October 15, 2009

Bad Bob and the St. Augustine barmaid.

We started in the City of Ormond Beach on a bright beautiful June day headed for Pasadena California, with a load of common concrete blocks and some household goods.
There was no leaving the blocks, the owners Mother was adamant. "Those belong to Dick, and I mean to see he gets them".

Dicks' brother was named Bob.
Bob was going to be doing most of the driving, I was along to make sure he got there.
Now Bob had a problem that now would certainly have some sort of warm and fuzzy title, but then was known by those who loved him and those who didn't as 'a case of the asshole'.
You could put Bob in a closed locked room (and often we wanted to), with five people and in an hour three of them would want to shoot him and the other two would be demanding a rope. Bob's problems had to do, accidentally, with alcohol, but only accidentally...

He'd 'accidentally' get drunk and start some shit somewhere.
We'd long ago decided that with him it wasn't the booze, the booze just let the 'inner Bob' out.

So why did I get in a U-haul truck with the guy for a cross continental trip? Well, suffice to say that at that period of my life one of the reasons that Bob and I ran together was that it made me look nearly normal, and the word around town was that, for me..., RIGHT NOW, a vacation was a good idea.

This was about 1973, a year or so before this the wonderful Paul Newman movie "THE LIFE & TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN" had come out and a bunch of us had gone to see it. Bob had not been among us which was unfortunate for him. Had he been there I am sure that his brother Dick would never have uttered "that is how my brother will end up" at the demise of Stacey Keech as"Original Bad Bob the Albino".

There was a wonderful line in the movie when one of the grizzled types runs up to Newman as Judge Roy Bean and says [after Bean shoots Bad Bob in the back] "You call that sportin'? It weren't a real standup fight."
Judge Roy Bean: "Standup? I laid down to steady my aim."

Dicks' brother Bob forever became 'Bad Bob' or 'Ormond Bad Bob' that night.

So as I said, we started out from Ormond Beach on the coast of central Florida, headed for Pasadena/L.A. California with these household goods and this load of about a hundred concrete blocks. this was about the time of the first big Medfly scare, and every scale and weight station we tried to pass would send a trooper out to run us down, lights and siren going.

Since I had done my best to talk "Ma" out of sending these concrete blocks to Dick they got loaded last and every inspection officer that opened the roll up door would be faced with a respectable sized concrete wall. It made the truck handle oddly too.

Most officers would look at Bob, then me, then the wall and either laugh (I had the story down pat after the second stop), or start up in there and clamber around peering in boxes, digging around in trunks, just positive that SOMETHING must be going on.

Of course there wasn't. There might have been some recreational goods in the cab of the truck but they never looked there.

We learned that if we'd take the off ramp at the scales and stations they's just look disgusted and wave us through, but EVERY time we didn't we got ran down and searched.

I should have gotten on a greyhound and come back to take my lumps the first day. We left bright and early, but we only made about a hundred miles.

Just outside of Saint Augustine the right dually pair on the back threw a shoe. We limped it into civilization and called U-Haul and they asked us to bring it another three miles in to town. Saint Augustine may be the oldest town in the country, but in 1973 it was also one of the smallest.

Blessing or curse; I still don't know but the U-Haul was only a block from the 'old town' tourist area and when we got there it was lunch time. "New place right across from the Castillo that supposed to be pretty good!" the kid working on the truck told us, "Called the Mill Top" he offered.

Between the truck depot and the Mill top there were four or five other interesting looking places, three nice, clean newish looking respectable hotel/apartment style establishments and two dives that looked like they'd been there since the local language was Spanish, and in St. Augustine you just could never be sure.

We of course being young discerning types went for the dives. "We'll just have one each and then get lunch" we asserted. In the first one the barmaid tending bar was a knockout, drop dead brunette that Bob instantly fell in lust with.
"Damnit Bob, how many times to I have to tell you that women work DAYS in a place like this because they are entangled with some guy, not so you can pick them up!" I tried, unsuccessfully, to ward off disaster.

"Ah. Bullshit! You just don't know anything about wimmen", stroked Bad Bob.

She ended up slapping him, which surprised Bob, me,... her... and half the bar which was now getting filled up with the afternoon crowd. He really hadn't done anything to warrant it, he was just too cocky and persistent.

I imagine if you'd asked her later what had caused her to do it she'd have said 'I dunno... he was just an asshole!'.

After a cool down period in the next dark seedy three hundred year old bar, we went to the Mill Top, had a sandwich a couple of beers,

and headed back to the truck. New tires all around like a NASCAR pit crew, and away we went.

End part one...

Bad Bob and the bed biters.

