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“I have a great confidence in the revelations which holidays [and anniversaries] bring forth.”
—Benjamin Disraeli

In my previous post, published on December 4 and titled “The South, Arkansas, and the Delta,” I noted that it would probably be the last post I would publish in 2015 (which it was) due to my advancing age and failing health.

However, although I continue to have to deal with those personal issues, three interesting events took place during the “holiday season” (including our fifty-third wedding anniversary on December 27) so I decided to try to put them together into a new year’s post.

Jimmy and Marion at our fiftieth wedding anniversary

Mari and me at our fiftieth wedding anniversary on December 27, 2012 (to enlarge, click on the photo)

Mari and Jimmy at their wedding on December 27, 1962

Mari and me at our wedding on December 27, 1962, at the First Baptist Church of McGehee, Arkansas (to enlarge, click on the photo)

Anecdote One:
Showing Hospitality to Strangers/
Entertaining Angels Unawares

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
—Hebrews 13:2 NIV

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
—Hebrews 13:2 KJV

In an earlier post titled “Follow-Up on Fall Updates and Tidbits” I used this opening quote of Hebrews 13:2 NIV in another personal anecdote. This one was from the mid-1970s and recounted my meeting with a Japanese-American woman who had been a detainee at the WWII Rohwer Japanese-American Incarceration Camp near our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas.

This lady was distraught because she lived in Chicago and had no one to take care of her mother’s grave at the Rohwer Memorial Cemetery. I later regretted that I had neglected to show proper “hospitality to strangers” by failing to offer to take care of the grave for her.

Japanese-American Memorial Cemetery at Rohwer, Arkansas

Japanese-American Memorial Cemetery at the WWII Japanese-American Incarceration Camp at Rohwer, Arkansas

In a somewhat similar anecdote titled “Have You Seen Any Angels This Christmas?” from an earlier Christmas post titled “My Après-Blog Post: Saving Mr. Peacock” I related how I felt that I had failed to show full hospitality to a poor single mother and her toddling son in the parking lot of a local drugstore when she asked for enough money for gas to get herself and her young child back home.

Now in a much less significant, but perhaps in a more relevant anecdote to the subject and the season, I was again reminded of this biblical admonition to “show hospitality” or to “entertain” strangers.

Grossly simplified, it related to my physical and emotional health which has virtually robbed me of most of my ability to carry on the ordinary activities of my former daily life.

The emotional aspect revolves around the feeling of being an invalid and more or less a burden to my wife and family rather than a blessing.

Since I was lying in the recliner at home bemoaning my limited movements and activities, naturally I was somewhat vexed when our older grandson Levi called to say he was coming over to visit us (which was fine) . . . and would like for a teenage friend to meet him here.

Our older grandson Levi

Earlier photo of our older grandson Levi (for an updated image, see the Christmas 2015 family photo at the end of this post)

I must admit that in my current state I did not feel at all disposed to “welcoming” and “entertaining” a strange teenage boy.

As I was bemoaning the obligations the visit would require of me, Levi called again to inform us that his friend was walking and was bringing his sister, who needed to go to the bathroom!

Naturally, I was even further disturbed at having to welcome and entertain not only the new boy but also the boy’s sister.

To top it off, while walking to our house the boy and his sister became lost so Levi had to try to give them directions by cell phone.

By the time the pair arrived, I was in a real state of nervousness and even physical pain.

When the doorbell finally rang, I responded with a groan.

Then Levi opened the door, and in walked the sister.

She was tiny and beautiful and sweet . . . an absolute doll . . . and she was four years old!

Immediately my entire attitude changed. I melted like a chocolate bar on a hot day! My pain and sickness vanished instantly and completely!

Mari was quickly dispatched to lead the innocent child down the hall to the bathroom while the little girl’s teenage brother visited with Levi and me.

The boy was refreshingly polite and well-mannered, a real joy to converse with in this age of the so-called “generation gap.”

Image how bad I felt about my former attitude toward the young pair before I had even met them.

After our brief visit, Mari decided the walk back to the kids’ grandmother’s house was far too great for the youngsters to undertake, so she put them into the car and drove them back home.

Meanwhile, I was left to squirm in my recliner and regret my immediate and somewhat less than hospitable attitude toward a couple of very nice kids whom I had never met.

I only hope that next time I can learn to do better at showing the Christmas/Christian spirit to strangers, especially during the Holy Seasons of the year.

After all, angels are not always the way we envision them. Sometimes they arrive in the form of teenage boys (like our two grandsons and their friends) . . . and sometimes they enter our lives as little four-year-old girls!

Anecdote Two:
Who Are Angels
And What Do They Do?

“What are the angels, then? They are spirits who serve God
and are sent by him to help those who are to receive salvation.”
—Hebrews 1:14 GNT

“Are not all angels ministering spirits
sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”
—Hebrews 1:14 NIV

In an earlier post titled “Inspiration Infusion: Memory Flood at the Center for Blood” I described the regular procedure that Mari and I must follow when we visit the blood center of a Tulsa hospital for treatment of my blood disorder. Often this procedure includes infusions of blood.

In that post I noted:

Because of my other health issues, those regular blood infusions usually consist of two units of blood administered in separate sessions over a two-day period.

During each of those procedures I must spend three to four hours sitting in a recliner hooked up to an IV while Mari sits beside me [or in front of me] in a straight chair in a cold and rather stark and sterile room. Although the nurses in the blood center are wonderfully warm and attentive, responding instantly and graciously to our every need and desire, there is no way they or anyone else can speed up the procedures.” (italics mine)

Mari standing behind me as I rest in my recliner on an IV at the blood center

Mari standing behind me as I rest in my recliner wearing my Arkansas Razorback cap while attached to an IV in the blood center (to enlarge, click on the photo)

It was during the recent “holiday season” that the second “angelic” incident occurred, this one at the blood center.

Late in the afternoon while I still had a couple of hours or more to go before the infusion would be complete and I could be released from the IV to which I was attached, Mari received a call on her cell phone from our older grandson Levi, fifteen.

It seems that Levi and his brother Ben, thirteen, had come to our neighborhood to play football with some friends. Since he was in the area Levi decided to visit us to see if we were all right.

Unfortunately, when he discovered that we were not home he also discovered that the garage door through which he had gained entrance to the house would not close.

So he called Mari to ask about us and what to do about the open garage door. He was concerned because he knew that the house directly across the street had recently been burgled and that he had to leave our house to go with a group of friends to another town.

So Mari had to leave me alone in the blood center while she drove home (a forty-five-minute drive) in darkening, rush-hour holiday traffic to close the garage door before we lost everything in the house, especially the numerous presents under the Christmas tree!

While Mari was gone on that hour-and-a-half round trip I was on pins and needles, especially since I could not reach her on my cell phone. All I received each time was a message: “Your call did not go through.”

To make matters worse, Mari was not calling me on her cell phone. So given my fertile imagination and my neurotic nature, I was quickly becoming panicky.

Finally after an hour and a half, the time when Mari should have returned to the blood center safe and sound, I could stand the suspense no longer.

So I asked the kindly nurse attending me to please try to call Mari for me since I was having no luck reaching her.

Just as the obliging nurse did so, she learned that Mari was only a mile from the hospital, and would be there in a matter of minutes.

I was so relieved, but still I waited anxiously to learn what had happened at the house during her absence.

As it turned out, when Mari finally returned to the blood center she told me that Ben had taken matters in hand and had gone to the home of the city policeman who lives two doors down the street and told him:

“The garage door on my grandmother’s house won’t close, and she is coming from the hospital in Tulsa to close it. Can you come watch the house until she gets here?”

Our younger grandson Ben

Earlier photo of our younger grandson Ben (for an updated image, see the Christmas 2015 family photo at the end of this post)

Fortunately, the policeman was home and agreed to Ben’s request so that when Mari arrived the policeman was out in front of the house protecting it personally.

So some angels appear not only as teenage boys and as four-year-old girls, but also as nurses in scrubs and policemen in uniform.

Note: Later on, Mari hand–delivered a homemade coffee cake to the policeman down the street with a word of thanks for his watching over our house and belongings. Then on our Christmas Eve visit to the blood center Mari expressed our gratitude to the nurses at the center by taking them cookies and other holiday treats. Finally, Mari provided treats of appreciation for the valet parking attendants who render us and the other blood center patients such a wonderful service so that we never have to search for a parking place or walk long distances, especially during inclement weather. These and so many others in our daily lives—most of whom we take for granted—are indeed “angels,” God’s “ministering spirits” on our behalf. God bless them, every one!

Holiday/Anniversary Anecdote Three:
“Angels Unawares” and “Angels Awares”

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.”
“Endymion,” a poem written by John Keats

“A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life. . . .

“Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
‘Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.’”
—Proverbs 31:10-12, 28-29 NIV

Earlier in this post I mentioned the nurses at the blood center and how “wonderfully warm and attentive” they are and how diligent they are in “responding instantly and graciously to our every need and desire.”

Thus it is clear that I include them (and indeed all nurses, especially those who have cared for me in my many health issues) on my list of God’s angels, His “ministering spirits.”

In essence, along with other “public servants” (such as policemen and even the young people who serve as valet parking attendants at the blood center), I hold them in high esteem and great appreciation.

I have thus included them and so many others in our daily lives as “angels unawares.”

But there are others whom I consider “angels awares.”

Mari (first from left) as a blond-haired high-school Christmas angel in the McGehee, Arkansas, Nativity Scene at Christmas in 1957.

Mari (first on left) as a blond-haired high-school Christmas angel in the McGehee, Arkansas, Nativity Scene at Christmas time in 1957 (to enlarge, click on the photo)

For example, during the “holiday season” I was nearing the end of my second infusion of blood and was looking forward to being released by the nurses.

As I have noted, during those long hours at the blood center I am confined to a recliner and attached to an IV while Mari has to sit in a straight chair either beside me or in front of me where she passes the time crocheting afghans, prayer shawls, baby blankets, and other lovely and useful items for others.

On this occasion, she was sitting in front of me dressed in her brightest holiday sweater and dangling earrings, with her blond hair glowing like spun gold from the light on her head as she labored diligently and quietly, waiting patiently for the moment when we could be dismissed.

Mari in her Christmas sweater and dangly earrings

Mari in her Christmas sweater and dangling earrings (with me and Levi reflected in the mirror)

However, for some reason my blood pressure (which the nurses check three times every hour) was extremely high—so high in fact that the nurses would not allow me to leave.

In an instant there were three of them around my chair giving me advice on how to bring it down.

One was saying, “Just relax!”

Another was urging me, “Take deep breaths!”

The third was more specific when she advised me, “Just think of the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to you in your life!”

“That’s easy,” I replied instantly. “I’m looking at her right now!”

Mari as "the most beautiful thing that ever happened in my life"!

Mari as “the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me in my life”! (to enlarge, click on the photo)

Mari (second from left directly in front of the queen) as a senior maid (beauty) in the McGehee High School Homecoming parade

Mari (second from left rear, seated directly in front of the queen) as a Senior Homecoming maid (“a thing of beauty”) in the McGehee High School Homecoming Parade (to enlarge, click on the photo)

In response to that “sweet remark,” the nurses were so impressed that (although my blood pressure was still a bit high) they allowed us to leave.

So we did so, with me leaning on my cane with my right hand and holding onto to Mari’s right arm with my left hand: a posture that we have followed physically for the past two years of my illness, and symbolically for the fifty-three years of our marriage.

So I am well aware of at least one of the “angels” (“ministering spirits,” “things of beauty”) whom God has placed in my life and who has served me so well for more half a century.

Is there any wonder that I praise her and her lasting beauty and undying devotion, saying (and writing):  “Mari, many women do noble things,  but you surpass them all. Happy Anniversary!”

So angels sometimes appear not only as teenage boys and four-year-old girls, as nurses in scrubs and policemen in uniform, and even as valet parking attendants . . . but also as our own life’s partner . . . and family members!

Marion with her 2015 Christmas sweater and dangly earrings and family

Mari in her 2015 Christmas sweater and dangling earrings with her family (l to r): grandson Ben, Mari, son Keiron, grandson Levi, husband Jimmy (to enlarge, click on the photo)

For more information and photos of Mari throughout her life as an “angel” and “a thing of beauty,” click here.

Conclusion

“Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.”
—Psalm 103:20-21 NIV

“For he [God] will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.”
—Psalm 91:11 NIV

As noted in my introduction to this post, I had not intended to publish a new post on this subject of angels. However, since these events involving angels occurred during the “holiday/anniversary season” I decided to try to put them together in this post.

Unfortunately, due to my health and the season’s activities I was not able to publish it earlier during that season.

I hope the delay does not detract from its message and appeal.

The truth is that I had planned to try to put together and publish another very different post during the first week of January.

However, my health and family obligations simply would not allow that rather difficult and complicated undertaking. Perhaps I can compose and publish it later also as a belated message.

Meanwhile, please keep me in your thoughts and prayers that God will continue to send His angels, who do His bidding and obey His Word and His will, to guard and keep me and my family in all our ways.

That is my prayer for you and for everyone else who reads this post and others on my blog. Those readers must be fairly numerous since the blog is now approaching 95,000 visits.

Thanks to you!

Sources

The earlier blog post titled “Follow-Up on Fall Updates and Tidbits” can be accessed at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/follow-up-on-fall-updates-and-tidbits/

The earlier blog post titled “My Après-Blog Post: Saving Mr. Peacock” can be accessed at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/my-apres-blog-post-saving-mr-peacock/

The earlier blog post titled “Infusion Inspiration: Memory Flood at the Center for Blood” can be accessed at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/infusion-inspiration-memory-flood-at-the-center-for-blood/

The words to the poem “Endymion” by John Keats were taken from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endymion_(poem)

All Scriptures were taken from the Bible Gateway online service at:
https://www.biblegateway.com/

Scriptures marked KJV were quoted from the King James Version of the Bible which is in public domain.

Scriptures marked NIV were quoted from The New International Version of the Bible:
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scriptures marked GNT were quoted from the Good News Translation of the Bible:
Good News Translation (GNT)
Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

The earlier post on my blog titled “Facts about Marion Williams Peacock” with more information and photos about Mari as an “angel” and “a thing of beauty” can be accessed at:
Facts about Marion Williams Peacock

 

“I love the South in general, Arkansas in particular, and the Delta in spite
Now I love them all in absentia. Someday soon I will love them all in memoriam!”

—Jimmy Peacock

. . . laborers in Arkansas and parts of Mississippi . . .
still call the farm up the road the ‘plantation.’”

—List of recommended books from Deep South Magazine on 11/11/15

In my previous recent posts I have presented updates and tidbits on subjects such as the WWII Japanese-American incarceration camps in my native Southeast Arkansas, a book about voyages down the Mississippi River, and changes in the production of cotton and the disappearance of the Cotton Kingdom in Arkansas and the Delta.

As a somewhat change of subject matter, in this post I offer updates and tidbits about the South in general, with special emphasis on preserving Southern speech; Arkansas in particular, with a link to a list of subjects about the Natural State; and the Delta in retrospect, especially steamboats on the Mississippi River, the Japanese-American Internment Museum and the Japanese-American Memorial Garden in McGehee, the Delta Heritage Trail, and Arkansas City, all near the Mississippi River.

Note: To enlarge the photos in this post, click on each photo individually.

The South

“The problem with the South has always seemed to be its
long history of good manners and bad judgment!”

—Jimmy Peacock

“I come from just far enough South to temper my inherent Southern fatalism with hope
—which is, of course, the worst kind.”
—Jimmy Peacock

Besides these two samples from my many collected quotes about the South (mine and others’) I tried to keep this section brief in order to devote more space to the other subjects in this post.

The American South

The American South

However, I would be remiss if I did not insert this link sent to me recently by my McGehee High School classmate Patsy McDermott Scavo. It is a YouTube video of Arkansan Glenn Campbell singing one of his most popular hits: “Southern Nights.”

The video includes beautiful scenes from the state of Georgia, from whose loving bosom my Peacock ancestors migrated to my beloved Southeast Arkansas “just before the Late Unpleasantness Between the States”—thus narrowly averting an unwelcome visit from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman on his famous/infamous “March to the Sea.”

Glenn Campbell

Glenn Campbell

To listen to this classic Southern tune, my tribute to both my fellow Arkansan Glenn Campbell and the South which he praises, click on the title above or on the actual URL in the Sources section at the end of this post.

To view a video of my favorite version of the classic tune “Georgia on My Mind” as sung by Ray Charles (the theme song of reruns of the popular TV show “Designing Women” which got me through a bout with lymphoma back in 1991-92), click on the title or on the URL in the Sources section of this post.

Ray Charles

Ray Charles

After composing this brief segment on the South, I received from Patsy McDermott Scavo a link to an article about Southern speech from the Web site titled The Bitter Southerner. Since Southern speech is one of my favorite subjects (which I have examined in several of my previous posts), naturally I felt compelled to insert this review of the article about the defense of the disappearing Southern accent.

In Defense of Southern Speech

“‘Everyone has an instinct to celebrate where they’re from, where they were raised,’ says [Professor Walt] Wolfram. ‘We’ve got this need to come from good places. Southern dialect is part of that heritage–our society is so discriminatory that it’s disguised that fact.'”
–Article titled “With Drawl,”
The Bitter Southerner Web site

As noted in the quotation above, on the Web site titled The Bitter Southerner, writer Laura Relyea interviews famed Southern linguist Walt Wolfram and conveys from him much entertaining and informative insight about Southern accents. Part of that insight involves the effect of a Southern accent on the ones who speak with one and especially on those who listen to them.

Any Southerner with a drawl or a twang in the voice is subject to derision, particularly when we venture outside our region. Folks hear the accent and the conclusions come quickly, even if they’re unspoken: We’re stupid. We’re slow. We’re backward. That’s why the work of N.C. State professor Walt Wolfram matters so much. He’s made it his mission to preserve the languages and dialects of the South. Today, writer Laura Relyea presents a great celebration and fierce defense of our twangs. . . .

The Beverly Hillbillies as mention negatively on The Bitter Southerner

The Beverly Hillbillies mentioned in The Bitter Southerner article as an example of speakers of poorly regarded Southern speech

“Linguistic discrimination is the most socially acceptable form of discrimination in the United States,” Wolfram told me during our first phone interview this past July. His work is focused on debunking the misperceptions we make based on dialect—by educating and spreading their knowledge through the documentaries they make, by speaking publicly and developing museum and cultural center installations to help spread awareness. . . .

Though it would take a lot for the Southern accent to disappear completely, the combination of the negative stereotypes that accompany a strong twang, along with the influx of non-natives from all over the world to urban areas, is causing the language to change rapidly. . . .

Andy Griffith cited on The Bitter Southerner as a speaker of poor Southern speech

Andy Griffith cited in The Bitter Southerner as an example of a speaker of low-regarded Southern speech

To this day, ill-founded assumptions are made about intellect and social value based only on the sound of one’s voice. Wolfram and his colleagues are doing everything within their power to change that: talk by talk, recording by recording, presentation by presentation.

To read the entire article and to view several videos illustrating various Southern dialects, go to:
http://bittersoutherner.com/with-drawl#.VktjKL2QnaE

Arkansas Sites to Visit

“Oh, I may wander but when I do,
I will never be far from you.
You’re in my blood,
And I know you’ll always be.
Arkansas!
You run deep in me.”
—Wayland D. Holyfield
Quoted on Web site titled:
“Only In Your State: Arkansas”

The Mark Twain on the Arkansas River at Little Rock

The Mark Twain on the Arkansas River at Little Rock (to enlarge, click on the photo)

The quote above from a popular video of the song, “Arkansas: You Run Deep in Me,” by Wayland D. Holyfield, contains many glorious photos of fall foliage in Arkansas.  Incidentally, this video and song helped me get through a bout with pancreatitis back in 1988. I have used it several times in my past blog posts about Arkansas as home.

The following introductory paragraph to the entry titled “Everyone Misses These 10 Things When They Leave Arkansas” expresses my own feelings about my beloved and much-missed homeland:

Autumn in Arkansas


“You might be an Arkie if . . . you think the Fall in Eden refers to Autumn in Arkansas!” — Jimmy Peacock (to enlarge, click on the photo)

Go anywhere in the world that you want to go. See all of the world’s sights as you please. Whatever you do, though, good Arkansan, you’ll always miss a part of what you’ll always call home. There’s a certain feeling an Arkansas native gets when driving back from a road trip and seeing the familiar sign at the state line, or when you’re flying home into one of the state’s airports; you’re home again, and it feels good. For those that leave Arkansas permanently, though—there will be certain things you’ll miss. (italics mine)

Me and one of my sons at the Arkansas state line in the 1980s

Me and one of my sons at the Arkansas state line atop the Talimena Drive in the 1980s (to enlarge, click on the photo)

Arkansas welcome sign

Arkansas welcome sign at every entrance to the Natural State

To visit the blog site itself titled “Only in Your State: Arkansas,” go to:
http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/states/arkansas/

The six natural regions of Arkansas

The six natural regions of the state of Arkansas (the Delta is the area in blue on the right along the Mississippi River; to enlarge, click on the photo)

To visit this particular entry about the ten things people miss about Arkansas, which is one of my favorites from among the forty-plus entries on this site, click here or on the actual URL in the Sources section.

My other favorites are:

“You’ll Love These 30 Marvelous Arkansas Photos Taken by Local Photographers—Part 3”

“These 15 Amazing Photos of Arkansas Were Taken by Local Photographers—Part 4”

And my absolute favorite of all (which is understandable knowing my interest in the past) is titled “20 Rare Photos That Will Take You Straight to the Past.”

A Delta cotton chopper in downtown Marianna, Arkansas, in the 1930s

A Delta cotton chopper in downtown Marianna, Arkansas, in the 1930s (to enlarge, click on the photo)

To summarize that entry and my feelings about the past, the introduction to this entry reads:

There’s a fascination with photographs from the past, and it’s definitely an understandable quirk! History is preserved in a number of ways, but it’s a great thing when one is able to visually connect with prior generations when just reading about these long-changed locales isn’t enough. These vintage photos from Arkansas, taken during the 1930s and 1940s [the days of my Arkansas childhood], are an awesome trip through an era that holds a huge number of reminiscent stories and memories.” (italics mine)

I agree!

Though this site about Arkansas is obviously written by someone much younger and much more knowledgeable about modern Arkansas than I am—or ever will be again—and though I do not necessarily enjoy or agree with everything written in the individual entries (such as the writer’s assessment of Arkansas’ Southern accents), it may be because of the age/generation gap as reflected in the “reminiscent stories and memories” on which my posts are based.

A diamond found by a twelve-year-old boy at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas

Arkansas diamond found by twelve-year-old boy at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas

State flag of Arkansas with stars formed in shape of a diamond

Arkansas state flag with stars formed in the shape of a diamond as a symbol of Arkansas as the Diamond State.

In any case, to learn more about my beloved homeland from one young person’s perspective, I wholeheartedly recommend that you visit this site and all of the entries on it—beginning with my favorites. See what you think—especially if, like me, you too are an “exiled Arkie of the Covenant”!

The Delta

“When I first went north, I was surprised to learn that there were people in the world who did not know that Arkansas has both a delta and a culture that goes with southern lowlands.”
—Margaret Jones Bolsterli,
a native of Desha County near McGehee,
writing in Born in the Delta

Steamboats on the Mississippi River as seen from the Great River Road

Steamboats on the Mississippi River as seen from the Great River Road (to enlarge, click on the photo)

As indicated by the quote and photo above, the third subject examined in this post is the Mississippi River Delta, of which so many people outside the state of Arkansas (and many even within the state) are not aware.

The first section of that subject is an update on the WWII Japanese American Internment Museum in my hometown of McGehee, about twelve miles from the River.

