Sunday, December 24, 2017

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. 

God bless you all and may each of you have a blessed Christmas!

"It Could Happen Again"

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Invention of the LP

The long-playing microgroove 33-1/3 rpm phonograph disc, the standard for incorporating multiple or lengthy recorded works on a single disc for two generations, was developed in 1945 by German-Hungarian engineer Dr. Peter Carl Goldmark. The LP was introduced by Columbia's future president, Goddard Lieberson, in 1948. Goldmark's vinyl long-playing records remained the standard in the music industry until the compact disc replaced vinyl in the late 1980s.

For the compact disc-age person, the LP was an analog sound storage medium, a vinyl record format, characterized by a speed of  33 1/3 rpm, a 12 or 10-inch diameter, and use of the "microgroove" groove specification.

At the time the LP was introduced, nearly all phonograph records for home use were made of an abrasive shellac compound, employed a much larger groove, and played at approximately 78 rpm, limiting the playing time of a 12-inch diameter record to less than five minutes per side. The new product was a fine-grooved disc made of vinyl. Originally 23 minutes per side, it was later increased by several minutes.

Although the LP was suited to classical music because of its extended continuous playing time, it also allowed a collection of ten or more pop music recordings to be put on a single disc. Previously, such collections, as well as longer classical music broken up into several parts, had been sold as sets of 78 rpm records in a specially imprinted "record album" consisting of individual record sleeves bound together in book form. The use of the word "album" persisted for the one-disc LP equivalent.

Today, technology is at an all-time high. In so many ways, sound technology is great and the way we listen to music is great. Now, there is digital audio tape (DAT), digital audio broadcasting, HD Radio tuners, which can be connected together with fibre optic TOSLINK cables, universal serial bus (USB) ports (including one to play digital audio files), or the awesome technology known as Wi-Fi, Blu-Ray and Bluetooth. Another modern component is the music server consisting of one or more computer hard drives that hold music in the form of computer files where the music is stored in an audio file. The computer playback of recorded audio can serve as an audiophile-quality source for a hi-fi system.

Some people who were around during the vinyl era appreciate where sound technology has gone. Some of us also moss the vinyl days.

Dr. Peter Carl Goldmark was born in Budapest on December 2, 1906. He died on December 7, 1977 at Port Chester, New York.

Disc Jockey Fired For Playing Elvis Presley's White Christmas

Disc Jockey Al Priddy of radio station KEX in Portland was fired on this day in 1957 after playing Elvis Presley's version of 'White Christmas.' The station management said, 'it's not in the spirit we associate with Christmas.'

The Bing Crosby holiday perennial song, which had appeared every year on the Billboard charts since 1942, became the center of controversy upon "Elvis' Christmas Album's" release, with calls by the song's composer Irving Berlin to have the song, and the entire album, banned from radio airplay. After hearing Presley's version of his song, which Berlin saw as a "profane parody of his cherished yuletide standard," he ordered his staff in New York to telephone radio stations across the United States, demanding the song be discontinued from radio play. Most stations ignored Berlin's request.

The controversy was fueled by Elvis' performance of the song in a style mirroring the version by Clyde McPhatter's group, The Drifters, which had been a Top 10 hit on the R&B singles chart in 1954 and 1955. Unlike Elvis' recording, however, their version attracted virtually no adverse reaction, and certainly no reported opposition from Irving Berlin. Part of the reason that The Drifters' version of "White Christmas" was less controversial was because that version was played only on black radio stations.

In reality though, Berlin looked at Elvis' version of his song as a kind of sacrilege, a reaction born out of a personal tragedy that was the heart and soul of the song. In Berlin's eyes, there was good reason "White Christmas" was meant to be performed very melancholy, bluesy if you will, the way Crosby sang it, and not in the typical festive Christmas tune formula.

Irving Berlin’s 3-week-old son, Irving Berlin Jr., died on Christmas Day in 1928, and every Christmas after, he and his wife would visit their baby boy’s grave. Perhaps, Berlin's writing of the song, which in all honesty echoes many peoples' feelings over the holiday season, was his deep response to his feelings about the death of his son.

As Jody Rosen, author of White Christmas: The Story of an American Song, said, "it’s pretty poignant and special that a song born out of such grief and loss would become one of the world’s all-time best-selling and most widely recorded songs ever– of all genres, not just holiday songs."

At the end of the day, you have to imagine that Berlin was comforted in some measure by the royalty payments Elvis' version sent his way. According to the most recent record album certifications, the holiday album title that has shipped the most copies in the United States is "Elvis' Christmas Album," which is certified by the RIAA for shipment of 16 million copies in the U.S. (3 million copies of the original 1957 release on RCA Victor Records, plus 10 million copies of a "budget" edition first released by RCA Camden in 1970 and then by Pickwick Records in 1975, and 3 million of a RCA reissue titled "It's Christmas Time," released in 1985.

For the record, Elvis Presley did reach out and extend an olive branch to Irving Berlin, which was rejected. Elvis sent an autographed photo to Berlin as a sort of peace offering– “To Mr. Irving Berlin with respect and admiration, Sincerely Elvis Presley.” 

Friday, November 17, 2017

My Trials Are God's Mercies

We each have periods in our lives where we wonder, "Where are you God?" But, it is during these times that, if we seek Him, we can allow our spiritual roots to grow deeper and closer to Him.

During the struggles and trials which I have endured in my life, I found myself clinging to His garment. I realized later that my trials were disguised as His mercies. What if that's really what trials and tribulations are all about?

God loves me!


And, that helps me endure.

His strength is perfect and it is all that I need.

"Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted." Isaiah 49:13

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Police Officer Who Had Arrested Bootleggers Murdered in 1914

Police officer Robert T. Thurman was murdered just after midnight on September 18, 1914 on West Main street in Glasgow, Kentucky, about a half block from the Courthouse Square. Parties were reportedly drunk and disorderly and Thurman had received a telephone message to go to North Glasgow and make an arrest. He was returning with two prisoners when he fell to the ground after being shot just below his heart. Before making their escape, the two prisoners were seen kicking and cursing Thurman as he lay on the ground. The shots aroused citizens, who found the officer and carried him to the Murrell Hotel, where he died a few minutes later.

Nothing in the history of Glasgow had so aroused the people as the murder of Robert Thurman. The 37-year-old former marshall of Burkesville and Edmonton, Kentucky had killed two or three men, but was always acquitted on the grounds of self-defense. He had shot and killed Bud McCandless in Edmonton, who had killed Judge George H. Pierce, one of the prominent men of Metcalfe county.

