Stopped by a Machine Gun.

Some folks will remember the name – Machine Gun Kelly… but probably not his ties to Oklahoma. The prohibition-era gangster was arrested in Tulsa, and committed his most infamous crime in Oklahoma City… but, that’s GEORGE M.G. Kelly.

Not talkin’ ‘bout him.

Michael Gary Kelly later dropped “Machine Gun” and began using the initials M.G. as his professional moniker. I wonder if HE even has one of his old business cards. This Machine Gun Kelly was born in Ada, Oklahoma and worked his first radio jobs under his real name – Gary Sinclair.

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His business card is an example of why I never get any cleaning out accomplished. I was trying to find the bottom of a storage drawer and came across M.G. – and of course, I had to take a Google break to find out what he’s been up to.

My friend and bass-playing band-mate Ron would probably know the connection, but it has been too many years ago for me. On the back of the KHJ radio card is a note: “Say Hi to Larry & DeWayne for me.” Band members Larry (drums) and DeWayne (guitar) were acquainted with Gary somehow, and I remember Larry (yes, there were two Larrys in one music group) telling me a story about a visit he made to Hollywood, where he was given the star tour around town by Machine Gun Kelly during the height of his fame there.

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And Machine Gun Kelly was well known in Los Angeles, when KHJ was one of THE rock and roll stations in the US. One of the radio stations I worked for received taped recordings of deejays around the country, and M.G. Kelly was featured one month. Listened to that aircheck enough times that I had it pretty well memorized – down to his dramatic golden-voice inflections (it’s a radio thing…).

Gary Sinclair is still active in media, though not by that name. From his personal website:

M.G. Kelly began his radio career in 1970 while still a junior in high school. His first station was KTEN in Ada Oklahoma. There, Kelly played song dedications to schoolmates. A year later, He was hired by KOMA in Oklahoma City. While at KOMA, he came to the attention of radio mogul Lee Abrams who brought him to Cleveland in late 1972 for afternoon drive at WGCL-FM. The following year, radio consultant Kent Burkart presented Kelly to KSTP-FM in Minneapolis, as M.G. became part of the team that drove the 16th ranked station to number 2 in just 100 days. This dramatic ratings increase caught the attention of RKO Radio and 21-year-old Kelly was shooting straight to the legendary 93 KHJ in Los Angeles.

The card hovered over the trash can for a moment or two while I tried to get back to cleaning house. Nah. Couldn’t do it yet.

Lots of associated memories attached to it, with music and radio connections. Maybe the deejay hall of fame has a spot for it (like there is such a thing). At any rate, it’s going back into the drawer along with all the other junk my kids will have to deal with when I croak.

Bananas for Uncle Sam.

My Dad has been gone awhile, but managed to make the news (at least the local DAR chapter’s newsletter)! I was surprised to receive the digital copy from lunch guest/DAR rep Jeanne.

Thanks to the ladies for their lunchtime visit on Flag Day earlier this summer, and we appreciate the mention of Ray J.’s enlistment saga! – His veteran’s flag sits beside his US Navy portrait in the shop.

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In case the print in the newsletter is too small, it briefly recounts how dear old Dad (back when he had just turned 18) tried to enlist in the Navy, and was turned down by the recruiter as being underweight. (A problem I have never had…) Ray J. was advised to go home, eat some bananas, and come back to be weighed again. Don’t know how many it took, but after his banana snack, he returned, passed the weight requirement, and went on to serve as a radio operator on a Pacific Fleet destroyer escort in WWII.

No bananas here, since we are chef-less until Tuesday… and as a result, we’re taking a longer Labor Day break than normal… Have a safe and happy holiday!

The Ladder of Success? Nah. Bulb Changer.

You can keep your roller coasters. The white-knuckle adrenaline rush I get from standing on top of the ladder is enough for me. I wouldn’t even choose the ‘ladder ride’ if I could get the burnt out bulbs to replace themselves.

It’s one of the things they don’t mention when the advantages of self-employment are being discussed. You may be your own boss, but you wind up being your own floor-mopper, trash-emptier, bathroom-cleaner – and light bulb changer – as well.

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Ours is a two ladder shop. The hanging fixtures in the center require a tall A-frame ladder (or whatever they’re called), but the lights along the wall are much too high up for that. So, it was me scampering up the extension ladder on Sunday afternoon. (That’s a joke. There was certainly no scamper in my ascent. More like a plodding, cement-shoe, iron-claw climb…)

My Grandpa Ray had a high-ceilinged place and people have confused my pictures (I’ve included one of them here) of his PALACE NEWS shop with our current building. Both had the high ceilings and suspended light fixtures. I’ve mentioned before that Grandpa Ray took a fall and broke something when changing bulbs, and my father filled in at the counter while his dad was on the mend.

Every time I climb a ladder in here, I make it a point to not be a chip off the old block. So – I make sure the ladder is firmly in place before I slowly trudge my way up the rungs.

This time, though, I decided to provide some evidence of the height and pocketed my cell phone along with the new bulb. When I got to the top and managed to swap in a new light, I convinced myself that I could grab that phone and take a picture.

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Well.

Thinking about it and doing it proved to be two different things. It took a minute or two, but I finally squirmed myself into a looking backward position and snapped a shot.

The lighting is better today. I trust the bulbs will last for a good while. I consider ladders to be in the same category as car jacks – indispensable when you need one, but something you really hope stays out of sight in its storage spot.

We’ll be doing a well-lit lunch again tomorrow, so – come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District, 122 S Main St. Broken Arrow OK!