January 30-31, 1965

THEM's train gig between Cincinnati and St. Louis, January 30 to 31, 1965

THEM played a bunch of gigs on Ohio River Party Boats and Show Boats of various sizes. A couple were permanently moored to the shore; other boats rolled and rocked as we rocked 'n' rolled.

Our audition to play for Ft. Lauderdale Recreation Commission's 1964 Spring Break was on a flat-bed trailer of an 18-wheeler pulled onto the beach. So we were truckin' for that audition, which got us hired to play on the "stage" set up on the beach parking lot.

Si on a bikeOur regular transportation vehicle type was cars -- 2-door, 4-door, station wagons.

Si's motorcycle, in a pinch.

No vans.

So, we were somewhat multi-modal: cars, "motorcycle," 18-wheeler rear end.

Then, the University of Cincinnati "Spirit Club" came up with a great idea to boost spirit (cough, cough). (But, we didn't recognize the "cough, cough" until it was all over.)

When the U.C. Bearcats play the St. Louis University Billikens (IN St. Louis), they thought up, "let's rent a couple of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad passenger cars and a baggage car on B&O's regular service line between Cincinnati and St. Louis, and have a fun time round-trip to, at and from our sister River City basketball game! Let's hire THEM to provide live-on-rails entertainment."

HEY! THEM's fourth live performance traveling venue -- a live train, while it's moving.

A few days later, the final plans appeared:
















Noooooo... we couldn't visit "a train" in advance to check out the baggage car, which was to be our entertainment and dance pavilion. Yessssss... there was "110-volt AC power." In those days, it was "110-volt."

"No, B&O didn't say (no one would ask) how many outlets or how much power the baggage car has."

We'd have to wing it. Couldn't be worse than the bookie-joint in Northern Kentucky we played a week or so after George Ratterman was elected Sheriff and all the phone cables were still coming down the walls but the phones were gone.

The Ohio River Valley in the mid-west is usually brutally worst in the winter in January. Why should January 1965 be different? It would not have been so bad had there been some heat other than what our bodies generated in the baggage car.

It may not have been so bad had the baggage car sides, top and floor been insulated. It may have been noticeably better had the little openings all around the car been caulked closed so that the freezing air stayed outside the car. But passenger rail was in its degrading days in the mid-1960s, which meant the only maintenance given the consist was to keep the bearings greased and the engines running.

We played with gloves on one or two hands. The train made occasional unplanned stops -- which means it broke down -- which extended the agony and freezation (neologism, of course) of our bodies from head to toe.

All that pain just to add a fourth entertainment moving venue modality.

Couldn't wait for the train to get back to Cincinnati. Turned into the record for our fastest tear-down, get out and get the hell home into beds with an electric blanket set on high... for the following two days.