Blinding Hoot Owl’s, and other mundane subjects

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I know what you’re thinking, JDs been up in the woods too long by
himself, and what in the cat hair does hoot owls have to do with
bluegrass music? Well in this case, it has a lot to do with it my
friends and I will explain.

Back in November of 1963 while on a goose hunting trip to the
foothills of Calaveras County with an old buddy of mine, I stopped
at an intersection of a lonely country road, and lo and behold
staring me in the face was a sign that said; house for rent in Campo
Seco. Inquire at the general store. There was something about that
sign that mesmerized me. I got to thinking, it’s about the same
distance to where I work from Campo Seco, as it is from where I live
in Stockton, and I would darn sure rather live in the mountains than
I would in town. I guess I appeared to be in a trance, because my
buddy Don Torre had been talking to me for about 5 min. I hadn’t
heard a word he had said. Finally he shook me by the shoulder, which
broke the spell, and Don said you’re going to go rent that house
aren’t you. Yup I says, turned the old truck around and we headed 5
miles back to CampoSeco where I rented that house.

Two weeks later I was totally moved in to a house on a hill
surrounded by 17 acres, where my family would live for the next
seven years. Two of my bandmates of the San Joaquin Valley boys
helped me move, and within a month they all came up on a Saturday
night to play music until the wee hours of the morning. Our bass
player Dave Caroll drove a 1954 Chrysler New Yorker, which was a big
beautiful car that had room for his bass. After the jam session was
over about midnight that night, we were all outside saying our
goodbyes. Dave turned his car around, and when he did, he backed
over a large boulder by the edge of the driveway and got his bumper
hung up on it. It took four of us to lift the bumper up getting him
free of it. That was in late fall of 1963. Fast-forward to early
summer of 1964, and another band practice session of the San Joaquin
Valley boys held at the house on the hill in Campo Seco California.

All that week before we had the band practice session at the house,
I was thinking about how David’s car had got hung up on that
boulder, and the diabolical scheme was hatched to remind him of that
incident for years to come. I knew I was going to need some help
enacting my little scheme, so I enlisted the help of our dobro
player Gene Frier, which he readily agreed to. To properly set the
stage, I called all the band members and asked them to turn their
cars around, when they got to the house while it was still daylight,
and they could see what they were doing, and not do what Dave did
last time they were there. As luck would have it, Dave and his
family were the first ones to arrive, and I made sure they turned
around safely, and I backed him up within 3 feet of that boulder
that he got hung up on last time he was there. The stage was set!

Well everybody gets there and the music starts. About 10 o’clock we
took a break for coffee and doughnuts and other kinds of treats, so
I give Gene the high sign and we slipped out the back door, and
immediately proceeded to load that bumper grabbing boulder in the
back of Dave Caroll’s ’54 Chrysler New Yorker. That sucker weighed
over 250 pounds and was a good 2 feet in diameter. We legged it back
to the house, and for the rest of the evening we could not look at
each other for fear of breaking out in laughter at our devious deed.
Now here is where the term “blinding the hoot owls”comes into play.

When the picking party was over everybody loaded up their cars and
headed down the hill to home. When Dave’s Chrysler got to the bottom
of my hill and headed up the hill out of town, his head lights were
shining up in the trees due to that heavyweight boulder in his
trunk. Gene and I were standing there laughing our butts off!
Finally, two weeks later Dave Caroll called me one night and cussed
me for 30 min. without saying the same thing twice! He said it took
him and his neighbor to get that boulder out of the trunk of his
car. His wife Dolores had went to the store for groceries, and when
she opened the trunk to put the groceries in, there was that
boulder! David mentioned to his wife that night going home that his
headlights needed to be readjusted, because they were shining up in
the trees,[blinding all the hoot owls] not knowing he had a 250
pound boulder in the trunk.

Well folks, that was 49 years ago this year, and when Dave and his
neighbor got that boulder out of the trunk of his ’54 Chrysler they
rolled it next to the corner of the house,[rock and roll?] and
that’s where it’s still at to this day. For those of you who would
like to see this historic rock, just go by 1850 Oxford St. in
Stockton California, and they’re at the southeast corner of the
house sets what we called”Dave’s Rock”.

My buddy Dave Caroll passed away last fall, and I have no doubt that
he and Shelby Freeman are waiting at the pearly gates with a
heavenly prank to pull on me when I get there. [HOPEFULLY]

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