More than one year earlier, bootlegging had. become so open in Glasgow that something drastic had to be done. The City Council hired Thurman with the understanding that he would try to arrest every violator of the law. Within a few weeks he had arrested 25 bootleggers, which naturally made him many enemies. He was offered large sums of money to leave, but had refused to. Threats of killing him were frequently heard, but Thurman, described as a man without fear, had paid no attention them. A few months prior to his murder, an attempt to assassinate him had failed because Thurman did not fall for a trap that had been set.

During the inquiry, there was sufficient evidence to suppory the arrest of Milton Mansfield, a young man well-known around town, and Louie Pace, a printer in the Glasgow Times office. According to the online "Officer Down Memorial Page," both men were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Thurman, a widower and father two children, was to have been re-married in a few days. Two thousand people attended the viewing at Jewell’s undertaking establishment. As a matter of fact, the crowd became so great that it became necessary to close the doors. There was equally as large a crowd at the funeral the next day. The most tragic affair ever to occur in Glasgow up to that point had profoundly moved the community.

Thurman, who was born in Clinton County, Kentucky on April 4, 1879, was buried on September 22, 1914 at Thurman Cemetery on Malone Ridge in Clinton County. He was the son of Turner and Elizabeth "Betsy" Riddle Thurman.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Let's Work Together

Songwriter Wilbert Harrison said it best when he wrote "Let's Work Together," which was a hit for him as a singer in 1969, and an even bigger hit the following year for the group Canned Heat.

"Together we stand, divided we fall
Come on now people, let's get on the ball
And work together
Come on, come on let's work together
Now, now people
Because together we will stand
Every boy every girl and a man"

During his commencement address at American University on June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy said,
"Let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."
There is so much strife and indifference in the world right now. Why can't we all just get along?

Come on now people, let's get on the ball and work together!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dick Burnett and Leonard Rutherford

Richard "Dick" Burnett was born near the end of the nineteenth century, on October 8, 1883, in the area around the head of Elk Springs, about seven miles north of Monticello. His father died when he was only four and his mother died when he was twelve.

In his youth, he worked as a logger and wheat thrasher, then a driller and tool dresser in the oil fields. His grandparents were of German and English descent and that ancestral influence was instrumental in forming a musical career for him. By age seven, Burnett was playing the dulcimer; at nine he was playing the banjo and at thirteen he had learned to play the fiddle.

One evening in 1907, Burnett was walking home from his job at a barbershop at Stearns, Kentucky when he was robbed at gunpoint by a railroad tramp. Rather than lose his money, he rushed the robber and was struck in the face by a shotgun blast, leaving him blind. Unable to work at the barbershop, he decided to become a musician to earn money for his wife and small child. He began traveling from town to town playing on the street for nickels and dimes with a tin cup tied to his leg. When he could afford it, he took the train, sometimes he’d walk.

By 1909, he was traveling all over South, entertaining at fairs and schoolhouses, and became known as Blind Dick Burnett and the “Blind Minstrel of Monticello." By 1913, he had earned enough money to publish a book of ballets, a collection of song lyrics written on paper. It included “The Lost Ship” about the Titanic sinking of 1912, “The C & O Railroad,” “The Reckless Hobo,” The Jolly Butchers,” which he claimed sold 4,000 copies, an autobiographical, "Song of the Orphan Boy," which was later recorded but not released, and the semi-autobiographical "Farewell Song," with its opening line "I am a man of constant sorrow." Burnett is credited with writing the song, but never recorded it. The melody was based on an old Baptist hymn, “The Wandering Boy.”

By 1914, Burnett had found a 14 year old boy, Leonard Rutherford, to accompany him on his travels. Rutherford was born in Somerset, Kentucky but lived most of his life in Monticello. When the two first met, Rutherford was learning to play the fiddle. Burnett was willing to teach him if Rutherford would help him get around. It was the start of a 35-year partnership.

As Rutherford improved, it became profitable for the two men to branch out and thus, they began to travel by horse, bus and railroad. Eventually, Burnett bought a car, which Rutherford learned to drive. It allowed them to travel, in Burnett's words, "from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, playing every town this side of Nashville."

In 1926, Columbia's A&R manager Frank Walker was prepared to record more southern musicians, and invited Burnett and Rutherford to a "field recording" session in November at a temporary studio in Atlanta.

At this first session Burnett and Rutherford recorded six sides, which were issued in 1927 as three 78 rpm records and sold very well. The best seller of the three, "Lost John," sold 37,600 copies in three years, an astonishing figure for that market at the time. Profitable as the records were for Columbia, Dick and Leonard received only sixty dollars per side and their expenses. But, Dick Burnett did find a way to profit from their records. He bought many copies wholesale from Columbia and sold them at his performances, just as he had previously sold his ballets and songbooks.

Burnett and Rutherford were invited to the Columbia's next Atlanta sessions in April and November 1927. The ten numbers included Dicks' autobiographical, "Song Of The Orphan Boy," which was not issued, and a version of "Hesitation Blues," "Danville Girl," "All Night Long" and "Wilie Moore."

The next year, dissatisfied with their payment they broke from Columbia and recorded with Gennett Records. This involved travel to the Northern recording studio, but Gennett's base in Richmond, Indiana was more accessible from Kentucky than those of other Northern record companies. Newly partnered with guitarist Byrd Moore, they recorded five sides in October 1928, including "Cumberland Gap" and "Under The Pale Moonlight."

In 1973, Burnett, who was still working as a chair maker at the age of 90, claimed that he and Rutherford initially recorded because a furniture store owner at the Bonnie Blue Coal Camp in Virginia wanted to sell records made by them. They recorded some of the classic sides in old-time music, and their popularity on records kept them recording steadily throughout the 1920's. Their appeal on radio allowed them to broadcast from places like WLW in Cincinnati and the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. They traveled by bus, Model A, and on foot to any place they could and sing. From about 1914 until 1950, the pair became so popular that they found themselves in the company of most all the popular mountain musicians of the time. They were "at home" in the presence of greats like the Carter Family, Charlie Oaks, Arthur Smith and many others.

