GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Charles Kynard/Johnny Kirkwood, the Parisian Room & an untold Sidney story...‏

A conversation during a recent meeting with a fellow car enthusiast made reference to hot link sandwiches, sweet potato pies and L.A. jazz clubs in the 60s. What better intro to another untold Sidney story!

My father had been a jazz man before the war and his passion for music and jazz in particular stayed with him throughout his life. When I was a teenager, and well before I was of legal age to be going into such places, my father would take me along with him to various jazz clubs in the Los Angeles area. There was an active club scene in certain areas of L.A. where streets like Crenshaw, Slausen and W. Wahshington defined the region and the greats and near-greats could be heard live playing to a crowd that knew and understood jazz.

Jazz drummer Johnny Kirkwood was a friend of my father and played with organist Charles Kynard in those days. Johnny can be heard on Professor Soul playing with Charles along with Cal Green on guitar. The clubs offered me a new world of of musical sophistication and I loved the atmosphere. As we entered any of these clubs, I would hear the call of "Hello, Sidney" coming from the audience as well as the stage. He was at home there as I came to be. We were the only white faces in the crowd.

Wayne Robinson was another drummer my father enjoyed going to see. Wayne played the Parisian Room on La Brea Avenue which, sadly, is long gone having been replaced by a U.S. Post Office. My father and I became regulars in the audience but especially whenever Wayne appeared. I had a set of Ludwigs at the time and was taking drum lessons from a German gentleman who knew nothing about jazz--or so it seemed. Wayne would sit at the table with us between sets and we would talk technique and discuss the greats who inspired us. What exceptional times these were.

With mention of the Parisian Room, we have our lead-in to my untold Sidney story. Late one afternoon, my father found himself in the vicinity and stopped to use the phone booth in the parking lot of the Parisian Room. After completing a few calls, Sidney gathered his things and walked back to his car where he sat for several minutes preparing his notes and files for that evening's appointments (he was still involved with life insurance in those days and was training general agents for his company). As he was about to drive away, he heard a voice calling out, "Sidney!"

Looking around, my father saw no one and thought he might have imagined the voice but as he backed out of his parking space, he heard the voice again. This time it called out, "Victor!"

This not only confirmed that he was the object of someone's attention but indicated the nature of their interest as well. You see, my father was in the habit of carrying more than one driver's license in those days. It was a practical solution to the consequences of being an incorrigible driver with habits that today would be labelled with 'Don't try this at home!' warnings.

"Victor Russo!" called the voice again and this time Sidney saw two uniformed L.A.P.D. officers walking towards his car. They seemed like nice enough fellows. He had left his wallet in the phone booth and the nice officers were coming to return it to him--and to Victor Russo.

A brief conversation ensued wherein Sidney explained to the officers his theories on driving as well the purpose served by the fictional Victor Russo. In his uniquely charming way, Sidney convinced the two officers that his was a reasonable approach to the challenges of driving in Los Angeles. They liked his story and I am only surprised he didn't try to sell them each an insurance policy while he had their attention.

The officers did not cite my father for possession of the supernumerary driver's license though they kept the Victor Russo license (for their scrap book, no doubt). They parted as gentlemen on the best of terms.

My father was still sitting in the parking lot as the police car drove past. They honked and one of the officers called out, "Good bye, Sidney, alias Victor Russo!"

Here is a taste of Charles Kynard playing Where's It At:

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