Saturday, December 24, 2016

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."

The Christmas Story (Luke 2:1-14, KJV)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Season of Legends: Lindle Castle and Sid Scott

The summer before my senior year in high school, I was confronted with a choice: sit on a bleacher beside a legendary broadcster or sit on a bleacher beside a legendary coach. While that might seem like a hard decision to you, radio was in my blood. I had just gotten my Radiotelephone Third Class license with Broadcast Endorsement on August 4, 1976. I knew that my destiny wasn't to play for the Kentucky Wildcats or star in the NBA. It was to be a radio disc jockey. I was, after all, born into it. I explained to the coach that my heart was in radio. 40 years later, it still is.

I was blessed to have grown up in an era that included both Lindle Castle and Sid Scott. Before starring at Morehead State University, Castle had started on a University of Kentucky freshman team that included future NBA hall of famers, Cliff Hagan and Frank Ramsey, and future NBAer, Lou Tsioropoulos. A few short years later, Scott made a name for himself as one of the all-time great pivot players at Clinton County High School.

When I was born in November of 1959, both were just beginning their careers. Lindle Castle began coaching at Clinton County at the start of the 1957-58 season. Sid Scott began doing play-play-play at the start of the 1958-59 season. This is the environment I grew up around. I would sit on the stage in the old gym and watch the coach, while up in the balcony the broadcaster did the play-by-play.

I was there the night Coach Castle went out on the floor to speak to a refree, who informed coach that he was going to give him a technical foul for every step it took to get back to the bench. I watched as two players picked him up and carried him to the bench.

I was there the night referee Wilson Sears stopped the game and ordered Sid to move up a few bleachers away from court because of something Sid said to him. I was there the night Sid, who was mayor, ordered a city police officer to arrest referee Phil Burkeen if we lost the game. Thankfully, we won.

I was there the night coach accidentally broke Sid's little finger. He had come to our booth to bang his fist on the desk. I saw him coming and leaned back with my clipboard. Sid didn't see him coming. The pencil he was holding disappeared in the air. I was able to turn Sid's microphone down so listeners didn't hear what he said when he screamed.

By the time I had grown into my early teens, both Castle and Scott were starting to achieve their legendary status. Life was great.

And, we know that all good things must come to an end. Things we enjoy, things we find comforting, things we love, things we embrace; even a legendary basketball coach and a legendary radio broadcaster.

"To everything there is a season..."

I spent a good long season enjoying those two. I wanted it to last my entire lifetime, but God had other plans.

Sometimes when one chapter closes, it really closes. Lindle Castle died 50 weeks after Sid Scott died.


Meanwhile, back at CCHS, the first one has his name on the gym and the second one has his name on the floor.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ronnie's Apple Cake

For me, Thanksgiving Day is a special time to reflect on the many things I am thankful for. Ronnie's Apple Cake was more than a was a door leading to a time in my life that holds many wonderful memories. Memories of my family, when we were all there...together as one. It was a special time in my life. 

Ronnie's Apple Cake was not always known as that. Originally, it was just known as the delicious apple cake that mom baked. I am not sure how many pieces of that cake I ate from the time I was a youngster until I reached the age of 21, but it was a lot. We all loved it, but Ronnie, my brother, loved it more than any of us, and he let it be known that it was his favorite dessert. That was fine by me. I didn't mind who asked her to bake it, as long as she did. Only later did it matter which child asked her to bake it the most. You see, that apple cake was the very last thing Ronnie would ever eat of my mom's cooking and baking as he sat down at the kitchen table on the afternoon of May 6, 1981. At 5:30 a.m. the following morning, we found him dead of a car accident just five-tenths of a mile from home. Not long after Ronnie's death, mom announced that she could no longer bare to bake another apple cake again and that was the end of it. We understood.

Things have never really gotten back to the way they were for us following Ronnie's death in 1981, but one day, a few Thanksgiving Day's ago, one very nice memory came back. I wasn't expecting to see mom's apple cake sitting there on the food bar that day, but there it was. I have to admit, I had forgotten about it, and I was about to find out that I wasn't the only one who had forgotten.

I said, "Wow mom, you baked that apple cake!" She said she had found the recipe, but did not know why she had never baked it. I reminded her it was Ronnie's favorite dessert and that after his death, she had said she could no longer bake it. She just said "Yeah," and that was it. After all the years, it was nice to enjoy something I once enjoyed so much; something I thought I would never eat again. That day, I renamed mom's apple cake, Ronnie's Apple Cake.

For those of you who are curious as to why my brother loved that apple cake so much, here is the recipe. I hope you will enjoy it as much as he did.


3 cups diced apples
1 1/2 cups of oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs well beaten
3 cups self-rising flour
1 tp cinnamon
1 tp vanilla
1 cup raisins or nuts (mix well)
optional -1 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 cup of milk for a glaze

Instructions: Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour.

Remembering A President

Eight months before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated (Nov. 22, 1963), he made a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. It is said that he passed beyond the soldiers' graves and walked to the top of a hill. The story goes that as he paused there reflecting on the beauty of the area, he was quoted as saying, "I could stay here forever."

On November 25, 1963, the President was buried on that hill after being shot dead three days earlier.

A Joyous Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving Long Ago

Thanksgiving Day didn't become an official federal holiday until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

Both my great-grandparents, Grant and Hettie Frost, were born after the civil war; Grant in 1867 and Hettie in 1870. They were married on this day (November 23rd), four days before Thanksgiving Day in 1890.

That year, President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed November 27th as the date to be observed as a day of prayer and thanksgiving, inviting the people to "cease from their labors on that day, to meet in their accustomed houses of worship, and to join in rendering gratitude and praise to our beneficent Creator for the rich blessings He has granted to us as a nation and in invoking the continuance of His protection and grace for the future."

That protection and grace was extended to Grant ans Hettie as they were married 65 years. God blessed them with eleven children.

Ulysses Simpson "Grant" Frost was the son of Corydon and Almira Owens Frost. Hettie Huffaker Frost was the daughter of Henry and Margaret Shearer Huffaker. They are buried in the Gap Creek Church Cemetery.

Friday, November 11, 2016

What is a Veteran?

A veteran is a person who has patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. Meaning simply, someone who, at some point in life, wrote a check to the United States of America for an amount up to and including his or her life. No other commitment matches this great value made to our country." (John Sanabia, retired SEAL Chief Warrant Officer Five)

It is important that the younger generation understands what Veterans Day means. It was or is no easy task to secure and defend the freedoms that we know today here in America.

We are blessed to live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. Veteran, no matter what capacity you served during your time in the armed services, America owes you a debt of gratitude.

God bless America, and God bless our veteran's.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Carl Story: The WFLW Years

The first prominent artist to specialize in bluegrass-style gospel music was Carl Story. He is known as the "Father of Bluegrass Gospel." Story's career in traditional country, bluegrass, and gospel music spanned more than six decades.

Carl was born on May 29, 1916 in Lenoir, North Carolina. His father played the fiddle and his mother played the guitar and Carl mastered both of those instruments along with the clawhammer-style of banjo playing. He formed his Rambling Mountaineers band in 1934.