When last we saw our hero, Ormond Bad Bob, we were leaving St. Augustine Florida in the afternoon headed for Pasadena California with a six wheel dually U-Haul truck loaded with household goods and plain old concrete blocks.
The concrete blocks had been his brothers college  bookshelves and his Mother was adamant that she was going to see that Dick (bad Bob's brother) was going to get them.

After an adventure with a blown tire, a incensed barmaid and a great lunch in a place I eventually felt was my second home in St. Augustine we got on the road.
This was 1973, not long after the original oil scare OPEC engineered gas shortage.
All of U-Hauls trucks had been fitted with governors to make sure that the gas that the renters was buying wasn't wasted. In June of 1973 I went from coast to  coast at 58 miles an hour.

There was also my travelling companion to consider.

I once saw Bob, aka 'Bad Bob', aka 'Ormond Bad Bob', cause an entire John Wayne style bar fight in Daytona Beach by lighting a stick of incense, but that is another story.. the guy wasn't "bad" in the modern sense as much as he was bad AT, so many forms of human interaction, and a few drinks did NOT help the situation.

So. Booming along with just over a ton of concrete blocks by the roll up door and after the forward load of shirts, small furniture, household goods destined for
Pasadena California we finally got moving, at, wait for it 58 miles an hour.
The first day we covered, after flat tire, about three hundred miles. We'd probably have pushed on through the night except for two things, one, we were headed for Bob's brother Dicks' house in New Orleans and didn't think it wise to roll in there at four in the morning, and two during our wait and after at dinner, we had had a bit to drink.

So we stopped in Monticello Florida. Remember now that this was 1973, the Eisenhower interstate System was in the last gasps of being completed.
We had been on and off I-10 several times in our journey already with more to come.

The last 'off' leg we ran down old US #90 for what seemed forever in the dark with not even farmhouse lights showing, until we came into Monticello.
"Jeez, I'm beat!" says Bob, "me too, lets hold up someplace for the night" was my reply, just as we started OUT the far side of Monticello and BOOM right at that moment a Mom & Pop motel appeared.
I've blocked out the name over the years, but it looked NEW, in the dark..., from the truck...

Ever shower with Sulfur water? Ever meet a REAL bedbug? Ever have to pay cash in small bills for a hotel room in the USA?

It was a long night.

About two AM I took the mattress off the bed, stood it against the wall, sprayed the box springs with my can of deodorant more for the sanitizing effect against moving things than smell and finally got a couple hours of sleep.

I had been looking forward to this trip for a couple of reasons, one I'd never been to California before, and two seeing Bob make an ass of himself in town I could only imagine that like a car wreck I'd not be able to look away on the road.

He slept through the entire night without moving. 

I scratched, squirmed, sat on the floor where I got to watch the roaches, and finally, like I say, I got a couple hours of sleep on the box springs.

Daylight came and I shook Bob awake. "c'mon, lets get an early start and make up some time!" I said, "mmluph,,, gorph,.. uh. "OK, I guess so" was the reply I got.

Breakfast was back on the interstate at a brand New SAMBO's soon to have it's own problems, me reeking of sulfur, Bad Bob calling me a pussy for scratching away, and by about ten in the morning we were finally out of the state, in Alabama, headed for New Orleans.

Bad Bob lost on the Mississippi Delta

When last we saw our hero, Ormond Bad Bob, (and if you haven't seen parts one or two, click on the link or this won't make much sense...), we were leaving Monticello, Florida June 1973 in the afternoon headed for Pasadena California with a six wheel dually U-Haul truck loaded with household goods and plain old concrete blocks.

After almost sleepless night in Monticello we finally cracked the Alabama Florida border on the second day of our trip. Bob had some personality problems. the last woman I'd known him to date had once told me, 'it's not like he's really a BAD guy in spite of that handle that his brother hung on him, it's just that when he's NOT being an asshole it's like there isn't anybody there'. I could relate at that time in my life.

Alabama, between Florida ands Mississippi it a tiny spit of land, gerrymandered between the state to give Big Cotton in Alabama a port that couldn't be taxed in the 1800's. I have driven across it on the same road in under an hour many many times.
We managed to spend half the day there.

"OOOOOWWW!!! there is the BEST Army-Navy store here!!!", cried Bob as we left the Florida border behind, and so there was, family run, covering acres of ground not far from where turn off to the battleship Alabama is.
We walked and dug in that place for at least a couple hours, ended up spending almost nothing, (I was going to a new life in California after all!), and got back in the truck headed for a night in New Orleans.

Mississippi is kind of a blur, I know it's not from speed because the U-Haul had a governor on it that allows a maximum of 58 miles an hour. I was deeply happy though when we got into Louisiana though, till we stopped for gas.

