“You’ll recognize some of these stories. We’re all not that different and you might have one similar to tell.”— John Moore, former radio personality and owner of One Moore Production, a multi-media company. His weekly humor column is featured in regional newspapers and on Facebook.
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John Moore addressed a combined gathering of the North and East Texas and West Texas press associations last week, where he expressed his belief that people enjoy reading about others’ personal experiences, things with which they can relate.
Relating a story about riding from his hometown of Ashdown, Arkansas to Shreveport in his friend’s 1974 red VW Beetle to attend a Peter Frampton concert with his then girlfriend sitting in his lap, he concluded, “But I did see Peter Frampton. And for that I’m grateful. Even if the ride over was more like a Pink Floyd song — ‘Comfortably Numb.’”
Subsequently, someone fired off the question, “Your favorite concert?” His quick response was, “Pink Floyd … 1994.”
My only Pink Floyd story was still on my mind later when I bought a couple of Moore’s books. I had to ask, “That Pink Floyd concert you saw in 1994—where was it?” Arlington, he replied as he autographed my my purchases. Naturally, I agreed with his sentiments on storytelling columns then added, “I have to tell you my 1994 Pink Floyd story.”
I shared with him a shorter version of the longer story about my only experience with the English psychedelic rock band. The more extended version began in the mid-90s when I was the publisher at The Boerne Star and stressing over weekly printing deadline challenges. Late charges for missed press times were adding up, and every form of motivation failed until, by chance, I noticed something one evening after the paper had gone to press. Watching the staff leave through the back door at five, every one of them passed their car and headed first to the small Hill Country bar on the other side of the parking lot called the Longbranch.
The light came on, and I smiled.
Perhaps this is a good time to confess that, looking back, not all of my decisions have been steeped in wisdom. But desperate for a solution, this one sure seemed worth a try. Next press day, I announced that every week we made deadline with the paper, I would buy the staff a round of refreshments at the Longbranch. Then I sat back and watched.
The concept was not without scrutiny. The first receipt from the backdoor bar submitted for reimbursement as an office expense prompted a phone call from the paper’s owner, Jim Chionsini. Explaining that a $25 weekly bar tab had eliminated $100 or more in late charges at the press the first week, the conversation quickly became one of simple economics. There was even creative discussion about adding an expense account category for it on the financial statements.
Smiling while driving home one evening after meeting deadlines for three weeks in a row, the scenic Texas Hill Country outside Boerne was especially relaxing. Things got exciting, however, when I topped a hill and was greeted by a sight that didn’t compute with the rolling hills countryside. Floating along slowly just above the hilltops highlighted by long rays of the late evening sun was a blimp. Not just any ordinary blimp, but one embellished in 60s abstract artwork.
I skidded to a stop on the side of the road before running off into the ditch and got out to get to confirm what my eyes were telling me. Watching the dazzling dirigible drift lazily along, barely clearing the hilltops, I stared in disbelief as it crossed the road and disappeared over the next hill headed toward San Antonio.
I had no idea what I had just seen. Sure, I listened to Pink Floyd’s music, but had never been to a concert and had no clue the group used a lighter-than-air ship to promote their appearances. All I did know was just moments after stopping at the Longbranch to fund the weekly motivational seminar, I saw a psychedelic blimp in the hills outside San Antonio— in the middle of nowhere with nary a witness to corroborate my story.
Carefully, I drove on home, vowing never to mention it to anyone and to never set foot in the Longbranch again, even if just to pay the staff’s tab.
Luckily, redemption came the next morning in the form of a San Antonio Express-News story about the Pink Floyd blimp, “The Division Bell,” arriving for the group’s upcoming concert at the Alamodome. Be that as it may, I never went back to the Longbranch. We never missed another press time as long as I was in Boerne. And come every press day, I met the staff at the back door with motivational money and wished them, “Cheers.”
John laughed and said, “What a great story.” Agreeing, I said, “I think it might be my next story worth telling.”
And I smiled because although I never got to attend a Pink Floyd concert, I had a memorable encounter with their blimp one afternoon in the Texas hills outside San Antonio.
Photo at the top of the page by Jim Sykes http://www.jrsphotos.com
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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune, the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.
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