Story #16 “1966 GTO”

My parents had a 1966 Pontiac GTO, and oh how I loved that car! I could not wait to get my learners permit so I could start driving that car! It had a 389 engine, 4 speed manual transmission, and gold color with white bucket seats! I used to sit in the driver’s seat, hold the gear shift and stare at the wooden dash. I loved every inch of that car, and I was counting the days till I could drive it! I remember being with my sister Val one evening. She scared me when she got it up to 110 MPH on the Golden Center Freeway! My Uncle Al and Aunt Betty lived down the street from us, and my Uncle Al always knew who was driving that car when it came by his house. He said he didn’t even have to look out the window; he knew who was driving by the sound of the car. When the engine RPM’s where high, and the car flew past his house, he knew it was Stan driving. When the RPM’s were a little slower but it still made the house rumble, it was Val driving. When the sound of the car didn’t shake their house, he knew it was my mom driving. When the car came by and it sounded like the engine was going to die, it was my dad driving.

As time went on the car started to overheat, and began to spend more time at Arch’s Automotive than our driveway. They seemed to get the problem fixed, but it cost my parents a lot of money, and then it would happen all over again. I remember riding with my mom to the grocery store in the GTO. I used to tell her how much I loved that car, and how I couldn’t wait to start driving it when I got my learners permit. About a week before I was to get my learners permit, I came home from school and there was a green and white Chevy Malibu sitting in the GTO’s place. I went into the house and asked who’s car that was, and my mom and dad said that was our new car! They had sold the GTO! Then they went to Colfax and bought the Malibu. Let’s just say Mark was very upset! The Malibu was a beautiful car, but it was no GTO!

Story #15 “In Search of the Lost Car”

Joel Sanders and I have been concert going buddies for a very long time! He also has this built-in radar that has worked every time we go to a concert! After the show is over, I just follow him and he gets us right to where the car is parked. We get in the car, and we are usually one of the first to leave the parking lot! Once we were at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, CA seeing Loggins and Messina. After the show the five of us headed for the parking lot with Joel leading the way. I decided I needed to use the bathroom on the way out. By the time I got to the car, there was already a big traffic jam! We only had to sit fifteen or twenty extra minutes in the parking lot, but this threw Joel off his game plan of getting us quickly out of the parking lot! I believe this evening being stuck in traffic threw Joel’s radar off balance! Later that year Joel flew up the Portland, OR in my neck of the woods, and we drove my car to Vancouver, WA so we could see Steely Dan and Michael McDonald play!

This was one of the greatest concerts we had ever attended! During the encore we headed for the exit with Joel leading the way, right when we hit the parking lot the music stopped! I followed Joel to the spot where we thought the car was parked, and it wasn’t there. We walked up and down the parking lot and still could not find the car. We split up and he walked this one area and I walked the opposite direction, still no car. 15 to 20 minutes had past and we finally found the car. We started the car up but it was too late, we were stuck in a massive traffic jam. So we were sitting there listening to music, and watching everybody getting mad in the parking lot! One guy who I think had a little too much to drink, made a sharp right turn in the parking lot, ran into a concrete barrier, and crumbled the whole right side of his car!

I believe Joel must have gotten his radar fixed, after the Dan show. We have gone to several concerts in the meantime and haven’t gotten lost once during our search for the car!

Story #14 “The Fair, Electricity, and Set List”

My band Steamer had just played our first gig with the DeLuca brothers, in a concert at Mitch Wards Ranch! We were discovered by a person on the Nevada County Fair Board and were contacted soon after to play the Pine Tree Stage on Saturday Night of the fair.

Steamer would never go by a set song list. After we finished playing a song we would look at each other and have a little band meeting. We would talk about what song we wanted to play next. Sometimes it would take us two or three minutes to decide on what we were going to play next. We had three weeks to practice for the gig, so we decided on fifteen songs and put them in a set order that we planned to follow. The band gave me the list, and I was to call out the next song. We were going to start with “Smokin” by Boston, so when we were ready to play I called out “Smokin.” My brother Stan piped up and said let’s do “Good Bye Your Honor” instead!