Burnett and Rutherford's Recording Catalog
1926/11 Lost John, Columbia 15122-D
1926/11 Little Streams Of Whiskey, Columbia 15133-D
1926/11 Weeping Willow Tree, Columbia 15113-D
1926/11 I'll Be With You When The Roses Bloom Again, Columbia 15122-D
1926/11 A Short Life Of Trouble, Columbia 15133-D
1926/11 Pearl Bryan, Columbia 15113-D
1927/04 My Sweetheart In Tennessee, Columbia 15187-D
1927/04 Are You Happy Or Lonesome, Columbia 15187-D
1927/04 Assassination Of J.B. Marcum, Columbia unissued
1927/04 Song Of The Orphan Girl, Columbia unissued
1927/11 Curley Headed Woman, Columbia 15240-D (Hesitation Blues)
1927/11 Ramblin' Reckless Hobo, Columbia 15240-D
1927/11 Willie Moore, Columbia 15314-D
1927/11 All Night Long Blues, Columbia 15314-D
1927/11 Ladies On The Steamboat, Columbia 15209-D
1927/11 Billy In The Low Ground, Columbia 15209-D
1928/10 She Is A Flower From The Fields Of Alabama, Gennett 6688
1928/10 Under The Pale Moonlight, Gennett 6688
1928/10 The Spring Roses, Gennett rejected
1928/10 Cumberland Gap, Gennett 6706
1928/10 Sleeping Lula, Gennett rejected
1928/10 Grandma's Rag, Gennett 6706

In 2003, “Man of Constant Sorrow” was voted the 20th greatest song of all-time in CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music. The song appeared in the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, under the title "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow." Performed by the fictitious Soggy Bottom Boys in the movie, it was recorded by Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen, and Pat Enright. It was a hit in the movie for the Soggy Bottom Boys and later became a hit single in real life. It received a CMA  award for "Single of the Year" and a Grammy Award for "Best Country Collaboration with Vocals" and it peaked at #35 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.

When asked about “Man of Constant Sorrow,” a song he called “The Farewell Song” that appeared in his 1913 songbook, Dick Burnett replied, “It might be my song, I dunno.”

Rutherford died in 1954 from complications related to epilepsy. Burnett died in 1977.

In "Country Music Originals: The Legends and the Lost" by Tony Russell (2007), country music historian Charles Wolfe had a number of opportunities to interview Burnett during his field trips to Kentucky in the 1970's. During once such interview in 1971, Burnett said "There was a man down here in Clinton County where I used to drill for my wife's brothers in the oil fields. I was raised in the mountains a mile and a half from where they was raised and they knowed what a hard time I had had all my life, that I had worked hard all my life. Now i'd go down to Albany to play and there was an old man, Old John Upchurch, lived on the road there, said he wondered what that Dick Burnett was doing ridin' up and down that road so much fur. And, this Mrs. Bennett, friend of mine, said "Why, he's going down there to put on an entertainment. He's a blind man, can't see to work now, he's trying to make a living." And he said, "He never worked when he could see. He never was no 'count, wouldn't give a nickel for the lot." So, she told me about it and I said, "Well, I bet he ain't gonna get away with it none. I'm gonna have it anyhow." He claimed to be religious and he had a barrel of wine in his cellar, and he's go down in there and get so drunk that he couldn't get back upstairs. He'd go to the Davis Chapel (Church) up there and he'd shout and his wife would shout and pray. And, I made a song about it and sung it."

Come all you rounders if you want to hear
Story all about a revival held here
Rounder Windy was the speaker's name
Up in Davis Chapel where he won his game

"I made a long song about it and I sold three hundred of them on song cards, all around him down there, and they'd sing 'em going to milk and goin' to feed and everywhere." In 1975, Rounder Records issued the first album devoted to the work of Burnett and several of his associates, including Leonard Rutherford, entitled "A Ramblin' Reckless Hobo." Acknowledged as a fine poet and songwriter, as well as player, the music of Burnett and Rutherford perfectly captures traditional American music at a point when it began to evolve into what would become commercial country & western music through the advent of phonograph records and radio stations.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

John Tuttle's Diary: The Civil War Comes To Clinton County, Kentucky

Monday, June 17, 1861:
"Went with 15 or 20 to Parmleysville, where I was gladdened by sight of the Star Spangled Banner floating on the breeze. Hon. S. Williams, Secessionist, and Hon. E. L. Van Winkle, Unionist, spoke. I could not rid myself of the idea that those whose views do not coincide with mine on the great question are either fools or traitors.

Saturday, July 27, 1861:
"We arrived at Albany about 10. The first thing we saw upon arriving at the top of the hill overlooking the town were the Stars and Stripes gaily fluttering to the breeze above the tops of the houses. On entering town we met a procession with 34 ladies in front on horseback, one of whom carried a National Banner followed by about 60 cavalry and 500 infantry. They presented quite an imposing appearance. About two thousand persons were in town. After dinner a procession was formed which marched out about a half a mile from town where they were addressed by the Hon. Thos. E. Bramlette in a speech of something more than three hours duration. He made a most thrilling appeal in behalf of the Union and called upon the loyal citizens of Clinton County to join a regiment he is raising for the purpose of aiding the Union men of East Tennessee.

About 30 enlisted in the service under him and 87 cavalry, to compose a part of a regiment destined for the same service, now being raised by Frank Woolford of Casey County. The feeling for the Union here is very strong and the most intense enthusiasm prevails. A Secessionist is not allowed to open his mouth. The people of this county are apprehensive of an invasion by Tennesseans. They have picket guards stationed out at every pass. The alarm was spread about an hour by sun yesterday evening, and from three to five hundred armed men gathered from various parts of the county and stayed in town last night."

Captain John W. Tuttle's diary is on file at the University of Kentucky. It spans Captain Tuttle's social and family life before the Civil War, his time serving in Company H of the 3rd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, where he saw action at the battles of Shiloh, Lookout Mountain and Atlanta, and the post-war when he returned home to his legal practice in Monticello, where he presided over the bankruptcy court for almost 50 years. Tuttle (1837-1927) and his wife, Mollie, had several children. He is buried at Elk Spring Cemetery in Monticello.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Mahala Reed Keenan: The Revivalist

Mahala Reed Keenan was born on May 30, 1844 in Shelby County, Indiana, the daughter of John Overpeck and Elizabeth Ann Rouse Reed. She died on Jan. 26, 1900 and is buried at Keenan Cemetery near Floresville, Texas, 13 miles southwest of where Sunday's (11/5/17) shooting occured at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland, Texas. Where Mahala is buried contains only one grave marker, a very tall marble stone, that signifies the graves of Mahala and her son, Elva. A biblical inscription on the front of the stone reads: "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do. John 14, 13." Mahala, Elva and a few others had undertaken a wagon journey from Kentucky to Texas in 1899 as Mahala sought a healthier place to live and breathe as she was suffering from tuberculosis at the time. But, shortly after her arrival there in 1900, she succumbed to tuberculosis. Elva, who also died from tuberculosis, was buried in the same grave as was his mother.

