The Mailbox
Breakfast after the Rubaiyat
Mannequins
Bootcamp Movie
Shoot the Fish
Gay ScoutLeader
Surprise Inspection
Museum Madness
Rebel With A Cause


The Mailbox

When Tim, Dan and I were living on Teaneck Street, our mailbox fell into such disrepair the mailman refused to deliver our mail. We got a notice stating that until it was brought up to standard we would have to pick up our mail at the Post Office.
After a month of inconvenience we finally fixed it. Then we left the mailman a message.

Divers may do it deeper. And welders do it with hot rods.
But, "A Mailman never puts it in a bad looking box"!

I watched him from the window as he read the note, smiled and put it in his pocket.


Breakfast after the Rubaiyat

The Rubaiyat was a club where I first started playing with Johnny Williams. Many girls came there seeking pleasures of the night. And the band was always ready with all kinds of entertainment. During the course of a three-year run, we had a 100% divorce rate in the band. It was during that time I coined the phrase, "Many Pussabilities". I've never enjoyed the company of an overweight girl at any time of my life and I sure wasn't going to start now when I was in the hottest group in Houston. But this one girl was relentless. She finally cornered me after the gig and popped the question. "Well how about it Leo, you wanna go to breakfast with me?" I quickly replied, "Sorry, I'm on this strict diet y'see." Undaunted she pressed on. "I'll go on a diet with you. It will be nothing but hard-boiled eggs and sex, three times a day." Wink. Wink.
My comeback has kept me grinning for years. "Sorry babe, I don't mind eating nothing but eggs, but I'll be God damned if I'm gonna cut back on my SEX !"


Mannequins

Around 1972 we were experimenting with tape-assisted live performance. As far as I know, no one had done it before. Also,I had this weird idea to get some mannequins and put them on the stage with us. I guess, to justify all the extra parts being played. I bought some used ones at a fire sale and dressed them up in my old band uniforms. I remember something Cliff Faldowski said to me about them(he really didn't dig the idea). It was like, "Look Leo, its o.k. to have them on the gig, but, do you have to bring them to REHEARSAL?"
We had good tracks that Bert Frilot helped me do at Jones Sound. We played a few gigs until we got tired of it. I finally gave up on the band, which was called "Chin Wizard", and joined the Johnny Williams Band.
I liked the mannequins and kept them at home for company in my mirrored living room. The reflections made it look like there was quite a crowd at my house. Then something happened that got the mannequins involved in a strange scenario. While my sister Betty and one of her friends were visiting they got a phone call from my sister's friend's brother who was wanted by the FBI. I didn't know about this and was really surprised when an FBI man called on me one day soon after. He had proof of the call between our houses and was certain I was lying to protect the fugitive. I guess I did act guilty cause, also, in the living room was a very illegal slot machine I brought home from Las Vegas. The FBI guy was really freaked out by the mannequins. He'd see them out of the corner of his eye and reach for his gun. After several of these moves he finally asked me if he could search the apartment. He pulled his gun out and checked every room. When finally satisfied I was not hiding a wanted man he left and gave me his card. The mystery was solved when I checked my calendar and saw I had visitors on the day in question. A call to my sister explained everything. It did not register on me when the FBI guy was at the house cause I didn't know my sister's friend's last name. I called the next day and explained it to him. I guess it sounded plausible cause that was my last visit from the Feds. I give the mannequins credit for distracting the FBI guy enough to make him miss seeing the slot machine.


Bootcamp Movie

Fort Jackson, SC 1957

One of the biggest laughs I ever had was in Army Boot Camp in S.Carolina. It was sooo good I wonder if it was staged. We had just finished a grueling week of training on the firing range. Every day the temperature soared into the high nineties and we had to hike back and forth to the range, which was eight miles from our barrack. Without giving away the joke, I have to explain how structured the procedure is at the range. I mean, you don't move a muscle before you're told to. It's kind of like, "Ready on the right, ready on the left, ready on the firing line. Do this, do that." The range master controls everything. When we finally completed the training we were allowed to go to our first movie at the PX Theater. The scene that set the stage for the whole company erupting into riotous laughter for over ten minutes went like this. The female lead walked in on her husband and his lover in bed together. She then proceeded to shoot both of them. The director was no doubt trying to heighten the drama when he showed a extreme close-up of the lady holding the still smoking gun to her face and sobbing, "Oh God! What do I do Now?" A voice from the back of the theater cried out,
"Police up your brass and move back to the Ready Line !"
We went nuts.


