Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nathan - December 12, 2012

As published in the White River Current on Thursday December 12, 2012

I had a very interesting dream last night.  I was in this very large room.  I knew I had been there before several years ago but at that time the room was empty.  Now, the room was filled to capacity, every seat taken, even up in the balcony.  At the front of the room, on an elevated platform of sorts, two men were seated in large leather chairs that faced the audience.  Seated on the front row of the balcony were several dignitaries including a middle aged couple who looked vaguely familiar.  The tall gentleman was very quiet and reserved but the lady was very animated.  Suddenly, the large doors at the rear of the room opened, a man entered, walked several steps into the room, stopped and announced in a booming voice, “Mr. Speaker.  The President of the United States.”  A handsome young man and his entourage entered the room and the crowd erupted into loud applause with many yelling “Nathan, Nathan,  Nathan.”  That was when I woke up.  Strangely, I have had similar dreams lately.  Once it was the popular concert pianist, Nathan.  Another time, it was the winner of the Daytona 500.  Still another, it was the record breaking homerun slugger in the World Series.  By the way, have I mentioned that we have a new great grandson, born November 6th (election day; is that an omen?  He wouldn’t be the first piano playing president).  I am expecting great things of this young man, you just wait and see.  Well, enough of that.  Since this is my last column of the year, I want to again thank all you readers for all the nice comments.  I look forward to several more of these meetings in the new year.  I will be in the first issue of 2013.  I plan to look back on the past issues to find the things I have promised to talk about.  I’ll do my best to address those and some others as they pop into my head.  Have you got a copy of the new book that the museum board has produced?  The name is “Calico Rock, A History from 1831-1966.”  You will definitely want a copy and they will make great Christmas gifts.  And part of your purchase will benefit the Calico Rock Museum.  On a sad note, Gloria, the mayor of Pineville died November 26th.  She was a great supporter of the area and was an outstanding character.  I was the mayor of Calico Rock in the late 80”s when she and her son first visited our city.  They presented the City Council a proposal to install new signs for all the streets within the boundaries of the city limits.  The Council accepted their proposal and they proceeded to do a superb job for our residents.  While she was here, Gloria fell in love with the people and the area.  She returned home to Sherwood, Arkansas, and persuaded her husband, David, to retire from his job on the police department and move to the Calico Rock community.  She has been a tireless worker in her church and community since arriving here.  We were living in Missouri when I received an e-mail from her in which she asked for my comments on her possible race for the Pineville mayor position.  I told her to “go for it” and she did.  We will all suffer because she is gone but we will all be better because she was here.  I was up before daylight this morning and happened to look out the East window.  A lone star was shining brightly in the pre-dawn sky.  I said to myself, “Shine on, dear sister, shine on.”  Yes, Gloria will be missed, but we can continue the legacy she left for us.  My prayer today is that each of you will have a very happy and blessed Christmas season and a joyous and prosperous New Year.  Let us all try to help each other and treat one another with kindness and respect.  We are commanded to “Love One Another.”  This is Reed, very sadly reporting from a corner of the Queen City of the Ozarks, beautiful Calico Rock, Arkansas.  See you next year. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Blog - November 29, 2012

