Adam Jones

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El Capitan and Coney Island

Working 8 to 1 came easy to me. I enjoyed talking to some younger people on the phone. And then I kept the older listeners from midnight to 1:00.

They brought in Scotty Brae to work from 1 to 5:30 A.M - a nice guy from Ottumwa, Iowa, the same town Pat and Mike Murphy were from (also Radar OíReilly.) Scotty was retired from the fire department. He liked me because I donít smoke. He also gave Mr. Flambo dirty looks when he left lighted cigar butts in the menís room (even when there was a good reason for it.)

Things were changing in my private life as well. I moved from the LeClaire to an apartment up on 15th St. hill at 13th Avenue. And I bought a Mexican import shop from a guy they called "No Neck Mike" who had to leave town in a hurry. I met him at an all night pizza party where I drank too much. He said, "You're going to buy my nice little shop from me, ain't cha? It's cheep!" (He spelled worse than I do.) It was, and I did. The shop was called El Capitan. It was in downtown Moline on 16th Street next to a little dive called The Coney Island, owned by two brothers who also owned my storefront. They sold hot dogs and some other stuff which made it smell like a rooming house full of hot plates. My rent was $100 a month, but with the odor coming over from their joint it cost me almost that much in Airwick. Most of the smell came through the back room. I would pull the Airwick up out of the bottle, then it would take a whiff and disappear back down out of sight. I know that a lot of unsuspecting Moliners ate hot dogs from that place but somehow I don't think many of them are still alive to read this.

I met some really nice people in the Quad-Cities (one of whom is typing this.) My wife Debra and I have been together for 50 years. As she is typing this I'm rummaging through my sock drawer looking for two that match. Most of them have little clocks or arrows on them.

It was nice to sit in my shop in the afternoon and talk to listeners and friends. One day Tom Dunn from the LeClaire came in and told me that his uncle (Russian Mike) had re-opened the breakfast place across the street from the hotel. It had been closed since that Twiggy wannabe left. Tom said that the food was great. I went in there the next afternoon and had some of the best stuffed cabbage and mashed potatoes I have ever had. I called Guy Harris at the hotel. He came over and raved about the food too. In fact I think he ate there a lot. He told me one of the things he liked most about the Quad-Cities was the number of good places to eat, and drink. Most bars in Moline had edible Barrel of Fun* tickets (in case of a raid.) I'm sure those tickets tasted better than the food at the fly-paper brothers' joint next door.

I can't remember the name of the DJ who was on before me in the evening. I do remember that he wasn't what you would call glib. And I do remember that one night when I came in the studio he said, "Hey Adam, I'm going to emcee an event next week. Will you give me a cup of adlibs?" That was really clever for this guy. His jokes were so old that when he opened his mouth moths came out (I made it a point to never wear wool to work.)

The "Adam in the Evening Show" had more energy than the "All-Night Fistfight." It was fun, and I got to meet a whole new batch of folk. One evening I was talking about Joe Frisco, a comedy great who had worked in Vaudeville and early radio, and I got a call from (I think it was) his brother, who was a writer for the Rock Island Argus. Their family was from the area. One night I was discussing trumpet players and Bix Beiderbecke's name camp up. The phone lit up and it was fellow named Don O'Dette. He was so excited that I knew who Bix was. He said not a lot of people knew that Bix was from Davenport, and he said his family house was in poor condition (bad scene Bix!) Don said it was his dream to rehab the house and make it into a Bix museum. Some years later WQUA got all involved and started the Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival. It went on to become a big deal for quite a few years.

While we are on the subject of jazz trumpeters - a lot of people who lived in the Quad-Cities didn't realize what a well-known player Smokey Stover was. I knew who he was long before I came to town. We got to be friends and I would go to see Smokey and his Firemen whenever I could. While I was still on all night, I met and interviewed the great drummer Louie Belson a few times. That was a real thrill. I also met his son Tony who came to town on weekends to play some gigs. He lived in Chicago, and I guess he came back to see the relatives.

Guy Harris (National Program director for WQUA) liked the stuff I was doing in the evening and told me so. I had the Adam Jones "Thing" Contest in which I gave out a new clue to the prize each night until someone guessed what it was. The prize was a "Car locator for finding your car in a parking lot." It took about seven or eight days to get a winner. The prize was a toilet plunger with a flag on the stick. You would just stick it on the top of your car in a big lot and it would stick out like an eyesore thumb. I had a lot of high school listeners (we were playing Chicken 40 music), so I chose a girl and a boy winner. One blue and one red plunger. The young man who won grew up to become "Big Harry", the Adam and Bob Bouncer, and later an IT whiz at NBC Universal.

I kept asking Guy Harris about the Adam Jones Network (hooking up to WIRE, Indianapolis.) Every time I brought up the subject he would shuffle his feet, look at his shoes, and mumble something about working on it (between cabbage rolls.)

*Barrel of Fun Tickets were an ancient form of barroom gambling.

-Adam Jones

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