Saturday, February 9, 2008

"IF": Hot Rods, Cool Tunes & The Naomi Caryl Confluence

Well... where to begin in explaining this mysterious, unforseen but happy confluence!?

My name is Charles William ("Butchie Boy") Olmstead. I'm a "laid off" combat veteran (Vietnam ) via injuries resulting in paraplegia. But with full use of arms and "upper body" (including a head filled with love of music - especially blues & 50's era pop & Doo Wop!)- I have been a blues musician (blues-harp.. aka harmonica ) and blues & oldies Doo Wop DJ intermitently these last 37 years. If you've not already popped-in; links to my 'Myspace' joint & "Rock-it Radio" are below. My shows ( "The Cotton Sturdy Blues Hour" & "Butchie Boys Doo Wop Diner" ) can be heard over the internet. Just click on the "playlist"... you'll find me listed! More too in the "DJ's @ Rock-it Radio" section over on the left column. ( ) Enough of shameless self promotion!

I also would happen to make a teenage dream come true in 2004 when I purchasded a beautifully restored and customized 1949 Mercury from a collector in Pheonix, AZ! The car I knew I had to have since seeing my first Mercury in "Rebel Without a Cause" as a kid! I'll try to pop a pic or two of her ( "Lil' Sugar" ) somewhere here soon! I show her off at carshows here locally on the Central Coast ( & my hometown here in Lompoc, CA ) thru the Spring & Summer months.

My car was featured in the Feb/March 08 issue of "Rod & Custom" magazine... and not long thereafter I was contacted by the very gentlman who did all the original customization of the car in 1984 ( 24 yrs before I would become her 4th owner in '04!)... named Donn Lowe.

As we became friends and he learned of my music & DJ gigs he one day popped this seemingly inconsequential question : "...Hey man... do you remember a tune by this chick, Naomi Caryl, entitled "If"?" As it would be- Donn ( also a Vietnam vet by-the-way )- was among the kids out on the dance-floor when Naomi appeared at a "Bandstand" style venue in Connecticut; sometime in the 50's! Donn never forgot the song... nor Naomi whom he described as quite the "kitten" up there on that stage!

Well... Donn is also a "caveman" and ( use the Saturday Night Live "Unfrozen Caveman" line ) "...our modern world frightens and confuses him!" Hence... he does not utilize computers. Not that I am a computer "wiz" myself... I do own one, know how to turn it on and negotiate the net with some low degree of acumen- especially if it should come to finding music... and the more obscure the better. There are treasures to be found! At that, Donn asked me if I could locate "If" by Ms. Naomi Caryl... and having once long ago bought it as a kid in Connecticut ( " 1950 sump'm!" ) he even remembered that it was on the "Ember" label... #1006!!

It took me a few days or so but found an oldies "vinyl cat" in Maryland who had a well used but perfectly playable 45rpm pressing of Naomi's record "IF" on 'Ember' #1006! Bought it... got it... and sent it to Donn by certified USPS. Talked with Donn by phone ( he now lives and still restores & customizes cars in Oregon City, Oregon... even for such clients as Jimmy Vaughan... Bluesman & brother of the late, great blues guitar-slinger, Stevie Ray Vaughan!! ) . . . and its an understatement that he was crazy-ecstatic with anticipation of "...Naomi's arrival"!!

As we spoke he ruminated and wondered where Naomi was today... and with all hope of her happiness and wellness wherever she happened to be. Alas, another internet search one night- and ( possibly? ) locating Naomi Caryl among the members of Theatre West in Los Angeles! I took a shot and wrote "Ms. Naomi Caryl" c/o 'Theatre West'. . . and was slack-jawwed to find her reply the very next morning! Naomi wrote:

"...Hi Butchie....

Well, this is simply amazing!!!

That "Jim Gallant" American Bandstand type show in New Haven had to be 1955- or 1956...1957....? It is terrible but I don't remember what year it was.....! And the reason I did that show was that Jim Gallant called the record company and said he had played the song and had a huge response to it....So they sent me up there and I did the show...(I think I did it at least twice....) And I cannot believe that Donn Lowe was actually one of the kids dancing on that show.....! That is simply Amazing!!! You have no idea what a lift this gives me, to know that something I did back over 50 years ago is remembered by anyone!!! And that you actually got a copy and will be playing it....! You must tell me when that will be, if you can....I would love to hear it over the Internet.....!

