Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Friend Conner

I almost giggled outloud when he demanded that I give him a drink of my orange Gatorade.

"Not today," I replied, and I took another sip.

"Why not," he asked?

"Because it's mine, I snapped back, and then took another drink.

As he stood on-deck waiting his turn to bat during the 9 and 10-year-old all-star team's baseball practice, I watched him watch me take drink after drink after drink. I was doing it on purpose. He was thirsty. His eyes were pleading for me to help him.

He said, "You run the radio station, don't you?"

"Yes!" I replied.

He snarled at me and said "I never listen and never will!"

I said, "I'm not going to watch you bat, either!"

He was speechless and turned to look toward the playing field, as if I had hurt his feelings. He did not speak.

Finally, I broke the silence by asking him if he wanted a Gatorade.

"Yes.....no, yes, no.......yes," he said.

I reached inside the cooler, grabbed the Gatorade and tossed it over the fence to him. He said he could catch it, but it ony fell to the ground.

He reached down and picked it up. Wiping away the dirt, he said, "Was this your last one?"

I lied and said no.

He took a drink and then walked toward the batters box.

As I watched him bat, my mind went back to last summer when I emceed the girls district softball tournament. Conner sat beside me, watching his 'older-than-him' girlfriend play. I discovered that if I bought him something too, he would go to the concession stand for me anytime I asked. It was a pretty good arrangement. Just as his girlfriend's game ended, he leaped to his feet and shouted, "I'm outta here!" I said, "Where ya going?" Slapping me on the shoulder like I should already know the answer, he said, "Duh, I'm going to my girlfriend's house to go swimming!"

"She's a lot older than you," I suggested.

"I'm a chick magnet," he replied.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Missing Dad

Dad passed away six years ago today. I miss him. Not many days go by that I do not think about him.

We little knew that afternoon
That God would call your name
In life we loved you dearly
In death we do the same
It broke our hearts to lose you
But you did not go alone
For part of us went with you
The Day God called you home
You left us beautiful memories
Your love is still our guide
And although we cannot see you
You are always by our side
Our family chain is broken
And nothing seems the same
But as God calls us one by one
The chain will link again

Monday, June 22, 2009

People Have More Fun Than Anyone

I saw a wrestling poster the other day. This certain organization came to the area from someplace else. The wrestlers were from someplace else. The main event was a "Loser Leaves Town" match.

That reminds me of something that happened a few years ago when I took my niece to the local you know where. While there, she wanted an Icee. When we walked up to the snack bar, there was a sign on the back wall that read...

"Hotdogs 50 cents or...2 for $1.00."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Pinch Hitter

Bill Kidd played center for the University of Louisville and the school's legendary coach Bernard 'Peck' Hickman. After graduating from college, he entered the Army, where he was a star player on the Fort Knox team.

After the Army, Kidd began a coaching career, which led him to Clinton County High School, where he coached both basketball and baseball. Bill Kidd was the first coach at Clinton County to take both the basketball and baseball teams to the regional tournament in the same year. Just like his coach at the University of Louisville, the legendary Peck Hickman, Kidd was a strict disciplinarian, who never used profanity of any kind, and did not allow his players to use any. In fact, his players did not use words of any kind, because Coach Kidd required complete silence during practice, while traveling to games and during games.

What is it that makes a man forgo everything he believes in just to get himself out of a bind? Is the desire to win so strong that a man will rise above his principals for the sake of one single victory? I guess it all depends on how important that one game is. Obviously, whomever said winning isn't everything never won.

The year was 1955. The district baseball tournament that year was being played at Tompkinsville. The old Clinton County School Bus had just passed Marrowbone heading west on Highway 35. Little did anyone know that things were about to change for a couple of players on the bus -- Sid Scott and my dad, Darrell Speck.

Now, Sid was one of the best athletes to ever come from Clinton County. He is a Clinton County High School Wall of Famer. He was once named as one of the top five basketball players ever at CCHS. To say that Sid and his childhood friend, Darrell Speck, were rambunctious would be putting it mildly. Teacher Martha Brummett, who taught school for more than 30 years, said they were the meanest students she ever taught. Sid and Darrell weren't really mean, they just loved to entertain. Darrell would bring his guitar to school and the two of them, along with Deanie Dyer, would go from classroom to classroom entertaining. Sid loved to sing Hank Williams' songs.

Your cheating heart will make you weep
You'll cry and cry and try to sleep
But sleep won't come the whole night through
Your cheating heart will tell on you

Sid and Darrell would be driving down a road at a speed way past the legal limit and would change drivers without slowing down, and not from inside the car, but out the passenger door, over the hood and in through the drivers side door.

