Flashback 1988 from the book Running As Fast As I Can


My wife and I left our wellness center early on Friday in 1988 to go to the fairgrounds to attend the U of L football rally and listen to Henry Lee Summer and his band play. After we arrived and took our places in the crowd, out stomped Howard Schnellenberger.  We were close enough to him to pull on his mustache.  He began to growl and provoke the crowd with slogans of victory and triumph.  His booming, thundering voice made you feel you were in the presence of the mythological god Zeus.  But, when his thundering voice stopped, the main attraction for my wife and I (The Henry Lee Summer Band) tore into a song that sent chills down my body. 

For a moment, I felt I was all by myself and the hundreds of people surrounding me were suddenly missing.  It was just me and I was watching Henry Lee's mouth moving and saying "I got my hands on the radio."  How long I stayed like this I do not know but while in this state, in my mind, I saw mom and and she and I were down on our knees in the old log house praying.  Mom was soulfully crying and clutching our old radio that only played half the time.  Dad took all my brothers to grandmas because mom was having another one of her psychotic breaks. He knew he would have to return her to the state mental hospital.  He left me at home with mom because I always seemed to calm her. 

A preacher was preaching hell fire and damnation on the radio.  He was saying stuff like, "brothers and sisters put your hands on the radio and pray for a miracle with me.  God has a miracle for you."  

With her eyes shut mom started crying louder and louder.  Then, she said, "John put your hands on the radio and pray with me".  As I was putting my hands on the radio, mom said, "have you got your hands on the radio John?"  I said, "yes momma, I got my hands on the radio." 

No miracle came from the radio that day.  When dad returned from grandma's house he drove mom to the Danville state hospital for the mentally insane. 

My wife called out my name and I was back with all the people and the loud noise of the band.

Flashback June 1968.  My band "Soul Sensations" was playing at a packed auditorium, the Somerset Roller Rink.  Lots of "hunters" were on the skate floor.  My band of four spilt $800 bucks for this gig.  We were hot and had a big following in Somerset, KY.  At the "set" break Mitch, K.R. and Billy left the stage to chill in the RV bandmoville.  As I am about to leave the stage a female hunter approaches and says, "Hey piano man you want to see my new.. and with her two hands she starts to lift her mini skirt.  Before she can finish completely pulling her skirt up over the top of her head, I excused myself and joined the other band members in the "bandmobile".  Anyway, this is the sanitized version not the rock and roll version.  I can tell you that I slept well that evening and in the morning I attended church with a huge grin on my face as I listened to the pastor preach on the topic,  "Flee Youthful Lust."  I wanted to say amen but I could not wipe that grin off my face long enough to speak.  I was 15 years old and the female hunter was 21 and two weeks earlier she graduated from a Christian college.  In the 60's parents shook their heads and told one another.  "Jesus saves but sex rules the heart soul and minds of teenagers."  They got that right. 
Flashback January 1955.  "Grab him Lois. He is going to die if we don't get him to the hospital,"  shouted Fred. "But, I got to put some clothes on him" said Lois. "For God's sake Lois he is shaking all over with a seizure.  Put a blanket around him and lets go"  screamed Fred.  Mom grabbed the blanket and wrapped me in it. The snow was falling heavy from the sky.  Dad ran ahead of her and opened the door to the back seat of his 1949  Chevy.  Mom was running too and slipped on the ice as she approached the car door.  Dad held out his hands to keep her from falling and my little body flew though the air into the back seat of the Chevy totally naked as the blanket left my body during my flight into the car. I can still feel the icy cold seats and the shaking stopping as I let out what seemed to be a life ending sigh.  "God dammit Lois.  We've killed him!"  "His dead." yelled Fred   Mom began to scream and cry because she thought I was dead.  But, actually the icy cold from the back seat of the car caused my 106 degree fever to drop sharply.  My shaking stopped and I started to speak and cry.  Mom and Dad grabbed me and took me back into the house.
I was one month away from being 3 years old.  I remember everything about my life from the age of 2 until now and I am going to share it with you.  It's been rocky and I have been forced to roll with events for which I had no control.  My rock and roll life has never been boring and it has kept me running as fast as I can.  But, I am old now and I can not run anymore.  So through these writings and reflections I hope I can be helpful to you as I share with you the challenges of my life.
I am going to take a break but I will be back soon to share more.  This is a large writing project that will fill a book.



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