Hi. Remember me? I am the Early Bevboy series. I don't get out much. I'm pretty lazy. The last time you saw me was in December 2011.
This series, which appears only slightly more frequently than Halley's Comet, is about Bevboy's early years. Little stories and vignettes about his past that helped make him the Bevboy he is today.
As promised back in the previous entry in this series, I will now tell you about the first prize I ever won on the radio.
It was August of 1977. Of course, I was listening to the radio one Thursday evening. There was a feature called Artist Review, if memory recalls. This was on Annapolis Valley Radio, 1490 on the AM dial.
The host of the feature was an announcer who went by the name of Wally Milan. If you go back and read my Moe Dunn interview, you will see that Wally Milan was not his real name. I have no idea what became of him. But in the late 1970's, he was a very popular announcer on AVR. We all listened to him. He referred to his car as his gray ghost. He had little zingers like, "Wally? Who? Wally!" I have a few airchecks of him here at my home and really must digitize them before the cassette tapes disintegrate.
Anyway, that evening, the Artist Review was about KISS. If you answered a trivia question about these people (whose music I loved back in the day and can't bear to listen to today) and were the correct caller, you would win a copy of their latest album, hot off the presses. This was back in the day when they would produce two albums a year.
As it turned out, I knew the answer to the question. I raced to the phone. It was a rotary dial phone, so I dialled the number as quickly as I could. I got through! I correctly answered the question and won the prize. My name was announced on the air, which meant that the bullies would perhaps leave me alone for a few hours when school resumed in a few weeks.
The prize would be waiting for me at the radio station. They were and are on Oakdene Avenue in the lovely town of Kentville.
This created a small problem. It would be years before I got my driver's license. My dad was at work every day. My mother didn't drive. My older sister was... God knows where, doing God knows what. Probably working in some capacity. This meant that I would have to ride my bike from my house in Port Williams to the radio station, a distance of perhaps four miles. Not a big deal.
I called a friend of mine. He was a friend because he had not followed me to my new junior high school the previous year. He went to another one. So, he wouldn't have been in a position to bully me. I asked Chris if he would mind riding with me the next day to pick up my record. He agreed.
The following afternoon, I drove my bike to his place in Port Williams, about a mile from my parents' place. From there, we drove directly to the radio station. This was not that long a ride. My legs were in good shape from all the cardio I got from bike riding. And the actual drive was on Belcher Street. He lived on that street, and it would take us 99% of the distance to the radio station; Oakdene Avenue is directly off the other end of Belcher in Kentville.
(Yes. Belcher is a surname, and the street was named after a member of that family, Benjamin. If there can be a character in Shakespeare's "The Twelfth Night" named Sir Toby Belch, then there can damn well be a family named Belcher.)
We could have chosen a better day to pick up the record. It started to rain on our way to the station. By the time we got there, we looked like a couple of wharf rats.
We made our way to the front door and announced ourselves. A tall blond man overheard me speaking to the receptionist and said, "Are you Bev Keddy?" When I replied that I was, he brought me over my record, still in its shipping package. I recall he said "damn" at one point. This turned out to be Wally Milan.
I really should relate via a blog post about the times I called the station to request songs and to generally bug the announcers there. They do not put me in a good light, and I am reluctant to write about that.
The cardboard container was addressed to Evangeline Broadcasting, which owned AVR back then. It was not until 1999 or so that they were sold to Maritime Broadcasting Systems and lost most of its staff in the name of saving a few bucks. Don't get me started on that.
Armed with my new record, we started to return home. The rain had become nearly a downpour, a torrent of water from the heavens that caused us lots of problems. For one thing, my bike had those brakes that you had to squeeze on the handle to activate, causing small rubber "bricks" to make contact with the front and back tires, resulting in the bike stopping. If you ever drove such a bicycle, you would know that these brakes become nearly useless when the rubber contacts get wet. They make contact with the tires, which are also wet, and all of a sudden, you have no viable way to stop yourself in a hurry. I am sure that, all these years later, that design flaw has been addressed. Not then.
We decided to drop by the house of a girl Chris liked. I liked her too. Her name was Linda, and there is no need for me to supply her last name, although I remember it very well. We hung out there, hoping that the rain would let up, only to see it get only worse.
Eventually, as supper time approached, we took our chances and returned to our homes. When I got home, I took the record out from under my shirt and opened the package. It was an advanced copy of "Love Gun", their newest album. The big hit from that album was "Christine Sixteen". I hope that they have retired that song from their repertoire by now, because it would be creepy as frig for 60 year old men to be singing songs about 16 year old girls. Read the wikipedia article about it and you'll see why. While you're at it, here's an article about the album itself.
There were other songs on the album. In reading the article, I remember a few of them, but they were mostly filler songs and I don't fondly recall any of them. Except for the title track. Apparently, "Love Gun" has been played during every KISS tour since 1977. Maybe not every concert, but during every tour they would dust it off.
Of course, I was 13 when I got the record. I had no idea what a metaphor was, let alone a sexual one. I literally thought the song was about a gun, a firearm, whose trigger would be pulled whilst in the presence of an attractive woman. Nope. Not so much. Similarly, "Rocket Ride" on another KISS album is not a science fiction song as I thought it was for many years. Long time readers will recall that I have a very, very hard time understanding even the concept of metaphors, let alone how one thing can actually stand for something else. Don't bother trying to explain them to me; I just won't get it. Similes are much, much better. They are an underutilized narrative device.
Over the next few days, I began getting phone calls from folks who had heard that I had won the record. They wanted it for their own. They did have one good point to make. And it's ironic. At the time I got that album, I didn't have a record player. That will be the subject of a future post in this series.
I held on to the record. From when I was 13 until I was... hmm, 40 or 41 or so. By that time, I was selling off my KISS stuff: the books I owned about them, the magazines, and the vintage vinyl. But "Love Gun" was in such sorry shape, I had purposely scratched some of the songs on the album to make them nearly unplayable, and I had marked up the album cover so badly, that there was little or no collectable value in the album. When I sold a handful of other KISS albums to a guy here in town, I offered him "Love Gun" for free. If he hadn't taken it, I would have biffed it into the garbage.
I'm not sure what the point of this story is. I guess it was that it was around that time that I developed a collector's mentality, one which I fostered through the years, and which I am only now trying to cure myself of. A few of those things paid off handsomely. I sold my KISS stuff off for hundreds of dollars, and that money came in pretty handy back then.
Another point is that it just goes to show that the things I used to hold dear, that were once important to me in some kind of context, can fall out of favour with me, even if they haven't with many other people. After all, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley still go out on tour with a couple of other guys and perform as KISS. And they still wear that ridiculous make up and those garish costumes. They are in their damned sixties and they still play these songs that I never want to hear again as long as I live. I let go. Why can't they? And why can't the people who used to listen to that crap?
I would go on, over the years, to purchase hundreds of vinyl albums and 45's. I enjoyed them very much. Today, I have thousands of songs on my hard drive, and quite a few on my mp3 player, and seldom listen to any of them. My days of listening to a lot of music are behind me.
But, it wasn't a total loss. I got to meet "Wally Milan" and have him swear at me. Stuff like that stays with you.
Next time in this series: My first record player.
See you tomorrow.