There was an old WWII Army buddy of my dad named Louis Jones. The guy was way older than my dad, loved to play cards, bullshit, drink beer, tell stories – often he’d ask my mother to cover my young ears – and jokes. I loved the guy. He was great to me and always brought me peppermint candies.Eventually, I discovered that my dad knew a bunch of musicians. There came an era in our household on Bartholomew in Desire that I realized that some of these card playing people were quite gifted musicians.
Apparently, my dad had saved Mr. Jones’ life during some battle. They were in the same outfit in Germany in 1944. My dad seldom talked about the war, nor did he boast of any heroism. But it was obvious that Mr. Jones held him in high regard.
I vaguely recall one night when Mr. Jones and an Indian brother that my father knew from Red Cliff Res sat and played music for hours. They just seemed to “jibe together” as my dad put it. Twas all magic to me.
Mr. Jones played a funny looking instrument with 5 strings – a banjo I later learned was its name – and the Indian played a beat up guitar. I seem to remember the Indians name as Eddie though my dad often called him Silver Hawk. Someone took a picture of Eddie playing guitar with me entranced watching his hands and the head of a banjo poking in from a corner. I presume the banjo player was Mr. Jones as he was the only one I ever remember playing that particular instrument at that stage in my life.
Anyway, the two cats blew away the card game converting the card party into a night of beer drinking, dancing, and singing; more reinforcement for me as an entertainer.
The two were quite a contrast: the bronze coloured Indian against the white haired man with the broad, sweeping mustache and granny glasses.
Years later, my dad whooped at our black & white TV as his old Army buddy appeared on a new show. Mr. Jones looked exactly the same as I remembered and he played the same song: That Good Ole Mountain Dew. We were back on the res by that time and I recall clearly my dad saying, “That’s my old buddy, Louis. He was at least 10 years older than the rest of us and woke up grumpy every morning earning him the nickname of Grandpa.”
The show was Hee Haw. We never missed an episode. It was clear that my dad felt great pride in his buddy. He also loved Buck Owens and Roy Clark. I dug both cats too, even though it wasn’t cool at the time among my peers. I am currently working up an album of Buck Owens covers. The guy was fun!
I never saw the Silver Hawk again. I asked years later what had become of him, none remembered. The cat was quick fingered, broad in range, with a humble, soulful feel. He remains one of the best musicians I’ve ever met.
That became a recurring theme in my life: the best musicians, performers, and entertainers that I played with were people that most have never heard of.
Sic Gloria Mundey – All Glory is fleeting.