Monday, July 4, 2022

I'm Mighty Proud of that Ragged Old Flag

"This ragged old flag is something to cherish," said Debra Brown Craig of Albany. It made me think of that song Johnny Cash wrote in 1974 during a time of political turbulence in the United States that had forced the resignation of President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Although Cash had publicly supported Nixon's candidacy, he had started to question the wisdom of Nixon-era policies concerning the Vietnam War. He wrote "Ragged Old Flag" to "reaffirm faith in the country and the goodness of the American people.

Debra's father, J.O.Brown, flew the flag (see photo) outside the family store, Brown’s Food Mart in Albany, for many years. "Daddy was definitely a patriot," she says of her father who served as a Tech 4 specialist in the U.S. Army during WWII. He passed away in 1976. For as long as she can remember, this flag waved proudly at the store, which was where the Garden Spot is now. As you can see, the flag is old, tattered, ripped and worn, but praise God it still perseveres, despite the obstacles it has endured. "Just like our country," says Debra, who added, "May God continue to bless America. Happy Independence Day, everyone." My sentiment as well, Debra!

"And the government for which she stands
Is scandalized throughout the land
And she's getting threadbare and wearing thin
But she's in good shape for the shape she's in
'Cause she's been through the fire before
And I believe she can take a whole lot more"

- Johnny Cash (Ragged Old Flag)

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.

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 thgBbel 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!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Are You Washed in the Blood?

The book of Hebrews draws a contrast between animal sacrifices and Christ's sacrifice. The former could never take away sins, but when Christ shed his own blood, it was a once and for all sacrifice that removes sins.

Beginning with verse 9, the scripture says, "Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. (10) By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (11) And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: (12) But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God."

In 1878, Elisha Hoffman, a Presbyterian minister in Ohio, shared this truth by writing a hymn that asks the reader if they have been restored and redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

"Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb
There's a fountain flowing for the soul unclean
O be washed in the blood of the Lamb!"

This weekend, as we reflect on the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and celebrate his resurrection, I wonder, have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

"Are you washed in the blood
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless?
Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?"

Saturday, April 2, 2022

So Long, Rubber Duck, Keep the Hammer Down

Bill Fries, an advertising executive better known as C.W. McCall, who had hit country records in the 1970s about long-haul truck driving and renegade truck drivers during the height of the citizens band radio craze, died April 1st at his home in Ouray, Colo. He was 93.

Quoting from a Washington Post article by Matt Shudel, the character of C.W. McCall came from Fries (pronounced "Freeze") in a series of commercials for a Midwestern bread company. His best-known song was “Convoy,” which became a #1 country and pop hit in January 1976.

In that song, the name, or “handle,” of the song’s central character, Rubber Duck, chats with another driver, Pig Pen, hauling a load of foul-smelling hogs, which becomes a running joke throughout the song.

"Ah, breaker, Pig Pen, this here's the Duck
And, you wanna back off them hogs?
Yeah, 10-4, 'bout five mile or so
Ten, roger, them hogs is gettin' in-tense up here"

“Convoy helped popularize the lingo that truck drivers used over their citizens band radios," writes Shudel. "People went full tilt into the CB radio craze because of it. The song came along when truckers faced rising fuel costs and a nationwide 55 mph speed limit. While laced with humor, the song also had a rebellious feeling about it and people responded to it."

"Pig Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck and I'm about to put the hammer down!"

"Convoy" sold an estimated 7 million copies and spawned the 1978 film of the same name, starring Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, Burt Young, Madge Sinclair, Ernest Borgnine and Cassie Yates. During the same period, Burt Reynolds’ “Smokey and the Bandit” movies were box-office hits, and the “outlaw” country music of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson was gaining popularity.

