Going off the rails.


I remember meeting my old dorm mate Sanders the first day I moved into the dorms at Oklahoma. He probably followed the smell of weed. I wound up rooming with a series of frat boys who peed in their trashcans, and Sandy was roomed with a transgendered guy who disappeared after the first week….We were roommates by week four in Oliver House, an unairconditioned party dorm closest to the main campus.

We spent the year sitting around in our dorm room drinking cheap whiskey, smoking weed, listening to music and studying. Tom Thiel and Danny Bartfeld would come up and we’d party, and Teresa and some of her friends might come over. We were the party kids on a budget. We didn’t go out. We couldn’t afford it. I worked in Tulsa on the weekends and brought “home” my tips and shit. We’d figure out how much beer, whiskey, and weed we could afford, and maybe a couple of pizzas or a concert or some acid.

Sanders had done it all and was a good bit older than my 17 years. He’d worked in construction and oil rigging, attended a shit school in Chickenshit OK where he lived in the dorms with some really interesting characters. He is from Sapulpa, which is where most of my family is from on my mom’s side. We had a great year. But I had to move on. I was engaged, my fiance was in Tulsa in a nursing program, and OU wasn’t the place for me. Sanders was in my wedding, I keep looking for pictures but I can’t find one, but I only saw him a few times after that. He moved to Florida with Teresa, but it didn’t end well, and I heard from Tom that Sandy wound up in prison for a bit in Florida on a coke charge.

Tom died of cancer in the early 1990s while in med school at Wisconsin after an MA in Physics at Davis. I used to sometimes get together in Tulsa with Tom’s brother Dan who is a physicist at Cornell, but he was my last connection with Sandy after he’d split with Teresa. Last time I saw evidence of Sandy was in a blues bar in Tulsa in the mid 1990s, where he had scrawled his name on the ceiling. I always hoped I’d run into him and we could hang out. Teresa disabused me of that hope. Drugs are bad. Sandy got in way too deep. Apparently he was living in Texas and had an altercation with his 20 year old son in 2012, and wound up killing his own kid. He’s serving a long sentence in Huntsville.

It’s strange how things can get off track. Sanders was doing a major in theater tech and set design. He had a shit-ton of experience with bands and plays, and I figured he’d be head roadie for major touring acts. But, that didn’t happen. I don’t know what did. I keep thinking I need to make a trip to Huntsville, but I don’t know what I’ll find. The Sanders I know is the coolest guy in the world, fun, smart, easygoing….but I guess sometimes things go off the rails. We saw Ozzy together in 1983….


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