Friday, December 15, 2006


TRACES by Classics IV.

Apologies for the late post, but I'd like to tell you the story about Traces. The picture right above here is of my maternal grandfather, Marion Broughton. Grandpa Monty. This is a long story, so I'll put the whole thing below the fold.

Way back in May 1996, I had just gotten back from my first trip to Europe. I was 20. I hadn't been home more than a day, when out of the blue, I was asked to fly down to Houston to see my Grandpa. He needed some help. I hadn't known, but his long, long marriage to my step-grandmother had fallen apart, and he was in the middle of the divorce. On top of that, he had decided to move out of his house and come up to Oklahoma City, to be closer to his family. My job was to help him move out and drive him and his things up north.

So I showed up in Texas prepared for long days of packing boxes and such. I had been misinformed. The house was all packed up, the car was all packed up, everything was taken care of! No, what he needed was a comrade and a chaperone while he said goodbye to his friends. And all his friends were at the Club Witte.

Club Witte (pronounced witty) was a real dive. Not even a very romantic dive. It was tucked into a little residential strip mall that was more or less emptied out and had been since big box stores were invented.

Inside, things were a bit more cinematic. There was the ratty carpet. The big blond brassy lady would flirt with old guys and try to pass me drinks. There were the old drunks hunched over at the end of the bar. That was Grandpa and his buddies.

Actually, "drunks" isn't really fair. Grandpa certainly was an alcoholic but he was never obviously impaired. They were pretty animated though. These guys, who had been friends since the place opened in the 70s, were drinking to their last goodbyes. And they really were last goodbyes, too. One friend had terminal cancer, and Grandpa only went back to Houston a few more times before he died himself. The Club Witte was about to fold.

The one thing I'll always remember about Club Witte (and here's where we get to the point of the story) is that they had an old-style jukebox with 100 songs on it. And every hour or two, Grandpa would ask me to put some music on. And at least five times over the two days, he'd hand me a dollar and say,

Make sure you play some Patsy Cline! And Traces!
Traces, especially, Grandpa loved. It almost fit the scene too well, how sentimental and over the top it is. Grandpa didn't hear the campiness of it, it really affected him. He'd belt it out at the bar and get teary.

So, goodbyes finished, we got in the car and I drove my Grandpa from Houston up to Oklahoma City in May 1996.

BUT THAT'S NOT THE WHOLE STORY. A few years later, in early 2000, I was sitting in a different bar with Mayur and this woman I'd just recently met, Amy. Towards the end of that night, I told Amy and Mayur the same story I've just told you. Except that version ended something like this:
And ever since then, I've been looking for this song Traces on CD and I've never been able to find it.
Which was true. At the Club Witte, Traces was listed as performed by "Dennis Yost" (who happens to be the lead singer of Classics IV). I'd looked around for Dennis Yost, didn't find anything, and basically left it at that.

Amy was more intrepid. A few weeks later I got word through Mayur that, if I didn't mind, Amy had ordered a copy of the Classics IV Greatest Hits for me, and also a copy for my Grandpa(!)

That sealed it for me. We went on our first "date" a couple of weeks later, and at the end of that year, I took Amy home, where she met my Grandpa, and presented him a copy of Traces, and Grandpa cried.

So at long last, dear readers, that's why Traces is one of our favorite songs, and why we've shared it with you.


Photo: Oklahoma City, 2002 (photo by AĆ­mee).



corbett said...

I don't think I'd ever heard that detailed (and tender) version of the story. A great song by an inscrutably named group (is there a Classics III?). Thanks for the post.

Bill said...

Thanks. I've told this story a bunch to family members who would want to know why Amy and I would always call Monty "Traces Grandpa"

the littlest sister said...

that made me tear up. I always meant to get a copy of this song from you, thanks for putting it up.

my stories about grandpa are mostly silly and not sentimental. he did an "R&R" in Osaka during the Korean War--when we went to Japan, my first phone call with him went something like:

grandpa: What kind of birds are you seeing there? [grandpa was an avid birdwatcher]

me: Um, not sure. I'll find out.

grandpa: When I was there, I was only paying attention to a different kind of bird! hee hee.

"hee hee" isn't just shorthand, it's actually how grandpa laughed. I never could figure out how he managed to inject his southern accent into his laughter. how do you giggle in a dialect?

anyhow. good addition to a great mix so far.

BWK's Mom said...

Thanks children. You cause me to remember that my family has a history that doesn't just come before me - it surrounds me, if that makes any sense.

philip said...

"and this woman I had just recently met"....funny.

first date = beer through a straw. Dayum.

Bill said...

Ah, I'd forgotten about that. We're first class all the way

Amy said...

Why is date in quotations? what are you saying?? I thought we had a lovely time (BTW, I am NOT referring to the beer-straw incident)

BWK's Mom said...

Frankly, I am not sure what that quotation is about, either, and am not sure I need to know.

Mayur said...

That's beautiful.

Monty Jah!