Submitted by Corky McCollum – Long Time ELI fan
In the early 1970’s my parents Jack & Marianne, owned a little bar/restaurant called The Cellar in a small Georgia town that was close to nothing special. Milledgeville, was a booming “micro-opolis” that was more famous for being home to one of the largest mental institutions in the Southeast than it was for being a sheer hotbed of entertainment, but my folks and the band ELI were determined to make a difference in that particular viewpoint.
I was but a wee lad – I am Irish/Scottish so I am allowed to say that – and although I was not privy to the debauchery of the nighttime entertainment that often ensued at The Cellar on nights that ELI performed, every once and a while I would have to wait for Mom as the band would load in their gear. I can still distinctly remember, a huge truck emblazoned with towering black and blue letters the word “ELI” and what my dad would call “a bunch of long-hairs” making repeated trips back and forth to the truck that seemed to never end. At the time, I had no idea what was going on, but I knew that I had the ultra cool Stretch Armstrong by my side and that no matter what, he would protect me.
From here, the details get a little blurry. Call it post traumatic shock or that safety mechanism that happens in kids when they are dramatically affected in one way of another. I do remember my mom ushering me to the office because I wanted to watch the band set up and as well as play on our newly installed light up dance floor. In the eyes of so many over served party-goers and a slightly rowdy 8 year old, this amazing new dance floor was possessed by some sort of voo-doo magic as it flickered in a multitude of colors and would even change color when you stepped on it. It was pure 1970’s and just begged for Tony and Stephanie to bust out with the Hustle, or god forbid, the Electric Slide. In our little town, it was big city technology at its finest.
So under the reprimanding voice of my lovely mother, I headed to the back office of the bar and without knocking I proceeded to barge on in. My young eyes were shocked and amazed at what was standing before me. Dressed in skin tight spandex and complimented with various foam accessories that included an expansive set of shoulder pads and a pair of what might be described as wings – that were even duplicated on the boots – was clearly a new super hero prepping for the good fight. Being the young fan of comic books and a believer in the principles of the Justice League of America, I was positive that I was staring into the eyes of the a brand new savior to the people; a hero that was willing to fight for the weak and helpless. Best of all his secret hiding place just happened to be my parents office!
Quickly pulled away and shuffled into the car, it was though I had been to the hero’s lair and witnessed things I was not supposed to see. I completely understood that a super hero’s identity could never be revealed and was fully prepared to take my oath of secrecy or die. Needless did I know that it was just Cookie in full concert regalia getting ready to perform to the minions of small town America.
The folks had no real idea of the impact of that moment had on my life until I got my very first dog a few weeks later. When asked what to name my brand new schnauzer – I know…such a manly beast – I did not hesitate for a moment and answered with one simple word – “ELI.”
To add insult to injury, 2 years later I got my first drum kit and have spent the last 24 years banging out tunes for a multitude of bands. I know the folks blame Cookie, Charlie & the other guys, but as with anything kids put their parents through, they got over it.
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