(Originally Cont’d from Oct. 3, 2009, as Angels Part III, Angels Appear as Earthly Messengers)
That’s when I started to recruit guys from my age, none of whom had been exposed to the Black neighborhoods where Jackie and I met others to sing. I introduced them to “oldies” they had never heard of, particularly from their mostly Lilly White AM Radio Stations like WIBG or WIP. I was raised on WDAS with “Georgie Woods With the Goods,” and Jocko Henderson, who played what, I later learned, was “race’ music in the industry. Well, it was this “race” music that was crossing over from Blacks to Whites that caused Rock & Roll to skyrocket and carve a musical niche for teenagers where there was none before.
Billy Kane, Carl Disler — both friends from more White neighborhoods — got into the music as I met up with the most talented of our future group, Joe Cleary, who would later go one to make records and appear at music shows. But, it was the legacy of Jackie Toy that helped to bring this group together, a group that would eventually perform on television and be offered a minor record contract.
Jackie Toy touched me with the music and helped to direct me into a full appreciation of not only music,but the cross-racial harmony we found with our Black friends, those who would sing their hearts out to passersby near old Columbia Avenue or at 29th and Girard. That appreciation of each other had broadened into other fields and has a survived a lifetime and I thank Jackie Toy for “being there,” and helping me cross the color line.
For Being One of My Angels, I thank you Jack.
The whirlwind created through my meditation blew from one angel to another in my life. Next came my brother George, forced to join the army when caught burglarizing the Big Moose bar in North Philly and carting away several cases of beer and soda. The blind lawyer retained by my father plea-bargained with an assistant district attorney and got some judge to render an alternative sentence: either join the army or go to jail. George went straight . . . to boot camp.
My brother, the high school drop-out, ended up making a career of the army, obtaining his GED, a full Army scholarship to complete college, and then he earned a master’s degree shortly before his retirement following 20 years of service.
But it was in 1968, shortly after the “Summer of Love” that Brother George donned his wings and angelic ally whispered into my ears: “Go to OCS.”
OCS? What the hell is that, I wondered. Officers Candidate School. A six-month program that groomed young men to be leaders of soldiers in battle. I was 19 at the time. No college, having barely gotten through trade school — Dobbins Tech — learning the printers’ trade. No background in athletics, hunting, or even one of the advanced levels of the Boy Scouts of America.
Yet, he helped direct me to the military school, where I became the second youngest to graduate in my class and found myself leading a combat infantry platoon in Vietnam shortly afterwards. Thanks a lot, brother!
See Part IV at angels 4