Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The First Golf Champion

Sunday, Aug. 2, 1970 was the biggest day ever at Seventy Six Falls Country Club in Albany, KY, wrote the Clinton County News on Aug. 6th that year. It was on that day that a champion was crowned in the country club's first ever club golf tournament.

So who was the first champion? It was Larry Conner, who posted a score of 161 in the 36-hole event. Ozro Pitman placed second with a score of 163, only two under the winner. Third place went to Gayron Wallen, who had tied with N. L. Morgan, Jr., with 165 each. The winner was decided by flipping a coin. Others in the first flight were Jackie Latham 172, Sidney Scott 171 and Gene Latham 176.

A large crowd and 36 golfers braved the 100 plus degree tempera­ture that Sunday. A.B. Gibson, Clinton County News editor, and one of the participants in the tournament, wrote in his "B.A. Nosbig" column that he heard one man say it was so hot that if the course hadn't been so pretty and the water, furnished by Richard Fryman and Eagle Pass Cheese Co., hadn't been so cold he would have thought he was playing in hell. The newspaper reported that the extremely high temperature was the only complaint heard.

At the conclusion of the tournament, directed by club manager, Harvey Aaron, another Clinton County golfer, Conner was presented a set of golf woods and a championship trophy. Pittman received a golf cart and Wallen and Morgan divided the third place prize of a dozen balls.

In the second flight, players qualifying 86 through 93, Louie Smith was the winner with 167, followed by Frankie Sewell with 173 and Carl McWhorter with 176. Others were Larry Jones 177, Mark Shearer 177, Eddie Owens 177, George Hancock 178, Bobby Hughes 178, Jimmy Logan 182 and Charlie Long 185.

In the third flight, J. O. Dicken surged forward in the final round with a 39 and won the flight with a total score of 179. Second place went to Bill Perdue, who posted a score of 184, followed by D. B. Robinson with a 187. Others were Ralph Groce 190, Ed Veazey 192, Ben Dyer 193, Joe Talbott 193, John B. Smith 195, A. B. Gibson 196, R. H. Burke 196, Hugh Groce 198, T. T. Rich 199, L. C. Conner, Jr. 203 and Ralph Keisling 207.

Fourth flight was a squeaker with Kelly Keisling becoming the winner after a two hole sudden death, which still ended in a tie with Horace Brown at 196 each. When it became too dark to play, the winner was de­cided by a flip of a coin. Ezra Neal was third with 197. Each received golf balls as prizes. Others were Tony Conner 210 and Hank Chilton 216.

Friday, December 24, 2021

The Night Before Christmas at Greg Dalton's House

'Twas the night before Christmas and all over the mountain the only creature a-stirring was ol' Greg Dalton.

The napkins were laid on the table with care in hopes that Majors Pizza would soon be there.

When suddenly what to his wondering eyes did appear, but Lamon Hubbs dressed up like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

His furry little paws were stretched out for the tip as the pizza box reeked wildly of pastorelli dip.

His antlers lay crooked at the top of his head, "Must be fake ones," someone said.

His breath smelled like onions, garlic and basil and when he spoke his voice was all gnarly and nasal.

Standing at the door Greg could do nothing but stare, but he was so hungry he did not care.

He paid the guy hurriedly and then closed the door, soon he would be wishing that he had ordered more.

Now nestled all comfy in his warm snuggly bed, Greg drifted off to sleep, but he didn't dream of the fat man in red.

Instead it was Dasher and Tom Guffey and Lester Beaty too, plus Donner and Blitzen, and me and Mike Dalton, just to name a few.

Now Greg is snoring and it's shaking the house, no one else can sleep for that noisy 'ol louse.

But it's December and Santa said to be of good cheer, so...

Merry CHRISTmas to Greg and everyone elfs!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Handel's Messiah

His father tried to discourage his musical interests, preferring that he enter the legal profession, but it was the organ, harpsichord, and violin that captured the heart of young George Frideric Handel.

Soon, this remarkable child, born on February 23, 1685, began composing operas, first in Italy then in London. By his 20’s, he was the talk of England and the best paid composer on earth. Londoners fought for seats at his every performance, and his fame soared around the world.

But all too soon the glory passed. Audiences dwindled. His music became outdated. One project after another failed, and Handel, now bankrupt, grew depressed. The stress brought on a case of paralysis that crippled some of his fingers.

“Handel's great days are over, his inspiration is exhausted, wrote Frederick the Great.

But his troubles also matured him, softened his sharp tongue, his temper mellowed, and his music became more heartfelt. One morning he received a manuscript form Charles Jennens, from the King James Bible, and from the Coverdale Psalter, the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer.It was a word for word collection of various Biblical texts about Christ. The opening words from Isaiah 40 moved Handel:

“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people…”

On August 22, 1741 he shut the door of his London home and started composing music for the words. Twenty-three days later "The Messiah" was born!

“Whether I was in the body or out of the body when I wrote it, I know not,” Handel later said.

The Messiah opened in London to enormous crowds on 23rd of March 1743, with Handel leading from his harpsichord. King George II surprised everyone leaping to his feet during the Hallelujah Chorus. The audience followed suit. Nobody knows why his majesty jumped to his feet. Some believe the king, being hard of hearing, might have thought it was the national anthem.

Whatever the case, from that day on audiences everywhere have stood in reverence during the words: “Hallelujah! For He shall reign forever and ever!”

Handel’s fame was rekindled, and even after he lost his eyesight, he continued playing the organ for performances of his oratorios until his death on April 14, 1759.

King of kings, forever and ever!
And Lord of lords, Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
And He shall reign forever and ever!

Saturday, December 18, 2021


My name is Beech. Uncle tells me I was called that because my dad went to the neighborhood store to get Beechnut tobacco when I was born. As far as the story goes, my dad went to the store and never came back. That was 14 years ago. My mom left too, as soon as she could convince my uncle to keep me for a day. Here I am with my uncle. Some days I wonder if I’d be better running off. But where would I go.

You might not understand why I think of running and running hard, so I’ll give you a story that is just a few minutes in a day with Uncle. And I’ve spent 14 years like this. Don’t forget that there’s 365 days in a year. Multiply this story by just over 5 thousand. Wouldn’t you think of running and running hard? Running anywhere, taking a chance, fighting for something beyond the end of the dirt road. Here it is, a glimpse:

Insides of my jaw sit raw and bloody from my uncle Dan’s last blow. I’m certain each one is designed to crush me, my rebellion, my spirit, my ... me.

Every time I feel his fist connect to some part of me, I can feel all the other parts of me say, “walk above the pain in that place you created. I struggle to understand him . My me-ness is the thing that’s most like him in the world –right down to the crooked smile. His rustic, "poor-man" bony hand forced my jaw and lips into my teeth. I taste that, oh so familiar, bloody metallic juice in my mouth. I swallow it because I'll die from blood swallowing before I show I bleed.

Ok. Three breaths I tell myself. I'm taking three breaths. When I exhale my third breath, I will force my anger, my shoulder, all my might into my fist and force his teeth inside his pmouth - like he does mine. I swallowed my blood, but it made me stronger; “he's going to swallow his teeth”, I tell myself. This thought gives me comfort, gives me strength.

Three breaths: One breath. two breaths. three breaths.

I feel the force of my anger, my strength concentrated in my fist as I pull my body up from the last blow. My fist, my shoulder, my strength are ready - ready to fight.

I am fierce.

A second seems like an hour, and my body is aligning to give him a taste of his teeth. Instantly, my eyes meet his. I see me. I see my eyes. I have cried out of those same glassy blue eyes. He gave his eyes to me. He handed them down to me, and I used them to see my first sunset, my first pond, my first dog (smokey), and I use them every day. In fact, I will use those glassy blue eyes to navigate beyond these days and nights and become the lawyer I know I'm going to be. With these eyes, I will see the world, and I will change it.

How can I become a lawyer and save the poor kids if I don't use these eyes he gave me.

I am taking three more breaths and a better road. I’m swallowing the next mouthful of blood and then standing up to take the next one. It ain't that bad. It really doesn't hurt. It's just that he doesn't know who I am.

Someday I’m going to be a lawyer. I’ll help kids. I’ll fight for them. They won’t live like this. The ones that start out living like this won’t for long. I’ll rescue them, all of them. No matter what it takes. No matter the consequences.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Cecil Pryor was my Idol

When I was a young boy my dad tried to teach me how to play guitar, but I told him I wanted to play piano like Cecil Pryor. The son of a 5 string banjo picker and grandson of a church songleader, Cecil started out playing guitar, but his chosen instrument would later become the piano, and in 1960, upon hearing Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date," he decided it was so pretty he just had to play it. That song set Cecil on a course that would last the rest of his life.

"Last Date" wasn't just another song for Cecil Pryor. To him, it was a work of art, as if Rembrandt himself had walked into RCA Victor Studio B and said "where do I sit up my easel?" When Cecil learned how to play the song, he also picked up on Cramer's slip note piano playing style. It was a marriage made in Heaven. "Last Date" became Cecil's signature song and the piano became Cecil's way of life. He played it so well, I had always told him that some guy named Cramer had recorded HIS song, but that Cramer's version was no where near as great as Cecil Pryor's version.

Cecil and my dad, and their drummer, JR Byers, made great records at Norm Atwell's studio at Lafayette Tennessee back in the 1970's. They performed live together in many different places for several years, from the Cow Palace at Chattanooga, fronting Mel Tillis, to the Somerset Holiday Inn, where when Mickey Gilley and his entourage walked in to the lounge one night, the band, taking the cue from Cecil, started playing "Don't The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time."

Cecil still holds the record for receiving the most encores at the Lincoln Jamboree in Hodgenville. He and others, including founder Joe Ray Sprowls, were honored during the Jamborees 4000th show on Dec. 4, 2021.

Cecil Pryor was my idol. He was on the air at my family's radio station, WANY in Albany KY, for nearly two decades as Art Pryor. Myself and Cecil's fellow broadcaster, Al Cross, were honored to speak at his funeral service, which also featured Grammy Award winner Mike Farris, gospel and blues artist EmiSunshine and country music singer, songwriter and renowned guitarist, Lee Roy Parnell.
(Cecil Pryor at the Lincoln Jamboree, 1966)

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...