Saying Goodbye to Another Old Friend - CDB Guest Soapbox
*NOTE* CDB guitar tech, Roger Campbell, penned this ode to a dear old friend, and we wanted to share it with you today. – TeamCDB/BW
No, no one has died, but yet we lost a faithful and beloved member of the CDB family today.
With no 100 plus shows, fairs or festivals to transport the band's equipment to, the truck is no longer needed. Rather than it sitting empty and rusting away, the decision was made to sell it. This week she joined the Mason Sound Company fleet, where she will continue to haul sound gear to shows, whenever that starts happening again.
Like any old friend, l hate to see her go, but knowing she’ll still be out there at it gives me a good feeling.
She started serving the CDB in 1993 when it was decided that a new truck was needed to go with the new buses. They were ordered and came into service that year. First, the band/crew bus, Lady LaRue, named in honor of Charlie’s dear mother who had passed away in March, hit the road in 1993. Then in the spring of 1994, they were joined by the second “Twin Pines Rambler," Charlie and Hazel's bus. I don’t know why, but for some reason, the truck was never christened with a proper name. Oh, there were times when a hotel clerk or stage manager would say, “You have to move that !!&$!! truck right now!” Other than those times, she was referred to simply as "the truck.”
The cargo box, where the band instruments and everything needed to do a show rode, is 27 years old and is the only original part remaining. A new chassis and engine rebuild was added in 2001 and the current motor was installed in 2016. Now depending on whose math you use, she has probably delivered the gear to almost 3,000 shows and traveled close to 3 million miles! When the “Million Mile Reflections” album came out, I asked Charlie how he knew we had traveled a million miles? He said, “We do about 100 thousand miles a year, so 10 years equals a million miles!” You don’t argue with the boss! Jimmy Potts, who has been the driver for the last 17 years, says that the box has 2.6 million miles, the new chassis 1.5 million miles and the new engine has 300,000 miles. He ought to know as he was behind the wheel for most of those miles!
Now things don’t last that long without being taken care of. Every winter all the vehicles were completely gone over with a fine-toothed comb and any needed maintenance was performed. They were made road-ready for the coming year’s shows. I can recall only two or three occasions when something happened and she had to miss shows during the touring season!
If you ever witnessed the CDB fleet rolling down the highway or pulling into a venue in your town, you may not have known who was riding in the vehicles, but you could tell someone took a tremendous amount of pride in their job. The fleet was always clean, polished and shined like new! It was not unusual to see Dean Tubb out in the parking lot washing his bus after making a long, all night drive! You knew he was tired and ready to sleep, but just like a good cowboy seeing to his horse and livestock, he would take care of the bus before taking care of himself.
I would feel bad for the drivers on days off when the band guys would be off on adventures or just relaxing and I would be headed to the nearest golf course because the drivers would be looking for a water source. Once found, they would haul out the mops, pails, brushes, ladders and an endless supply of soap, cleaners and polishes needed to do the job. If anyone returned to the bus for some reason they were likely to be either accidentally or on purpose sprayed with the water hose! I would feel even worse for them when after spending their downtime cleaning and polishing to get up the next morning and drive into a dusty or muddy fairgrounds and mess up all their hard work from the day before.
Now, we could have leased a new truck and buses every year, lots of outfits do, but Charlie liked to own his and it gave everyone a sense of pride and made us want to take care of the nice things he provided. After all, the bus I rode on was like a second home to me and I think everyone felt the same way. We certainly spent as much time in them as we did at home!
The truck also carried a stationary bike and treadmill that were unloaded and setup in Charlie’s room everyday so he could get his exercise in on his preferred type of equipment. For this reason, a short style truck was chosen over a semi-tractor rig so it could maneuver the tight corners in parking lots that a “big rig” would not have been able to make.
The truck also carried the merchandise that was sold at shows and the person in charge of selling it. The “tee-shirt guy” rode in the sleeper while the driver drove. Now this was not always the best situation because often times a seasoned older driver was paired with a younger man and they didn’t necessarily have anything in common. They were confined to tight quarters for extended periods of time. There were never any big problems that I’m aware of, but when Chris Potts, Jimmy’s son was hired to sell the merchandise, there was never a better team in the truck.
Chris also became the “day man” and would drive the truck to the venue for setup which allowed Jimmy to get a good day’s rest and be ready for the next night’s drive. There were no personality problems between them; they looked out for and took care of each other. Almost every day before it was time for Chris to setup his merchandise booth, he would be changing a headlight, charging the air conditioner or any other of hundreds of things needed done to ensure the safe operation of the vehicle. He would also stock their cooler with his dad’s favorite drink, Pepsi, and a wide variety of caffeinated drinks for himself.
Jimmy would arrive at the show with the band and have time to eat dinner and go over his log book and look at the route to prepare for the nights drive. As soon as the show was over he would be standing in the back of the truck ready to load the gear. It was my job to line the cases up in the order that he needed them to work the “jigsaw puzzle “that had to be solved for all the cases to fit. When the last case was loaded and secured the door came down and she was off to the next one!
There were a few old fans like Tim and Karolyn Robinson, who would stay until the truck was loaded. I guess they thought that was part of the show too! I know they were waiting to say goodbye, but I bet they could have loaded the truck themselves, if they had to; they’d seen it done so many times!
Charlie always said that everybody’s job was important and I just couldn’t let such an important member of the crew go without a proper send-off! So long, ole girl! Ride on!
We’ll see you down the road...
August 26, 2020
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