The WWII Japanese American Internment Museum
And the Japanese-American Memorial Garden

On the front page of a recent issue of the McGehee Times there was a brief article titled “You Are Here.” It featured a small map of the city with some of the historic places with directions of how to locate them.

Here is the written copy that accompanied that map:

A new historic map sign has been installed outside the WWII Japanese American Internment Museum in downtown McGehee. The sign lets visitors know where they are located and the locations of other historically relevant sites in the city.

Japanese-American Internment Museum in McGehee, Arkansas

Japanese-American Internment Museum in McGehee, Arkansas (to enlarge, click on the photo)

According to former Mayor Jack May, the sign was funded by Nexus Systems of Monroe, Louisiana in exchange for the city granting the company permission to install new broadcast towers.

Since opening its doors just over two years ago, the WWII Japanese American Museum has hosted over 6,140 visitors from 28 countries around the world. Just this week, the Museum added Malaysia to its list of countries. [Susan Gallion, Curator of the museum, reports that it has also received visitors from every state in the Union, except Delaware.]

Japanese-American Memorial Garden in McGehee, Arkansas

Japanese-American Memorial Garden in McGehee, Arkansas (to enlarge, click on the photo)

The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and serves as the permanent home for the exhibit “Against Their Will,” a history of the more than 17,000 Japanese Americans forced into the Rohwer and Jerome Relocation Camps during World War II.

For more information on the museum, contact Curator Susan Gallion or Co-Curator Kay Garling Roberts at (870) 222-9168 or visit the Museum’s Facebook page.

The Delta Heritage Trail
And Arkansas City

 “The Delta Heritage Trail stretches through a shaded canopy of native hardwoods, alongside agricultural fields, and across many streams. Wildlife viewing and birdwatching opportunities abound along the trail route due to its diversity of habitats.”
—Arkansas State Parks Delta Heritage Trail Web site

A cypress slough along the Delta Heritage Trail in East Arkansas

A cypress slough along the Delta Heritage Trail in East Arkansas (to enlarge, click on the photo)

On the Arkansas State Department of Parks and Tourism Web site there is a verbal and photographic presentation of the new Delta Heritage Trail State Park. Part of that presentation is about the Delta Heritage Trail that will begin near Helena in Phillips County on the Mississippi River and extend eighty-four miles downriver to Arkansas City, another river town that serves as the county seat of Desha County in which our hometown of McGehee is located.

Here is a portion of what the Arkansas Parks and Tourism site has to say about the Delta Heritage Trail State Park and the Delta Heritage Trail:

Delta Heritage Trail State Park in southeast Arkansas is being developed under the national ‘rails to trails’ initiative, whereby former railroad lines are converted to pedestrian and bicycle routes. The trail is being developed in phases along the former Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way that stretches from one mile south of Lexa (six miles west of Helena) to Rohwer [site of the WWII Japanese-American Incarceration Camp], and extending via the Mississippi River levee to Arkansas City [our country seat on the Mississippi River].

Delta Heritage Trail sign in Arkansas City

Delta Heritage Trail sign in Arkansas City (to enlarge, click on the photo)

It will total 84.5 miles when finished, making this one of the longest bike and pedestrian trails in the state. In the northern portion, the first 21 miles of trail have been completed from Helena junction to Elaine. Trailheads are at Helena junction near Lexa, Walnut Corner at the U.S. 49 overpass, Lick Creek (Ark. 85 just south of Barton), Lake View, and Elaine. The compacted, crushed rock trail leads through a shaded canopy of native hardwoods, alongside agricultural fields, and across streams.

Wildlife viewing and birdwatching opportunities abound along the route here in the heart of the Delta and the famed Mississippi Flyway. At the park visitor center, brochures include the guide to wildlife watching along the trail.

Close-up view of the Delta Heritage Trail sign in Arkansas City

Close-up view of the Delta Heritage Trail sign in Arkansas City (to enlarge, click on the photo)

When completed, the trail will also offer sweeping views from bridges that span the Arkansas River and the White River.

To learn more about the Delta Heritage Trail State Park and the Delta Heritage Trail, click on the title.

To learn more about Arkansas City, go to the Arkansas City Web site.

The Red Star store facing the levee in Arkansas City

The Red Star grocery store facing the Mississippi River levee in Arkansas City (to enlarge, click on the photo)

Delta Hotel in Arkansas City

Planned Delta Hotel in Arkansas City (to enlarge, click on the photo)

Note: Be sure to view the changing photographic slideshow of scenes in and near Arkansas City featured in the masthead of the site.

Conclusion

“In the life of a writer there are no extraneous experiences.”
(Everything that happens to him is grist for his mill.)
—Anonymous

“There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.”
“There Is Power in the Blood,” Lewis E. Jones (1899)

(To hear this old hymn sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford, click on the title.)

Earlier in this post I told how listening to Wayland Holyfield singing “Arkansas, You Run Deep in Me” helped me to get through a bout with pancreatitis back in 1988.

Later in the post I told how watching reruns of the popular old TV show “Designing Women,” whose theme song “Georgia on My Mind” as sung by Ray Charles, helped me get though a bout with lymphoma back in 1991-92.

More recently, on April 3, 2015, I published a post titled “Infusion Inspiration: Memory Flood at the Center for Blood.” In that post I described (with photos) my ongoing bout with a lingering blood disease. I noted that I am doing battle with that disease by spending long hours in the blood center at a Tulsa hospital where I pass the time by listening to old cassette tapes of some of my favorite singers from the past such as Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, and Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Gospel.

To revisit that post, click on the title above or on the actual URL in the Sources section at the end of this post.

Unfortunately, since my health progress is somewhat hindered this will have to be my final post for this year and probably for the foreseeable future.

I regret the cessation since the blog has now reached more than 93,000 visits since its launch in May 2011; I had hoped to be able to continue blogging until it reached my personal goal of 100,000.

Nevertheless, until we meet again, Merry Christmas and Happy—and Healthy—New Year!

SOURCES

The South

The list of recommended books from Deep South Magazine was sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo. It can be accessed at:
http://deepsouthmag.com/2015/09/fallwinter-reading-list-2015/

The photo of the map of the American South was taken from an unknown source.

The photo of Arkansan Glenn Campbell was taken from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Campbell

The YouTube video of Glenn Campbell singing “Southern Nights” was sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo and taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wOUFo4Lwf8

The YouTube video of Ray Charles singing “Georgia on My Mind” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRgWBN8yt_E

The photo of Ray Charles was taken from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Charles

The Web site titled The Bitter Southerner was sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo and can be accessed at:
http://bittersoutherner.com/

The article about Southern speech titled “With Drawl” by Laura Relyea that appeared on The Bitter Southerner Web site was sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo and can be accessed at:
http://bittersoutherner.com/with-drawl#.VktjKL2QnaE

The photo of the Beverly Hillbillies was taken from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beverly_Hillbillies

The photo of Andy Griffith was taken from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Griffith

Arkansas

The photo of the Mark Twain riverboat on the Arkansas River at Little Rock was sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo on July 30, 2013, and cited in my earlier post titled:
“A Few of My Favorite Things II: Arkansas. The South, Elvis Presley, Gone With the Wind” at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2013/10/

The link to Wayland Holyfield singing “Arkansas: You Run Deep in Me” was taken from:

The photo titled “Autumn in Arkansas” was taken from a postcard produced by Jenkins Enterprises, North Little Rock, AR 501-945-2600.

The site titled “Only in Your State: Arkansas,” can be accessed at:
http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/states/arkansas/

The site about ten things Arkansans miss when they leave the state can be accessed at:
http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/arkansas/youll-miss-ar/

The site titled “You’ll Love These 30 Marvelous Arkansas Photos Taken by Local Photographers—Part 3” can be accessed at:
http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/arkansas/ar-local-best-3/

The site titled “These 15 Amazing Photos of Arkansas Were Taken by Local Photographers—Part 4” can be accessed at:
http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/arkansas/ar-best-photos-4/

The site titled “20 Rare Photos That Will Take You Straight to the Past” can be accessed at:
http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/arkansas/ar-rare-past-photos/

The personal photo of me at the Arkansas state line on the Talimena Scenic Drive that runs across the tops of the Ouachita Mountains between Southeast Oklahoma and Southwest Arkansas was made in the 1980s when I was much younger and slimmer.

The Welcome to Arkansas: The Natural State sign that appears at every entrance into the state was taken from the cover of Arkansas Destinations, 2013 Fall and Winter issue.

The map of the regions of Arkansas with the state’s visitor centers was taken from the 2013 issue of Living in Arkansas magazine.

The photo of the East Arkansas cotton chopper standing in front of a Marianna downtown storefront was made by Carl Mydans in 1936 (two years before my birth in Selma, Arkansas) and taken from a book titled A Photographic Legacy by I. Wilmer Counts, Jr.

The photo of the boy holding a diamond found at the Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro, Arkansas, was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9w-RuAD55M

The Web site of the Crater of Diamonds State Park may be accessed at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crater_of_Diamonds_State_Park

A photo of the Arkansas state flag with its stars in the shape of a diamond and an explanation of its other symbols can be accessed at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Arkansas#Sym

The Delta

The photo of the two steamboats on the Mississippi River was sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo from an unspecified source.

The photo of the Japanese-American Internment Museum in McGehee, Arkansas, was taken from the McGehee Times.

The photo of the Japanese-American Memorial Gardens in McGehee was taken from a personal collection of McGehee photos.

The photo of the cypress slough bordering the Delta Heritage Trail was taken from the Delta Heritage Trail State Park Web site at:
http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/deltaheritagetrail/

The photos of the Delta Heritage Trail signs at Arkansas City were sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo from Facebook.

The photos of the Red Star Grocery and the planned Delta Hotel in Arkansas City were sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo from Facebook.

To learn more about Arkansas City, go to the Arkansas City Web site at:
http://arkansascityusa.com/

Conclusion

The video of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing the old Gospel song “There Is Power in the Blood” can be accessed at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tinAImvvtsk

The previous post on this blog titled “Infusion Inspiration: Memory Flood in the Center for Blood” can be accessed at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/infusion-inspiration-memory-flood-at-the-center-for-blood/

Introduction

“While I was complaining to God about all the things I can no longer do because of my advancing age and declining health, His response to my woeful lament was, ‘You can write!’” [Maybe so, I just hope I can keep it up!]
—Jimmy Peacock

“Jimmy, don’t quit writing. . . . Stay busy.
You have a talent that few men are blessed with.”
—Fran Howell Pearson, a member of Mari’s high school Clique,
in a personal email after my last post of updates and tidbits

In my previous post titled “Fall Updates and Tidbits” I began with some opening quotes about my writing and continued with updates and tidbits about several subjects related to the Arkansas Delta.

In this follow-up post to that one I examine several related subjects such as: a new nonfiction book about the youth who were confined in the WWII Japanese-American incarceration camps in Southeast Arkansas; an update from Gayle Harper on the Delta signings of her book about her voyages on the Mississippi River; and additional material about the history of cotton and cotton production.

In my next post, a second-part follow-up to this one, I will discuss other nonrelated subjects such as Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Halloween and All Saints’ Day, etc.

Note: To enlarge the photos, click on each one individually.

Article on Book about Japanese-American Youth
in WWII Incarceration Camps in Arkansas

“During World War II, thousands of Japanese American youth and their families
were uprooted and sent to camps in Arkansas
where they were left to ponder their fate.”
—“Japanese youth describe life behind barbed wire,”
McGehee Times, October 21, 2015

As indicated by the quote above, on October 21, the McGehee Times published a review of a new nonfiction book about the Japanese-American youth who were confined along with their families in the two SEARK WWII incarceration camps.

In the past I have published several posts about the incarceration camps and their detainees including a post about the opening of the WWII Japanese-American Internment Museum in my hometown of McGehee; follow-up posts on visits to the museum and the site of the former camps by some of the surviving Japanese-American detainees; two novels about fictional youthful characters who experienced the effects of the camps personally from both inside and outside the camps; a nonfiction documentary about the camps and the fate of those Japanese-Americans who elected to remain behind in Arkansas after the camps were closed, etc.

Japanese-American Internment Museum in McGehee, Arkansas

Japanese-American Internment Museum in McGehee, Arkansas

Former Japanese-American internees visiting McGehee, Arkansas

Former Japanese-American internees visiting the McGehee museum and Rohwer camp site

Now it is my pleasure to offer excerpts from a recent review of a new nonfiction book about the young people in those camps.

During World War II, thousands of Japanese American youth and their families were uprooted and sent to camps in Arkansas where they were left to ponder their fate.

The story of how these young people coped with their years in Arkansas is now available in a new book—A Captive Audience: Voices of Japanese American Youth in World War II Arkansas—just published by Butler Center Books.

A Captive Audience

Using archival primary material such as photographs, yearbooks, artwork, and first-person written accounts, A Captive Audience gives an inside look at the experiences of young people in the Rohwer and Jerome Relocation Centers in Arkansas. . . .

Intended for young-adult readers (while also appealing to adults), the book explores important dimensions of Arkansas and U.S. history, including what it means to be an American. . . .

The book is available at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Central Arkansas Library System, 100 Rock Street, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201; or from the Butler Web site at www.butlercenter.org; from other bookstores; from online retailers (such as Amazon.com); and from the University of Arkansas Press (via University of Chicago Press) at (800) 621-2736.

To learn more about this book and other Butler Center books, visit the Butler Center Books Web site at: www.butlercenter.org/publication.

Personal Note on Japanese-American
Incarceration Camps in Southeast Arkansas

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing
some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
—Hebrews 13:2 NIV

“May the people of Arkansas keep in beauty and reverence forever
the ground where our bodies sleep.”
—Inscription in Japanese on monument in Rohwer Memorial Cemetery,
as quoted in A Captive Audience, p. 107

At the beginning of the preceding section I wrote about the numerous blog posts that I have published about different aspects of the WWII Japanese-American incarceration camps; novels about the camp and its detainees; documentary films about the camps and some of the Japanese-Americans who elected to remain behind in Arkansas after the camps were closed, etc.

As such, one might wonder why I have dedicated so much time, energy, and space to the subject of the camps and those forced to occupy them.

Beside my natural interest in these subjects, as a native of Southeast Arkansas and an avid amateur cultural and geographical historian, there is another more personal connection between me and the camp residents.

Back in the mid-seventies, after a long absence from our beloved homeland, my family and I were back living in our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas, about twelve miles from the Rohwer Japanese-American Incarceration Camp and Rohwer Memorial Cemetery.

At that time, some forty years ago, there was much less interest shown by the media or many Arkansans, even in Southeast Arkansas, in regard to the camps and those who had inhabited them some thirty years earlier.

As such, one Sunday afternoon, my wife Marion and I decided to take our two young sons for a drive out to the camp site to acquaint our boys with the camp and the history it represented. We assumed that would probably be the only time in their lives that the boys would ever experience the camp site personally. Nor did we expect our future grandchildren to ever have a personal encounter with the camp and cemetery—sadly, both assumptions being totally accurate. Regrettably, we also have never revisited the camp and cemetery site, nor do we expect ever to be able to do so, due to our advancing age and declining health.

That day, just as we were driving up over the railroad tracks onto the gravel road that led into the camp, we met another car with a middle-aged couple in it. The woman was obviously Japanese-American.

Rohwer Memorial Cemetery sign

Rohwer Memorial Cemetery sign

Rolling down our windows we began to become acquainted and to share information about each other, such as the fact that we were local residents and they were from Chicago, Illinois.

It turned out that the reason the couple had driven so far to visit the camp and cemetery that Sunday afternoon was because the Japanese-American woman had been a resident of the camp when she was young—perhaps as a child or perhaps as a teenager, as portrayed in the book A Captive Audience.

The sad part was that we learned that the woman’s mother had died while incarcerated in the camp and was buried in the cemetery there. The woman was in tears because she said that she and her husband would probably never have another chance to visit the site and cemetery and that she had no one there to take care of her mother’s grave.

It was only after we had parted and gone our separate ways that my wife and I began to realize that we had not offered to take care of the grave site for that grieving Japanese-American woman, a weekly task that would have cost us very little in time, money, or effort.

Sadly, we also realized that we had not exchanged names and addresses or phone numbers with our visitors.

Although we searched intently for information about them, we were never successful in locating them to offer them our meager services, albeit belated.

Ever since that time forty years ago, Mari and I have felt that we failed in our duty to fully “show hospitality to strangers” or to “keep in beauty and reverence forever the ground where [their] bodies sleep.”

Rohwer Japanese-American Memorial Cemetery

Rohwer Japanese-American Memorial Cemetery

So although I can never offer the service needed by that Japanese-American woman and her late mother, perhaps now my blog posts about the camps, their residents, and the vestiges they have left behind—including in this case members of their own families—will be at least symbolic of our unexpressed but continuing interest, care, and concern.

We hope so.

Note: To learn more about the preservation of the graves of the Japanese-Americans buried at the Rohwer Memorial Cemetery, there is a brief video titled “Meet the Locals of the Japanese-American Internment Museum in McGehee,” which mentions this subject. To view it, click on the title or on the actual URL in the Sources section at the end of this post. The two locals who narrate the video are Susan Gallion, curator of the Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee, and Rosalie Santine Gould, former mayor of McGehee, both of whom have been instrumental in preserving the camp’s history and artifacts.

Latest Update of Gayle Harper’s Delta Signing of Her Book
about Her Voyage down the Mississippi River

“Thanks, Jimmy –
You just keep on keepin’ on!”
—Gayle Harper about my continued writing
about her and her book despite my poor health

In my last post I included a section on Gayle Harper’s book about her 90-day voyage down the Mississippi River and some of the recent awards she and the book have received.

Print

In this post I include a follow-up on her more recent book signings, including those in St. Louis and her hometown of Springfield, Missouri.

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri

Afterward, Gayle offered this information about her book signings in the Delta:

The Delta

Then, its back to the Delta—to the land of hot tamales, fried green tomatoes and soulful music! Here are the events that are open to the public:

Monday, November 9th 10:00 a.m. Indianola, Mississippi—Sunflower County Library
Monday, November 9th 5:30 p.m. Indianola, MS—B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center
Tuesday, November 10th 6:00 p.m. Helena, Arkansas—Delta Cultural Center to be held at Beth El Heritage Hall Auditorium

cotton boll from Gayle Harper's Delta book signing tour

Cotton boll from Gayle Harper’s Delta book signing tour

Gayle closes her update with these remarks:

Remember…there is a book trailer you can watch right here www.gayleharper.com
and you can order your signed and personalized copies of Roadtrip with a Raindrop.

Start your Holiday shopping early!

Follow on Facebook for lots of news www.facebook.com/GayleHarper.MississippiRiver

Twitter @riverroadwoman

Google+ https://plus.google.com/+GayleHarper

Or for more information, simply go to Gayle’s Web site at: www.gayleharper.com

Follow-Up about Cotton Bales and Modules,
Harvesting, and Ginning
 

“Thanks to their [cotton laborers’] often ill-paid efforts,
about 98 percent of all garments
sold in the United States today are made abroad.”
—Southeast Arkansas native Taylor Prewitt
in his review of Sven Beckert’s book Empire of Cotton: A Global Industry

In my previous post titled “Fall Updates and Tidbits” I used words and photos to examine the decline and virtual disappearance of cotton and its production in the Arkansas Delta.

In this post I offer a follow-up on that subject.

It is based primarily on a query I sent recently to Taylor Prewitt, a native of Southeast Arkansas whose family has been involved in cotton farming for generations.

The query I sent to Taylor on October 24 was about the differences in the old traditional square cotton bales we often still associate with cotton harvesting, versus the new huge round bales or modules produced by modern multi-row mechanical cotton pickers, and the ultra-modern oblong modules of cotton covered with a yellow tarp that are now seen alongside harvested cotton fields.

Old-style square cotton bales from days gone by in McGehee, Arkansas

Old-style square cotton bales from days gone by in McGehee, Arkansas

Modern Arkansas Delta cotton bales with Arkansas Razorback inscriptions

Modern Arkansas Delta round cotton bales with Razorback inscriptions

Modern Arkansas Delta oblong cotton module

Modern Arkansas Delta oblong cotton module

Taylor’s response to my query was that he did not have first-hand knowledge of the new round bales but noted that it does take four round bales to make a modern square bale.

Modern Arkansas Delta round cotton bales with Arkansas Razorback decorations

Modern round Arkansas Delta cotton bales with Arkansas Razorback and Halloween decorations (as featured on the front page of the October 28 issue of the McGehee Times; to enlarge, click on the photo)

For more information Taylor provided a link to an article from Cotton Incorporated about the history of modules:
http://www.cottoninc.com/fiber/AgriculturalDisciplines/Engineering/Cotton-Harvest-Systems/Cotton-Storage/Brief-History-of-Cotton-Modules/

To learn more about the multi-row mechanical pickers and those round, yellow-wrapped cotton bales or modules, visit my earlier post titled “‘Gone Are the Days:’ Updates on the McGehee Estate, Cotton Picking, Dogtrot House, and ‘Designing Women.’” To view a brief video titled “Cotton Harvest, Pickens, Arkansas,” featuring the massive mechanical cotton pickers in action producing the modern round bales or modules, click on the title.

Then Taylor Prewitt added: “I took some pictures of our cotton harvest a few weeks ago, and I’ll send some of them in another email.”

Taylor Prewitt cotton picking I

Taylor Prewitt cotton picking II

Taylor Prewitt cotton picker III

Taylor Prewitt Cotton Picker IV

Taylor Prewitt Cotton Picker V

Taylor Prewitt Cotton Picker VI

Concluding his personal response to me, Taylor wrote: “I read a fascinating book about cotton this summer, and I’m attaching my review I wrote of it.”

Empire of Cotton

In regard to Taylor’s review of that book, here is his introduction to it:

Any history of cotton is likely to be disturbing to a boy whose father and grandfather raised cotton, and who still rents the family land for cotton farming. And though Sven Beckert’s Empire of Cotton: A Global History (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014) may not be surprising, it is disturbing. It puts the American cotton farmer in his place. . . .

If American cotton is inconsequential in the world market . . . the driving force in today’s world cotton market . . . [are] a few . . . giant corporate retailers that pull rather than push the world’s cotton traffic. . . Those who pick the cotton in the fields and work in the mills receive poverty-level pay for their efforts. . . . Thanks to their often ill-paid efforts, about 98 percent of all garments sold in the United States today are made abroad. . . .

Later, Taylor began to insert some verbatim quotations from the book emphasizing some of the crucial changes in cotton production from the past, and some of the negatives of modern cotton production of which most Americans are not aware:

Yet while a century ago your shirt would likely have been sewn in a shop in New York or Chicago, using fabric spun and woven in New England, from bolls grown in the American South, today it is probably made of cotton grown in China, India, Uzbekistan, or Senegal, spun and woven in China, Turkey, or Pakistan, and then manufactured in a place like Bangladesh or Vietnam. . . .

Using his own farm as an example of the changes that have come to cotton production Taylor noted:

Our farm is one of the few in our area that can still plant cotton, because most of the farmers have sold their pickers, for about a hundred thousand dollars apiece, to be broken down and shipped to China. (A new picker costs about eight hundred thousand dollars and produces its own bales, bypassing the production of modules to be hauled to the gin to be made into bales.)

Mechanical pickers are not even mentioned in this exhaustive 443-page book, printed in 2014. Cheap foreign labor can produce cotton . . . so much more cheaply that mechanical pickers are as irrelevant as is the rest of the American system of growing cotton.

I think the fact that most of the world’s cotton is picked by hand, and that China is just now beginning to buy our used cotton pickers, says a lot. Also the fact that American cotton farmers who have sold their pickers to China for $100,000 can’t get back into cotton farming without spending $850,000 for a big new picker.

