Saturday, May 14, 2005

Rhythm of the Rain

In the early 1960s I quit radio station WKIX (the first of three times) after two frigid winters of doing a remote broadcast request show from a local drive-in restaurant and moved to sunny Florida to make my fortune, with no job in sight. I stayed with a friend for a week or so in Tampa until he found me a job to get rid of me.

I ended up at a station in nearby Lakeland and one day I got a call from my friend in Tampa saying a member of the then-popular vocal group The Cascades (Rhythm of the Rain) was in town and would come do a free appearance for me at a Friday night record hop I hosted at a local skating rink. I said sure, and drove over and picked up the Cascade.

That night at the hop he lip-synched the song Rhythm of the Rain rather poorly, I thought, but the two groupies I had lined up to meet him were impressed enough to go for a ride with us in my 1962 Ford Falcon after the show. We rode around until one in the morning before deciding to head for my apartment.

We were turning into my parking lot when the car behind us turned on the flashing red lights. My girl's mother had called the police. We learned that the girls were only fifteen! The Cascade and I were twenty. The girls sure looked older.

My boss came down and got us out of jail and the Cascade stayed with me for a day or two, disappearing for a couple of hours each day and coming back each time with cash, wired to him by his agent, he said. Finally he disappeared completely and a few weeks later I heard that he had been picked up in Orlando for grabbing money out of a merchant's cash drawer. The guy was not a real Cascade, just a total con.

Sometimes I wonder how I lived long enough to grow up.

-- Dalton Hammond

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