From:  The White River Current - Thursday November 29, 2012

I informed you in the last episode that the number of readers of this biweekly column had increased tremendously because it can now be viewed as a blog on the internet.  So, let me take a deep breath here and welcome the thousands of new fans that have just joined us in this effort.  I should take a paragraph or two and explain a few things.  This column appears every other week in the White River Current, a weekly newspaper published here in my home town, Calico Rock, Arkansas.  I am a native, born and raised here as was Calico Joe, the fictional baseball player whose fame is documented in the exciting book by fellow author, John Grisham.  If, by a stretch of the imagination, you haven’t read “Calico Joe,” please take my advice and do so.  Also take in the movie which should be appearing on the big screen in a few months.  If you are reading this off the internet blog, you may be missing a lot of the other interesting columns that are regularly appearing in the Current.  Susan’s column “Not So Long Ago” and Freda’s writings about the Native American and early settlers are worth the price of a subscription to the paper.  You can receive the print edition, the on-line edition or both for a very low price.  And, I almost forgot, appearing on alternate weeks with the Rambling column is “Tom’s Tamperings” which is written by my mentor, Tom*.  I first met Tom* in, of all places, Trier, Germany.  We were travelling and he had recently arrived in Trier to work in the opera business.  He and his wife, a Calico Rock girl, moved back to Arkansas last spring when they retired after residing in Europe for thirty-five years.  While Tom* was living overseas, he attempted to improve his writing skills by sending e-mails to selected individuals almost on a daily basis.  This has carried over into his column which I know you will enjoy, even though it has a slightly “northern” flavor.  Both the Canada influence and the opera business have taken its toll.  He might refer to his dancing in tights in some opera as his terpsichorean performance.  Even in our church choir, I have caught him singing the word “people” as “pee-oh-play.”  I know this is only a temporary thing and everything will soon work out.  We love this couple and are all very fortunate to have them back in our community.  They both qualify as “characters I have known.”  Anyway, thank you for adding the Ramblings column to your reading list.  And, come, visit us.  It would make us happy to welcome you to one of the most interesting places in Arkansas to visit (according to World Book Encyclopedia).  Just Google “Calico Rock, Arkansas” and click on any of the websites.  You might also check out “Exploring Izard County,” a blog that contains a lot of photos and videos about the area.  And a personal note to my local readers:  Thank you for all your support and comments.  I started with a tongue-in-cheek article about the people from “off.”  Much to my surprise, this has blossomed into eighteen issues ranging all the way from “Dogs I Have Known” to my efforts to write a novel and compose a Christmas song.  I have no idea how long this will last.  I have a few more things to say before I turn off the old word processor.  I think I have alluded to some of these in earlier columns.  I haven’t forgotten and these will start appearing very soon.  Time is slipping away.  By the time you read this, the elections will be over, daylight saving time has disappeared until next Spring and the Giants have won the World Series (or was it the Tigers?).  We had our first frost this morning which reminded me it was about hog-killing time and I have a story about that.  I help churn butter at the “Reliving Calico Rock History:  Pioneer Life” festival at the Calico Rock Museum.  This reminded me of my mother and another story about my childhood in Calico Rock.  So much to tell and so little time.    I need to get busy.  Anyway, this is Reed, working hard here in my corner of the Queen City of the Ozarks, beautiful Calico Rock, Arkansas.  Bye for now!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rainbow - November 15, 2012

From:  The White River Current - Thursday November 15, 2012

I saw an old friend the other day.  Even at a distance, he looked great primarily because he had it all together.  Sometimes this is not the case but he is really a colorful character.  I referring to someone you all know.  His name is Roy G. Biv but you probably know him better by his nickname.  By now, I’m sure you know this is a “leg puller.”  Of course I’m referring to the rainbow.  Each letter of the name represents the colors of the spectrum (rainbow) which are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.  I mentioned this to a friend as we were admiring the colorful arc in the sky and he had never heard this acronym.  I am mentioning it now in the unlikely event some of you might have forgotten what you learned in eighth grade science.  Also to let you know I will be introducing you to some other “characters I have known.”  I have already mentioned two or three and probably will be adding others as the weeks go by.  There is no criteria to become one of my characters.  Some have departed this life.  Others are still on this side.  In this episode, I am adding two characters to the list, a husband and wife team.  I haven’t known Ed and Kay for very long but I recognized very early that they were my kind of people.  I saw them recently at the 20/20 meeting.  Let me digress here to point out something I find interesting but disturbing.  Of the fifteen people at the meeting, ten were from “off.”  This included Ed and Kay who were also at the Chamber of Commerce meeting a few days later where the “off/on” ratio of attendees was about two to one also.  Anyway, after the Chamber meeting, I stopped by Ed & Kay’s place where they gave me a large bag of raw peanuts that they had received by mistake.  You may be surprised to learn that every year they purchase over $500 worth of roasted peanuts.  If you didn’t congratulate them on their golden wedding anniversary earlier this year, it’s not too late.  They aren’t hard to find.  They have turned the old Harris grocery on lower Main Street into their residence.  Look for the neon sign in the front window announcing “Ed & Kay’s Place.”  While you are there, pick up a bag of roasted peanuts from the large pail outside the front door.  They’re free, compliments of two very interesting characters that have come my way.  I’ll have more to say about peanuts in a few weeks.  Anyway, back to the rainbow discussion.  I saw a cute photo of a rainbow a few days ago. It was a complete arc, very bright and one side seemed to end over an outhouse.  The caption was “The pot at the end of the rainbow.”  Everyone seems to be looking for that “pot of gold.”  I never wanted to be rich and famous.  I will not purchase a lottery ticket because I might win the big one and that would completely change my life style.  I’ve never won anything in my life.  Maybe that increases the odds of my winning the next time.  However, I have become sort of famous because of these articles that appear every two weeks.  It has been called to my attention that the Ramblings have been appearing on a blog on the internet.  That means that there could possibly be several hundred (or even thousand) out there in cyberspace that are scanning my writings on a regular basis.  That’s scary.  I may have to start proof-reading this stuff.  I already have a friend over in Ash Flat that is checking for spelling errors.  I do this for fun.  If it starts to be work I may have to consider spending all my free time on my novel and Christmas song.  I’ll discuss this again next time.  Until then, this is Reed, just sitting here in my corner of the Queen City, waiting patiently for that Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes check and worried about what to do next.  Bye for now.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lions - November 1, 2012