Mahala was known as a "revivalist" minister. Until she had a church, she preached anywhere that a group could be assembled, mostly to share croppers or poor whites. She was known to ride a white donkey side saddle through the hills of Kentucky singing as she traveled. Her mother died when she was three years old. She traveled to Clay County, Illinois with her father where she eventually met and married Patrick Keenan (1822-1896). They returned to his home near Falls of Rough, Kentucky where, in 1887, they and others built and founded Keenan Chapel at Hickory Lick in Breckinridge County. Patrick died in 1896, and later that year, Mahala moved to the Highway community in Clinton County, Kentucky. Mahala was extremely devoted to Methodism and at Highway, Methodist minister John Samson Keen had organized Bible Mission School and Orphanage, a Methodist academy for young boys that had begun in 1891, and Mahala wanted her sons to be educated there. But, Mahala's health had been poor for several years and she needed warmth to assist her in her recovery. So, in 1899, Mahala, her son and the others headed to Floresville, Texas, which was known to have a number of well respected Methodist ministers living there.

The story goes that when Highway was to be formally organized as a township, the place had no name assigned to it. The preacher at the ceremony said that he would open his Bible and point to a verse and the landing point of his finger would become the name of the community, thus Highway became the name. Which verse was it that the preacher pointed to? That wasn't mentioned in the account of Mahala Keenan, but there are several verses in the bible that mention "highway" or "highways," including Luke 14:23, which says "And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" and Isaiah 35:8, which says, "And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein."

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Sacrifice Fly

On November 3, 1953, the rules committee of organized baseball restored the sacrifice fly. The rule had not been used since 1939.

The thinking behind the rule is that with a man on third base and fewer than two outs, a batter will intentionally try to hit a fly ball, usually into the outfield, sacrificing his time at bat to help score a run.

Our faith life is a lot like baseball because, like our spiritual life, it is all about getting home. Even though we start at home plate, we don’t get to stay there. We run the bases, live our life, and sometimes find ourselves striking out, or stranded on third. When we’re stranded on third, we might get lucky; someone just might sacrifice for us to get home. Someone might give up their chance at that moment to advance towards home so we might get there first. It is the unique gift of Jesus that he offers a one-on-one sacrifice for each of us as an invitation and an example, saying, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Batter up!

Taken from Beryl Schewe in "Balance and Integration, Holidays, Sacrifice" at

Monday, October 30, 2017

John Tuttle's Diary: Judgement Day 1860

1860 was the year of comets and meteors in the United States. Four comets were discovered, one of which was to the naked eye from mid-June through July. The first meteor fell on May 1st near New Concord, Ohio.

A very rare event occurred on July 20th when an earth-grazing meteor, a meteor that moves nearly horizontally through the Earth's atmosphere, nearly parallel to the earth's surface, passed from Lake Huron near Buffalo, New York across Greenwich, Connecticut and out over the Atlantic. Meteor processions are so rare most people have never heard of them. There have only been four: 1783, 1860, 1876, 1913.

And then on August 2nd, a magnificent meteor appeared from Pittsburgh to New Orleans, and from Charleston to St. Louis, an area of 900 miles in diameter. Several observers described it as being larger than the full moon, and just before it's disappearance, it broke into several fragments. A few minutes after the flash of the meteor, there was heard throughout several counties in Kentucky and Tennessee a tremendous explosion like the sound of a distant cannon. Immediately, another noise was heard, not quite so loud, and the sounds were re-echoed with the prolonged roar of thunder.

From a comparison of a large number of observations, it was computed that this meteor first became visible of northeastern Georgia, about 82 miles above the earth's surface and that it exploded over the southern boundary line of Kentucky at an elevation of 28 miles. The length of its visible path was about 240 miles and the time of flight eight seconds, showing a velocity relative to the earth of 30 miles per second, and was this computed that it's velocity relative to the sun was 24 miles per second.

John W. Tuttle of Wayne County (1837-1927) wrote about the meteor in "Diary of John W. Tuttle, 1860-1867," which is on file at the University of Kentucky.

"Thursday, August 2, 1860:  Dr. J. B. S. Frisbie, W. A. Haskins and myself were sitting in the porch when all at once a meteor of the most intensely brilliant character arose in the Southeast, rising in its course at an angle of about 20 degrees, and moved with an apparently slow motion towards the Northwest.  Its light was of a peculiarly white character more brilliant perhaps than that of the sun. It completely blinded, for a moment, all who beheld it.

After the meteor had disappeared, I walked down town to learn the sentiments of the people generally with respect to the strange visitor. The matter was being discussed freely and many opinions expressed with regard to it. The savants differing among themselves displayed a depth of research into the hidden mysteries of physical science truly astounding. Illustrious examples shining forth from the page of history should have taught them the folly of attempting to tamper with the staid orthodoxy of the common mind to popular opinion.

The theory finding favor with the greater number was that the "last day" of the existence of this little ball of dirt had most certainly arrived. Some minutes after the disappearance of the meteor a sound, deep and unnatural, not unlike the rumbling of heavy thunder, in the distance, when near the earth but partaking of the roaring nature more like the roaring of a whirlwind. The sound continued for several minutes and gradually died away, greatly to the relief of those regarding the sound as the herald of an earthquake or judgment day."

In the Aug. 13, 1860 edition of The New York Times, Dr. Alex McCall of Rome, Tennessee said "the sounds were like hundreds of wagons running over bridges. The first sounds came from it when near to us, resembling powder explosions in open space, but the remotest sounds came five to ten minutes afterward. The intensity of the blaze made me spring from bed, supposing a fire had broken out, and on reaching the window, shadows were glancing in every direction.

'Caroline' said the moon had fallen and was burning up; 'Nick' said 'the fire ran into my eyes and woke me up; and 'Isaac,' jumping, asleep, from the ground, insisted the world was on fire. Then came the sounds like a great bass drum pelted by some giant, keeping time. In its rapid flight the meteor cast off thousands of sparks at every explosion, and then flashed bright as the sun, confusing the eye and causing the leaves and grass to appear purple; finally splitting into two meteors as it expired."

Though the meteor procession of 1860 garnered much public attention, it was mostly forgotten by the 20th century, perhaps overshadowed by the tremendous events of the Civil War that followed, but Walt Whitman and the thousands of other people who saw the meteors, and the rare meteor procession witnessed something truly special.

Walt Whitman’s "Leaves of Grass" includes the poem, “Year of Meteors, (1859-60),” in which he includes descriptions of a comet and meteors of 1860:

Nor the comet that came unannounced out of the north, flaring in heaven,

Nor the strange huge meteor procession, dazzling and clear, shooting over our heads,

(A moment, a moment long it sail’d its balls of unearthly light over our heads then departed, dropt in the night and was gone)

John Tuttle's diary spans his social and family life before the Civil War, his time serving in the Union Army's 3rd Ky Vol. Infantry, Co. H during the war, where he saw action at the battles of Shiloh, Lookout Mountain and Atlanta, and the post-war when he returned home to his legal practice in Monticello, where he presided over the bankruptcy court for almost 50 years. Tuttle and his wife, Mollie, had several children. He was born in 1837 and died in 1927 and is buried at Elk Spring Cemetery.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fats Domino - The Real King of Rock N Roll?

