Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Sweetly Sleeping

"Little birds are flying daily
Over the grave of the one I love
Singing songs so sweet and gaily
Songs God gave them from above
To the memory of my loved one
Who lies sleeping in a cold grave
Who was called away so suddenly
Though it was our Master's will
Norman, you are sweetly sleeping
No more trouble, no more pain
You have not gone away to forget me
And our meeting will be so great
You are sure to be with Jesus
Waiting for me at the gate"

Frances Pierce Groce of Albany wrote this beautiful poem in memory of her only son, Pvt. Norman Johnson Pierce, who was killed in action in France on Nov. 16, 1944, while serving with the 313th Infantry of the 79th Division.

Pvt. Pierce, who was 27 years old at the time, is buried at the American Cemetery and Memorial in Epinal, France, which contains the graves of 5,252 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the campaigns across northeastern France to the Rhine River and beyond into Germany.

In the years following his death, usually near the anniversary of it, Mrs. Groce would publish a poem or a memory of her son in the Clinton County News. This poem, which I titled, "Sweetly Sleeping," was published the week of Nov. 16, 1958. Pvt. Pierce was the son of Prentice Pierce, sometimes Peercy.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

A Forgotten Man

The lingering mournful notes of taps sounded that day in 1950, when an unsung hero of WW1, a man who had fought with Sgt. York in the action that had thrilled a nation, was laid to rest in Pennsylvania. An invalid from wounds he recieved in a subsequent battle, George H. BosIey had been a member of Company G, 328th Infantry the day Sgt. York used a machine gun to pick off Germans who were annihilating his company and then marched 132 prisoners back to American lines, earning the Pall Mall, Tennessee man the adulation of a nation, a Congressional Medal of Honor, some financial reward and, in 1941, a motion picture about his life.

Bosley always said that Alvin C. York earned all he ever got through his coolness and heroism in that 'No Mans Land battle,' but he never stood for a movement in the limelight, himself. All he would ever say was, "I was there, I saw it happen." But sadly, as fate would have it, on Oct. 14, 1918, six days after Sgt. York's heroic deed, shrapnel pierced Bosley's helmet, taking out his left eye and part of his head, and making him an invalid for the rest of his life. He woke up in an Army hospital five weeks later. By the time he was shipped home, heroes were plentiful, so he quietly took up life in the small Pennsylvania town of West Newton and that day with Sgt. York became just a memory. Unable to work steadily, a small pension helped him rear his family.

After Warner Brothers decided to film it's Sgt. York movie, efforts were made to find all of the men who had been with the heroic sharpshooter in the fight against the enemy. They found all but one - George Bosley. Yet, in one of the scenes in the movie, a prisoner throws a hand grenade that wounds one of Sgt. York's companions. That companion was Bosley. The grenade wounded him on the nose and cheek. For his heroism, this forgotten man of a great incident of American battle history was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Croix de Guerre and a Purple Heart.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Dylan on Holly

Bob Dylan is 81 today. In 2016, after being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature (for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition), he said "If I was to go back to the dawning of it all, I guess I’d have to start with Buddy Holly. Buddy died when I was about eighteen and he was twenty-two. From the moment I first heard him, I felt akin. I felt related, like he was an older brother. I even thought I resembled him." "Buddy played the music that I loved – the music I grew up on: country western, rock ‘n’ roll, and rhythm and blues. Three separate strands of music that he intertwined and infused into one genre. One brand. And Buddy wrote songs – songs that had beautiful melodies and imaginative verses. And he sang great – sang in more than a few voices. He was the archetype. Everything I wasn’t and wanted to be." "I saw him only but once, and that was a few days before he was gone. I had to travel a hundred miles to get to see him play, and I wasn’t disappointed. He was powerful and electrifying and had a commanding presence. I was only six feet away. He was mesmerizing. I watched his face, his hands, the way he tapped his foot, his big black glasses, the eyes behind the glasses, the way he held his guitar, the way he stood, his neat suit. Everything about him. He looked older than twenty-two. Something about him seemed permanent, and he filled me with conviction. Then, out of the blue, the most uncanny thing happened. He looked me right straight dead in the eye, and he transmitted something. Something I didn’t know what. And it gave me the chills. I think it was a day or two after that that his plane went down."

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Girls Night Out With The Judds

Wynonna and Naomi Judd, the successful mother-daughter singing duo, released their debut EP in 1984. It peaked at number eight on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. In October of that year, their debut studio album, "Why Not Me," was released. It peaked at number one on the country albums chart. Three months later they walked out onto the stage at the Clinton County high school gymnasium. It would be a night we would not forget. The date was January 18, 1985. Lisa Beaty of the Clinton County News wrote in a follow up article that it was "girls' night out" that night in Albany.

Without a doubt, the Judds were country music's hottest act when they came to town that night. The price of admission was $9 for reserved (floor) seating. General admission tickets were $8 in advance and $10 at the door.

Naomi did most of the talking for the duo that night. "As if we haven’t bragged about it enough, we’re from Ashland, Kentucky, and let me tell you, it’s great to be home, she said.” Most people around here first new about Naomi and Wynonna Judd by seeing on Ralph Emery’s morning show in early 1980, where the host named them the “Soap Sisters” because Naomi said she used to make her own soap. The duo signed a recording contract with RCA Nashville in 1983. Later that year, their debut single was released called "Had a Dream (For the Heart)." Their next release, "Mama He's Crazy", became their first number one hit on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

Over the course of seven years, the Judds collected fourteen #1 singles. Between their concert in Albany and today, they amassed six studio albums, three live albums, 18 compilation albums, five video albums, two extended plays, one box set, five music videos, 28 singles and one album appearance. They won nine Country Music Association Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music, and together earned five Grammy Awards. After they won the Horizon Award at the 1984 CMA Awards on the success of their early single “Mama He’s Crazy,” Naomi started her speech by saying “Slap the dog and spit in the fire!”

In 1990, Naomi announced her retirement after being diagnosed with Hepatitis C. The group disbanded in 1991. In 2016, she opened up about mental illness during an appearance on "Good Morning America," saying she had been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. In announcing her mother's death yesterday, just nine days after the Judds had performed at the CMA Awards, daughter Ashley, the actress, said, “We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness.” The Judds had earlier announced a return to performing, their first tour in over a decade. "The Final Tour," as it was being billed, was to be a 10-date arena tour beginning this September 30th in Grand Rapids, Michigan and ending at Bridgestone Arena on October 28th.

That night in Albany, reporter Lisa Beaty wrote down The Judds' set list. They opened with “Girls’ Night Out,” from the "Why Not Me" album, and followed it with “Had a Dream About You Baby," one of their first hits. The other songs in the set list were“Mr. Pain”,“ Drops of Water,” “My Baby's gone," "Bye Bye Baby Blues," “Love Is Alive” and “John Deere Tractor.” They also sang the Elvis Presley hit, “Rip It Up,” and Ricky Skaggs' song, "One-Way Rider.” Near the end of the show, as the band began playing the intro to “ Mama He’s Crazy,” Wynonna smiled and said, “Love you all for this one.” They closed with “Why Not Me."

Snow was in the forecast for our area that night and it dampened attendance figures just a bit. Concert promoter David "Red Mule" Piercey estimated around 2,000 people attended the show. While it didn't snow that evening, seven inches was recorded here a week later. Red Mule told Beaty in a follow-up interview that the Judds were real easy to work with. “We took them down and fed them beans and taters at a local restaurant, he said."

January 18, 1985 was definitely a night to remember. As you know, Wynonna went on to have a successful solo career. This evening (Sunday, May 1, 2022), she and her mother are being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, along with Ray Charles.

Diana Ellen Judd was born in Ashland on January 11, 1946 to gas station owner Charles Glen Judd and his wife, Pauline. Her first child, Christina Ciminella (Wynonna), was born when Naomi was 18. Daughter Ashley was born three years later, in 1968.

"Had a dream about you baby
Had a dream about me and you
Had a dream and woke up crying
Well, I can roll but I just can't rock
And the time's goin' by, tick-tock
For the heart, I just can't love no one but you"

We all loved you, Naomi Judd!

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...