Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Frontier Ranch June 27th 1971

We worked Frontier Ranch, just east of Columbus, Ohio, on June 27th, which was a Sunday show back in those days. It was hot; down in a valley with a steep hill to one side and a little creek running to the left and behind the stage.

Joe Stuart was driving when we got there and it was mid to late morning. I was just waking up as the bus was being maneuvered back and forth into the trees along the creek. When I went up front and sat down, Joe was still in the drivers seat, starting the generator for the air conditioner, and Bill was sitting behind him. Shortly, Joe got up and went back into the coach and as he came out, Johnny Johnson was driving Lester Flatt’s bus and was turning and beginning to park near us. Joe made the statement, “They’ll all be over here in a little bit,” to which Bill inquired how he knew that. It seems that Joe had been talking to Josh Graves during the week, and Lester’s generator wasn’t working, and it was mighty hot on the bus when the “road air“ wasn‘t running.

Joe got off the bus, and in a few minutes, there was a gentle knock at the door. Bill said “See who that is.” I looked out and it was Lester and I told Bill. He said, “Just let him in.” I pulled the arm that opened the door and I moved back to the next row of seats as Lester came in and sat where I had been sitting, across from Bill. These two guys had “buried the hatchet” at Bean Blossom a week before, having not directly spoken in many years, yet they talked the next two hours as if nothing had ever happened.

I only wish I could have had the presence of mind to make a few notes of what they talked about. I remember the conversation began with Lester asking, “Where did y'all work last night?” For the next two hours, they talked about all sorts of things. The only thing I remember well was the idea came up of working some together. Bill said we could "go right across the country, all the buses together." Lester said we could call it "the Bluegrass Caravan." As Lester was getting ready to leave, to get dressed for the show, Bill asked him, “Do you think we could do a couple of numbers together this afternoon?” to which Lester said, “It would be my pleasure, Bill.” My chill bumps were plentiful and it was in the high 90s outside.

The crowd was large and many had heard of Bill and Lester’s reunion the week before in Bean Blossom. Anticipation was in the air -- would they would do it again? Then when Lester and his group came out at the end of Bill’s show and “Little Cabin Home on the Hill” was kicked off, the audience came unglued….

It was late that night before everything was over. Then we went over to the Astro Inn. Everyone went in and after a little while, I was tired and went back to the bus and went to bed. I woke up when everyone were getting back on the bus, but went back to sleep pretty quick. The next time I woke up, we were heading up the long hill going into Kentucky out of Cincinnati on I-71. Dan Jones had been driving. About this time, Bill got up. He was walking up the aisle, brushing his hair back with his hands, and saying someone sure did some mighty good driving last night. Dan had been in transportation while in the Army and could handle the coach with no problem.
Joe and Kenny were bragging on Dan and kidding him about how Bill could sleep so good with him driving. As I came up the aisle, Baker looked at me and said, “You grew up on a farm and operated machinery didn’t you?” to which I replied, "Yeah." He looked at Joe and said, “Looks like we might have us another driver in the band.”

Dan lived in Louisville, so we stopped there along the way. Dan called his wife and she picked him up at one of the exits and we headed on toward Nashville. We’d only gone a few miles and Kenny looked back at Joe and said, “Do we need to break in another one on this trip?" Joe just smiled, and for the next few miles they showed me how to change drivers while you are going down the highway.

The person getting ready to drive takes the wheel while the person who has been driving slides out of the seat, then the new driver slides into the seat while holding onto the wheel. When I got my school bus license a few years before, I don't think that was on the test. It sounds crazy and was a little awkward, but we made it, and from Louisville to just outside of Nashville, that was my first “seat time” driving a coach.

Back in those days I-65 didn’t go all the way to Nashville, so just before the interstate ended Joe again took the wheel and drove us on to where we parked the coach in Goodlettsville.
Jack Hicks wasn’t with us. His dad, Pat, and his mother, Jenny, traveled to many of the shows and whenever he could, he would go back to Ashland and then take the bus to Nashville the next week in time to go to the next shows.
We got back into Nashville on Monday morning the 28th about 10 or 11 o'clock.

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