Fats Domino was one of the most influential rock and roll performers of the 1950s and 60s. Best known for "Ain't That A Shame," "Walkin' To New Orleans" and "Blueberry Hill," he had 30+ Top 40 hit singles and sold more than 65 million records, outselling every 1950s rock and roll act except Elvis Presley. His million-selling debut single, "The Fat Man," is credited by some as the first ever rock and roll record.

Fats Domino was one of the first rhythm and blues artists to gain popularity with a white audience. Elvis Presley referred to him as "the real king of rock n roll" and Paul McCartney reportedly wrote the Beatles song "Lady Madonna" in emulation of his style. In 1986, he was among the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Antoine "Fats" Domino Jr was born in New Orleans on Feb. 26, 1928, the son of a violinist. He said clean living kept him in shape. Righteous thoughts were his secret, and New Orleans home cooking. His parents were of Creole origin, and French Creole was spoken in the family. Domino left school at the age of 14 to work in a bedspring factory by day, and play in bars by night. He was playing piano in honky-tonks as a teenager when bandleader Bill Diamond said the youngster's technique reminded him of two other great piano players, Fats Waller and Fats Pichon. He was 17 when he made his first record in 1949.

In the mid-1940s, he joined trumpeter Dave Bartholomew's band. Those two co-wrote many songs. A lot of people think Fats wrote 'Blueberry Hill' but he didn't. While his version of the song is best remembered, Fats claimed the song was written in 1927 by Larry Stock and Al Lewis. It was recorded several times in 1940's, by Sammy Kaye Orchestra, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Gene Autry, Jimmy Dorsey, The Glenn Miller Orchestra and Louis Armstrong. Domino's version was included on his 1956 album, "This Is Fats Domino!" on Imperial Records. It was an international hit which became a rock and roll standard. Domino's version ranked #82 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

So, how great was Fats Domino?

Rolling Stone magazine listed him at #25 in the list of 'Greatest Recording Artists of All Time.' The magazine said: "After John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Fats Domino and his partner, Dave Bartholomew, were probably the greatest team of songwriters ever. They always had a simple melody, a hip set of chord changes and a cool groove. And their songs all had simple lyrics; that's the key. There are no deep plots in Fats Domino songs: "Yes, it's me, and I'm in love again/Had no lovin' since you know when/You know I love you, yes I do/And I'm savin' all my lovin' just for you." It don't get no simpler than that."

The Far Side

If there had never been a Fats Domino, Gary Larson would have never produced my all-time favorite Far Side piece.

R.I.P. Fats Domino

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Shelby Coffey Had A Good Name Before The Rebellion

Shelby Coffey was born in Wayne County, Kentucky on Dec. 1, 1832, the son of Manerva Alexander Coffey. "The Coffey's were wealthy and influential people," wrote John Allen Brents in his Patriots and Guerrillas book. Coffey was elected to Kentucky Legislature in 1859 and served during the 1860-61 session. He stood very high among the members of that body. Brents wrote that like many other youths in Kentucky, Coffey was misled by political tricksters. "He had a good name before the rebellion, but the curse of the rebellion blighted his character." Specifically, Brents, who was a Union Major for the Kentucky 1st Cavalry during the Civil War, wrote that Coffey was corrupted by Congressman James Chrisman of Wayne County. In 1861, Coffey joined the Confederacy and was Captain of Company H, 6th Ky Volunteer Cavalry. This company was partly organized in Wayne County on January 18, 1862. Organization was completed at Livingston, Tennessee. Records state that Capt. Coffey was wounded in an apparent skirmish that occured in Clinton County, Kentucky on January 16, 1862. He went home to Wayne County, where he died on March 20th. He is buried at Elk Springs Valley Cemetery on Kentucky Highway 92 East in Wayne County, not to be confused with Elk Spring Cemetery in town. It is a small cemetery with mostly Coffey Family and people that married into the Coffey family.

Jeremiah Was A Good Friend Of Mine

 I was in the 6th grade when Three Dog Might released "Joy To The World" in February of 1971. It was the first record i purchased using my own money, which i had made from mowing yards. I bought it at McWhorters Variety Store for $1.05. The single had been out less than two months when, on April 9, 1971, it was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of over 1,000,000 units across the United States. The record was also given a Gold Leaf award by RPM magazine for sales of over a million units and it won the award for the Best Selling Hit Single Record by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers in March 1972. It was also ranked the #1 Pop single of 1971 by Billboard magazine. When the song hit #1, it's writer, Hoyt Axton, and his mother, Mar Axton, became the first mother and son to each have written a number one pop single in the rock era. She co-wrote Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel."

"Joy To The World" was recorded in 1970 at American Recording Company. Three Dog Night originally released the song on their fourth studio album, "Naturally," in November of that year. Some of the words are nonsensical. Axton wanted to persuade his record producers to record a new melody he had written and the producers asked him to sing any words to the tune. The original opening line was "Jeremiah was a prophet," but no one liked that. When he performed the song to the group, Danny Hutton and Cory Wells rejected it, but Chuck Negron felt it would help bring the band back together as a working unit. Instead of having the three main vocalists singing harmony, the song was recorded with all seven members of the band singing. Drummer Floyd Sneed sang the deep lyric, "I wanna tell you," towards the end of the song.

"Joy To The World" went on to sell 5 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.

Everytime I hear the song on the radio or I play it the band, my mind goes back to that 45rpm record I bought in early 1971.

"Joy To The World"

Verse 1
Jeremiah was a bull frog
Was a good friend of mine
I never understood a single word he said
But I helped him drink his wine
And he always had some mighty fine wine

Verse 2
If I were the king of the world
Tell you what I'd do
I'd throw away the cars
And the bars and the wars
Make sweet love to you

Verse 3
You know I love the ladies
Love to have my fun
I'm a high night flier and a rainbow rider
A straight-shootin' son of a gun
I said a straight shootin' son of a gun

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Bozo the Clown (Success In Nashville)

On September 30, 1950, WSM-TV (now WSMV), channel 4, became the first TV station to sign on the air in Nashville, Tennessee. WSIX (now WKRN), channel 8 (now channel 2), signed on three years later, on November 29, 1953. WLAC-TV (now WTVF), channel 5, signed on nine months later, on August 6, 1954.

