General Assembly

Approximate dates: 1966-1967
Base of Operations: Delray Beach, Florida
Manager: Self-managed
Agents:  none
Originally ...
    Reuben David Ferguson - Organ, Vocals, Percussion
    Rex Thompson - Guitar, Vocals
    Keith Morabeto - Guitar, Vocals
    Michael David Strickland - Bass Guitar, Vocals
    Samuel Strickland - Drums
    Jack Decker (Saffron Morgan) - Vocals, Charisma

Brief History:
This was the first band I was in that actually had a song list!  What a concept!  Having so many songs you had to write them down!
    This was an interesting time for me.  I was still in high school, and having all of the typical teenage experiences (and more than my share of atypical teenage experiences, too, I might add).  My high school was, well, quite interesting.  I went to Seacrest H.S. in Delray Beach.  About a year after I graduated, they changed the name of the school to Atlantic H.S.  As it happens, about a year after I graduated from community college, they changed the name of the community college.  Come to think of it, they changed the name of the university after I got my bachelor's degree.  Hey, wait a minute!  The same school changed its name again after I received my Master's!  Hmmmm....
    At Seacrest, I had several interesting teachers; some of whom I liked, and some of whom, well, I didn't like.  I had several "coaches" while at Seacrest.  Coach Maurice Frump was a real pearl.  You just had to know him.  He was on the original faculty when Seacrest first opened its doors, back in the PreCambrian, and had been there ever since.  He was the football coach, and as you may have noticed from some of my pictures, I'm not really the football type.  But Coach Frump was also assigned to teach American History, probably because he had experienced so much of it.  He was a vast man, and was possessed of a loud, foghorn-type voice, which he used frequently.  He told us the story of how he named Seacrest; used to be, before Delray turned into the Boca-wana-be it is today, one could stand on the ridge where the school was to be built and see the ocean.  He submitted the name, and, well, the rest is history.  As it happens, I have an aunt named Kathryn who was living with my family while she was in high school.  She's not that much older than I am, and it turned out that she had also had Coach Frump for history when she was at Seacrest.  The Coach had discovered she (and my whole family) was from Ohio / West Virginia, and being from Ohio himself, had befriended her.  Unfortunately for Kathy, being befriended by Coach Frump meant you got to sit on the front row. Ten years later, when it was my turn, I asked him at the start of the year if he remembered my aunt Kathy:

    "Kathy?!?!?!  Kathy W******?????  Are you related?  Well, my goodness boy, us hillbillies have got to stick together!  Have a seat there, in the front row!"

Just lucky, I guess.

    If someone didn't feel like hearing about history on a particular day, all they had to do was ask The Coach a question about his college football days, and he'd be good for the rest of the period, talking about his time with "The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse" at Notre Dame University.  He was a truly great person.

    Coach Wilder was my track coach and "Sonny" (David) Sellers was my soccer coach as well as my seventh-grade science teacher.  He flunked me; the only science class I ever took that I failed (except for Chemistry, the first time through). I learned more in his class about science than any other science course I've ever taken since.  However, I digress.  The coach who was a bit different was Coach Decker.  People either despised him or thought he was "a character" and let him slide.  He would do things that, today, would have had him fired and in jail in no time flat, but, at that time, it was all OK.  He was a former Marine, but I don't think he believed the "former" part.  He would pick out boys in his class who were not great physical specimens, and put them in what he called "The Idiot Group".  Yeah, really.  He'd demean them, insult them, yell at the top of his lungs that they were morons, and a lot worse.  At times, I was put in The Idiot Group, perhaps for not running fast enough, or something.  He had one of his classes build him an elevated wooden hut with a palm frond roof, where he would sit all period long, drink beer, and yell at us.  I'm not making this up.  One night, someone sneaked onto school property and burned the hut to the ground.  No, I don't know who did it, but we were all rather pleased about it.  Until, that is, Decker had us run laps all period long for the next week.  His son was Saffron Morgan, our singer in General Assembly(see also Yours Truly).  He hated his father so much, he had assumed a new name.  He was several years older than the rest of us who were in the band, so we kind of looked up to him.
    My favorite coach was Coach Davis.  He had been my Phys. Ed. coach at Delray Junior High School when I was in the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades.  When I got to Seacrest, he moved there, too, but not as a coach.  He became Dean of Men, that most feared person, that wielder of The Paddle, the slayer of Wise Guys, and, well, you get the picture.  Except he was really nice to me, for some reason.  Because I was (ahem) misunderstood a lot in high school, I had frequent opportunities to visit Dean Davis in his new capacity, but for some reason, he never really lowered the boom on me.  Dear, sweet, old, and exceedingly strange Miss Craig, my Latin teacher, would find numerous reasons to send me to the Dean.  A typical exchange would go something like this:

 Miss Craig, while peering intently at the Latin class of about twenty students:
    "Who's making those grunting sounds?  Is that you, Mike-boy?"
    "Oh, no Miss Craig!  It's not me!"  (It really was, but he looked so innocent!)
    "Well, it can't be Leslie-girl!  Proper young ladies don't grunt in class!  Was it you, Bill-boy?"  (This was addressed to Bill Gent, who appears on many of these pages.  He's an extraordinary drummer).
    "No, ma'am, Miss Craig!  I would never do anything like that!"  (Yeah, right, Bill!)
Miss Craig:
    "Well, you know I'll bet ol' Caesar-boy never made noises like that when he was learning his Latin!  Why, his teachers wouldn't have put up with that for a minute!  It must have been you, Dave-boy!  Shame on you!"  (This was directed at me!  I was innocent!  Honest!)  "You go on down to the office, Dave-boy, and see Mr. Davis.  You tell him what you've done, and he'll see to you.  Go on, now!"
    "But, Miss Craig!  I didn't make those noises!  Really!"
    "Now, Dave-boy, don't make it worse by lying!  I can tell, yes, I can tell when you've been making trouble!  A Guilty Conscience Needs No Accuser!"  (How many hundreds of time did I hear that phrase from her?)  "Now, go, before I have to raise my voice!"
    Faced with her irrefutable logic concerning my guilt, I would dutifully get up and walk down to the Dean's office, wondering how and when the school board had decided to start hiring crazy people for teachers.  I walked into The Dean's Office.  The secretary looked up:
    "Hello, David."  She glanced at the clock.  "Let's see, fourth period, ahh, Miss Craig, right?"
    "Yes, ma'am."
    "I'll tell him you're here."
    "OK."  I should point out that  at this time, everyone, I mean everyone, called me either David (family) or Ferg (or Fergy) (friends).  I didn't care much for either of the latter but they wouldn't stop, and I knew they didn't do it to irritate me so I put up with it. (Don't get any ideas). No one called me Reuben.  My father's name was Reuben, so I became David.  To tell you the truth, I was a bit embarrassed by my first name, and made a point of never mentioning it to anyone.  Unfortunately, Coach, I mean Dean, Davis always called me Reuben for some reason:
    "Come in Reuben.  Sit down.  Now, what did you do this time?"
    "Honest, Coach, I mean, Sir, I didn't do anything!  Really!"
    "Nothing?  Miss Craig wouldn't have sent you here for nothing, would she?"  The tone of his voice sounded like he was afraid of the answer.  He had to know that Miss Craig was, well, a bit eccentric.
    "Well, someone was grunting like a pig in class while she was telling us about wild boar hunts in Ancient Greece, but it wasn't me Coach!  I didn't do it!  Really!  Honest!"  The Great Man would look straight at me for what seemed like about a year, then would usually heave a great sigh, and say:
    "Now, Reuben, I know you're a good boy.  You've just got to try a little harder to stay out of trouble, OK?  All right, go on back to class and try not to irritate her."
    To this day I don't know why he always let me off so easily.  I really wasn't guilty of the vast majority of things I was accused of, but how could he know that?  I guess he just believed me, and I'll always remember him for that.  Arriving back at the classroom, I walked in.
    "Well, Dave-boy, I suppose Mr. Davis gave you some whacks!"
    "No, Miss Craig, he didn't."  She looked incredulous.  Then, nodding wisely, as if receiving a revelation, she said:
    "Ah, well, detention will probably made a better punishment for you.  Mr. Davis is a very wise man.  How long do you have to serve?  A week?"
    "No, Miss Craig."
    "Three days?"
    "No, Miss Craig."
    "Well, how long?"
    "He didn't give me detention at all Miss Craig."  She looked at me as if I had suddenly turned blue and started to sprout orchids out of my ears.
    "He didn't?  What did he say?"
    "He told me go back to class and try not to irritate you."  She looked as if she had been slapped.  But, recovering quickly, she once again nodded sagely, and said:
    "Very well, Dave-boy, you got what you deserve.  Maybe that will teach you to act better in class!  Be seated."
    "Yes, Miss Craig."  When reality didn't suit her, she would just assume that whatever she had wanted to happen really did happen, even when it didn't happen.  Or something like that.  Another time, she was writing on the board, talking about one of Caesar's battles, and had reason to refer to the setting sun.  She thereupon decided to point out to the class, (this was the 11th grade), the reason that the sun set at night.  She drew a little circle on the board, then drew a big one around it.  She drew another small circle directly on a small section of the big one.
    "Now, class, this is the Sun and the Earth."  She proceeded to label the small circle in the middle: Earth.  She then labeled the other small circle: The Sun.  She had just drawn a diagram which had the Sun orbiting the Earth.  As it happened, I was sitting on the front row (so she could keep her eye on me, I guess), and, contrary to what everyone thought, I kind of liked the old lady.  After all, she was different!  I leaned forward, and whispered:
    "Miss Craig.  The Earth goes around the Sun, not the other way around."  She turned, and bent over slightly toward me, and whispered back:
    "Are you sure, Dave-boy?" with an earnest look on her face.
    "Yes, Miss Craig, I'm quite sure.  The Earth goes around the Sun.  Really."  Turning back to the chalkboard to make the correction, I could hear her muttering to herself under her breath:
    "Sun goes 'round Earth, Earth goes 'round Sun.  Sun goes 'round Earth, Earth goes round Sun.  What Miss Craig knows about science would fill a nutshell."

    I could only silently agree.  I swear this is a true story, and this was, by no means, the only odd thing she did.  She made life very interesting for her students.
    God bless you, Miss Craig, wherever you are.

Promo Photograph
    I don't think we ever had one, but if one turns up, I'll post it.

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