BMI's database credits Carl Story with 178 published compositions and arrangements, including: “I Overlooked an Orchid While Searching for a Rose," “Always Be Kind To Mother," "I Heard My Mother Weeping" and "Light at the River," which is probably the most important single in Carl Story's recording history."

From 1947 until 1953, Carl Story and his Rambling Mountaineers recorded eleven sessions for Mercury Records, cutting a total of fifty songs. In 1953, Carl changed labels and landed at Columbia Records. Over the next three years, his group recorded a total of eighteen songs. In 1955, Carl returned to Mercury for three years, cutting sixteen more songs. Mercury Records was partners with Starday Records and for a period of time in the late 1950s, Starday supervised Mercury's country and western division. A number of Carl's releases were labeled Mercury-Starday. When the two labels terminated their partnership in 1958, Carl went with Starday. Over the next ten years, Carl released a dozen albums, making him one of the most-recorded artists on the Starday label.

Many of Carl Story's Starday Records albums featured the talents of the Knoxville-based Brewster brothers, Bud and Willie G., along with Claude Boone. It was an extremely talented line-up of musicians. They traveled the country performing great shows and selling lots of records.

In early 1957, Carl and his band stopped in Monticello, Kentucky for a show. It was there that he met his wife-to-be, Helen Guffey. In the fall of 1957, Carl returned to Monticello and was hired as a disc jockey at WFLW radio station. He re-met Helen and they started dating. About the time that Carl began living and working in Monticello, Mercury Records released the very first bluegrass gospel album ever: "Gospel Quartet Favorites" by Carl Story, which contained timeless classics like There's A Light At The River, Family Reunion and My Lord Keeps a Record, all of which exemplified Story’s raw-edged, “mountain style” of bluegrass singing defined by his distinctive high baritone harmony part and excellent songwriting ability. Following the album's release, Carl and Helen were married. The date was July 17, 1959. They moved to South Carolina, but returned to Monticello in November of 1960, where Carl began a second tenure at WFLW.

It was a common practice among rural entertainers in the 1940s and 1950s to move from radio station to radio station, using the exposure of live broadcasts to promote local concert appearances. When artists had been in one location for a while and had "played out the territory," they would move on to a new location. Such was the case with Carl Story, who did live radio shows and worked as a dee jay at WNOX in Knoxville, WPAQ in Mount Airy, North Carolina, WCYB in Bristol, Virginia, WAYS in Charlotte, North Carolina, WFLW in Monticello and WANY in Albany. Carl Story and his Rambling Mountaineers recorded at WROL in Knoxville, Tennessee, WCRS in Greenwood, South Carolina and WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina. Several recording sessions by Carl Story and his Rambling Mountaineers took place at WFLW during the two years that Story worked there. Six sessions are documented to have taken place between Oct. 8, 1958 and February of 1960. WFLW owner Fred Staples' son, Steve, engineered the recording sessions, while Story was the producer. Thirty songs that Carl and his group of musicians recorded at the radio station were pressed to vinyl and released by Starday Records.

More than likely, several more songs were recorded at the radio station but never released. In Carl Story's discography, one session took place in 1960 where the exact date and recording location is listed as unknown. Eleven songs were pressed to vinyl and released by Starday Records and, even though Story lived in Monticello during most of 1960, it apparently cannot be proven that the sessions took place there.

On October 8, 1958, four songs recorded by Carl Story and his Rambling Mountaineers at WFLW were released by Starday Records.

1. "Who Will Sing For Me" Starday SEP-101 SEP-113/Starday SLP-105 Nashville NLP-2005 SRC-5 BCD 16839
2. "Old Country Baptizing" Starday 45-411 SEP-101/SLP-107 Nashville NLP-2007 Spin-O-Rama M-3117 BCD 16839
3. "Paul and Silas" Starday SEP-101/SLP-105 Nashville NLP-2005 Countryville S-787 SRC-5 BCD 16839
4. "Angel Band" Starday 45-411 SEP-113/Starday SLP-105 SLP-127, Smash SRS-67016 Nashville NLP-2005 London SL-240 [JAP] BCD 16839
*Carl Story on vocals and guitar, Bud Brewster on banjo, Willie Brewster on mandolin, Claude William Boone on bass and Tater Tate on fiddle.

On November 26, 1958, two songs recorded by Carl Story and his Rambling Mountaineers at WFLW were released by Starday Records.

5. "Don't You Love Your Daddy Too" SLP-107 BCD 16839
6. "For My Lord" SEP-101/SLP-127 BCD 16839
*Carl Story on vocals and guitar, Chuck Henderson on banjo, Buster Moore on mandolin, Bonnie Lou Buster on bass or guitar, Lloyd Bell, bass or guitar and Benny Sims on fiddle.

On January 29, 1959, six songs recorded by Carl Story and his Rambling Mountaineers at WFLW were released by Starday Records.

7. "Old Gospel Ship" 45-449 SEP-113/SLP-107 SRC-5 BCD 16839
8. "Shout and Shine" 45-427/SLP 107 SLP-116 [va] NLP-2003 [va] BCD 16839
9. "A Beautiful City" 45-427 SEP-113/ va SLP-105 NLP-2005 [va] SRC-5 BCD 16839
10. "Set Your House In Order" 45-449 SEP-113/SLP-107 BCD 16839
11. "Old Time Religion" SLP-104, SLP-116, NLP-2003, NLP-2011, KMCD-9100, BCD 16839
12. "Life's Evening Sun (A Beautiful Life)" SE-113/SLP-127, SLP-104, NLP-2011, SRC-5 KMCD-9100, BCD 16839
*Carl Story on vocals and guitar, Chuck Henderson on banjo, Buster Moore on mandolin, Bonnie Lou Buster on bass or guitar, Lloyd Bell on bass or guitar and Benny Sims on fiddle.

On July 29, 1959, eight songs recorded by Carl Story and his Rambling Mountaineers at WFLW were released by Starday Records.

13. "Life Boat" SEP-121, SEP-141/SLP-107, BCD 16839
14. "I'll Be A Friend" 45-465/SLP 107, BCD 16839
15. "This Lonesome Road" SLP-107, BCD 16839
16. "Hide Me (Rock of Ages)" SLP-107, BCD 16839
17. "The Circle Was Broken" SLP-107 BCD .16839
18. "I Heard My Mother Weeping" 45-465, SEP-127/SLP 107, SLP-207, SD-3004, BCD 16839
19. "Be Kind To Mother" SLP-127, SLP-115, NLP-2001, BCD 16839
20. "My Lord's Gonna Lead Me Out" SLP-107, BCD 16839
*Carl Story on vocals and guitar, Peppie Pealer on electric guitar, Chuck Henderson on banjo, Buster Moore on mandolin, Bonnie Lou Buster on bass or guitar and Lloyd Bell on bass or guitar.

In February of 1960, ten songs recorded by Carl Story and his Rambling Mountaineers at WFLW were released by Starday Records.