To learn more about the book or to purchase a copy of it, visit Amazon.com at:
http://www.amazon.com/Empire-Cotton-A-Global-History/dp/0375414142.

As a fitting illustration and conclusion to this segment on the demise of cotton production in the Arkansas Delta and the close of the 2015 Delta cotton harvesting and ginning season, here are three old photos from days gone by of picking, weighing, and loading cotton near McGehee, Arkansas. They were sent by Patsy McDermott Scavo on October 25 and labeled “Photos from McGehee Times Archives that Dwane [Powell, a McGehee native] rescued from the garbage!”

When Cotton Was King in Southeast Arkansas

When cotton was king in Southeast Arkansas

Weighing in cotton after being picked by hand by farm laborers

Weighing in cotton after being picked by hand by farm laborers

Loading Cotton in McGehee, Arkansas

Loading old-style square cotton bales in McGehee, Arkansas

On a lighter and more recent note, here is a photo Patsy Mc sent to me recently with the caption: “Ginger bread Christmas Delta house for a competition in Memphis.”

Patsy Mc's photo of a Delta cotton cake

Patsy Mc’s photo of a Delta Christmas ginger bread house

Also, here are some closing season photos of current cotton picking and ginning in Southeast Arkansas sent to me by Patsy Mc on October 26 with her personal note:

Lakeport Plantation posted photos on Facebook today. It was the last day of ginning this year at the Epstein gin in Lake Village, Arkansas. The Epstein gin has been ginning cotton since 1917.

Square cotton bales at Epstein gin

Square cotton bales at Epstein gin

View of the machinery inside the Epstein gin

View of the machinery inside the Epstein gin

Close-up view of the machinery inside the Epstein gin

Close-up view of the machinery inside the Epstein gin

Conclusion

 “In 1862, British merchant John Benjamin Smith boasted that the manufacture of cotton yarn and cloth had become ‘the greatest industry that ever had or could by possibility have ever existed in any age or country.’”
—Glenn C. Altschuler, “Book Review:
“Empire of Cotton: A Global Industry,”
Tulsa World Online, January 25, 2015

In addition to Taylor Prewitt’s review of the book Empire of Cotton: A Global Review, in an earlier post I referred to the Tulsa World Online review of the same book about cotton production and worldwide changes in it, especially in Arkansas.

Empire of Cotton

That earlier post was written by Glenn C. Altschuler.

According to Altschuler, the book, written by Sven Beckert, shows how the cotton industry shaped the world. Interesting, despite the decline and virtual disappearance of the once predominant Cotton Kingdom in the Arkansas Delta, it is claimed in the article that “worldwide cotton production is expected to triple or quadruple by 2050.”

To read this second informative review of this book about the history and future of cotton production that appeared in my earlier post titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part I,” click on the title of the post or the URL in the Sources section.

Finally, as a closing word on this segment of the post about cotton and its dwindling production and seemingly imminent demise, here are two photos from Joe Dempsey’s “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind” blog post published on November 2. The rather dismal photos are of Southeast Arkansas cotton fields after they have been harvested by modern mechanical cotton pickers.

Joe Dempsey harvested cotton field I

Joe Dempsey harvested cotton field I

Joe’s original caption for this photo read: “This once ‘white unto harvest’ cotton field is now stubble. Next spring the cycle will start again.”

Joe Dempsey's harvested cotton field II

Joe Dempsey’s harvested cotton field II

Joe’s original caption for this photo was:  “Not all cotton lint is picked up by the mechanical picker. What’s left will nourish the next crop. This is somewhat exaggerated since it is at the end of a row.”

Note Joe’s incisive captions about the sadness of these virtually denuded fields left to lie fallow until a new crop will be sown later—but perhaps that crop will not be cotton!

Sources

The quotation, excerpts, and publication information on the new nonfiction book, A Captive Audience, about the Japanese-American youth confined in the WWII Japanese-American incarceration camps in Southeast Arkansas, were taken from an article titled “Japanese youth describe life behind barbed wire,” published in the McGehee Times on October 21, 2015, and used with permission.

The photo of the cover of the book A Captive Audience: Voices of Japanese American Youth in World War II Arkansas was taken from Amazon.com which features another online review of the book with other information about the book and how to order it online:
http://www.amazon.com/Captive-Audience-Japanese-American-Arkansas/dp/1935106864

The photos of the WWII Japanese-American Internment Museum in McGehee, Arkansas, and the group of Japanese-American former detainees who visited McGehee were taken from the McGehee Times and used with permission.

The photos of the Rohwer Memorial Cemetery sign and the Rohwer Memorial Cemetery on the camp grounds were taken from the McGehee Times and used with permission.

The video titled “Meet the Locals of the Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee,” was composed by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. The link to it was sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo on November 7, 2015. It can be accessed at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEL8VS0Jl9I&feature=share

The three photos of Gayle Harper’s book Roadtrip with a Raindrop; the city of St. Louis, Missouri; and the cotton boll, along with information about her signing of the book in the Mississippi River Delta, were taken from an email update sent by Gayle on October 29.

The photos of the three different types of cotton bales and modules were sent to me by a Southeast Arkansas native whose name I no longer recall.

The online article about the history of cotton modules that Taylor Prewitt mentioned can be accessed at:
http://www.cottoninc.com/fiber/AgriculturalDisciplines/Engineering/Cotton-Harvest-Systems/Cotton-Storage/Brief-History-of-Cotton-Modules/

The scanned photo of the decorated round cotton bales titled “Cotton makes a statement” was taken from the October 28, 2015, issue of the McGehee Times.

My earlier post titled “Gone Are the Days: Updates on the McGehee Estate, Cotton Picking, Dogtrot Houses, and ‘Designing Women’” about multi-row mechanical cotton pickers can be accessed at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/gone-are-the-days-updates-on-the-mcgehee-estate-cotton-picking-dogtrot-houses-and-designing-women/

The video of multi-row cotton pickers in action producing the round yellow-wrapped bales or modules can be accessed at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz9ZPjWWZP8&feature=share

The photos of Taylor Prewitt’s Southeast Arkansas cotton harvest in 2015 were sent to me by Taylor on October 24 along with his personal remarks about cotton production and his review of the book Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckert.

The cover photo and the excerpts from the book Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckert were taken from Amazon.com at:
http://www.amazon.com/Empire-Cotton-A-Global-History/dp/0375414142

The review of the book Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckert from my earlier post titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part I” can be accessed at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/delta-addenda-etc-part-i/

The three photos from days gone by of cotton picking, weighing, and loading in McGehee, Arkansas, were sent to me on October 25 by Patsy McDermott Scavo and attributed to McGehee native Dwane Powell who “rescued them from the garbage” at the McGehee Times.

The photo of the ginger bread Christmas Delta house was sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo from an unknown source.

The photos of the final ginning for the 1915 season at the Epstein gin in Lake Village, Arkansas, as featured on Facebook by the Lakeport Plantation, were sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo in an email on October 26.

The second review of this book Empire of Cotton: A Global History was written by Glenn C. Altschuler and appeared in Tulsa World Online on January 25, 2015. It also appeared in my earlier post titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part I,” on March 5, 2015, and can be accessed at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/delta-addenda-etc-part-i/

The photos of the harvested cotton fields in Southeast Arkansas at the end of the 2015 season were taken from Joe Dempsey’s “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind” blog post published on November 2, 2015 and titled “The Underbelly of Fall.” That post can be accessed at:
https://weeklygrist.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/the-underbelly-of-fall/

Fall Updates and Tidbits:
McGehee, Delta, Cotton, Etc.

 “Have you ever wondered where the nice people are?
Have they all moved to Arkansas?”

[i.e., “Have all the exiled Arkies (except Mari and me)
moved back to the Holy Land?”]
—Jay Cronley,
Jay Cronley, “Niceness rare, but always welcomed,”
Tulsa World, September 11, 2015

In my past post, which I published on July 14, 2015, I noted that due to my failing health, especially my failing eyesight, I would have to wait until fall to try to compose and publish a new post.

Since it has now been three months, and since my health and eyesight have both improved somewhat, I thought I would try to put together a few of the dozen or more updates and tidbits sent to me during that time period.

I will begin with some items related to my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas, beginning with the obituary of Charles Allbright; the Arkansas Delta; cotton production; Delta plantations; and proceed to some related subjects such as a film about the Southeast Arkansas WWII Japanese-American incarceration camps, the Mississippi River, etc.

Note: To enlarge the photos, click on each one individually.

Special Tribute to Charles Allbright.
the Arkansas Traveler Columnist

“As a child in rural Selma, Arkansas, the only thing I ever wanted to be was an artist. However, since I could neither draw nor paint I eventually realized that I had to learn to make ‘word pictures.’ I had been writing for twenty-five years before I recognized that the theme of all of my writing is . . .  LOSS!”
—Jimmy Peacock

“Jimmy, you’ve got it. You just need a place to put it!”
—Personal 1981 letter from Charles Allbright to Jimmy Peacock

Just as I was finishing up this post I received an email on October 25 from Patsy McDermott Scavo, a fellow classmate from the 1956 McGehee High School graduating class and known to us as Patsy Mc. It consisted of a link to an obituary of Charles Allbright, the former Arkansas Traveler columnist for the Little Rock newspapers, who called McGehee his hometown.

As noted in my email response to Patsy Mc below, Charles was especially helpful to me by his friendship and his encouragement of my writing, particularly so after learning that his boyhood “crush,” whom he wrote about often and who had lived next door to him in McGehee, was my wife’s first cousin.

Mari and I will miss Charles and his delightful sense of “down home” humor:

Patsy Mc:

Thanks for sharing this link to the tribute to Charles Allbright.

As you know, Charles was a great supporter of me and my writing. Over a period of twenty years he printed lots of my personal anecdotes in his Arkansas Traveler column in the Arkansas Gazette and then in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Back in about 1981 I first introduced myself to him by a typewritten letter opening with the bold statement: ‘I WANT YOUR JOB—or at least one similar to it’! Over that twenty-year length of our communication (and even one face-to-face visit with me and Mari), I made it clear that I hoped to inherit his job when he retired.

Of course, that never happened, for one thing because I had no newspaper experience, and second because I was no longer a resident of Arkansas.

I will always be grateful to Charles for providing me ‘a place to put it’ and for giving me recognition in my much-missed and much-beloved home state, and confidence in my ability to write about it—which became the basis of my blog which has now reached more than 91,000 visits!

Jimmy

To read that obituary and tribute to Charles Allbright, click here or on the actual URL in the Sources section at the end of this post.

Updates and Tidbits on McGehee and the Delta

“After six years on the [Arkansas] Parks and Tourism Commission I can happily report that 2016 will be ‘The Year of The Delta.’ Advertisements, ‘Meet the Locals,’ segment and more are Delta related.”
—Cindy Smith, “Parks & Tourism News,”
McGehee Times, September 30, 2015

In her regular column in the McGehee Times, Cindy Smith (who earlier owned and operated a gift and souvenir shop in McGehee called the Periwinkle Place), wrote about a Parks & Tourism video about the Arkansas Delta. In that report Cindy noted:

P. Allen Smith even did a 6-minute segment traveling the Delta that will receive national publicity.

From Miller’s Mud Mill to our museum [the WWII Japanese American Internment Camp Museum in McGehee] & history, to Lakeport Plantation, the [Japanese-American] memorial cemetery at Rohwer, the Delta Heritage Trail, Johnny Cash’s Boyhood Home, James Hayes’ glass, to the new Hampton Museum being built in Wilson, the Delta is embracing its history and culture and our advertising will show it.

Johnny Cash boyhood home

Johnny Cash’s boyhood home in the Northeast Arkansas Delta (to enlarge the image and read the sign, click on the photo)

The Dyess Colony in the Northeast Arkansas Delta

The Dyess Colony, location of Johnny Cash’s boyhood home in the Northeast Arkansas Delta

To view this video about the Arkansas Delta, which opens with scenes of an East Arkansas cypress slough, a Mississippi River paddleboat, agricultural fields, Delta blues musicians, and other Delta subjects, click here or click on the actual URL in the Sources section at the end of this post.

That Delta video link was sent to me on September 18, 2015, by Patsy McDermott Scavo.

On September 19, 2015, Patsy Mc sent me these photos of an abandoned sharecropper shack and a mechanical cotton picker in operation at the Pickens Plantation in our home country of Desha County, Arkansas.

An abandoned sharecropper's shack

An abandoned sharecropper’s shack on the Pickens Plantation in the Arkansas Delta

A mechanical cotton picker in operation

A mechanical cotton picker in operation on the Pickens Plantation in the Arkansas Delta

On September 22 Patsy Mc also sent me a link to a Blues music video titled “Just Can’t Cross that River (at Arkansas City, Ark)” written and sung by fellow McGehee native Marty Denton with several striking Delta scenes from days gone by. To view it, click on the title or access it at its actual URL in the Sources section at the end of this post.

A close-up view of a sharecropper's shack in a cotton field in the Arkansas Delta

A close-up view of an Arkansas Delta sharecropper’s shack in a cotton field, a scene which is fast disappearing, if not indeed gone forever

On October 1, 2015, Judy Roberts one of Mari’s McGehee High School Clique friends (see my earlier post titled “My Annual Tributes to the Clique”) called Mari to tell her that Steve Bender, Southern Living’s “Grumpy Gardener,” had used a letter Judy had sent him about Mari’s brown cotton.

A photo of Steve Bender's column about brown cotton

A photo of Judy Robert’s letter about Mari’s brown cotton as featured in Steve Bender’s “Grumpy Gardener” column (to enlarge the image and read the letter, click on the photo)

To read that letter and Bender’s October 1 column on the subject of brown cotton, click here or click on the actual URL in the Sources section of this post.

You may also read more about Mari’s brown cotton at the end of my earlier post titled “McGehee Estate and McGehee Alligator, Mari’s Brown Cotton and ‘Designing Women’” by clicking on the title or on the actual URL in the Sources section of this post.

A photo of Mari's brown cotton

A photo of Mari’s brown cotton as featured in an earlier post on this blog

More about Cotton

“It was down in Louisiana,
Just about a mile from Texarkana,
In them ole cotton fields back home. . .

“I was over in Arkansas when the sheriff said,
‘What did you come here for?’
In them ole cotton fields back home.”
—Song written and sung by Bluesman Ledbelly
(Note: Lyrics may vary from source to source)

In addition, on October 1, 2015, Patsy Mc sent me a link to a musical video with Bluesman Ledbelly singing his own composition titled “Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home” which focuses on the Ark-La-Tex region near Texarkana Arkansas/Texas and Shreveport, Louisiana.

To view that video, click on the title or access it through the actual URL in the Sources section at the end of this post.

In his “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind” post on October 6, 2013, my longtime friend and Ouachita Baptist College buddy Joe Dempsey featured this photo of an Arkansas Delta cotton field taken from the levee (to view the entire post click on the title or on the actual URL in the Sources section at the end of this post):

Joe Dempsey's photo of an Arkansas Delta cotton field taken from the levee

Joe Dempsey’s photo of an Arkansas Delta cotton field taken from the levee

More recently, on October 14, 2015, Barbara Barnes, a native of Southeast Arkansas, sent me a photo of a cotton field ready for harvest with this note, “Cotton looking good in SE Arkansas this year”:

Barbara Barnes' photo of a Southeast Arkansas Delta cotton field

Barbara Barnes’ photo of a Southeast Arkansas Delta cotton field

Despite Barbara’s optimistic report of cotton production in Southeast Arkansas, a recent online article noted that this year’s cotton crop in Arkansas will be the lowest in its history. Dated June 26 and titled “Arkansas Cotton Acreage to Drop to Historic Low,” the article noted:

Depressed prices and rain have caused a more than 30 percent drop this year in the land area planted to cotton in Arkansas.

Experts at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension estimated that fewer than 200,000 acres of cotton were planted this market year—the lowest number of acres in Arkansas’ cotton growing history. The previous low was reached in 2013 when about 310,000 acres of the once plentiful Arkansas crop were planted. . . .

In the meantime, [economist Scott] Stiles said less cotton means fewer running gins and fewer warehouses dedicated to storing the crop. The state had 35 cotton gins in 2014, down from 86 in 2000, he said. . . .

In 1930, Arkansas’ peak production year, the state harvested about 3.49 million acres of cotton. By 2006, that number had dropped to 1.16 million acres. [Note: A recent article on cotton production that appeared in the McGehee Times estimated that in 2015 Arkansas would have only 125,000 acres devoted to cotton!]

Tommy Wilson, the community outreach coordinator for the Memphis Cotton Museum, who grew up in McCormick about 130 miles northeast of Little Rock, said he remembers a sea of cotton that ‘really did look like snow for as far as you could see.’ He said when he drives home now those fields are full of soybeans and corn.

‘In some ways it’s sad, but it’s a sign of the times,’ Wilson said.

To read the entire article on this subject, click here or on the actual URL in the Sources section at the end of this post. Additional, more technical information about cotton production and its influence worldwide will be featured in the next post on this blog.

Lakeport Programs on Plantations and Slavery in Arkansas
And the History of Chicot County

“The Rossmere Plantation, founded in the 1830s by George Read IV, was located on the east side of Lake Chicot, south of Stuart’s Island. In 1861, the plantation had over 1300 acres and 61 slaves. One of those slaves, Lucretia Alexander, was interviewed by the WPA in the 1930s.”
—Lakeport Plantation report on the Civil War
and slavery in Southeast Arkansas

“The book [Images of Chicot County] begins with an 1823 sketch of Point Chicot, the county’s first seat, and also includes several images of the plantation houses—now mostly gone.”
—Lakeport Plantation report on the history of Chicot County

On the subject of cotton production in Arkansas, especially in Southeast Arkansas, on July 22, 2015, Lakeport Plantation near Lake Village released this report of an upcoming presentation on the subject of the Civil War and its effect on Chicot County in which Lakeport is located:

Lakeport Plantation and its cotton field

Lakeport Plantation amid its luxurious cotton fields “white unto harvest”

Annie Read Reeves, a widow with four children, left New Castle, Delaware in October 1861 during the first year of the Civil War. They arrived at the Rossmere Plantation on Old River Lake in Chicot County on November 22.

Annie and her brother George Read IV (1812-1859) were the great-grandchildren of George Read I, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Her late brother founded Rossmere in the 1830s and her sister-in-law, Susan (Chapman) Read, still resided there in 1861.

Reeves’ diary (1861-1863) details her trip to Chicot County and experiences during the Civil War. [Lakeport assistant director Blake] Wintory will discuss the diary and what we know about the Read family and plantation from other sources: deeds, tax records, Susan Read’s letters, a memoir by Annie’s daughter, and a slave narrative.

Frontal view of Lakeport Plantation with its historical marker

Frontal view of Lakeport Plantation with its historical marker (to enlarge the image and read the historical marker, click on the photo)

In a personal email on October 21, Blake Wintory wrote: “I just got back from a research trip to Delaware and Washington, DC. George Read II’s house in New Castle is a historic site owned by the Delaware Historical Society.”

Earlier, on August 31, 2015, Lakeport announced a review of a book about the history of Chicot County (which happens to be the county in which both my wife and our older son were born):

Images of Chicot County tells the story of Chicot County through vintage photos. The book includes chapters on the county’s three principle towns (Dermott, Lake Village, and Eudora) as well as chapters on the county’s early years, Lake Chicot, and rural life.

The book begins with an 1823 sketch of Point Chicot, the county’s first seat, and also includes several images of the plantation houses—now mostly gone. Gracing the cover of the book is an image of the Lake Village Water Carnival, the signature event for the county in the 1920s. Proceeds benefit the Lakeport Plantation, an Arkansas State University Heritage Site. (italics mine)

The Images of Chicot County book is now officially published. The book retails for $21.99 +tax and is available at Lakeport or any online retailer.

To learn more about the book or either of these subjects visit Lakeport’s Web site at http://lakeport.astate.edu/  or email Blake Wintory directly at lakeport.ar@gmail.com.

“Relocation, Arkansas: Aftermath of Incarceration”

“‘Relocation, Arkansas’ is a uniquely Arkansas story.”
—AETN invitation to a preview showing of a documentary film on WWII
Japanese-American incarceration camps in Southeast Arkansas 

“Leave it to Rosalie Gould, the plain-spoken mayor of McGehee, Ark.,
which is as Delta as a town comes, to shatter . . .”
[any false impressions of the Delta].”
—Paul Greenberg, “Delta Cheated Again,”
Tulsa World, October 30, 1989

In another aspect of the Arkansas Delta, recently Patsy McDermott Scavo shared with me information about a October 8 preview screening of a new documentary film titled “Relocation, Arkansas” about the WWII Japanese-American incarceration camps in Southeast Arkansas.

Titleboard for Relocation, Arkansas

Titleboard for “Relocation, Arkansas” as featured on the AETN invitation to the preview showing of the full version of the film by Vivienne Schiffer

According to the invitation to the preview showing of that film sent out by the AETN Foundation which sponsored the event . . .

The film [by author/filmmaker Vivienne Gould Schiffer] explores the effect of the incarceration experience on the generation that was born after camp, the search for community and identity, and the unlikely experiences of the Japanese-American families who remained behind in Arkansas after the war years.

It also tells the story of the courageous fight of a small town [McGehee] Arkansas mayor of Italian descent, Rosalie Santine Gould, who saw the Japanese Americans not as enemies but as friends who had been wronged.

Buildings at the Japanese-American incarceration camp at Rohwer, Arkansas, near McGehee

Artistic image of some of the buildings at the WWII Japanese-American incarceration camp at Rohwer, Arkansas, near McGehee (image taken from the AETN invitation to the preview screening of Vivienne Schiffer’s documentary film “Relocation, Arkansas”)

The symbol of Mayor Gould’s commitment to historical preservation is her remarkable collection of incarceration camp art—now residing at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies as her gift to the people of Arkansas and those Japanese Americans who have involuntarily called Arkansas their home.

I have written about this subject of the WWII Japanese-American incarceration camps in several previous posts on this blog. One of those posts titled “Updates: Japanese-American Relocation Camp Museum; Camp Nine; Relocation Arkansas” was published on May 14, 2014. As indicated by its title, the post was an update on the opening of the WWII Japanese-American Internment Camp Museum in McGehee; Camp Nine, the novel about the camp at Rohwer, Arkansas, written by Vivienne Gould Schiffer (the daughter of Rosalie Santine Gould); and preview videos of the film “Relocation, Arkansas,” Vivienne’s documentary film which has now been released in its full length.

To access that post, click on the title above or on the URL in the Sources section at the end of this post.

Gayle Harper’s Update on Her Book
about Her Voyage on the Mississippi River

“Wow! [The steamboat American Queen is] pure elegance from bow to stern! The people were amazing, food was to die for and it was a perfect fit to share with these river-lovers the tales of Roadtrip with a Raindrop. It turned out that the water on the Mississippi was too high for this magnificent 6-story vessel to fit under the bridge at St. Louis, so she changed course and headed up the Ohio. It was great fun for me as it was all new territory—and truly beautiful! I was on board for 8 days and I loved every minute!”
—Gayle Harper’s Report on Her Recent Trip on the Mississippi River

American Queen riverboat

A view of the magnificent riverboat American Queen

Back on September 9, Gayle Harper published this update on her voyage on the Mississippi River and the success of her book about her voyage down the River.

There has been sooo much happening in Serendipity-Land!

AWARDS…

Since the last Newsletter, when I shared the news that Roadtrip with a Raindrop: 90 Days Along the Mississippi River was honored with an award in the ‘Book of the Year’ competition sponsored by Foreword Reviews, the book has actually won two more awards!

Cover of Roadtrip with a Raindrop

First, Roadtrip . . . is the winner of the GOLD MEDAL in the Travel Category of READERS’ FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARD CONTEST! This prestigious international competition receives thousands of entries and is recognized throughout the book world. Copies of ‘Roadtrip . . .’ will soon be graced with a lovely gold embossed sticker.

