Group W – The Story

My Father, C. J. Weiland, had a great sense of humor and he loved to laugh.  He had an appreciation for humorous stories and standup comedy.  I remember that he had every one of Bob Newhart’s albums.  Many a Sunday afternoon was spent listening to Mr. Newhart’s one-sided conversations about marketing the new game of baseball and teaching bus drivers to how to drive (badly).  Phrases from the routines crept into the family vernacular.

Somewhere along the way, Dad heard Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaturant,” a rambling musical story in which the protagonist is arrested for illegally disposing of garbage when the dump was closed on Thanksgiving Day.  (http://arlo.net/resources/lyrics/alices.shtml ) He was detained by the local constabulary, officer Obie, and ultimately fined $50.  Sometime later, at his draft induction he is asked if he ever committed a crime.  After admitting to the Thanksgiving Day littering incident, he is made to sit on the Group W bench.

Because of our last name and the size of our family (5 kids), Dad adopted “Group W” as his own.  When he was attempting to assemble the crew for an outing, Dad would tell us to get ready and sit on the Group W bench.

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