Soapbox Racer .... Little 'Ol Hill / Wobbly
Wheels...Great Big Thrill
Boys Will Be Boys
That's The Way It Should Be
Buzz & Pee Wee.... Butchie & Me
Chumin' Around...Trollin' For Trout / Pedaling
PapersWhen School Let Out
I'll Never Forget
Fallin' Out Of That Tree
Or Buzz & Pee Wee..... Butchie & Me
Hittin' The Beach With Shovels & Pails
To The Wild Frontier, Blazin' New Trails
Rin Tin Tin .... And Walt Disney
Buzz & Pee Wee..... Butchie & Me
Silver Schwinn .... Green Studebaker
Along Comes Mary / And It's See You Later
'Cause Little Kid Brothers....They're A Pain You See
For Buzz & Butchie .... Now It's Pee Wee & Me
Left In The Dust ...'Cause Of Our Age
Feelin' So Small, With Towering Rage
But Boy's Will Be Boys......That's The Way It'll Be
For Buzz & Pee Wee.....Butchie & Me
Army & Navy / And A Two Year College
Out Of Harms Way / Safe With The Knowledge
That Back In The Woods / There's A Fort In A Tree
For Buzz & Pee Wee......Butchie & Me
BUZZ & PEE WEE, BUTCHIE & ME
"Jeez Louise", Kenny Vitellaro yelled at me a few weeks ago , "How did you survive the fall from it ?" "Well " IT " wasn't that tall in 1956, but " IT " was still around 30 feet in the air", I replied. " It was a skinny Hickory tree located on Beaver Drive in Mastic Beach, Long Island. The fact that there wasn't a house on it some 45 years later, was just as miraculous to me as surviving the split second plunge to earth that late spring day.
We called them Rock and Roll trees back then and would climb up to the top and get them swaying, just like the new music of the day we would get pretty carried away. I convinced a third grade classmate of mine, Davy Pfeiffer to try it out. He was up in one and I in another and I gave him a heck of a demonstration. Soon he too was swaying like a berserk Tarzan. I started really rocking and suddenly the tree refused to spring back. I can still feel the branches sliding through my hands and then a whap on the back_ I hit a branch on the way down. Then the instant stop and blackness. Davy yelled and started climbing down. I couldn't do anything but lay flat on my back, could not even breathe. By the time he got down I was starting to realize what had happened but could not move or speak. The pain was setting in though. Davy didn't know what to do....run for help or stay. After what seemed an eternity for both of us, I started to breathe again and slowly rolled over but could not get up.
About 5 minutes passed and I was able to stand
up. I walked slowly to my bike and rode it a half mile home. When
I got in the house my mother looked at me and said "What
happened!!" I was still colorless and moving very slow. Lucky
to escape basically unharmed. I still have back trouble today
that's connected to it. I never did forget it and wound up using
it in a song I would write in Nashville Tennessee during the fall
of '96. Davy Pfeiffer isn't in it, but my brother Butch and Buzz
& Pee Wee are and funny thing is, Buzz and Pee Wee grew up
in Spartanburg, South Carolina. But boys will be boys and when
those boys are brothers......well then you have a story.
Butch who's real name is Walter is three years older than me.We grew up in a small town of around 300 people. We spent a lot time together and were as close as any pair of brothers could be. Totally different personalities, but close. When we got to be teens we kind of went separate ways. I was pretty engrossed in the guitar by then having started playing it in 1956. One of Butch's classmates, Doug Percoco started playing one too, a few years later and we became pals and bandmates, even though he was Butchie's pal first. But as boys, Butch and I would get into all types of fun stuff, including building tree forts and wooden hot rods and racing them down little old hills. One time we built one with a enclosed body and my head went right through the roof when I took a turn into our driveway on two wheels. Boys will be boys.
When it came time for real wheels, Butchies first car was a green '49 Studebaker he bought from our friend Doug's Dad for a whole $3.00. No not thirty.....three dollars. Mr. Percoco only wanted a dollar for it, but thought the motor vehicle bureau might get suspicious, so he put down three on the bill of sale. He then rebated two bucks to Butch. That would buy 8 quarts of bottle oil at Pat & Mikes Texaco in town. About a weeks supply for the smokin' Stude. Those were the days, it was then 1961.....and boys will boys.
Butch went into the Navy in '62 and willed the Stude to me. I was in my first year of auto mechanics vocational school and wasted no time tearing down the Stude's engine to reveal the secrets of it's oil consumption. Some of it's valves were almost completely gone.....how it even ran was a mystery. I never put it back on the road but had some fun with it nonetheless. A few years later I'd move up to racing real jalopies on Riverhead Raceway.....boys will be boys.