There will be a formal Awards Ceremony in Miami in November, in conjunction with the Miami Book Fair International, which brings hundreds of thousands of readers, authors, publishers and booksellers. I am thrilled and hoping to attend. (Stay tuned for photos of the event!)

The winners will soon be announced throughout the book world, including through Publishers’ Weekly! For now, a Book Review has been posted by Reader’s Favorite Reviewer, Jack Magnus, who gave it 5 Stars and had some wonderful comments. Here’s an excerpt . . .

Roadtrip with a Raindrop: 90 Days Along the Mississippi River is an exceptionally good travel book that reads as smoothly as fiction and is filled with history, nature and the warmth and kindness of strangers soon to become friends. It’s a splendid read, and it’s most highly recommended.

View from the deck of the riverboat American Queen

View from the deck of the riverboat American Queen

AND, the book has also won The Clarion Award from the National Association for Women in Communications!  I’ll be going to Kansas City in October for that Awards Ceremony in conjunction with the AWC National Convention! (Photos coming of that too!)

Our little raindrop is having one incredible year! I’m humbled, honored and amazed!

To learn more about Gayle Harper and her voyages and book, visit her Web site at: http://gayleharper.com/

Conclusion

“My dreams about two of my American Idols, Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor, are second only to my dreams about my wife Mari—for which I am extremely grateful—for the sake of my fifty-two-year marriage and what remains of my failing health!”
—Jimmy Peacock

A photo of American Icon Elizabeth Taylor picked out for me by Mari!

A photo of Elizabeth Taylor, my female American Icon, ironically picked out for me by Mari!

This post is unusually long because it makes up for the three posts I was not able to compose and publish since my last post on July 14!

Even so, I was able to use only about half of the items that have been shared with me by others during this period.

The omitted items (which include subjects such as more about cotton and its production and influence worldwide, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, paw paws, etc.) will have to wait for a possible future update and tidbit post (or posts).

Sources

The photo of Johnny Cash’s boyhood home was taken from:
www.cnn.com/2014/08/15/travel/johnny-cash-boyhood-home/

The photo of the Dyess Colony, the boyhood home of Johnny Cash, was taken from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyess,_Arkansas

The video of the Arkansas Delta presented by the Arkansas Parks & Tourism Department can be accessed at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux7XctifDQ8

The video of Marty Denton singing “Just Can’t Get across that River (at Arkansas City, Ark)” was sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo and can be accessed at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STI-R05uV14&feature=youtu.be

The article on brown cotton by Steve Bender was sent to us by Judy Roberts and taken from “The Grumpy Gardener” column in Southern Living on October 1, 2015. It can be accessed at:
http://thedailysouth.southernliving.com/2015/10/01/why-grumpy-keeps-grumping-on/

The video of Ledbelly singing “Them Ole Cotton Fields Back Home” was sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo and taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=59&v=eojxgTqtQUE

The photo of the Arkansas Delta cotton field was taken from Joe Dempsey’s “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind” blog post published on October 6, 2013, and can be accessed at:
https://weeklygrist.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/running-the-levees/

The photo of the Southeast Arkansas cotton field was sent to me by Barbara Barnes in an email dated October 14, 2015.

The online report titled “Arkansas Cotton Acreage Likely to Drop to Historic Low” can be accessed at:
http://www.agweb.com/article/arkansas-cotton-acreage-likely-to-drop-to-historic-low-NAA-associated-press/

The Lakeport Plantation reports on the Civil War and slavery in Southeast Arkansas and the history of Chicot County, Arkansas, were sent by email from Lakeport assistant director Blake Wintory who can be reached at lakeport.ar@gmail.com.

The copy and the two photos of the “Arkansas, Relocation” film title and the buildings at the WWII Rohwer Japanese-American Internment Camp were taken from the AETN invitation to a preview showing of a documentary film on this subject by Vivienne Schiffer and were used with permission.

The blog post update on the subject of the WWII Japanese-American incarceration camps in Southeast Arkansas, the book titled Camp Nine, and the film titled “Relocation, Arkansas” by Vivienne Gould Schiffer can be accessed at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/updates-japanese-american-relocation-camp-museum-camp-nine-relocation-arkansas/

The report on Gayle Harper’s book about her voyages on the Mississippi River can be accessed at her Web site at: http://gayleharper.com/

The photo of Elizabeth Taylor was sent to me by Patsy McDermott Scavo from an unknown source.

“The mystic chords of memory . . .
all over this broad land, will yet swell . . .
by the better angels of our nature.”
—Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address,
March 4, 1861

“But while we may leave Arkansas, Arkansas never leaves us.”
—John McClendon, “The Fountains of Youth,”
Arkansas Life, Digital Version, April 2015

In my last post titled “The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Part III: The Delta Blues Roots of 1950’s Rock and Roll” I noted that due to my declining health (especially my failing eyesight) I would not be able to produce a new blog post until the end of the summer.

I also noted that the new planned post would be Part IV in the series on the subject of 1950’s Rock and Roll music of my teenage years.

However, in the meantime despite my continuing health issues and diminished eyesight I decided to try to make up a mid-summer post of collected updates and tidbits on previous posts, several of which were sent to me by friends and relatives.

Following are seven of these items which I had thought would not require as much detail or illustration as normal full-post entries, though that assumption proved to be false.

They relate to: (1) the WWII Japanese internment camp museum in my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas; (2) Gayle Harper’s book about her voyage of discovery down the Mississippi River; (3) a presentation about absentee Delta plantation owners; (4) the story of a black man who returned to the Delta to restore the “big house” of the Arkansas plantation on which he was born and toiled; (5) a song by black Country-Western singer Charlie Pride about growing up near a “Mississippi Cotton-Pickin’ Delta Town”; 6) two memorable quotes about Home in the South and Southern Hospitality; and (7) the eternal natural beauty of Elizabeth Taylor who played Southern Belles in at least two of her many films.

(Note: To magnify the photos, click on each one individually.)

Update on WWII Japanese Internment Camps

“As stewards of our nation’s history, the National Park Service recognizes the importance of preserving these confinement sites. They are poignant reminders—today and for future generations—that we must be always vigilant in upholding civil liberties for all.”
—National Park Director Jonathan B. Jarvis

In several of my previous posts I wrote about the WWII Japanese-American internment camps, especially the two in Southeast Arkansas (the only ones in the South), and particularly about the new museum dedicated to them in my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas.

Japanese-American museum in McGehee, Arkansas

Japanese-American museum in McGehee, Arkansas

Recently the McGehee Times reported the observance of the two-year anniversary of the dedication of that museum and provided records of its attendance during that time period. According to officials, the museum has had more than 5,100 visitors from forty-nine states and twenty-four foreign countries.

On June 17, 2015, the Times published an article titled “National Park Service announces grants to support Japanese American internment projects.” In that article it was noted that twenty grants totaling more than $2.8 million were being set aside “to help preserve and interpret World War II confinement sites of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were American citizens.”

Among the projects funded by the grants will be “the creation of an online archive that will include more than 1,300 digitally scanned documents and photographs related to the former Rohwer incarceration site in [Rohwer] Arkansas [near McGehee].”

Update on Book about Voyage
down the Mississippi River

 “‘Roadtrip with a Raindrop: 90 Days Along the Mississippi River’” by Gayle Harper is a Winner in Foreword Review’s ‘Book of the Year’ INDIEFAB Competition! Winners were announced last night onstage at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in San Francisco and across social media—and ‘Roadtrip . . .’ took the Bronze Medal for the Travel category!”
—Gayle Harper writing about her book in June 27 email

Recently I received two email updates from Gayle Harper concerning her book about her voyage down the Mississippi River titled Roadtrip with a Raindrop. Following are some excerpts from one of those updates.

The 2015 Book Tour

I’ve just returned from another leg of the 2015 Book Tour for “Roadtrip with a Raindrop: 90 Days Along the Mississippi River.” This one was to the Delta, the land of heavy air, light hearts, sweet tea and hot tamales. This part of the adventure, sharing the Multimedia Presentation and the books is every bit as much fun as was the journey. Everywhere it is received with such exuberance that I am continually amazed. It makes people happy—and that is more than enough reason for me to do this!

Print

Reunion

I stopped by the Highway 61 Blues Museum in Leland, Mississippi, and who walks in but my buddy Pat Thomas! I met him on Day 72 of the road trip and you can read his story on page 184 of “Roadtrip with a Raindrop.” He’s a Blues man and the son of a Blues legend, “Son” Thomas. I can’t say which one of us was happier to reconnect.

Gayle Harper and Delta Blues man

Gayle Harper and Delta Blues man

American Queen Adventure Coming Soon

I’ll be presenting on board the stunningly gorgeous American Queen Steamboat July 23–29 at http://www.americanqueensteamboatcompany.com/.

I was lucky enough to have a tour in Memphis and again in Natchez and I can hardly wait for this adventure! It is the world’s largest steamboat, with the capacity for 436 overnight passengers and every inch of it is elegantly beautiful. I’ll be on the trip from Dubuque to St. Paul and the return trip. Join me if you can!

American Queen river boat

American Queen riverboat

(c) Gayle Harper

For additional information on the book and how to order it, to see the photos and the BOOK TRAILER, and to learn more about the cruise on the American Queen, go to www.gayleharper.com.

Lakeport History Talk on
Absentee Plantation Owners
 

“Kenneth Rayner, a resident of North Carolina, purchased a 538 acre Chicot County plantation in 1845. Writing to a friend, he objected to the land being ‘in the state of Arkansas’ and complained ‘I will never leave my wife so long again.’ Two years later, visiting the plantation during the December harvest, he praised his overseer, ‘I think my overseer a first rate manager . . . he has picked, and packed about 220 bales of cotton’ despite bad weather.”
—Caption under photo of Kenneth Rayner, a Chicot County, Arkansas, plantation owner, in Lakeport Plantation announcement on June 16, 2015

The above quote was taken from an online announcement of a history talk by Dr. Kelly Houston Jones, of Austin Peay State University, which was held on June 25 at Lakeport Plantation near Lake Village, Arkansas.

Lakeport Plantation with cotton fields

Lakeport Plantation with cotton fields

According to the Lakeport announcement:

Many masters along the Mississippi River did not reside on their plantations. Instead they relied on overseers to run the day-to-day operations. The absence of a white family in the ‘big house’ could make the plantation a much different place than one with an owner-resident. Dr. Kelly Jones will discuss her work on R.C. Ballard and other area plantation owners who resided away from their holdings, and what those arrangements would have meant for enslaved people living on those plantations.

In a related article in a recent issue of the McGehee Times, it was noted that “Ballard, a former slave trader, invested his profits in human trafficking into plantations in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. By 1860 Ballard and his firm owned 500 slaves. His Wagram Plantation in Chicot County, Arkansas included 915 acres and 80 enslaved laborers.”

To learn more about this subject and others relating to antebellum plantations in Arkansas and surrounding states, visit the Lakeport Plantation Web site at http://lakeport.astate.edu/ or send an email to the following address lakeport.ar@gmail.com.

Also visit some of my previous blog posts on the Delta titled, “Arkansas Delta Plantations and Other Post-Mortem Tidbits, Part IArkansas Delta Plantations, Part II; and Arkansas Delta Plantations, Part III by clicking on their titles here or on their actual URLs in the Sources section at the end of this post.

Black Man Restores Delta Plantation House

“He [a black man] had returned home to the Arkansas Delta to purchase and restore a house that he was never allowed to enter as a child. . . . . He had traveled to every corner of the U.S., as well as 13 foreign countries, as a performer. But while we may leave Arkansas, Arkansas never leaves us.”
—John McClendon, “The Fountains of Youth,”
Arkansas Life, Digital Version, April 2015

In an online version of an article titled “The Fountain of Youth” which appeared in the April issue of Arkansas Life, John McClendon presented an extremely well-written account of a black man named Charles Graham who not only dreamed of returning to the Arkansas Delta plantation on which he was born and where he toiled in the cotton fields as a child, but of restoring its Southern-style “big house” to its former glory and for a new purpose.

"Big house" at the Baxter Plantation

Baxter Plantation “big house” located on Bayou Bartholomew, southeast of my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas, and west of my wife’s birthplace of Dermott, Arkansas (photo by Sara Blancett Reeves)

As McClendon noted:

In a baritone both calm and convincing, Graham delivers the script-worthy story of his life with diction so perfect and accent-free that it belies any hint of his rural Arkansas upbringing. But with his powerful gospel voice describing cotton stalks rising from sandy loam and days afield in 100-degree heat, it’s immediately clear that his is a setting purely Southern. As he reflects on his youth, a stream of continuous memories fills the room—verse after verse about life in the late ’50s and ’60s as a poor black child in the Arkansas Delta.

Then McClendon went on to describe the arduous task Graham set for himself in restoring the “big house” with the help of friends and others who shared his vision for that restoration and renewal of purpose:

The desire to see the old place brought back to life became a combined cause for those who remembered what it once was, as well as those who believed in Graham’s vision for the house’s future.

To read the entire story of Graham’s life and mission, both personal and religious, click on the title “The Fountains of Youth” or click on the actual URL in the Sources section of this post.

A Different Black Man’s View of the Delta

“Down in the Delta where I was born
All we raised was cotton, potatoes and corn
I’ve picked cotton till my fingers hurt
Draggin’ the sack through that Delta dirt. . . . .

“In a Mississippi cotton pickin’ Delta town
One dusty street to walk up and down
Nothin’ much to see but a starvin’ hound
In a Mississippi cotton pickin’ Delta town.”

—Lyrics to Charley Pride song titled
“Mississippi Cotton Pickin’ Delta Town”
written by Harold Dorman and George Gann

A few months ago my 1956 McGehee High School classmate and friend Pat Scavo, who has lived in and still loves both sides of the Mississippi River Delta, sent me a musical video of black Country-Western singer Charley Pride.

The link was to a You Tube video of Charley singing one of his classic hits about his birthplace where he spent his youth in “a Mississippi cotton-pickin’ Delta town.”

Charley Pride

Charley Pride

Since you are likely already familiar with this song, I am sure you will have no difficulty in detecting the obvious difference in perspectives of Charley Pride and Charles Graham, another black man who returned to his birthplace in the Delta as described in the preceding section.

To view and hear Charley Pride’s musical memory of the Delta from his childhood days, click here or click on the actual URL in the Sources section at the end of this post.

Quotes on Home and
Hospitality in the South

“When I am overcome with homesickness, I refer to it as being ‘all down in the South’ or suffering from ‘y’all withdrawal.’ The only answer is to ‘take a pilgrimage to the Holy Land’—or at least find some ‘sweet young Southern thang’ to ‘tawk Dixie to me.’”
—Jimmy Peacock

An Arkansas Delta Belle in front of an antebellum home in Helena, Arkansas

A Southern Belle in front of an antebellum home in Historic Helena, Arkansas

Sometime in the recent past, my longtime friend and 1956 Delta high school classmate Pat Scavo (who grew up in both McGehee, Arkansas, and Benoit, Mississippi, across the River) sent me the following quotes about Home in the South and the definition of Southern Hospitality. I thought I would insert them here since they both seem to fit right in with the other subjects in this post of updates and tidbits. Their original versions set as pieces of art can be accessed and purchased through their Web sites in the Sources section at the end of this post.

At Home in the South

“Sometimes we need to go where we can hear a screen door slam,
echoes of our parents calling our name,
wish on a falling star & catch fireflies in a jar.”
—Connie Sue, Heavenly Place

As a tenth-generation Southerner and a professional copywriter, the only change I would have suggested to this Southern saying would be to reword the last phrase to “catch lightnin’ bugs in a fruit jar (or Mason jar).”

Southern Hospitality

“Not a tangible thing, but an attitude which has been ingrained in Southerners forever.
It’s a feeling of being sincerely welcomed as a guest or a long-lost friend; a way of life that lets people be as warm as the climate.
It’s an easiness in speaking with total strangers or anyone, a unique friendliness encompassing the whole way of life in the Deep South.
It’s not something one does, it’s the way one is
.”
—Dee Johnson, Southern Hospitality

Of course, since I was born and raised in Southeast Arkansas and have lived for a short time in South Carolina and spent the second half of my life (thirty-eight years) in Northeast Oklahoma, I wholeheartedly agree with both of these observations about Home in the South and Southern Hospitality.

Update Quotes on Elizabeth Taylor

“All women need makeup. Don’t let anybody tell you different.
The only woman who was pretty enough to go without makeup
was Elizabeth Taylor,
and she wore a ton of it.”
—Violet, matriarch of the Weston family, to Ivy,
her plain middle-aged daughter,
in play “August: Osage County” set in northeast Oklahoma

Elizabeth Taylor as icon of feminine beauty

Elizabeth Taylor as icon of feminine beauty with or without makeup

The above quote by Benjamin Hardy appeared in “Bleak House in ‘Osage County,’” a theatrical review published in the Arkansas Times on June 11, 2015.

The play, written by native Oklahoman Tracey Letts, won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was later made into a feature movie. The 2013 film version starred Meryl Streep as Violet Weston, who delivered this line about Elizabeth Taylor and her eternal beauty. (To read a Wikipedia article about this play, click here. To read a Wikipedia article about the film version, click here. Or click on the actual URLs in the Sources section at the end of this post.)

The reason I inserted this observation about feminine beauty from that play is twofold: (1)  because the opening quote above relates to one of my favorite all-time screen stars, the late icon of beauty Elizabeth Taylor, and because it is voiced by one of my favorite current screen stars, the incomparable and seemingly imperishable Meryl Streep, and (2) because Elizabeth Taylor starred as a Southern Belle in at least two of my favorite Hollywood films: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Raintree County.

Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Elizabeth Taylor as a Southern Belle in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Elizabeth Taylor as a Southern Belle in Raintree County

Elizabeth Taylor as a Southern Belle in the movie Raintree County

To illustrate and confirm the truth of this statement about Elizabeth Taylor not needing to wear makeup to enhance her inherent beauty, here are two photos of her (with and without makeup) sent to me recently by Pat Scavo. The two are only examples of several such photos of my “American Idol” that Patsy Mc has forwarded to me in the past and continues to do so. As such, they add to the eight I have taped around my computer in my office and the seven I have taped in and around my shaving mirror in my half-bath.

Elizabeth Taylor in makeup as Cleopatra

Elizabeth Taylor with makeup for her role as Cleopatra in the Hollywood movie by that name

Elizabeth Taylor without makeup

Elizabeth Taylor without makeup

Thank you, Patsy Mc, for continuing to support me in my adoration and worship of the Lovely Liz whose fabulous beauty will never fade as long as Jimmy Peacock draws breath!

(For more on the subject of my enduring love for Elizabeth Taylor, “the most beautiful creature God ever made”—except for Mari, of course—visit the sections on her in my earlier blog posts, especially “My Lifelong Attraction to Black Beauty” and “Who’s to Blame?: Humorous Self-Quotes” here and in the Sources section at the end of this post.)

Sources

The quote of Abraham Lincoln on memory was taken from:
http://www.ushistory.org/documents/lincoln1.htm 

The quotes about the Japanese American internment sites were taken from an article titled “National Park Service announces grants to support Japanese American internment projects” which appeared in the McGehee Times on June 17, 2015.

The photo of the WWII Japanese-American Museum in McGehee, Arkansas, was taken from:
http://rohwer.astate.edu/plan-your-visit/museum/

The information and photos about Gayle Harper and her book about her voyage down the Mississippi River were taken from her Web site at:
www.gayleharper.com

The quotes about absentee plantation owners and slaveholders were taken from an email announcement of a talk on the history of the subject by Dr. Kelly Houston Jones, of Austin Peay State University, held on June 25 at Lakeport Plantation near Lake Village, Arkansas. The quotes and the photo of Lakeport Plantation were used by permission. The final quote on the subject was taken from an article titled “Dr. Kelly Houston Jones to speak at Lakeport Plantation” which appeared in a recent issue of the McGehee Times.

Some of my previous posts about Arkansas Delta Plantations scattered throughout this blog can be accessed at:

https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/arkansas-delta-plantations-and-other-post-mortem-tidbits-part-i/

https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/arkansas-delta-plantations-and-other-post-mortem-tidbits-part-ii/

https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/arkansas-delta-plantations-and-other-post-mortem-tidbits-part-iii/

The quotes and the photo of the Baxter Plantation house near Dermott, Arkansas, were taken from an article titled “The Fountains of Youth,” written by John McClendon with photos by Sara Blancett Reeves, which appeared in the Arkansas Life, Digital Version, April 2015 issue, accessed at:
http://arkansaslife.com/the-fountains-of-youth/

The lyrics to the Charley Pride song “Mississippi Cotton-Pickin’ Delta Town” were taken from:
http://www.metrolyrics.com/mississippi-cotton-pickin-delta-town-lyrics-charley-pride.html

The video of Charley Pride singing this song was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1BuWUYAGFE

The photo of Charley Pride was taken from:
www.movieandmusicgreats.com/category/charley-pride

The photo of the Southern Belle standing in front of an ante-bellum home in the historic Mississippi River port of Helena, Arkansas, was taken from a postcard published by the Helena Advertising and Tourist Promotion Commission, 622 Pecan, P.O. Box 495, Helena, Arkansas 72342, 501-338-6583

The two quotes about the South titled “At Home in the South” and “Southern Hospitality” were sent to me by Pat Scavo. The first was taken from Connie Sue’s Safe Haven Web site at:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Connie-Sues-Safe-Haven/171955452946155?sk=photos_stream

The second quote about Southern Hospitality by Dee Jackson was taken from her Web site at:
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c4/2d/84/c42d84efaaecfc83642d16aa5f75ff3a.jpg

The quote about Elizabeth Taylor from the play “August: Osage County” was taken from a theatrical review by Benjamin Hardy titled “Bleak house in ‘Osage County’” which appeared in the Arkansas Times on June 11, 2015. It was sent to me by Pat Scavo.

The Wikipedia article about the Broadway play “August: Osage County” was taken from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August:_Osage_County

The Wikipedia article about the film version of “August: Osage County” was taken from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August:_Osage_County_(film)#Cast

The Wikipedia articles and photos of the two Elizabeth Taylor films in which she starred as a Southern Belle, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Raintree County, were taken from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_on_a_Hot_Tin_Roof_(1958_film)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raintree_County_(film)

The two photos of Elizabeth Taylor with and without makeup were sent to me by Pat Scavo and taken from:
http://www.bruceonshaving.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Elizabeth-Taylor-face-3.jpg

The earlier blog posts with sections about my love for Elizabeth Taylor titled “My Lifelong Attraction to Black Beauty” and “Who’s to Blame?: Humorous Self-Quotes” can be accessed at:

https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/my-lifelong-attraction-to-black-beauty/

https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/whos-to-blame-humorous-self-quotes/

 

 

Introduction

“Rock and Roll may have turned gray, but its roots will always be black.”
—Jimmy Peacock

“Well Nashville had country music
but Memphis had the soul
Lord, the white boy had the rhythm
and that started rock and roll
And I was here when it happened
don’t y’all think I ought to know . . .

I watched Memphis give birth
to Rock and Roll.”

—Carl Perkins, “Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll”
(To view a photo of the original
Sun Studio Million Dollar Quartet
with a video of this song by Carl Perkins, click here.)
(To learn more about the Million Dollar Quartet,
see the Addenda section at the end of this post.)

Original Sun Studio Million Dollar Quartet in December 1956

Original 1956 Sun Studio Million Dollar Quartet: (l-r) Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash (to magnify, click on the photo)

In my preceding post titled “The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Part II: Pop Music of the 1950s” I discussed some of the popular music that I heard and listened to during that decade of my youth.

