Chapter 13 1955 - Henry and Buddy

Henry’s star was rising. The Scuffling Scrappers were about to embark on their first national tour, and it was all due to Henry’s outstanding efforts. Their first major label LP, The Scuffling Scrappers Scrap Along was getting airplay at many stations across the country on the strength of its single “All I Need is a Guitar and You.”

Arlen “Buddy” Jones, the group’s steel guitar player was one of Henry’s best friends, and an outstanding musician. Henry initially met him though Buddy’s brother-in-law Sam and befriended him after Buddy’s wife Deborah died in childbirth a couple of years back, leaving him with a young son, Adrian. Buddy would often be invited to dinner, and Adrian and I would play together.

Juliette would occasionally invite one of her girlfriends over when Buddy was visiting, in an effort to “fix him up” with someone. She didn’t think it was a good idea that he should be alone. Buddy didn’t seem to be all that interested in most of her friends, though, and poured his spare time into the band instead.

Henry and Buddy were down at the Stomping Grounds when Annette Samson walked in. A strikingly beautiful woman, many of the men watched her as she strode up to the barkeep. Even Henry couldn’t help himself, and Buddy was especially taken.

“I’d like to apply for the waitress position,” declared Annette to the bartender. “Is the manager in?”

The bartender stammered a bit before responding, “Len’s office is over there,” indicating the door to the left.

Annette headed toward the door and at least a dozen eyes followed her as she disappeared into the manager’s office.

Henry and Buddy took a look at each other, and Buddy broke into a smile. “Now there’s someone I could be interested in.”

“She seems to be a little too highfalutin for you,” Henry replied. “I’d bet she wouldn’t even stop to give you the time of day.”

Buddy looked longingly at the door of the manager’s office, and then returned his attention to his bottle of beer. “I guess you’re right. It’s just a dream.”

A few minutes later when Annette emerged, the scene replayed itself, but this time her eyes lit on Buddy, and she gave him a smile as she left the bar.

When Len emerged from his office, all eyes turned to him as he announced, “OK boys, I’m sure you’re probably wondering what that was all about.” A murmur went up. “Quiet down, everyone. Annette starts her new job as waitress tomorrow.”

A cheer went up, along with a few whistles, and a number of the men clinked their bottles together. Buddy beamed a little more, and considered his chances.

By the next day, word had passed throughout the town about the new beautiful young waitress. The bar was full as Annette began her first shift at 4 P.M. Even a few curious wives were present, if only to keep an eye on their husbands.

Henry and Buddy were at their usual table when Annette approached them to take their order. Once again, she smiled at Buddy and spoke. “You’re Buddy Jones, aren’t you?”

Buddy was speechless for a moment before he finally blurted out, “Yes, miss, that’s me.”

“I thought so,” Annette continued. “I’ve seen you on the Country Corner Show and was surprised to see you in here yesterday. I’m a big fan of the Scrappers.”

“This is where it all started,” he swept his arm indicating the bar, “just a few years ago. A lot of the guys that started the band aren’t around anymore, but even Henry here,” indicating Henry, “was a part of it at one time.”

Annette nodded at Henry and returned her attention to Buddy. “What’ll it be this afternoon, boys?”

“Just a couple of beers,” replied Buddy, “and then we have to be on our way. The band is getting ready to go on the road, and Henry is going to go over the schedule with us tonight.”

Annette left and returned with the two beers, and then began taking orders from the other patrons. Henry and Buddy still couldn’t help but watch her as she moved from table to table.

“Just my luck that a beautiful thing like that would come into town just as I’m ready to leave,” Buddy groused.

“You’ll only be gone for a month. I’m sure Len will keep her around for a while if the bar fills up like this every night,” replied Henry.

“I think that’s the girl I’m gonna marry,” observed Buddy.

“Now you’re sounding like me, a few years ago,” agreed Henry. “She would be a good catch, I tell you.”

Henry and Buddy finished up their beers and headed over to Henry’s office. Henry had worked out of his home until the Scrappers popularity began to soar, and finally had to rent a storefront office on Main Street.

Buddy had a hard time concentrating on the upcoming tour while he was thinking of the encounter at the bar. Henry caught him daydreaming and gave him a friendly punch in the shoulder. “C’mon, Buddy, we’ve got work to do here.”

“Sorry, Henry, I’m not sure I can go on the road. I’m just too caught up in the possibility that Annette is interested in me. What if she takes to some other guy while I’m gone?”

“It could go the other way, she could take to another guy if you don’t go. Remember, she said she’s a fan. What would she think if you dropped out?”

“Yeah, I guess so. I can’t think right now. I’ve gotta go back and ask her something.”

Buddy rush back up the road to the Stomping Grounds and caught Annette between customers.

“Hey, Buddy,” she said. “Back for another beer already?”

“Not really. No,” he said as he looked at the floor and rocked on his feet. “I was just wondering. We’re going out on the road in a few days, and I’d like to call you on the phone. Would that be OK?”

“Why certainly, I’ll look forward to it,” she replied.

Buddy practically floated out of the bar on his way back to Henry’s office. “I think I have a chance with her,” he explained to Henry. “Let’s see that schedule!”