Saturday, March 3, 2012

Parker


Last summer I was at a birthday party in the Central West End. The conversation turned to “where are they now?” and the subject of David Parker came up.

David was one of the Laclede Town kids I grew up with. His stepfather Jack Parker ran O’Connell’s Pub in Gaslight Square. Now it’s at Shaw and Kingshighway.

The Parkers lived in the first circle on Lawton in Laclede Town. My family did, too.

David’s older brother Tommy was my age and I ran with him. David was my brother’s age and they ran around together. It seemed like most of the Laclede Town kids came in pairs like that. Dominic and Benet were part of that.

The Parkers left town once, and my brother and a bunch of his friends got into their house. They somehow caught a rug on fire. He must have been 5 or 6. Geo Ramsey was part of that group. David’s mom Pat decided my brother Patrick was the ringleader and banished him from their home. I’m not sure why she thought Patrick was their leader, but several years later when the Parkers moved to the Central West End, he still wasn’t allowed in the house.

She would always refer to him as “that troubled child of yours” to my mother.

Tommy is a vet now. Years ago, he put down my brother’s dog Saloon who had a severe case of heartworm. My brother ended up with the dog when my dad died.

The day it happened, Patrick bought Saloon a steak and played with him all day before he took him to Tommy. It was heart breaking.

Anyway, when we were talking about David at the party, it came out that he was in prison in Nicaragua. It had something to do with psychological abuse involving his wife. Knowing David, it didn’t seem that hard to believe his behavior might have been taken that way by someone who didn’t really know him, but his wife?

There has always been a bit of arrogance on David’s part. First of all, what’s he doing in Nicaragua? I guess it might be a natural place for an old lefty like him, but you take your chances in a foreign culture.

Before I moved away from home, he was visiting my apartment in Soulard. To show me how meaningless money was to him, he tore up a twenty dollar bill. I could only think about the rent we were having trouble paying.

Local televangelist Larry Rice was preaching late one night on TV to the homeless people at his New Life Evangelistic Center. I saw David in the audience. I’m pretty sure David’s a trust fund kid, at least he’s not hurting financially. He was there to be part of the cause. I myself have sent Larry money for attorney’s fees for certain causes.

I left a phone in my name when I moved out of an apartment in the 70s. Dominic and David moved in. David ran up a bill calling his biological dad in Europe. It was hundreds of dollars and I had to pay it off. Right about that same time, he fronted us money to complete our first LP!

He used to wear half a mustache, completed by half a beard on the opposite side of his face.

He became a jazz pianist and I ran sound for his group once at St. Louis’ City Hall. It was on a landing of a huge cascading set of stairs. It sounded like they were in a cave. It seems like every sound gig I’ve ever had was like that. I had to run sound for Patty Thomas’ benefit at the Casa Loma ballroom. The place was not meant for electricity!

So here’s why I’m recalling all of this; I got a call from a prison in Nicaragua two days ago.

David told me he wanted to find my brother. He had heard he wasn’t doing well. He didn’t have time to go into the details of his incarceration because his phone card was going to run out at any minute. We had quite a lengthy conversation anyway.

He wants everyone to know he’s innocent of the charges and that he loves and thinks about everyone in St. Louis.

I asked him how long he’s going to be there. He said they won’t tell him anything until he goes in front of the judge. He can’t see the judge until he gets an attorney. He says Nicaragua is so riddled with corruption, he can’t afford an attorney. The U.S. Consulate is corrupt, too.

When he gets out, he intends to expose everyone. I hope he’s being quiet about all of this right now or he’s never getting out. I can’t imagine he is though.

A couple of weeks ago, when Fojammi was still capable of talking about anything, I told him about Pat Parker still holding a grudge against my brother. He told me Pat had died, but she had married a second time. He was some kind of Celt and an unapologetic folkie. I love that description. Apparently he’s dead too but Danny really loved him.

Anyway, this is the public announcement I promised David.

I couldn’t find any pictures of David. This pic is from Parade Magazine circa 1966. It’s the first circle in Laclede Town. My house was the first, just off picture to the right. The 2 story behind the VW was my friend Raymond’s place. The 3 story next to it on the left was where the Martinez’ lived. When my friend Rommy was being bathed as a baby, I learned the difference between boys and girls. To the left is where Geo Ramsey lived. The 3 story to the left of that is where the Parkers lived. This is the place my brother and his pals set on fire.

2 comments:

Phillip said...

I'm sorry to hear about David Parker's troubles. I would say I'm shocked but not surprised, given my memories of David (some good, some bad, none neutral). I haven't seen Parker in 30 years and haven't set foot in St. Louis in a decade, but he was an important person in my life during my (de)formative years. BTW: I love this blog.

Anonymous said...

David is back in St. Louis and has a trio that will debut on June 26 at Joe's Cafe. It will be a red hot show. John Parker