From:   The White River Current - Thursday November 1, 2012

It was a Thursday morning in early June, the latter part of the 1950’s.  I had just unlocked the front door of the store when I heard the amplified voice of Oran (Ding-Dong) Bell coming from the twin speakers that he had mounted on the roof of his pickup truck.  “They’re already gathering in” he shouted; “cowboys and cowgirls from all walks of life.”  Oran was busy driving up and down the city streets, announcing that the first performance of  The Calico Rock Lions Club Rodeo would be held at the local arena that evening.  The arena was packed for all three nights and has become an annual event in Calico Rock, held each year on the second weekend of June.  After over fifty years, the enthusiasm for the event has diminished some and even though performances have been reduced from three to two nights, the show draws large crowds of “cowboys and cowgirls from all walks of life.”  It was Oran, or as I should say, Lion Bell, that invited me to join the local club in the summer of 1951.  As a member for over sixty years now, I am the senior member of the club; Rayvon is close behind.  The local club was organized in 1947 and they are no surviving charter members.  Lion Bell was the sponsor for over seventy five members before  moving back to Yellville (his home town) after retiring from his position with Arkansas Power and Light Company (now Entergy).  Lions International was organized in about 1917 by a Chicago businessman, Melvin Jones.  Now worldwide, there are over 45,000 clubs with some 1.3 million members.  Most famous for the ongoing campaign to save the eyesight of people throughout the world, their motto is “We Serve.”  The local club pays for the exams and eyeglasses for several needy persons each year.  They also assist in many other civic projects.  Meanwhile, back to the Rodeo.  Rayvon and I were on the car-parking detail for that first night.  Big mistake!  As close as I have ever come to being run over, plus having to endure several “cussings,” I decided I was better suited for the concession stand or the ticket booth.  I have enjoyed working in the Lions projects which have included selling light bulbs and brooms from door-to-door to selling hamburgers and cold drinks at various events.  When I was more active, I attended the mid-winter conferences and state conventions.  It was at one of these that the speaker was Chet Lauck who played Lum on the old-time radio program “Lum and Abner.”  I used to listen to this program when I was a boy.  Chet told the story about “the preacher that they had in Pine Ridge who had absconded with the church funds. They caught up with him in Fort Smith but they found out that he had spent half of the money on some woman and the rest he had ‘just wasted.’  But they got their money back,” Chet said.  “They brought the scoundrel back and made him preach it out.”   You can google “Lum and Abner” and listen to some of the episodes of this great program.  I will have more on other old-time radio shows in a few weeks.
However, in this issue, I want to give a big tip-of-the-hat to the Lions Club and the other volunteer organizations and the members who generously give their time, and often, their resources, to make our town a more enjoyable place to live.  Well, I hesitate to do this, but I can’t leave the memories of the Lions Club of the past without recalling the minstrel show that some of the guys presented to packed audiences in Melbourne, Oxford, Norfork and Calico Rock.  The show consisted of the interlocutor (Lion A.B.), and six other Lions club members.  Picture this:  Seven chairs on the stage, A.B. in the middle chair with three Lions in chairs on each side.  I know this is unheard of in today’s culture, but that was then and this is now.  Anyway, there were some snappy lines like this:  Interlocutor:  “Rastus, how come you can grow such big watermelons?”  Rastus:  “I plants ‘em by the moon signs.”  Interlocutor:  “Ha!  Sounds like you are full of moon-shine.”  We all had a solo to sing.  Mine was “Mandy, let yo’ Andy in” but the show stopper was “Bones, you done me wrong” delivered in the proper tear-jerker fashion by Lion Harold Ray.  Hilarious!!  Just remembering the late Oran Bell, one of the characters I have known.  So long from the Queen City of the Ozarks.  This is Reed saying Bye for now.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Arkansas - October 18, 2012