21. "When Jesus Spoke To Me" SLP-127
22. "Family Reunion" SEP-129/SLP-127, NLP-2009, SLP9-164, SLP-455, SD-3004
23. "(I Heard My Name) On The Radio" 45-492, SEP-164/SLP-127
24. "I Didn't Hear Nobody Pray" SEP-129/SLP-127, SLP-455
25. "Someones Last Day" 45-514, SEP-141/SLP-127
26. "Somebody Touched Me" SEP-129/SLP-127, KMCD-5111
27. "Ship That's Sailing Down" 45-514, SEP-141/SLP-127
28. "Sweeter Than The Flowers" 45-492/SLP-127, SLP-169, SLP-455, SD-3004
29. "If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again" SEP-129/SLP-127
30. "Light At The River" SEP-129/SLP-127
*Carl Story on vocals and guitar, possibly Buster Moore on mandolin, Bonnie Lou Buster on bass or guitar and Lloyd Bell on bass or guitar.

The eleven songs that were pressed to vinyl from the 1960 session listed as 'unknown' are:

Heavenly Child, I'm Ready To Go, The Rock of my Soul, He Will Walk Through The Shadows With You, Will You Pray For Him Today, Alone, The Greatest Gift, I'm Going Home Someday, The Lord Is Your Shepherd, It's A Mighty Hard Road To Travel and Thank The Lord For Everything.

The recordings made at WFLW radio station are important because out of the 30 songs in the Starday catalog, only seven had previously been pressed: (I Heard My Name) On The Radio, The Circle Was Broken, and I Heard My Mother Weeping were previously recorded in 1947. My Lord's Gonna Lead Me Out and Who Will Sing For Me were first recorded in 1952 and Light At The River and Family Reunion were recorded in 1957. The other twenty-three songs that Carl Story and his Rambling Mountaineers recorded at WFLW were pressed for the very first time. These were all great songs. Some had previously been recorded and all of them had a great impact on bluegrass gospel music. Songs like Paul and Silas, Angel Band, For My Lord, Old Gospel Ship, Shout and Shine, A Beautiful City, Old Time Religion, Life's Evening Sun (A Beautiful Life), Lifeboat, Hide Me Rock Of Ages, I Heard My Mother Weeping (written by Carl Story), My Lord's Gonna Lead Me Out, Somebody Touched Me and If I Could Here My Mother Pray Again are considered among the finest songs ever recorded in the bluegrass gospel field. Carl Story's versions of these twenty-three songs were first recorded at WFLW Radio Station.Their importance in Carl Story's discography are seen in the liner notes of several albums that mention recordings having taken place at legendary studios in Nashville, like Columbia, Mercury and Castle, and in the same breath, if you will, it will say...and at WFLW radio station in Monticello, Kentucky.

All of the songs on the album, "America's Favorite Country Gospel Artist" (Starday SLP-107), by Carl Story & His Rambling Mountaineers (1959), were recorded at WFLW.

1. Life Boat (7/29/59)
2. I'll Be A Friend (7/29/59)
3. This Lonesome Road 7/29/59)
4. Hide Me (Rock Of Ages) (7/29/59)
5. The Circle Was Broken (7/29/59)
6. I Heard My Mother Weeping (7/29/59)
7. Old Gospel Ship (7/29/59)
8. Shout And Shine (7/29/59)
9. Set Your House In Order (7/29/59)
10. Old Country Baptizing (10/8/58)
11. My Lord's Gonna Lead Me Out (7/29/59)
12. Don't You Love Your Daddy Too (11/26/58)

All of the songs on the album, "Gospel Revival" (Starday SLP-127), by Carl Story and his Rambling Mountaineers (1961), were recorded at WFLW.

1. Light At the River (2/60)
2. I Heard My Name On The Radio (2/60)
3. If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again (2/60)
4. When Jesus Spoke To Me (2/60)
5. Be Kind To Mother (7/29/59)
6. For My Lord (11/58)
7. Angel Band (10/8/58)
8. Family Reunion (2/60)
9. Ship That's Sailing Down (2/60)
10. Didn't Hear Nobody Pray (2/60)
11. Someones Last Day (2/60)
12. Sweeter Than The Flowers (2/60)
13. Somebody Touched Me (2/60)
14. Life's Evening Sun (1/59)


The album, "Old Time Religion, Country Style" (Starday SLP-116), by Various Artists (1961), includes the song, "Old Time Religion, which was recorded by Carl Story and his Rambling Mountaineers at WFLW Radio Station on January 29, 1959.

The album, "Preachin', Prayin', Shoutin', Singin'" (Starday SLP-105), by Various Artists (1959), includes three songs written by Carl Story and recorded by he and his Rambling Mountaineers at WFLW Radio Station: "Paul and Silas" and "Who Will Sing For Me" on Oct. 8, 1958 and "A Beautiful City" on Jan. 29, 1959.

Singles released by Starday between 1958-60, while Carl Story was living in Monticello and Albany are:

Old Country Baptizing/Angel Band (45-411) March 11, 1958
Shout And Shine/A Beautiful City (45-427) April 1959
Old Gospel Ship/Set Your House In Order (4A -449) Aug. 1959
I'll Be A Friend/Heard My Mother Weeping (45-465) Nov. 1959
On The Radio (I Heard My Name)/Sweeter Than The Flowers (45-492) May 1960 Someones Last Day/Ship That's Sailing Down (45-514) Sept. 1960
Why Don't You Haul Off And Get Religion/Hear Jerusalem Moan (45-531) Dec. 1960

Carl and Helen Story left Monticello in late 1960 or early 1961 and moved to nearby Albany, Kentucky, where Carl worked for a few months at WANY radio station. Soon, Carl and Helen left Albany and moved to South Carolina. Carl Story spent the last thirty years of his life in Greer, South Carolina. His last disc jockey work was a five-year stint on WESC in nearby Greenville, South Carolina. He died from complications of heart bypass surgery on March 31, 1995 in Greenville, South Carolina. He was placed in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2007.

In 2008, I purchased a letter on eBay that was written by Carl Story to country singer Jim Reeves. It was written on WANY letterhead and dated September 15, 1961. The seller was a lady from Ohio and the letter was among several written documents she had purchased from the sale of the Jim Reeves estate in 1996.

Again, it is important to note the WFLW recordings that a young Steve Staples engineered between 1958 and 1960 are as much a part of Carl Story's success as were the recordings made at Mercury and Columbia. How important are these recordings? In 2011, Bear Family Records released "Carl Story And His Rambling Mountaineers - Bluegrass, Gospel And Mountain Music 1942-1959," a 4-CD box set with a 112-page hardcover book and 134 tracks...Carl Story's complete recordings from 1942-1959. The songs that were used in this box set came from recordings made at Bradley Film & Recording Studio in Nashville, Castle Studio in Nashville, RCA Victor Studio in Nashville and...WFLW radio station in Monticello. This set includes every recording that Carl Story made for Mercury, Columbia and Starday, including the recordings that were made at WFLW radio station, plus some ultra-rare demos recorded before World War II.

