I wrote to Jim Glover, of Jim & Jean a wonderful folk-duo from the mid 60s. He sent me this story of his strange days touring....I present it as I received it.
After a year of Ohio State and singing and rooming with Phil, he talked about how great Greenwich village in New York was after he spent a short time there and I decided after a while that college was not for me and I dropped out went back to Cleveland and played a few clubs as a solo and was asked to come play a gig at a folk club in Fort Wayne Indiana which I did and had a fine time there. I soon decided to go to New York and try to see how far I could go with my music. My Grandma Cohen gave me the name of her cousin, "Big Saul" Whom she thought could get me a job at a club there which was the Peppermint Lounge. I remember telling the people at the club that Big Saul was a relative and asked if I could meet him and see about a gig. I remember I was waiting in a room upstairs near the Peppermint lounge and a couple, a short man and a women, came in and said with a puzzled look on their face "Someone is trying to use you". They couldn't tell me who that was or for what purpose but they suggested that I go down to the Village where all the folk singers are. So I walked down to the village with my guitar and started playing in some of the clubs right off. The first night I was playing at a basket house the Rafio where the owner, Vaughn Emson, who was always dressed in black and had a beard and a look like some kind of Anti-Christ would stand on the street by the entrance of the club and invite people to come in. That first night I was invited to spend with a waitress named Betsy who cautioned me to be careful. I guess I sure looked naive, young and inexperienced and I appreciated her concern. I soon met Jean Ray, a singer from California and went home with her after our gig at the Rafio and we soon teamed up to form a duo -- Jim And Jean.
We played at most of the clubs in the Village and practiced a lot at Jean's apartment on Thomson street. Jean was taking acting lessons at the Musical Theater Academy and had an acting teacher, Ed Moore, who let me sit in on many of the classes and I even took some voice lessons too, which were good if you wanted to sing in the loud theatrical style. One day Phil showed up at the door and said he was through with journalism at Ohio State and stayed with us at Jean's place and would go write songs in the back room and try them out for us just like he did back at Ohio State. Soon he met Alice, a friend of Jean's and fellow student at the Music Academy and Phil and Alice soon were a couple so Phil moved in with Alice. We could easily earn the rent, around 60 bucks a month in one or two nights work at the basket houses like the 3rd Side. One day Phil came over to Jean's house and said there is a plot to kill President Kennedy and wanted to know if I knew anything about it. This was the first time I heard about it and asked him how he knew and he started talking about some secret national security deal he was working with. I wasn't surprised because it sounded like an extension of what he told me back at Ohio State and I didn't know whether to believe him or not but asked him more about the plot and he said they are trying to find out who is behind it and some thought it was Castro that was behind it. I remembered the 5 dollars bet we made back at school when he told me that the CIA was surly going to kill Castro like they did some other leftist leaders and I bet him that they wouldn't kill Castro but since we put no time limit on the bet, he never paid me. I didn't think Castro would risk having Cuba wiped out for a stupid assassination.
Phil also wanted me to go with him to a Fair Play For Cuba meeting or rally where he thought he might learn more about the plot. I don't remember for sure if I agreed to go with him or not but we might have gone somewhere like a subway station where whoever he was supposed to meet didn't show up or something like that but I do remember telling him I would let him know if I heard anything. Another time I talked to him about it and he talked about Hoover and the FBI being out to get the President and about a war going on between the CIA, National Security and the FBI. We (Jim and Jean) were learning a lot of new songs by Phil and other great song writers. Fred Neil turned us on to some places in Florida to play and we went down there and played the Coffee House in Miami with Vince Martin and the Catacombs in Ft Lauderdale with David Crosby and then out to LA where we got married and soon joined the Goodtime Singers on the Andy William's Show.
At one point after we got married in June, some agent -- who I think his name was also Jim and had a short last name -- wanted to book us on the Hollywood Hootenanny Tour of Southern college concerts. I really didn't want to do it, but Jean kept hearing that it would be good to do. I was kind of skeptical about how our folk songs about peace and freedom would go over in the segregated South. I was also starting to hear more rumors that Kennedy would be killed and some people including Phil thought I should not go on this tour because it seems that the rumor was that Kennedy would be killed in the South. The pressure on me to go on the tour kept increasing it seems even to the point when some of the scheduled rehearsals or shows for the Andy William's Show were changed and so we had nothing booked for that time around Nov, 63. So I remember finally saying to Jim the agent, "I heard some people say that Kennedy is going to be killed and not to do the tour", and he said, "that's right and that's why we want you to go and to watch what goes on". I remember thinking of what Phil told me and assumed that he was working for the same thing that Phil said he was doing. The agent said it could be dangerous and not to interfere or write anything down during the tour. I asked him if he was going and he said he was. I was trying to get a hold of Phil and talk to him some more about it but for some reason could not get a hold of him.
