Can we Change from a Consumer Based Society, and save our World?

Can we change before it’s too late? A thesis from a couple of years ago. I still haven’t changed my consumerist ways, and apparently not many others have either:

I wonder if there is anyone else out there who thinks that an entire economy built around consumerism is not such a good thing?

This Christmas has got me to thinking about it. One of my granddaughters gave to charity in her family’s name instead of buying them “stuff” My son and his wife also did the same one year. I think that this is an admirable idea. I really wonder how much “stuff” we really need. I ponder it every time I open my clothes closet and can’t find room to hang up another shirt. (Mind you…it’s a rather small closet) I also wonder why I rent a 10 x 20 building by the month to hold “stuff” I haven’t looked at in months. Is there anything there I really need? Apparently not….

When I was a child, I would watch my Grandfather work in his “shop” and use his tools. “How long have you had that hammer?” I asked. “It was my Father’s” he answered. Tools passed down from generation to generation. I sometimes checked out Grandpa’s closet. Three or four pair over overalls, three or four shirts, a couple of Sunday outfits and a couple of jackets. He owned one of those metal “shoe last” things on which he would repair shoes when they would start to wear out. Put on new leather soles, and sew the uppers. Those folks knew how to make things last.

I am sure there may have been a few storage buildings back in the days when I was young. They were probably spare buildings which had been abandoned for their original purpose, and in which a manufacturer was storing things. People had attics at their homes to store the few things they needed only sporadically. We had one, and it contained our Christmas stuff, Mom’s canning supplies, and a few other sundry things which Dad knew would be needed at some time or another. There were no acres and acres of storage buildings neatly built on just about every empty lot in every town. There were no “storage wars” guys, who would go buy out the stuff from the storage buildings when people didn’t pay their rent. There were no huge flea markets in every town for people to take their spare stuff and sell it to other people. There were not dozens of “yard sales” every weekend during the warm months where people would sell of that stuff they got for Christmas which they “really” didn’t need.

The beginning of this out of control consumerism post World War II….basically from the 70’s on forward, has blossomed into the “make it or break it” cycle for the businesses where many people are employed. Sears and Roebuck has changed from a company whose catalog used to be full of needs, to one which is chocked full of wants. The only people who seem to be benefiting from this type of economy are the super rich people who own the factories who make “the stuff” This wasn’t such a bad thing during most of the years when I was growing up because most of the “stuff” factories were in the U.S.A. Now they are not. The rich people figured out they could make more money if they started making the stuff in other countries which paid people a lot less. Yet even after that, we continued to buy.
In addition to all this stuff people were buying, there was a lot of waste being created by the making, packaging, and marketing of the stuff. No longer did milk come in reusable bottles.

Plastic became the standard packaging. Things which previously came in “biodegradable” packaging, was suddenly packaged in non-biodegradable plastic. Cloth diapers evolved into plastic “throw away” diapers. 1.8% of all garbage in landfills are disposable diapers. From the 1920’s until the mid-1970’s garbage was thrown away in largely uncontrolled “garbage dumps” Basically big holes in the ground. Anything and everything was thrown into them. Chemicals of all kinds, which now are still leeching into the ground and affecting our water and other aspects of our environment. Almost 8,000 huge garbage dumps were in the U.S. until 1976 when Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This act solved a lot of the problems in our country and reduced the number of dumps, but has created a transportation issues for garbage, as it now has to travel from state to state to huge facilities. What do other countries such as China, Russia, Japan, and India do with their garbage? Most of it goes into the ocean. Google the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” It’s scary as hell. So from consumerism comes a threat to our environment. (All those little plastic army men…….)

In 2007, a lot of factors came together to create an economic crisis. Banks and bankers were lending people money, and giving people credit who they knew couldn’t pay it back. It didn’t matter your credit “score” you could get credit if you needed it. Housing prices went sky high. Stock markets were riding a wave. The financial crisis was caused by…and I quote from Wikipedia:
the crisis was the result of “high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.”

In other words, they gave people too much unguaranteed “imaginary” money in the form of credit and then couldn’t support it because some of them got too greedy and wanted to get rich instead perpetuating the “ghost” economy. There was a lot of financial “hanky panky” going on. The Government bailed them out. None of them have gone to jail. But, how short is our memory?

In the recent budget, which was passed by Congress and signed by the President there was a reversal of an important provision of the Dodd Frank Financial Reform Act, which will allow banks to do “loan swaps” which allows larger banks to spread around the money to numerous smaller banks which are insured by the FDIC. This allows the money they are gambling with (which is the money of the depositors…such as anyone who has stocks, bonds, IRA’s, etc.) to be covered by “government insurance” so that if an investment fails it will be the government (read…our tax money) who pays the bill for the failed investment. So, we go right back to giving Wall Street the power to do what they will as they had before the financial collapse in 2007.

This huge “house of cards” financial system of rampant consumerism is starting to be built again. It looks really big and flashy on the outside, but it’s empty on the inside and really, really easy to know over.

The stock market has climbed above 18,000 since the new budget was signed into law. This encourages people to contribute more money to Wall Street, or to leave their money there. In my opinion this is a giant lure. We are like fish in the water, and they throw out the lure and pull us in with the glitz and glitter of new “toys” new “stuff” We’ve been told that oil is in “short demand” since the 70’s, but suddenly they are pumping it like there’s no tomorrow. The Saudi’s apparently have a huge stockpile, and surprisingly the United States is right behind them due to new drilling areas being opened or reopened in the past several years. This makes it easier and more alluring to fill up the old car and drive down to the local mall and buy more stuff to store in storage buildings.

