Cruising Main Street - Part 2
I remember one night my parents were out of town and I decided to have a small party. Jon, Jeff, Bumble, Andy, John, and a few others, plus some of the girls, were all invited. We had a great family room in the basement and that’s where the party was going to be. Unfortunately, as the evening went on more and more kids heard about it and by the time it was in full swing there must have been 50 or 60 people there – most of which I didn’t know. My buddies helped me keep things under control, ensuring no one went wandering through the house upstairs and helping me make sure that if they were smoking (anything) they did it outside. Surprisingly I got through the party with little to no damage and nothing missing (that I ever knew of.) And to my knowledge my parents never knew about it.
In the winter of 76, the day after a really good snow storm, the four of us went out into the country to do some bumper surfing. We found a small housing development far away from the city limits with only a handful of houses. Being outside the city meant the streets were not plowed and the cars coming and going had packed the snow down to make it very slippery – perfect for bumper surfing. For those of you who aren’t familiar with bumper surfing – it’s when you drive down an icy road with one or more people holding onto your back bumper sliding on the ice behind the car. It’s a lot of fun but very illegal…
Someone in the neighborhood apparently called the Sheriff’s Office and reported us. We had finished our bumper surfing and were headed back to town when I got pulled over by a deputy. He told me I’d been reported for bumper surfing (not the words he used) and said “We don’t go for that type of shenanigans in this county.” He made me sit in his car while he checked my license and registration but then he let me go with a warning not to get caught doing it again. I assured him I wouldn’t.
A couple of times in the Spring before I left we went out to an old strip mine they called “The Pond.” It was a nice, quiet little pool of water, about 60 by 80 feet and deep enough on one side that we could dive off the rocky cliff. There was one problem though. Over on the deep side, about six feet out and a couple of feet to the left, was a big rock under the water that you couldn’t see. So before anyone started diving off the cliff we had to swim around until we found the rock and one of us had to stand on it while the others were jumping. The water seeped into the pond from underground so it was very cold. But it was great fun.
In the Spring of 77, as Easter was approaching, Jon, Bumble and I volunteered our voices in the Coshocton Community Choir, which was performing Handel’s Messiah for their Easter presentation. (Jeff wasn’t much of a singer.) Since we all enjoyed singing along with the radio and were all in our own high school choirs, it wasn’t much of a stretch. (Yesterday morning Jon pointed out the interesting contrast of us “underage, town-cruising, drinking buddies that also sang the Messiah!)
I was honored to be chosen by our director to sing several solos including “The Trumpet Shall Sound”, a song I loved to sing. We went to our rehearsals every week and took our music home with us. I would practice my solos in my truck when I was working. By the time the evening came for the presentation I had everything mostly memorized and didn’t even need the music anymore.
The night of the performance people packed the church. We sounded great. I did the first two solos, very simple tunes really, without a problem. Then came my big moment – “The Trumpet Shall Sound” in front of a live audience. I was confident and sure – I knew the song inside out. I had sung it every day for a couple of months and I was ready.
I went through the first half of the song, hitting all the high notes strongly and projecting well. I was showing off and having fun. Then, about three quarters of the way through the song, I came in about two measures two soon. Looking back afterward I knew what had happened. When I sang in my truck I didn’t have the accompaniment – I sang without the background music so I started and stopped whenever it felt right. So that night, I started in with words at the wrong time. I glanced at the director’s face and knew instantly that I had messed up. I finished the measure and then came back in where I was supposed to and very few people even knew I had made the mistake. But Jon and Bumble did.
After the performance everyone was complimentary. Jon congratulated me and said “Even though you messed up that one part it sounded good and no one really knew about it.” Even the director said I covered it well and it was no big deal. I felt pretty good about the whole thing. My good friend Bumble was the only one who pulled no punches. He came over and quietly said “You screwed up.” He didn’t say it in a mean way or to make me feel bad – he was simply stating a fact. And he was right. I responded “I did.” Then he said “Don’t worry. No one knew but us. You covered it well.” So I was vindicated. I messed up but my friends didn't care.
A couple of nights before I left for the Air Force (on May 31, 1977) Jeff, Jon, Bumble and I went out to a local creek and camped out for the night. It was our last night together as a group. We drank a few beers and talked and laughed and stayed up half the night. Jon reminded me that we also had fireworks because there was a fireworks manufacturer just up the road from where we were camping. It was a good time.
It’s interesting – as I have been thinking about Coshocton and the memories I realized I only lived there for about a year and only knew Jon and Bumble for about seven months before I left town for good. I would come home on leave and we’d hang out again but then, a couple of years later my parents moved from Coshocton so it was no longer home. And I didn’t get back there for a long time.
In 2009 I stopped in Coshocton to look up Bumble – the only one I knew who still lived in town. I had searched for him online and discovered he worked for the county so I stopped by his office to see him one day while driving that way. He wasn’t in but I left him a note that I’d stop by again on my way back through town. On the way back I didn’t catch him at work but I found Jeff’s address and stopped by his house. He hadn’t changed at all in 30 years. He still has the same old 68 Plymouth Satellite convertible (I think that’s what it is) that he bought when I lived there. He introduced me to his son and said “I’d like you to meet one of the best friends I ever had.”
While he and I were standing outside talking, Bumble drove up. He lives next door to Jeff. He no longer has his hair but other than that he looks the same as always. I still haven’t seen Jon. The sad thing about this is – when I lived in Columbus, Ohio, in 2009 and part of 2010, he lived on the other side of town. I found out he was there but it was after I began working full time and we never managed to get together. I left in August of 07 and even though I’ve been back to town a couple of times for family gatherings I have yet to see him. I feel badly about that and must remedy it one day.
Even after all these years and even though I don’t get to see them often enough, the friends I used to cruise Main Street with were good pals and I have a lot of great memories – especially considering what a short period of time I actually spent with them back then. I’m hoping one day to arrange a reunion with them. Have dinner in Coshocton and cruise up and down Main Street again – even if we all pile into a minivan!