10th grade started in early September 1970 at Gulf Comprehensive high school in New Port Richey Florida. I took the bus for the 6 mile trip to school. I would wake up and shower and dress. Then get my homework together for the day. Then go to the kitchen and eat breakfast my dad had fixed. Then I said goodbye and made my way down the street towards the front of Leasure Beach.
Brian Bateman and Cindy Ponti and I would meet around 6:30 in the morning in front of Bob’s grocery and deli to wait for the bus.
The bus would arrive and we would enter. The bus was always chaos. A concaphony of sound and movement as the kids conversed with one another. You could not hear yourself think even if you tried! I did not like the bus. My parents would not allow me to ride my motorcycle to school. However I had just purchased a car. I worked out angles of logic in my head to propose to my parents in the near future. Perhaps I would be allowed to drive my car to school soon.
The bus made its way up Congress street. We were about a mile from school at this point. There was a slowdown ahead and the bus crawled ahead at about 2 miles an hour in the early morning light. There had been an accident at the corner of Congress and Massachusetts. It was a bad accident.
Some seniors heading for school had run the light at high speed and ran into a Krispy Kreme truck. The occupants of both vehicles were ejected from their vehicles. The drivers of both vehicles were dead. The teenage driver of the car was hanging half out the drivers side window. Half of his face was gone as well as some of his scull. His brain was visible. The accident had just happened. Help had not arrived yet. The bus continued to crawl ahead at a painful pace while the grisly scene was indelibly etched into all of our minds. We all watched with our faces pressed to the bus window as the bus slowly went by.
The incident affected us all. Instead of the usual madhouse of conversation and bedlam, there was absolute quiet mixed with hushed whispering. I don’t believe any of us ever forgot this.
I made a new friend in 10th grade. Martin DeMoulpied is his name. Back then everyone called him Mope. He was in my drafting class and was in 11th grade. Mope has a great love of music. We still jam together. He has numerous guitars on his wall.
In the summer of 1971 we formed a band called Wheatstone Bridge. It consisted of Marty Demoulpied, John DeFasio and me James Culpepper. Marty had and still has a vintage Rickenbacker electric 6 string guitar. John played drums. And boy did he play them! Watching him play was a visual delight! I had brought my Farfisa mini compact organ and amp down from Michigan. As in Michigan with the band Wheat, we had no need for a bass player as I played the bass notes on the bass keys on the Farfisa organ.
We were about as progressive as a garage band can be as we did not play other peoples music. We wrote and preformed our own music. And then I added one more instrument. A model D mini Moog synthesizer. It was all the rage those days with some top groups using it. Yes and Emerson Lake and Palmer come to mind. We rehearsed in John DeFasios garage.
We landed a gig at a Gulf High dance. We were delighted that we got the gig and a little surprised. We were not a dance band. We considered ourselves more sophisticated and far from the top ten genres. During one of our brakes during the Gulf High gig a student approached us and asked if we could play some dance music. We could not. However I believe most of the attendees enjoyed our unique music! I also enjoy that Marty and I still jam to this day!