Carl Story truly was a bluegrass pioneer, proven by his title, "The Father of Bluegrass Gospel." His Rambling Mountaineers included very prominent bluegrass musicians: Red Rector, Tater Tate, Claude Boone, Bobby Thompson, and Bud and Willie Brewster. The recordings they made at WFLW are historic and should be recognized as such, not only for Carl Story and his Rambling Mountaineers, but, just as important, they add to the legacy of an already legendary radio station that has been on the air and serving Monticello and Wayne County, Kentucky since 1955.

Billboard Magazine

“.. I remember one day, I think me and Keith Whitley were selling records at the record table – that was our gig when we got done working a show with Ralph [Stanley]; we’d go and set the records up and sit there and sell records all day.

Anyway, Carl Story was on and they had the speaker just blaring. I mean, it was like blown out. And Carl said, (in a deep voice), ‘now, I’d like to sing a song from the great Martha Carson.’ And then he went into that falsetto voice, and it was so loud. I think it spayed cats in five counties, son, I’m telling you what. I mean, it was like the loudest thing.

He had this high falsetto voice, but it was funny hearing him talk and be in this low voice. So, he would go into this falsetto voice and sing, and it was the same key that Martha Carson did it in. It was ‘I Know My Lord’s Gonna Lead Me Out.’ We just sat there and said, ‘my God, how high is that?’ But he was great." - Ricky Skaggs (Dan Armonaitis, 11/20/15, Sound Observations)

For a more in-depth look at the Carl Story Discography visit:

Praguefrank's Country Music Discography

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fred Sanford for President

"What if Fred Sanford ran for President and won?"

Lamont would be vice-president. The White House would be called Sanford Arms.

Pres. Sanford: "Looky here. This is the White Room." [Slams door]
Pres. Sanford: "Green Room." [Slams door]
Pres. Sanford: "Red Room." [Slams door]
Pres. Sanford: "Bathroom."
V.P. Lamont: "HEY!"
Pres. Sanford: "Excuse me." [Slams door]

Instead of "Hail To The Chief," we'd get to hear the Sanford & Son theme song at every public appearance. The official slogan would be

"The truth shall set you free, HALLELUJAH!"

Aunt Esther would visit the white house, er Sanford Arms, often...

Pres. Sanford: "Who's there?"
Aunt Esther: "It's Esther!"
Pres. Sanford: "Esther who?"
Aunt Esther: "You know Esther who! Open this door fool!"
Pres. Sanford: "I can't open the door!"
Aunt Esther: "Why not?"
Pres. Sanford: "You too ugly!"
Aunt Esther: "Who you calling ugly, sucker?"
Pres. Sanford: "I'm calling you ugly. I could push your face in some dough and make gorilla cookies."
Aunt Esther: "Watch it, sucka!"

President Sandford on pork barrell spending:
"We could have a little pork and beans now and a little zucchini later, or a little zucchini now and a little pork and beans later, or if you like the pork and beans, you can have them and I'll take the zucchini, or I can take the pork and beans and you the zucchini so what will it be? Zucchini or pork and beans?"
V.P. Lamont: "The oven don't work."

Instead of the Secret Service, President Sanford and his V.P. son would be protected by officers Smitty and Hoppy. Grady Wilson, uncle Woody and Bubba would be the official Presidential advisers.

Camp David would be located at El Segundo!

"Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Fred Sanford."
President Sanford: That's S-A-N-F-O-R-D period!"

If a congressman or senator did not agree with President Sanford on issues, he would politely say, "How would you like one across yo lip?"

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mareen Duvall, The Immigrant

Mareen DuVal was a French Protestant, a Huguenot, who fled his homeland, Nantes, France, sometime around 1650 to escape religious persecution from the Catholics and the French Crown. After a stay in England, he arrived in Maryland on August 28, 1650. There, he became quite prosperous. His estates in Davidsonville, Maryland and La Val were as luxurious and courtly as any of the manors of the English gentry.

Before his death in 1694, Duvall had purchased sizeable tracts of land, including  Catton, later known as Belair, as well as owning Middle Plantation in Davidsonville, Maryland. Combined, he owned several thousand acres in Anne Arundel and Prince George's Counties.

"No more striking figure in colonial history is found than the personal achievements of this fleeing immigrant. He came as one of the one hundred and fifty adventurers, brought over by Colonel William Burgess. He settled in Anne Arundel County and became one of the most successful merchants and planters of that section." - J.D. Warfield wrote in The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland.

Mareen Duvall is the ancestor of Barack Obama, Harry Truman, Dick Cheney, Supreme Court Justice Gabriel Duvall, Duchess Bessie Windsor, actor Robert Duvall, Confederate spy Betty Duvall and businessman Warren Buffett.

He is also my 9th great-grandfather and here is my line:

Mareen Mars Duvall, I (1630-1694)
Mareen Duvall, II (1680-1741)
Mareen Duvall, III (1702-1761)
Lewis Duvall, Sr. (1745-1808)
Lewis Duvall, Jr. (1789-1865)
Permelia Duvall Frogge (1810-1840)
Nancy Frogge Koger (1834-1891)
Thomas M. Koger (1855-1915)
Nannie Koger Boles (1890-1970)
Elmer Boles (1918-2002)
Glenda Boles Speck (1939 - )
Randy Speck (1959 - )

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Eulogy for a Bluegrass Legend

WSM and Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs officiated the funeral service of bluegrass legend Don Parmley at Hicks-Vaughn Funeral Home in Monticello Tuesday night.

Parmley, who was born in Wayne County in 1933, died July 31st at the age of 83. His group, Bluegrass Cardinals, was an early influence in the world of bluegrass music. Stubbs said the standard of excellence set by that group was second to none.

"The Bluegrass Cardinals rose very quickly to become a very, very important product of their time, the late 1970's and all through the 80's. Their standard of excellence on record and in person was second to none. There was a lot of complexity within the Bluegrass Cardinals music, made in 3-chord songs they were doing, but it was that complexity within that simplicity that made that music so great with all those intricacies."

Stubbs said Bluegrass Cardinals deserve to be in the IBMA Hall of Fame. At a time when that organization was still in its infancy, Bluegrass Cardinals were already going strong, making great records and enjoying a huge and loyal following.

"It's only a matter of time, I feel like, before the International Bluegrass Music Association recognizes the Bluegrass Cardinals with an induction into its hall of fame. What Don and David Parmley did and their vision and the music that they made was extraordinary. It's timeless music, and as Bill Monroe said, "A record is forever. Those things will outlive us all."

For 9 of the 11 years it was on the air, Don Parmley played all of the banjo parts on the Beverly Hillbillies TV show, with the exception of the theme song. Because of his behind the scenes work, Stubbs said it is untelling how many banjos were sold or how many people were inspired to play banjo by a face they never got to see.