So I took the set list, waded it up and threw it over my shoulder, and we started playing “Good Bye Your Honor” while Stan stepped up to the microphone to sing the first verse. What Stan didn’t know was his guitar wasn’t grounded to the PA system. SNAP! Went the microphone and Stan stumbled back, dazed from a severe shock. John DeLuca saw what had happen, and started singing the first verse. Since we had two drummers, I jumped up to see if Stan was OK. He was pretty dazed for a few seconds but he quickly recovered. I switched the ground on the back of his amp, then he stepped up to the microphone and started singing the chorus. After the song was over we all looked at Stan, he said he was OK. Although we could tell he was still a little dazed, he played fine the rest of the night.

After the gig was over he told us how much it hurt when he got shocked. “That’s what you get for not going by the set list.” I told him. I guess a set song list and Steamer were never meant to be!

Story #13 “Let the Good Times Roll”

Nine days after the three Cummins brothers saw the Grateful Dead in Las Vegas, I took my two daughters Inez and Sarah to a Dead show in Portland, OR. I had taken Sarah to a Dead show the year before, but this was Inez’s first show! I remember it being a very hot Monday afternoon. They made us park our car on the other side of I-5 and we walked a half mile to the Venue. We walked onto the field and laid our blanket down on the grass about 100 feet from and center to the stage. Inez and Sarah were wearing two of my Grateful Dead shirts that were way too big for them. As we waited for the concert to start we took pictures, drank a lot of water and watched all the colorful “Dead Heads” as they walked by! Chuck Berry was the warm up band, he played a bunch of his hits like “Roll over Beethoven” “Johnny B. Goode,” but he really got the crowd going when he played “My Ding-A Ling!” Inez and Sarah got a big laugh from that song!

The Grateful Dead came out and played “Let the Good Times Roll” then a couple songs later they played “Tennessee Jed” and I was just singing away when I turned and looked at Sarah and she was laughing at me! The second set started with a very hot version of “Shakedown Street” then a real smokin’ version of “Terrapin Station” and later they rocked out on “Sugar Magnolia” and during the Sunshine Daydream part of the song, I looked over and saw both my girls singing! That put a big smile on dads face! For the Encore they played “Liberty” This was the last song I got to hear the Grateful Dead play, Jerry died a few months later. After the concert it was hard walking to the car, because we were all fried from the heat. But as we were walking to the car, I was thinking. I know the Grateful Dead is not my girl’s type of music, but I know they had a pretty good time. It wasn’t so much the music, it was the time we were able to spend together and have some fun! That hot day with my girl’s, I wouldn’t trade that for anything in this world!


Story #12 “Hands”

Hands come in all different sizes! Some people have small hands, some have medium size, some have large, and some have huge hands! My hands are in the huge category! I have had people stop me at work and tell me that I have giant hands! They put their hands up against mine, and say oh my gosh! They have taken pictures of my hands with their cell phones to share with someone they know. At church I drape my arm on top of the pew we are sitting in, and lots of times I hear people who are sitting behind us whisper “Look at the size of that hand” I have a buddy at work, and we like to give each other a bad time. He will do something to me, and when he is trying to escape from me, I will reach out and plant my hand on top of his head! I can palm his head with my hand, and he can’t get away from me, and he’s a big guy. The more he fights me the harder I squeeze his head, till he gives up and calls it a truce!

So am I blessed, or am I cursed with these huge hands? I can carry more drinking glasses to the dining room table then my wife or daughter can! But I have to ask someone to change a light bulb, because I can’t get my hand inside the light fixture to change the bulb. I can pick up items with one hand that most people need to use both their hands for. But I have a real problem using small nuts, bolts and screws. People are always asking me to open jars, plus I’m real good at catching a football and basketball one-handed. But I have a hard time working on cars, because I can’t get my hands into some of the tight areas in the engine compartment! So I really don’t have a good answer for the blessed or cursed question. All I know is, I enjoy having big hands, and I really don’t want to trade them in for small ones. So the next time you meet up with me, don’t be afraid to ask me to compare your hands with mine. Even thou I have heard it a million times, I still enjoy hearing: “Look at the size of those hands”