They were hanging out at The Snack Bar at three in the morning when up pulled a man with a truck load of chickens. As the man went inside to eat, Sid, Darrell and Robert Page went outside and were attempting to 'borrow' some chickens when the man caught them. He told them that he would give each of them a chicken if they didn't tear up his truck. Soon, the three boys were standing in the parking lot wringing those chickens' necks. One of them accidentally let go of their chicken and it went sailing across the intersection and into the parking lot of the New Palace Motel. It wasn't long before they were sitting inside The Snack Bar eating fried chicken.

Darrell's dream was to be a singer and a musician. In 1954, his band, The Rebel Rousers, had a 15 minute radio show every Saturday morning on WAIN in Columbia, In 1955, the group took their act to the area's brand new radio station, WFLW in Monticello. Sid would accompany Darrell and his band to the radio station. He became acquainted with station manager Welby Hoover, just like Darrell had, and later in 1955, when Darrell decided to quit school and join the Navy, a position came open and Sid was hired as a disc jockey at WFLW. When Darrell returned two years later, it was so the two could help put WANY on the air.

Before they reached their 20th birthdays, both Sid and Darrell had become extremely popular. Both men continued to broadcast and entertain for over 30 years and became two of the regions best known broadcasters and entertainers. But, it was on that Clinton County School bus on that day in May of 1955 that their talking and entertaining got them into a whole heap of trouble.

As I stated earlier, Coach Kidd did not allow talking on the bus while traveling to a game. Just past Marrowbone, Sid and Darrell broke the silence and began talking. If they thought they would get by with it, they were wrong. Coach Kidd stopped the bus near Fountain Run and ordered the two boys off the bus. Fortunately for them, a fan who was traveling to the game stopped and gave them a ride. They took a shortcut to Tompkinsville, pulled up at an intersection the same time the bus did, turned in front of the bus and beat Coach Kidd to the baseball field. The coach was furious. He ordered Sid and Darrell to sit in the stands and watch the game as spectators, instead of allowing them to be on the field as players.

But then something happened to Coach Kidd. Something about him changed. It was something so obvious that it was probably talked about for a long time. It was the fourth inning and there was a runner on base. The Bulldogs were down one and a weak hitter was headed to the plate. Suddenly, Coach Kidd called time-out. He walked over to the stands and motioned for Sid to come to him. And, standing there silently before the coach, Sid was ordered to come out on the field and pinch hit.

What is it about a pinch hitter that is so special? Usually, a pinch hitter is the best hitter on the team that is NOT in the game at the time he's called to bat.

Someone wrote that each time a pinch hitter walks to the plate, for a brief moment, a split second, he sees a vision. A crane flies slowly over a dusty road, over a line of birch trees, over a bog, and swoops downwards to a vast lake, the sun nearly blinding. The image just visits him whether he wants it to or not. Then he takes a practice swing, and is ready. After the pinch hitter has made the big hit to score the run, he stands on second, hands on hips. The runner points at him, an acknowledgement of success. The crane stands knee-deep in water, feeling the cool water lap around him.

Without saying a word, Sid grabbed a bat and walked toward the batters box in street shoes and clothes. When the first pitch was thrown, he smacked a line drive deep into the outfield. The runner scored to tie the game.

The May 19, 1955 edition of the Clinton County News stated that Clinton County defeated Austin Tracy 4 to 2 in the opening game of the tournament and that Sid Scott got a pinch hit in the fourth inning to tie the game. The Bulldogs defeated Glasgow in the second game to win the tournament. It was the school's first ever district baseball tournament championship.

48 years later, almost to the day, I called Sid at home to tell him that dad had slipped into a coma and was dying. Both had been retired for several years and hadn't seen much of each other, but on that Sunday afternoon, Sid sat beside dad's bed and, as he held the hand of his now lifelong friend, he assured dad that it was okay for him to go on to his reward in heaven. I'm glad I was there to witness that. I kinda wish Coach Kidd had seen that, too.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Max Roach Gear Found In Byrdstown

How did near priceless equipment belonging to a man considered to be the father of modern jazz druming end up in a barn in nearby Byrdstown, Tennessee?

Max Roach was a legend who hung out with other legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington, to name a few.

When he died two years ago at the age of 83, Roach had a long list of musical accomplishments and a lot of 1940s- and 1950s-era equipment he kept in storage in New York.