"Ah, breaker one-nine
This here's the Rubber Duck
You gotta copy on me, Pig Pen, c'mon?
Ah, yeah, 10-4, Pig Pen, fer shure, fer shure
By golly, it's clean clear to Flag Town, c'mon
Yeah, that's a big 10-4 there, Pig Pen
Yeah, we definitely got the front door, good buddy
Mercy sakes alive, looks like we got us a convoy"

Monday, March 28, 2022

Clear Fork's Beginning, 220 Years Ago

Preacher Isaac Denton was among the early settlers who arrived on the Kentucky-Tennessee border between 1798 and 1799, just as the second great awakening was getting underway. That event, which lasted into the early 1800's, brought comfort in the face of uncertainty after our founding fathers changed the way of life by establishing the separation of church and state in the first amendment to the Constitution.

While the first great awakening some sixty years earlier had focused on religious reform, the second one focused on moral reform. It also brought about an outpouring of religious fervor and revival. Extraordinary numbers of people converted from Congregationalists, Anglicans and Quakers to evangelical Baptists and Methodism. On the local scene, soon after his arrival, Bro. Denton held a camp meeting and began preaching to the other settlers. One of the results from that was the organizing of Clear Fork Baptist Church on April 1, 1802.

This week we are celebrating 220 years as the oldest continuing congregation in this region. Only by the grace of God has this "Lighthouse in the Wilderness" been allowed to exist all these years. She has faced many struggles and hardships, but thanks be to God for sending great men like Isaac Denton to lead us. Today, our pastor, Bob Sawyer, has been leading us now for 30 years. God has truly blessed us!

"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." (2 Timothy 1:9)

Monday, March 21, 2022

A Bridge Not Made By Hands

Hanchrist Carlock came to America from Holland around 1725. Before the American Revolution, he was the road foreman in Augusta County, Virginia. About the same time, George Washington was working as a civil engineer in Augusta County. George was given the task of surveying a road from the mouth of the Potomac River to Natural Bridge. One of the wonders of the world, Natural Bridge approaches Niagara Falls in grandeur and exceeds it in height (215 feet) and natural mystery. Natural Bridge is 100 feet wide. Its span is 90 feet. Under its arch men look like small boys, and giant trees like small bushes. Thomas Jefferson was the first owner of the land surrounding Natural Bridge. He spoke of it as yet to be 'a famous place that will draw the attention of the world.' John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court 1801 to 1835, named it 'God's Greatest Miracle In Stone.' American statesman and orator Henry Clay wrote of 'the Bridge not made with hands.'

To assist him in the survey of this great scenic wonder, the future president hired Hanchrist to be his foreman. One day, George chiseled 'G. Washington' in capital letters 23 feet up the Southwest wall of the canyon. Hanchrist chiseled 'H. Carlock' about 12 feet below and 10 feet to the right of Washington's. Both signatures are still visible today.

Hanchrist's son, Job, migrated to Overton County, Tennessee sometime around 1805 and married Sarah McDonald. Their daughter, Nancy, married Presbyterian minister Clemens Means, son of irish immigrants, about 1820. Clemens' brother, Benjamin, was the great-great grandfather of my grandmother, Dimple.

In his own biographical sketch, Clemens Means wrote, "It is for me to remember that the Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble." I thought about how many times George Washington, John Marshal and even Henry Clay might have turned to God for help as they were helping form this great country of ours. I imagine Hanchrist Carlock needed a higher power as he left his homeland for America, and so did his son, Job, as he migrated west from Virginia to Tennessee.

It really is a small world, sometimes hard to live in. But, just like the characters in this story, it is a whole lot easier to live in when we realize that we are connected by a 'bridge not made by hands.'

Friday, February 25, 2022

Gene Ferrill

One November day, back several years ago, Jack Bell stopped by the radio station to tell me that his birthday that year was going to be on Thanksgiving Day. I was scheduled to work that day and told him to come by around 12:30 and I would put on a long-playing CD and we would go to Horseshoe Grill, where I would buy him lunch.