Stubbs said Don Parmley's life was one that was filled with friendship, compassion, love for his family and friends, hard work, a lot of good times, lots of humor, busses and lots and lots of great music.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Don Parmley, Billy Strange - Bluegrass and Folk Blues...Five String Banjo with 12 String Guitar

"Don Parmley, Billy Strange - Bluegrass and Folk Blues...Five String Banjo with 12 String Guitar" (GNP Cescendo, 1964).

Side A
This Land Is Your Land
Flint Hill Special
Arkansas Traveler
Gotta Travel On
400 Miles
Ruben's Train

Side B
My Old Kentucky Home
Red Wing
Greenback Dollar
Cripple Creek
Ballad Of Jed Clampett

Don Parmley, five string banjo
Billy Strange, twelve string guitar
Chris Hillman, mandolin
Vern Gosdin, guitar
LeRoy McNees, dobro
Rex Gosdin, bass
Hal Blaine, drums

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Remembering Gentleman Jim Reeves

Country music's Jim Reeves was killed in an airplane crash on July 31, 1964.

August 4, 1964
Panola Watchman, Carthage, Texas)


"The body of Travis (Jim) Reeves returned to Panola County Tuesday afternoon just before dusk, to be buried in a site that will become a memorial. The site is a two-acre plot located one-half miles east of Carthage on the south side of U.S. Highway 79 near the Liberty Chapel Baptist Church.Double funeral services were held for the well-known country music singer from Panola County and his companion, Dean Manuel at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee.The two men were found dead in the wreckage of a private single engine plane 10 miles south of Nashville. Manuel was Reeves’ piano player and road manager and they were returning to their homes in Nashville from a business trip to Batesville, Arkansas.In an interview with Ray Baker, manager for Reeves, he told the Watchman of the accident as near as possible. The plane in which they were flying was rented from a Nashville airport and piloted by Reeves. He frequently flew on business trips and was a good pilot, related Baker. Less than ten minutes from their destination, Reeves radioed to the airport that they were flying in an extremely heavy thunder and rainstorm. The airport control tower later checked with Reeves—asking if he had passed through the storm. The answer was negative. Further attempts were made to contact the Reeves flight by radio—and all proved negative.The plane was reported down at 5 p.m. Friday, July 31. The light aircraft crashed in a wooded area about 100 feet behind a house just off U.S. Highway 31. A Tennessee highway patrolman reported that residents of the house were away at the time of the crash.More than 700 volunteer searchers, Civil Defense workers and police combed a 20-square-mile area for two days. Many of the searchers were Reeves’ friends and associates in the country music business. They included guitarist Chet Atkins and singer Eddy Arnold, Stonewall Jackson and Ernest Tubb.Marty Robins, a close friend of Reeves and also an entertainer, lived within a short distance of where the plane crashed and heard the roar of an airplane engine Friday evening and then a loud thud…as if it had plunged into the ground. When he heard of the accident and searching operations, he notified authorities of what he heard and informed them the direction in which he thought the wreckage might be located.The wreckage was located at 1 p.m. Sunday and the engine of the plane was partly buried and it was reported by Tennessee highway patrolmen that it looked as if someone had gone out and dumped some debris and trash. Reeves’ body was identified from a driver’s license taken from the wreckage.The governor of Tennessee, Frank Clements was a personal friend of Jim Reeves and provided a four-engine U.S. Air Force Strato-Cruiser plane from the National Guard to transport his body, family and associates from Nashville to Shreveport. Hawthorn Funeral Home ambulance transferred the body from Shreveport to Carthage Tuesday evening.Baker said that Reeves had experienced a phenomenal growth in popularity in the United States and Europe during the past ten years. Several polls had recently been taken in England, Holland and other European countries that placed Jim Reeves as the number one favorite singer of country music. The big friendly smile and rich baritone voice of Jim Reeves will be a memory in the hearts of several million people for a long time. Panola County will always cherish his memory as one of her finest gentlemen."

August 6, 1964
Shreveport Times, Shreveport, LA)


"CARTHAGE, TEX -- Country music singer Jim Reeves was returned to the red hills of his permanent home yesterday and the velvet-voiced singer drew his last packed house as some of the greats and near greats of the hillbilly field wiped tears from their eyes. Silent hundreds filed past his casket in the Hawthorn Funeral Home of Carthage all morning prior to the 3 p.m. funeral services for the singer who was killed last Friday in an airplane crash near Nashville, Tenn.Burial was in a private cemetery near Carthage where the 39-year-old singer once roamed the red hills of East Texas. The grave and memorial site is located just off the highway between Carthage and Shreveport.Gentleman Jim’s friends from throughout Texas and the musical world were here for the services and burial of the farm boy who sang and strummed his way to the top of the nation’s country and popular record lists in 11 tuneful years.The 400-seat Central Baptist Church, extra rooms and hallways were filled for the services. Extra chairs were placed in the aisles and halls, and those who could not find seats stood in the rear of the auditorium or outside the building.The estimated audience of 800 was silent throughout the 20-minute service. No songs were sung and only two organ selections were played: “The Old Rugged Cross,” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”The casket was surrounded by huge floral wreaths, one shaped like a harp, another like a guitar, one like a baseball and several like a musical note.Another wreath made of orchid asters and orchid doty mums was placed behind the casket in memory of his 1942 graduation class at Carthage High School. A color photograph of the smooth-voiced singer rested at the head of the casket, which was covered with yellow carnations and bronze mums.Dr. V. L. McKee, pastor of the church, paid tribute to the sophisticated styled country singer, who picked up the nickname of “Gentleman Jim” as a boy.Dr. McKee said, “His good name did not begin with his fame. It began when he was a small boy growing up here in this community…. He was a gentleman as a boy and a gentleman as a man. That is about as fine a tribute that could be paid to any citizen.”His nickname followed him throughout his career because, “He always had a minute to stop and talk,” said Bill Deaton of San Antonio, who handled Reeves’ engagements in Texas.Deaton was among hundreds of Reeves’ business associates and relatives who attended the services.Reeves’ widow, whom he has been married to for 16 years was present along with his brothers and sisters. The Reeves had no children. Reeves’ mother of DeBerry was not able to attend because of illness.Also present was Dick O’Shoughnessy, one of the supporting stars in Jim’s hit movie, “Kimberly Jim” which was recently filmed in South Africa and scheduled to be released soon.Other musicians present were Dewey Groom of Dallas, Ed McLemore of the Big D Jamboree, Horace Logan, who was in charge of the Louisiana Hayride when Jim first rose to fame, Bobby Garrett, a former member of Reeves’ band, Ray Baker, his business manager, and Cindy Walker, who wrote many of Jim’s songs.Reeves’ popularity was not limited to the United States. His song, “I Love You Because,” currently ranked in the top five songs in Scandinavian countries and Ireland. His songs have made the top of the hit list for the past five years in South Africa, where he learned to sing to the people in their own language.Considered a standout as far as an individual is concerned to those close to him, Reeves and his wife were recently in San Antonio looking for a ranch to buy. He flew to San Antonio in the same plane in which he died only days later.


Legendary Banjo Player and Wayne County, Kentucky Native Don Parmley is Dead at 83.

