childhood tales VI

 
STORY #22 "A HARD HEAD MAKES A SOFT TAIL"
  
Dad wouldn't let me ride my new bike in the street, only in the yard! We had a fenced in yard, but it wasn't long enough to get up enough speed to ride! Boy oh boy, if I only could ride up the street and back it would be great! Dad told me that it was dangerous in the street! Elmer's bike was taken last week right off his porch, and it hasn't been found yet! My bike could be taken, I could be hit by a car, I might run over something and get a flat tire.... This possibility never occurred to me when the urge to ride, pedal and break was too tempting! You know me, and then you know what happened.... The gate opened, and I went up 15th Street with a big smile on my face! I was riding down Fillmore when I noticed four boys at the other end of the block. They saw me....I waved, and next thing I knew one of them grabbed me and pulled me off the bike to the ground! I was holding on to my bike for dear life...finally letting go! As I saw my bike going down the street, I said.....here it comes...."OH NO!" Dad told me this would happen! I picked myself up and ran up Fillmore Street crying....big time! I ran to my house where Dad was reading the paper. I said "Some kids stole my bike!" "Did they come in the yard?" "No....I...was....up.....the street." Dad said "WHAT, WHAT, I told you, never mind, which way did they go?" Dad jumped in our car and sped down the street. I didn't know what was worse....losing my bike or getting yelled at when Dad came back for disobeying him? I was always hard headed, but all of you knew that....right? It seems that there was a gang stealing bikes in the area. I found out that they would paint, and disguise the bikes some kind a way! I was upset at the prospect of this happening to my bike!  I had just told Elmer that I thought that I saw his bike at the market on Grace St! We put a certain decal on the crossbar of the bike. It was a decal of a guy in a toilet, all you could see was his head sticking out. His hand was on the plunger and the caption said "Goodbye cruel world!" That decal in a certain place on a different color bike would be a dead giveaway! Elmer told the police and hoped that this report would put him a little closer to finding his bike! Anyway....that was the longest few minutes of my life wondering where Dad was, and it was all my fault! My eyes were glued to up 15th Street with tears in my eyes when around the corner came our white Chevrolet. In the trunk was MY BIKE! Dad told me that he saw the boys gathered around the bike on White Rock hill. He pulled up, rolled down the window and yelled "Where did you all get that bike!!!" The boys dropped the bike to the ground and ran off in different directions! Dad picked it up and put it in his trunk, and started home! Man....I was glad to see that bike! The next thing he said stopped me in my tracks..... "Take a good look at it because you are not going to see it for two weeks! A hard head makes a soft tail!" That was the longest two weeks of my life! Below is a picture of my sister and me....IN THE YARD! If you look in the basket by the rear wheel on the bike, you will see the radio a few weeks before it was destroyed at the basketball game! Story #8!

 

 



 
 

STORY #23   "THE RADIO STATION WASN'T MY FIRST REAL JOB!"