Somehow Gene Ferrill found out about it and suggested I bring him to the jail. Since he and his wife would be serving Thanksgiving meals to prisoners that day, we were welcomed to join them, and we did. There was even a birthday cake! Afterwards, we took Jack outside, where he posed for a photograph beside the Clinton County Jail sign. In that photograph he was holding a shotgun, a throwback to the days when Jack worked as a deputy under sheriff Johnny Cummings. Both Gene and I felt good about all that had transpired that day and in the years to come would often reminisce about it. It was, and will always be, my most favorite Thanksgiving Day.

Gene Ferrill was a household name in Clinton County. He was our jailer for five terms, and was currently serving a second term as city councilman. Precisely put, the definition of him was 'someone who possessed a quiet and gentle spirit, one of humility and immense love for other people.' He liked reading my stories, he said, because it was a way for him to keep up with me during stretches when we were unable to see each other to talk about old times. "Good times," he would say, and good times they were.

One of my favorite memories of Gene, when his mother was living, was when he would advertise on the radio, be it a campaign ad for jailer, or a Christmas greeting. He would always end his speech by telling his mom how much he loved her. His devotion to family and friends is worth mentioning, because none of us will be forgetting him anytime soon. His gentleness and tender love towards people spoke volumes.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Richard Wade, A Local Man, Served Under Daniel Boone

In 1777 Richard Wade, who had already served one term as a revolutionary war soldier, re-enlisted in the Bedford County, Virginia militia to defend the frontier. Soon afterwards he was sent to Boonesboro, Kentucky to serve under Daniel Boone. When the fort ran low on salt, Boone took Richard and twenty-seven others to gather more at Blue Licks at Carlisle, where they were surrounded by Indians and taken to Detroit and sold to the English. Seven of the prisoners escaped and made their way back to the Ohio River only to be recaptured and taken back to Detroit and then on to Montreal, Canada. After two years in prison, Richard and a few others managed to escape. He made his way to Pittsburgh and then down the Ohio River to Boonesboro, where he stayed.

Richard helped bury the dead soldiers following the Battle of Blue Licks, in Robertson County, Kentucky, on August 19, 1782. A force of about 50 Loyalists al with 300 American Indians had ambushed and routed 182 Kentucky militiamen. Richard was up for court martial for refusing to fight, but was excused by General George Rogers Clark. It would be one of the last battles of the American Revolutionary War.

After the war ended, Richard remained at Boonesborough for several years. His son, John, was born there in 1781. His older son, Elisha, who had been born in Virginia, served with the Kentucky Militia and fought in the War of 1812. In 1801, Richard moved his family to a part of Wayne County that later became Clinton County. He died on February 7, 1844, at the age of 92, and is buried at Cartwright Cemetery with his wife and sons.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Clinton County's First Bronze Star Recepient in Vietnam was the son of Teral the Mystic

Teral Garrett became interested in magic at the age of twelve and gave his first public performance one day in english class at Albany High School. In the 1930's he per­formed as "Teral The Mystic" with a variety group called the Rozelle Players and became a well-known act. He was also editor of three magazines, including Psycho-Gizmo, which was in print from 1951 to 1965, and for several years, he also ope­rated a mail order magicians supply house out of Albany, filling orders from all over the world.

Teral broke his neck at an early age, which kept him from jobs that required any exertion of great physical energy. It also exempted him from serving in the armed forces during WWII. While he may have been unable to serve in the military, his son, James, was an Army Specialist Four with the 7th infantry division in Korea and with the 29th infantry in Vietnam, where he became what was believed to be the first Clinton County soldier to be awarded the Bronze Star Medal in the Vietnam war.

On Dec. 20, 1968, while his unit was sweeping through a suspected enemy command post, they came under deadly automatic weapons fire. Seeing the platoon leader had been wounded and the communications equipment destroyed, James left his vehicle and ran through enemy fire to another vehicle for the needed equipment, securing communications within his unit.

Both Teral and James died at a young age. Teral was 56 when he passed away on Nov. 7, 1970, after suffering a heart attack about a week earlier. James was 57 when he died on May 2, 2005. Among their survivors was their son, and brother, Pace Garrett.

I'm Mighty Proud of that Ragged Old Flag

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