Wayne County, Kentucky native Don Parmley, a lifelong banjo player and patriarch of the legendary Bluegrass Cardinals, has died. He was 83 years old.

Born in 1933, Parmley’s family left Wayne County and moved west to California when Don was a young boy. There, he developed a fascination with bluegrass music and Earl Scruggs' style of banjo playing. In the early 60's, Don was a founding member of The Hillmen, which included future icons Vern Gosdin and Chris Hillman, along with Vern's brother, Rex Gosdin.

The Hillmen became popular in southern California, appearing frequently on television. While Earl Scruggs played the banjo on The Beverly Hillbillies theme song, Don played all the other banjo music for show.

In 1965, Chris Hillman left The Hillmen to join The Byrds. Vern Gosdin went on to become a major country music star and his brother Rex became a successful songwriter. In 1974, Don formed The Bluegrass Cardinals with his son, David, who was only 15 years old at the time.

The Bluegrass Cardinals were together for 23 years, with many top artists joining him along the way, including the group's co-founder, Randy Graham, plus Larry Stephenson, Herschel Sizemore, Mike Hartgrove, Warren Blair and Don Rigsby. The group recorded a number of albums considered essential in the bluegrass canon. They are credited with being the first bluegrass band to record bluegrass gospel in a cappella. The Bluegrass Cardinals disbanded in 1997 when Don announced his retirement.

Don Parmley's lifetime contributions to bluegrass music are many and deserves to be officially recognized. A legion of fans and friends in the bluegrass community are left to mourn his loss.

This sign greets travelers as they enter Wayne Co., KY on Highway 90.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Witnessing A Debate Between Ark Encounter creator Ken Ham and Bill Nye, the Science Guy"

A second unscheduled "debate" between Ken Ham, who built the new Ark Encounter at Williamstown, Kentucky, and Bill Nye "the Science Guy," best known as the host of a children's science show that ran on PBS from 1993 to 1998, occurred this past Friday, July 8, 2015 in front of hundreds of people, including myself and others from Clear Fork Baptist Church in Albany, Kentucky at the Ark Encounter. The first one occurred at Ham's previous project, the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, seven miles west of the Cincinnati Airport, in November of 2014.

The Ark is part of a ministry that teaches Old Testament stories as true historical events. Nye had previously called the ark "a danger to the nation's science education" and had said he hoped it would never be built, because it would "indoctrinate children into this extraordinary and outlandish, unscientific point of view." The ark opened to the public last Thursday, July 7, 2016.

A few weeks ago, Ham had publicly invited Nye to tour the life-size Ark that opened July 7, and offered to personally show him through. Nye accepted. Apparently Bill is the host of an upcoming science documentary and wanted to bring along a video crew as they walked through the Ark. It really turned into an almost 2 hour debate as they walked through all three decks of the Ark. Both Ham and Nye agreed to video the entire discussion as they walked. Numerous children, teens and adults swarmed around them as they passionately interacted as the audience grew.

Like the previous day, which was opening day, there were thousands of visitors at the Ark Encounter on Friday and a large group of them had a unique opportunity they will never forget. Nye challenged Ham about the content of many of the exhibits, and Ham challenged Nye about what he claimed and what he believed. It was a clash of world views. At one point Ham asked Nye: what would happen to you when you die? He said when you die "you're done." Ham then asked Nye why he was concerned about what is being taught at the Ark if when we die we're "done."

The Ark Encounter is four levels, including the ground floor. The exchange between Ham and Nye moved from level to level. It began on the third level where, coincidentally, a few from my church group were at. Three of us stumbled upon the exchange minutes after it began and quickly notified others via cell phone to come watch. As you can see in the above photo, which I took, myself and two others in my group stood within arms reach of Nye and Ham and we were able to both photograph and record what we saw and heard. You can see photos on my Facebook page.

We couldn't believe our ears when Nye told Ham that it's "not crazy to believe we descended from Martians." Ham responded by asking Nye if it was "crazy to believe we descended from Adam and Eve!" The interaction between Ham, Nye and the crowd lasted two hours. Young people also came up and spoke with Nye and asked him questions, and challenged him. Specifically, we witnessed an exchange between Nye and a young lady from Iowa. One member of our group even asked Nye a couple of questions.

Ham is also the founder of Answers in Genesis, an apologetics ministry dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Ham mentioned AiG's PhD scientists, Nye said they were all incompetent, so Ham encouraged Nye to speak with them. Ham had opportunity to share the gospel with Nye a number of times as they strolled through the Ark.

As they made their way through the first floor in front of life-size models of Noah and his family who were depicted praying, Ham asked Nye if he would mind if he prayed, and could he pray for him. Nye responded that Ham could do whatever he wanted, that he couldn't stop him. So while a large group of people were gathered around, Creation Museum and Ark Encounter creator, Ken Ham, publicly prayed for Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Ham asked Nye if they could be friends. Nye replied that they could be acquaintances with mutual respect, but not friends.

Ham later wrote that he never expected their meeting would turn into a two hour debate, but he said sometimes those spontaneous happenings can be very fruitful and exciting. Ham said it was so fitting that with the opening of the Ark Encounter, this massive ship is being used to witness to such a well known personality. The meeting between Ham and Nye ended with a friendly handshake. For more information on the Ark Encounter, a world-class themed attraction that is now open to the public, go to I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Simon & Garfunkel - The Complete Collection (Columbia, 1980)

Simon & Garfunkel - The Complete Collection (1980), 60-song, 5-LP vinyl box set(P5 15333) manufactured by Columbia Special Products and originally made available by mail-order via Tee Vee Records.

Record One:
1. The Sounds Of Silence
2. So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright
3. Sparrow
4. My Little Town
5. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
6. A Most Peculiar Man
7. For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her
8. Keep The Customer Satisfied
9. He Was My Brother
10. Kodachrome
11. Somewhere They Can't Find Me
12. Bookends

Record Two:
1. I Am A Rock
2. Save The Life Of My Child
3. Peggy-O
4. El Condor Pasa (If I Could)
5. April Come She Will
6. Overs
7. The Boxer
8. Cloudy
9. You Can Tell The World
10. All I Know
11. Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.
12. 7 O'Clock News/Silent Night

Record Three:
1. Mrs. Robinson 
2. Second Avenue
3. The Sun Is Burning
4. A Hazy Shade Of Winter
5. Baby Driver
6. You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies
7. America
8. Bye Bye Love
9. Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
10. Loves Me Like A Rock
11. Leaves That Are Green
12. The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine

Record Four:
1. Cecilia
2. Anji
3. Bleecker Street
4. At The Zoo
5. Flowers That Never Bend With The Rainfall
6. Blessed
7. Homeward Bound
8. Song For The Asking
9. We've Got A Groovy Thing Goin'
10. Fakin' It
11. 99 Miles From L.A.
12. Benedictus

Record Five:
1. Bridge Over Troubled Water
2. Kathy's Song
3. Old Friends
4. The Dangling Conversation
5. The Only Living Boy In New York
6. Punky's Dilemma
7. Scarborough Fair/Canticle
8. Richard Cory
9. Patterns
10. Mother And Child Reunion
11. Why Don't You Write Me
12. A Simple Desultory Phillippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd Into Submission)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Celebrating July 4th at Hale's Mill

The possible site of Hale's Mill, downstream from Wolf River Bridge on Highway 111 in Pickett County, TN.

