I have trusted people all my life. I don’t remember exactly how it happened… but my folks somehow instilled in me the ability or desire or probably the naïveté to trust people. However it happened, it burned into my little brain and has never left me.
My mom was, as quite a few people told me over the years, a “hard-headed Swede.” I knew that was true. She always trusted people until they lied or wronged her somehow, then the fireworks started. She was never bothered about being deceived by anyone, as she somehow knew she’d find a way to settle it. Or, as we used to say in Montana, she’d get the last lick in.
My dad, on the other hand, handled it a bit differently. He was 6’4”, weighed 220 and had a deep voice attached to a quiet manner, backed by a steady gaze that spoke to nearly everyone. And what it spoke was, “Don’t mess with me. Don’t cheat me because I can, and will, mess you up.” When meeting someone for the first time, he’d look them in the eye without smiling and say, “Guy Hulse. My friends call me Guy.” Every time I heard him say that, I saw the other person immediately wanting to be his friend. In 31 years, only two men ever crossed him. One had to be carried out of our bar, and the other disappeared back to Ashton, Idaho, to be never heard from again.
I don’t remember either of them telling me to trust people or to not trust them. I do remember my mom telling me once, “Always stick with your family and defend them, regardless if you think they’re right or wrong.”
I asked Dad once, why he didn’t get into more fights, because In Montana back then, because he owned a bar and because he was a big guy, cowboys, ranch hands and construction workers who thought they were tough would get a few drinks in them and want to take on “the big guy.” I wanted to know how he always handled it. I remember he kind of smiled. “Boy,” he said quietly, “If you have a good bluff, you don’t need to fight much.” I should have known that, as he was an excellent poker player.
In trying to figure out why I trusted people so much, and how my parents taught me that, I’ve finally come to conclusion that they never actually told me to trust people… it was the way they dealt with folks, what they expected from their friends and acquaintances that probably instilled it in me. What my parents couldn’t know back then, is that I would become a person who was much easier to lie to and cheat than they were. I wasn’t big and quietly intimidating like my dad; I wasn’t ferocious and fearsome like my mom, when cheated or lied to. No… I was something of a sitting duck.
Growing up in a small town, you know everyone, and if you can’t trust someone, you know exactly who that person is. So I had very few problems trusting people growing up until I moved back to the big city of Boston. That’s where I should have learned that trusting everyone at face value is not a good idea. I should have learned it, I had every opportunity to learn it… but I didn’t. The trust was already too deeply instilled in me.
In hindsight, I didn’t get hurt too much by my trusting naïveté. Matter of fact, some people saw it and, for lack of better insight to it all, pitied me or at least took me under their wing. I guess most city folk saw me as either a sucker or a gentle soul who they related to. Whatever, it worked out for the best over the years.
A young Steve at the audio console in a Boston Studio
I lost exactly 10 grand during my music career, by trusting people with a handshake. But hell, that’s what I grew up with. In Montana, the handshake was the contract, a man’s word was the collateral. One guy agreed to pay me $5K to do all the music to his new animated TV show called “Tootie.” I did the job, never saw a dime. But neither did five others – writers, art directors, promoters.
Another guy did an entire”B” movie and hired me to score it. My bill for it was $10K, and I got nothing initially. Then a few others took him to court and he asked me to release the music to him for $5K. I took the deal.
Aside from those two incidents, no one else screwed me out of money in 33 years. In all that time I was forced to enter into only one contract… for $2K, for a songwriter whose songs I recorded in my studio. He was afraid I might possibly steal them, and in hindsight, I understand.
“I’m Ivan, the ice cream man, everytody watch out for me
If you give me a nickel, i’ll give you a popsicle, if you turn me on I’ll give you one free, ’cause I am, I am, Ivan, the ice cream man’
Everybody look out, everybody watch out, everybody freak out for me. Deedle deedle die dieedle die dee.” That was my fave song that Ivan wrote. Google him, he’s quite a character. There’s also an obit, but I’m not sure…
So yeah… there was this guy, Ivan Ulz, a damn good songwriter, who screwed me and my recording studio out of $50 back in ’71. I recorded a half dozen demoes of him singing his tunes with just a guitar, all done in one hour. He asked me for a cassette copy of the demoes, telling me he would pay for the demo master next week. Right. Next week, he was in Sausalito, pitching his new tunes to Rod McKuen. Ivan went on to have an “interesting” career, and I feel that Natural Sound Studio and I did our part to help shift his career into a higher gear.
I would guess he made some good money off that demo. He never paid us, but actually came back a year later and apologized for ripping us off. For fifty bucks. You know, sometimes you just have to trust people.