So there we were after a meeting with a lot of the musicians I found myself on the Hollywood Hootenanny Chartered Bus leaving LA but the guy who booked it was not on the Bus and Harvey Goldblatt (or Greenblatt?) who also talked me into going was on the Bus for only a short time and then he said goodbye to everyone and I remember thinking "he was supposed to come too". I was really confused about what was going on and did not know what to believe except that maybe I had made a big mistake but I was curious about what I would find out. The tour, in my mind, was a fiasco where a lot of the concerts were falling through and there were strange men on the chartered bus who didn't seem to be musicians or have any purpose in being there. The person who seemed to be in charge soon after we got on the road was a man I remember as Lash La Rue. I met a friend of Jean's about 20 years later who said he was Lash La Rue, so I'm not sure he was the same Lash La Rue. He had a black Cowboy outfit and was wearing cowboy six-guns that looked very real. When I asked him about the itinerary he was very defensive and did not want to give me any info on where we were going.
There was more than one bus involved on the tour and there were strange people who would get on and get off at different points. One night that sticks out in my mind is a bunch of strangers are sitting around me and talking about Kennedy being killed and I don't remember them giving any specifics but they seemed to know more than they were willing to tell me and when they started asking about me, I started talking about how my dad is related to Thomas Jefferson's sister, Lucy, and a bunch of Kings of England which I often use as a verbal shield when I feel I am being threatened in some way. One of these guys sitting to my right by the window tells me I should call my dad. Around this time, I remember there was a Latin looking man in a white nylon windbreaker who seemed like a leader of this particular crew. He was sitting on the left side of the isle behind me and I thought Jean called him "Lee"-- like she may have either known him or talked to him before. I wanted to know where we were headed so I got up and asked the bus driver where we were and he said that Dallas was our next stop. It then seemed that the guy I think of as Lee was concerned that I had talked to the Bus driver. So than this guy, Lee, goes up and talks to the bus driver. Than after a while the bus driver announces that due to some mechanical problem the bus is going to make an unscheduled stop in Dallas for repairs. The bus pulled into a station which didn't have hardly any people around and there was a phone on the wall in front of the bus. I was thinking of actually calling my dad, but he always never believed me about stuff and I wondered what he could do anyway and if this guy was serious, why didn't he say, "call the Police or the White House" but what could my dad do? I thought maybe I was being set up in this whole deal and I picked up the phone, randomly dialed, and then waited and pretended to say something and hung up. I should have called the police. In a short time I got back on the bus which had no repairs done at all and a whole bunch of the strange crew was gone. Well, at least they were gone and maybe this nightmare was just that.... Guess what?... It wasn't.
It was too strange to explain. It seemed like most of the concerts didn't happen or else whoever was running the show wanted me to go on a different bus than the rest of the musicians because I was told that we will need to split up and find some gigs to keep the tour going. So off we go with two buses now and plenty of room to sleep on both seats. Gypsy Boots would always try to keep our spirits up and get big brown shopping bags of healthy food. His favorite saying was "Don't panic, Go organic", and then pass out some healthy snacks to the folks on the bus. I only remember myself playing at few concerts during that tour and Jean and I were having problems getting along and when she told me that I was supposed to give her any and all the letters that I want to mail, I lost all trust in her as someone I could count on although I must admit I never trusted anyone much anyway.
We were told we were gonna make an "R and R" (Rest and Recreation) stop in New Orleans. Jean said we were going to some club to meet somebody who would help us with our singing career. So we go to this club for the meeting and this guy with a low voice says he wants to speak to Jean privately and that I should go away for a while. I'm thinking "OK, this marriage looks like a big mistake anyway" so I take a walk down the street and decide to stop in a strip joint to kill some time and after enjoying the dancing for a while, one of the dancers came over and started talking to me. I think I told her that I was hearing that President Kennedy is going to be killed. I guess I was just getting it off my chest by spreading the same rumor that I'd been hearing so often, and I didn't even know if it was real or what.
Later when I asked Jean what the meeting was about, she said the man said we needed some publicity pictures and gave her the name of a photographer. My paranoia was increasing and wanted to get out of the bad dream. I remember when we hit Florida it started to rain and we were supposed to play at a dog track, but it must have been canceled because we drove right by it in the rain. We were supposed to also go to Key West. Somewhere in Florida we had to take a boat to an Island where a stage was set up next to an old baseball field. Many in the audience were in fatigues and looked like they might be Cuban exiles who were taking a break from training for the next invasion. I don't remember if Jean was with me at this one. I figured maybe I was considered too leftist for the main tour. I remember singing Phil's, The Ballad of Billy Sol Estes about a friend of LBJ's who got caught in an Agriculture scandal.
I don't remember if I had the guts to sing The Bay of Pigs or not. There was a guy there who was the only stranger who was somewhat friendly to me and made a comment on how so many in the audience looked like soldiers. When I used to tell this story, I thought his name was Tumbleweed Tom. Some years ago a friend, Mose Henry, ran into Tumbleweed Tom and gave me his Phone number and I got a picture of him and his partner, Rovin Grove, who he sang with and so I now know that the fellow I'm referring to now looked completely different than Tumbleweed Tom. So, I'll just refer to him as Thin Tom since he was thin, with sandy colored hair and looked kind of scholarly in his glasses.