David Woolam, if you live in Comanche, you at least know who he is because there is no one who hasn’t seen him driving his horse-drawn, mule drawn, something drawn, wagon through town at one time or another. He’s given rides to most of us, given programs and demonstrations for school children, and done pretty much everything else that the community has asked of his talents.
Today, however, it was his music that I wanted to visit with him about; after all, I was completely impressed with the performance David and Marvin McKeehan turned in at the Comanche National Bank celebration this past Christmas season. So…this morning, I turned my vehicle north and drove the few blocks to the Woolam home. There, I found my subject strumming his guitar, surrounded by sound equipment.
“I don’t practice often, I just practice loud,” he laughed softly as he picked up his guitar.
Immediately I could tell that he was full of prunes, as my grandfather would have said. No one creates that smooth, sweet sound without practicing and practicing often.
“So who is this man,” I wondered to myself and then out loud. “And why are you living in Comanche, Texas?”
“Teresa and I are high school sweethearts. We married after graduating from Cooper High in Abilene, and then we moved to Grand Prairie. I was fortunate to get on with that city at an early age (as a fire fighter) so I was able to retire early.”
I’d say so. Woolam actually retired at 55!
“We have two daughters, one who lives here, and one who lives in Richmond, Texas. Three of our grandchildren live here, and two are in Richmond.”
But that still didn’t answer my question of how the couple came to be in Comanche from Grand Prairie.
“Teresa’s mom and dad worked for Grand Prairie ISD, and when they retired, they bought a place at Lake Proctor. We used to come to Comanche every chance we could, and I had always wanted to buy a place in the country. Comanche is a country town so we chose it.”
Teresa went to work for Comanche ISD and for twelve years, David Woolam commuted back and forth to Grand Prairie.
“It’s a two-hour drive there and a two-hour drive back, but you have to remember the fire fighter schedule is one day on and two days off so four hours of driving time for a three-day stint is not bad at all. In fact, that is much less driving time than most people who live there put in on a weekly basis. The people who live in Comanche and work in Brownwood or Stephenville spend more hours driving a week than I did.”
The shift work common to fire fighters allowed the Woolams to move here long before David actually retired, and that answered one of my questions.
“So let’s talk music since you and Marvin McKeehan will be performing for the Jams in June concert this Thursday evening.”
“I actually got an early start on my love of music. My dad played the guitar and he encouraged us. I have three sisters and one brother, and he’d hand us a guitar and tell us to play along with him. That was sixty years ago, and that was our entertainment. You know how it was back then. Television was really just coming out, and there wasn’t a lot of family entertainment so we created ours with music.
“Today, the Internet has really advanced my music because I can use it anytime I want to learn a new song. I call myself a practiced musician because I just like to practice, but when I have opportunity to share some music, like on a trail ride, I love it. To me, it is reminiscent of the old cowboy camp, when a guitar and a singer was the entertainment. I do it just for the pure fun of it. I’m certainly not a professional.”
Woolam went on to explain that he had actually just recently begun adding the vocals to his music, and then he pointed out “the black box” that sat on the floor within easy reach of his cowboy boots.
“This box opened up the vocal world for me. I don’t have a strong voice so I needed the extra volume. It also can bend my pitch and correct it, AND it can even add in the harmonies for me.” I can put my chuck wagon behind me, and have the entire Chuck Wagon Gang sing with me,” he added with the soft laugh I had by now come to expect.
Although David Woolam now has all of the technology he needs to become a one-man band, that won’t be the case this Thursday evening when he and Marvin McKeehan will take their places in front of the old chuck wagon.
“We’ll do a little instrumental guitar, some singing, and it will be like listening to a classic country station…lots of songs from the last century. That means it will also be a sing-a-long because everyone will know the words to the songs we sing.
And with the chuck wagon for a backdrop, a cool evening, and good friends, what better way is there to spend a Thursday evening in Comanche, Texas?
I can’t think of anywhere Ric and I had rather be so come join us, and be sure to tell Christine Perkins and the Comanche Chamber of Commerce just how much you appreciate them for putting on the entire thing. It’s just another example of making Comanche better…one step at a time!