Tales from the O-NO Ranch | TheFencePost.com

Tales from the O-NO Ranch

by Mad Jack Hanks
Wellington, Colo.

I was going through an old address book the other day ” actually it was one of those business card holders that you put everyone’s business cards in. You think that one day, one of those cards from the guy that cuts and hauls firewood to the guy that pumps out your septic tank, you just might need one of those cards.

As I was discarding the ones that I had never used and probably never would, I came across a card that had Waylon and Jessie written on it with the Nashville address. I will keep that card forever because of the memories it immediately brought to mind.

There we were, Waylon Jennings and his beautiful wife, Jessie Coulter, and myself sitting on some hay bales behind the curtains of the Pikes Peak Convention Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. To me, it was like havin’ family sitting there with me. Waylon and I grew up in west Texas, not too far apart in the ’50s. He was a few years older than myself, but not by much.

We were discussing his life and life in general and how we should live our lives in such a manner as not to disrupt the lives of others. Let me take that a step farther and say that Waylon confessed to his outlaw image and how he abused drugs and alcohol. All of that changed when he met and married Jessie and they had a little boy. The son, who was 10 at the time we were havin’ this discussion, was with them in the Springs.

We talked about Tommy Allsup. Tommy had a recording studio in Odessa, Texas, many years ago when I thought that I just might be a guitar picker and singer. Tommy recorded a few records for me. Tommy had told me that he and Waylon played with Buddy Holly and had traveled with him to, I believe it was Illinois or Indiana, and were to return to Lubbock, Texas, on a stormy night. With the group was Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, and there was not enough room on the airplane, so they draw straws to see who would have to ride the bus back to Lubbock. Waylon and Tommy drew the short straws, had to ride the bus and of course, saved their very lives as the plane went down and all aboard perished.

I was one of two opening acts that night in the Springs for the Waylon Jennings Show. Waylon was in his dressing room where he could hear the sound from the stage. He came out to meet me behind the curtains because, as he put it, “Hoss, you got some good stuff there and I just wanted to meet you and shake yer hand.” That kind of compliment from someone of Waylon’s stature made me grow to 10 feet tall and feel like some sort of a somebody!

Waylon passed a few years back from complications of diabetes. He was different. He sang a different type of music that Nashville didn’t want to accept but couldn’t ignore. Waylon was really a good guy with a big heart and a booming voice and you could always tell in the first few notes that it was going to be Waylon Jenning’s song.

I have Direct TV now and with it I get some country and western music stations that you don’t get on the radio. One of them plays a lot of Waylon’s music and that really takes the sting out of some of these cold miserable windy winter days.

I think to myself, “I knew that guy. I really did. He let me and some others come up on stage with him and sing, “Mommas, Don’t Let Yer Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” I stood right next to the man and did my best to sing as good as I could.

I failed there, but I didn’t fail to make some new friends. That’s how I got their address. Jessie said, “Here’s our address and phone number. If you ever get to Nashville, give us a call and come by.”

Yep, I remember Waylon, and what a wonderful memory to put away for those rockin’ chair years.

Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, and I’ll c. ya.