Family members said a year or so ago, a business associate stole much of Roach's equipment. Recently, a tip led New York authorities to a barn in Byrdstown, where they recovered all of the nearly priceless instruments.

Special crates are being made to ship the equipment Monday to New York City.

The Pickett County sheriff said he was acting on a judgment issued from a New York court when he assisted in retrieving the equipment.

No one was arrested.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Have Been Blessed

When He walks among us
All that He does
All of His mercy
And all of His love
If the pen of a writer could write every day
Even this world could never contain
How I've been blessed

Warmth in the winter
Flowers in spring
The laughter of summer
The changing of leaves
Food on my table
A good place to sleep
Clothes on my back
And shoes on my feet
I have been blessed

I have been blessed
God's so good to me
Precious are His thoughts
Of you and me
No way I could count them
There's not enough time
So I'll just thank Him
For being so kind
God had been good, so good
I have been blessed

Arms that will raise
A voice that can talk
Hands that can touch
Legs that can walk
Ears that can listen
Eyes that can see
I want to praise Him
As long as I breathe
I have been blessed

Mother and father
Nurtured and raised
Sisters and brothers
Memories made
Our pastor to lead us
This altar to pray
The stripes that can heal
The blood that still saves
I have been blessed

I have been blessed
God's so good to me
Precious are His thoughts
Of you and me
No way I could count them
There's not enough time
So I'll just thank Him
For being so kind
God had been good, so good
I have been blessed

We live in a country
The greatest on earth
Her flag stands for freedom
And what it's worth
She stands in the harbor
Miss Liberty calls
All have given some
But some gave it all
So we can be blessed

He's a shoulder to lean on
When I am down
The Rock where He leads me
When I'm overwhelmed
The place where He hides me
Under His wing
He's not just a song
He's the reason I sing
I have been blessed

I have been blessed
God's so good to me
Precious are His thoughts
Of you and me
No way I could count them
There's not enough time
So I'll just thank Him
For being so kind
God had been good, so good
I have been blessed

God has been good
So good
I have been blessed

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Kids and Old Faithful

Isn't today's technology amazing? Last week my children vacationed at Yellowstone National Park. One day, my brother Mark sent Marina a text message asking how they were doing, etc. She told him they had just arrived at the Old Faithful Geyser. Being curious, Mark ran a search on the popular tourist attraction and discovered a website which features a live webcam showing the Old Faithful Geyser. He forwarded the link to me and it was only a matter of minutes before I saw what I thought was J.D. and Marina. The webcam shot was from behind and they were wearing yellow raincoats with the hoods up, so I was not totally sure. Just in case, I snapped a photo of my screen. Later, as I was talking to J.D. on the phone, I mentioned the incident and he confirmed they were wearing yellow rain coats. When he arrived back home, I showed the photo to him and it was indeed my J.D. and Marina.

Here is the photo that I took of J.D. and Marina 1,700 miles away at the Old Faithful Geyser at Yellowstone National Park. Notice J.D and Marina standing in the far left corner. Elijah is standing in front of them. The webcam updates every 30 seconds.

You can view the live webcam yourself by click here: Old Faithful

Monday, June 8, 2009

I am Hooked on Farm Town

I was traveling along Kentucky Highway 90 yesterday when, just south of Beaumont, I happened upon a small plowed field. I slammed on the brake and slowed down long enough to imagine I was standing in the middle of that plot of ground planting grapes!

Someone please help me!

Okay, so what I REALLY wanted to type was...

"Someone please help me make more money!"

I admit Farm Town has a hold on me and it won't let go! Or, I won't let go. Is there a 12-step (acre) program for Farm Town addicts?

Farm Town is a product of Facebook. Over the past few weeks, the program has jumped in traffic to become one of the top Facebook applications. 50 percent of those visitors keep coming back every single day.

Coming back?


At Farm Town, users are given their own farm in which they can plow their fields, plant seeds, harvest crops (to sell), raise animals, and essentially build an entire farm from scratch.

If you want to know know when your crops are ready for harvesting you can turn on email alerts to get notified. It takes 'needing' to go online to check your e-mail to a whole new level, trust me.

Farmtown is a basic virtual where users can interact with other users in real-time. Want to hire some helping hands for your farm? Go to the marketplace to find some people who can help. You also go there to get a job. I have been known to stand in the midst of others at the Marketplace for long periods of time and beg for someone to hire me to harvest their field!

I know what's going to happen. I am going to be live on the air during the Trading Post, and someone is going to call in and say they need help on their farm and I'm going to scream...