From:  The White River Current - October 18, 2012

I was waffling back and forth between working on my Christmas song and my new novel, “Calico Mo,” when a familiar melody came into my head.  It has been the Official State Song of the state of Arkansas for over twenty-five years.  It was the background music for the sign-off  for public station AETN for a long time and may still be, although I think they are on the air for twenty four hours  a day now.  I used to stay up late to hear this great song and watch the beautiful Arkansas views that were displayed on the screen.  The CW group that I played with for several years, The Drug Store Cowboys, had this song in their repertoire.  We  used this  number as the closing on most of our gigs and it always brought a standing ovation.  I don’t think I have ever told you about this group of musical pharmacists.  Well, maybe later.  Anyway, the name of the song is “Arkansas, You Run Deep in Me.”  It was composed by fellow Arkansas songwriter, Wayland Holyfield.  The first verse goes “October morning in the Ozark Mountains, Hills ablazing like that sun in the sky.  I fell in love there and the fire’s still burning A flame that will never die.”  The chorus goes “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.”  It just occurred to me that I seem to be slipping into a pattern of using song lyrics in these  bi-weekly visits.  This isn’t planned, just happens.  I sit down at the computer, start typing and send you whatever comes out.  Explaining, not apologizing.  Anyway, I was struck by the composer talking about wandering.  You already know I was born and raised here.  Went off to college, came back home to raise a family and build a business.  A little over ten years we sold our home and moved to Ozark, Missouri.  We have always joked that we were there on a “mission trip” but  that is close to an accurate description.  Ozark is a great community.  We enjoyed our stay there and miss the good friendships that were made, especially with our Sunday school classmates.  Three couples have visited us in Calico Rock.  Bill and Jan were special.  They liked gospel and bluegrass music and we attended several concerts together.  They also liked to eat (another perfect fit with us) and we were always ready to go.  Bill dabbled in real estate, buying and selling farms, until one day he called with the news that he had found “Shangri-La.”   This was a small farm several miles from Ozark.  We never got to see it, but from their description I guess it was beautiful.  A few years ago, Bill saw this ad about a gospel group that they really liked was appearing in a Texas town.  A long drive from Ozark, but they decided to go.  Bill became ill a short time after they arrived in Texas and they decided to drive back home to see his regular doctor.  He was immediately placed in the intensive care at the hospital and died three days later.  The cause of death was some type of tick fever.  Apparently, he had picked up to tick at the farm before they started to Texas.  Bill was a big man.  He was tall and I’m sure he weighed well over three hundred pounds but I never thought of him as being “fat.”  Great sense of humor and I put him in the group of “characters I have known.”  I still miss Bill a great deal.  Anyway, about three years ago, Anita and I decided that our “mission”  to Missouri was over and we began making plans to move back home.  Amazingly, we were able to get our old post office box and  telephone number after an absence of almost eight years, just like they had been saved for us.  The last verse of the State Song goes “And there’s a river rambling through the fields and valleys.  Smooth and steady as she makes her way south.  A lot like the people whose name she carries.  She goes strong and she goes proud.”  Of course, Wayland is referring to the Arkansas River, but, for me, it is the White River, a lot like the people - rambling, smooth, steady.  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.  Calico Rock, you run deep in me.  You can Google the title  and hear Wayland sing the entire song on YouTube, even the AETN version.  Under the influence of nostalgia here in my corner of the Queen City of the Ozarks, this is Reed saying Bye for now.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Water - October 4, 2012

This Ramblin is from the October 4, 2012 edition of the White River Current:

"All day I’ve faced the barren waste without a taste of water, cool, clear water, water  (echo).”  So goes the first verse of the western song, “Cool Water,” that was written in the 30’s by Bob Nolan.  The song tells the story of a man and his mule (Dan) who are lost in the desert and who begin to see mirages.  Bob, along with Leonard Sly (Roy Rogers) and a couple of others, were the founders of the singing group, the Sons Of The Pioneers.  My cousin, Lloyd Perryman, became a member of the group in 1936 and remained until his death in 1977.  He was born and raised in Zion, Arkansas, an Izard County community.  The only time I met Lloyd was at the state fair and livestock show sometime in the 60’s.  Anita and I took Brenda and Steve and drove to Little Rock one day to see the SOTP who were appearing at the rodeo with Fess Parker who played Davy Crockett on TV.  It was a fun day and we got all their autographs and pictures.  The Pioneers appeared in over eighty movies, mostly with  Roy Rogers and his sidekick, Smiley Burnett.  “Cool Water” and  “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” were their most requested songs.  The first verse continues “Old Dan and I, our throats are dry and souls that cry for water, cool, clear water.”  In 1931, Ted and Dorothy purchased a drug store in the small town of Wall, South Dakota (pop. 350).  Ted was a pharmacist.  Business was very slow, but they stuck it out, agreeing that they would move on in five years if things didn’t improve.  By 1936, they were about to give up until that hot, July day when things suddenly changed.  Things were slow in the store and Dorothy had decided to go upstairs to their living quarters and take a nap.  She didn’t stay long and explained she couldn’t rest because of the noise out on the dusty highway, noise made by the travelers on their way to the new attraction just up the road called Mt. Rushmore.
Ted and Dorothy came up with an idea that they thought might cause some of the tourists to stop by the drugstore.  They put up signs on the highway advertising “free ice water.”  It worked and I know you have all seen the signs, “xxx Miles to Wall Drug” that are now all over the world.  Google “Wall Drug” and read the full, inspiring story about one of the top, tourist destinations in the state of South Dakota.  In the chorus of  “Cool Water,” the man encourages Dan to keep amovin’ and he says “Dan, don’t you see that big green tree where the water’s runnin’ free and it’s waitin’ there for you and me.  Cool, Clear Water.”  We have it so good here in America.  All we have to do to get a drink of cold water is turn the tap.  But did you know (or even care) that there are over one billion (yes that’s billion) people in the world that do not have access to clean drinking water.  Fortunately, there are people that care and are trying to do something about it.  The other evening as I was leaving the meeting of the chamber of commerce board, I saw Mark and Linda walking their dogs.  They was a tall gentleman with them that I presumed was a friend.  He had on a tee shirt on which was printed “Living Waters for the World.”  It turns out that Will was one of the founders of this organization.  I was somewhat familiar with this group because of a power point presentation that Mark had made to the local Lions Club a few months ago.  If I could, I would nominate this organization for the Nobel Peace Prize because I believe they really deserve it.  Mark has made numerous visits to Haiti and the things he has done there are mind boggling.  The Bible states “…if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
(Matthew 10:42, NIV)  Check out http://livingwatersfor the and see for yourself.  When I was a boy, we kept a pail of water on the wash stand that was located on the back porch.  There was a long-handled dipper in the pail that everyone drank  from and used to dip water into the wash pan that was beside it.  Some people didn’t have a store bought dipper but used gourds instead.  How primitive!!  Are we just fortunate or are we blessed?  I better leave the preaching up to the professionals.  Anyway, you can hear “Cool Water” on YouTube along with other SOTP favorites.  Getting thirsty here in the Queen City, so I’ll just say Bye for now.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Poetry - September 20, 2012