I'm not sure if it is still the case but in 1973 you could buy a pint of hard liquor in almost any convenience store or food selling gas station we saw along the I-10 route we were taking.

This really wasn't a good thing.

Bob didn't have a drinking problem so much as an asshole problem, in that, after just a couple of snorts he'd scream "GETTING' FEISTY" and begin to do things like give the middle finger salute to fellow drivers.
Beer wasn't so bad, he could stand oh, six or eight beers before losing his higher (as in survival) instincts, but hard liquor, well...

Bob came back from the gas stop we'd pulled the truck into with a couple of hot oyster 'po'boys' sandwiches and a big paper grocery bag. when he put the bag on the floor and I looked inside all I could say was "OH *SHIT* BOB!" for there were two half pint bottles, one Tequila, the other Scotch, a pretty ratty looking lemon, a handful of salt packets an pair of cups and a banana.

To this day I have no idea what the banana was for, though I suspect he didn't want to 'look like a drunk'.
I'd seen him buy canned dogfood once for a similar reason, then we had to find somebody who had a dog.

"That is IT" I told him.. if you are into this shit I'm drivin'.

"You want to get out here?" he asked? "If I do you better make sure I don't have phone money!" I pushed back.

"OK, OK.. you can drive, I'll just sit over there and get shitfaced."  So we swapped.

Back on the road. An hour, one oyster sandwich, and a half a half point of tequila and a half half point of cheap scotch, because the  tequila "tasted off"  later and it's, "GETTING' FEISTY" and glaring at the other vehicles.

At 58 miles an hour you don't spend too much time on the inside lane, so he wasn't as bad as if he'd been on the drivers side. At some point in pretext of wanting a drink I'd gotten hold of both bottles and tightly capped dropped them behind the seat so at least he wouldn't get any worse, but he wouldn't pass out either. That was, I guess now looking back at it, a good thing.

I was concerned about him passing out because he was the only one to know where we were going and now we were coming off the long, long bridge into New Orleans. Dick, aka BIG Dick from my time working in the amusement park, Lived out on the delta a ways from the city proper and Bob had steadfastly refused to either give me his address or phone number "Dick is very funny about that you know he's had ex-wife trouble".. I'd tried everything, starting with roaring at him "you fucking ASSHOLE I KNEW HIM BEFORE I KNEW YOU!" and "SHIT I'VE HAD EX-WIFE TROUBLE AND NEVER BEEN MARRIED! GIVE ME THE FUCKING ADDRESS!".

But to no avail.

So now we were cruising down the interstate just past lake Pontchartrain and Bob is peering at the map as it was getting dark, and muttering "but it's right off the interstate!"

Suddenly he looks up and sees a exit sign and scream "GO THERE!" and off we go onto I-310 or it's 1973 equivalent.

Inside of a mile or two we are on a two lane city, then country road. "Lets just stop and call Dick and get directions I said for the first of what must of have been twenty times that night.

Finally at about eleven PM we found a truck stop open, Bob having sobered up from sheer anxiety I think, and he called his MOTHER back in Florida to get Dicks phone number. Dutiful brother that he was came and got baby brother (If you hadn't been with him I'd have taken longer Lloyd), and with me driving we retraced our course to three exits BEFORE the emergency 'turn here', and so to bed.

Morning came early, Dick has reenlisted in the navy and has a late watch that day so he could sit and visit with us while wife number three (I truly can't summon her name), fidgeted around with the teevee and coffee pot.

"Dick were are we going to put these concrete blocks?" I asked. "Whaddya mean?" Dick replied.

"Your Mother INSISTED we deliver these to you!" I says as I open the roll up door and show him the wall in the back of the truck. "If not for these we could have brought everything in my van", I tell him.

A long, long silence ensues.

"Wellllllll...." Dick says, I can't take them, for Chirstsake I'm going out to sea next month and (insert wifes' name here) is moving back in with her parents into an apartment." "I guess you better just take them on to Mom and see what she wants to do with them."

"Now just a god-damned minute here", I screamed, "this fucking truck might, just MIGHT get up above 58 miles an hour without this load of stupidity!"

Big smile, "yeah... I know" and Dick is walking into the house.

End of part three.

October 13, 2009

It was fifty years ago today.
The folks said 'I do' in Phoenix
after having trouble finding
a magistrate on a holiday.

They stayed married till
his death in 1982,
thirty-three years together,
always loving each other,

Four years along they
decided to do something
they didn't have to,
they decided to love me.

but this is about them,
both long gone now,
the two finest people
I have ever known.