Monday, July 12, 2010

Chapter 3, Part 6 - MY FINAL DAYS IN SPOKANE

During the ninth grade two incidents in particular stand out in my memories. Living next door to my siblings’ apartment, was a girl whose father was a photographer for the “Spokesman Review”, the main newspaper in Spokane. Her name was Cathy Lewis. At the time, I was MADLY in love with Elvis Presley. Her father was assigned to photograph back-stage pictures of Elvis for the newspaper when he came to Spokane for a concert. It was held in a football stadium outside because that was the only place large enough to accommodate all of those wanting tickets. I told Cathy about my undying love for Elvis and she talked to her father. They promised me that I would meet Elvis and have my picture taken with him! I was in seventh Heaven!

I got very dressed up, and painstakingly did my hair and make-up. My sister let me wear one of her nicest most expensive dresses. My father’s boss’s wife, Wanda, had purchased about 15 dresses for Beverly in Chicago...dresses that she got to choose out of Vogue and Bazaar Magazines! Wanda did this for Bev when she started College. We didn’t have many clothes because we always wore uniforms.

Finally, the night came. I had a ticket to attend the concert. Cathy told me to go to my seat and her dad was going to take the pictures during a half-time break. I waited. I watched the entire concert (in ecstasy) waiting for her to come and get me. The concert ended and she never came! I had driven with them to the concert so we found each other after the show.

She told me that they couldn’t find me!!! The photo session occurred before the show rather than at half time and I was not in my seat! I was heart broken. It turned out that I was seated in seat # 4-G-5 and I was supposed to be in seat # 5-G-4! I just knew, that if Elvis had met me, I would have been the love of his life!

After he developed the film, I saw several pictures of Cathy with Elvis. Years later, I would (once again) just a hair...meeting Elvis; which I will talk about later in my story. That night her father had taken pictures of me prior to leaving for the concert. I had some of the best pictures of me that I had ever taken at the time


The second incident was when I was listening to the radio at school and they had a contest. I decided to enter. The radio station was one located in Seattle. The contest was “Win a Date with Jimmy Bowen”. Jimmy Bowen was a partner with Buddy Knox and together they had a hit record. Knox had one side of the 45 called “Party Doll”, and Bowen had the flip side called “I’m Sticking With You”. Both songs were hits and both of them were very popular in 1957 when I heard about the contest.

All you had to do to enter was send in a photograph of yourself with a brief description (age etc). I sent one of the pictures Cathy’s father had taken of me on the night I went to see Elvis. To my utter amazement, I WON the contest!! As excited as I was, my father would not let me go on the “date” unless he went along (much to my embarrassment and dismay).

I waited months for this “date” to happen. Then, I was notified by the radio station that Jimmy Bowen could not go on the date. He had recently married Keely Smith (who had been married to Louis Prima (they were a singing duo). I later learned that Bowen had also quit the business as an entertainer and got into the production end. He also became the President of several Record Companies. He is still a Magnate in the music industry, especially Country.

So, the radio station (I believe it was KGY) told me I could choose, out of a list, a different singer for the date. The difference was, it wouldn’t be a “date” but someone I could meet backstage and be photographed with. I can’t remember all of the choices that were given to me but I do remember there was either one of the Everly Brothers, Paul Anka or Ricky Nelson. I chose Ricky Nelson. Many years later, I would regret not choosing Paul Anka.

When the day finally came, my father took me to Seattle and we (both) went backstage after the show. I had my picture taken with Ricky Nelson, which I still have. The entire procedure took about five minutes, or less. I remember being SO embarrassed when my father told Ricky Nelson that he was a huge fan of the TV series “Ollie and Harriet” (it was actually Ozzie and Harriet).


My sister took extra classes so she could graduate from college early. She was getting married in February because her husband-to-be was in ROTC and was scheduled to be stationed in Fort Lee, Virginia as a First Lieutenant in the Army.

My whole family was all part of the wedding. We even flew our mother from Seattle to Spokane and bought her a new dress so she could attend too. This was the second and last time all of us were photographed together. My brothers were ushers and I was a bridesmaid. Her colors were red and white and I had a beautiful red dress. I wore it when I met Ricky Nelson. The wedding and reception were fabulous. It was held in the Ridpath Hotel which was the newest and most modern hotel in Spokane. An interesting side note is that the two people that were in charge of arranging weddings and large banquets were Mr. Cheatum and Mrs. Swindle!

Lots of alcohol was served and my brothers and my mother all got plastered! My father yelled at my mother and berated her in front of everyone. He made her cry. None of us ever forgave him for that. We had the misfortune of having a father who was a complete asshole. He was cruel, self-centered, selfish, inconsiderate, detestable, vulgar and just an all out horrible human being. I don’t know how he could even stand being himself. Every one of us hated him. We always did from as far back as I can remember, up to the day he died. Bill and I hated him the most.

The last time I saw my mother was at my sister’s wedding. I was fifteen. The wedding was in February, 1958 and my mother died in June, 1959. Like I had explained earlier, she never recovered from the stroke she had when I was five. She had learned to walk but had to drag her right leg and it was very difficult for her. Her right arm was bent and immobile and her hand was in a permanently closed fist, which she couldn’t open. She could talk but it was a huge struggle. She could only speak enough words to enable her to convey things to us. Only those who were close to her could really understand her (after getting used to it over time). Somehow, she managed to say four-letter cuss words as clear as a bell though! We all really loved her with all of our hearts.

My time in Spokane had finally come to an end. My father was transferred by his Company to work permanently in the Chicago area. Up until then his “territory” as a salesman was the thirteen Western States. While in Chicago he would only cover Illinois and four surrounding states. So, I was off to attend my final boarding school in Evanston, Illinois.

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