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.