And by the way, based on the popularity in Connecticut, they sent me on a Publicity tour---back then the important cities were, Boston, Philadelphia..(I actually was on American Bandstand in Philly...Dick Clark had just taken it over a few months before my appearance...) Cleveland....I appeared on a lot of radio shows in these cities....And the side that was the "A" side of the record was "IF"....! I think the Ember thought we were on our way.....But....the same thing did NOT happen in those other cities....It did okay, but not like it had in New Haven....I got to know Jim Gallant and his then wife, quite well, and they had me to dinner the 2nd time I did his show....God, I wonder whatever happened to him....! He was a very nice guy....!

If you ever come across another record of mine....It was on a label called Cambria....God knows whatever happened to was a kind of '50's version of "ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND"....I don't even remember what was on the other side.....But it was a pretty good record....It disappeared into space, I think....!

I LOVE your car, by the way....It is really Great! It is wonderful that you have filled your life with music and all these positive things...I know it could not have ben easy being in Vietnam and coming back wounded as you were....(I wonder what you feel about that war and the war we are in now...there seem to be a lot of parallels....)
I will go to your My Space site....I am not too savvy about navigating on My Space or so many of these other things like Facebook....The blog world seems very easy, next to all these other

The Internet is truly amazing, you found me....And in turn Donn has found me, too, because of The Internet, and further, I got to meet you!! And hopefully will get to meet Donn, too.....
It will be quite amazing if other New Haven-ites surface....!

A joy to be in touch, Butchie....

All My Very Best To You,


Thanks so much for replying Naomi. . . and what a gas this has been- to have the pleasure and priveledge to make your aquaintance... and what a strange confluence that brought it all to fore! I trust we shall become great friends- as are the feelings of my friend Donn Lowe I am sure... a kid on a dancefloor some fifty years ago; who remembered a voice, and "..a kitten"! You have enduring fans to this day sis!!

Lord hug you tight... - Butchie Boy Olmstead


kenju said...

It is amazing what can happen through the powers of the internet, isn't it? Especially when Naomi is included....LOL I'd love to hear her record and when I was a kid, Alexander's Ragtime Band was one of my favorite songs - so I'd love to hear her 50's version of it.

Butchie Boy Olmstead said...



OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Hey Butchie! Sorry it took me a while to get here....And I am so glad you answered my question and Kenju's, too....I am sending off my OBE Copy of "IF" and "ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND" tomorrow, to my friend in Vegas who is going to make a CD for me....After he gets it done, then there will at least be a Digital Fotmat...THEN, I too, gave to learn how to do this magical posting of the Audio!!!
I am going to try to send a few people your way today...You explained the connection so well....!

Rain said...

wow what an amazing story and great ending. The internet has indeed made this a small world :)

Butchie Boy Olmstead said...

NAOMI! Would there be any hope of asking your friend to make two (2) CD's for you?... and might you send one to me?? ( or ask him to send me one )?? As I told you- I want desperately to include "If" and the 'B' side on my up-coming "Doo-Wop Diner" shows on "Rock-it Radio". It's a world-wide internet broadcast as I told you... and will be an opportunity to re-introduce you to a vast audience! My trouble is in waiting for Donn to have his 45rpm made into a digital CD... a process which may take a good deal of time- in that Donn is an admitted trousered-ape when it comes to computers and all things digital! If you are already in-process and could have one made for me too- I will be most happy to pay for it and for shipping! Let me know sis!! Till next...

Lord hug you tight... - Butchie

Sonia said...

Wow! That is amazing! The Internet is really a great revolution! I am glad you found Naomi!

Anne said...

Hi Butchie! Welcome to blog world. And congrats on your "new" car!

Naomi and I have only known each other a couple of months via blogs but she is a terrific lady.

And I can't wait to hear her "IF" when you get it uploaded. Wouldn't it be great to find some film of her on American Bandstand (Phila) and upload it to YOU TUBE. You could hear and see her perform it then.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I've had MS for over 30 years now but in w/c for the last year (on and off). Absolutely hate it! When the weather breaks, I'll be a bit more ambulatory, but until then it is wheels for me.

