Brad’s Cactus Shack Episode 14 – Sara and the Echoplex
Here’s another episode where I activate old man story mode and tell you a thing or two about how the 1980’s were. Part One involves a machine called an Echoplex, which I used for all kinds of fun and shenanigans as a kid. The Echoplex segment isn’t quite as exciting as I’d hoped it would be, but it’s still fun to play around with an old machine and listen to the things it can do.
Above is the Echoplex hooked up to the Gibson amplifier, but not working because of a burnt out tube in the amp. Below is the setup I was using to record the Summer of ’85 portion.
Part Two is all about my neighbor Sara, who used to embark on all kinds of evil missions with me in the evenings. The missions included, but weren’t limited to, toilet papering trees, stealing porch light bulbs (or just loosening them to make them appear burnt out), peering in windows, setting things on fire, knocking and running, and avoiding police cars at all costs even if we hadn’t done anything wrong, which usually meant being chased by them because they thought we were up to no good. We’d rearrange people’s lawn furniture, we’d hang strings across the roads to confuse motorists, once on trash night we stole everybody’s trash and put it in one person’s back yard. In the trash area, not the yard. But it was about 5 blocks worth of trash in one single yard. I bet the trash men were a little confused about that one.
We started a club at some point, called the BASLC. The Brad and Sara Lab Club. Because my garage was the lab. We had monthly dues, but I don’t think we ever actually spent the money on anything. In fact, I never got my share of the money back after we went our separate ways. I was ripped off! We were hoping to save up for a set of intercoms to put in our rooms so we could talk to each other. Our windows faced each other, but were on different floors. So we had to contact each other by shining flashlights, throwing rocks, or doing half-rings on the telephone which annoyed our parents. I don’t think our “club” ever actually did anything besides collect dues and write songs.
She played guitar, and we recorded quite a few tapes of us singing and talking together. I think she ended up with most of those, because I only have one of them now. We wrote a few songs together, mostly weird parodies. I think I still have lyric sheets to them somewhere around here. I know we did a lot of hits of the time too, but the only one I can remember is Islands in the Stream. We were into the duets.
I spent weeks during the days drawing a colored, detailed, scale (more or less) map of our block to help us on our missions. This map was on a small piece of posterboard and included every rock, tree stump, garden, car, clothesline, etc. in everyone’s yard. I suppose the map didn’t really help, it was more just to make it all more fun for us. I even bought those pin flags, to mark important things on the maps.
My garage was command central, we carried walkie-talkies, we had code names, we had our own secret handwriting that we could read and write fluently. I still can, in fact. Anyway, we did these things for a couple of years. She finally grew up and became interested in a boyfriend so we stopped hanging out so much and I found new friends. We hung out a few times during jr. high and high school, but we’d outgrown our nightly missions by that point.
That’s a picture of us, in the attic, probably taken a year or two after 1985. Thanks, Mr. Biggs, for creating the guitar loop for me since I never got around to it. The ending song is The Moon Is High (And So Am I) by Roger Miller.
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Wow, this is really poignant. What a wonderful childhood you had with each other. I wonder what she’s doing now and if she listens to your prank calls.