Amongst the regular visitors, the hanger-ons and the occasional homeless guy coming in to warm his freezing bones at the old guitar store, there was a local criminal defense attorney named Dale Cobb, Jr. I guess Dale fancied himself a guitar player. I don’t think he was under the delusion that he was any good at it but he was having a good time and that was okay by me. I thought it rather cool that he would drive around Charleston in a Santa Claus costume sharing Christmas cheer with whoever tickled his fancy.
Maybe Dale’s real fantasy was to be a Hard-Rockin’, Hard-Livin’, irresistible, long-haired guitar player, pushing through a backstage crowd of giggling young starlets…sweeping them aside with his Stratocaster…lightly whipping their firm butt cheeks with his guitar cord.
He leaps onstage to the roar of a crowd including three thousand beautiful young gals right up front who thought this was a great time for a World Record Bare Booby Wave.
This probably explains why, when Dale visited the store, he would grab a guitar, sit down, close his eyes, and affect this long ago, far away grin on his face…all the while massacring an F major chord then struggling to figure the quickest way to get back to a C major.
Dale was smart enough to hedge his bets so he went to law school. I reckon he just hung around my little store because he sensed that this would be a good place to meet prospects who might eventually require his services in a courtroom.
I opened my store in August of 1979 on Durant Avenue in North Charleston, South Carolina. I was there for a year and a half and then moved to another location on Savannah Highway. It was there that I first met Dale in the early 80’s.
We set up shop in a 1,200 square foot rectangular space on the edge of a large building that had four or five store fronts. Nice little strip center with plenty of parking. It was called The Fair Trade Center. We stayed there for around 3 years until we moved across the street where we rented for around 13 years.
I had trouble with break-ins at the second location and on two occasions wound up having to replace the big glass picture window facing the road. This was a really great spot for a smash-and-grab and the Fender Guitars and amplifiers were there for the picking. I replaced the glass with plexiglass and put up some steel reinforcement bars. No problems after that.
At my first store on Durant Avenue, I had one break-in where the perpetrator kicked in the front door and scurried off with two really nice new Martin Guitars. Within a few days, a North Charleston detective came to my store with the instruments. They had been recovered from the scene of a suicide. The guitars were under the unfortunate young fellow’s bed. He shot himself in the heart.
Kudos to this North Charleston cop. Real professionalism.
During the two break ins at the first Savannah Highway location, the culprit was one guy. Charleston city cops arrested him and drove by my store to show off their prize. “Poindexter,” the cop said. “His name is Ronnie Poindexter.”
Peering through the open back window of the cruiser, I recognized a smirking ball-of-grease that had been checking out my inventory on several earlier occasions during business hours.
The police officer told me that they needed to keep the recovered merchandise as evidence. These items consisted of a new Fender Precision Bass Guitar(*1) and a new Fender Twin amp. I agreed to this.
I called Dale about the matter and he said he would look into it. A few days later he walked into the store with a pronounced swagger and told me that he worked out a deal with the prosecutor. He said that poor old Ronnie had found Jesus, confessed to his crimes, and agreed to pay me fifteen hundred dollars restitution. “It’s gonna take a while so you got to be patient”, he comforted me while tugging, Boss Hogg like, on his suspenders.
I was happy because the insurance coverage for two separate claims would have been zilch due to a thousand dollar deductible per incident. Now, thanks to this noble and honest Attorney, I was going to get enough money to pay for the window repairs and my troubles. I was going to get back my P-Bass and my Fender twin amp as well.
It was a win-win situation! Santa Claus had saved the day!
I reached behind the counter and grabbed a tobacco sunburst Les Paul(*2) that Dale had been admiring, put it in the original case, and handed it to him. Payment for services rendered.
Job well done!
At the time, I was a pretty heavy drinker. There was a sandwich shop in the shopping center that served ice cold draft beer. When the clock hit 3:30 off I would go to start a process that would continue until bedtime. This lifestyle attracts others who pursue a similar model so my store wound up becoming something of a joint.
About a year or so after the Great Ronnie Poindexter Incident no money had been forthcoming and I started to sense something was not right. I called the prosecutor’s office to check on the status of the case. Turns out that Mr. Poindexter had been originally charged with numerous similar felonies. He made a plea bargain and a bunch of break-in charges, mine included, were dropped.
Nobody in the solicitor’s office called me to ask if this was okay. Further inquiry determined that no one in that office had any knowledge concerning a restitution agreement.
To add insult to injury, the items Ronnie stole somehow vanished into thin air. I was out a P-Bass, a Fender Twin Amp, $1,500 restitution, and a Les Paul Guitar.
The incident just disappeared into an alcoholic haze. Somehow my mind could not wrap itself around the idea that this was anything more than a misunderstanding. I never brought up the subject again.
Moral: If you are going to be a successful crook, don’t follow the Ronnie Poindexter model. Follow the Dale Cobb Jr. model…get a license.
Stay tuned for Tales from the Music Store: Part Two-Thirteen Years Later:
-Hip Hop Haircut Shop moves next door. Turns up the volume to 10…
-Kate Schmutz (previously-Kate Cunningham) assistant solicitor gets her revenge…
-Dale Cobb: The Velvet Hammer….
–Landlord C.J. Shady disappears into a giant hole filled with horse shit…
-Charleston city cop lies on the witness stand…
-Fool Me Twice…Shame On Me!
*1) As I recall it was a blue P-Bass with a maple neck. Could be wrong about those details. It has been nearly 35 years.
*2) As I remember it was a tobacco sunburst Les Paul electric guitar. I believe it was the model referred to as the Les Paul Standard.