As published in the White River Current - Thursday September 20, 2012

Thanks to all of you who have asked about the release date of my Christmas song.  I have some bad news.  I am delaying the release until maybe the latter part of next year,  Hopefully it will be completed by then and the recording studio work done.  I didn’t realize there was so much involved in getting a song published and recorded.  Of course, it isn’t finished yet.  To be honest, it’s the poetry thing.  I didn’t know rhyming was so difficult.  I have some favorite poems that I learned many years ago but can still recite from memory.  Isn’t it funny how you remember things that happened a long time ago but forget what occurred yesterday?  Or is that an old-age thing?  I can play several piano pieces that I memorized in high school but, for the life of me, I
can’t memorize a simple tune now.  Anyway, there was another student that I was in college with who could recite poetry.  He was a veteran of WW2.  The story he told was that someone had given him this book of poetry and he began to read it and memorizing the contents during the time he was confined to a foxhole somewhere in Europe.  Frank was a likable guy but a little rough and I didn’t spend much time around him.  But he could recite poetry.  Such as “The Face on the Barroom Floor” and even “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.”  The latter is very inspirational and has provided many preachers with some good sermon material.  You can find both these poems on U-Tube.  Some of Frank’s poems would  not be suitable for this family newspaper so I won’t mention them.  I continued to see Frank occasionally at conventions and at one time, when he was a representative of a pharmaceutical company, he called on the local physicians and often stopped by the store.  Frank is no longer with us but I may include him in
a column entitled “characters I have known.”  I don’t know when I will get around to writing this because I am so busy with my song writing.  As a matter of trivia, two of my fellow songwriters died recently.  Hal wrote “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” and some other good toe-tappers. Marvin, who was also a conductor, penned “The Way We Were”  and many other hits for both the movies and Broadway.  Interestingly enough, Marvin married a young lady whose parents were Izard County people.  I knew her dad, Bill, and her aunt, Jean, who are natives of Melbourne.  I wish I could have met Marvin.  You know, maybe a little “shop talk.”  Too late.
Anyway, I almost forgot the good news.  I have decided to write a book, probably a historical novel.  I figure I could knock it out in my spare time after working on my poetry.  No doubt in my mind, it would make the best seller lists and then, of course, the movie producers would start lining up to start biding for the screen rights.  I hope to get all this completed by next Spring.  I have the outline ready and I know you will all get excited when I tell you about it.  The story goes sorta like this:  A large group of pioneers have been wandering around, camping at times but mainly living off the land.  This has been going on for some time and mostly takes place in an area in North Arkansas known as the Leatherwoods.  The chosen leader of the group is a tall,  handsome figure by the name of Moses Jones. (I expect that I will be tapped to play this character in the movie).  The real action starts when a group of armed outlaws attack the pioneers and start driving them out of the woods.  Following their leader, it looks like the group is going to escape when all at once then come to a large river that is at flood stage.  Not to be outdone, the leader holds up a boat paddle and the water miraculously parts and the pioneers walk across on dry land.  I failed to mention that there was a small settlement on the other side and that there were tall, multi-colored bluffs both up and down river.  Anyway, the group is welcomed by the small settlement population.  Their leader is elected mayor and later becomes the Governor of the state, then, you know, etc. etc. etc.  Man, what an exciting tale.  I can hardly restrain myself
I’m on such a high.  By the way, the tentative title is “Calico Mo.”  Look for it next Spring at your favorite book store.  Hot at work at the word processor here in my corner in the Queen City of the Ozarks, beautiful Calico Rock, Arkansas.  This is Reed saying Bye til next time.    

