NEW YORK — (NEA) – It had to be the right apartment because the racket inside was just barely penetrated by the doorbell and someone said, “Hey, isn’t anyone going to answer the doorbell?”
Someone did, and I was admitted to the happy noisy chaos that is life with the Cowsills.
Paul (or was it Bob?) was in the kitchen making pancakes. Bill (or was it Paul?) was on the telephone. John (or was it Barry?) was eating pancakes he had made. Susan (and you can’t get her mixed with anyone because there are no other girls) was sick in bed with a sore throat and a dish of ice cream that she promised to eat very slowly.
Barbara, the petite mother of the clan, when she heard I was going to make an inventory of the family, said, “If you get one please leave me a copy.”
It goes like this Barbara: Bill is 20. twins Dick (not present and about to go into the service) and Bob are 18, Paul is 16. Barry 13. John 12 and Susan 8. The poodle. Subar (named after the two ladies), is 6 months.
The Cowsills have burst on the music scene with two MGM albums released, and a third in the making. Their sound is contemporary, swinging or sweet, and everyone in the family, except father Bud and Dick sings.
About Bud and Dick. Bill says “They couldn’t carry a note in a bucket.”
None of the family reads music, yet the boys play several instruments which hey switch around from time to time.
They are a product of faith.
Bud, a 20-year Navy veteran, smiling says the group started singing at family picnics, “and I couldn’t bear it alone so I turned them loose o the world.”
It has taken four long and sometimes very hungry years for them to reach today’s level of sold-out concerts, tours of Europe, television appearances and best-selling records.
“I thought they were all crazy, but Bud knew where he was going." Barbara said.
“Yes, there were a lot of bad moments." Bud says, "but it was like the name of that TV program—You Asked For i t ' "
Bad moments came when the family got heavily in debt as Bud tried to promote their careers. Their 23-room house in Newport, R.I., was a frequent target of repossessors.
"We used to like it when it snowed " Bill said. "We never plowed our drive. The house is on a hill and they couldn't get up to repossess anything. We also used to keep our car
moving and we hid things in the grass, which we didn't mow Really! But we always had bread, milk and hot chocolate and we had fun."
They still have the Newport house, but not much time to get to it. When they are in New York they live in three apartments in a new West Side building. The three oldest
boys have their own pad a few floors down from the other adjoining apartments.
It's a close family, with teasing and rough-housing and everyone taking care of himself. The boys all cook and the kitchen is never without one of them making something. Family statistics go
something like this: They eat at least 20 eggs a day, 28 gallons of milk a week and about 80 shirts a week are sent to the laundry.
Barbara, when asked how she has kept them so normal, laughed and said "Hit'em and start when they are little. We also gave them a code of morals and when that is instilled
early, they grow up with it. The older ones watch out for the younger ones. Sometimes when Susan does something, the boys say. 'You would never have let us get away with that.' And she
sneaks up and says, “I'm a girl!”
Bob suddenly said. "Hey, dad, my teacher says I have a disorganized mind."
"So did mine." Paul said.
Bob added. "Trouble with that is now I'll think everything I say is a result of my disorganized mind."
"The only subject I ever failed in school was music," Bob said.
"Hey." Bud said, “would you like them to sing for you?”
I thought he would never ask. They did several songs, ending with In Need Of A Friend."
It was great listening and a good idea. I'll be their friend any time.