My first job was at a department store! G.C. Murphys had opened in Pittman Plaza, and was very popular with everyone. It had a flower dept, toys, records, everything under one roof. There was a Snack section manned by Chef Sam Watkins. People would come for miles around for his sandwiches! They had a cool item that no-one had....an escalator! I rode my bike there and discovered that they had hired a Black cashier. Leroy Copeland DHS-'67 was hired to oversee the record department. If you wanted to get all the latest songs out, Leroy could get it for you! The only other record shop was L. Oppleman. They had booths where you could play the records and see if you liked them or not. Their 45's were 98cents, Murphy's were 76cents! Lp's were $2.77 for mono, and $3.77 for stereo. The songs sounded better in stereo for some reason? Leroy had the hifi going all over the store while you were shopping you might hear something you liked! He was selling a lot of records! Leroy told me there was a part-time position open at the store for a cashier. I applied for it. You had to take a test.....I was the only Black in with five other people for the same position. The questions were things like....if an item was $2.99, and the customer gave you $5.00, how much change would you give back? Well, back then there weren't many Black cashiers anywhere in town....Leroy was the first on the sales-floor with a key to the cash register! You had to keep up with the total in your register every few hours. I just knew I didn't get the job being the only Black in the bunch, but to my surprise I got it! I was the only one that passed with an almost perfect score! I guess that they liked a Black guy counting correctly, rather than anyone else giving back the wrong change! Mrs. Candeler was our supervisor! I worked Thursday 5-till close at 9PM, and was on sick call if someone couldn't make it to work. I worked Saturday from noon-7PM, being still in school. I walked to work mostly cutting through Miller Park, walking up the wall in front of the Salvation army! I listened to the radio a lot, and told Leroy about this great song I heard. It was Leroys job to guess how many copies of one song to order? We'll order 50 copies of "She Loves you-The Beatles. 50 "Shotguns" by Jr. Walker, and so forth! You try not to tell a customer you don't have a song, just that you can get it for them! I learned a lot about marketing, and sales! The records came from Deans one Stop, a record distributor from Richmond. I thought this was strange, the lady that brought the records was a little White lady, and boy did she know her music! She knew the Temptations, 4 tops, Wilson Pickett like they were best friends! I was there when she brought to 100 copies of this song that she said was going to be a hit and best seller! Leroy played the song over the stores loudspeaker system and a crowd came to the record department and wanted to buy copies! I'll never forget, the song was "The Horse" by Cliff Nobles & Company! I was there for a year before I got laid off, but I had enough money to start my little radio station WKKD! The rest of the story is on my (CLICK HERE) "WKKD" page on this web-site. I still kept in touch with Leroy, and he provided the music for the station! Leroy would give me a copy of any song he wanted me to push on the radio. The one copy he gave me could turn into hundreds he would sell that week....we had a great racket going! Everyone was happy....I had music for my radio station, Leroy had customers for the record department, and Lynchburg had a great place to buy the latest hits! My job was great till a few of my teachers and friends came to G.C. Murphys to shop, and I waited on them! Below is a shot of Leroy, I am sure all will remember him! He was one of the few people who owned a 8 mm movie camera!  
(CLICK HERE) for a beautiful home movie at the Copeland's home, Christmas 1968 part I.  
(CLICK HERE) For Christmas 1968 part II. 
Leroy was at Murphy's from 1965-1969! Go to "events" on this site to see what Leroy is doing now! I talked to Leroy to get his approval of this story, and he told me something I forgot about in getting the correct number of records that would hopefully sell. You know a song, so do you order 25, 50, or 100 copies of it? We used a guide that came out every week....it listed the latest top tunes in different categories, Country, top 40, R&B/Soul, etc. Since at the time Lynchburg didn't have a Soul station, you really had to rely on "Billboard Magazine!" For example, if you hadn't heard of a song, but it was #2 on the Soul charts, it must be a best seller somewhere.....so you should order 100....get it? Under Leroy's picture is an example of Billboard for the week of September 10th, 1966. If you want to download the magazine and read about singers from the past......
(CLICK HERE)



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STORY # 24 WOW, LOOK AT THAT LITTLE SUCKER GO!!

I would get home from Payne school around 2:30PM after school let out at 2:20PM. I was a latch-key kid, and wore my key to the house around my neck. After letting myself in the house, I had to do my homework, before maybe visiting a few friends. My older friends wouldn't get home till 3:45PM after Dunbar let out at 3:25PM remember? That gave me an hour before Mom and Dad came in from school around 3:45PM. It was plenty of time to get into some mischief of some kind! One day I noticed this thing in a round glass case on the side of the house? It had something in it that moved a tiny bit, just barely. I happened to cut on a light or two, and I noticed that the little thing in the glass started moving faster. Interesting.... I cut on a few more lights, and it went a little faster...wow, a discovery? I wonder what it was? I cut on a few more lights, it was really moving now! I happened to cut on our electric stove....it was really, really moving now! About then, the furnace cycled on and that thing was going so fast you could bearly see it! You could see the gears moving as they worked the dial for some reason? By now I had about every light and appliance on in our house! Right about now, Mom and Dad arrived home. They would always tell friends that everyday they would turn the corner on 15th St, and hope and pray that the house was still there and not two chimneys smoldering....next would always come a sigh of relief! Anyway...Dad got out of the car and I very proudly told him I wanted to show him something. I don't remember anything too much after I told him "Just look at that little thing in the glass case go!" I saw the belt come out of the loops in his pants...."Oh NO!" Just imagine me cutting off switch after switch fast as I could all through the house, while dodging the belt! Wow.....now what did I do wrong!!??  



 
 
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