Back at the Hamp. Some more.
On the flight back to Louisville, I dozed off. When I woke up my ears were stopped up, and I had a lot of pain. I tried everything to unstop them – chewing gum, swallowing hard (no good, I swallowed my gum.) When we landed I could tell that everyone on the plane was talking loud and holding their ears (after all my years in radio I was used to that.) I tried putting my thumb in my mouth and blowing hard. My ears popped but my eyes crossed. I looked around and saw I was drawing a crowd, so I got in a cab to go downtown.
"I want to go to the Waterson," I told the driver. "It's called the Sherwin now," he said. "When did that happen?" I asked. "Just after you left town," he said. Well, I thought: a Listener! "How do you know when I left?" I asked. "I don't," he said, "I tell everybody that." I should have left well enough alone. I would have felt good and he would have gotten a bigger tip.
As I was checking in at the hotel, I noticed that the Sherwin had made some changes. The lady who sat in the lobby had new flip-flops and a new shower cap. The guy behind the desk had a voice like Arnold Stang and a face like the lady in the shower cap. I think they were brother and sister (that face didn't look good on either one of them.)
"What have you got for $10?" I asked. "A broom closet between the elevator and the pop machine," says Arnold. "Our cheapest room is $15.00." "What's that like?" I asked. "It's between the elevator and the ice machine. It's quieter because that ice machine doesn't work." I took that, and hoped for the best.
Later, as I walked into Riney's Bar, it really started to feel like I was home. The happy-looking guy behind the bar said, "Hey Adam, how have you been?" "I just spent a year in Des Moines," I said. "Gee that's too bad," he said (and his happy face went away.) "Have a drink on the house or maybe two!" "Put it in my mint julep cup," I said. "It's the one with the 'A' on the outside and the cobwebs on the inside." I sipped my drink while he went to wait on some others at the other end of the bar but he hurried right back.
"What's new?" he asked. "I have a new last name," I replied. "What is it?" he asked. "Jones," says me. "Did you pick that out or are you in the witness protection program?" he said and his happy face came back. (That's some talk from a guy that spent most of his life behind bars.) He wanted to know where I was working. I told him I was going to start in Kansas City soon. "Good," he said. "Are you staying across the street?" "Uh huh," I said. "The lobby lady has new flip-flops," he said. We shook hands and I left to have dinner.
The next day (Sunday), I walked down to the Hampton Hall Apartments. I saw the manager and he said he had some apartments empty and that he would rent one to me by the day or week as long as I needed it. So I went back to the Waterson (I don't care what they called it!) and got my stuff and in an hour or so I was back at the Hamp again.
On Monday morning I called KUDL in K. C. again and left word for program director Doc Downey that I would call back that afternoon. He couldn't have called me because all I had was a pay phone in the lobby of the Hamp. I killed the rest of the day going downtown and making the rounds of my old haunts, including WINN, WAKY, and WKLO. When the guys I knew asked where I was working, I told them K. C., although I was getting a little nervous about not hearing from this Downey guy. Gene Snyder and I had a good time catching up on what had happened during the last year. I stopped back at Riney's Bar, and they had two messages for me from friends who had heard DJ's mention on the air that I was in town. That really made me feel at home.
At about 5:00 I called KUDL and was relieved to get through to Doc Downey. After making a lot of excuses about why I hadn't heard from him before I left Des Moines, he said that he couldn't find my tape and asked for another. He said they had to have it ASAP to play for his boss. I said that I thought that I already had the job and that his boss had already heard my work. Well, he did a lot of verbal tap dancing about how I did have the job and the tape was just a formality. He said that he needed me to special delivery airmail him the tape, and that the next morning when he got the tape and played a little of it for his boss he would special delivery airmail me tickets to K. C. I told him that the only tape I had was my master tape and I didn't have any way to make a copy. He said he would take good care of it, and give it back to me when I got to K. C.
The next morning I was at the post office when they opened. The guy behind the counter told me how much it would cost to ship my tape (and how to apply for a loan.) Late the following afternoon I called KUDL and of course Doc Downey wasn't there. That night I went out with Pat Murphy to the $1.19 steak house (the food there was great – no joke!) When Pat saw me he said, "Why are you so lumpy?" I told him my pockets were full of quarters to call K. C. with, and about all the troubles I was having. He said that he'd never met a program director he didn't hate.
The next day I was back to the pay phone. This time not only wasn't he there, the secretary said he didn't work there anymore. "He WHAT??" I said, loud enough to make the phone unnecessary. She said it again. I asked to speak to the head man. I think his name was Irv Schwartz. She said OK and after I told him the whole story he said, "I had to fire that guy. He kept telling everyone that he was the program director when he wasn't." I asked him about my tape and of course he didn't know anything about it. He said that Downey had cleaned out his desk and left. Mr. Schwartz said that he was sorry but he didn't need any help. I said if I ever meet Doc Downey I'm going to punch him in the face!
There I was, stuck with no air check.
Will I ever find another job? Will I punch Morton Downey Jr. in the face? Tune in again . . . I mean, watch this space!
(Look – here I am with grandson Joel in front of the Hamp. Taken in mid-June 2015.)