I interacted with Jimmy only a few times later on when Gary and I started playing guitars and exploring music together. He was older, dated my sister once, and by the time Gary and Ricky and I were spending time together during summer vacation and winter holiday breaks, it wasn't long before he was gone. Less than a year later, in fact.
The date with my sister Jana ended poorly when Jimmy's car ran out of gas. She got out and walked home. This was before he bought the blue Camaro.
My brothers and I kidded him about it and he and his brothers all swore up and down his car actually did run out of gas and we believed it. None of them were liars.
The last time I saw Jimmy was at his home where he played guitar for a little while with me and Gary before heading out to The Breaks to spend time camping and partying with his friends. The next day, their father Winston was coming down on Jimmy for staying out all night partying. That's what some kids did back then and fathers would rail at them about it. My father railed at us about our partying ways just as Winston did at his own sons out of love and concern for our safety. No one wanted Jimmy to get hurt or worse during his wild, teenage years.
Then he was gone.
Pickwick Players & The Pig Farm~
Our family had moved around a lot after leaving Sayre, living in a slightly larger city in Oklahoma then a couple of even larger cities near the Gulf coast, but our grandparents all still lived in Sayre then and we loved going back to visit them and our friends. Near the end of summer in 1970, we moved to west Texas where I got involved in theater as a member of the Pickwick Players children's theater group and began playing 5-string banjo. During trips back to Sayre, Gary and Ricky and I would spend a lot of time together. Gary and I began honing our skills playing music on guitars and banjos. We played a lot of Beatles, Cat Stevens and bluegrass stuff for fun and family and friends. I didn't talk or ask any questions about Jimmy, being afraid of hurting feelings or just saying something stupid (which I did a lot then), but I do remember their mom Betty talking about him and making his birthday cake in case he showed up.
The summer of 1971 our family moved to a house on a pig farm nestled between vast corn and soybean fields in Illinois but we still made it back to Sayre for a little while that same summer after a road trip vacation into the Rockies and headed straight over to the Williams house where we boys all decided to go down to the river to camp out. Winston asked us to keep an eye out for any signs of Jimmy's car or clothing or anything unusual while we roamed around along the river bottom. We found nothing except big cottonwood groves, sand and quicksand, and shrinking pools of briny North Fork river water full of trapped carp and mudcat, but we all enjoyed the outing. Ricky and Gary were always fun to hang out with and I was always struck by their sense of humor and exuberance for life. Every moment spent with the Williams family just made me want to spend more time with them.
About the time I started fiddling with dad's reel-to-reel tape recorder to record my guitar and banjo music, Gary had bought an eight-track stereo recorder and was recording his own music. The summer of 1972 I got a wild hair and hitchhiked from the pig farm in Illinois all the way to Sayre in less than two days without telling my parents I was going to do that. I was welcomed by the Williams family as usual and found Gary's skill on the guitar had advanced significantly. So we began recording together on his eight-track system, becoming better players as a result, and continued playing for friends and family. My parents were angry but Mom admitted she wished she could have gone with me. She hated life on the pig farm.
Before I had hitchhiked down to Sayre, Dad had announced we would be moving to Tehran, Iran that fall, so he moved the rest of the family back to Sayre temporarily before making the journey to Tehran. While still there, I spent as much time as I could with Ricky and Gary as the departure date approached. By then, our hormones were all running wild and girls started to become very interesting. There were so many of them out there and I was 16, the same age Jimmy was when he disappeared. Even as I thought about him and how he had just started into dating back then, I wondered what girls in Tehran were going to be like in my near future.
Horse With No Name & Fire Leaping~
We arrived at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran after nightfall, riding to the hotel in a daze of disorienting jet-lag fatigue. After checking in, we looked out across a city of four million people from our rooms high in the Hotel Intercontinental. In the distance, the black silhouette of the Alborz Mountains (Reshteh-ye Kūhhā-ye Alborz in Persian) loomed above the city and we wondered what their slopes would look like in daylight. Automobile horns honked incessantly, headlights flashing in counterpoint and the air smelled foul. We were enthralled by it all after our whirlwind flights from Oklahoma City to Chicago to Amsterdam, then to Beirut for a couple of days of sightseeing. I was feeling like James Bond on a mission in strange lands populated by strange people and creatures, eager to see our new middle east home but so worn out from the trip I had no problem sleeping until dawn even though the honking horns never ceased throughout the night.