Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Submitted by Frank “Boots” Butenschon (AKO ’58-’60) with sincere apologies to the guys on the band during these events and super apologies for any error in memory by a 74-year-old cat who loves the Auburn Knights and all the precious memories.

It was a cold night in Nashville, and the Auburn Knights were playing a gig at the famous Maxwell House Hotel downtown. It must have been about 1957 or ’58. The gig was going really well until just before the last break.

A well wisher informed the band that it was the best band to ever play there, and he was declaring an open bar to the guys during the last break.

I was a teetotaler in those days, so me and Harold “Greek” Alexander got one for our cohorts Larry “Lag” Kirkland and Jim “Teeny” Mahaffey. The problem was they had already gotten their snootfuls. We didn’t know it until Bob Ware looked up at the trumpet section and shouted, “Come on, guys you sound like you’ve got cotton in your mouth!”

Well it was all downhill from there on. Teeny and Lag, trying to get the music trunk to the bus, fell down the spiral staircase and lay at the bottom laughing uncontrollably at every one who passed by.

We finally got them up and on Agnes, which is what we called the bus. We had sent Agnes to get topped off with fuel during the gig. We got Lag and Teeny in the back two bunks and Herb Edwards started off through downtown. I was riding shotgun in the well.

We kept hearing shouts coming from the back of the bus. Herb asked, “Whats going on?” I replied that it was just the two dummies in the back. Then I glanced out the rear-view mirror and saw black smoke bellowing from the bus. Teeny had been shouting, “Fire! Fire!”

Herb shut her down right in the middle of the street and we lit out of that bus like a covey of quail. I thought I was fast, but a figure passed me with black patten shoes, high black socks, white boxer shorts, a tux shirt, a tenor sax in one hand, an alto sax in the other hand, a clarinet under one arm, and a flute under the other.

It was none other than little Dave Edwards flying like the wind! Someone hollered, “What about Teeny?” and Lag and someone else hollered, “Who cares!”

The folks who gassed Agnes up had set the emergency brake and the brakes had caught on fire! We got the fire out and gently nursed Agnes back to Auburn, thus ending another glorious evening on the road with the Auburn Knights!

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