"Three Nashville Stations On Our TV!"

...and that wasn't a bad thing because we learned a lot about Nashville, the Life and Casualty Insurance Company, Frosty Morn' Ham, Elm Hill Bill, Martha White Flour, Ernest P. Worley and Purity Milk, Goo Goo's, Purnell's Old Folk's Country Sausage and that Colonial Bread was GOOD!

We tuned in to WSM to see if George Goldtrap would miss flipping that chalk into his pocket and to see what bizarre sports jacket Charlie MacAlexander would be wearing. We witnessed greatness when Nashville's "Mr. Television," Jud Collins read the news. One of my favorite shows was "Creature Feature," which turned film editor Russ McGowan into a cult celebrity as Sir Cecil Creape, host of late night horror movie flicks.

On WLAC, there was "Dialing for Dollars," "The Big Show," "The Late, Late Show" and Bob Lobertini! WSIX had the famous disc jockey Hugh Cherry, a close friend of Hank Williams, and legendary sportscaster Paul "Holy Smokes" Eells. Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajak did the weather on Channel 4 and worked on scripts for Creature Feature, and talk show host Oprah Winfrey read the news on Channel 5, but when it was all said and done, one of the most poplar shows on Nashville TV back in the day did not include any of the popular TV personalities. That honor belonged to Bozo the Clown!

"Nashville's Version Of a National TV Icon"

Most folks might not have realized that Bozo the Clown was a franchised character. TV stations ordered the costume, hired local talent to play Bozo and then put together their own production. Another show that had previously used this model successfully was Romper Room. During the Nashville run of Bozo the Clown, from 1956 into the late 70's, there were four different Bozo the Clowns.

When WSM, channel 4, decided to start airing Bozo the Clown in 1956, the station hired local puppeteer, Tom Tichenor, the very first Bozo the Clown in Nashville. In the beginning, he was paid $5 for every 15-minute show.

Dick Brackett

When Tichenor accepted a Broadway show opportunity in 1959, WSM prop man, Dick Brackett, became Bozo the Clown #2. During his stint as Bozo the Clown, the show changed from black and white to color and moved to a larger studio to accommodate a bigger live audience of children. The shows were broadcast live and were spontaneous or "ad-libbed." The kids were the stars of the show. During one segment, Brackett said a little girl tugged at his arm and asked, "Bozo, is there a man inside you?" The show was so popular, no fewer than 18 sponsors were crowded into an hour-long show. Cartoons were the primary feature of the show, with the ideal quota being one cartoon during every fifteen minute segment. Cartoons such as Casper the Friendly Ghost and other Paramount cartoons were dropped in wherever possible.

"The War of Bozo's"

When WSM's contract with the Bozo the Clown franchise came up for renewal in 1966, competing TV station WSIX decided Bozo the Clown was their ticket to attract the after-school audience, and it worked. In what was jokingly dubbed "The War of Bozo's" by the local press, WSIX outbid WSM three to one for the rights to the show. WSIX announcer Joe Holcombe won the role of Bozo the Clown #3 after several hundred people auditioned. He turned it into the game-show format that I remember and the show went big-time, with as many as 150 kids in the studio for a single epidode. Back at WSM, Brackets altered the costume a bit, changed the clown's name to Captain Countdown and WSM began a new children's program with nearly the same format with the exception being that WSM used Warner Brothers cartoons. The show ran from 1966 to 1969 when Brackett left television to pursue other interests. Meanwhile, Bozo the Clown on WSIX quickly rose to number one in its time slot and at one point, kids in the audience were booked more than two years in advance. Holcombe played Bozo the Clown for a few years. When he left the role, he was replaced by Bozo the Clown #4, WSIX newsman Jim Kent, who portrayed Bozo the Clown for a few years until Holcombe returned. "Kent was nervous as Bozo the Clown," Holcombe said. "He smoked cigarettes while in costume. Bozo the Clown wasn't for everybody."

"A Clown Star is Born"

Just how did the Bozo the Clown get its start? In 1946, creator Alan W. Livingston and Capitol Records introduced Bozo the Clown to the world via a children’s record entitled "Bozo at the Circus." The album, which featured an illustrative read-along book set (the first of its kind), lasted for an astounding 200 weeks on Billboard’s ‘Best Selling Children’s Records’ chart, and a clown star was born.

Pinto Colvig portrayed the character on this and subsequent Bozo read-along records. The albums were very popular and the character became a mascot for the record company and was later nicknamed "Bozo the Capitol Clown." Many non-Bozo Capitol children's records had a "Bozo Approved" label on the jacket. In 1948, Capitol and Livingston began setting up royalty arrangements with manufacturers and television stations for use of the Bozo character.

The first version of the TV show, "Bozo’s Circus," appeared on KTTV in Los Angeles in 1949 and starred Colvig. He wore white face makeup, a red nose, tufts of red hair and a blue one-piece suit on this live half-hour circus show. This version of the show aired until 1950. Capitol Records’ new TV head Elmo Williams produced 13 half-hour Bozo episodes which starred Syd Saylor as Bozo and Alan Livingston as the ringmaster.

In 1956, Larry Harmon, one of several actors hired by Livingston and Capitol Records to portray Bozo at promotional appearances, formed a business partnership and bought the licensing rights (excluding the record-readers) to the character, which by this time had generated record sales in excess of $20 million.

"Bozo, The World’s Most Famous Clown"

Harmon renamed the character "Bozo, The World’s Most Famous Clown." He adopted the idea of a daily half-hour show with a live Bozo, a studio audience of children, and five-minute cartoons, packaged and franchised to different markets across the US. He also modified the voice, laugh and costume. He then worked with a wig stylist to get the wing-tipped bright orange style and look of the hair that had previously appeared in Capitol's Bozo comic books.

The wigs for Bozo were originally manufactured through the Hollywood firm Emil Corsillo Inc. The headpiece was made from yak hair, which was adhered to a canvas base with a starched burlap interior foundation. The hair was first styled, formed, then sprayed with a heavy coat of lacquer to keep its form. The canvas top would slide over the actor's forehead. With the exception of the Bozo wigs for WGN-TV Chicago, the eyebrows were permanently painted on the headpiece.

In 1959 the idea took hold, and Harmon soon had 100 Bozos across America with additional clowns in Germany, France and Japan. The new Bozos had to learn such phrases as “What are you doodly-do-doing?” and “Wowie kazowee!” By the mid 1960’s, Bozo was grossing over $150 million in merchandise worldwide.