In this post I had intended to discuss the 1950’s Rock and Roll music that dominated the second half of that decade. However, since it became so complex I realized that I had to limit this post to the Delta roots of Rock and Roll during the fifties.

Although the 1950s are often portrayed as an ideal, wholesome, stable, peaceful, and uneventful period, that rather romantic perspective is not entirely accurate. Besides my own personal life-changing experiences mentioned in my preceding post on Pop music of the 1950s, there were other life-changing social and historical events taking place during that decade.

Some of these include: the integration of blacks and whites in the U.S. Armed Services ordered by President Harry Truman in 1948; the Korean Conflict from 1950 to 1953 (humorously but not always realistically portrayed in the popular 1970’s TV series M*A*S*H); the 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing racial segregation in American public schools; the ensuing Civil Rights Movement, especially the 1957 Central High School Integration Crisis in our capital city of Little Rock, Arkansas, which captured headlines around the world for two years or more; the beginning of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, including the space race, with the Soviets launching the first satellite in orbit around the earth called Sputnik, and the United States detonating the first airborne hydrogen bomb; and many other such events of national and international significance and concern.

As indicated by the opening quote above from Carl Perkins, that decade is usually considered the beginning of the style of music which came to be known as “Rock and Roll.” Although some music critics will disagree with Perkins’ assertion that Memphis was the birthplace of Rock and Roll, it must be admitted that both Memphis music recorder and promoter Sam Phillips and his Sun Studio did have a powerful influence on the birth and early development of R&R. (To learn more about Sam Phillips and Sun Studio, see the links in the Sources section at the end of this post.)

This was especially true for the youngsters, like me, throughout the Mid-South who began to listen to that group of musicians and their style of music which was early called “Rockabilly,” in reference to its roots in black Blues, Rhythm and Blues, and Spirituals, and white Country-Western (“Hillbilly”), Gospel, and Pop music.

As indicated, it is those early Delta roots of Rock and Roll that I intend to address in this post. But the post is not really meant to be a factual history of the birth and development of Rock and Roll. That subject can be easily accessed online through Wikipedia articles such as “Rock and Roll” and “1950s in Music.” Rather, this post is supposed to be a general presentation of some of the early 1950’s Rock and Roll performers and songs that served as part of the “soundtrack” of my teenage years during my formative high school and college days.

My Personal History
of the Roots of Rock and Roll Music

“One Mint Julep”— The Clovers. Late 1951. First of these [Black Rhythm and Blues songs] which I remember listening to on radio [in early 1950s]. Group produced hits in R&B field in early fifties (Bobby Vee and Bobby Vinton—white pop artists covered their material). One big hit left in 1959, ‘Love Potion Number 9’ which was still being performed by rock groups in 1970’s. Cross-over hit popular with whites also.”
—Entry in my late 1970’s personal history
of the origin and development of Rock and Roll music.
(To hear this early 1950’s song by the Clovers, click here.)
(To learn more about this song from Wikipedia, click here.)

The Clovers

The Clovers

Somewhere between 1977 and 1981, while I was working as a French translator and editorial assistant for an international Christian ministry in Tulsa, I was confronted with an interesting question about Roll and Roll music.

Since I was working with a group of men who were about fifteen years younger than I, one day they began to question and debate among themselves, “Who started Rock and Roll?”

As I listened, I could not believe the “answers” they were suggesting, such as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Pete Seeger, etc. Finally, since like Carl Perkins, I was “there when Rock and Roll was born,” I could not help but interject my opinions into the conversation.

Surprisingly, either they did not understand me or they did not believe me. It seemed that I was talking about people and songs and music they had never heard of. So as a professional copyeditor, “The guardian of precision, the protector of the facts, a professional perfectionist dedicated to the idea that you can believe what you read (From Manuscript to Book),” after work I headed to the Tulsa library to research the subject and prove my point.

After hours and hours of research (which could have been done in a few minutes with today’s technology) I had gathered enough information to fill four or five single-spaced pages (typed on an old worn-out Underwood portable typewriter) and copied enough music to fill both sides of  four cassette tapes (one of which is now missing). From that material, I made up a rather exhaustive history of the birth and early development of Rock and Roll as I knew it, experienced it, and recalled it.

Beginning with its primitive roots in Mississippi River Delta work chants, through early Delta Blues tunes often played on nothing more than a single wire on a broom handle attached to the post of a shotgun house, through true Delta Blues music played on a guitar and/or “French harp” (harmonica), and Rhythm and Blues with a larger band and more sophisticated musicians I listed dozens of examples of the movement and development of the Blues from the Delta to Memphis and then upriver to places like Chicago, and downriver to New Orleans.

I particularly traced that movement to Memphis and to Sam Phillips and Sun Records and the small group of black musicians whose music Phillips recorded in an effort to promote it to larger audiences since at the time white recording studios would not record black music, and white radio stations would not play it. From there I showed how Phillips and others began to record some black Delta Blues musicians like B.B. King, “Muddy” Waters, and “Howlin’ Wolf.” As Phillips once said: “When I heard Howlin’ Wolf, I said, ‘This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.’” He was obviously not alone in that opinion, especially among young white Deltans like me.

Sam Phillips in 1950s

Sam Phillips in the 195os

Sun Studio in Memphis

Sun Studio in Memphis

But Phillips also began to seek out white performers (like Elvis Presley) who could “cover” black music for white audiences, a subject I will discuss in my next post. (One of those white performers for another recording label cited in my previous post on “Pop Music of the 1950s” was Pat Boone, a squeaky-clean, white-buck-shoe singer who “covered” several black musicians with hits like “I Almost Lost My Mind,” which I also offered in a video by Fats Domino.) Phillips also recorded white musicians like Carl Perkins who could write and perform their own versions of Rock and Roll songs such as “Blue Suede Shoes” (1955) and “Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll” (1986) quoted above.

As an example of the original black music later “covered” or copied by white performers, in my personal history of the origin of Rock and Roll I inserted an entry on Louis Jordan and his R&B band from the Arkansas Delta titled “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” recorded in 1946! This is what I wrote about that song:

“Choo Choo Ch’Boogie”—Louis Jordan, vocal and alto sax and band. Jan. 23, 1946 in New York. Louis Jordan was probably the most successful black recording artist of the forties. First big hit—million-seller (extremely rare for black acts in those years). Also recorded with Bing Crosby (1944), Ella Fitzgerald (1945), and Louis Armstrong (1950)—strong influence on Bill Haley, who later formed a white band playing black-copied music, one of innovators of R&R music to come.” (Italics mine.)

To hear this song, click here. To learn more about Louis Jordan, click here.

Louis Jordan in 1946

Louis Jordan in 1946

I also discussed two other early 1950’s songs that in hindsight can be considered part of the “roots of Rock and Roll.”

The first one was a Delta Blues song that was released in 1952 by Muddy Waters and titled “Hoochie Coochie Man” (later featured in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers). Here is my description of it in my personal history of the roots of Rock and Roll compiled in the late 1970s:

“Hoochie Coochie Man”—Muddy Waters, vocal & guitar; Jimmie Rodgers. guitar; Little Walter, harmonica; others. Recorded 1952.”

To view this song performed by Muddy Waters, click here. To learn more about Muddy Waters, click here.

Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters

Next was one by Ruth Brown titled “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean,” which I described as following:

“Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean”—Ruth Brown. Recorded 1953. Typical of black (Rhythm and Blues) [songs] which were listened to and popular with young whites (including me) who were ‘instigators’ of R&R by listening to and requesting such music on the radio, buying the records, dancing to the music and otherwise encouraging musicians and [music publishers] to promote R&R (though it was not yet so named—that came about 1954). Ruth Brown became about as popular in R&R as in R&B.”

To view a video of this rousing version of an “early Rock and Roll” song, click here. To learn more about Ruth Brown, click here.

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

Other Popular Examples of 1950’s
Roots of Rock and Roll

“Oh, life could be a dream (sh-boom)
If I could take you up in paradise up above (sh-boom)
If you would tell me I’m the only one that you love
Live could be a dream, sweetheart”
—Lyrics to “Sh-boom” 

Two other early 1950’s Rhythm and Blues or Doo-wop selections that had an influence on the birth and development of Rock and Roll and sometimes called “the first Rock and Roll record” were the following:

Jackie Brentson’s “Rocket 88” released in 1951, as noted in a Wikipedia article:

Rocket 88” (originally written as Rocket “88”) is a rhythm and blues song that was first recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 3 or 5, 1951 (accounts differ). The recording was credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, who were actually Ike Turner‘s Kings of Rhythm.

The record reached no.1 on the Billboard R&B chart. Many experts acknowledge its importance in the development of rock and roll music, as the first rock and roll record. (Italics mine)

To hear this song, click here.

To learn more about the recording, click here.

Jackie Brentson

Jackie Brenston

According to Wikipedia, the second recording sometimes inaccurately given credit as being “the first Rock and Roll record” was “Sh-boom” (“Life Could Be Dream”) which first appeared in 1954 and became known by every teenager of that period:

The song was first recorded on Atlantic Records‘ subsidiary label Cat Records by The Chords on March 15, 1954 and would be their only hit song. “Sh-Boom” reached #2 on the Billboard R&B charts and peaked at #9 on the pop charts. It is sometimes considered to be the first doo-wop or rock ‘n’ roll record to reach the top ten on the pop charts (as opposed to the R&B charts). This version was ranked #215 on Rolling Stones list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is the group’s only song on the list. (Italics mine)

A more traditional version was made by The Crew-Cuts for Mercury Records and was #1 on the Billboard charts in for nine weeks during August and September 1954. The single first entered the charts on July 30, 1954 and stayed for 20 weeks. The Crew-Cuts performed the song on Ed Sullivan‘s Toast of the Town on December 12, 1954. On the Cash Box magazine best-selling record charts, where both versions were combined, the song reached #1.

To hear The Chords’ (i.e., original black version), click here. To hear the Crew Cuts’ (i.e. white “cover” version) click here.

The Chords

The Chords

The Crew Cuts in 1957

The Crew Cuts in 1957

The Continuation of My Report on
Early 1950’s Rock and Roll

“You Gotta Cut That Out”—Forrest City (Ark.) Joe, vocal and harmonica; unidentified guitar. ‘If we date the previous blues about 1900-1910, then fifty years and many thousand stanzas later, this is what the Delta blues had become.”
——Entry in my late 1970’s personal history
of the origin and development of Rock and Roll music.
(To hear this later 1950’s song by Forrest City Joe, click here.)
(To learn more about Forrest City Joe and his harmonica playing, click here.)

Although I am not able to list all the entries in my personal history of the birth and development of Mississippi River Delta Blues, here is another example from the Arkansas Delta side of that interesting history, the town of Forrest City being not far from Helena, Arkansas, which had a great Blues radio show on KFFA called the King Biscuit Blues Hour.

Originally named for its sponsor King Biscuit Flour, that show, which has recently had to change its name, has become the longest-running Blues show in the United States and has featured many famous Blues artists, particularly Sonny Boy Williamson II. (To learn more about Helena and its Blues show and its Delta Cultural Center, click on the titles. To learn more about Sonny Boy Williamson II, click here.)

The Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Arkansas

The Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Arkansas

Sonny Boy Williamson II

Sonny Boy Williamson II

It was from such radio shows and stations as the one in Helena; from others in Memphis; from some across the River from our hometown in Greenville, Mississippi; and from late-night mega-watt giants such as Randy’s Record Shop on radio station WLAC in Gallitin, Tennessee, that we white teenagers in the Delta began to listen to black music in the early 1950s. This is what Wikipedia had to say under the title “The nighttime R&B years”:

“By the 1950s, however, WLAC would achieve a distinctive notoriety of its own, the nighttime station for half the nation. The station became legendary from a quartet of nighttime rhythm and blues shows . . . . Thanks to the station’s clear channel designation, the signal reached most of the Eastern and MidwesternUnited States, although African-American listeners in the Deep South were the intended audience of the programs. WLAC was particularly popular with some young white teenagers; some believe that the nightly shows laid the foundational audience for the rock and roll phenomenon of the late 1950s.” (Italics mine)

The Actual “Birth” of 1950’s Rock and Roll

“Rock and roll (often written as rock & roll or rock ‘n’ roll) is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of predominately African-American genres such as blues, boogie woogie, jump blues, jazz, and gospel music, together with Western swing and country music. Though elements of rock and roll can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until the 1950s.”
—Wikipedia article titled “Rock and Roll”

In my personal history of the roots of Rock and Roll, after discussing many other early 1950’s Blues, Rhythm and Blues, and Rock and Roll black musicians, I went on to discuss Bill Haley and the Comets who in the mid-fifties “covered” two black hits: “Rock Around the Clock” and “Shake, Rattle, and Roll.”

Both of these recordings became national sensations, especially when the first was played in the opening scenes of a popular 1955 movie titled Blackboard Jungle. (To view a video of “Rock around the Clock” with scenes from a 1950’s movie, click on the title. To view a video of “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” click on the title.)

I also noted how a white Cleveland disk jockey named Alan Freed took the titles of those two massive hits to make up the name for this new type of music and called it “Rock and Roll.”

Bill Haley and His Comets

Bill Haley and His Comets

The rest . . . as they say . . . is history—and I recorded it in words and on tape for my sadly misinformed younger seekers of truth whom I later realized were not questioning the beginning of Rock and Roll music but of “Rock” music, which was and remains a different animal from a different era than mine, one with which I as a child of the 1950s had neither interest nor contact—and still don’t.

Conclusion to My Report on
the Roots of 1950’s Rock and Roll

“Shake, Rattle & Roll”—Joe Turner, vocal. Recorded Feb 15, 1954. This is it! R&R is born! ‘Covered’ by Bill Haley, himself a product of Louis Jordan and other black musicians, this piece, along with soon-to-follow ‘Rock around the Clock,’ produced not only a new craze in music (movies like “Blackboard Jungle” and the ‘Wild One” with Marlon Brando further popularized this type of music among the young—while making ‘heroes’ and ‘cool cats’ out of types such as Brando, James Dean, etc.) but also gave this new crazy music its title Rock (around the Clock) and Roll (Shake, Rattle and).”
—My entry for “Shake, Rattle and Roll” by Joe Turner
(To hear Joe Turner’s original version of this song, click here.)

Joe Turner

Joe Turner

My hard work back in the late 1970s in researching and compiling that history of the birth and development of early Rock and Roll music from the Mississippi River Delta Blues was not a total loss.

One of the authors whose books on the subject of the Delta Blues I consulted and quoted was Dr. William Ferris (see Sources section at the end of this post), whom I learned had recently helped to establish the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.

When I wrote to Bill Ferris to query him about my research into Blues music as the foundation for Rock and Roll, we began a sixteen-year correspondence that lasted until he was chosen by then U.S. president Bill Clinton to come to Washington to head the National Endowment for the Humanities.

From that relationship between Bill Ferris and me I began to receive a free subscription to the Southern Register, the regular newsletter of the Center. I continue to receive that newsletter which I quickly devour, including the section on the Center’s Blues magazine titled Living Blues. (To learn more about Bill Ferris, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and the Living Blues magazine, click on the titles.)

That foundation for 1950’s Rock and Roll was certainly laid for most of us teens from the Delta beginning in the early fifties and carrying on through our high school years.

From that foundation and the popularity of the black music we were listening to, white recording studios began to publish white “covers” of black music, and white radio stations began to play white “covers” of many of the black songs. Eventually records of the black musicians themselves began to become commonplace, even nationwide.

Thus was born Rock and Roll.

And like Carl Perkins, I was there at its birth!

Addenda

The Passing of Delta Blues Legend B.B. King

This post is dedicated to the memory of Delta Blues legend B.B. King who died while I was composing it on May 14, 2015, the fifty-ninth anniversary of my graduation from high school in the Delta in 1956. King’s guitar was called Lucille after a women whom King claimed was the cause of a fight that resulted in a fire that burned down the juke joint in which he was playing in the tiny Delta community of Twist, Arkansas.

Our 1956 High School Graduation
and the Million Dollar Quartet
 

“Four legendary rockstars came together one night only, but audiences can experience it over and over again in Celebrity Attractions’ last show for the Broadway season. Million Dollar Quartet. The show chronicles a December of 1956 day when the ‘Father of Rock N Roll’ Sam Phillips brought together Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash for a jam session. The star-studded quartet became known as the Million Dollar Quartet. Tickets went on sale for the Tony Award Winning play May 1. The play will run May 26-31.”
—“Youthful Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins
and Jerry Lee Lewis are coming to Tulsa,”
Sapulpa Daily Herald, May 13, 2015

May 13, 2015 Sapulpa Daily Herald article on appearance of the Million Dollar Quartet tribute artists in Tulsa, Oklahoma

May 13, 1015, Sapulpa Daily Herald article on the appearance of the Million Dollar Quartet tribute artists in Tulsa, Oklahoma (to magnify and read the caption, click on the photo)

Recently, on May 14, 2015, I sent my former high school classmate Pat Scavo of Hot Springs (still known to us as Patsy Mc) an email reminding her that it was on that day that we graduated from McGehee High School in 1956—fifty-nine years ago!

In that email, I included a clipping from the Sapulpa Daily Herald announcing an upcoming play in Tulsa about the Million Dollar Quartet, a group of young tribute artists who portray four 1950’s “Rockabilly” stars in a historic jam session arranged by Sam Phillips at his Sun Studio in Memphis on December 4, 1956—the year we graduated from high school.

For months Patsy Mc has been sending me updates on the Million Dollar Quartet and reviews of the performances by the group that she and others from our class have attended in places like Memphis, Tennessee, and Maumelle, Arkansas, near Little Rock.

On April 28 Patsy Mc sent me a link to a video of the Million Dollar Quartet performing live on David Letterman’s Late Show. To view this performance, click on the link below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMR8B-Oc7wk

On April 29 she sent me a report on the MDG she had seen with a link to this review of another such performance as reviewed in the Pueblo Chieftain: http://www.chieftain.com/entertainment/music/3531841-120/played-production-carl-cast

To learn more about the Million Dollar Quartet from Wikipedia, go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Million_Dollar_Quartet

To visit the Million Dollar Quartet’s official Web site, go to:
http://milliondollarquartetlive.com/

I will discuss Sam Phillips and the Sun Studio musicians more fully in the following post on 1950’s Rock and Roll.

Video Series on the History of Rock and Roll

For a great video series titled “History of Rock and Roll,” in five parts averaging about ten-minutes each, go to this link and then click on each succeeding part:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-j2rILarYA .

Sources

The video of Carl Perkins singing “Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll” with a photo of the Million-Dollar Quartet of Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWqPKLMFX48

The video of the Clovers performing “One Mint Julep” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rNoR8jnPRU

The Wikipedia article about the song “One Mint Julep” was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Mint_Julep

The photo of the Clovers was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Clovers

The photo of Sam Phillips was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Phillips

The photo of Sun Studio was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Studio

The Wikipedia articles titled “Rock and Roll” and “1950s in Music” can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_and_roll

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1950s_in_music

The video of Pat Boone singing “I Almost Lost My Mind” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1B9V4TFM3U

The video of Fats Domino playing and singing “I Almost Lost My Mind” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pgVWV_SuVI

The video of Louis Jordan playing “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8uxrypkqv4

The photo of Louis Jordan was taken from:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Jordan

The Wikipedia article about Louis Jordan can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Jordan

The video of Muddy Waters playing “Hoochie Coochie Man” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ4NFsw4bOU

The Wikipedia article about Muddy Waters from which his photo was taken can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muddy_Waters

The video of Ruth Brown singing, “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean,” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnmbJruEkKw

The Wikipedia article about Ruth Brown was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Brown

The photo of Ruth Brown was taken from:
http://www.quotessays.com/bio/ruth-brown.html

The video of “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brentson was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdnZ36F5n5c

The photo of Jackie Brentson was taken from:
rockhall.com/blog/post/jackie-brenston-rocket-88-first-rock-song/

The Wikipedia article on the song “Rocket 88” can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_88

The Wikipedia article about Jackie Brentson can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Brenston

The lyrics to the Crew Cuts’ version of the song “Sh-boom” (“Life Could Be a Dream”) were taken from:
http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/the_crew_cuts/sh-boom.html

The photo of the Crew Cuts was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crew-Cuts

The video of the Chords’ version of “Sh-boom” (“Life Could Be a Dream”) was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTRfRK0ahYs

The photo of the Chords was taken from:
http://www.jukeintheback.org/?attachment_id=187

The video of the Crew Cuts’ version of “Sh-boom” (“Life Could Be a Dream”) was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9G0-4TWw

The videos of Bill Haley and the Comets playing “Rock around the Clock” and “Shake, Rattle and Roll” were taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgdufzXvjqw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8B7xr_EjbzE

The Wikipedia article on the song “Sh-boom” can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sh-Boom

The Wikipedia article about Bill Haley and the Comets with their photo was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Haley_%26_His_Comets

The video of Forrest City Joe playing “You Gotta Cut That Out” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrwCyGLBiCE

The Wikipedia article about Forrest City Joe was taken from:
http://badassharmonica.com/forrest-city-joe/

The links to Helena, Arkansas, the King Biscuit Blues show, and the Delta Cultural Center can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helena-West_Helena,_Arkansas

http://www.kingbiscuitfestival.com/history

http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=3370

The photo of the Delta Cultural Center was taken from:
http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=3370

The photo of Sonny Boy Williamson II was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Boy_Williamson_II

The video of Joe Turner’s original version of “Shake, Rattle and Roll” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9wTQsAgktg

The articles on William Ferris, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and the Living Blues magazine can be accessed at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_R._Ferr

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_for_the_Study_of_Southern_Culture

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Living_Blues

A biography of William Ferris can be accessed at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_R._Ferris

A book by William Ferris titled Blues from the Delta (1970, 1978, 1988) which I consulted in composing my personal history of the roots of Rock and Roll is referred to in:

http://www.folkstreams.net/filmmaker,65

The article and the submitted photo about the upcoming appearance of the Million Dollar Quartet in Tulsa were taken from the Sapulpa Daily Herald on May 13, 2015.

The Million Dollar Quartet’s official Web site can be accessed at:
http://milliondollarquartetlive.com/

The five-part video “History of Rock and Roll” can be accessed beginning with the first part at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-j2rILarYA

Introduction

“We’ll let the magic
Take us away
Back to the feelings
We shared when they played

In the still of the night
Hold me darlin’, hold me tight, oh
So real, so right
Lost in the fifties tonight”
—Ronnie Milsap

As I noted in the past two posts, over time the music we listened to in our youth and young adulthood often becomes the “soundtrack of our lives”—especially as we grow older and begin to look backward to the simpler, happier days of our existence.

Often, these memory “flashbacks” are triggered by music, particularly by a certain song—and sometimes it is the reverse, a certain memory of a past event will trigger the music being played at the time that event took place.

And, so often, as the old song above says, we become “Lost in the Fifties,” or whatever decade it was in which we spent our happiest, most carefree days. (To listen to this song sung by Ronnie Milsap with its emphasis on returning mentally and emotionally to happier times, click here.)

In my previous post I examined the music that I heard and listened to during my childhood days of the 1940s in my rural birthplace of Selma, Arkansas.

Me about age nine just before we moved from Selma to McGehee

Me about age nine just a year before we moved from Selma to McGehee

As noted, that simple, idyllic life came to an abrupt and totally unexpected end in 1948 when at age ten I was forced to move with my family to the nearest town of McGehee, Arkansas, about fifteen miles away.

There I entered an entirely new and different lifestyle and environment among a world of strangers. Other than my immediate family, I knew only one other person in the city of McGehee, and especially in the McGehee Elementary School: Jarrell Rial, the cousin of a Selma friend whom I had come to know when he came out to visit his Selma relatives every Sunday afternoon.