Shoot The Fish

Andy Chapman told this to me; I don't remember it happening. We had spent a wild night at the "Chief Motel" on Main Street entertaining red-headed, twin sisters from Conroe. Then we took a ride to Galveston for a swim. On the way home I stopped to buy some fish to bring to my wife, who I thought I had told I was going fishing. Andy asked me why did I get those fish. I gave him my reason. He then corrected me, saying I had told my wife I was going hunting! According to Andy, the next thing I did was slam on the brakes, swerve off the road, while yelling, "Oh my God! We gotta SHOOT THE FISH !"


Gay ScoutLeader

Of all the weird situations in which I have been embroiled, this has to be the tops. It only goes to show what a naive lad I was and how efficiently my good Catholic upbringing sheltered me from the real world.
It also reinforces my belief in Guardian Angels, cause I'm sure mine was working overtime on this one.
I was a scout between the ages of thirteen and fifteen and at no time did I suspect that my revered leader was queer. In fact, I didn't even know what a queer was! Such was life in the early 1950's.
This whole situation was figured out only after I mustered out of the Army at age twenty-three.
My good friend Peter Hearty and I, plus another fellow who was in the scouts with us, were at my house talking about our time in the service.
Somehow or another we started talking about the Boy Scouts and amazed ourselves when our experiences therein were seen in our now more mature light.
Here now is an account of the things that were going on in my troop.
Our Scout master was a Captain in the Army and a normal, masculine looking man with rigid posture and a powerful deep voice.
He also had friends that were bikers. They accompanied us on our camping trips and conspired to create situations that would terrify the boys.
The first place I remember going was to Fort McComb,in the Rigolets area East of New Orleans. This was a desolate, ancient and overgrown civil-war fort, in the middle of nowhere,complete with a moat full of snakes. How the scout leader got the keys to the place is beyond me.
The morning of that first trip, we all met at the Captain's house at five a.m. We piled into a bus and took off, with the bikers trailing behind on their Harleys. Our parents did not suspect a thing.
At the first stop, one of the bikers asked me to ride on the back of his bike. I was thrilled that he said I looked old enough to ride with the big guys. Of course, I did it. I guess I didn't respond the way he expected, cause I was booted off at the next stop.
That night they faked a murder and a hanging. I could tell it looked fake but the younger kids didn't.
When the police showed up, (more of the biker gang in costume) they consoled the really scared kids by getting into their tents and hugging them to sleep.
I remember five or six other trips that followed the same scenario.
The Captain was promoted to Major and bought a place in Waveland, Mississippi. It was located in deep woods and the only sign of civilization was his mobile home that was inhabited by a guy I now know was a shameless fag. He'd take us there for our camp-outs and teach us the manly skills of ditch digging, land-clearing and whiskey-drinking.
One night my bunkmate excitedly woke me up to see what was going on in the mobile home. He directed me to peek in the window from a vantage point in a nearby tree. There, I saw the fag caretaker giving a blowjob to one of the Eagle Scouts. The rest of the Eagles sat around and watched. I knew it was wrong to do such back then, but I didn't understand it as homosexual behavior.
We took quite a few trips to Waveland and much of the same went on. Luckily, I was never asked to participate in the sex and if any of my close friends were, they didn't tell me about it. I had such a good time playing in the woods I guess I ignored it all.
One strange thing I was asked to do was get in a 5'x5' garbage pit armed with my scout knife. A copperhead snake was then thrown in the pit. I was to prove my manhood by killing it before it bit me. Again, the Angel watched over me.
A sad, sick, but now somehow humorous event that took place on those trips was the "Short-Arm Inspection". Our intrepid leader was always telling us that we were not to behave like little boy scouts, but to think of ourselves as future soldiers and act as men.
He assured us that all soldiers had to participate in the "Short-Arm Inspection". This was to insure that we would be lice-free and in no danger of succumbing to the various contagious diseases that plagued our armed forces. This was heavy stuff for 12-year-olds.
He'd line us up very formally with commands such as, Troop... Fall in... Tench Hut.... Parade Rest and the like. Then he'd instruct us to drop our pants and the inspection would begin.
He'd wend his way through the ranks and check our little testicles, dicks and butts. He'd often ask the advice of his brother, who was also gay.
All this came to an abrupt stop when he slapped some Vaseline on one guy's bottom and tried to insert his finger. The guy ran off and started crying. The Major finally calmed him down by getting him drunk.
We had a nice log cabin for our scout meetings that occupied a back corner of the Lyons Center playground. I don't remember any hanky-panky going on in there. I guess the Major had enough sense not to mess around so close to home.
It all came to an end when the Major disappeared. We went over to his house and it was cleaned out. Not a trace of him ever surfaced. Nobody, including our parents knew what happened to him. I can reason now that he was probably exposed for the pedophile he was and had to run.
I remember also that my dad,on at least two occasions, tried to fix-up the Major with a girl from his office. Of course he politely declined. I later remember my dad ( innocently ) remarking to my mom, "I don't understand it Margie, he just doesn't seem interested in girls!"
I could never bring myself to tell my dad what we figured out.