Normally, on any other topic, I would post a link relating to the subject of my post, but not this time. I could not bear it if I caused one of my dear readers to go down the wrong 'path' and become addicted to Farm Town. As a matter of fact, if you are on Facebook and come upon an invitation to join Farm Town, quickly unplug your computer from the wall and RUN!

But....if, by chance you do play Farm Town, I could use a silo, a barn, a bigger house and a pond.

I just thought I would throw that little piece of information in for good measure.

"We're all hi-tech rednecks," said a friend of mine! We spend all our time farming online!"

If there isn't a Farm Town Anonymous. There will be soon!


Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Real Soldier

I heard President Obama talk about righting wrongs. On this anniversary of D-Day, I know of one wrong the President can right: Award a Medal of Honor posthumously to First Lieutenant Murl Conner.

On January 8, 2003, Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield introduced H.R. 327 in the 108th Congress, authorizing the President to award a Medal of Honor posthumously to Lieutenant Conner. It's yet to be done.

Murl was a native of Clinton County, who served with distinction and valor in the United States Army during World War II. He is Kentucky's most decorated war hero, who served on the front lines for over eight hundred days in eight major campaigns. He was wounded seven times but returned to combat and continued to fight on the front lines after each wound.

On January 24, 1945 at 0800 hours, near Houssen, France, Lt. Murl Conner ran 400 yards, through the impact area of an intense concentration of enemy artillery fire, to direct friendly artillery on a force of six Mark VI tanks and tank destroyers, followed by 600 fanatical German infantrymen, which was assaulting in full fury the spearhead position held by his battalion. Along the way, he unreeled a spool of telephone wire, disregarded shells which exploded 25 yards from him and set up an observation post which he manned for more than three hours during the intense fighting. He was individually credited with stopping more than 150 Germans, destroying all the tanks and completely disintegrating the powerful enemy assault force and preventing heavy loss of life in his own outfit.

Murl Conner served in the same 3rd Infantry Division as Audie L. Murphy, recognized as America's most decorated hero of all wars. But, comparing Murphy's record, Lieutenant Conner was awarded more Silver Stars for acts of valor, fought in more campaigns, served on the front lines longer, and was wounded more times. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart with six Oak Leaf Clusters, among other medals. On June 20, 1945, Lieutenant Conner was awarded the Croix de Guerre, the French Medal of Honor, which was also awarded to Sergeant Alvin C. York, America's most decorated World War I soldier, who was a friend of Lieutenant Conner and lived a few miles from Lieutenant Conner's home on the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

Before he died, the late Major General Lloyd B. Ramsey, who was Lieutenant Conner's battalion commander during combat in World War II, signed the necessary documents for awarding the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Conner. After Conner was discharged, the major general wrote
"I just sent one of my officers home. He was my S-2 (Intelligence Officer), Lt. Garlin M. Conner, who is from Aaron, Kentucky. I'm really proud of Lt. Conner. He probably will call you and, if he does, he may not sound like a soldier, will sound like any good old country boy, but, to my way of seeing, he's one of the outstanding soldiers of this war, if not THE outstanding...I've never seen a man with as much courage and ability as he has. I usually don't brag much on my officers but, this is one officer nobody could brag enough about and do him justice. He's a real soldier."
Murl was never awarded the Medal of Honor due to an oversight and failure to process the paperwork. The Medal of Honor would give Murl one more award than Audie Murphy, thus making HIM America's most decorated hero of all wars. Right this wrong, Mr. President. It's long overdue. Honor and recognize Lieutenant Garlin Murl Conner for what he is -- one of the great combat heroes of World War II.

Award the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Garlin Murl Conner....a real soldier.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Sweet Little Word

It's Friday. My day started off slow at first, but when I arrived at work and signed into Facebook, things began to change.

The first thing I saw on my Facebook page was a note by my friend, Charley Neal. You see a lot of her photography work in my stories. No only is she a great photographer, she's an exceptional person.

This morning, she wrote, "Friday is such a sweet little word." For someone who doesn't have to work weekends, I say 'thanks for that simple reminder Charley Neal.'

By the way....Photo by Charley Neal.

Then, I scrolled down a bit further and saw an awesome new photo of my dear friend, Kelly -- a GREAT way to start my day! There was a second photo of Kelly and her brand new nephew, Colter Boone, whom she is truly, and very understandably, obsessed with. Hanging out in 'Boonetown' has become her most favorite thing to do!

As I left Kelly and her new photos, I scrolled down and found a message by my new friend, Robin Milby. The words he had written were powerful. Talking about Jesus coming down from Heaven to live on earth, he said, "He could have come down and ridden in chariots. He was the ultimate King, you know. He could have chosen Pharisees and scribes to be His disciples. He chose fishermen. He chose the common man. He chose you. He came down and lived among ordinary men, and He Himself wore no robes or crowns."

