A Retrospective on our band in the California Fifties, Sixties and Seventies



Larry and Dave go to school and Larry starts a family, oops!

It would be a mistake to call us a garage band when we began. No, we were a living room vocal group. We didn’t really sing for anyone but ourselves. Like the doo-wop bands on Philadelphia street corners, we just looked for the best acoustics and honed those songs from the great vocal rock’ n roll east coast vocal bands of the late fifties, like the Del-Vikings, the Penguins, Danny and the Juniors, Dion and the Belmonts and the Diamonds. My junior year passed into history and our senior year continued with very little attempt to sing in public at parties or dances, which mystified our parents and people who knew us well. But it wasn't about performing for us; it was about being a part of a sound we created together. Sometimes we argued to avoid singing lead because singing the background harmonies was the most fun. As we approached high school graduation, real life intruded and it looked like our singing group would be left behind as a childhood hobby as Dave and I, seniors, prepared to graduate into college expectations. Hasty and Pat Baldwin, left behind as juniors at Shortridge High School were maybe as much relieved as anything as they decided they had better things to do with their upper class high school years then sing in various isolated (but cool sounding) locations in our neighborhood. Hasty, particularly, knew he was headed for Purdue and much bigger things.

Dave had become really close friends with me and my girlfriend Pat. Even when we weren't singing we hung out together. Since neither of our families were rolling in money and our grades were mediocre, at best, though Dave’s were much better than mine we decided on a local Indianapolis school, Butler University. As the rules worked then, they had to take us. And, it was near home so we could save money by living at home rather than living at school. Of course that was before the Delta Tau Delta house rushed us and we came to learn the real lessons of going to college starting with our capacity for beer. I suspect they took Dave and me into the fraternity house because we could sing but it also could have been that we were the only ones left standing at our rush party. Dave and I put actives in showers and dumped them in beds before going off to our own homes. No way could I drink enough to keep up with that bunch. They valued Jocks and Brains and Social type people; and we fit at least loosely, into the later group as entertainers so we were in. Cutting to the chase, we had joined Butler's version of Animal House, the first Butler fraternity to have a house off campus and determined to take full advantage of it. At our first rush party the fraternity house was so new there was no lawn put in yet and it perched high above a ravine of raw earth that ended at the banks of the White River, that passed along the University Campus. Drunken midnight icy mud-football games took place on a regular basis behind the house; beer cans were pitched over into the ravine. As a final task we pledges got to clean up all those beer cans at semester end. It was no surprise that Dave and I didn’t make good enough grades to get pinned as Actives, but we were well-loved and we did pass all the beer drinking tests, the generally rowdy rushee tests and learned the Delta Tau Delta handbook, at least a bit. Also, we had begun singing with another talented singer in our rush class, Mickey (?) and as an in-house trio for the entertainment of the general population of the house we were indispensable cheap talent for the many parties. As we began our second semester in the Delt house matters got worse on some scales and more interesting on others. Dave and I actually moved into the house instead of just being townies. Our families were disgusted with our grades and I still don’t know what convinced them that we would get better grades if we were in that house of decadent and wily Delta Tau Delta degenerates, home of the Midnight Thwacker, and many other boisterous characters; our cherished brothers.

During the second semester, things turned decidedly worse. The study room Dave and I shared was on the first floor and we had taken to sneaking out of the house during study hours and haunting our old favorite high school haunts like the TeePee and the Ron-D-Vu and others around town. Often I would head off across town to see Pat and hang out in her new school's neighborhood. When Dave realized how bad his grades were going to be, he dropped out of school to avoid getting so many bad marks on his record. I soldiered on alone for a month or so until life gave me one of the strange wake-up calls I now tend to expect. Pat, my high school sweetheart and first love were 'steadies' despite me being in college and her in high school but it had become harder and harder for us to see each other. Geographically, I was at Butler on the west side of town and her family had moved to the east side where she transferred to Warren Central HS, where she was the Homecoming Queen and a star cheerleader. Though we were as much in love as ever there were cultural differences between college and high school that were getting harder to bridge. I still think we always would have ended up together even if the typical fifties love story hadn't’t caught up with us then. In the euphemism of the time, we were both invited to a shotgun wedding with all four of our parents taking turns at the trigger. Our love kept us together through some rough times then as we both felt isolated from family and friends. I also like to think that had we begun our lives together in a later time, or in a different way it might have turned out differently.

It was decided for us, that we would attend a new college in Murray, Kentucky, as much to get us out of town to hide us from disapproving eyes as to send us to a school that Pat’s sister was attending. Clearly now our music days were over and the seriousness of the adult responsibilities of being parents would settle in for us - even though we were still kids ourselves. Because she wasn’t finishing her senior year and was an amazingly intelligent person, Pat passed an equivalency/entrance exam at Murray and we immediately set off for Kentucky to attend that summer's session. Poor Pat. Miss Totally Cool and the sweetest person alive, cheerleader, prom queen and straight A student married to Larry, the immature, un-disciplined, moody, dreamer, authority-challenged young man who had almost nothing positive to add to this doomed marriage. Still, in 1959, this is the way things were done and we were sent off to work it out as best we could away from friends and family. While it was the worst of times in some ways it was also the best of times for us. We loved each other desperately and our first son lit up our lives though school and parenthood though poverty took its toll.

Then, amazingly enough, Dave decided to join us at Murray State. Another of his friends from Broad Ripple HS was going to go to Murray so almost as independent choices we ended up together again in Murray, Kentucky on the north side of the Blue Ridge mountains for the next phase of our college career. Up until now, despite our relationship and Pat's beautiful singing voice, we had never sung together. She was in choir, of course, and was a lead soloist in almost all the high school musical productions. To this day, I can picture her on the stage at SHS singing "If I Loved You" and I knew she was singing just to me. I could hardly breathe that night and I was sure I'd met the girl that I would be with forever. With Dave and and another guy, Don, we formed a quintet that sang Skyliner songs like 'This I Swear', 'Pennies From Heaven', 'Zing Went the Strings', and 'Since I Don’t Have You'. I loved singing in this group and we began to actually perform in public until Dave, who had lost interest in his studies and was struggling with his grades returned to Indiana. I think a lot of this was brought about by the death of his other close friend at Murray. Jim was killed in an automobile accident returning to Indy over the Thanksgiving holiday. Meanwhile Pat and I were about to add a little brother for our son Dave (named after Dave Dunn), little Daniel. Our singing days were definitely over, once again.


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