The Summer of ’54

Balko OK

Lee set out for Los Angeles on Route 66. Catching a ride was easy and he was always asked the same question. Where ya stationed soldier? Answer: Student leaving school to help family.

At some point Lee got lost. He had been dumped on a highway with no traffic. He would later learn that he was 100 miles north of route 66, still headed in a westerly direction and that he was a few miles south  of Balko, Oklahoma in the middle of the Oklahoma panhandle where only 8 decades ago the land had become a dustbowl sending thousands of Okies down the same road he was currently attempting to travel.

After, sitting by the side of the road for several hours being passed up by the only two automobiles headed west, Lee’s boredom got the better of him. He opened his duffel bag, removed a carefully folded, one button roll grey flannel suit, a pair of shiny black, tasseled, Crosby Squares and a black silk shirt and changed clothes. Lee had already devised a plan for his first day in Los Angeles; he would go to the farmers market and secure a job unloading trucks. Lovie had on field trips to the loading docks in Oklahoma City, shown him how stuff works. As soon as he could save a few bucks he would get himself to Hollywood and start presenting himself as a songwriter, vocalist and actor. Today he was going to rehearse.

After scouting around, the young entertainer in training spotted a crate and dragged into the middle of the highway. Dressed now in his finest, his every hair in place and clean shaven (No, just clean faced. The first whisker was yet to arrive on this 5’ 11” lad of fourteen) and looking for all the world like a star performer, Lee began to sing. After what seemed like hours, Lee noticed that the sun was setting behind him. Having gone through his entire repertoire of original work and beginning to feel the first pangs of loneliness, Lee Broom decided to end his performance for the evening before taking his final bow to his imaginary audience of thousands.

When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dawn….

Lee went through the lyrics of this inspiring song from Rogers and Hammerstein’s carousel and was beginning the first line of the second stanza when on the horizon…….. Walk on walk on with hope in your heart….

… a car, no two cars, maybe more. I will finish this song, Finally, he thought to himself… and you’ll never walk alone………They’re getting close and I’m in their way…..nope, I’m going to finish this song…..he continued to the last line as the approaching caravan came to a halt……The passengers disembarked…..You’ll ne,e,ever walk a,aaaalone.

The audience of less than thousands clapped; they shouted Bravo again and again; they shook his hand again and again and again. And, they invited Lee Broom, the Entertainer to ride in the front car with the promoter of this traveling band of musicians on their way from Dallas to Los Angeles for a thirty day gig.