Picture a Day - Day 2

Day 2: A picture of you and the person you have been closest with the longest.

This was taken of Cathy Harris and me in the spring of 1969. I was a senior in high school and she was a junior. Over the break we’d written a dozen or so songs together—silly, comedic things based on TV commercials—and a couple of them weren’t bad...

He’s not too tall, he’s not too fat,
But oh, that hair, where’s it at?
Ralph Williams, my Ralph Williams.
You’re sitting in front of the TV set,
Watching the Late, Late Show,
When all of a sudden, here he comes…
“Hi friends, Ralph Williams!"

As I said, silly stuff.
“He (Ralph Williams) was a short, nearly-bald, squish-faced fireplug of a man. He could talk a blue streak, you could barely understand a thing it was all so run together. He’d cram info about eight cars into a 30-second spot (generally starting with the creampuffs and working his way down to the less expensive, less desirable models) AND give you complete directions how to get there to boot. (Cheech and Chong immortalized him perfectly as “El Monte Slim,” if you want to get a feel for what I’m talking about.) He came off like a sideshow barker for the most part, but he looked pretty tough and not a guy you’d want to cross (I’m sure he had business associates named Vinnie). He was always giving away crap to lure folks in—toys for the kids, free wiper blades, air fresheners, etc. Ralph was a pretty big local boy for awhile there, but along came Cal Worthington, who took Ralph Williams one step further... straight to local TV-commercial hell! For better or worse, ol’ Ralph’s patter remains forever emblazoned upon my brain: 
‘HI THERE! friends and neighbors! This Ralph Williams from Ralph Williams’ Ford, saying COME ON DOWN! We got some great deals in used cars that you can drive home today! Right here we’ve got a BEAUTIFUL 1961 Ford Fairlane. Just LOOK at the shine on that gorgeous vehicle, it’s got ONLY 92,000 miles on it and BRAND NEW TIRES all the way around. Drives like a dream! We’ve road tested her and cleaned her up JUST for YOU for the low, low, UNBEATABLE price of $1,700! But if you can’t afford THAT fine used vehicle, don’t worry, because we’ve got HUNDREDS of fine-quality used cars here at Ralph Williams’ Ford, in EVERY price range. Here’s another BEAUTY on display here at the Ralph Williams’ Ford Used Car Lot...'" (Story Tyler)
Cathy and I called ourselves Sgt. Popcorn & The Kernal. Yeah, get the hook… Her brother took the picture of us in her back yard with my Instamatic camera to commemorate a week of solid songwriting. Those were some great days. Good, innocent fun and lots of laughs. We didn't drink, smoke (anything), curse, or mess around with boys. Well, I have to confess that I had done some drinking and pot smoking, but never with Cathy.

We met in 1959, when I was 8 and she was 7. Her father was the pastor of our church in Solvang and we lived on the same ranch. Because she had three brothers and sisters (and her mom was more fun than mine), I spent most of my time at her house, or roaming the hills of the Santa Ynez Valley countryside with her and her brothers and sister. This pictures looks exactly like where we lived. Gorgeous, huh? Those three years are the happiest I knew in my childhood, and when you’re a kid, three years are an eternity. When they moved away, I thought I’d die. The ranch seemed like a ghost town to me until we moved the following year.

Although we don’t see each other anymore, except on very rare occasions, we’re friends on Facebook and we still love each other. We have an understanding that only comes from spending a lifetime with someone.