Back in 1995 several of us met on America Online (AOL) . We started having regular chats on AOL every Sunday night. Usually Jo Malone, Marilynn Manfra, Carol Fritz or I would start it cuz we live further east and then other time zones would join in as the evening went on. We made it an “open” chat and so anyone could come in. Over time we had many “interesting” folks stop by. Any Cowsills? Once we “thought” but they never would own up to it. Peter Holsapple did stop in once. Folks who were neighbors of Barry’s in New Orleans, a writer for Rolling Stone who knew Billy, or someone who played in bands with various members of The C’s came in and out. Once I remember a guy who was going to play a wedding with John and didn’t have a clue who John was, but saw the name Cowsill on the chat list and thought he’d stop by to see if we knew anything about John.
I wouldn’t begin to try and name all the regulars cuz I know I’d forget someone and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings!!! If you were one of the old AOL gang, feel free to identify yourselves.
During these chats two recurrent topics kept coming up. #1 Getting together to put names with faces, stay up all night and talk Cowsills, and of course play Cowsill music #2 We thought there should be a website for this group of musicians we thought so much of. It was from here Vicky Sedgwick took the lead and started a smaller (smaller than cowsill.com) site (on AOL at first???? Or was it a website from her work???? – I need that letter LOL). Anyhooo, right off I see a printout that shows the sections of that site as: Some Good Years, Where Are They Now, Sound Bites, Cowsill Chatter (Chat), Message Board, Buy/Sell/Trade Board, Carnival of Fun, Credits and Dreambook. This printout was from March 1998. Without my old email, I can’t say for sure when this started, but I’d guess late ’97 – early ’98.
The message board – at that time – was hosted off-site, but the print out I am currently looking at doesn’t have a URL as to what that was. …… The Chat at this time was also hosted off-site and was definitely a challenge, but fun none the less. You had to read from the bottom of the page up and each line had your ISP along with whatever name you chose to use. One person would never put a name so they would have an ISP (example 126.96.36.199: ) so we would call this person Colon. That was fun. John stopped by occasionally using the name goodrownilson. Barry’s son-in-law and grandkids did also. Most of us used songs as our names. Tracy was heathersays, Kathy was CapnSad, Jimmy was Mr. Flynn etc. Looking at one chat log I have I don’t remember who a couple people were. Who was Babylon6? Who was yzshu? Someone was there almost every night and so lots of chatting happen.
Those around back then might remember Percy and Daniel. I was sure Daniel was John, but later someone confessed to me they were Daniel. I still need to apologize to John for that LOL
I have printout of a chat in a different form with Bob stopping by several times. It was at a chat in this format (and the second message board format by this time) that Bob announced the release of Global and the domaining of cowsill.com on 4/28/98.
I’m going to have to let someone else give you the history during the following years as I wasn’t around there much, but with Cowsill.com also came an Ask The Cowsills board which Bob, John and Susan would occasionally have some time to answer questions on.
1. Hairheads site. I know it was up around the time of the Global announcement because Bob called us “renagades” to be at the announcement chat. Michelle Lynde did the coding part, Jo Malone did the art part and I did some of the content part. We actually started the lyrics section of my current site on there.
2. Barry had a site up around the time of release of “As Is” with a board that he answered every one of our posts. His nephew, Jason Cowsill, did the site design.
3. susancowsill.com of course, run and operated by Susan and Russ. Again Jason Cowsill did the site build.
4. My site: I started with “Why I like The Cowsills” and some puzzles/games on AOL webspace in '97 and finally put up a personal site with a Cowsill section in 2002.
Now as for the second part of those original AOL chats – the get-togethers.
We decided to call them Marathons and the first one was held on December 8th, 1997 in Los Angeles. Attending: Bob Cowsill, John Cowsill, Robby Scharf, Tracy Pierson, Kathy McWhirt, Kristy Carter, Jo Malone, Carol Lewandowski Fritz, Vicky Sedgwick, Sue Otto, Sandy R, Marilynn Manfra, Gary Strobel, David Harris, and Becky Presley. This was our first time meeting cousins Tracy and Kathy and I remember they had a couple of Marines in their room. Oh I forgot to mention the Marines weren’t invited hee hee.
The 2nd one was in Newport in Sept 1998. Attending: Richard Cowsill, Susan Cowsill, Bryan Cowsill, Tracy Pierson, Carol Manfra, Sandy R., Toni Montella, Marilynn Manfra Dooley, Ken Dooley, Kathy McWhirt, Lynne Margosian, Carol Fritz, Mike Fritz, SallyAnn Amirante, Salia Lanoza, Suzanne Perdue, Lisa Cerulli and Becky Presley. This included tours of Cowsills sites in Newport and Marilynn’s wedding on Narraganset Beach. The Hairhead Honey’s totally ruled the reception.
The 3rd was back out in LA in September 1999. Attending: Stella Ducker, Brendon Cowsill, Bob and Mary Jo Cowsill, Courtney Cowsill, John Cowsill, Marissa Cowsill, Paul and LouAnn Cowsill, Paul's dogs Red and Lucy, Ryan Cowsill, Shane and Alisa Cowsill, Dale Eucker, Dale's dog Baxter, Debbie Gouveia, David and Roxann Harris, Norma Kolias, Salia Lanoza, Jo Malone, Lynne Margosian, Kathy McWhirt, Dyan Neiman, Sue Otto, Tracy Pierson, Becky Presley, Sandy R., Robby Scharf, Tim and Tiffany Cowsill-Scheu, Vicky, Paul, Emily and Hannah Sedgwick, Lisa Solomon (along with husband and daughter), Eddie and Nancy Starr, Gary Strobel, Debi and husband Verhague, Damon, Kathy and Kristin Wall, Tammy ???, and Wendy & Gene ???.
The 4th back in Newport for the big – ALL SIBLINGS REUNION at Taste of Rhode Island – September 2000. Connie Carty and Jo Malone started that ball rolling by contacting ToRI and asking to have the C’s there. By then it had grown so large, I didn’t even try to keep track of everyone there. Spine tingling moments for us all.
I have CM V as back in Newport at ToRI in September 2003. And of course there were get-togethers at the time of Billy’s Benefit September 13, 2004.
1. Princess Bashes: I need someone to fill this part in also. They were held in January (I believe). Barb Meade writes, "The first one was the only one I didn't go to and that's the one where they did the ballgowns and tiaras with a before Pickwick's party at Katie's suite at the Holiday Inn Express right across the street. The PJ deal wasn't started until the second year. I don't remember if it was that year or the next that we got the biggest kick out of strolling across Ventura Blvd. in our bathrobes, slippers, and PJs and waving at all the passers-by who were honking at us. What year did Louise Palanker make "Mad Cowsill Disease"? THAT was a riot and I'd love to see it again on youtube."
2. New Orleans: I know there have been several trips of get-togethers to see Susan and Barry perform. I know I was part of one I’ll never forget (we lost Salia!!)
That’s the best I know of. If you have any corrections, or things I forgot, let me know and I’ll gladly edit this.