Starting High School

Grace Slick today at 75.
Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane 1967
Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane 1967

Starting High School

In San Francisco, it’s the summer of love,
Long haired hippies, peace signs and doves.
In Viet-Nam the soldiers are dying,
Back home their families are crying,
And Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play.

Jim wants to “Light My Fire,”
While Grace’s rabbit only flies higher.
The evening news shows the war isn’t cool,
This week I started high school,
And “All You Need Is Love” is what The Beatles say.

Written by Jimmie A. Kepler
Schertz, Texas, August 1967

The photos are of Grace Slick. She is an alumna of Finch College where she majored in art. She is an accomplished artist. The artwork is hers.

Note: This is the oldest poem I have written by me. It was in notebooks and papers my mother gave me a few months before she passed away in 2014. Aren’t parents good about keeping things and then later in life returning them?

I wrote this poem as a freshman at Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz, Texas. It was just outside the main gate at Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

Impressing my English teacher was challenging. The assignment was to write a paper on “What I did on my summer vacation.” Instead, I wrote about what was happening in popular culture. Instead of prose, I wrote a poem.

She called me a “beatnik poet weirdo.” I viewed her insult as a compliment! I gave in writing five pages of drivel avoiding a grade of “F” on the assignment.

The poem is included in the book “Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection” available on Kindle from Amazon.

Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter

As a military brat, the end of the school year always meant Little League Baseball. As an eleven years old boy in May of 1965, three things occupied me life. They were Boy Scouts, baseball, and a little garage band I had just joined.

Spring and the start of the baseball season never failed to give me dreams of playing professional baseball. “Tryout Saturday,” as we called it back then, was a day when coaches and managers could see your talents. They woul have us field ground balls, catch pop flys, and take batting practice.

I could catch or knock down any baseball hit my way. My father had taught me to get in front of the ball and let my body help knock it down if it missed my glove. I could then pick up the ball and throw out the runner. I could hit the cover of a baseball in 1965. I was the only kid my age that was a switch hitter. When batting right-handed I could hit the ball over the fence with regularity. When hitting left-handed I was more a contact hitter. I would knock the ball to all fields hitting for a high batting average. I was good. I knew it. My dad knew it. The coaches and managers knew it.

Selected second overall, I went to the Cardinals. Also on my team was Bobby Mars. He was in the band that had recently asked me to be their rhythm guitarist. Bobby could do something I could never do consistently. He could sing lead. I’m talking about a pop star, rock idol, lead singer quality voice. He had a voice that the girls swooned over.

Bobby got all the boys on the team to sing. The song of choice was Herman’s Hermits (featuring Peter Noone on lead vocals) “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.” I started bringing an acoustic six-string guitar to baseball practice. I put my handkerchief close to the bridge of the guitar body to mute the sound. It gave an almost banjo-like sound. We would sing “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” over and over.

The first time we would sing using the correct lyrics. Then we would begin substituting the last name of the every boy on the baseball team like “Mrs. Smith” or “Mrs. Jones” instead of “Mrs. Brown”. We would always end with Mrs. Mars You’ve Got a Lovely Martian and giggle. We sang the tune with a heavy, fake British accent.

One of the things that made the song, so appealing was Peter Noone. He was barely five or six years older than me and the boys on the team. Many had brothers his age. When we watched him on Shindig, American Bandstand, Hullabaloo and Where the Action Is. Peter had a charisma that we only saw elsewhere in The Beatles.

The musical summer of 1965 was special. The music of Herman’s Hermits “Mrs. Brown” and The Beatles “Ticket to Ride” captured our imagination. The Beach Boys “Help Me, Rhonda” and The Byrds “Mr. Tambourine Man” blasted from our little AM radios. The Rolling Stones “Satisfaction” became the first rock anthem our lives. Herman’s Hermits “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” had us singing along once more with Peter Noone.

We also followed the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball teams in the newspapers and on the radio. After all, El Paso where I lived on Biggs Air Force Base, was about halfway between Houston and Los Angeles.

Music filled the summer days. Baseball filled the summer nights.

Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter

As a military brat, the end of the school year always meant Little League Baseball. As an eleven years old boy in May of 1965, three things occupied me life. They were Boy Scouts, baseball, and a little garage band I had just joined.

Spring and the start of the baseball season never failed to give me dreams of playing professional baseball. “Tryout Saturday,” as we called it back then, was a day when coaches and managers could see your talents. They woul have us field ground balls, catch pop flys, and take batting practice.

I could catch or knock down any baseball hit my way. My father had taught me to get in front of the ball and let my body help knock it down if it missed my glove. I could then pick up the ball and throw out the runner. I could hit the cover of a baseball in 1965. I was the only kid my age that was a switch hitter. When batting right-handed I could hit the ball over the fence with regularity. When hitting left-handed I was more a contact hitter. I would knock the ball to all fields hitting for a high batting average. I was good. I knew it. My dad knew it. The coaches and managers knew it.

