Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"HEY MAN,DO YOU WANT ME TO DRIVE?"

Back in the fall of 1974 I was a sophomore at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. I was friends with a senior student named John Light who was concert chairman that year at Marietta. For the homecoming concert that year John booked Ritchie Havens to perform at the Ban Johnson Field House. The closest airport to Marietta is located in Parkersburg, West Virginia which is about seventeen miles away. John asked me if I would help him drive a car from a downtown Parkersburg hotel to Marietta with some of the Ritchie Havens band members as there were too many people to fit in one car. We didn't have a lot of extra time to drive from Marietta to Parkersburg and back as the concert was scheduled for that night. It was already dark outside when we arrived at the Parkersburg motel.

The plan was for me to drive a station wagon and follow John who would lead the way and transport Ritchie Havens. I didn't know the Parkersburg area that well being a Connecticut native and not having a car of my own on campus. Somehow John's car and the car I was driving got separated. I think I had to stop at a traffic light and John went through the light and didn't realize that I wasn't behind him.

Sitting next to me was one of the band members who had a portable tape player. He was playing his own music. Back then there weren't any CD players or MP3 players. I remember taking a left turn shortly after leaving the hotel on one of the dark brick paved streets there in Parkersburg. I ended up driving down a hilly dead end street that ended up at the Parkersburg train station. I was going too fast for this hilly dead end street so the station wagon literally left the street and we were airborne for a fraction of a second. We landed and I had to jam on the breaks to avoid running into the train station and do a quick turn around to go back up the hill.
I drove around a little after that trying to find the right entrance to the highway back to Marietta.

I finally found the highway but started to become more concerned about the time as I didn't want to be responsible for the concert being delayed. To make up some time I started to increase the car speed until I was going around 75-80 miles an hour. The band member next to me said, "Hey man, do you want me to drive?" They were getting concerned I guess after experiencing the lost and bumpy ride I had given them so far. I just said, "No, that's OK. We are on the right rode now so we will be all set."

So, we ended up alright as I made up some time on the highway. We drove by a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant near the Marietta campus. The women in the back seat of the car said that they wanted some fried chicken as they hadn't eaten any supper as yet. They said, "You better get us some chicken or I'll tell the band not to play until we get some." I told them we would get some chicken and bring the food to the field house after I dropped everyone off at the concert.

The concert went on as scheduled. Everyone in my car survived "rickshaw's wild ride."