Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Out with the old - December 31, 2014

As published in the White River Current - Wednesday December 31, 2014

It should have occurred to me, when I signed off two weeks ago, that the Current would be available on Wednesday this week because of the New Year’s holiday tomorrow.  I was all set for a Ramblings article about resolutions, etc. and the year that is before us.  Instead I am offering some thoughts about the year that is just ending and am giving another look at Christmas, which isn’t really over until January 6th (look up “epiphany”).  Remember the Ozarks version of The Twelve Days of Christmas:  “…and a possum up a gum tree?”  Many people skip this important part of the Christmas season.  They start putting up decorations soon after Thanksgiving and they come down right after December 25th.  I feel certain that all you loyal readers have been nice and not naughty and that Santa was very generous when he visited your home a few days ago.  Our family will not be getting together until Friday, two days into the New Year, but still within the Christmas season.  When the children marry and have families of their own and are scattered, the logistics of finding a time for everyone to be together can be problematic to say the least.  As a philosopher once observed, “you just do what you have to do.”  The entire month of December has a lot of meaning for the Perryman family.  My sister was born on December 1st.  She would have been 90 this year.  My mom and dad were married on December 23rd and Dad’s birthday was on December 24th.  I remember years ago when we would ring the church bell for several minutes, drivers would toot their car horns and the flooring mill whistle would all announce the arrival of the New Year.  Nowadays I do my best to stay awake until the ball drops at Times Square, then it’s off to dreamland.  PBS had several holiday specials again this year.  I particularly enjoyed the Bing Crosby, Tennessee Ernie and Mormon Tabernacle Choir specials.  I just remembered an exceptional New Year’s Eve, probably 1950, when the Ozarks Cavaliers orchestra played for the fireman’s ball in Harrison.  These outstanding  musicians were students at the College of the Ozarks, located in Clarksville, Arkansas.  Two of my roommates, Fred (trumpet) and Don (vocals), and I (piano) were members of this group.  Great times.  Anyway, one of my favorite TV programs is “CBS Sunday Morning” which was first aired on January 28, 1979, with Charles Kuralt as program host.  The weekly show has run continuously ever since, with Charles Osgood  replacing the retiring Kuralt in April, 1994.  A regular feature, usually run on the last Sunday of the year, is called “Hail, and Farewell,” in which attention is given to celebrities or other persons of national importance who have died during the year.  This feature was part of the program this past Sunday.  Among those highlighted were the following:  Tom Magliozzi, who, with brother, Ray, made up the team known as Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, on the NPR show, “Car Talk,” on which they dispensed humor and advice about repairing cars; Movie stars Lauren Bacall, Robin Williams, Polly Bergen and James Garner; Stars from my childhood Mickey Rooney and Shirley Temple; Comedian Sid Caesar; singer/composer/political activist Pete Seeger; Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers Duo; and Paul Revere, leader of the Raiders.  All passed away this year.  Hail and Farewell.  We continue to mourn for those friends, relatives and area citizens that departed during the last twelve months.  I still greatly miss my friend and mentor, Tom* Johns, whose column appeared in this publication on alternate weeks with the Ramblings.  Also of mention is the loss of another Calico Rock Landmark.  The Hamon’s building, located in Pettersauce Alley, burned last week.  Back in the forties and Fifties, there were three grocery stores on lower Main Street, Floyd’s, Estes Brothers and Harris.  Ray and Audra Hamon erected and operated their business, selling groceries, dry goods, cattle feed and other supplies until their retirement, enduring several devastating floods, never giving up.  Both have been gone for several years but not forgotten.  Their granddaughter, Cindy, is editor of this newspaper.          

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Blessings - December 18, 2014