Surprise Inspection

After Army basic training my first stop was at The Navy School of Music in Washington, D.C. Bobbylee(my first wife), joined me and we rented a basement apartment in nearby Anacostia, Md. I remember the ceiling was all pipes. Weird!
The married guys were allowed to "sneak" off post at night, but we had to be back before morning rollcall.
One morning, when getting dressed, I discovered I had no clean underwear. I had to do something, cause the highly-starched khakis were abrasive to say the least. I grabbed a pair of Bobbylee's stretch undies and wiggled into to them. O.K., no problem. That was until I got to the base and a surprise inspection was called to check, of all things, the laundry-marks we had to put in our shorts, shirts and trousers!
The Inspector General was making his way down the line of my squad, when, although my knees were shaking, I came up with a brilliant idea.
As he completed the inspection of the soldier on my left, I took a step forward, did a left face and smartly saluted him saying, "I hope everything was satisfactory , Sir"?
Apparently, I caught him off guard and he replied, "Yes it was, good job squad-leader; as you were."
Whew! I dodged a mighty bullet that time.
But, its amazing how easily you can forget what kind of skivvies you are wearing. And it was during our lunch break, that I got my just desserts.
Usually, after eating, most of my comrades and I went for a swim. Today was no different, except that when undressing, I had forgotten I was wearing my wife's laced undies!
No explanation could stifle that laughing and jeering crowd that gathered to witness my total embarrassment. And, for weeks after the incident I kept getting winked at and called by my new nickname, "PINKY" !


Museum Madness

I once played a strange gig with Big Otis at the Museum of Natural Science in Houston.
It was a fundraiser that featured many bands playing in the various display areas of the museum.
To these rooms were added tables and chairs to accommodate either intimate dining or drinking.
Some rooms were thronged and some had very little patrons.
While on break, I roamed into the "Dinosaur Room" where my old friend Cy Brinson was "playing to the walls". It was a bleak scene, not a customer in sight. This fact however, did not deter Cy from playing some of her great jazz piano.
When finished, she looked around the fossil-filled room and spoke to her audience of one, "Well, Leo, what do you think of the place?"
I had a good one ready, "Hmm, Kind of an OLD Crowd!"


Rebel With A Cause

My first high-school band director was Professor Jac Assunto, father of Frank and Freddie Assunto, pka, "The Dukes of Dixieland".
He was a great musician and teacher and I felt very lucky to have him as my band director.
When "The Dukes" hit the big time and moved to Vegas, alas, they took their dad with them. His moving left an abyss in the music department at Redemptorist High.
This story concerns one of the inept replacements that struggled to fill his shoes.
"Prof" was a jazz musician and respected the fact that some of the guys in his band were already gigging most weekend nights. He allowed us to take off after the half-time show at the football games to play out jobs. Also, he didn't like to abuse our lips with a lot of marching practice. He said that music always sounded "funny" when played with horns bouncing around on lips. Amen.
One of the temp band-directors felt differently about this and considered it his duty to whip his troops into shape with forced marches around the school yard.
On the third day we were driven to revolution.
The temperature was close to 100 degrees and after an hour, he still had us marching in the sun while he barked orders from a spot in the shade.
I had had enough, and, acting in my roll as band president, surreptitiously issued a suggestion that, on his next command of "forward march", we head straightway for the band room.
The band room was on the third floor and one way to access it was via the outdoor stairway. So, once we got moving, his command to "column right" was blatantly ignored and, though he kept screaming "column right", he watched helplessly as the whole band marched up the stairs and out of his control.
A triumph of rebellion.
He never chased after us, but he apparently reported it to the principal.
Later that day, I was summoned to the rectory to speak to the head priest about the incident. I told him we heard no command to turn the drums probably drowned it out.
The rest of the band backed me up to a man. And that was the end of it.
The replacement never came back after this rebuke by the entire band.

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This page and all it's contents are Copyright © 1996 by Leo O'Neil, Crosby, Texas -- U.S.A.