Although Bozo the Clown might still occasionally show up, the character's broad popularity peaked in the United States in the 1960s as a result of the widespread TV franchising. The most successful Bozo in the franchise aired on WGN in Chicago from 1960 until 2001. Harmon claimed that more than 200 actors have portrayed the clown. The most famous is former Today Show weatherman, Willard Scott.

After his stint as Bozo the Clown, WSIX's Joe Holcombe said occasionally someone would recognize him and ask, "Didn't you used to be Bozo?" "I still am inside," he would reply. "There's a little Bozo in all of us."

Larry Harmon

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"So Long Lance Russell (You Just Wait Till Lawler Hears About This!)"

Professional wrestling's greatest announcer ever has died. Lance Russell, one of wrestling most treasured voices died Tuesday morning (Oct. 3rd) at the age of 91, after complications from a fall. He was hospitalized after breaking his hip in a fall on Friday, which was the second time he had fallen last week. Friday was also the day that Russell's daughter lost her battle with cancer.

There is a special place in my heart for the radio and TV sports announcers I grew up with. From ABC's Wide World of Sports to roller derby and everything in between, sports was always a big part of my life. At my house, we watched on TV whatever sport was 'in season,' especially on Saturday's. For me, there was no better way to spend Saturday than with Lance Russell.

Jerry "The King" Lawler may have ruled the wrestling circuit based in Memphis, but Lance Russell WAS wrestling. Legendary doesn't even begin to describe their impact. What they were able to accomplish, I am proud to say, definitely had a big effect in me growing up.

Russell was a television program director when he put wrestling in its Saturday morning time slot in Memphis where it had great success and he was also the ring announcer. It was my favorite program to watch on Saturday. Russell, who announced matches in the Memphis region from 1959 to 1997, for the NWA Mid-America and the Continental Wrestling Associations, was best known for his relaxed announcing style, as well as the much-used phrases, "By golly" and "Son of a gun." His co-host for more than two decades was Dave Brown, a college student and disc jockey, and later, TV meteorologist.

While he was definitely a star, Lance Russell never found himself in the position of being a bigger than the wrestlers he worked with. That list runs long: Lou Thesz, Jackie Fargo, Jerry Lawler, Jimmy Hart and Randy Savage, to name a few. Russell would get up from his chair to conduct interviews, walking around to the front of the desk. It was common to see one or more of the heel wrestlers demolish the set or even run roughhouse over Russell. These interviews were often the highlight of the Saturday morning television broadcast.

Russell also literally rang a bell to begin matches, in addition to pounding it loudly in futile attempts to halt out-of-control melees in the ring. He used the mic to chastise and exhort wrestlers during their match. He often encouraged other wrestlers to run in from the locker room and offer assistance. His famous one-liners were "Don't start with that smart stuff" and "Will you guys just stop and get out of here?" or this one: "You just wait until Lawler finds out about this!"

Lance Russell and Dave Brown have been described by wrestling insiders and fans as the greatest television announcing team in the history of wrestling. After Russell's death, his long-time partner tweeted, "My lifetime friend, Lance Russell died early this morning. I cannot express how sad I am. He was responsible for my TV career success."

By golly Dave, I think you're right!

On a personal note, from someone who has followed pro wrestling his whole life, especially those great days of yore when wrestling in this region was as great as you could find anywhere, I suppose that if God said it had to be this way, it is only appropriate that we said goodbye to Dale "TNT" Mann and Lance Russell in the same year. They were my heroes. Sad.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

"Faith Unfeigned (A Tribute to Joseph Denton)

"Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned" - 1 Timothy 1:5

Joseph Crouch Denton died 130 years ago this year. He was the fourth pastor of Clear Fork Baptist Church in Albany, Kentucky, serving 32 years and 11 months, from October 1854 to his death on September 29, 1887.

The son of the first pastor, Isaac Denton, Joseph was born on May 5, 1811. He got saved and joined the church on December 22, 1838, was chosen as a Deacon on March 26, 1842, appointed Church Trustee on June 22, 1844 and preached his first sermon on June 22, 1850. He was ordained into the ministry on October 24, 1853.

In his obituary recorded in the Church minutes, clerk John Hopkins wrote, "The silent boatman has dipped his oars into the dark river and stealthily moored his vessel to earthly shore for a few moments and removed one of our beloved and trusted sentinels from his high place in Zion."

It was noted that the combined pastorates of Isaac and Joseph Denton of almost eighty years was attended with great blessings. Many revivals succeeded and the Church exercised a large influence. Through the Denton's, the Church received its lessons in principles of doctrines of Christ and rose to clossal proportions, exhibiting the teachings of both its pastors, especially Joseph Denton, not only in his labors in the ministry, but in his every day walk of life.

His obituary states that he "shone with intarnished luster in deeds of mercy and unselfishness among his neighbors and brethren and in his family. His feelings were as tender as a babe, yet he stood with the firmness of a granite cliff when bible principles were at issue. He planted himself only on the truth with breast bare to the storm, and amidst the tempest rose higher and shined still brighter, possessing charity and broad liberality for all."

In confusion of the Civil War, when strong men trembled with fear and all men's hearts failed them, Joseph Denton exhibited the same unfailing confidence, the same calmness, the same encouragement to all, as in time of profound peace, faithful to gently reprove the faults of a friend or to apologize for an enemy. His sweet temper possessed a magnetism to attract the attention of the disinfected and gave to him almost a resistless influence in reconciling differences between brethren or neighbors.

Joseph was a man of faith unfeigned, living a life of prayer, from hence he drew his greatest strength and influence. Clerk John Hopkins wrote, "In prayer, he seemed to obtain a neatness to the Throne, seldom given to man, then he seemed to breathe the atmosphere of Heaven and his heart to glow with a warmness of love that encircled the entire number of fallen men. In the pulpit he possessed a native elegance that entitled him to be called a "Sweet Tongued Denton." His theme was the cross of Christ, the cleansing blood of Jesus. With these, he sought to win sinners to the Saviour's love and which seldom left the hearts of his hearers unmoved."

The church record states that for a number of years, Joseph Denton was afflicted, but bore his sufferings with Christian fortitude, patiently waiting for the Redeemer to call him home. Almost at death's door, he prayed, "May the Lord bless and save you all is my prayer, amen."

Joseph Denton died without a struggle on the 29th day of September, 1887, aged 76 years, four months and 24 days. His body was buried near his parents at the Clear Fork Burying Ground, within a few steps of the church house, where he had held membership for almost 49 years, to, as the record states, "await the Resurrection morn."

There were 414 additions to the Clear Fork Baptist Church during Joseph Denton's pastorate.