After I read that, I thought about how He could not have come at all, but God saw ME. I don't understand why I should matter, knowing me as I do, but I just know that because He did, the least I can do is serve Him!

And then, on my radio station, came this song:

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand.

Than to be a king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway,
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

Bev Shea left the words to this 1922 poem by Rhea Miller on her sons piano bench. She wanted him to find it, read it and then set it to music, and hopefully change the course of his life. It worked. George Beverly Shea sang the song at Church the following day, and then he sang it around the world the rest of his life.

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs,
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.

I have been missing the kids being gone all week (with another week still to go through). I needed this start to my day today.

Friday really is a sweet little word!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sleep Walk

I really like this song that was released in 1959, the year I was born. They say Alan Freed wore this record out on his radio show.

Musically, the 1950's was more than just shake, rattle and roll. There was calm and there was controversy. There was a new rage, and there was an outrage. The decade started off a lot more innocent than it ended.

It was no coincidence this tune by Santo & Johnny came at the end of the decade. There were a lot of other great instrumental tracks recorded and released during the 1950's, but Sleep Walk was something special. It was magical.

Why was Sleep Walk so popular? I think the song's dreamy melody gave folks good reason to stop and reflect on the decade -- of what had been to what now was. It reflected a calm after the storm, a new beginning, and for some...a lost cause.

I would love to know why Alan Freed played the song so much. He introduced a new music that caused a pretty big uproar. Then, at the close of the decade he's found playing Sleep Walk over and over and over. Was he perhaps reflecting on what he had endured? Probably. Then again, maybe he was just spinning a great record he had fallen in love with.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Big D and the Cumberland Mountain Boy

Elmer Goodman was born on June 3rd, 1925. Not only was I his long-time co-worker, I was also his long-time friend, and he was mine. I guess the biggest thing to me is that I was also a fan. From a young man right up to the day he died, the Cumberland Mountain Boy stayed faithful and true to his favorite form of art - bluegrass and bluegrass gospel music. I learned at an early age to appreciate and respect him for that. I am thankful that God allowed me to live at the same time as Elmer Goodman, and that I had a chance to know and love him dearly.

Big D, my dad - Darrell Speck, was born on June 4th, 1938. I have always heard that you never realize just how much you miss someone until they are gone. I miss my dad.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Vacatin' in Montana, Day 3

Seems like day 300.

Just spoke with Marina. The kids went hiking today - with no guide - and saw a LARGE bear. They are 1,700 miles away. That makes me feel a lot better!


God's Chisel

HE holds ME up!!!!

Child Murder Update

My story, When Will It End, which I posted this morning, was featured on The Rural Blog this afternoon. The Rural Blog is from Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based at the University of Kentucky. Many thanks to the institute's director, Al Cross.

Update from WKYM.com
The 14 year old mother of the 20 month old child who is charged with murder and manufacturing methamphetamine will appear in Juvenile Court Tuesday, June 2nd for a detention hearing. On Wednesday, June 3rd – she will make a second appearance in Juvenile Court – as the Cabinet in Somerset has filed for custody of her. Wednesday’s appearance regarding a removal hearing.

The child's father, 19 year old Bryan Daniels who is also charged with murder and manufacturing methamphetamine … along with Danny Anderson II, James Hunt, Alisha Dicken and Wesley Bell – who are all charged with manufacturing methamphetamine will make their first court appearances Monday, June 8th.

Preliminary autopsy results indicate the 20 month old child ingested a chemical liquid used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine which resulted in his death just before midnight Saturday, May 30th.

An investigation by the State Police and numerous other agencies at two separate residences on Boston Hill Road in Monticello led to the six arrests.

When will it end...

She had a baby when she was barely 13...

He would have been 2 in July.

Saturday night, he drank a liquid chemical used in the making of


and he died.

She is 14 now, and charged with murder,

same as the 19 year old father.

Why hasn't this been fixed?

It's my fault....

I haven't demanded it be fixed.

Have you?

Tonight, we will sleep safe and snug in our bed

while this drug problem rages on,

and it is because I haven't screamed STOP! loud enough

and neither have you.

Today, my heart is heavy.
I hope yours is, too.

Maybe the two of us will start to yell loud now.

When the children cry let them know we tried
'cause when the children sing then the new world begins.

What have we become...

just look what we have done.

God PLEASE help us.

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...