Monday, January 16, 2017

"God is Able" by MLK, Jr.

"Life is hard, at times as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak and difficult moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of the river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of its summers and the piercing chill of its winters. And if one will hold on, he will discover that God walks with him and that GOD IS ABLE to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace."

(From "Eulogy of the Martyred Children, September 18, 1963)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Cornfield Princess: Bullet in the Dark


Selah Elizabeth "Bessie" Jones was the daughter of Nesbit Hert and Jane (Upchurch) Jones. Sometime after her death, the family moved to Crowell, Texas. Bessie is buried at Cartwright Cemetery.


Her tombstone reads:

Selah E. Jones
Born May 3, 1886
Assassinated Sep 17, 1900

Her busy hands are folded
Her work on earth is done
Her trials are all ended
Her heavenly crown is won


 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Battle Hymn of the Republic Recording is 100 Years Old

Mine eyes have seen the glory
of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage
where the grapes of wrath are stored
He has loosed the fateful lightening
of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on


Thomas Chalmers' recording of "Battle Hymn Of The Republic" is 100-years-old this year. He recorded his version on May 29, 1917 (Edison Records, 82133-R).

According to the Library of Congress, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" went through a number of versions in the years immediately before the Civil War. Its tune and its early lyrics were written by William Steffe about 1856. Its first verse and refrain were:


Say brothers, will you meet us?
Say brothers, will you meet us?
Say brothers, will you meet us?
On Canaan's happy shore?

Glory, glory hallelujah!
Glory, glory hallelujah!
Glory, glory hallelujah!
For ever, evermore!

The song first gained popularity around Charleston, South Carolina, where it was sung as a Methodist Camp Meeting song, particularly in churches belonging to free Blacks. By contrast, it was also used early on as a marching song on army posts.


The song gathered new verses following the insurrection at Harper's Ferry, led by John Brown and carried out by a cadre of nineteen men on October 16, 1859. Brown's actions, trial and subsequent execution made him a martyr to Abolitionists and African-Americans and prompted some people to add the following lines to Steffe's by then popular song.

John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave
John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave
John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave
His soul is marching on!

Some have also theorized that the new verses were written about an inept Army sergeant named John Brown, thus giving the lyrics a kind of humorous double entendre.

By the time of the Civil War "John Brown's Body" had become a very popular marching song with Union Army regiments, particularly among the Colored troops. The Twelfth Massachusetts Regiment, in particular, has been credited with spreading the song's fame on their march to the South, where Confederate soldiers then inverted the meaning of their words and sang, "John Brown's a-hanging on a sour apple tree." The war's rivalry continued to be carried on in music as the northerners then sang in turn, "They will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree."

(Julia Ward Howe, April 27, 1908)

But it was when Julia Ward Howe visited Washington, DC in 1861 that the tune properly came to be called "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Howe and her husband, both of whom were active abolitionists, experienced first-hand a skirmish between Confederate and Union troops in nearby Virginia, and heard the troops go into battle singing "John Brown's Body." That evening, November 18, 1861, Ward was inspired to write a poem that better fit the music. It began "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

As Howe explained it, the verses came to her in a single night:

"I went to bed and slept as usual, but awoke the next morning in the gray of the early dawn, and to my astonishment found that the wished-for lines were arranging themselves in my brain. I lay quite still until the last verse had completed itself in my thoughts, then hastily arose, saying to myself, I shall lose this if I don't write it down immediately. I searched for an old sheet of paper and an old stub of a pen which I had had the night before, and began to scrawl the lines almost without looking, as I learned to do by often scratching down verses in the darkened room when my little children were sleeping. Having completed this, I lay down again and fell asleep, but not before feeling that something of importance had happened to me."


"Battle Hymn of the Republic" was first published in The Atlantic Monthly on February 1862.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! 
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! 
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! 
His truth is marching on


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Peace On Earth...May Christmas Hasten That Day

The first months of World War I had seen an initial German attack through Belgium into France, which had been repulsed outside Paris by French and British troops at the Battle of the Marne in early September 1914. The Germans fell back to the Aisne Valley and in the subsequent Battle of the Aisne, the Allied forces were unable to push through the German line, and the fighting quickly degenerated into a static stalemate with neither side willing to give ground. To the north, on the right of the German army, there had been no defined front line and both sides quickly began to try to use this gap to outflank one another. In the ensuing "race to the sea", the two sides repeatedly clashed, each trying to push forward and threaten the end of the other's line. By November, there was a continuous front line running from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier. The action was swift and both sides were determined.

