diego all the way up to San Francisco and Oakland once in about '71, dropped out with a friend and took off, that is another story.