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Reed's Early Years in Shorewood, WI

In 1957, the year that the Braves won the World Series, we moved to Shorewood, 4437 North Murray Avenue. The move marked a pivotal point in my life. I really looked forward to the change. It represented an opportunity for me to explore new horizons and to meet and interact with more people, this time in a city environment. My new school was St. Robert’s, which proved to be very different from St. Thomas. I was in the fourth grade, in Mrs. Mulligan’s class. I remember watching the World Series on TV in her classroom.

By that point, my father had taken over control of a big corporation, known as Kailing Electric from ailing grandfather Alex. My eldest brother Michael was prepping for college. My other brother, Patrick, ended up babysitting for me. Hanging around with Patrick, who was interested in drag racing, and riding around town with his friends in a ‘52 Ford top-down and eating cheeseburgers and fries at the Milky Way in Milwaukee provided me with an opportunity to hear more and more rock and roll music on the car radio, Rick Nelson and Duane Eddy in particular.

I can still remember, on my birthday in the kitchen of my Shorewood duplex house, my step-grandmother Gertrude presented me with the acoustic guitar that had been owned by my grandfather Malone. In the excitement of the moment, I called my friend Paul Vompomgarden and boasted, “I have a real guitar now.” I felt the need to strum just to prove it.” I had attached pieces of adhesive tape to mark the spots for E, G, and A. I played one string. Receiving that guitar proved to be an inspiration for me. In my own way, I felt a strong spiritual bond to my grandfather, as if my prayer to him had been answered. It many ways, it was receiving his guitar that led me on to other things and that marked a new beginning.

I used to watch Uncle Hugo on TV. Uncle Hugo showed lots of Popeye cartoons. One day, I whirled boiled leaf spinach around a fork, as if it were spaghetti, and then shoveled it down my throat, hoping it could do for me what it would do for Popeye. Coughing up the spinach all over the living room rug, I nearly choked to death. You might say I had become Rick Nelson’s “poor little fool.”

Reed Discovers the Music of Rick Nelson and Duane Eddy

Rick Nelson was big at the time. I couldn’t wait to see the Ozzie and Harriet Show on TV every week. I also bought a lot of Everly Brothers 45s. Still not adapting to the neighborhood and missing my Huckleberry friend, I took the Greyhound bus to visit Jim Scarry back in Waterford.

MILWAUKEE SUMMERFEST 2007 ... PHOTO BY RICK KOHLMEYER

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