Anonymous Western Swing Performer
Back in my Missouri days, I used to stop at all the flea markets and consignment stores in all the little burgs, however unpromising they looked. One day I was out on a jaunt north of Springfield when I passed a flea market that had sprung up in a little town. It might have been a place called Brighton, but I'd have to go back out there to be sure. I mean a fly speck of a town, maybe twenty-five or thirty buildings toto. Inside this new enterprise, there was slim pickens indeed, more carpet than anything else.
There was a girl behind a counter, and I asked her if they had any photographs. I usually don't bother to ask, because they usually don't know their stock (even when it is consignment goods, they have ample free time on their hands, and they could go poking around to see what was there, but most often your average store clerk is incurious in the extreme.) Anyway, the salesgirl said there were no photographs.
I told her I would look around anyway, just for the heck of it.
At the back of the store, behind something, down next to the baseboard, I spied a paper sack. Naturally, I looked inside. And even more naturally, the bag was filled with photographs.
I took the bag up to the counter, and asked the girl what the price was. There wasn't anything marked on the bag, and the girl couldn't give me an answer. She said she would have to call the consignor and get back to me.
I called several times, and maybe even drove by. I had looked at the photographs (there were like 73 in all) and I knew I was on to one of my big finds. I was eager to get the photographs into my possession. I was excited. Perhaps that collector's thrill is akin to something erotic---I don't know. Perhaps.
Finally, one day I dialed the number and someone answered. It was the kind of place that was hardly ever open. I asked the girl if she had a price for me and she said yeah, "Five dollars."
I guess when I went out to get the photos, it was the girl who told me whom they had belonged to. They had been the property of Si Simon. He was a well-known music promoter in the Springfield area. He may have come from Memphis, or he might have just had Memphis connections. He was the manager of The Boxtops, or a promoter of The Boxtops, a group that had that one big hit with "The Letter," one of the truly great singles of all-time. Mr. Simon had recently died (I remembered reading his obituary in the Springfield News-Leader) and his wife had placed the photos in the consignment shop. I guess she didn't think very highly of them, or maybe she just wanted to divest herself of old memories.
There are some duplicates, and I gave away a few of them, so there aren't 73 distinct images. I'm thinking you'll find yourselves liking them and you'll be wanting more and more (like Billy Idol), and so I'm going to give them to you a few at a time.
You wouldn't expect any less of me, now, would you?