Wednesday, June 15, 2005


(Originally run 12/9/03 on the old site)

One of the key members of the SHS Musical Mafia during the mid-50s was Larry Maness. He was the first chair clarinet (after Frank Thompson had sacrificed a middle digit in favor of a neat lawn), which made him Concertmaster of the band, plus he was the Drum Major, he of the tall shako and commanding baton.

He was also the son of “Peck” Maness of Peck’s Dog House, a very commanding person in his own right.

Larry was one of the more self-contradictory members of an already crazy group.

On the one hand, he was both a sensitive musician AND a sensitive human being. On the other hand, he had a temper that he’d inherited from his dad. I think it would be safe to say that this slim young man lived in fear ONLY of his father. The rest of the time … well, Dan E. Randle contributes this:

Maness was a crazy person. I remember one Halloween, Maness, Thompson, Morris (can't recall his last name) and I were touring around town in a panel truck that Thompson's dad had just taken in as junk. We had a 55 gallon barrel with the top cut out, and filled three quarters full of water, with a big block of wood floating in the water to keep it from splashing out as we started, stopped, and turned corners. Inserted into the barrel was a hand operated fruit tree sprayer. Had a valve cock on the end so we could pump up the pressure and get further distance when we opened the valve.

We sprayed the dorms out at Harding at one time. Most of the time, we just went around the Court Square spraying down the people.

One of the town bullies, Frank (something), got sprayed down one night so, the next time around, he threw a rock and broke the front windshield. At this point, Maness jumped out of the truck, chased him down, and started beating him up. I think at any normal time, he would have never done it.

Some of the things we did in that era would land you in jail now!

Enough for now. Remind me to tell you about the time we took Eugene McCormick out to the airport. That’s another story for a later date.

From Larry’s best friend, Ernest, recalling that before Sue, the lady who was to become Larry’s wife, came into his life, Larry had a girlfriend over in the Delta region:

This is so wild that Dan remembers that! You'll never believe this but the girl's name was (oops now it left me; I thought I'd never forget her name, Sissy-something). After Hot Springs that year, Larry went to meet her, and went to her house, where her mom said she was out with her BOY FRIEND, home from the Marines! Larry went to find her, and did: they were in a parked car on a country road. Larry drove up behind them, banged on the window of the car, the guy got out of the car, pulled up his pants and beat the crap out of Larry!

Larry got in his car and came back to Searcy, never spoke to the girl again, duh.

I felt badly for him at the time, but that's when he then found Sue, and they were together from then on. Larry struggled with some inner demons (didn't we all) that were part from his dad, part from 17-year-old rebellious stuff. But I loved him as much as a brother, and my son, Stuart Leslie, is named for him. Larry had a son, now grown, of course, named Michael Lee, after yours truly.

As close to blood as two men could be, I keep saying I'm going to write about him, but what can I say that would do justice to that memory? I'll try when I get the courage. It’s tough, ‘cause I’ve just gone through the anniversary of his death 30 years ago. November,1973, in a Nebraska corn field.

Larry truly qualifies as an Unforgettable Character.

Larry Maness (1956) Posted by Hello

On a more cheerful note, Ernie goes on:

I remember the Plaza. Right across from the Mayfair. Close to the Plaza, (correct this if not accurate, please), Morris and Son was the place to get real Levi's...$4.75 a pair; I could only afford one or two. Summer jobs at Mr. Haile's station got them for me.

Carol Hill, though, was the champion popcorn maker at the Rialto, but here's a question for you...who was the projectionist 1955-1957? The projectors used carbon plasma arc rods, like a welder would use, which made a BRIGHT light. Coordinating the reels, (there were two projectors) and keeping a rod going for the arc was a delicate task. Note the little white dot that appears for one frame just before the reel changes on real film. That's the signal. (Why I even thought of this stuff I'll never know, it just comes out, sometimes).

Ernie remembered when I brought it up to him, but there were actually THREE flashing signals, 3 frames of film apiece (moving at 24 frames a second, they weren’t up there long). The first came at 10 seconds and, like smashing a mule across the nose with a 2X4, were to tell you there was a message coming; the second, 5 seconds after the first, told you to roll the next projector. The last one, at the one second mark, told you to stomp the pedal to change the picture from one projector to the other.

Ernie concluded his contribution:

Phyllis Smith: "Bring that here, Misto'!" "Take that there, Misto'!" Yes, ma'am says I nervously.

Thank you, Lord, for Mrs. Morgan NOT making me sew in Home Ec I!


Post a Comment

<< Home