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Tony LeClerc

Tony LeClerc, Origins 39

| Sande Caplin |

As many of you know, Tony LeClerc, Bass Guitar Player and backup vocals for Twinkle and Rock Soul Radio has put together a series life experiences that he has shared on his Facebook page.  Tony has graciously given the Sarasota Post permission to share his stories that are on Facebook.  Here is “Origins 39,”  In Tony’s own words (untouched editing of the story!)   …..continued from 38…..
Something to remember whenever you find yourself facing something that seems insurmountable. Someone has gone through worse. And is now ok? You can be that guy or you can become bitter and angry. It IS a choice.
Take my Brother Dean for instance.   Should he ever decide to tell his story you would be appalled at what he lived through as a child, but suffice to say he wound up as a ward of the state at the age of twelve. He was placed in foster care and promptly ran from every home he was placed into. He lived on the street, on his own. He didn’t know our father and our father didn’t know of him, not really. So, when a few years later he was assigned a probation officer in what was at the time the very small town of Sarasota fl. (where everyone knew everything about everybody) That probation officer took one look at Dean and called Buddy Yochim to tell him he was pretty sure he had his Son sitting in front of him.

The story gets told many ways by many people. But the gist of it is, Buddy Yochim , pulled up to the address that he was given and saw Dean raking leaves at his foster parents house, and found himself looking at himself at the age of 15, and said “Boy, Get in the car!” Dean asked “Who are you?” ” I’m your Dad”  Dean then asked “where we going’?” and Dad said “home, we’re goin home” Dean and Dad were inseparable from that Time on. Dad had no legal claim to Dean but after contacting Deans mother he found that , Yes Dean was in fact his son. Now this is a sugar coated version of the story, one that breezes right by the hardship Dean endured. And as anyone knows that has ever seen a news report or a television show about “at risk” youth or the horrors of “the system” Dean wasn’t suddenly “A-OK  everything’s just ducky” It Took him awhile to assimilate into his role in the family, such as it was. Imagine you are a homeless street kid, and you never really had a chance.

When you meet your brother, (Schascle) that you never knew existed. He has everything you ever dreamed of having. a nice home , a beautiful mother, 4 wheelers and fancy toys. The injustice of it had all to be crushing. You think you might act out a bit? Of course you would. Schascle tells the story of once looking through deans room and finding a dartboard with his picture on it! He was scared to death. Its kind of funny now in a sick sort of way, but I’m sure it wasn’t then.
Dean didn’t even know is real age until Schascle and I found our sister Debbie! In our search work we were to discover that Dean was exactly one year older than he thought he was his whole life.
So now we have three children in the fold. Dean Twinkle and Schascle, Buddy (being a convicted felon) was not allowed to have custody of Dean. So he remained in his foster family. Leon Adam and Mary Ann Spencer,  wonderful people that I had the great honor of meeting that didn’t keep him from his father. Twinkle was being raised by her mother alone. Twinkle rarely saw our father growing up and consequently didn’t see much of our Brother Schascle either. Each of the siblings so far essentially grew up as only children.
They say that history repeats itself and nowhere was that more Evident than with Schascle “Buddy” Yochim.
My Father told me His father Schascle “Pappy” Yochim was a cowboy and a bootlegger, That left his children, Buddy, Sid, Jody, Sutsie and Drew alone for long stretches of time with their mother Mae (Fage) until she passed away from breast cancer when Dad was 12yrs old. At which point the children were all sent to live with different relatives. So, not only was their father gone, so was their mother. And now they didn’t even have each other to rely on. The family was broken. The way they were informed of their mothers death was unforgivable, They didn’t know what was happening. So the day came that they were all picked up by one of the relatives that owned a vehicle. They were all just scared children that wanted their mother, and didn’t know where she or their father was! When Buddy insisted that they be taken to see their mother, they were unceremoniously informed that they couldnt because their mother was dead. The way Twinkle remembers the story is, as the children were scattered among the distant relatives my father promised each one, especially his brother Sid, That he would find their father and bring him home.

So he asked a few people a few questions and discovered his father had gone to Florida, and at the age of twelve he drove a car with no windshield from Louisiana to Florida, found out where his father was, drove back to Louisiana rounded up his Brother and sisters and drove them all back to where his father was. Another way this story has been told to me comes from my dear friend Bain Beakley, Who I love very much and will always call my Fathers favorite Son (only half joking here) He tells me Dad hitchhiked at 12 to Florida, (which seems more feasible, but ya never know!), Dad loved Bain and they spent a lot of time together, so, his version has just a good a chance of being correct as anyone. Still another gut wrenching version of the same story is from Dominique My Fathers wife. “Buddy’s mother Mae died and when they lowered her into the ground, he freaked out so bad they brought her back up.

Overwhelmed with grief Pappy left and moved to Sarasota. Schascle went to the theater where his Uncle worked,he gave him something like 15 dollars and he hitched hiked to Sarasota to find his dad! He found his dad and he told him ” Boy, you can’t stay here, go back to Louisiana and be with your sisters, take care of them. He gave him 13 dollars and on the way back he bought a nativity statute of Jesus for his sister Sootsie for 12 dollars, he was starving. Pain was something he would become used to for the rest of his life”…. The point of the story is still the same either way. Its interesting that all the way back to the first “Schascle” and continuing forward to my father and my brother Dean and myself, we all had to at one point take it upon ourselves to find our fathers, To hitch hike, to drive a car with no windshield, to search through sealed records,  to look them in the eye and ask why they left us, and either accept their answers or not. Anyway, I stopped questioning farfetched sounding stories about my father a long time ago, (they kept being true)
Dicky and Dad's 1955 Class PictureThe water of this story gets murky here and I haven’t been told all the particulars about the rest of my fathers formative years other than he would go to school barefoot and became best friends with a young Dickey Betts who would later become one of the most famous and influential guitarists of all time with the groundbreaking group, The Allman Brothers Band.

The first “southern” rock band. Dad of course was his fathers son and was already at the age of thirteen running moonshine. He loved his father very much. And So did everyone else. Everyone that didn’t fear him that is. Buddy Yochim like his father before him grew to be one of the most loved and feared men of his day. He was never shown how to be anyone’s Dad. Not in the “Norman Rockwell ” sense of the word  But he had a charisma that was undeniable and as hard a man as he was, he also had a huge heart. He loved us all  and we loved him. and the rest doesn’t matter. We are, all of us imperfect beings, and until you have lived in another persons shoes it is unfair to judge them, There are reasons and events in all of our lives that shape us into who we are. I think its important to remember that.

Buddy Yochim passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by his wife Dominique  his Sons and his Daughter Twinkle,  Schascles wife Amanda came into the room and shouted to our unconscious father in her thick British accent “BUDDY!” “TWINKLE AND YOUR SONS ARE HERE! THEY WANT TO TELL YOU THAT THEY LOVE YOU!” His eyes popped open he gripped our hands and looked us each in the eye and to each of us in turn said as strongly as he could  “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you” ………….. and laid his head down…and then he was gone. That was July 12th 2011. I had 18 years with him. I am Grateful for them all. and Thank you Mandy, I will never forget what you did for us.

Take a look at Dad and Dickey with my band on the Beach. a long time ago….

and then at Dad and Domenique’s anniversary just before he passed

There’s lots more to tell you about Buddy Yochim but I cant any more tonight.

Tony posted this story on his Facebook page 1/4/2014

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