Which Way Is Left In Canada
by Chuck RitenouR
I met Bean during the summer of 1977 at a little roadhouse bar called Four Corners. It is still open and is located on Rt 55 near the tiny settlement, Star Tannery, Virginia. She was wearing in a white lace up blouse that accentuated her breasts and a pair of cut off jeans. Imagine long black hair and the bluest eyes you've ever seen. In a word, she was stunning at 19 years old. Though I didn't know it, she was married at the time to a pill popping Mexican named Chico. He was 35 years old and she was 16 when they married. Bean's family was close to being destitute and living in a rented house in Strasburg, Virginia. That night, we never exchanged words, but believe me I certainly did notice her. At this time, she hadn't been given her nickname. Her real name was Theresa and she went by Terry.
A few weeks later she came to see our band, Buzz at the Silver Diner, a night club in Winchester, Virginia. She walked up to me and my heart froze. You can only guess at my disappointment when she asked,"Does your light man dance?" She was with a friend, Nancy who was also 19 years old and looked like a Linda Ronstandt clone. She and Bud seemed to hit it off and the four of us went over to Bud's house afterwards for party favors and what could only be termed as causual sex. Bud and Nancy were both single. Terry had not given any indication of marriage. I was married, but pretended I wasn't. She had no children. I had a very young baby girl. I'm afraid that I must admit I was never a faithful husband. I was a 24 year old guitarist in a very popular band and very much like a kid in a candy shop. Looking back at it, I can say in all honesty and humility, I was a shallow person at best and at worst a sexual predator preying on women over the age of consent. I am not proud of it, but it is the truth.
The following morning, I was awakened by pounding on the front door. I wrapped myself in a sheet and opened the door. I remember being mildly amused at the character standing there. Chico was dressed like he'd just stepped out of a scene in a western movie and was wearing a black Stetson hat, black cowboy boots, white western shirt and a poncho. He looked me up and down and asked, "Have you seen my wife, Theresa?" I had no idea what he was talking about. He may have been 38 years old, but looked like he could have been fifty. I did not realize how years of alcohol and drug abuse could age a person. I said, "No, I'm afraid not partner", poking fun at his costume. He pointed at the black Trans Am (yes, a Smokey and the Bandit car) and said,"this is her car. If she's in there, I want to talk to her." My guess is he could see the blood drain from my face and immediately assumed she was there with me. I said, "Sorry pal" and closed the door and locked it. I went back to the bed and woke Nancy. She gave me the story of Terry and Chico. I decided to ask Terry about it when she and Bud got up.
From that day forward, Chico followed our band and caused trouble for us. I was an Army veteran and was young enough not to back down especially since I was not the one involved with his wife. Chico had served time in San Quentin in his twenties and that was enough to scare Bud. He was terrified that Chico would learn he was Terry's paramour. In a few weeks, Bud quit the band and stopped seeing Terry. This in no way stopped Chico from his quest to make my life miserable. Bud was my best friend. We had served in the Army together. It never once occurred to me to tell Chico it was Bud and not me. Bud was a lover, I on the other hand was completely ruthless and unafraid.
Terry and her friends continued to come to our shows. One of her friends, Sandy owned a house in Strasburg that was divided into two apartments. She, her boy friend Donnie, Judy and Terry lived upstairs. After my marriage completely dissolved in November, I moved into the bottom apartment. Chico began harrassing me at my apartment. He was a demolition expert for a construction company and it was rumored he intented to blow up the house. I began sleeping with a loaded rifle within my grasp. On night, he threw a huge rock through my kitchen window and left a knife stuck in the side of the house. The war between us was heating up. I went out on Christmas morning only to find all four of the tires on my jeep had been slashed. At one of our gigs at Four Corners, Chico attacked me with a sword. I in turned used a 12 foot piece of one inch chain to keep him at bay. The State Police arrived within minutes and Chico was charged with aggravated assault. Terry was terrified. Somehow, I had become her protector and she became my lover. Even though she knew I was unfaithful, she stayed by my side.
We moved to 97th Street in Queens, New York City in 1979 and shared a two bed room apartment with my bass player, Tony. Our apartment was on the fourth floor and the fire escape was outside of our living room window. Tony had moved from Queens to Virginia in 1976. New York was fun and dangerous. I made obscene money, but blew it all on lavish nights out on the town. Bean worked in a little sewing factory a few blocks from our apartment building. Tony drove a cab during the day and I delivered records as a side job. One day, I went to work and there was police tape around the entrance of the studio. I mananged to talk the police into allowing to get my instruments out and that night, Terry and I slipped quietly out of town. The things that happened in New York City would fill many pages, but not here.
