On My Way to a Fistfight - Part Two
On the way back to Louisville, our trip turned into an adventure. At the exit for Princeton, IL, on I-80, I heard a "tick tick tick" sound from the engine. Now if you have ever tossed a rod in a car you know that "tick tick tick" is followed by "tunk tunk tunk CRUNCH!" Well, we coasted onto the exit ramp, I looked under the car and sure enough, the oil pan was leaking. Lucky for us, Wally's service station was a few yards away, and it was downhill. We walked over and got the Saturday afternoon Assistant Gomer to help us push it into the station. The kid said that they couldn't work on it til Monday. We didn't tell him what was wrong with it. I gave him my name and phone number and told him that it was important that we get to Chicago as soon as possible. He said there was an evening train, so Dale and I hiked down to the train station. Somehow we found out about a connecting bus from Chicago. When I went to get our train tickets I realized that I didn't have enough cash for both the train and the bus tickets (credit cards were not widely used in 1965.) The ticket agent said, "No checks!" I could hear the, "!" in his voice. A soldier standing nearby heard it too and said, "I'll cash your check." So thanks to him we got our tickets. What a nice young man. It almost makes me wish my checking account had money in it.
We waited a long time. The Rock Island Line was a mighty good road, but late. I don't remember much about that train ride except that the conductor was telling a lady with a shopping bag, "This train doesn't go to Patagonia." When we got to Chicago it was real late and we had to run across downtown to get to the Greyhound station. It was mid-January, cold and windy. We made our connection okay. When we got on the bus it was nice and clean. The driver was wearing a good-looking uniform. That was 55 years ago; these days you better get a tetanus shot and don't get on a bus if the driver has a bullet hole in his hat.
When we got to Louisville it was around noon on Sunday and Dale was about six hours late for work at WTMT. I went with him to the station. The PD was on the air. I explained what had happened and how Dale was doing a favor for me. I guess it was okay because Dale didn't get fired.
I didn't hear from WQUA for over a week, so I sent Flambo a little five-minute tape. I put what I thought were a few good lines on it, and said that I understood how a station like QUA couldn't afford to pay the amount I was asking for an all-night show. I thanked him for considering me for the job and for the big box of Milk Duds he had given me as a parting gift (that should have been the tip-off.) In a few days I got a call from J. Maxim Ryder, the station manager, asking me when I could start. I told him, in a week.
I had taken the test for a new class of FCC license about two weeks before and was hoping I had passed and would get it in the mail soon, because I would need it. I called Pat Murphy to tell him where I was going to work all night. He got all excited and said that I would get to work with his brother Mike, who he claimed was the funny one (Mike said that Pat was the funny one.) I know the answer, but I'm not going to put it down in writing.
In a few days I took my two suitcases and my big trunk down to the L and N Train station and off I went in a cloud of steam for the Quad-Cites. I can't remember how long it took to get there, but when we got close, I looked out the window and noticed we were going along a river. I asked the conductor what river it was and he said it was the Mississippi. "But aren't we going west?" I asked. "Yes," he said. "At this point it runs from east to west." No wonder my sister-in-law always has to know which way is north!