I'll be stopping by again. I've added you to my links too. Thank you for adding me.

Butchie Boy Olmstead said...

Hi again Anne! -

Well, actually I've owned the '49 Mercury since '04... but I guess that can still be regarded relatively "new"! Finally placed a photo of her ( "Lil' sugar" ) in my blog- down toward the bottom. A real un-expected challenge was eqiping her with hand-controls! I bought the same type hand-controls as I've had in all my vehicles over the years and are also in my truck... "Monarch". Supposedly a "fit-all" type... they did not envision anyone attempting to install into a pre-50's car! It cost me 3 times the cost of the controls just for fabrication & modifying to make them fit and work! Whew!!

30 years Anne! We're not too far apart in time since our abilities were "dis'd"! I was wounded in Vietnam in July of 1967 so thats 41 yrs? Wow... where do the days run... er, I mean roll!?

As per the nature of my own injuries I did ( and occasionally have had to repeat ) several looooong stretches in Army & VA hospitals; where I inevitably became aware of what ( for lack of better terms ) I would call a kind of "Wheelchair Cult"!... all these cats who by-and-large only hung out with each other and whose lives tightly orbited VA hospitals and like institutions- rarely socializing with "Pedestrians" to a really noticable degree. Even some who would cause their own pressure-sores in order to be admitted back among the wheeled brethren and safety (?) of the hospital and re-hab environment! I had a discussion with one Dr. in Sacramento who frankly told me "...We can train them with all the new skills they'll need to live as independantly as possible. Thats the 'easy' part of rehab! The hard part is getting them to LEAVE the hospital and STAY out!" Safe institutionalization.

Anyhow- the "Twilight Zone" scariness of that early experience has driven me to be as fiercely independant as I can possibly be- and I do not play "wheelchair basketball" ( or "wheelchair" ANYthing ) purely because I've been stereotypically expected to be! ( I cant recall the numbers of times I've been asked if I'm on a "wheelchair basketball team"... simply because I use a wheelchair! Folks have seen to many "Handicapped" TV movies I'm afraid!! Often, if in company given to brevity I'd answer- "...No, but I AM into wheelchair sponge-diving!" Once a neighbor thought I was serious and said- "...Good, GOOD! We all need to keep active!!" God love 'em.

I suspect anyone having our sort of lifestyle could write a book about silly things like this! I have a REALLY good one if you'd want me to tell it!! ( ?? ) I've gone on enough for now!! Sorry!!

And thanks too for adding my link in your site sis! Till next...

Lord hug you tight... - Butchie

PI said...

Come on along! Come on along!
You've got me goin' That's a lovely tale and you are lucky. as I am myself to have met Naomi via the inter-net. Like Judy Kenju)I too would love to hear the song and as you are a man I'm sure you'll find a way. Not that I'm sexist or anything. Way past my bed-time and I must rush back to Naomi's.
Night Night!

colleen said...

Wow! I was hoping a link to the song would be at the end of the post.

Naomi buys almond butter online from some friends of mine here in Floyd VA. And we once had a conference call at the local cafe where I was playing Scrabble and blogging.

Deana said...

As a blog buddy of Naomi's I find this very cool! Nice site you have here too. It was already a "small world" but the Internet is just an amazing tool.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

DEar Butchie....I think TEENA was refering to my taking Video of the Neighbors and what they are doing....Like a Private Eye...LOL!
The records left my house Via FedEx around 12:30pm...Randy will get them at his Work place on Wednesday, before 5pm....I know he will be going to Montana on
Feb. 22nd....I am HOPING he will be able to do the CD's before he goes...BUT, if not, I know he will get to it ASAP....He is one busy Dude, so....BUT, he made a CD of something else for me and did it pretty fast.
Stay Tuned!

Girl About Town said...

Oh wow, that is just amazing!!! I was just shaking my head in disbelief reading about it. How unbelievably cool!!! I would just love to hear that record - and I had no idea Naomi was on American Bandstand! Thank you for sharing all these great details with us.

I love your writing style, btw. And thank you too, for stopping by! I honestly think I was born in the wrong era. I just adore the 50's stuff so much. And yep, blues is where it all started!

Will be back!