But, in December something unexpected happened: An unofficial truce involving about 100,000 British and German troops along the length of that front. The reason?  Christmas.  It began on Christmas Eve when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium. The Germans began by placing candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. The British responded by singing carols of their own. The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were excursions across the 'No Man's Land, where small gifts were exchanged, such as food, tobacco and alcohol, and souvenirs such as buttons and hats. The artillery in the region fell silent that night. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently-fallen soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Joint services were held. In many sectors, the truce lasted through Christmas night, but it continued until New Year's Day in others.

Ironically, just days before Christmas a group of 101 British women suffragists wrote a letter to the women of Germany and Austria. Under the heading "On Earth Peace, Goodwill towards Men, the letter said, "The Christmas message sounds like mockery to a world at war. Is it not our mission to preserve life? 

The next Christmas, the two sides again observed an unofficial cease fire at the front but it was not as successful, thanks to strongly-worded orders from the high commands of both sides prohibiting such fraternization.

My prayer is that one day we will have peace on earth...

"May Christmas hasten that day."

The Christmas Story (Luke 2:1-14, KJV)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Season of Legends: Lindle Castle and Sid Scott

The summer before my senior year in high school, I was confronted with a choice: sit on a bleacher beside a legendary broadcster or sit on a bleacher beside a legendary coach. While that might seem like a hard decision to you, radio was in my blood. I had just gotten my Radiotelephone Third Class license with Broadcast Endorsement on August 4, 1976. I knew that my destiny wasn't to play for the Kentucky Wildcats or star in the NBA. It was to be a radio disc jockey. I was, after all, born into it. I explained to the coach that my heart was in radio. 40 years later, it still is.

I was blessed to have grown up in an era that included both Lindle Castle and Sid Scott. Before starring at Morehead State University, Castle had started on a University of Kentucky freshman team that included future NBA hall of famers, Cliff Hagan and Frank Ramsey, and future NBAer, Lou Tsioropoulos. A few short years later, Scott made a name for himself as one of the all-time great pivot players at Clinton County High School.

When I was born in November of 1959, both were just beginning their careers. Lindle Castle began coaching at Clinton County at the start of the 1957-58 season. Sid Scott began doing play-play-play at the start of the 1958-59 season. This is the environment I grew up around. I would sit on the stage in the old gym and watch the coach, while up in the balcony the broadcaster did the play-by-play.

I was there the night Coach Castle went out on the floor to speak to a refree, who informed coach that he was going to give him a technical foul for every step it took to get back to the bench. I watched as two players picked him up and carried him to the bench.

I was there the night referee Wilson Sears stopped the game and ordered Sid to move up a few bleachers away from court because of something Sid said to him. I was there the night Sid, who was mayor, ordered a city police officer to arrest referee Phil Burkeen if we lost the game. Thankfully, we won.

I was there the night coach accidentally broke Sid's little finger. He had come to our booth to bang his fist on the desk. I saw him coming and leaned back with my clipboard. Sid didn't see him coming. The pencil he was holding disappeared in the air. I was able to turn Sid's microphone down so listeners didn't hear what he said when he screamed.

By the time I had grown into my early teens, both Castle and Scott were starting to achieve their legendary status. Life was great.

And, we know that all good things must come to an end. Things we enjoy, things we find comforting, things we love, things we embrace; even a legendary basketball coach and a legendary radio broadcaster.

"To everything there is a season..."

I spent a good long season enjoying those two. I wanted it to last my entire lifetime, but God had other plans.

Sometimes when one chapter closes, it really closes. Lindle Castle died 50 weeks after Sid Scott died.

"Legends"

Meanwhile, back at CCHS, the first one has his name on the gym and the second one has his name on the floor.

WE ARE BULLDOGS!