"On the 4th day of July 1861, near a thousand men, women and children of Overton and Fentress Counties, Tennessee, met at Hale’s Mill and celebrated the day, as had been the custom in former years. They raised a hickory pole, on which was hoisted the old flag. Dr. Hale’s daughters and their teacher, sang the “Star Spangles Banner.” Mrs. Hale, read the Declaration of Independence, and the whole concourse of people partook of a bountiful repast prepared by our women, every one of whom opposed revolution in every shape." - J.D. Hale.

The Civil War had begun twenty-two days earlier. Our ancestors thought this area was too remote to be included in any war, but it came nearly three months later to Travisville. The date was September 29,1861. The Affair at Travisville, as it became known, was the first military action of any kind during the Civil War in Tennessee. Not only in shots fired, but also in the first fatalities. Four Confederate soldiers were killed and four others were captured.

Almost four months later, on January 19, 1862, the Battle of Mill Springs was fought at nearby Nancy, Ky in Wayne  and Pulaski counties. The war coming here was inevitable. By its end, 10,500 battles, engagements and other military actions had occured, including nearly 50 major battles and about 100 others that had major significance. The remainder were skirmishes, reconnaissances, naval engagements, sieges, bombardments, etc. The engagements were fought in 23 different states and resulted in a total of over 650,000 deaths.

In October of 1845, Jonathan Hale and John Jouett began to erect grist and saw mills on Wolf River. This 100-acre property was in the area where the Farmhouse Restaurant is located on Highway 111, between Byrdstown and the Tennessee-Kentucky state line. Hale established a two-story mill and store and served as postmaster at Hale's Mill. It was said that he also operated a manufacturing facility there, producing wagons and furniture.

Hale, known as J.D.,  had been born in Stoddard, Massachusetts in the year 1817. He stood five-feet-nine inches high with a heavy build. He was rather stooped, or round at the shoulder. His head was long and narrow. His hair was a sandy color and he was said to have a gray eye. He and his wife, Pheroba Chilton (1826-1905), had seven children.

When the Civil War started in 1861, Hale and his family declared for the Union. As a matter of fact, he was among the first to denounce and expose session. The U. S. Army appointed him a captain and Chief of Scouts of the Army of the Cumberlands. In this capacity he served under General George Thomas. Hale reported on the activities of Confederate leaders Morgan, Forrest, and Wheeler. He also recruited men in Tennessee for the Union army.

The massive July 4th celebration that had taken place at Hale's Mill, coupled with Hale's expressions of loyalty to the United States, infuriated Confederate sympathizers. Hale's family was forced to flee across the state line to Albany, Ky for safety. Three days after the July 4th celebration, all of Hale's property was destroyed by fire. $20,000 worth of buildings and materials were burned, including Hale’s home and two other houses, a large library in Hale’s house, worker's cabins, a barn, stable, store, still house, kitchen, grist and saw mill, 1000 bushels of corn, planning machine, mortising machine, running lathe, circular saws, tolls, lumber, wagons, and furniture. In 1864, a military commission awarded Hale $25,000 in a assessment levied against those accused of burning his property.

The Civil War officially ended on May 9, 1865. The 4th of July celebration across America that year was unlike any other in the nation’s history. An uneasy mix of joy, relief, resentment and unhealed wounds was reported as Americans sought reasons for celebration after a war that nearly tore apart the country.

Three months earlier, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at a Virginia courthouse and, days later, John Wilkes Booth fatally shot President Lincoln in a Washington theater. Richmond and much of the rest of the South were in ruins, ruled by the U.S. military, while an untested President Andrew Johnson was trying to find his way forward. He looked to the 4th of July as a launching point to reunify not just the states, but also the hearts and minds of their inhabitants. “Of all the anniversaries of the Declaration of Independence, none has been more important and significant than that upon which you assemble,” he proclaimed. “Let us trust that each recurring 4th of July shall find our nation stronger in number, stronger in wealth, stronger in the harmony of the citizens, stronger in its devotion to nationality and freedom.”

For the first time in more than four years, Independence Day 1865 dawned without Americans on the battlefield trying to kill other Americans. Contemporary accounts and newspaper stories depicted a subdued, at times somber celebration in a country struggling to recover a sense of normalcy. In some places, the holiday was barely observed at all.

And so it was that on July 4, 1865, a group once again gathered at the Hale's Mill site to celebrate Independence Day, as well as the outcome of the war. They hoisted the 'old flag' and attendants fired a 34-gun salute. Hale’s daughters again sang the Star Spangled Banner and this time it was Hale who read the Declaration of Independence.

In his book, "The Bloody Shirt," Hale wrote, "In what does freedom consist? What is meant by the expression to be free, which really has no meaning at all in this connection, for the ex-slaves as a mass are not so free to be contented as they were at the commencement [of the war] in which we considered it honorable to destroy one another...what signified to the soldier wisdom, purity, patriotism, while an ounce of lead pierced him and he died in the midst of thousands of other dying men, whose last view was of their homes destroyed by fire and sword, amid the cries of their women and children perishing - all for pretended principles no one knew the merits of?"

By 1871, the Hale family had left this area for New Hampshire. Jonathan died of old age in 1896. In 2011, Tennessee honored him by erecting a historical marker near the site of Hale's Mill on Highway 111 in Pickett County. It is located beside the Farmhouse Restaurant.

Jonathan Hale, left, and Tinker Dave Beaty

Thursday, June 30, 2016

God is Able

"I needed to hear this today," she wrote on Facebook, and then proceeded to write the lyrics to a song I had composed five years earlier.

"He leadeth me beside still waters
Holding to my hand I know
Whatever path I take God is able
And though the journey that I'm on
Might sometimes be too rough and long
No matter come what may
God is able

He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me that I'm his very own
He died for me on Mount Calvary
That by his blood I might be made whole
God is able
Yeah yeah, God is able"

I wrote this in 2011 following an instance where I was confronted with the phrase, "God is able." I remember posting the words on Facebook, but I don't know how she would have come across them five years later, unless she had shared it on her page. I prefer to think that it had to be the Lord.

I have learned that what we share on social media matters, as in this case. That is why I try to be uplifting.

"If I can help somebody as I pass along
If I can cheer somebody with a word or song
If I can show somebody he is traveling wrong
Then my living shall not be in vain."

In my life, I strive to do as this songs says. So should anyone else who is interested in helping mankind. I have a radio friend in Indiana, a child from the "Peace and Love" generation of the 1960's, who once asked me, "What about that "GOD" thing?" I told her how God is able and I shared with her the same exact testimony I just shared with the lady who posted my lyrics on her Facebook page. It is the same testimony I am about to share with you.