Me about the time we moved from Selma to McGehee

Me about the time we moved from Selma to McGehee

Besides my stressful experience in being uprooted against my will from my familiar and beloved childhood existence, there were other “coming of age” experiences in that decade, each of which had a profound effect on the direction of my life: For example, the death of my father in 1954; my graduation from high school in May 1956; my enrollment in Ouachita Baptist College in September 1956; my graduation from OBC in June 1960; and my enrollment in graduate school at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in the autumn of that same year.

Me at graduation from McGehee High School in May 1956

Me at graduation from McGehee High School in May 1956

There were also huge, sweeping, and often (to many, especially adults) disturbing changes in the music of that decade, which was actually supposed to be the subject of this post. I had intended to address the birth and development of Rock and Roll music in this decade, which marked my own development from a country-born and country-raised child, to a small-town adolescent and teenager, and then to a college and graduate school student and young adult.

However, I soon realized that the subject of all the different types of music of the 1950s was so complex and so involved that due to my failing health and other complications, I simply could not devote the time and energy necessary to present it as I would like.

So, instead I decided to break the subject of the soundtrack of my life during the 1950s into two parts, beginning with the still innocent, wholesome, and entertaining Pop music of that fertile decade. The origin, development, and changing nature and course of Rock and Roll music will have to wait for the next post, if I am able to compose it.

Meanwhile, here are just a few examples of some of my favorite Pop musicians and songs from that historic and ever-changing period in my youth.

List of Some of My Favorite
Pop Musicians and Songs of the 1950s

“‘Popular music, or ‘classic pop,’ dominated the charts
for the first half of the 1950s.
Vocal-driven classic pop replaced 
Big Band/Swing
at the end of World War II,
although it often used orchestras to back the vocalists.”
—“Music History of the United States in the 1950s”

To simplify matters, I chose to break down the pop music of the 1950s into categories of individual male singers, individual female singers, male groups, female groups, mixed groups, and instrumentalists.

Each of these categories includes examples of some of the most popular musicians and songs I heard or listened to in that decade. Obviously the list (which is primarily based on a Wikipedia article titled “Music History of the United States in the 1950s”) is not intended to be complete in regard to the musicians of that period or their hits. However, the ones listed are accompanied by the actual URLs. You can simply click on the ones that interest you most to hear and see them played on YouTube videos, often accompanied by nostalgic 1950’s scenes. Other musicians and other songs of that period may be located by referring to the Addenda and Sources sections at the end of the post or by simply Googling them by performer and song title.

Into these lists of sample musicians and selections, I have inserted a few notes on particular ones that always bring back personal memories related to them, what I called in my previous posts “Musical ‘Memory Triggers’ and ‘Time-Travel Transporters.’”

Note: An asterisk (*) indicates those pop singers who also sang Rock and Roll. As noted at the conclusion of the Wikipedia article on music and musicians of the 1950s: “Even Rock ‘n’ Roll icon Elvis Presley spent the rest of his career alternating between Pop and Rock (‘Love Me Tender,’ ‘Loving You,’ ‘I Love You Because’). Pop would resurface on the charts in the mid-1960s as ‘Adult Contemporary.’)”

But although many of the Elvis songs I heard during the 1950s were actually better classified as Pop, I left my discussion of Elvis and his music for the next post on Rock and Roll music of the 1950s. However, I did address this subject earlier in my post titled “My First Encounter with Elvis and His Music,” which was about an incident that occurred in the mid-1950s.

Elvis Presley in about 1955

Elvis Presley in about 1955

Individual Male Singers

“With his blessings from above
Serve it generously with love
One man, one wife
One love through life

Memories are made of this
Memories are made of this”
—1950’s tune sung by Dean Martin

Tony Bennett (“Because of You”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-4zvArJDGg

*Pat Boone (“April Love”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=von9jW-_eqI

During this period I worked at a McGehee dime store which sold 45-rpm records that were played all day long. Besides hearing this song by Pat Boone played every day for weeks, I also heard his hits “Love Letters in the Sand” and “I Almost Lost My Mind.” Every time I hear these songs, I think of that dime store from long ago. (To see a video of Fats Domino’s New Orleans Blues version of this song, click here.)

Pat Boone

Pat Boone

Nat “King” Cole (“Mona Lisa”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIDX18Xl16s

Perry Como (“Catch a Falling Star”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdK1wvKAFfg

Bing Crosby (“True Love,” with Grace Kelly)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UPHAfvbs08

*Bobby Darin (“Dream Lover”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVHAQX5sSaU

Eddie Fisher (“Anytime”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEHoDupUavU

Tennessee Ernie Ford (“Sixteen Tons”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRh0QiXyZSk

For some reason, every time I hear this immensely popular old tune, I remember our physical education class picking up trash under the bleachers at the high school football field. What the connection was between that song and that task I still don’t know. Maybe it was our way of “loading sixteen tons” of trash!

Frankie Laine (“Mule Train”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZ62MOvS2hQ

When I was a freshman at Ouachita Baptist College in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, there was a popular young man from Malvern, Arkansas, who did a hilarious skit in the amateur talent shows. In that humorous skit he did a dead-on, dead-pan karaoke rendition of this song using a funny little kid’s cowboy hat and toy whip which he popped at just the right moments to match the pops in the song. Again, why I still recall that skit every time I hear that old song now almost sixty years later, I have no idea!

Dean Martin (“That’s Amore”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jbqyPzbjOQ

This is another one of the hugely popular songs that were played endlessly at the McGehee dime store where I worked in the mid-1950s. Two others by Dean Martin that were played over and over in the store were “Memories Are Made of This” (one of my favorite pop songs of the 1950s), and “Innamorata,” which I chose as my favorite song of 1956, the year I graduated from high school. As such, it was featured on the little 45-rpm-record table place marker at our senior banquet. Why, of all the many Rock and Roll songs—and especially all the Elvis Presley songs—that I heard in 1956 I should choose this love song by Dean Martin as my favorite, I have no idea, except as proof of my being (even then) a “hopeless romantic and a helpless neurotic.” All of these Dean Martin songs and many more bring back warm memories of my younger years, which is why I own and play CDs of them at home and in the car.

Dean Martin

Dean Martin

Guy Mitchell (“Singin’ the Blues”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEwkS57P4eE

Johnnie Ray (“Just Walkin’ in the Rain”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCjTWYoRTzM

Frank Sinatra (“Young at Heart”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OROFfLYQ0b0

I liked this song so much that I memorized the lyrics and sang it without ever seeing the words. I can still do that though I am now far from being young—or even young at heart!

*Andy Williams (“Butterfly”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPh435KiBt4

Billy Williams (“I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxhT8T44bt8

According to Wikipedia, this “Classic 1957 revival of the Fats Wallers 1935 original only reached #22 in the UK but was a US #3 hit and earned Billy a gold disc.” Every time I hear it sung (even by Elvis on CD) it takes me back to the summer of 1957 when a carload of us college kids between our freshman and sophomore years drove back and forth between McGehee and Monticello, Arkansas (about twenty-five miles each way) to attend summer school at what was then Arkansas A&M. One of those students turned out to be the sister of Cullen Gannaway from Arkansas City. Cullen, whom I had yet to meet, later became my best friend at Ouachita Baptist College and even the Best Man in my wedding in December 1962. So unknown to me then, this song would have a small part in my romance and eventual wedding six years later and thus also a part of the “soundtrack” of my courtship and early marriage to be listed in my future post on the music of the early 1960s. (See my earlier post titled “The Peacock Love Story and the Passing of a Friend.”)

Individual Female Singers

“I was dancing with my darling to the Tennessee Waltz
When an old friend I happened to see
Introduced her to my loved one and while they were dancing
My friend stole my sweetheart from me

I remember the night and the Tennessee Waltz
Now I know just how much I have lost
Yes, I lost my little darling on the night they were playing
The beautiful Tennessee Waltz”
—1950’s tune sung by Patti Page

Theresa Brewer (“‘Til I Waltz Again with You”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZkTC0YmfVY

Another of the many Pop songs played endlessly at the McGehee dime store where I worked in the mid-50s. I loved all of her entertaining songs delivered in her cute, pert, chipper manner and her unique squeaky little-girl voice.

Rosemary Clooney (“This Old House”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nstn4Wscl1w

Doris Day (“Secret Love”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU8tQpCZEzg

*Connie Francis (“Among My Souvenirs”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cODVfcPzIdU

*Gogi Grant (“The Wayward Wind”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SaeWh3h8Fg

For some reason every time I hear this old song played I immediately think of sitting in study hall in the auditorium of the McGehee High School in the mid-50s. What the connection between the song and that place is, I have no idea because that was decades before the time of portable music players, which would not have been allowed in study hall anyway.

Kitty Kallen (“Little Things Mean a Lot”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C7SzKv2uLU

Peggy Lee (“Fever”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7_k_0dKknA

Julie London (“Cry Me a River”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbwjQSBH0sE

This one (and indeed each of the songs by Julie London) always takes me back to my freshman year at Ouachita Baptist College in 1956-57 where one of the guys on our dorm floor played her album continuously. At the time, Julie London was a sultry-voiced sexual icon who was married to actor Jack Webb, who played L.A. detective Joe Friday on the now-classic TV show Dragnet.

Julie London

Julie London

Patti Page (“Tennessee Waltz”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44B6B1OycgI

Patti Page was a native of Claremore, Oklahoma, originally named Clara Ann Fowler, who took her professional name from a dairy that sponsored her local radio show. She had numerous hit songs during the 1950s and beyond. Every time I hear any of them (which is often since her cassette album is one I carry with me to the blood center I visit every two weeks), I think of two places in De Ridder, Louisiana: one, a typical 1950’s hamburger joint where her music was played constantly on the jukebox, and the other an old-fashioned drugstore, both of which Jarrell Rial, my Selma-McGehee buddy, and I visited often during our National Guard training every summer at Fort Polk. A former Marine who married Mari’s cousin used to take great delight in telling all the soldiers in our unit how he drove by that drugstore one night and saw Jarrell and me eating ice cream cones and reading comic books—while probably listening to Patti Page, the “Singin’ Rage”! A couple of young Southern Baptist “Swingers”!

Patti Page

Patti Page

Dinah Shore (“Lavender Blue”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxbPjZ01c4Y

Kay Starr (“Wheel of Fortune”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeIce5NsWKk

This song always reminds me of a certain diner in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where three of my McGehee High School Band buddies and I used to eat breakfast while staying at the nearby Como Hotel (no longer standing) during our annual spring band festivals in the early 1950s. The popular song must have been playing there at least once when I first heard it, and it was permanently engraved on my “memory board.”

Male Groups

“Tho’ summer turns to winter
And the present disappears,
The laughter we were glad to share
Will echo through the years. 

Tho’ other nights and other days
May find us gone our separate ways,
We will have these moments to remember . . .”
—“Moments to Remember” sung by the Four Lads,
the class song of the Class of 1956,
McGehee High School

Ames Brothers (“The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGpR6R3a1D4

Four Aces (“Love Is a Many Splendored Thing”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnDtxiNwDS8

Four Lads (“Moments to Remember”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOc7L7tYLNE

As indicated by the opening quote above, this tune was the class song of our 1956 McGehee High School graduating class, which I quoted in my earlier blog post about our senior class trip using the title, “Moments to Remember/Selma Methodist Church Update.”

The Four Lads

The Four Lads

Hilltoppers (“P.S. I Love You”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj7iikbNJBg

I recall hearing this group sing this song and others when they came to Ouachita Baptist College to perform with Stan Kenton and his band in about 1959-60. Joe Dempsey, my longtime friend, Ouachita classmate, and the designer of this blog, recently sent me an email stating: “I well remember Stan Kenton coming to OBC. There’s an interesting tidbit to that visit. There was a 1954 graduate of El Dorado High School [Joe’s high school alma mater], Bob Knight who played trombone in that band. The Firehouse Five Plus Two also visited OBC a couple of times. Links to those guys [appear below]:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1l04Hn9s88  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x87IQhuQ-WY and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIUU78VaQQU

The Hilltoppers

The Hilltoppers

 

Stan Kenton

Stan Kenton

Mills Brothers (“Glow Worm”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zOoAPn3OjQ

The Mills Brothers were a black singing group whose smooth four-part harmony greatly influenced many white singers and groups of the 1950s, including Dean Martin, perhaps (after Elvis Presley) my favorite singer of that decade.

Mitch Miller and Chorus (“The Yellow Rose of Texas”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uS5cPfbIjw

When Mari and I were courting we became acquainted with this group on a weekly 1961 TV show called “Sing Along With Mitch.” It was somewhat unusual since it featured a beautiful and talented young black female lead singer named Leslie Uggams, which was somewhat controversial in those early days of black and white integration in the media.

Female Groups

“Oh Lord, won’t you tell me why
I love that fella so
He doesn’t want me
But I’ll never, never, never, never let him go

Sincerely, oh you know how I love you
I’ll do anything for you
Please say you’ll be mine”
—“Sincerely,” as sung by
The McQuire Sisters

Chordettes (“Mister Sandman”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNUgsbKisp8 

Fontaine Sisters (“Hearts of Stone”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwbw8IFskSM

McGuire Sisters (“Sincerely”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FFUeGB_Bbo

Mari and I still see these lovely ladies on those public television oldies shows and after more than sixty years can still sing along with the lyrics to all of their most popular hits.

The McGuire Sisters

The McGuire Sisters

Duet/Mixed Groups

“Now the hacienda’s dark
The town is sleeping
Now the time has come to part
The time for weeping

Vaya con dios, my darling
Vaya con dios, my love”
—“Vaya con Dios” as sung and played by
Les Paul and Mary Ford

Les Paul and Mary Ford (“Vaya con Dios,” i.e., “Go with God”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqZ0Sdz_V40

Still one of our favorites of all the dozens of musical groups we heard during the 1950s. According to Wikipedia:

“[Les Paul] recorded with his wife Mary Ford in the 1950s, and they sold millions of records. Among his many honors, Paul is one of a handful of artists with a permanent, stand-alone exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is prominently named by the music museum on its website as an ‘architect’ and a ‘key inductee’ along with Sam Phillips and Alan Freed. Les Paul is the only person to be included in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.” Although classified as Rock and Rock artists, Les Paul and Mary Ford were also considered Pop musicians.

When Andy Herren learned that I was making up a post on 1950’s Pop music, he sent me the following message about Les Paul and Mary Ford:

“If you can, check out Les Paul and Mary Ford’s ‘How High the Moon’ in 1951. We heard it on KVSA back when. If you listen to Les play with empathy, you realize how good he is. He invented what he called the ‘Pauleriser’ which let him play as a second guitar and then a third and fourth. I think Mary is singing with herself too. Hearing them takes me back to riding in a car with the windows down on a gravel road, and the gravel making the car jerk back and forth.”

Les Paul and Mary Ford

Les Paul and Mary Ford

The Platters (“The Great Pretender”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1oJuwkXr0E

One of the most popular mixed groups (there was one female singer with a quarter of male singers) in the 1950s who produced a long list of hits during that period. One of those hits was titled “Twilight Time.” This song (though perhaps not the Platters’ version) was the closing musical sign-off of our local daytime radio station, KVSA, located between McGehee and Dermott, Arkansas, so we heard it often. (See the entry about KVSA in the Addenda Section).

KVSA

KVSA

Weavers (“Goodnight Irene”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB1wzgO4B7A

Instrumentalists

“On a picnic morning
Without a warning
I looked at you
And somehow I knew . . . .”

“It must have been moonglow
Way up in the blue
It must have been moonglow
That led me straight to you”
—Lyrics to the songs “Picnic” and “Moonglow”
from the popular 1955 movie Picnic
starring William Holden and Kim Novac

Percy Faith (“Poor People of Paris”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLhOJHg7gWI

An entertaining version of the Percy Faith instrumental hit with photos of the covers of 1950’s magazines including views of celebrities of that time such as Pat Boone, Princess Grace Kelly, and sexpot movie star Jayne Mansfield.

Percy Faith (“Theme from Moulin Rouge”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPDF2ORPOFQ

Great musical video with wonderful photos of French-style paintings and posters of the Moulin Rouge (“Red Mill”) cabaret in Paris in days gone by.

Bert Kaempfert, (“Wonderland by Night”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnU_nMYb0C4

A song I heard many, many times during the 1950s.

“Moonglow-Theme from Picnic” (composed by Morris Stolof)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DBoMIi8bYc

An unforgettable scene of William Holden and Kim Novac dancing to the music of the film Picnic. I first saw this classic 1955 movie in Monticello. Arkansas, where my cousin Donald Peacock was the projectionist, and have loved it ever since. It always brings back a lot of memories, such as the quote from a computer-generated Clint Eastwood character in the kids’ movie Rango, “This isn’t heaven, kid. If it were we’d be eatin’ Pop-Tarts with Kim Novac.” Yeah.

Poster of the 1955 film Picnic

Poster of the 1955 film Picnic

Perez Prado (“Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj64NlRnpDY

I first heard this song played by the Harry James orchestra in 1957. Since my Monticello cousin Donald and I both played trumpet in our school bands, we tried to learn to play this tune together, even composing the sheet music for it which I still have in my old trumpet case. (To learn more about Donald, see my earlier post titled, “My Cousin Donald and His Early Years.”)

Nelson Riddle (“Lisbon Antigua”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeKB3YYV-KQ

A musical video of the Nelson Riddle version of this song with lovely photos of the quaint city from the Lisbon tourist bureau.

Hugo Winterhalter (“Canadian Sunset”)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BJE6hwRpOc

This song was later also recorded by Andy Williams, a pop singer whose music I heard often throughout the 1950s and beyond. To hear his version of this song with photos of him and beautiful scenes throughout Canada, click here.

Addenda

In the past, my McGehee High School Class of 1956 classmate Pat Scavo (known to us then as Patsy McDermott) has sent me links to free old-time music which is divided into decades and played radio-style in random order.

Here are two such links for music of the 1950s along with many other musical links to other decades, old radio and TV shows, etc.:

http://www.tropicalglen.com/

http://www.1959bhsmustangs.com/videojukebox.htm

I hope you can access these sites and pick out the songs from the era you wish to listen to. I also hope they will “bring back [your] dream divine” so that you can also “live it over again.”

To view a brief nostalgic 1953 video about KVSA, the Voice of Southeast Arkansas, located between McGehee and Dermott, with a background of the type Pop music it played in the 1950s (now called “American Standard” music) go to:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKgm8XYU_fU

To view a sideshow on AOL about the fate of twenty music stars from the 1950s and 60s (including Doris Day, etc.), go to:
http://www.purpleclover.com/entertainment/3440-20-stars-who-dropped-off-your-radar/item/more-life-reimagined/

On April 27, 2015, my cousin Kay Barrett Bell sent me an alternate version of Ronnie Milsap’s “Lost in the Fifties Tonight” with great scenes of 1950’s people; stores and drive-ins; automobiles; dress; events and sports; games and toys; cigarettes and snacks; celebrities and political figures; products and old ads; movie/TV stars and comedians (like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, James Dean, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca); grade-B cowboys such as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, etc.); and more, all found at: http://safeshare.tv/w/FEDEwZHZXu

NOTE: This video begins with a brief vocal introduction, which may be racial in nature, followed by two images of 1950’s white high school students (probably at the time of the Integration Crisis at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas) demonstrating against the integration of black and white students in 1957. Viewer discretion is advised.  

Sources

The lyrics to “Lost in the Fifties Tonight” were taken from:
Songwriters: SEALS, TROY HAROLD/REID, MIKE/PARRIS, FREDERICKE, Lost In The Fifties Tonight lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group at:
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/r/ronnie+milsap/lost+in+the+fifties+tonight_20245451.html

The two photos of me as a boy in Selma, Arkansas, and as an elementary student in McGehee, Arkansas, were taken from personal sources.

The photo of me as a graduate of McGehee High School was taken from the 1956 MHS yearbook.

The quote about Pop music in the 1950s was taken from: “Music History of the United States in the 1950s” at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_history_of_the_United_States_in_the_1950s

The photo of the 1950’s Elvis Presley was taken from my earlier post titled “My First Encounter with Elvis and His Music” at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/my-first-encounter-with-elvis-and-his-music/

The lyrics to “Memories Are Made of This” were taken from:
Songwriters GILKYSON, TERRY / MILLER, FRANK / DEHR, RICHARD

The photo of Pat Boone was taken from:
https://strathdee.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/patboone2.jpg

The photo of Dean Martin was taken from:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dean_Martin_-_publicity.JPG#/media/File:Dean_Martin_-_publicity.JPG

The lyrics to “The Tennessee Waltz” were taken from:
http://lyrics.wikia.com/Patti_Page:The_Tennessee_Waltz

The photo of Julie London was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julie_London

The photo of Patti Page was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patti_Page

The lyrics to “Moments to Remember” were taken from:
http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/the_four_lads/moments_to_remember.html

The photo of the Four Lads was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Lads

The photo of the Hilltoppers and bandleader Stan Kenton were taken from pages 124 and 125 of the 1960 Ouachitonian, the year of my graduation from Ouachita Baptist College in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

The lyrics to “Sincerely” were taken from:
http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/the_mcguire_sisters/sincerely.html

The photo of the McGuire Sisters was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McGuire_Sisters

The lyrics to “Vaya con Dios” were taken from:
http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/les_paul_and_mary_ford/vaya_con_dios.html

The photo of Les Paul and Mary Ford was taken from:
www.exotictikiisland.com/lovers-luau-les-paul-and-mary-ford/

The photo of KVSA between McGehee and Dermott, Arkansas, was taken from my earlier post titled “My First Encounter with Elvis and His Music” at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/my-first-encounter-with-elvis-and-his-music/

The lyrics to “Picnic” and “Moonglow” were taken from:
Songwriters Eddie Delange; Will Hudson; Irving Mills Published by MILLS MUSIC INC;DE LANGE MUSIC CO.

The poster of the film Picnic with William Holden and Kim Novac was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picnic_(1955_film)

Introduction

“The music of our youth becomes the soundtrack of our lives.”
—Jimmy Peacock

“In a film, the music tells us how to feel
about what we are seeing.”

—Anonymous Film Critic

In my previous post titled “Infusion Inspiration: Memory Flood at the Center for Blood” I described how listening to old cassette tapes of Gospel music on an outdated portable Walkman cassette player helps me to pass the time while I receive blood at a city hospital blood center.

I used quotes, scriptures, Gospel song lyrics, and links to Gospel music videos to illustrate the inspiration and encouragement from the stirred memories I receive during those long tedious hours of sitting in a recliner in a cold room hooked up to an IV tube.

In this post, a sort of sequel to that one, I continue the subject of how songs of all types, and not just Gospel hymns, have the power to serve as “musical ‘memory-triggers’ and ‘time-travel transporters.’”

As I noted in that post and in the opening quotes above, over time the music we listened to in our youth and young adulthood often becomes the “soundtrack of our lives”—especially as we grow older and begin to look backward to the simpler, happier days of our existence.

Often, these memory “flashbacks” are triggered by music, particularly by a certain song—and sometimes it is the reverse, a certain memory of a past event will trigger the music being played at the time that event took place.

It happens to all of us, I suppose, but especially to us “seniors.” That’s why we often think on such occasions, “Ah, those were the days!”

Now in this post I will recall and review some of the songs that became at least a part of the soundtrack of my childhood. Since there are so many I can only present some examples that come to my mind when I recall that period of my life or some incident in it. Due to their number I will not try to provide the lyrics or the video links to all these songs. However, you can always find them by searching for any that interest you by Googling them online.