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dad - September 5, 2012

As posted in the White River Current

I’ve mentioned my mother in previous columns but I don’t think I ever said anything about my dad.  My ancestors were primarily English who moved to America in the late 1700’s.  There is
a town located north of Baltimore by the name Perryman, Maryland.  There are no Perrymans
listed in their phone book but there are many in their three cemeteries.  My genealogical info lists
my family in North Carolina in the early 1800’s as the population started moving west.  Later
some moved into middle Tennessee.  I was fortunate to find my great-grandparents’ marriage
license application in the courthouse in Murfreesboro (September, 1832).  Stephen and Elizabeth         
had several children including my grandfather, James (Jim), who was born in 1855.  Sometime
after James was born the family moved to the Lebanon, Missouri, area, probably looking for
work.  Stephen is listed in the 1860 Missouri census as a carpenter.  As the Civil War began to
heat up, Stephen again moved his family, this time to Izard County, Arkansas.  He died of  smallpox in 1865 and was buried near Melbourne by two of his sons.  His wife, Elizabeth, died
in 1888 andwas buried in the Trimble Campground cemetery near Dolph.  James bought a farm
near the Fulton County line and started a business in Wild Cherry, Arkansas, a thriving community that received its name from the popular fruit tree that was abundant in the area.
James and his wife, Rosa, were the parents of twelve children.  Two children died at an early
age but ten, seven boys and three girls, reached adulthood.  Dad attended the Wild Cherry school through the eighth grade and then took over the family farm operation.  Sometime later he
took the job delivering the mail on horseback from Wild Cherry to Calico Rock.  On one
occasion, he had left the State Bank on upper Main Street and was walking past the wholesale
grocery office when he spied the young secretary at the desk near the front window.  As the
story was related to me, he said, to himself or whoever was listening, “that’s the girl I am
going to marry.”  After a proper time of courting, they were married in December 1923.  They
moved back to the farm after my grandfather died in 1925.  After my grandmother died  in 1930
the family returned to reside in Calico Rock.  Dad took the job as consignee for the
Magnolia Petroleum Company which some years later became the Mobil Oil Company.  The
yellow house that is located across the street from the library/city hall became my parent’s home
for a few months and was also the place where I was born.  By the time I was five years old,
we were living in the rock house on the corner of Red Lane and Highway 56.  This was the
fifth house we had moved into but we remained there for seven years.  Two more moves and
we were living in the white house on the south side of Red Lane and Highway 56.  This was
our last move and was my parent’s residence until both had moved to their heavenly home.
Dad worked long hours at his job, often leaving before daylight and getting home after I was asleep.  He always said that my mother “raised” me.  After several years, the oil company was
sold  and Dad sold real estate with the United Farm Agency for a period of time before starting
his own business, Perryman Equipment Company.  As an International Harvester dealer, he sold
pickups and larger trucks, Farmall tractors, combines, hay bailers and other farm equipment to
customers all over the north Arkansas region.  Mom & Dad had great plans for their retirement
years, but she contracted some type of debilitating illness that lasted for nine years.  Dad sold
his business and took care of mom during these difficult years until she passed away.  She was
only 68 years old.  Dad died five years later.  I hope these personal references have not been
too boring but I felt led to share this part of my life to lay the groundwork for other topics that
I might want to tell you.  Maybe they will be more interesting.  Thanks again for all the good
comments.  They keep me going.  By the way, I have both good news and bad news but I am
out of space this week.  Be sure to check back in two weeks. This is Reed saying Bye for now.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Music - August 23, 2012

