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.  I don't know how I got through the crazy years with mom.  I say this respectfully because I loved mom. 

But, life today is just as crazy as it was with mom in the 50's.  In some ways, we live in the worst of times and I am hoping that we will all get through these times.  As individuals and as a nation we face strange challenges.  Our challenges are so great that sometimes it seems that the only solution our leaders have to offer us is the one I was offered in 1959 when the radio preacher told mom to  "Put your hands on the radio. God's going to give you a miracle."




Henry Lee Summer played Louisville many times and developed a national audience.  His music stroked the soul and disturbed your emotions.  Click the graphic below and listen to Henry Lee Summer's song "Put Your Hands On The Radio. and send me a critique.  Tell me how it makes you feel.  If you were born in the 50's, 60's or 70's. the music may have more of an impact on you.  Younger listeners may not understand the intention of the lyrics in the song.

Email your review and critique of Henry Lees' Song "Hand On The Radio" to news@hikespointnews.com

Writer, John Rodgers