Childhood Soundtracks

“And precious things are [musical memories] to an exile,
They take him to a [time and] place he cannot be.
—My paraphrase of the Irish folksong
“The Isle of Innisfree”

“When a man says that he is seeking the scenes of his childhood,
what he is really seeking is his childhood.”
—Anonymous

If you have read my preceding post “Infusion Inspiration: Memory Flood at the Center for Blood,” you will recognize this first partial and paraphrased quote from the Irish folk song “The Isle of Innisfree.”

As I noted in that post and in this one, certain songs from our childhood and youth have the power to “take us [back] to a time and place we cannot be.” I described this phenomenon in my previous post when I wrote about the power of the old hymns of the faith that we sang in the Selma Baptist Church of my childhood.

But that experience is not limited to old hymns and Gospel songs though I am reminded that every day as my country, cattle-dealing family sat down to “dinner” (Southern for “lunch”), we always listened to two radio shows: 1) the news of livestock and commodity prices on the market and 2) a fifteen-minute program of Southern Gospel music by the Stamps-Baxter Quartet. I can even still sing their theme song, “Give the World a Smile,” almost seventy years later though I have never seen the lyrics in print nor have I heard the music in decades. (To hear this song sung by J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, the group who backed up Elvis Presley on many of his songs, click on the title.)

J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet with Elvis Presley

J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet with Elvis Presley (center) whom they backed up

From my idyllic, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn childhood in my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas (which I wrote about in my earlier post titled “The Way We Were”), there are several old secular songs that still recall to my memory those simpler, happier days in my life.

For example, the first song I ever remember singing, at about age four while strolling through the house strumming a cheap plastic toy guitar, was one I heard on our old battery radio (which I wrote about in that earlier post about “The Way We Were”). It was titled “You Are My Sunshine” and was written in 1939 (one year after my birth) by Jimmie Davis, later governor of Louisiana. In fact, it was sung and declared “written by another Southern governor” in the film Primary Colors based on the presidential primary candidacy of Bill Clinton, former governor of my native state of Arkansas. (To hear this song sung by Jimmie Davis, click on the title.)

Jimmie Davis and his record of "You Are My Sunshine"

Jimmie Davis and his record of “You Are My Sunshine,” the first song I ever remember singing

Speaking of “musical memory-triggers” and “time-travel transporters,” you can imagine the sensation I experience every time I hear that old song from my earliest childhood being sung or played some seventy years later. It quite literally “strums the strings of my heart” just as I strummed the strings of that plastic toy guitar in that simple farmhouse in which I was born long ago and far away.

Of course, during my childhood there were other “soundtrack” songs that still speak to me and recall those happier days. For example, in that earlier post about “The Way We Were” I told about getting electricity for the first time in 1947. I also told how we took our habitual trip into town (McGehee, about fifteen miles from Selma) on “Sairdy evenin’” to go to the “pitcher show” and watch a double feature which always included a grade B-Western with 1940’s cowboy stars.

Malco Theater in McGehee, Arkansas, at its gala opening in about 1954

Malco Theater in McGehee, Arkansas, at its gala opening in about 1954 when it replaced the older Ritz Theater where I saw many 1940’s films (to magnify, click on the photo)

Some of those movie cowboys were known for their music, especially Gene Autry, called from the beginning in the 1930s “the Singing Cowboy,” and Roy Rogers, who got his start in Hollywood as part of the Western singing group “The Sons of the Pioneers.” A few of the songs I recall by the Sons of the Pioneers were “Cool Water,” “Tumblin’ Tumbleweed” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” (To view these songs on You Tube, click on their titles.)

The Sons of the Pioneers with Roy Rogers

The Sons of the Pioneers with Roy Rogers (in white hat on the right)

In a later post titled “You Might Be from the Country If . . . Part IV” I offered a quiz on some of these cowboys whose musical themes, like Gene Autry’s “I’m Back in the Saddle Again” and Roy Rogers’ “Happy Trails to You,” also became part of the “soundtrack” of my childhood years as the son of a livestock dealer who loved everything Western.

(To hear these songs on YouTube video, click on their titles. Note: The Gene Autry song takes about ten seconds to begin so wait for it to start. The theme song of Roy Rogers, whose album of greatest hits we own and listen to, includes his wife and costar Dale Evans, a photo of whom with Roy and his horse Trigger, graces the wall of Mari’s bedroom.)

Gene Autry

Gene Autry, known from the 1930s as the “Singing Cowboy”

Roy Rogers and his co-star and wife Dale Evans

Roy Rogers and his co-star and later wife Dale Evans (to magnify, click on the photo)

The War Years of the 1940s

“Listen to the jingle the rumble and the roar
As she glides along the woodland through the hills and by the shore
Hear the mighty rush of the engine hear the lonesome hobos call
You’re traveling through the jungle on the Wabash Cannonball.”
—Lyrics to Roy Acuff version of
“The Wabash Cannonball”

In that post about “The Way We Were” I told how we used to listen to “The Grand Ole Opry” in those carefree childhood days. I mentioned in particular listening to the star of the Grand Ole Opry at that time, Roy Acuff, whose songs like “The Great Speckled Bird” and particularly “The Wabash Cannonball” were great hits and heard everywhere in the country in those day.

Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff

Roy Acuff, the Grand Ole Opry star who sang “The Wabash Cannonball”

In fact, Roy and his songs were so popular that during World War II attacking Japanese soldiers used to cry out at their American enemies: “To hell with FDR (U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt)!” and “To hell with Roy Acuff!” (To hear “The Wabash Cannonball” sung by Roy Acuff on YouTube video, click on the title above.)

Since the 1940s of my childhood were the years of World War II (1941-45 for Americans), some of the music in our family “soundtrack” included popular wartime songs such as “The White Cliffs of Dover,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me (Till I Come Marching Home),” and of course the patriotic blockbuster “God Bless America” sung by “The Songbird of the South,” a rousing, robust Virginia singer named Kate Smith.

Popular WWII singer Kate Smith with the cast of her first radio show

Popular WWII singer Kate Smith (center) with the cast of her first radio show

My particular favorites of some later versions of those wartime songs were “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” the signature song of Kate Smith, sung by Mama Cass; “A Nightingale Sang in Barkley Square” (also spelled “Berkeley Square”), written in 1939, the year after I was born, sung by Bobby Darin; and of course Glenn Miller’s Big-Band theme song “In the Mood.” (To hear these three songs, click on their titles.)

Other Swing music favorites included “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” Some favorite vocalists of that period included Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, the Andrews Sisters, and Dinah Shore.

Glenn Miller

Glenn Miller, perhaps the most popular Big Band leader of the 1940s

My Parents’ 1940’s Soundtrack

“He rides in the sun
‘Til his day’s work is done
And he rounds up the cattle each fall
(yodeling)
Singing his cattle call.”
—Lyrics of refrain of “Cattle Call” sung by Eddie Arnold

“After the ball is over,
After the break of morn –
After the dancers’ leaving;
After the stars are gone;
Many a heart is aching,
If you could read them all;
Many the hopes that have vanished
After the ball.”

“After the Ball Is Over,
Written in 1890 and sung in the musical
Show Boat in 1936

Although my family and I heard many of the universally popular songs and singers from the Swing and Big Band Music era during and after World War II, as a livestock dealer and his working partner-wife, my parents still tended to listen to what would today be termed Country-Western music.

Naturally, some seventy years later, I still recall with fond memory their favorite singers and songs, especially when I hear them on rare occasions. As noted throughout this series of posts, those old largely forgotten and poorly regarded pieces of musical nostalgia take me back to those simple, carefree days of my country childhood.

Mama and Daddy in about 1927, the year they married on Christmas Day

Mama and Daddy in about 1927, the year they married on Christmas Day. Note Mama’s dress and cropped 1920’s haircut, once again a popular style today. (To magnify, click on the photo.)

For example, it was not surprising that as a cattleman Daddy’s favorite type of music was Western. He especially liked songs by Country-Western singers such as Eddie Arnold, whose “Cattle Call” is quoted above with a link to a video of him singing and yodeling that entire song. I still hear Daddy singing it as he too went about his daily chores of “rounding up [and dealing with] the cattle each [day].”

Eddie Arnold who sang the "Cattle Call"

Eddie Arnold who sang the “Cattle Call,” Daddy’s favorite song

Daddy also liked the music of other Country-Western singers such as Hank Williams. Hank was influenced by other singers whom Daddy liked such as Roy Acuff (mentioned above) and Ernest Tubb (whose album of biggest hits I still own and listen to, bringing back many memories of Daddy and his love for that type of Western singers and songs).

Unfortunately, Hank Williams died young in 1953. It was not long after Hank’s death that Daddy died in 1954 at the McGehee Livestock Auction where I was working in the back, penning cattle. (See my earlier post titled “My Father’s [Cattle] Brand and Seal.”) One of Hank’s songs that Daddy particularly liked and sang and whistled (as he did Eddie Arnold’s “Cattle Call” and Ernest Tubbs’ “I’m Walkin’ the Floor Over You”) was “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” (To listen to these songs, click on their titles.)

Ernest Tubb who sang "I'm Walkin' the Floor Over You"

Ernest Tubb who sang “I’m Walkin’ the Floor Over You”

Hank Williams who sang "Your Cheatin' Heart"

Hank Williams who sang “Your Cheatin’ Heart”

Finally, although Mama liked and listened to Gospel songs and hymns as well as Country-Western music, she also liked ballads and sentimental songs from Broadway musicals and movies. One was “After the Ball Is Over” quoted above from the 1936 Hollywood movie version of the Broadway musical Show Boat, two years before my birth. In fact, I heard it so much as a child that I learned the lyrics to it without ever seeing them or trying to memorize them. (To hear this song sung by Irene Dunne in Show Boat, click on the title.)

Irene Dunne who sang "After the Ball Is Over"

Irene Dunne who sang “After the Ball Is Over”

Mama also particularly liked one that I have never heard before or since (except perhaps on one occasion that I cannot now recall.) It was called “(My Sweet Little) Alice Blue Gown” from the 1919 Broadway musical titled Irene. After more than seventy years, while composing this post I finally went on Wikipedia and discovered the source of this term “Alice Blue gown” and its significance:

“Alice blue is a pale tint of azure that was favored by Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, which sparked a fashion sensation in the United States.

The hit song “Alice Blue Gown”, inspired by Longworth’s signature gown, premiered in Harry Tierney‘s 1919 Broadway musical Irene. The musical was made into a film in 1940 starring Anna Neagle and Ray Milland.”

The "Alice Blue Gown" my mother sang about so often

The “Alice Blue Gown” my mother sang about so often (to magnify, click on the photo)

That explanation makes one of my Mama’s favorite songs even more meaningful and dear to my heart. (To hear this old-fashioned song that I heard Mama sing so often I also learned its lyrics by heart, click here.)

Conclusion:
“Gone with the Wind”

“Rhett, Rhett… Rhett, if you go,
where shall I go? What shall I do?”
—Scarlett O’Hara to Rhett Butler
at conclusion of Gone with the Wind

Finally, Mama was obviously impressed with seeing her first full-color Hollywood movie in about 1939, the year after I was born. It was the blockbuster movie version of the best-selling book by Margaret Mitchell titled Gone with the Wind.

Scene from the 1939 film "Gone with the Wind"

Scene from the 1939 film Gone with the Wind (for maximum viewing effect, click on the photo)

Mama sometimes referred to scenes from that movie and enjoyed hearing the song “Tara’s Theme” which ran throughout it. (To view a video of this haunting melody, with dramatic scenes from the film, including two white peacocks and Scarlett in front of Tara, click on the title above. It is a perfect example of the music in a film telling us how to feel about what we are seeing.)

All of these songs and singers, and so many more, were a great influence on my childhood and thus on my entire life. For example, “Tara’s Theme” from GWTW always has a strong emotional appeal to me every time I hear it.

But the “soundtrack” of my young life began to change when my family moved from the country to town (from Selma to McGehee) in 1948 when I was ten years old. As a result, at the end of the 1940s my simple, idyllic boyhood country life began to disappear as it, like Scarlett O’Hara’s happy, familiar life at Tara, began to become a thing of the past . . . until eventually it too was totally “Gone with the Wind.”

In my next post, “The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Part II,” I will continue with some of the music from the 1950s, arguably the most musically influential period of my entire life.

Addenda:
Links to 1940s Music and Musical

In the past, my McGehee High School Class of 1956 classmate Pat Scavo (known to us then as Patsy McDermott) has sent me links to free old-time music which is divided into decades and played radio-style in random order.

Here are two such links for music of the 1940s along with many other musical links to other decades, old radio and TV shows, etc.:

http://www.tropicalglen.com/

http://www.1959bhsmustangs.com/videojukebox.htm

I hope you can access these sites and pick out the songs from the era you wish to listen to. I also hope they will “bring back [your] dream divine” so that you can also “live it over again.”

To view a video of an amazing 1940’s-style Boogie Woogie piano player and two jitterbug dancers in lively imitation of the music and dance craze of that era, go to:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWDfxgngrNc

Although the Hollywood musical Yankee Doodle Dandy was made during World War II (in 1942, the year that my Mari was born), I was too young to see it. However, decades later when I saw it on TV, it became one of my favorite movies, which I still watch often.

James Gagney playing showman George M. Cohan singing and dancing "I"m a Yankee Doodle Dandy" from the 1942 musical by that name

James Gagney as showman George M. Cohan singing and dancing “Yankee Doodle Dandy” in the musical by that name

Three of my favorite musical numbers from that movie are: “I’m a Yankee Doodle Yankee” sung and danced by James Cagney; “Mary’s a Grand Old Name,” sung by Irene Manning; and “Only Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway” and “So Long, Mary” sung and danced by Irene Manning and Chorus. (To view videos of these numbers, click on their titles. They are light years away from the Blues, Rhythm and Blues, and Rock and Roll songs that we teens listened to in the 1950s, the subject of my next post.)

 Sources

The original lyrics of “The Isle of Innisfree” can be accessed at:
http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/d/daniel_odonnell/the_isle_of_innisfree.html

The video of J.D. Summer and the Stamps Quartet singing “Give the World a Smile” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYYxsUjJzAk

The photo of J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quarter with Elvis Presley was taken from:
http://jdsumner.elvis.com.au/

The video of Jimmie Davis singing “You Are My Sunshine” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiRDVArEKL0

The photo of Jimmie Davis on a record cover was taken from:
www.slipcue.com/music/country/countryartists/davis_jimmie_01.html

The photo of the Malco Theater in McGehee, Arkansas, was taken from:
McGehee Centennial 1906-2006.

The videos of the Sons of the Pioneers singing “Cool Water,” “Tumbling Along with a Tumbling Tumbleweed,” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” were taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFBHc2qafgU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQc5gDXQGIs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcnDlgeUYs4

The photo of the Sons of the Pioneers with Roy Rogers was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sons_of_the_Pioneers

The video of Gene Autry singing, “I’m Back in the Saddle Again” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80NoPLp-Zl0

The photo of Gene Autry was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Autry

The video of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing, “Happy Trails to You” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcYsO890YJY

The photo of Roy Rogers was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Rogers

The lyrics to the Roy Acuff version of “The Wabash Cannonball” were taken from “Metrolyrics” at:
http://www.metrolyrics.com/wabash-cannonball-lyrics-roy-acuff.html

The video of Roy Acuff singing “Wabash Cannonball” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yhvv234oaA

The photo of Roy Acuff was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Acuff

The video of Mama Cass singing “Dream a Little Dream of Me” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4T3tMkjRig

The video of Bobby Darin singing “A Nightingale Sang in Barkley Square” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKvu-8Ac0x0

The photo of Kate Smith and the cast of her first radio show was taken from;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kate_Smith

The video of the Glenn Miller orchestra playing “In the Mood” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAQgXPTekOU

The photo of Glenn Miller was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Miller

The lyrics of the song “Cattle Call” as sung by Eddie Arnold were taken from:
http://www.cowboylyrics.com/lyrics/classic-country/cattle-call—eddy-arnold-14949.html

The video of Eddie Arnold singing the Western song “Cattle Call” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtpbtKKXyuc

The photo of Eddie Arnold was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddy_Arnold

The video of Hank Williams singing “Your Cheatin’ Heart” was taken from:
|https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jg2oR91_r5I

The photo of Hank Williams was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hank_Williams

The video of Ernest Tubb singing “I’m Walkin’ the Floor Over You” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-0KHkf5V9

The photo of Ernest Tubb was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Tubb

The lyrics of the 1890 song “After the Ball Is Over” was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_the_Ball_(song)

The video of Irene Dunne singing “After the Ball Is Over” from a 1936 film titled Show Boat was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXNJO6jgwy

The photo of Irene Dunne was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irene_Dunne

The video of Joni James singing “Alice Blue Gown” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TojHJ3v2xN8&feature=youtube_gdata

The photo of the “Alice Blue Gown” was taken from:
http://www.georgetowner.com/media/images/derivatives/article_Alice20Roosevelt-BlueDress1_1.jpg

The quote of Scarlett O’Hara to Rhett Bulter at the conclusion of Gone with the Wind was taken from:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031381/quotes

The photo of Tara from Gone with the Wind was sent to me by Pat Scavo from an undisclosed source.

The video of “Tara’s Theme” from the film Gone with the Wind was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgF-rcHcPqE

The photo of James Gagney as George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yankee_Doodle_Dandy

The video of James Gagney singing, “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StDpLge_ITM

The video of Irene Manning singing “Mary’s a Grand Old Name” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apy6Yp9O7AI

The video of Irene Manning and chorus singing “Forty-five Minutes from Broadway” and “So Long, Mary” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qydYuLlHdkQ

 

Introduction

“In the life of a writer there are no extraneous experiences.”
—Anonymous
(Everything that happens to a writer
becomes grist for his mill.)

“I believe the future is only the past,
entered through another gate.”
—Arthur Wing Pinero
(I believe this truth applies also to the present!)

As indicated by the title and subtitle of this post, it has to do with the unexpected inspiration that I receive when I spend time in the blood center of a city hospital.

Since I suffer from a blood disorder (among a half-dozen other health problems), I am required to visit the blood center every two weeks for a blood test and injection, and about every four to six weeks for a two-part blood infusion (commonly called a transfusion).

Because of my other health issues, those regular blood infusions usually consist of two units of blood administered in separate sessions over a two-day period.

During each of those procedures I must spend three to four hours sitting in a recliner hooked up to an IV while Mari sits beside me in a straight chair in a cold and rather stark and sterile room. Although the nurses in the blood center are wonderfully warm and attentive, responding instantly and graciously to our every need and desire, there is no way they or anyone else can speed up the procedures.

Not being a fan of daytime television, which is provided for each individual patient, I had to find a different way to pass the time of each session.

At first, I tried reading (as Mari does), but I found it too difficult to concentrate in that situation and environment. Instead, I got the “inspiration” (a significant word!) to dig out the old Walkman portable cassette player and tapes that I used to listen to while exercising on the Nordic Track (what I termed the “Torture Rack”) many years ago. (To view an amusing video of modern-day children being presented an old portable Walkman cassette player, click here.)

(Note: To magnify the photos, click on each one as you view it.)

Walkman portable cassette player

Walkman portable cassette player

Me in the infusion center listening to the Walkman cassette player and holding tapes of Tennessee Ernie Ford and Elvis Presley

Me in infusion center listening to the Walkman cassette player and holding cassette tapes of Tennessee Ernie Ford and Elvis Presley. (Note my Arkansas Razorback cap, a symbol of the “Holy Land.”)

Little did I realize that “inspiration” was only the beginning of many that I would receive as I began to listen to those relics with the amazing power to recall the past in such vivid detail—and with such surprising power!

“There Is Power in the Blood”—
and in Memory as Well!

“There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.”
—“There Is Power in the Blood”
(To view a video of Tennessee Ernie Ford
singing this old hymn, click here.)

Imagine my surprise when I sat in the recliner the next time, hooked up to that life-giving blood IV, and clicked on the cassette tape I had left in the old Walkman decades ago to suddenly hear Tennessee Ernie Ford enthusiastically sing forth, “THERE IS POWER IN THE BLOOD!”

Tape of Gospel songs by Tennessee Ernie Ford

Eight-track tape of Gospel songs by Tennessee Ernie Ford like the cassette tape versions I listen to in the infusion center

Coincidence? Perhaps.

Startling? Of course.

Accurate? Absolutely.

Not only was the experience startling and accurate, it was also encouraging and inspiring.

But it was only the beginning of many ongoing experiences of encouragement and inspiration I received as I listened to tape after tape and song after song from the happy days of our past lives. During the exciting days when Mari and I were still able to make our “semi-annual pilgrimages to the Holy Land” (our twice-a-year auto trips from Tulsa to our beloved homeland in Southeast Arkansas), we listened to those very same cassette tapes that were outdated even then.

But again what was most surprising was the number of memories that were triggered by those old songs, most of which we had not listened to in decades.

In an earlier post, dated August 3, 2011, and titled “Thank God, I’m a Country Boy!” I alluded to that marvelous power to evoke memories of the past by soul-stirring old hymns like the ones Tennessee Ernie and others like Elvis Presley sang on those ancient cassette tapes:

Still there’s somethin’ to be said for sittin’ and danglin’ your bare legs over the edge of an old uneven-legged, homemade slat pew in an unair-conditioned country churchhouse on a scorchin’ August evenin’ listenin’ to a red-faced, shirt-soppin’, brow-moppin’ Baptist preacher while watchin’ a busy dirt-dobber makin’ his rounds and wearin’ out both your wrists fannin’ your feverish, sweat-soaked face and shooin’ off blue-tailed flies.

Selma, Arkansas, Baptist Church

Selma Baptist Church (as it looked in the 1980s after the addition of air-conditioners) in my rural Arkansas birthplace where  as a boy I heard and sang so many of the familiar old hymns of the faith

But there is a consequence, an indelible trace left upon the heart by such experience. To this good day, more than sixty years later, I never hear or sing those old hymns we sang like ‘Amazing Grace,’ or ‘In the Garden,’ or ‘In the Sweet By and By’ without experiencing a strange bittersweet emotion: a sort of odd mixture of joy and pain, of peace and unrest, of a sense of tremendous gain and of unspeakable loss.

I think it has something to do with an old saying about being able to take the boy out of the country.

 Musical “Memory-Triggers” as
“Time-Travel Transporters”

“Turn back the hands of time;
Roll back the sands of time;
Bring back our dream divine,
Let’s live it over again.”
—Eddie Fisher, “Turn Back the Hands of Time”
(To view a YouTube video of this song, click here.)

“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it,
and gave unto them, saying,
This is my body which is given for you:
this do in remembrance of me.”
—Jesus to His disciples in Luke 22:19 KJV

But again, it was not just the power of the old Gospel songs to evoke or “trigger” memories of the past that surprised and impressed me, but their power to serve as “time transporters,” their ability to take me back to earlier, happier days so that I could not only recall the past but also revive it and even relive it!

Although this concept may seem to be only science fiction, it is actually scriptural.

I am writing this post during Holy Week, that time in the traditional Church calendar in which Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, visited the Jewish temple, and observed the Passover meal with His disciples before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

At that Passover meal, also called the Last Supper, Jesus gave the disciples bread and wine, telling them to take it and eat it with this admonition, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19 paraphrased).

Leonardo da Vinci's painting of Jesus and disciples at the Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper

In this case, the word “remember” means more than simply to “recall.” It has the opposite meaning of “dismember.” That is, it means not only to “recall to memory” but actually to “put back together again,” not only to “recollect” but also to “reconnect.”

In the more traditional sacramental churches this is the prevailing view of the power of the Communion elements—the bread and wine—the power not just to evoke or trigger a memory of Jesus Christ and His passion, but to actually bring into the present what He did in the past, to bring the past alive and to take part in it here and now.

That is what happened to me as I listened to those old songs from the past, my personal past. They brought that past alive again and put me back into it, back along that “pilgrimage to the Holy Land” where I had listened to those same old songs so long ago.