The phrase, "God is Able," was something that I needed to hear back in 2003 when I was first diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy and was told my name would be the list for a heart transplant. My dad had died two weeks prior and I had three small children, the oldest being nine years old. In my darkest moment, lying there alone, weeping in that hospital bed, a lady, not a nurse, just someone who smiled at me, came into my room and handed me an envelope and then turned around and left. Inside the envelope was a card and inside the card were the words, "God is able." Ten minutes later, my phone rang. It was a close friend, a judge, who felt led to call and say to me that God is able to do all things. We both wept, I the more after all that had transpired in that hospital room within a matter of minutes. My name was taken off the transplant list the next day.

Those were not the only times that I have been confronted with the phrase, "God is able." I had read a conversation between two of my Overton County cousins. One was talking about how hard life is. The other replied that she would be to her like Aaron and Hur in Exodus 17, where Moses realized that the Israelites prevailed in battle while his hands were raised but lost ground when his hands were lowered. I googled the phrase, "life is hard," which led me to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Eulogy of the Martyred Children," on Sept. 18, 1963. It was delivered at the funeral service for 3 of the 4 girls who were killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama three days earlier.

"Now I say to you in conclusion, life is hard, at times as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak and difficult moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of the river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of its summers and the piercing chill of its winters. And if one will hold on, he will discover that God walks with him and that GOD IS ABLE to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace."

I am confirmly convinced that God wants me to know that He is able, as the bible says, "to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." (Ephesians 3:20). "God is able" has become my motto. The lady on Facebook said, "I needed to hear this today." If I need to hear it daily, that is fine by me.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Value of a Good Song

I was a junior in high school when I began my career in radio. I first worked Sunday nights. Even though the station format was country, I was allowed to play rock and roll records.

A few days after I first started, I was asked to fill in on a mid-morning shift. Sunday night's was all music and very litte commercials. It was a lot different through the week, so I was pretty nervous stepping into the 'big league' so soon. But, I was raised up in radio and had been around the station enough to know about the country artists. Twenty minutes into the shift, I cued up "Four Walls" by Jim Reeves. A minute into the song, the telephone rang. It was my grandmother. She said, "Now you're doing it! Keep that up and you'll be alright."

In that moment, my love for radio went to a depth I never imagined it would. I had learned the value of a good song. If there was any doubt about what I wanted to do the rest of my life, my grandmother settled it.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Waiting For The Right Thing To Be Done

President Obama is always talking about righting wrongs. On this anniversary of D-Day, I know of one wrong he can right: Award a Medal of Honor posthumously to First Lieutenant Garlin Murl Conner. 

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

 Lt. Conner left the U.S. Army as the second-most decorated soldier during World War II, earning four Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, seven Purple Hearts, the Distinguished Service Cross and the French Medal of Honor for his actions during 28 straight months in combat. 

Audie Murphy has always been recognized as the most decorated soldier during World War II. The Medal of Honor would give Lt. Conner one more award than Audie Murphy, thus making him America's most decorated hero of all wars. 

Before his death, Lt. Conner's commander in World War II, retired Maj. Gen. Lloyd B. Ramsey of Salem, Va., filed an affidavit saying Lt. Conner's work, while injured, provided valuable intelligence. 

"There is no doubt that Lt. Conner should have been awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions," Ramsey wrote. "One of the most disappointing regrets of my career is not having the Medal of Honor awarded to the most outstanding soldier I've ever had the privilege of commanding." 

Lt. Conner's fellow soldiers also filed affidavits crediting Conner with helping not only save the lives of fellow soldiers but being key to defeating the Germans in the battle. 

"Between the artillery strikes Conner called in and spray from his own machine gun, he killed at least 50 German soldiers and wounded twice as many. His heroic and entirely voluntary act saved our battalion. If he hadn't done what he did, we would have had to fight for our lives," said retired Lt. Harold Wigetman, a member of the red Battalion. 

Mr. President, do the right thing. Award the Medal of Honor to Lt. Garlin Murl Conner.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Ali & Cosell

“Don’t touch me,” i’ll beat your brains out.” - Howard Cowell speaking to Muhammad Ali.

I recently wrote a series of stories entitled, "Sports Announcers I Grew Up With." On March 15th of this year, I paid tribute to the late Howard Cosell. His style of hard news-like reporting transformed sports broadcasting. His distinctive voice, accent, cadence, etc. were a form of color commentary all their own. He admitted being arrogant, among other things, and he wore a toupee. Those things were all Muhammad Ali needed to rib Cosell. Ali loved to tease Cosell about his toupee and always threatened to remove it from Cosell's head. Of course, Cosell never let him do it.

According to sportswriter Dave Kindred, the relationship between Ali and Cosell made for some of the best theater in American sports. Whether the pair were discussing an upcoming title fight or the state of modern society, their conversations always sizzled.

In Kindred's "Sound and Fury: Two Powerful Lives, One Fateful Friendship," he wrote the following:

"They should never have met. Ali and Cosell lived in parallel worlds, separated by the sociological barriers of age, race, religion, education, and geography. But greater forces were at work. For most of twenty years, the fighter and the broadcaster appeared together on national television so many times that they became a de facto comedy team, Ali & Cosell."

"[They] were different. It was real. No scripts, no rehearsals, no let's-shoot-that-scene-again. What television viewers saw was the most famous man on Earth talking with the most famous television star in America."

"The fighter forever titillated spectators with pantomimed threats to lift the broadcaster's hairpiece and once said, "Cosell, you're a phony, and that thing on your head comes from the tail of a pony." To a Cosell scolding of "You're being extremely truculent," the defiant child Ali replied, "Whatever 'truculent' means, if that's good, I'm that."

"It made Ali & Cosell must-see TV. At the dawn of television's dominance of popular culture, they were both the creators and beneficiaries of sudden fame never before available. Both profited from the work, for without Ali engaging his liberal social conscience, Cosell would never have found his truest voice; and without the embrace of Cosell and the American Broadcasting Company when other networks wanted nothing to do with him, Ali could have been dismissed as a cultural-fringe aberration."

"Only the rare journalist stood with him, though, and only Cosell did it on national TV. Cosell defended Ali's right to his religion, his right to oppose induction into the army, and his right to work while appealing his conviction for refusing the draft. He did it at the risk of his reputation and his livelihood in a business — television — not famous for principled stands that might offend advertisers. He did it, too, Cosell often said, despite thousands of hate letters he received."

"Ali & Cosell worked because the men their television audiences, love and hate, racism and tolerance, fear and courage, idealism and compromise. Cosell loved Ali, the rebel with a belief, and Ali loved Cosell, the cranky old white guy brave enough to stand with him in the storm.

"One was Beauty, one was the Beast, and we never quite knew which was which."

In Memory of Howard Cosell (April 23, 1995)

My 78 RPM Disks (1905-1924)

1. Albert Campbell - Dreaming (3701). Steve Porter - Flanagan At The Vocal Teacher's (3705). Standard Talking Machine Company 1907. 2. ...