We returned to Virginia and stayed with Terry's bother, Hank. We lived in a church that had no running water in Arcola. In August, I got a job with the band, ETC. We booked through Barry Rick Associates. The band was booked for 17 weeks by the Holland/American Cruise Lines aboard the "Volendam". The Volendam was a seven story floating Casino/Hotel. Once we were in international waters, the Casino and duty free shops opened. We left New York City's Port Authority on Sunday afternoon, arrived in Bermuda on Tuesday afternoon, and returned to New York on Sunday morning. I enjoyed watching the exhausted passengers disembark in the morning. They all looked like they were suffering from too much fun. My room was directly over the ship's screws and vibrated 24 hours a day. Most nights, I slept on the Ledo deck on the bolted down chase lounges. We played six sets a day and were off in Bermuda every Wednesday. On Wednesday evening, the passengers enjoyed a Las Vegas style show featuring the headliner,singer/playboy bunny, Barbie Benton, dance team, Jeannie and Marlon Zuniga, violinist, Don Harper. Also, Jean Steed and the Bermuda Triangle Band were part of the show.The show's script never changed though on occasion other acts were incorporated.
On my last week, I bought 20 bottles of Bermuda Black Seal Rum. I wrapped the bottles of rum in towels I had liberated from the laundry room. I took the backs off of my speaker cabinets and carefully placed the bottles in them. Then, I replaced the backs. The customs agent that checked my equipment must have been deaf. Even wrapped in towels, I could hear those bottles rolling around. When he asked if I had anything to declare, I said, "I declare I've gained twenty pounds and I lost all my money gambling." He just laughed and waved me through. While I was cruising the Atlantic Ocean, Bean stayed in Arcola. Her parent's home was only a few miles from Hank's church. Bean and Hank met me at the Port Authority with my van. I bought her a beautiful keepsake box and a full length blue kimono from the duty free store. The Kimono matched the color of her eyes.
In December of 1980, I decided to test the waters in Florida. Her father, mother, two younger sisters and younger brother also made the move. It must have been quite a sight. Seven people showing up at Tiny Trailer Town in New Smyrna Beach, Florida with everything they owned in a pick up truck and a Chevy van. I did some solo gigs around Daytona Beach for awhile. Then I called Professional Musicians' Referral Agency for a placement. I was very low on cash. I had pawned every thing I could do without. The last thing to go was a silver dollar necklace given to me by my grandfather, Alf. I thought it was a sign when the PMR rep said, "We have a band in Tallahassee, Florida looking for a guitar player who can sing. The band is called the "Silver Dollar Band". Terry's father, Wade went with me for the audition. After the audition, the drummer told me I was hired. Chuck was the drummer.
Terry and I moved to Tallahasse and her folks stayed in New Smyrna Beach. Terry took a job waitressing at the Ramamda Inn East. After a few weeks, we changed the name to Bobby Watt and Mama's Pride. As fate would have it, we were booked at the Ramada Inn East. The lounge was a popular Republican watering hole. The customers loved us. The Restaurant manager loved us. We played that lounge for 46 straight weeks. Bobby Watt and Mama's Pride were the "darlings of Tally Town". My infidelities continued and finally Terry had had enough. She went back to Virginia. I let her take my van as I wasn't going anywhere soon. I was making very good money. Soon I moved out of the hotel and got a furnished apartment and a room mate, Frankie. Frankie came down from Manassas, Virginia with our new bass player, Ken. Frankie was a young body builder. He left Manassas because his parents came home unexpectedly and caught him having sex with his mother's best friend on the brand new oriental rug. He worked as a waiter in Tallahassee. He was 19 years old.
The band broke up in March of 1982. Bobby Watt and I continued working together as a duo. We called ourselfs, Watt Duo. In June, Terry came back to Tallahasse and brought my van back. I admit I missed her terribly even though the women came and went at the apartment like there was a revolving door. Chuck and Penny both thought it would be great to have Terry come along on the road. I could see the logic of it and I asked her if she'd like to come along on our great adventure. To my surprise, Bean said yes.