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Earl Pierce Was An Icon

What is the measure of a man? Kindness? Love? Understanding? Cooperation? Commitment? Integrity? Is it what he has accomplished with the opportunities given? After all, its been said that a man is the captain of his own ship.

Actor Sidney Poitier wrote the measure of a man is in how he provided for his children. This story is about a man that many of us knew and admired. Through my early teenage years and into early adulthood, we all watched Earl Pierce provide for his wife and children; how he held down three jobs through most of those years. His mornings began with his school bus route. Us Speck kids (my niece, Johnna, included) only had one bus driver our entire school life, and that was Earl the Pearl, as we affectionately called him.

After his morning route, he drove a taxi up until it was time to take the school children back home. After a short break at home, he would leave his family and go to work overnight at Harvey Qualls' gas station, where Advance Auto is n…
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Miracles and Wonders

"Miracles"

In 2009, my son, J.D., came back from an outing with his nana with a pair of steel-toed boots. I wondered aloud why and he simply said he had always wanted a pair. "Well, I suppose that's a good enough reason," I said. And then, the very next morning, the real reason showed up.

I dropped the boys off at school and after J.D. had exited the car from the backseat, I slowly began to pull away from the curb. I had no sooner began to do that when suddenly the back door opened. I applied the brake and before telling me that he had forgotten his baseball practice gear, J.D. very calmly said, "Pull up!" When I asked why, he said - again very calmly - "Pull up Dad, the tire's on my foot!" I panicked, of course, but he just laughed and said, "It's okay, I wore my steel-toed boots this morning!" 

J.D.'s size 12 foot could have easily been broken or crushed had it not been for those steel-toed boots he just brought …

Alvin C. York Was a Hero

Friday marked the 100th anniversary (April 6, 1917) of the day the United States joined its allies to fight in the war to end all wars.

Alvin York of Pall Mall, one of the biggest heroes of World War I, registered for the draft two months later.

York was a pacifist who asked to become a conscientious objector. The National Archives kept his draft registration form. The 12th line on the form asked: "Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)" was the question on line 12 of the draft registration form?

The 29-year-old, a devoted churchgoer, responded: "Yes. Don't want to fight."

But, five months later, he was drafted, refusing to sign the documents that would have released him from military service. He wrote in his diary that both his company and battalion commanders persuaded him to fight, citing several Biblical passages about morality in war.

He ended up serving with his unit in the St. Mihiel offensive in northeastern France in September 191…

The Tornado at Beaty Swamps

Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, May 10, 1933, Beatty Swamps, TN ( also known as Bethsaida), a small rural community located in Overton County, Tennessee, approximately 6.7 miles from Livingston, was struck by an F4 tornado that completely devastated the community. The funnel, anywhere from one-half to three-quarters of a mile wide, destroyed every home in the community, and killed or injured virtually every single resident. Much of the area was swept clean of debris. This is the second deadliest tornado ever to strike Middle Tennessee.

There have been tornadoes that have gained greater notoriety, such as the Super Outbreak of April 3, 1974, but never has a tornado affected a community as completely as the one that struck Beatty Swamps.

According to the National Weather Service, it had been a humid evening in the rural Cumberland Plateau community. In nearby Allardt, the temperature that Tuesday afternoon had climaxed at 82 degrees, a warmer-than-normal reading for early May. …

Not Guilty!

After WWII, Roy Brummett was justice of the peace in Albany, Kentucky and Granville Smith was County attorney. A defendant came up one day before Squire Brummett on a charge of breach of the peace. After some conflicting testimony, the man finally entered a plea of guilty. The jury retired, deliberated briefly, then came back with a verdict of not guilty. "You can't do that," pleaded the County attorney. "This man pleaded guilty!" "We know it," replied Arthur Staton, the jury foreman, "but he's such a liar, we didn't believe a word he said!"

Love's Swift Kick

President Theodore Roosevelt once said "no man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his body, to risk his well-being, to risk his life, in a great cause.'

This is a Valentine's Day story about the time my then six-year-old son, Elijah, went the distance for love. I can't say it was his first love, but as you will come to realize, it will no doubt forever be one of his most memorable. 

President Roosevelt's slogan was "speak softly and carry a big stick." Perhaps Elijah should have carried a big stick during his first grade year at school. I remember well the day he came home and announced that he had a girlfriend and then a few weeks later when he said, "I tried to break up her dad, but she kicked me in the shin, so I decided to stay with her."  He pulled up his pant leg and showed me the bruise.  I guess he thought it is better to be unhappy than to have a bruised shin,' as his first grade "courtship" with th…

Protecting and Preserving The Peace During The Civil War Was A Family Affair

"Tinker Dave Beaty was born 200 years ago this Feb. 19th, in 1817. During the civil war, he formed a company, known as Independent Scouts, to protect the residents of Poplar and Buffalo coves in Fentress County, then Overton County, from Confederate Guerillas and troops, who were raiding the local population. This company, which sometimes consisted of as many as one hundred men, was officially recognized by the federal government and received into the service of the Union army on January 5, 1862.

The Independent Scouts' job was to act as scouts and combat Confederate guerrillas who came through their area. They were not paid, which by definition made them guerillas, but were supplied with arms and ammunition by the Federal authorities. Each man was required to furnish his own horse and equipment.

For me, David Beaty's Independent Scouts was a family affair. Tinker Dave's father, George, was my 4th great-grandfather. His sister, Matilda, married John Boles, a for…