Some of my Recollections of the Sons of the Pioneers
I was born at 310 West 76th Street in Los Angeles, CA, on April 18, 1931. My father, Glenn Spencer, worked as assistant manager of a Safeway grocery store. Soon after my birth, my father came down with appendicitis. He couldn't work so he was fired - that's the way they did things during the Depression. We moved back to Picher, Oklahoma, along with my mother, older sister and two older brothers.
The Sons of the Pioneers started in 1934. We moved back to Los Angeles right after my brother Chet was born in March of 1935. The timing of that move convinces me that the Sons of the Pioneers were the reason we moved back. So we owe them a lot.
After seven months of being basically homeless, we settled at 1156 East 77th Street which is about a block east of Central Ave. My first memory of our favorite singing group is them performing on a mobile platform on Central Avenue to commemorate the opening of a new food market.
In early 1938 we moved to 846 North Ardmore in Hollywood. That was when we started seeing a lot of the Pioneers. They would rehearse Cool Water, Tumbling Tumbleweeds and many other songs in our living room.
One afternoon they put their instruments aside and scattered throughout the house and garage making other musical instruments. Bob Nolan took 5 glasses and filled them with various heights of water, striking them with a spoon to get the right sound. Karl Farr went to the garage and returned with a saw and washtub. Hugh Farr found two large spoons and turned them back-to-back and struck them on his other hand and also on his thigh. Someone took out a lot of pans, striking them with a spoon to get the right sound. They gathered in our livingroom and worked up a rhythm with their new instruments, then blended their melodious voices to create a spectacular musical event. Being a teenager, I was a Frank Sinatra fan but I was very, very impressed with that performance. I'm sorry there was not a bigger audience.
Tim Spencer bought Roy Rogers' home in North Hollywood after the war. I think it was the summer of 1947 that Uncle Tim had Dad's family and the Pioneers over for a swimming party. Tim's daughter, Rayleen, fell into the pool and was yelling. Bob Nolan was dressed in his normal western clothes and boots but he was the first to respond and dove in to bring her to safety. He was a special person. I'm glad I was able to know him.
During the Fall of '47, I met a cute young gal and we started going steady - all through 1948 - and I spent a lot of time over at her house. Dad wrote a song about me in 1948 called "Love Don't Ever Bother Me" and the Pioneers recorded it on a 45. I listened to it once and, being a little embarrassed, put it in my drawer and forgot it. Somewhere along the line it disappeared. Losing that record was one of the worst things I have ever done.