Friday, January 21, 2005

Kent Oddballs

Maybe it was just an alignment of the stars, but we sure had a slew
of colorful characters inhabiting Kent in those days, 1964 to 1974.

Freddie Palumbo, (I originally identified him as Freddie Salem, a few crossed circuits in my mind!) who was the subject of a James Gang song, would drift into your pad, utter some mystical statement and then seem to vanish into thin air.

Charles Swanson, Don Titto, Andy Anderson, Ted Bliss, and Jim Greathouse were all among the cast of exteme personalities that made life interesting.

Let's hear what you remember.


PG said...

BH you know I think we are talking about two different people named Freddie Salem here. The Freddie Salem I've been discussing is from Akron, he is on the Numbers Band webpage at their 30th reunion, began playing drums at a young age, a friend of my old drummer - Tom Schrontz, and I believe ended up playing guitar for The Outlaws? The Freddie Salem that you are talking about was this kinda crazy guy who lived for awhile in a refridgerator box under the bridge in Kent. The James Gang did write a song about him - "It's so so strange ......". Lets get Dave Scoggy's take on this.


dscroggy said...

I knew the Freddie Salem that Pete is talking about. He was a couple of years younger than me and started out on drums, but later switched to guitar. Yes, he wound up playing for The Outlaws (after being in a number of local bands), but I was out of touch with him by then. I believe he returned to Akron and opened up a night club, but I wasn't around for this so maybe someone who has been in Akron all this time can chime in. I think he's a pretty well-known guy in Akron.

I'm extremely hazy on the other guy. Other than hearing some vague stories when I came to Kent, I am unfamiliar with this character.

One of the Kent oddballs who sticks out in my mind was Andy Anderson. Anyone remember him? He was in Orville's (Walter's) bar every night. A skinny older guy with thick black glasses and a flannel shirt. Wide crazy eyes that made you wonder if he was percieving the same reality you were, and concluding "probably not". Obviously mentally challenged somehow, but nice. Andy's thing was a strange kind of dance he did. A sort of spastic maneuver with a lot of herky-jerky hand motion. The bar would be packed with frenzied young people swilling Boone's Farm Apple wine over ice or Old Shay Ale and Andy would flit through the crowd doing his thing. I don't think anyone really KNEW him or ever saw him outside of the bar, but he was a fixture there. Often the girls would dance with him, teasing a little but not mean.

It was interesting to see Orville's transform from a workingman's bar in the daytime, where you could get a decent cheeseburger and a helluva good navy bean soup for lunch to the nightime Water St. hotspot for hipsters. This started about 7:00 pm and it was interesting to observe. People would either just hang there, or stop in several times as they barhopped between JB's the Kove and the other music bars.-DS

PG said...

After thinking about it for awhile, the Fred that BH was refering to in Kent was named Fred Palumbo (sp) or something like that. He was the guy that the James Gang wrote a song about, appropriately called "Fred" which I believe was on "Yer Album". I definitely remember Andy @ Orville's. He was just as DS described him, thick black glasses and a flannel shirt. He would always be drinking solo, head down, until someone would drop a dime in the jukebox and play this one (and probably only) jazz tune. I believe it was Dizzy Gillespie doing "Windmills of Your Mind". He would then immeadiatly come alive, jump up with this kinda crazed look on his face, and begin to do this very unique sashaying, bebop strut while playing air trumpet. He would go from one end of the floor to the other, with people forming a line on either side of him, clapping and cheering him on with hoots and hollers. It was a riot. He seemed to definitly enjoy it and we all had good fun.

Kathryn said...

I can verify that it was Freddie Palombo. I might be spelling his last name wrong. But I distinctly remember that beautiful Italian intense face and the obscure mutterings you are referring to. Did anyone google him??

Also was at the Blind Owl....

Unknown said...

I remember Freddie Palumbo. He'd sometimes drop in to see me, I think when I lived at the old Bike Shop. I seem to remember him being around Bergner's Garage when I was there, too- (about winter of '66 maybe). The story was that his parents had been unhappy that he wasn't shaping up into a fine right-thinking replica of themselves, so they had had him put through a series of electro-shock "therapy" treatments. It took away whole sections of his memory, which would account for at least SOME of his often disconnected ramblings. But personally, I think he was just a harmless semi-sociopath, like a lot of us then. He could be really caustic and funny at times, then suddenly he'd fade into a mystical state and seem to be carrying on an internal conversation with himself. I know he REALLY resented the shock treatments and memory loss. He knew he'd been robbed of some vital parts of his life. He was a strange angel, with an intense dark beauty.