Picture a confident, exuberant, lively, unassuming, fun-loving, very talented all-American family with nowhere to go but up, up, up.
Picture that and add the extra ingredient of fame, and you have the Cowsills.
A friendlier, happier, more outgoing family has yet to visit Syracuse.
The Cowsills - Father Bud, Mother Barbara, Bill, Bob, Paul, Barry, John, Susan and Karen - drove into Syracuse yesterday afternoon much like any other family of such enormity would, by station wagon.
The only difference was that they came in by two, nine-passenger air-conditioned station wagons from Indiana State Fair prepared to play three shows today at the New York State Fair.
The Cowsills came to public note last year with their hit recording of "The Rain, The Park and Other Things" followed by the still highly popular "Indian Lake."
But, said Bud Cowsill, who keeps a stead reign over the clan, "We are no overnight success. We worked hard for five years only people didn't recognize us until now."
When asked whose idea "the group" was, 19-year-old Bob quipped, "The family was Mother and Dad's idea. The group was ours."
Father, a former career Navy man, cut in with, "We've been a group for 20 years."
Barbara, who is billed as the mini-mama because of her size and not because of her affinity for wearing mini-skirts, explained the family's careers thus: Bud brought Bill back a guitar from Spain when he was eight. Then, Bill taught Bob to play and they sang natural harmony.
"Barry had a little set of bongos and when Father recognized his talent, he bought him a set of drums."
Father interrupted, "I hate waste - food, children..."
Mrs. Cowsill continued talking about her children, of whom she and her husband are obviously proud. "Any musical instrument they picked up, they could handle, and then Sue and I joined them and we began leaving home, too."
The performing group consists of Bill, 20; Bob, who was 19 yesterday; Paul, 16, Barry, 13, John, 12; Susan, 8; and Mother who admits to 40.
Father Cowsill is the general manager and ruler of the clan. Karen, married three months to Bob, is an interior decorator and according to Bob, she's part of his "group."
A 10th member of the family, Dick, who is Bob's twin brother, is an Army corporal and is on his way to Vietnam.
Since hitting it really big, the Cowsills have been on the road most of the summer playing state fairs around the nation; Steel Pier at Atlantic City, N.J., and similar places including Latham, N. Y, the home of the original Indian Lake.
Just last week they released a new album, "Captain Sad and His Ship of Fools", for which Bill and Bob did most of the vocal arranging, and a new single, "Poor Baby."
Offers for shows appear to be pouring in - after years of hard Work, Father Cowsill stresses and now the family is on its way to Santa Monica, Calif. where it will be more advantageous for their careers, the family members agreed.
Till now, the family maintained a residence in Newport, R. I., which Mrs. Cowsill said was furnished with a ping pong table, pool table, kitchen table and chairs and beds. They explained that because of their careers, they were seldom home.