But that was not the end of the return to the past I experienced. From there I was transported back to events in my younger days, decades earlier, when those old songs served as “the soundtrack of our young lives.”

This “double-layer-memory-trigger” phenomenon will be the subject of my next post.

Importance of Songs to Our Faith Journey

“By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept,
when we remembered you, O Zion.”
—Psalm 137:1 NRSV
As quoted in Forward Day By Day
www.forwardmovement.org
(To view a YouTube video of this song sung
by popular Irish singer Daniel O’Donnell, click here.)

It was at Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa that Mari and I first encountered this sacramental understanding of the power of the Communion (or Eucharist) elements to bring into the present what occurred in the past, to bring the past alive and to relive it in the present.

Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma as it looked in the 1980s

Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa as it looked when Mari and were members from about 1986 to 2005

It is expressed by Mark Bozzuti-Jones in the March 28 entry of Forward Day By Day, the Episcopal daily devotional (italics mine):

Songs have strong associate meanings. When we hear certain songs, they place us in another time or place, they remind us of who we are and from where we’ve come. . . .

The people of Israel wondered how they could ever sing the Lord’s song in a strange land. They soon came to realize that they had to sing these songs, because of how important these songs were to their faith journey.

As Christians, we are called to find meaningful ways to sing the Lord’s songs, in our own land and in foreign ones, sometimes literally but always metaphorically.

Cover of the February/March/April issue of Forward Day By Day, the Episcopal daily devotional

Cover of the February/March/April issue of Forward Day By Day, the Episcopal daily devotional (Copyright 2015. Used by permission. http://www.forwardmovement.org)

This sacramental view of the events of Holy Week and indeed the entire Church calendar gave us a new perspective not only on the Communion (Eucharist) service and the events of Holy Week but indeed of the entire Christian worship experience.

We came to understand the meaning and purpose of the liturgy called The Stations of the Cross as a way not only to observe the events of Holy Week leading up to Easter but actually to participate in them vicariously, to in a sense bring them alive again so that we could take part in them.

As an example of this phenomenon of music taking us back into the past so that we can personally participate in events from it is illustrated by the old African-American spiritual titled “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” (To hear this old spiritual sung by the inimitable Marion Williams, which happens to be Mari’s maiden name, click here.)

Due to my failing health, Palm Sunday was the first time I was able to attend services at our local Methodist church since Christmas. After the congregation had proceeded to the front of the sanctuary bearing palm fronds, the children’s leader had the youngsters come forward. There she led them through a simple “journey” from one end of the curved chancel rail to the other. As she did so, she stopped them at a few places to call their attention to symbolic displays of Holy Week events (such as Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples). At each “station,” she asked them questions to make sure they understood exactly what happened on that day during that week and what each event meant in the life of the Church.

First United Methodist Church of Sapulpa, Oklahoma

First United Methodist Church of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, of which Mari and I are members

Afterward, the pastor commented on how impressive that simple reenactment of the Stations of the Cross was to him and to the entire congregation as it brought all of us into those events with the children—and with Christ Himself.

That is what the old songs of faith I listen to on the outdated Walkman cassette player and tapes do for me as I lie in that cold hospital room receiving the life-sustaining blood that keeps me going Forward Day By Day.

Jimmy and Marion Peacock in a church photo at their fiftieth wedding anniversary

Mari and me in a photo made at the First United Methodist Church of Sapulpa at the time of our fiftieth wedding anniversary

Marion standing behind Jimmy at the infusion center

Mari standing behind me at the infusion center, as beautiful and as faithful as she has been now for more than fifty-two years, “in sickness and in health”

Those simple relics of the days gone by remind me of the past. But even more importantly. like the traditional events in the Church calendar. they transport me and reconnect me to the events of that past. They revive me (both physically and spiritually) and cause me to relive and participate in the events of the past, such as Holy Week and Easter, but also in my own life’s journey.

All Hail the Power!

“All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown Him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown Him Lord of all.

 “O that with yonder sacred throng
we at His feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song,
and crown Him Lord of all.
We’ll join the everlasting song,
and crown Him Lord of all.”
“All Hail the Power”
(To hear this old hymn sung by Ernie Ford
from the same cassette tape, click on the title.)

Of course, the ultimate end of that Holy Week journey reenacted in the Stations of the Cross is Easter, that glorious day when God resurrected His Son Jesus from death and restored Him to life—new life in all its glory and power.

A painting of the Resurrected Jesus by Raphael 1499-1502

A painting of the Resurrected Jesus by Raphael 1499-1502

The same power that I experience in the blood of others to give me new physical life, and in the blood of Jesus to give me new spiritual life, also resides in the name of Jesus to those who put their faith in Him.

On one Easter Sunday morning I was helping to serve meals to the hungry at our church’s feeding program. As one rather disheveled man came though the line he suddenly asked, “What is Easter anyway?”

Stunned, the other servers hesitated as if trying to decide how to respond to that unexpected spiritual question.

In a moment of inspiration (there’s that word again!) I said simply and kindly, “Easter is the day that God raised Jesus from the dead so that those of us who believe in Him will also be raised from death to life and spend eternity with Him.” (See John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 2:6-7.)

That quickly devised explanation of a very deep and far-reaching spiritual query seemed to satisfy the man as he nodded and moved on down the feeding line. Of course he obviously needed someone to lead him through the scriptures to a fuller understanding of the complete salvation message, but that had to wait until a more appropriate moment.

The point is that there is indeed power in the blood of the Lamb, and in the name of the Lord, and in the very hymns that proclaim both—and more—recalling the events of the past to revive, renew, and restore them, and those who listen to them.

I know, because I am one of them.

Conclusion

“And precious things are [memories] to an exile,
They take him to a place he cannot be.
Especially when it happens he’s an exile,
From friends and times he knew in Old McGehee.”
—My paraphrase of the Irish folksong
“The Isle of Innisfree”
(To view a YouTube video of this song,
with original lyrics,
sung by Celtic Woman, click on the title.)

The above paraphrased quote from the old Irish folk song titled “The Isle of Innisfree” was one I cited in a previous post on June 8, 2011, titled “My Annual Tributes to the Clique.”

The only change I have made in it for this context is to substitute the word “memories” for “dreams.”

Movie poster of the 1950 film "The Quiet Man" featuring the Irish folk song "The Isle of Innisfree"

Poster of the 1950 movie The Quiet Man which featured the Irish folk song “The Isle of Innisfree”

I chose it as an introductory quotation for this conclusion because it expresses the basic message of this post: the power of music to “take us to a place we cannot be” and to a time we seemingly cannot revisit.

I say “seemingly” because the fact is that through the “mystical means of music” we can actually “turn back the hands of time, roll back the sands of time” and be transported (if only for “one brief shining moment”) to an earlier place and time.

In this post I have limited that “faith journey” to Jerusalem during Holy Week and Easter, which is my Easter message: that we too, even two thousand years later and thousands of miles away, can actually participate in the events that took place in the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and can then carry on that life in our own lives.

In the next post I will return to this same theme of the power of music to recall, resurrect, revive, and relive the past in a more personal, secular sense. It will be based on the “semi-annual pilgrimages to the Holy Land” that Mari and I used to make before we both became too old and infirm to literally take that journey into the past of our youth and young adulthood.

I hope you will come and take that “sentimental journey” with us!

Addendum:
Paintings of Stations of the Cross

After I had published this post I received an email message from Pat Scavo, a fellow classmate of mine and the former owner of the Blue Moon Art Gallery in Hot Springs. In that message Pat inserted a link to a series of paintings of The Stations of the Cross. To view those paintings on display at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Hope, Arkansas, and learn about the artist, Randall M. Good, go to: www.stmarkshope.org and then click on Stations of the Cross. Pat says about Good: “What I admire most about his artwork is how deftly he mixes Renaissance aesthetics with modern elements, yet still pays homage to his predecessors in his contemporary compositions.”

Sources

The photo of the Walkman cassette player and the video of children confronted by one were taken from:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2605138/Is-phone-The-hilarious-reactions-baffled-children-presented-Sony-Walkman-cassette-player.html

The lyrics to the song “There Is Power in the Blood” were taken from a Web site titled “Timeless Truths: Free Online Library” at:
http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/There_Is_Power_in_the_Blood/

The YouTube video of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing “There Is Power in the Blood” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tinAImvvtsk

The photo of the Tennessee Ernie Ford tape with the song “There Is Power in the Blood” was taken from:
http://www.8-track-shack.com/popup_image.php?pID=69344

The link to my earlier post titled “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” was taken from:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/thank-god-im-a-country-boy/

The YouTube video of Eddie Fisher singing “Turn Back the Hands of Time” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utijFt-tpNk

The photo of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper was taken from:
www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&…

The YouTube video of Daniel O’Donnell singing “By the Rivers of Babylon” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gg1JnpNBIoQ

The photo of Trinity Episcopal Church was taken from Behold the Glory: The Iconography of Grace. The Web site for Trinity can be accessed at:
http://www.trinitytulsa.org/

The quote from Mark Bozzuti-Jones in the March 28 issue and the photo of the cover of the Forward By Day were taken from: Forward Day By Day: February/March/April issue. Copyright 2015. Used by permission. www.forwardmovement.org

The YouTube video of Marion Williams singing “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu_GW2osRVA

The photo of the First United Methodist Church in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, was taken from an earlier church Web site. The current, updated Web site for FUMC in Sapulpa can be accessed at:
http://www.sapulpafumc.org/

The lyrics of “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” were taken from a Wikipedia entry on that subject at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Hail_the_Power_of_Jesus’_Name

The YouTube video of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb1PEafAhCk

The painting of the Resurrected Jesus by Raphael 1499-1502 was taken from:
“Rafael – ressureicaocristo01” by Raphael – http://www.masp.art.br. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rafael_-_ressureicaocristo01.jpg#/media/File:Rafael_-_ressureicaocristo01.jpg

The paraphrased quote from “The Isle of Innisfree” was taken from a citation in my earlier post titled “My Annual Tributes to the Clique” at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/my-annual-tributes-to-the-clique/

The original lyrics of “The Isle of Innisfree” can be accessed at:
http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/d/daniel_odonnell/the_isle_of_innisfree.html

The YouTube video of “The Isle of Innisfree” sung by Celtic Woman was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xn7rjlOxfc

To learn more about this traditional Irish folk song used in the movie The Quiet Man, go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isle_of_Innisfree

“Memory is the golden bridge
That keeps our hearts in touch
With all the long-past yesterdays
And things we loved so much.”
—Georgia B. Adams,
Quoted in book titled Memories of Time Past 

In my previous post titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part II” I interjected two subjects relating to the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in the South and Celtic “thin places,” especially my own Southeast Arkansas “thin/then places,” still special and sacred to me from my long ago youth.

In the preceding post titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part I” I examined several items about the Mississippi River Delta and related topics such as its disappearing plantation and cotton culture and recent winter storms that covered its ubiquitous cypress trees in a rare coating of ice and snow.

In this third post in that series I return to that first theme of items relating to the Mississippi River Delta, but including some items about the South in general.

First are three “addenda to the addenda” that I received from Joe Dempsey, Gayle Harper, and Pat Scavo after publishing Part I of the Delta Addenda post. They have to do with Joe’s visit to modern-day Lake Dick, featured in the first part, an update on Gayle’s book about her journey down the Mississippi River, and a new Southern Web site sent to me by Pat titled “The Bitter Southerner.”

These are followed by other Southern topics such as a map from Paul Talmadge of the eleven distinctive regions of the United States and a review from Pat of the sequel to the famed Southern novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

Next, there is a link to a must-see site sent to me by my cousin Kay Barrett Bell titled “10 Old School Southern Rules to Abide By in the Present.” On that subject, on March 24, Pat Scavo sent me a link to the Natchez, Mississippi, Spring Pilgrimage with many photos of Southern Belles, Beaux, and mansions.

Finally, I offer an addenda and conclusion on the subject and primary theme of the entire post and blog about the importance of “gathering up the fragments of our lives so that nothing may be lost.”

This post is long but I hope you will at least scroll down through it and read the parts that interest you. (Note: To magnify the photos, simply click on each one as you view it.)

 Addendum Post on Lake Dick, Arkansas, Project
and Photographic Trip Up the Mississippi Delta

“Woosht Ida knowed yu wuz gon discus Lake Dick.”
—Joe Dempsey’s response to my March 5 post
titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part I”

“We discover a place where you can still get
an RC Cola and a Moon Pie,
and we have a shot of the Ground Zero Blues Club
at Clarksdale, Mississippi.”

—Joe Dempsey, “The Lake Dick Project,”
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,
September 27, 2009

As you can see by the title and quotes above, after publishing the current post titled “Delta Addenda, Etc., Part I,” I received a very brief email response to it from Joe Dempsey, my longtime friend, Ouachita Baptist College classmate, and designer of this blog.

To that brief response Joe added a link to his Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind post published on September 27, 2009. That post begins with his visit to the Depression-era Lake Dick cooperative farm project site featured in my post. He then continues his narrative with a photographic journey from Lake Village, Arkansas, twenty-five miles below our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas. From there he crosses the Mississippi River and proceeds up the other side of the “Father of Waters” through the heart of the Mississippi Delta.

Lake Dick water tower

Lake Dick Water Tower from Joe Dempsey’s Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind on September 27, 2009

As I promised Joe, here is that link to a fascinating look not only at the present-day state of the Lake Dick area but at other sites in both the Arkansas and Mississippi Deltas.

RC and Moon Pie from Joe Dempsey's original Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind, September 27, 2009

Joe’s original caption from September 27, 2009: “RC Cola and a Moon Pie. Can be a breakfast, lunch or dinner substitute or a convenient snack when the spirit moves one in that direction.”

To follow Joe on this enjoyable and enlightening “sentimental journey” into both the long ago past and the near past, click on the title of the post, “The Lake Dick Project/The Towering Past.”

Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi

Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi, across the River from Helena, Arkansas

Update on Book about
Trip down the Mississippi River

“I’ve just been notified that Roadtrip with a Raindrop: 90 Days Along the Mississippi is a FINALIST in the competition for Foreword Review’s INDIEFAB ‘Book of the Year’ Award!”
—Author Gayle Harper in March 18 email announcement
about her upcoming book award

As noted in the quote above, Gayle Harper’s book about her voyage down the Mississippi River has been nominated as a finalist in a “Book of the Year Award.” I reviewed this book and provided more information about it and Gayle in an earlier post titled “You Might Be from the Country, If . . . Part II.” To read that post, click on the title.

Print

According to Gayle:

“The winners will be announced in June at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference to be held in San Francisco. Keep your fingers crossed, my friends . . . but, whatever happens, I am humbled and honored to have it included as a Finalist!”

Gayle Harper at book signing

Gayle Harper at book signing of Roadtrip with a Raindrop

Finally, after recommending that the reader visit the Author Facebook Page, Gayle concludes with this appeal:

“AND, while you’re on the website, if you haven’t seen the new Book Trailer yet—it’s a quick, fun, lively sampling of the spirit of Roadtrip With A Raindrop. It’s also available on You Tube. Please do share it with anyone you like!”

Roundtrip with a raindrop

To visit Gayle’s Web site, click here.

Bitter Southerner Web Site

“I am busy reading about the ‘best’ gas station food
in the Delta starting with some I know
and some I do not know!”
—Pat Scavo sharing new Southern Web site
in email dated March 5, 2015

On March 5, my 1956 McGehee High School classmate Patsy McDermott (now Pat Scavo of Hot Springs, Arkansas) sent me a link to a new Southern Web site her husband Phil had discovered titled “The Bitter Southerner.”

Later that same day Patsy Mc wrote that she was busy reading an entry on that site titled “My Southern Education” and expressed the hope that I would soon take time to read it—and indeed everything on the site. It can be reached by clicking on the title above.

Gone With the Wind as featured on the Web site "The Bitter Southerner"

Gone With the Wind photo as featured on the Web site “The Bitter Southerner”

Let me know what you think!

Note: Speaking of the Mississippi side of the Delta, on March 12 Pat sent me the following photo of the cotton gin at Dahomey Plantation from about 1900. To learn more about Dahomey Plantation, which is now up for sale for $20 million, click here or Google Dahomey Plantation.

Dahomey Plantation cotton gin in about 1900

Dahomey Plantation cotton gin in about 1900

“Where Do You Live?”

“Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.”
—Reid Wilson, “Which of the American nations do you live in?”

On January 31, 2015, Paul Talmadge sent me an interesting email tiled titled “Where Do You Live?”

As shown below, that email included a link to a site which includes a map of the United States divided into eleven distinct regions. (To view the regions more clearly, click on the map.)

Where do we live

You will note that while Northeastern Oklahoma where I have lived for the past thirty-eight years is part of the Greater Appalachia region, Southeast Arkansas where I was born and raised is in the Deep South region. This important distinction serves as the basis of my entire blog about “My Oklahomian Exile from The Holy Land” which includes all aspects of lifestyle, culture, and language.

To Kill a Mockingbird

“. . . even now the book [To Kill a Mockingbird]
sells 1 million copies a year . . .”
— Sam Tanenhaus, Tulsa World, February 22, 2015

On February 3 Pat sent me an email titled “Something to Look Forward To” with a link to an online report about the publication of the second novel by Harper Lee, the author of the best-selling Southern novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

In the report, written by Maddie Drum of Huffington Post, the reporter had this to say about the event:

“Harper Lee, the author of the beloved novel To Kill a Mockingbird, will publish a second book this summer. Go Set a Watchman was completed in the 1950s, but set aside by the writer, who went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for the only novel she ever published.”

To read the actual report, click here.

To Kill a Mockingbird

A second article titled “Why ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ remains relevant today” by Sam Tanenhaus appeared on the Opinion Page of the Tulsa World on February 22, 2015. According to the writer:

“. . .  even now . . . the book sells 1 million copies a year—holding its own against each season’s biggest releases and yielding its author an annual royalty of about $1.7 million. It’s been translated into 40 languages. One British survey ranked [it] 65th among all-time bestsellers.”

10 Old School Southern Rules

“There are rules upon rules in the South. Some spoken and some unspoken. It can be hard to keep up with all of them, and depending on where you live in the South . . . , you might adhere to some rules more than others. Here’s a list of some old school Southern rules you may not know or have forgotten.”
—Jenny Bradley, “10 Old School Southern Rules
to Abide by in the Present,”
Country Outfitter, July 1, 2014

Southern Belles and Beaux at the Natchez, MS, Spring Pilgrimage held on March 7 to April 7, 2015

Southern Belles and Beaux at the Natchez, MS, Spring Pilgrimage held from March 7 to April 7, 2015 (to magnify the photo, click on it, and then see the note and link to it below)

On March 3, 2015, my cousin Kay Barrett Bell, a native of Selma/McGehee, Arkansas, sent me an online link to an interesting site titled “10 Old School Southern Rules to Abide by in the Present.” (To read these rules, click on the title.)

Some of these tongue-in-cheek “rules” you may have seen or heard before, and some may even be considered outdated by some people’s loose standards of Southern etiquette. But they are worth a revisit, especially since the author of this blog post, an obvious Mississippi resident who comments on each rule, claims to be a fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks! Woooo pig, sooooeeey!

Would an (at least honorary) Arkie of the Covenant lie about such an important subject as good Southern manners?

Nevah, honey chile, jus’ nevah!

Now by-by, y’all . . . til’ nex’ time!

PS After I had composed this post on March 24 Pay Scavo sent me a link to the Natchez (MS) Spring Pilgrimage held from March 7 to April 7, 2015. To learn more about the pilgrimage, click here and see the link in the Sources section below.

Addenda and Conclusion

Your posts are the epitome of
southern scholarship among other things. . . .
Some of the greatest things ever written
have been written in exile. . . .
[Your] exile is the root of your genius!”
—Paul Talmadge in emails to Jimmy Peacock
on March 6 and 15

“Gathering up the fragments of the events in our lives helps us to put the proper closure to things that really matter to us. No matter what happens to us, big or small, miraculous or plain, may we remember to ‘gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’”
—Mark Bossuti-Jones, author of the daily entry for March 15
based on John 6:12 NRSV in the Episcopal devotional Forward Day By Day
www.forwardmovement.org

Whether Paul Talmadge’s comments about my “southern scholarship” and “exile [as] the root of [my] genius” are true or not, the quote from Mark Bossuti-Jones from the Episcopal daily devotional Forward Day By Day on the importance of “gather[ing] up the fragments of the events in our lives” is certainly true!

Cover of the February/March/April issue of Forward Day By Day

Cover of the February/March/April issue of Forward Day By Day

In fact, that is precisely what I have been trying to do over the past thirty-eight years of my “Oklahomian exile,” and especially over the past four years since I began not only to “gather up the fragments of the events in my life” but also to preserve them in this blog “so that nothing may be lost.”

As a Chickasaw cultural historian says in an Oklahoma TV ad for his tribe and his work in restoring and preserving its heritage: “I am trying to preserve the past for the sake of the future.”

May you also begin (or continue) to “gather up the fragments of your own life” and find some way or place to preserve them for the sake of future generations “so that nothing may be lost.”

Sources

The photos of the Lake Dick water tower, the RC and Moon Pie, and the Ground Zero Blues Club were taken from Joe Dempsey’s Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind post for September 27, 2009, at: http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photo100119/photo111.html

The link to my earlier post titled “You Might Be from the Country, If . . . Part II” was taken from:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/you-might-be-from-the-country-if-part-ii/

The three photos of Gayle Harper, her book, and the Mississippi River were taken from her March 18 press release at: https://www.facebook.com/GayleHarper.MississippiRiver

The Facebook link to Gayle Harper’s book about her voyage down the Mississippi River was taken from:
https://www.facebook.com/GayleHarper.MississippiRiver

The link to Gayle Harper’s Web site was taken from:
http://gayleharper.com/

The photo titled “Gone With the Wind & My Southern Education” was taken from a link sent to me by Pat Scavo on March 5 from the Web site “The Bitter Southerner” at:
http://bittersoutherner.com/

The photo of the 1900 Dahomey Plantation cotton gin was sent to me on March 12 by Pat Scavo. More about Dahomey Plantation, which is up for sale, can be found at:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/deepfriedkudzu/67901764/

The photo of the map from the site titled “Which of the 11 American nations do you live in?” by Reid Wilson was sent to me by Paul Tamaldge on January 31, 2015, and was taken from:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/11/08/which-of-the-11-american-nations-do-you-live-in/?tid=trending_strip_3=

The report about the publication of Harper Lee’s second novel after To Kill a Mockingbird was sent to me by Pat Scavo and was taken from:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/03/harper-lee-novel_n_6603994.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

The photo of the cover of the first edition of the book To Kill a Mockingbird was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Kill_a_Mockingbird

The Tulsa World Online article titled “Why ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ remains relevant today” was taken from the following link on February 22, 2015:
http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/sam-tanenhaus-why-to-kill-a-mockingbird-remains-relevant/article_9b3b389a-b081-5256-bf55-1b20d9beefc3.html

The “10 Old School Southern Rules to Abide By in the Present” was sent to me by my cousin Kay Barrett Bell on March 3, 2015, and taken from:
http://www.countryoutfitter.com/style/10-old-school-southern-rules-abide-present/

The photo of the Natchez, MS, Spring Pilgrimage was sent to me by Pat Scavo and taken from:
http://www.natchezpilgrimage.com/natchez-spring-pilgrimage.php

The quote about gathering up the fragments of our lives was written by Mark Bossuti-Jones, author of the daily entry for March 15 in the Episcopal devotional Forward Day By Day. Copyright 2015. Used by permission. www.forwardmovement.org

The photo of the cover of the Forward By Day was taken from: Forward Day By Day: February/March/April issue. Copyright 2015. Used by permission.   www.forwardmovement.org

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