Joseph Crouch Denton
"May His Example Be Followed
By Those He Left"

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Jim McDaniels Shined At WKU

Jim McDaniels, one of the finest players to ever represent the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, died Wednesday evening in Bowling Green. He was 69.

Big Mac, a 7-foot center from nearby Scottsville, was a legendary and iconic figure in the annals of Western Kentucky basketball. His time at WKU ranks as the most successful period in the program’s rich history.

He set WKU school records with 2,238 career points (now tied with Courtney Lee) and 1,118 careerrebounds.

The Hilltoppers went a combined 62-19 during McDaniels’ time with the program under head coach John Oldham, advancing to the NCAA Tournament in each of his last two years, including a run to a third-place finish in the Final Four in 1971.

Before he arrived at WKU, McDaniels averaged nearly 40 points per game as a senior at Allen County High School and was named Kentucky Mr. Basketball in 1967.

There is a great article at WKU Herald about the 1970-71 season, undoubtedly the best ever for the WKU program, that featured Jim McDaniels. Written and published in 2014 by Elliot Pratt, it is entitled, "Standing Alone: WKU's 1971 Final Four Team Remains in a League of its Own." I highly recommend that everyone who remembers that team read it. Below is information contained in the article.

During that 1970-71 campaign, Western Kentucky basketball – behind the first all-black starting five of Jim McDaniels of Scottsville, Clarence Glover of Caverna, Jim Rose of Hazard, Rex Bailey of Glasgow and Jerry Dunn of Glasgow – would go on to have the most memorable season in Hilltopper athletic history.

Three years before that season, Jim McDaniels turned from the most sought-after player in the country to recruiter.

McDaniels, Clarence Glover, Jerome Perry and Jim Rose were high school seniors preparing to play in the Kentucky All-Star game at Freedom Hall in Louisville. The four sat in a room together at the Brown Hotel talking about where they wanted to attend college.

Jim Rose was going from his hometown of Hazard to Houston, Clarence Glover was going from Horse Cave to Florida State.

When the conversation was McDaniels’ turn to take, he put his recruiting hat on.

“I said ‘guys, it would be great if we could all come together and play together, because I think we can probably win a national championship and definitely make it to the Final Four,” McDaniels said.

McDaniels reached out his hand in the center of the group, inviting them to join him at Western.

Rose said he’d love to play with “Big Jim”, placing his hand on top of McDaniels’. Perry put his hand in, too.

The only one they were waiting on now was Glover.

“It wasn’t something that was premeditated,” McDaniels said. “Everybody put their hand in and finally it got to Glover, and he was the only one who didn’t put his hand in. We kept our hands out there for five minutes. He goes, ‘man, you guys are too much, you guys are crazy’. He puts his hand in and it was great.

“I get goose bumps talking about it now.”

The Toppers just ended the 1970-71 regular season at 20-5. Jim McDaniels had scored 29 points in the finale against Austin Peay to make him the highest scoring player in Western history.

Their first opponent in the NCAA Tournament was Jacksonville.

Clarence Glover still doesn’t know what made him want to do what is now known as the famous shoestring play, but it worked and that’s all that mattered to Western.

Western was tied at 74 with Jacksonville after being down 44-30 at halftime. The Dolphins called a timeout with eight seconds left and Ernie Fleming inbounded the pass and double-dribbled.

While Jacksonville players ran to console Fleming, Western players rushed to the ball to get a play inbounds because the Toppers had no timeouts.

All except for Glover ran to the ball. Glover casually walked down the opposite side of the court and set himself up right underneath the basket, knelt on one knee and aligned himself directly behind the defender guarding the inbounds pass from Gary Sundmacker.

Glover pretended to be tying his shoestring, writing the script for a play that would go down in Western athletic folklore.

Jim Richards recalls the play through his own reenactment on the court of Diddle Arena.

“I said, ‘Gary, Clarence is wide open!’, and he said, ‘Where? I don’t see him’, I said ‘He’s down on one knee pretending to tie his shoe,’” Richard recollected. “He said, ‘Oh, I see him, I see him’.

“He got the ball and he threw it right up near the basket. The rest is history. Glover scored and Western advanced to the first ever meeting between the Toppers and the Kentucky Wildcats.

John Oldham remembers putting a letter up on the bulletin board in the team’s locker room that said McDaniels and Rose “weren’t either smart enough or good enough to play.”

“That was such a big deal to these kids in my mind,” Jim Richards said. “They never said it to me, but full well knowing that they were African American athletes and knowing they were not recruited in essence by the University of Kentucky. They may say they recruited (McDaniels), but they really didn’t recruit him.

McDaniels scored 35 points and Glover had 17 rebounds as Western defeated Kentucky 107-83, the most amount of points the Wildcats allowed all year.

Kentucky and Western wouldn’t meet again until 1986 in the NCAA Tournament.

Against Big Ten champion Ohio State, Western battled from 18 points down to win in overtime 81-78, setting up a date with Villanova in the Final Four in Houston.

At halftime in the locker room, McDaniels said, “I looked around at everyone and said ‘I don’t know about you, but I don’t want this thing to end’. Glover said, "We looked at each other and everybody put their hand in there again and – oh, man, they knew when Big Jim, the captain, puts his hand in there what that means."

Western had every chance to defeat Villanova and advance to the national championship game. Jerry Dunn missed a one-and-one free throw with four seconds left to send the game into overtime, it was then when Glover’s miscue took over.

Whereas Glover was the hero against Jacksonville and scoring the last five points against Ohio State, his miscues helped cost the Toppers that chance.

McDaniels found him wide open under the basket for an easy layup for the chance to clinch victory.

Except, he missed.

McDaniels fouled out in the second overtime and the heart of Western checked out of the game.

A disheartened Topper club sat in the locker room after the game dejected only to hear Coach Oldham announce his retirement following the season’s end.

By McDaniels’ account: “He said, ‘I’m going out with you guys. I’m going to retire at the end of the game tomorrow’. Coach says let’s all go out a winner. We played that game like it was a championship game.

In the consolation game against Kansas, Dunn redeemed himself with the free throw shots to secure a win and a third-place finish in the NCAA Tournament.

It should be noted that the NCAA later voided Western Kentucky's participation in the tournament, accusing McDaniels of signing with an agent while still in college. Still, all of the glory of that 1970-71 season cannot go ignored. You can't erase how successful the program was during his time at WKU.

After his college career ended, McDaniels played professionally in both the NBA and ABA from 1971-78, playing with the Carolina Cougars, Seattle SuperSonics, Los Angeles Lakers, Kentucky Colonels and the Buffalo Braves, as well as one season in Italy.

He continued to live in Bowling Green and remained around the Hilltopper program through the years.

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...