My Coolest Christmas Present Ever
If you read my story on the Great Christmas Present Massacre, you know all about my first sip of whiskey and the discovery of all my gifts that particular year. That was a very valuable Christmas because I learned two lessons and got a great Christmas present to boot.
I learned not to drink my old man's Old Crow whiskey and I learned that, it's best not to know in advance what gifts you are getting. Now, don't get me wrong, my gifts that year were great and nothing could take the shiny off of them. I just learned that the excitement of Christmas morning and not knowing is cooler than knowing.
It was the Christmas of 1965. That was a real stand-out Christmas. The Beatles hadn't been around all that long and my life centered around all the great songs that were on the radio back then. One of the main records I wanted that year was The Beatles and "Rubber Soul." That, and The Beach Boys Party album were riding high on the charts and every kid with a guitar was expected to know every song on both albums. It was the official test for just how good you were.
Now, I found my guitar before I got it on Christmas morning, but I still hadn't played it. I just took a quick look at it in the case. It was a beauty. It was an Alamo Fiesta made in San Antonio and it looked enough like a Fender for me. I couldn't wait until Christmas morning to get my hands on that little black and white beauty. All night on Christmas Eve, I thought of all the songs I was going to learn and how I would be on my way to fame and fortune as soon as I had that guitar.
Christmas morning finally arrived and I tore into my gifts like a hungry man sitting down to a big meal. You've got to understand that I was 15 and there was nothing more important than the Beatles. AS I tore open each gift, I noticed a theme. All the gifts were tied into that electric guitar. Even if I hadn't seen the prize in it's case before Christmas, I would have known there was a guitar on the way.
The big giveaway was when I opened the music book. It wasn't just any music book, it was the guitar chords and sheet music for Rubber Soul. Then came more and more records and music books. There was only one package left. I tore into it and, there it was. Mine at last.
I couldn't wait to put it to the test and I hooked it up to the amplifier and cut loose with a solid string of The Beach Boys, Beatles and Animals. I was rocking out. Right there in my parent's living room, I was on cloud nine, but the sound just wasn't complete. After much internal discussion, I decided that the problem was one of volume. You can't play rock and roll without volume, right?
I played my cards carefully. Later that afternoon, my parents went to see my dad's family and left me at home with my new guitar. This was my chance to cut loose and play some serious rock and roll. I hooked up to my amp and stood right in front of the speaker. I turned up the volume on my guitar and struck an open "E." the note popped out of the guitar and long low feedback began to come from the amplifier and the beautiful feedback started. The sound filled the house and I was in teenage heaven!
I don't know how long I played like that, but, somehow, over the noise I could hear someone pounding on the front door. I just knew it was my friend< pat, coming over to see my new guitar. I went to the door and yanked it open. There, right on my front porch stood two officers of the law. Someone had called the cops. How could one of my neighbors do such a thing?
I just knew they were going to haul me in and throw the book at me.Hey, I was 15. What did I know? Although I was panicked (no one had ever called the cops on me before) I tried to muster up all my 15 year old cool. "Sorry", I croaked. "I just got it for Christmas." I was ready to be cuffed and taken downtown in the back of a squad car.
One of the cops said, "You have to turn it down, but I got an electric guitar for Christmas once, when I was your age." How long have you been playing?" I told him a i was pretty much a beginner. "let me show you something", the cop added. Well, this cop proceeded to teach me a bunch of new chords. he looked over the sheet music and gave me pointers.
As they were leaving, I thanked them both for teaching me some new chords and such. it was then that I noticed Dickey Humphrey. He was the neighborhood bully and I instantly realized who had called the police on me. I made a big show out of shaking hands with both cops and wishing them a ,"Merry Christmas." I could see Dickey's face drop when I shook hands with the two cops.Humphrey had been foiled. All was well, and now, my two new friends, the cops, backed out of the driveway and rode off into the winter afternoon.
As soon as they left, I went back into the house, turned my amplifier up all the way and let it rip for about three minutes. That three minutes of noise was my way of thumbing my nose at the little punk. Satisfied that I had rubbed salt into his wounds, I turned off the amp and left the house least the cops show up again.
Looking back, if they had come back, I think they would have been on my side.
I waited until that summer and kicked his butt in front of the whole neighborhood for the 4th of July. It was the summer of my independence from Dickey Humphrey. He was no longer the neighborhood bully after that. 1965 was a great year
Many thanks to Lewis at Found Sound for allowing me to use his picture of an Alamo Fiesta exactly like the one I got that Christmas. If you're a vintage guitar fan, especially of some of the lesser known brands, you're going to love this site! Found Sound