As published in the White River Current - Thursday December 18, 2014
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” so goes the popular song that comes over the airways this time of year.  Decorations are up on many residences  as well as the Main Street area down town and other business locations.  The Living Windows presentations by the Peppersauce Players was another smash hit this year.  Looks like (hopefully) this will continue to be an attraction for community residents and visitors for many years to come.  A big thanks to Fredericka and all the participants for a job well done.  Susan had a good article in her “Not So Long Ago” column week before last about Christmases of days gone by.  She interviewed members of several area churches in preparing her article.  I remember a Christmas party at the old church about seventy years ago.  Actually the party was at the American Legion building next door.  We played games and bobbed for apples in a number 2 wash tub.  The highlight of the evening was a debate between the high school superintendent, Mr. Rollo, and Mr. Cheney, both church members.  Their subject was “Is there really a Santa Claus?”  The fun part was how the two debaters had to work to not reveal any important details to the youngsters present which might result in upsetting their parents.  I don’t know if I described this well enough but maybe you get the idea.  The OFC had their Christmas party a few days ago.  We only have six members now since Darrell, a charter member, died last year.  During this meeting we voted that the last survivor would pop a can of Dr. Pepper and toast those who have gone to their reward.  I think that would be a very fitting tribute.  Speaking of songs, there is a new one being played this year that I have a little trouble with.  The name is something like “Just say Merry Christmas.”  Kind of a cute little ditty with a catchy tune. Lyrics suggest that if you are out shopping and you  don’t see “Merry Christmas” in the store window, you don’t “go in.”  Plus, if you happen to be in a store and you don’t hear “Merry Christmas” you “walk right out the door.”  Like I said, I have a little trouble with this.  I wonder what Jesus would do?  Again, speaking of songs, some of you long-time Rambling readers may remember that at one time I was working on a Christmas song.  I keep putting it aside (a family trait), fully intending to have it ready for the season.  Looks like it won’t happen this year; maybe by December, 2015.  Of course, as I have explained before, it can’t be just any song.  It has to be the best Christmas song ever.  I remember a song that was written by Steve Goodman back in the seventies that he represented as the most perfect country/western composition ever created.  One of his friends, David Allan Coe, challenged him on this statement, informing him that it wasn’t perfect because it didn’t contain certain words that should be in a real CW song; words like “mama,” “prison,” “pickup truck” and, of course, “trains.”  Goodman wrote another verse to the song and sent it to Coe who, after reading it, realized that his friend had written the perfect country & western song and that he felt obliged to include it in his next album.  The song, “You Never Even Call Me By My Name,” has been a two-stepper favorite at VFW dances since Coe recorded it in 1975.  You may not believe this, but I thought of this song when I was trying to decide what special words I should include in my Christmas song in order to make it perfect.  The list I have started includes “star,” “stable,” “baby” and “angels,” but I think I should add a few others in order to make the song more enduring to the listeners, whoever they may be.  I am considering some secular words and phrases such as “peanuts roasting on an open fire” or “I’m hoping for a White Christmas” but this is still a work in progress.  Like I say, maybe next year.  I have ruled out “trains” as one of the words even though a train actually does have a Christmas relation to Calico Rock residents.  Way back in the fifties, Santa (Dr. Copp) was welcomed by a huge crowd of youngsters when he arrived on the noon train on Christmas Eve, a tradition that lasted for many years.  I wish all you dedicated readers a very, Merry Christmas.  Make lots of good resolutions because the next time I see you will be New Year’s Day, 2015       

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Death and Taxes - December 4, 2014

As published in the White River Current - Thursday December 4, 2014

My deepest apologies to those faithful readers who were upset when the Ramblings did not appear as scheduled in the Current two weeks ago.  Lucille, for one, came up to me at the grocery store informing me that she had searched the paper from front to back several times looking for her favorite column, but it was missing.  I thought she had a tear in her eye and might even be having Ramblings withdrawal symptoms.  I got her settled down and explained that the Ramblings column had been bumped to make room for the six pages of  the Delinquent Personal Tax List for the year of 2013 and that the column would appear in the next issue and again one week later.  Ramblings did, in fact, run in last week’s Current and here we are on the biweekly schedule again today.  Thanks, Lucille, for the support you have given me as a loyal reader of the Ramblings column for several years.  I do not remember being bumped before so maybe it won’t happen again.  However, I understand that the publication of such a list represents a sizable amount of revenue for this publication.  I suppose this gentle reminder to those listed will result in adding enough revenue to at least cover the publication costs.  Hope so.  On to other things.  We celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with all our family at the home of our granddaughter, Sara, in Ozark, Missouri.  We had a very delightful day, especially watching the antics of our great-grandchildren who we hadn’t seen for quite some time.  We have a lot to be thankful for.  With additions from most of the others, Sara had prepared a delicious meal of traditional Thanksgiving food that was eagerly consumed by all present.  When I say “traditional” of course I mean turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, which were served, plus a few extras, including desserts.  At choir rehearsal several days ago, one couple announced that they were forgoing the usual event of having all the family over to their house and were, instead, going out to the Chinese restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner.  “Unbelievable, unpatriotic, etc.” we countered.  I’m not sure if they were joking or not but I guess it doesn’t really matter what the meal consists of as long as it is consumed with the right attitude of being thankful for what the Lord provides for any and all of us.  Did you get up early on Black Friday morning in order to take advantage of all those “bargains” that were out there?  I slept in.  Saturday we helped decorate the sanctuary at church to be ready for the first Sunday of Advent.  The lighting of the Advent candle is always a large part of our Sunday worship for the four Sundays preceding Christmas.  The choir members are also working hard on their anthems for this period.  Are you ready for a little culture?  I saw Charles skipping up the aisle at church a couple of Sundays ago.  Watching his cadence of Ta Ta-Ta-Ta Ta Ta Ta Ta Ta, which I immediately recognized as the overture to the Nutcracker, Charles confessed that he and Janis had attended a performance of the North Arkansas Dance Theatre’s 10th anniversary of this famous ballet by Russian composer, Tchaikovsky.  A front page article in the week before last Current announced this event.  Maybe you attended.  I wanted to go but didn’t make it. Charles said that he was “impressed.”  I was impressed that he was impressed.  I have been acquainted with the Nutcracker Suite since I was in high school and my piano teacher ordered me the piano music, which I still have.  I played one of my favorites, “Waltz of The Flowers” at a recital.  Another favorite is “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.”  The Nutcracker ballet was first presented in 1892 and has enjoyed enormous popularity since 1960.  It is now performed by countless ballet companies primarily during the Christmas season, especially in the United States.  If you didn’t attend the Dance Theatre performance, you can still watch the ballet from the comfort of your living room.  There are several selections to choose from on YouTube.  And if you just can’t make yourself watch the performers tippy-toeing across the screen, kick back in your lounge chair, close your eyes, turn up the volume and treat yourself to a Christmas musical treasure.  Enjoy!