Tail of the Weak 2.24
Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Tail of the Weak is a series of insights and musical memories from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin, singer/songwriter and founder of the Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival, from Waycross, Georgia.
Landreth Travathan Laughinghouse or L.T., as we called him, was my uncle. He was a weight lifter and body builder early on in his young adult days and a larger-than-life figure in my childhood eyes.
There was always that faded newspaper clipping that Mama would pull out and read to us about the Waycross man who ate two dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, and a loaf of bread for breakfast, washing it down with two cases of 6 1/2-ounce Coca-Colas. This was the stuff of superheroes as far as I was concerned.
L.T. married Mama's sister, Quita, in the early Fifties. Shortly after, they opened a small grocery store out Albany Avenue in Waycross, Georgia, and called it Little Star Food Store. As a child, a trip to downtown Waycross wasn't complete without a visit to Little Star where we found shelves of candy, Marvel comic books, and an old chest-type Coke container filled with soda bottles resting in ice-cold water.
L.T. and Quita's home was just two houses down from the store; and whenever we visited, Uncle L.T. would almost always showcase his musical skills on the family's living room piano. He would have me stand right next to him as he played, grandly cascading and crescendoing up and down the keys, the whole time smiling and staring me in the eye. That part was just a little weird.
It was my uncle's piano that provided the impetus for my first piano lessons during my 6th grade school year at Memorial Drive Elementary in 1965.
As a military brat, I was quite used to uprooting and moving from town to town and from one school to another. In 1958, I entered kindergarten and spent all but the final week of 1st grade in Tripoli, Libya, when we moved back to Waycross. My last week of 1st grade was at Memorial Drive with Mrs. Barwick as my teacher.
Daddy was immediately relocated to Turner Air Field in Albany, Georgia; and I entered the 2nd grade at Isabella Street Elementary. When he was stationed in South America later that year, Mama moved us again to Waycross for the second half of the school year at Memorial Drive. My teacher was Mrs. Holtzendorf; and I have long forgiven her for threatening to put me in the book closet for being a slow reader.
My '61-'62 3rd grade year was spent back in Albany at Turner Elementary, 4th and 5th at Sylvester Road Elementary, then winding up back at Memorial Drive as Daddy headed off to Vietnam, leaving us behind on Doghill for a glorious year with our best friends and kinfolk we dearly loved.
As I was sitting in Mrs. Dill's 6th grade class one day, an announcement was handed out that piano lessons were to be offered in the school lunchroom twice a week. So there I was, perched on a piano bench with my John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano book, my instructor guiding me through the fundamentals of scales, hand positions, and note values, while my less-fortunate classmates were stuck in Georgia History.
Over the next several months, I spent a lot of time at the Laughinghouse house practicing what I learned at school until one afternoon, Mama surprised me with a beautiful, mahogany upright piano with the name HARVARD stenciled just above the middle-C note. She bought it at Bradshaw's Appliances, who primarily sold washers, dryers, and refrigerators, in down- town Waycross.
At the end of the course, I played the last song in the first book, “Dublin Town”, for my piano recital. That was the end of my piano lessons; but, years later, when I became serious about music and songwriting, I was able to use those keyboard fundamentals in bands and in the recording studio and they served me well.
And unfortunately, outside of Button Gwinnett, I do not remember a whole hell of a lot about Georgia History.
20th Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival
Advance Weekend Passes:
YouTube Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin