Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Three Blind Mice

Thirty-Seven years ago this week (June 26, 1985), the organist for the Clearwater, Florida Phillies, was ejected from a baseball game following a disputed call on a runner at first base. Responding to the crowds reaction, the organist, who was set up behind the base, started playing, "Three Blind Mice." Upon recognizing the song, the first base umpire pointed to him and then thumbed him out of the game.

Wilbur Snapp was a native of Urbana, Ohio, having been born there in 1920. He served in the U.S. Air Force during WWII and when the war was over, came back home and began operating a music store, eventually teaching himself how to play the organ.

Later, Wilbur moved to Florida and was soon hired to play the organ at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium in Clearwater. Pretty cool story, huh? I imagine that between June 26, 1985 and when he died on Sept. 6, 2003, at the age of 83, Wilbur received many high fives or slaps on the back for taunting the umpire that day.

Did you ever see such a sight in your life as three blind mice? We have all been there. After all, most of us grew up listening to Sid Scott's play by play of the 'Mighty Bulldogs of Clinton County High.' One of the things that made Sid a legendary local icon was that he always "called it like he saw it!" - his words, and we pretty much always agreed with him. He taught us well.

Way to go Wilbur!

By the way, the Clearwater Phillies are now called the Threshers.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Seventy-Six Baptist Church

Before he settled the town of Seventy-Six, John Walker Semple had dreamed of a thriving community around a mill he had constructed on Indian Creek. After all, according to Jack Ferguson's book, "Early Times in Clinton County," the mill was drawing trade from all over the county. Recognizing the commercial possibilities, Semple added a general store, a saw mill, a blacksmith shop, a cabinet shop and later, a town.

What was needed was a church. Sadly, John Walker Semple did not live to see that happen. Most accounts say he died on Nov. 13, 1820. But, his wife, Lucy, and daughter, Francis, did see it happen. On June 22, 1822, they and twenty other members left Clear Fork Baptist Church and exactly one week later (on June 29th) became charter members of Seventy-Six Baptist Church. Among the others was one of Clear Fork's founding members, William Goodson Sr., and five members of his family, including his wife, Margaret, and son, William Jr. Others were Peggy Ashinhurst, Ann Beck, Ann Savage, two slaves (Tom and Sabre), Patsy Bristow, Hetty Brents, Joel Ellis, Elizabeth Rose, John Owens and William, Rachael, Peggy and Jonathan Smith.

Tomorrow, Seventy-Six Baptist Church will celebrate 200 years. There will be music, food, fellowship, and the word of God. Bring a chair and spend the day. The service and celebration begins at 10am. The church is located at 27 Seventy-Six Baptist Church Road.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Jackie Latham

The date was Nov. 13, 1956. The location was the Clinton County High School gymnasium. It was opening night for the 1956-57 basketball season and the Marrowbone Cardinals were in town. No other game could have provided any greater highlights than there was that night at CCHS. Coach Bill Kidd's Bulldogs had played poorly during the first half and were down by as many as 19 points in the third quarter, when suddenly the momentum began to change. The Clinton County News wrote that the Bulldogs began to claw their way back into the game by displaying a superbly aggressive style of defense, stealing the ball and causing their opponent to commit one mistake after another. With four seconds left to play, and CCHS trailing 49-to-48, Jackie Latham, a 16-year-old freshman guard, playing in his very first official varsity game, stepped up to the free throw line after being fouled and calmly made two free throws to give his team the win.

Fast forward to the 1958-59 season. Lindle Castle was now the head coach (his second season) and his basketball squad was playing its toughest sched­ule in the history of the school. Last year's team had produced a winning record for the first time since the 1954-55 season. It was Dec. 4th, about a month into the season, when Jackie Latham, now a junior, suffered a broken ankle after he slipped and fell on spilled Coca-Cola during a game against Burkesville at the Marrowbone gym. Even though the Bulldogs had the scoring power of Jim DeForest, Bob Reneau, Ken Conner and Billy Perdue, and help from other players like Walker Stockton, Lanny Weaver, Ira Davis, Ray Reneau and Clayton Brown, the loss of Latham was a huge blow to the team. He was averaging 19.1 points per game when the accident occurred. The hope was that he would be ready to go by district tournament time, and he was, scoring 17 points in the win against their first opponent, Cumberland County, and 24 when we beat Marrowbone in the championship game (DeForest had 33).

No one knew it, but the golden years of basketball under the leadership of Lindle Castle were just beginning. "Until two years ago," wrote James Paul Allen in the Clinton County News, "CCHS had begun to lose all hopes in its ball club, because they were having one losing season after another, and hadn't won a district trophy for a while. Then along came Coach Castle to renew the school spirit and build the Bulldogs to what they are today." The coach would later say, "We had a lot of one room schools out in the county at that time. We had goals put up at all of them. We had a lot of men teachers who were interested in basketball and taught the fundamentals of the game to their boys. They would play ball all year around. There wasn't that much else to do. The children wore out the goals practicing hour after hour. Then they started closing the one room schools in favor of better education. When these schools closed, the golden years ended."

The 1959 district championship was Clinton County's first one since 1944. Principal L.H. "Prof" Robinson wrote, "we entered the tournament as the most underrated, most forgotten team in tournament history. Somehow, I felt Jackie would throw away the shackles of plastic paris [the cast on his foot] and again roam the basketball court like a haunted ghost. It was a great day for CCHS when he was able to start practicing again. Even then, the faint hearted said he will never get back in condition this school year. They failed to reckon with the will of a boy who loves the sport of basketball and to reckon with the rapid recovery of a vigorous American boy." In the regional tournament, the Bulldogs lost their first game to Russellville, despite a double-double from Deforest (32 points and 18 rebounds), with Latham scoring 24 points for the second straight game.

Jackie worked hard on conditioning during the summer of 1959 and was ready to go by the time the next season rolled around. On opening night, Nov. 6th, he let everyone know he was back and better than ever by scoring 33 points on 13 field goals and seven free throws against the Marrowbone team. The Bulldogs were 6-0 when they played at Wayne County on Dec. 3rd. It has been said over the years that during the game the action was extremely rough. So rough, in fact, that near the end of the third quarter Coach Castle pulled his players off the floor and the game was over. A week later the KHSAA imposed a thirty-day suspension on the Bulldogs, ending play for the remainder of 1959. Games would resume on Jan. 3rd. The lay-off was actually good for Jackie, who had missed the last two games due to a hand injury.

By the end of February 1960, the Mighty Bulldogs were rated first in the district and second in the region. We won the district tournament by defeating Metcalfe County for the second time in three meetings. A fourth meeting between the two teams would occur on March 12th, when the Bulldogs edged past the Hornets 65-to-62 in overtime to win the school's first ever regional championship before a packed house of 4,500 people at Bowling Green High School. It would be the night that Jackie Latham, now a senior, would officially become a legend.

Metcalfe County's strong defense had kept the Hornets on top at the end of the first three quarters. The 4th quarter was no less than a battle between David and Goliath, Metcalfe County's 6'6 John Paul Blevins and Clinton County's 5'11 Jackie Latham. Clinton County News would describe it as "a battle between a real good big boy and a real good little one." On WANY, the Voice of the Bulldogs, Sid Scott, would describe it this way, "a big man versus a little man, and the little man is winning!

Here's how it went down: Blevins stung the Bulldogs with three straight goals to move Metcalfe to a 50-46 lead with less than three minutes left to play in regulation. Latham responded with five straight points to put Clinton ahead 51-50. He hit on a third straight field goal from the circle and it was 53-50 with 1:45 left. Blevins cashed in on two free throws, but so did Latham. Blevins' turnaround jumper made it 55-54, with Clinton County still on top. Billy Per­due connected on two free throws and with 57 seconds left Clin­ton County appeared to have it in the bag at 57-54. However, Blevins was fouled during a field goal attempt and converted both free throws with 47 seconds left to pull the Hornets to within one point. The Bulldogs tried to play keep away but Perdue misfired on a pass to Latham. With just 12 seconds remaining, Metcalfe County's Pierce was fouled by Wilkie Skipworth as he drove in for a layup. He made one of two free throws to tie the game at 57-all. Latham attempted a 12-foot jumper at the buzzer, but the ball bounced twice on the rim before falling off. It was all Clinton County in the overtime period. When the smoke cleared, three things had happened; the Bulldogs had won 65-to-62, Jackie Latham had scored 19 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and for the first time ever the Bulldogs were going to the Sweet 16.

"The Best Backcourt Duo in Kentucky in 1960"

By all accounts, Jackie Latham and Billy Perdue were the best backcourt duo in Kentucky in 1960. While Perdue, who had grown up in the Cartwright community, was known for his ability to score from long range, Latham, who lived next door at Upchurch, was known for his quickness and a two-hand set shot that rarely missed. Nick­named "Rabbit" because he was always running, Jackie hustled non-stop. It is said he once threw a bag of fertilizer on his back and ran a mile, just to show he could do it. At the age of 65, he played 202 holes of golf in one day. At the age of 70, he played ninety holes, running between every shot.

Someone once said it doesn't matter how long you live. What matters is what you do while you are living and what you leave behind when you are gone. Many older folks will tell you that Jackie Latham was probably the best guard Clinton County High School boys varsity basketball ever produced. One thing for sure, by the time he was finished, he had put a stamp on the future of CCHS basketball.

Jackie was inducted in the Clinton County High School Basketball Wall of Fame in 1999.

Left to Right: Jackie Latham, Coach Lindle Castle and Billy Perdue

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Edison Records: Battle Hymn of the Republic

My 105-year-old recording of "Battle Hymn of the Republic," by singer Thomas Chalmers, was recorded May 29, 1917 at Thomas Edison's recording studio in Manhattan. The recording is registered with the Library of Congress.

"Battle Hymn of the Republic" first gained popularity around Charleston, South Carolina. It became known as "John Brown's Body," following the insurrection at Harper's Ferry, led by Abolitionist John Brown, whose actions, trial and subsequent execution made him a martyr.

"John Brown's body
lies a-mouldering in the grave
His soul is marching on"

By the time of the Civil War, the song had become a popular marching song with Union Army regiments. It was when Julia Ward Howe visited Washington, DC on November 18, 1861 that "Battle Hymn of the Republic" was first born. Howe and her husband were active abolitionists, who had experienced first-hand a skirmish between Confederate and Union troops in nearby Virginia, and heard the troops go into battle singing "John Brown's Body." That evening in the nation's capital, Howe was inspired to write a poem that better fit the music. It began "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

This photo of Julia Ward Howe was taken in 1908.

Andy Griffith and his Martin D-18 Guitar

Andy Griffith was born in Mount Airy, NC on this day in 1926.

One of the actors that had a minor role in the Griffith's 1957 movie, "A Face In The Crowd," was blues singer/guitarist Brownie McGhee. Andy befriended him and apparently liked Brownies choice in instruments, a Martin D-18 guitar. In the movie, two guitars were needed, a cheap-looking one used by his character before he became famous, and a fancier one when he became the successful 'Lonesome Roads." The prop master took a beautiful 1958 Martin D-18, painted it black and glued sequins on the guitars sound board to spell out "Momma." "Lonesome. Momma" was a reference to the name Lonesome Rhodes gave to his guitar.

After the film was completed, Griffith took the painted D-18 home, removed the sequins and sanded off the black paint down to the bare wood. He also sanded off the logo decal and pickguard. He liked the look of the guitar without the pickguard and never replaced it. A guitar builder in New York City touched up to the wood and gave the instrument a new coat of lacquer. Griffith played this Martin guitar on and off his TV shows for nearly 50 years.

In 2004, the Martin guitar company produced 311 Andy Griffith Signature D-18's and then discontinued the guitar. Manufacturers lolsuggest price was $3,700, however used models can be purchased for around $2,500 and sometimes pop up on eBay.

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...