While all this was taking place in Long Island, New York, two boys of nearly the same age were growing up south of the Mason - Dixon line. Their names were George and Walter Hyatt aka Buzz and Pee Wee. I'd meet Walter Hyatt when I first moved to Nashville in 1987. We were both serious guitarists (vs hummer & strummers) songwriters and kindred spirits. We both drew upon childhood experiences in our song collaborations and the first time I learned of Walter having an older brother was when we wrote a song called The Evening Train around 1991. Walter used a line "When we were boys, he helped me fix my toys, in high school football he was big and strong.....and I know that he's been done wrong. Evening Train was about a brother returning to a hometown for his brothers funeral. "Buzz" did go in the Army but I'm happy to say he returned safely and is alive and well in Lexington South Carolina. Walter drew upon his mothers brother, who died in the "police action" aka as the Korean war. I've talked with several vets of it and none can ever recall seeing any police except the MPs take action over there. But there was a nasty war going on where as in all wars, too many boys came home in a box. Boys will be boys.
Buzz and Pee Wee seemed to have a whole lot of parallel stuff happen to them growing up. Both of them had paper routes, Butch and I did too. Then there was that degree of separation when we reached certain ages. Though we often discussed events of our childhood and turned out a handful of fairly decent songs like Sheik Of Sh Boom, (recorded by Lyle Lovett among others) I never knew Walter was known as Pee Wee. I'd find out several years later .
The separation that occurred between Butchie and me reached a climax of sorts on my 49th birthday May 11, 1996. We had grown more and more distant ever since our Mom passed away in 1985, but in the last few years unless I contacted Butch, I never heard from him, nor did my sister Gerry. Butch's birthday, (May 4th) was a week apart from mine and when we were kids, Mom would hold one big party for both of usually on the Saturday or Sunday that fell between them. On May 4th that year I received a surprise phone call. It was from Walter Hyatt. He was in the studio with a friend Carol Elliott, who had just cut a version of our Sheik Of Sh Boom. Walter was a little excited (which is an event by itself ) and we discussed getting together to write again which for no good reason, had elapsed into a long dry spell. "I have a title for us", I told him.... "You Do?" he said taking the bait. "Yeah...Son Of The Sheik Of Shboom". We joked a bit and he said he'd be in touch with me when he got back from the Florida Keys as he had an out of town gig down there.
After I hung up I started thinking about Butch, as it was his birthday and Walter had a way of making you think about stuff like that. I thought about both of them on and off that week. The following Saturday my family took me to the movies to see "A Family Thing" with Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones. The plot was great. Robert Duvall discovers on his mothers deathbed that James Earl is his half brother and sets out on an odyssey to find him. That movie was the spark for me to pick up the phone and call Butch. After an awkward start we had a pretty good talk and Butch made plans to visit me in Nashville the upcoming summer. He never showed up.
The next day I woke up to terrible and God awful news. Walter Hyatt was a victim of the Valu Jet disaster. For me it was as bad as losing a brother, maybe worse. At the services, I first met his brother George and began to miss mine even more. George and Walter were very very much alike in their personalities and demeanor. In some ways when I spoke with George it was like Walter was still here. Needless to say I felt an instant attachment.
The news hit the Nashville music community
pretty hard and Lyle Lovett organized some benefits for Walter's
family. One at the Ryman and two in Austin, Texas where Walter
was very well liked. The summer came and went and Butch never
showed up. I sent him an invitation to a book signing I did on
Long Island several years later but again he was a no show. When
I went out to Texas in the fall of '96 for the Austin City Limits
taping for Walter I got to hang around with George and everyone
was calling him Buzz. I finally asked him "Did Walter have
a nick name too?" " Yeah...... he sure did, it was Pee
Wee, but he did not care for it at all." Well Buzz and Pee
Wee just resonated the songwriter in me and when I got back Buzz
and Pee Wee , Butchie and Me, fell out of me as quickly as I fell
out of that tree. Nothing maudlin though, just good stuff about
growing up and being boys. This year (2000) I went into a studio
to record a new CD called the Stuff I Got Away With. Honky Tonker
David (Thinkin' Problem , Riding With Private Malone) Ball who
was in Uncle Walt's Band with Walter. David sang a duet with me
on it.... It went like this. Click link under the Silvertone Radio