Selected second overall, I went to the Cardinals. Also on my team was Bobby Mars. He was in the band that had recently asked me to be their rhythm guitarist. Bobby could do something I could never do consistently. He could sing lead. I’m talking about a pop star, rock idol, lead singer quality voice. He had a voice that the girls swooned over.

Bobby got all the boys on the team to sing. The song of choice was Herman’s Hermits (featuring Peter Noone on lead vocals) “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter.” I started bringing an acoustic six-string guitar to baseball practice. I put my handkerchief close to the bridge of the guitar body to mute the sound. It gave an almost banjo-like sound. We would sing “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” over and over.

The first time we would sing using the correct lyrics. Then we would begin substituting the last name of the every boy on the baseball team like “Mrs. Smith” or “Mrs. Jones” instead of “Mrs. Brown”. We would always end with Mrs. Mars You’ve Got a Lovely Martian and giggle. We sang the tune with a heavy, fake British accent.

One of the things that made the song, so appealing was Peter Noone. He was barely five or six years older than me and the boys on the team. Many had brothers his age. When we watched him on Shindig, American Bandstand, Hullabaloo and Where the Action Is. Peter had a charisma that we only saw elsewhere in The Beatles.

The musical summer of 1965 was special. The music of Herman’s Hermits “Mrs. Brown” and The Beatles “Ticket to Ride” captured our imagination. The Beach Boys “Help Me, Rhonda” and The Byrds “Mr. Tambourine Man” blasted from our little AM radios. The Rolling Stones “Satisfaction” became the first rock anthem our lives. Herman’s Hermits “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” had us singing along once more with Peter Noone.

We also followed the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball teams in the newspapers and on the radio. After all, El Paso where I lived on Biggs Air Force Base, was about halfway between Houston and Los Angeles.

Music filled the summer days. Baseball filled the summer nights.

Why I Write

George_Orwell_in_Hampstead_-_geograph.org.uk_-_432863Today is Thursday March 21, 2013. 

In 1946, George Orwell (his real name was Eric Arthur Blair) wrote an essay titled “Why I Write”. It detailed his personal journey to becoming a writer. Orwell lists “four great motives for writing” which he feels exist in every writer. He explains that all are present, but in different proportions, and also that these proportions vary from time to time. They are as follows:

1. Sheer egoism – Orwell argues that many people write simply to feel clever, to “be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on grown-ups in childhood, etc.” He says that this is a great motive, although most of humanity is not “acutely selfish”, and that this motive exists mainly in younger writers. He also says that it exists more in serious writers than journalists, though serious writers are “less interested in money”.
2. Aesthetic enthusiasm – Orwell explains that present in writing is the desire to make one’s writing look and sound good, having “pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story.” He says that this motive is “very feeble in a lot of writers” but still present in all works of writing.
3. Historical impulse – He sums this up by simply stating this motive is the “desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.”
4. Political purpose – Orwell writes, “No book is genuinely free from political bias”, and further explains that this motive is used very commonly in all forms of writing in the broadest sense, citing a “desire to push the world in a certain direction” in every person. He concludes by saying that “the opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.”

After reading the essay, I came up with my list. They are as follows:

1. Ego/Hubris – I love to see my name listed as the author. I enjoy when my name appears on the cover of a magazine and in the table of comments of a magazine. I wish to see my name on the spine of a traditionally published book.
2. Educating People – I have loved when I have published a magazine article then get a telephone call, letter, or email asking for more information on the subject. Sometimes because of my writing, I have received job offers and speaking engagements. I enjoy informing people about historical events, writer’s lives, and the backgrounds of people and events.
3. Desire to influence others and be held in esteem by others – Maybe this goes with number one – Hubris. I recall the pride my oldest son had when he went to college and found several of my traditionally published magazine articles while doing research. He said it was somewhat cool to quote his father’s published work in a research paper. He said some of what I wrote for journals would be in the library forever.
4. Sharing my faith – I remember reading the late musician and former Beatles guitarist George Harrison’s memoir, “I, Me, Mine”. In the book, he says he purposefully wrote songs to share his beliefs and faith in Hare Krishna. I do the same to share my faith and belief in Jesus Christ. I try to do it in the normal flow of life as opposed to clobbering someone with the Bible.

If you write, why do you write?

Encourage your friends, keep reading and write.
Jimmie A. Keple
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Photo credits: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the corner of Pond Street and South End Road, opposite the Royal Free Hospital. The bookshop has long gone. Date: 11 May 2007. Source: From geograph.org.uk

Review: I, Me, Mine

“I, Me, Mine” by George Harrison was an extremely challenging read. The book was at times boring, has poor structure, and lacked direction. You can feel George Harrison’s dry wit and humor in the pages of the book with the key word being dry.

Don’t expect to learn a lot about Harrison. The book lacks the tell all element that many want.

Harrison was obsessed with Krishna. He says in the text that he promoted his personal religious beliefs through his songs. He felt it critical to share his faith. Does that make him an evangelical Hare Krishna?

George does not describe much of his relationships with the other Beatles. Including the handwritten lyrics is a great bonus. This is a definite must-have for admirers of the Harrison. If you can find the book at the half-price book store or even you local library and love the Beatles and George, enjoy.