My cousin, William Reed, served his country by enlisting in the Army Air Corps during
the second world war and was stationed in England.  He was a tail-gunner on a B-17
bomber. During one of the raids over Germany, his plane was shot down by anti-aircraft
artillery but he was able to parachute to safety.   He was captured and spent the next year
and a half in a German concentration camp.  After the war, he was repatriated and spent
the rest of his life in Calico Rock.  William Reed talked very little about his experiences
in the prison camp but I remember one incident he recalled and that brings us to the main
subject of this week’s rambling column which is (drum roll) MUSIC.  As the war in
Europe began to wind down in 1945, my cousin said the prison guards started to get a
little more friendly.  Some of the guards could speak English and on one occasion William
heard one of them singing.  He was told that it was a popular song in America and that
it was number one on the Hit Parade.  The song was “Mairzy Dotes.”  The lyrics go like
this:  “Mairzy dotes and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey, A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t
you?”  Look, I’m not making this up.  Google “Mairzy Dotes” if you want to check out
the rest of the lyrics.  Buy me a cup of coffee and I might even sing it for you.  Another
novelty song that became a hit back in the 40’s went like this:  “Hut-Sut Rawlson on the
rillerah and a brawla, brawla sooit.”  This song was featured in the very popular film
“From Here to Eternity.”  You can hear a version of it on You-tube or I might sing it for
you by special request.  I have a large collection of sheet music including some very old
pieces that I inherited from my aunt.  One of my favorites from the 20’s was “You’ve
got to see your momma every night or you won’t see momma at all.”  One of the most
popular entertainers in the 20’s and 30’s was Al Jolson.  His most famous hit was a
number called “Mammy.”  He did this song in blackface which would be unheard of
in today’s culture.  The song ended with Jolson down on his knees pleading “I’d walk a
million miles for one of your smiles, my Mammy.”  Another popular singer was Eddie
Cantor.  Both Jolson and Cantor are featured in biographical movies that are available
on DVD.  I haven’t checked it out but I’ll bet you can find both entertainers on You-tube.
A lot has changed in the music world in my lifetime but I still like the old stuff.  I try,
but I just can’t get into the contemporary sounds of today.  I’ll take the old standards
like “Stardust” and “Night and Day.”  As a matter of fact, I have started writing a
popular song.  I have given this a lot of thought and I believe the best approach, since I
am only going to write one song, will be to write a Christmas song.  It will have to
have catchy lyrics and a beautiful melody that will be recorded by several dozen pop
singers and, perhaps, be picked up by the country singers.  Played by radio stations all
over the globe every December, the royalty checks will start rolling in.  Here’s a short
preview to get you excited:  “Pea-nuts toasting by an open fire; Jack Frost licking on
your toes.  Festive songs being hummed in a bar, While folks outside are getting froze.”
I know, I know, but “ frozen” doesn’t rhyme with toes.  I’ll refine this a bit as I go along
but don’t you just love the lilting way this tune goes.  Keep your ear close to the radio.
This is going to be big, I can just feel it.  I’ll work on my poetry a bit and I know it will
all come together.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this a long time ago.  Oh, well, as
they say, “better late if ever” or something like that.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted when and
where to order the CD after I complete the recording session.  Already getting in the holiday
spirit here in the Queen City of the Ozarks, beautiful Calico Rock.  So long til next time.

Baseball - August 9, 2012

BREAKING NEWS!!  Calico Joe, the movie, will soon be a reality.  A major production
company in Hollywood has purchased the motion picture rights.  Of course, it will take a
couple of years or longer to write the screenplay and assemble the cast.  I am hoping that
part of the filming will be made in Calico Rock which is Joe’s home town (in the book).
I am making myself available to portray Joe in the film version of this exciting story.  I
have all the credentials.  I’m a native of Calico Rock.  I was a baseball star in my youth.
And, I know how to use a riding lawn mower.  What more could you ask for?  Perhaps
 my son, Steve, might fill in for the close-ups of the younger Joe.  I’m already excited.
Maybe now would be a good time to make good my promise to tell about my athletic
accomplishments when I was just a teenager here in the Queen City.  Somewhere in this
issue is a photo of the Calico Rock Polecats baseball team.  This was a team of local kids
that was put together by Sherman and Vivene who were former residents that had moved
back home from Albuquerque.  I don’t know how to better put it than to say the Polecats
really stunk, pun intended.  They were in desperate need for a power hitter.  Sherman
came to me on bended knee, begging me to help turn this ragtag group into a baseball
team.  I agreed to help out and in no time we were ready to play.  I don’t remember the
exact number of home runs I hit that summer but I’m pretty sure it was less than 25.
I do know that I didn’t reach my goal of batting .400, but it was a good summer and
I had fun playing with those youngsters.  The high point of the season was when we beat
the tar out of the men’s team.  Sherman and Vivene took us all out to a local cafĂ© for a
celebration.  But that’s not the high point of my baseball career.  That came with another
team altogether.  Harold Louis was the coach of this team which was comprised of high
school boys that just liked to play the sport.  Our transportation was a flatbed truck that
belonged to Harold Louis’ dad.  We would just pile onto the back of the truck and off
we would go (remember this phrase).  The most memorable game we played was against
Mountain View.  I was discussing this with Harold Ray the other night.  He was our
catcher and the pitcher was a fireballer, Henderson, Jr.  I played first base, the position
I played most of the time.  I don’t recall all the team members, but I remember Thednal
played either shortstop or third base.  Don was the centerfielder and he almost always
misjudged a fly ball, recovering just in time to make a spectacular catch reaching high
above his head.  The stage was set and since we were on their home field, we batted
first.  Their pitcher was their ace lefthander, one of the Wallace boys.  He was a little
wild and walked the first two batters he faced.  I was batting third and I immediately
hit a screaming liner to right center for a double, scoring the runner from second base
with what proved to be the winning run.  The other runner went to third.  We ended the
inning making five runs before Wallace settled down and that was the last runs we made.
Now it was their turn.  Their first batter was their star, Billy Joe.  He hit a long fly to deep
center, but Don caught it in his usual fashion.  Billy Joe sent another long one to Don in
the fourth inning.  In the seventh, Billy Joe tried a new tactic.  He tried to punch one into
right field but I leaped high and caught it in the web of my glove to save the game which we
won 5-0, a perfect game, three up and three down for nine innings.  Two weeks later on a
trip to play Mt. Pleasant, Harold Lewis got too close to a culvert which caught the right dual
wheel and pitched Don, Jimmy and myself  off with career-ending injuries.  Remembering
the fun times and expecting a phone call from Hollywood any time, this is Reed.  Bye!!


Girl Friends (Old Age) - July 26, 2012

When I was a young man courting the girls I played me a waiting game; If a maid refused
me with tossing curls I let the old earth take a couple of whirls While I plied her with tears
in lieu of pearls And as time came around she came my way, As time came around she came.

So goes the verse of a very popular song from the 30’s called “September Song.”  It had a
hauntingly beautiful melody and was written for a Musical Play and was later featured in
a movie.  The song was sung in these venues by an “elderly” gentleman who was looking
back on his past experiences, sort of reminiscing.  Kind of what I do in these bi-weekly
visits. Now I don’t remember plying any of my girlfriends with tears but I do remember
some of my girlfriends.  The first one was Johnnie Faye.  We were both three years old.
She lived across the street and we played together a lot.  Her mom played games with
us and taught us our ABC’s and some simple math.  When I entered the first grade, I
could read, add, subtract and multiply.  In the meantime, my parents moved us to a
house in another part of town.  I don’t know what ever became of Johnnie Faye and
her family. Fast forward about ten years.  Shelby and I were downtown watching the
old Tom Mix western at the medicine show when we noticed these two girls.  It was the
sisters Ann and Mary.  We went over and introduced ourselves.  Ann and I spent a lot
of time together after that.  Then school was over and she moved to another town.

Oh, it’s a long, long while From May to December, But the days grow short When you
reach September. 

Perry used to say “getting old is not for sissies.”   He was a member
of the OFC (Old F**ts  Club) along with seven others.  We still meet at Dean’s about
three or four times a year for a time of telling stories and having a bunch of laughs then
go somewhere for lunch.  Occasionally we will bring along the wives for the lunch
time, usually in March when most of us celebrate our birthdays.  We’re down to six
members now.  Perry and Billy Charles are no longer with us.  We sure miss them.

When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame, One has-n’t got time for the waiting

I was at the doctor for my “wellness” checkup.  This is political correctness for
annual physical.  Dr. Robert asked me how I was feeling.  “Fine” I said.  Fine?  FINE?
I’m not fine.  Every bone in my body aches.  I have trouble getting in and out of my
car.  I have glaucoma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and several minor ailments.
I used to say that medicine was made to sell, not made to take.  Now I take about fifteen
pills every day plus throw in a few Tylenol tablets along the way.  I usually fall asleep
in my chair while reading the paper after supper, wake up during the 10 o’clock news
and soon after amble off to bed.  I guess this is common for us octogenarians.  Fine???
Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few-------September,-------November!----
I was back for my senior year in college and was having a coke at the student union
with  some friends when she and several freshman girls walked in.  My heart did a flip-
flop.  Who was this beauty?  Where did she come from?  I asked Charlotte to find out
and let me know as soon as possible.  A couple of days later, Charlotte called.  She gave
me Anita’s name and strongly suggested that I should call her.  I did and we went to the
movie on our first date which didn’t turn out too well (my fault).  However, she agreed on
a second date and things improved from there.  We were married in 1953 and five days
later I left for my two year tour of duty in the army.  Many times told that she was a “saint”
for putting up with me these many years, I still consider myself a very fortunate man.

And these few precious days I’ll spend with you, These precious days I’ll spend with you.

Enjoying the old songs but getting sentimental here in Calico Rock, this is Reed.  Bye!!