I hope that during this coming year, 2015, I can change my “consumerist” ways. I need to be more aware of the way waste is killing our environment. I certainly need to clean out my clothes closet and get rid of the stuff in my storage building. Recycling plastics is extremely important. Making do with things which I need and not things which I want, is going to have to be a must. I don’t know whether I can keep this “New Year’s Resolution” but I am going to try. Maybe next year at Christmas, give money to charity except for the kids…who still deserve a little stuff.

What are We?

We live our lives surrounded by other human beings, but we only know them through our eyes, through the function of our other senses, through the emotional set up, and the hardwiring of our brain which we received through our genetic make up. Our feelings are a series of complex chemical reactions, triggered by exterior stimulus. The organism which we know as “us” is a very complicated piece of nature’s work.

And yet, there are those moments…those rare moments when I am experiencing the love I have for my little ones, and for others in my family, that I feel as though we are something more than simply an advanced species of mammalian life.

There are those thrilling moments of experiencing natural phenomena, such as the beauty of the world and the Universe around us, which have intrinsic value beyond that which ought to be experienced by beings to which they would have no other value to, other than the awe of their beauty.

Our evolutionary process has been long, and the whole of creation that I look out upon at night is so vast, that I cannot with good conscience preclude an interaction at some point with some thing…someone….some presence, which changed the basic nature of our species, and altered the direction we were headed. Was it like the scene from “2001 A Space Odyssey”? Nah…I don’t think it was that overt, but perhaps though, much more powerful. God? The creator of the Universe? Aww man….I just do not know, and neither do any of us, no matter what we say, do, or write. And the frustration is knowing that we may never know, even in death we may have no answers.

However, with all that being said, I hold out the hope…I pray each night, and hope my prayers are being heard, and not falling on deaf ears, or simply echoing out into an empty and cold outer space…I pray that there is something further along past the gateway we must all one day pass through.

The Puzzle of Life

In order for humanity to coexist in harmony we must first realize that everything changes sooner or later. Impermanence is the hallmark of the human race. Nothing we build or think is permanent. Not a skyscraper nor an idea.

As a child I used to put together jigsaw puzzles, and when I poured them out on the table, I thought to myself “this is impossible” these thousand pieces will never fit together! The shapes were so odd, so random. I started working slowly, and over a long period of time, with patience and study, I did it.

I believe every person should be required to put a thousand piece puzzle together. Every doctor, lawyer, preacher, teacher, politician ( oh yes especially them) and factory worker…should be required to fit the pieces together and complete the puzzle, before they can move on in their profession. Then, when they are through…take a picture of it and take it apart and put it back in the box. The picture to remind you that the most difficult problems, relationships, and situations can be solved if one does not give up. The box of pieces to show that things change, and nothing is forever.

Then imagine our lives as that puzzle, and take the picture out and look at it when we need encouragement.

Christmas in Blue Ridge

As I have said before, we spent a half of a school year in 1960 at my Grandparent’s house in Blue Ridge because Mom was sick. I was enrolled in school there for almost half the year, which including the Christmas vacation for that year.
My Grandparent’s residence was a desolate place back then.

It was the very last occupied house on Snake nation road at that time. A rough, ragged, rocky, muddy when it rained, and creek crossed road which took about 30 minutes to traverse from the turn off at the cemetery, to their modest gray wooded little two story house. Grandpa’s eight to ten bee hives stood like the sentinels of Stonehenge out in front of their house on top of huge flat rocks Grandpa had dragged up there on a wood sledge. I can imagine that their construction probably resembled in miniature that wonder of the English countryside, because the hill leading from the road to Grandpa’s house was extremely steep.

A lot of times when it was wet and muddy my Dad had to get a strong running start from Snake nation road before he turned into Grandpa’s driveway and then as soon as he turned left, he had to gun the gas as hard as possible to try and make the curve up the hill to the tiny parking space in front of the house. Sometimes we just didn’t make it. The tires might have been a little too worn, or the mud a little too thick. We would end up having to park down below the beehives out in the high grass and grab our suitcases and trek up the hill, trying our best not to slip and fall flat on our faces.

But, this year my Mom, my brother and I were already there, and it was for Daddy alone we waited on the day before Christmas Eve. I heard his car first and went and stood out front, next to the porch. He came around the curve which was just in eyesight across the road from “Uncle Lark’s driveway. Lark Davenport’s was my Grandpa’s Uncle…his Mother’s brother and his farm sat across Long Branch creek from Grandpa’s house.

The only way to get over there in a hurry was to walk the narrow little half log bridges that the two men had laid down across the fast running little creek in order to access each other’s house if the need arose. It rarely ever arose, but the logs were there just in case.
Daddy drove up the driveway and into Grandpa’s little parking space without any problems that day since it was dry…cold, but dry. It seemed like it was always cold in Blue Ridge that time of the year not matter what was happening elsewhere. We were in the “mountains” of Georgia…..the foothills of the Smokey Mountains which lay not too many miles away across the border into North Carolina.

I hugged my Dad, and my brother ran up to him and Daddy picked him up. Mom didn’t have much to say…things still very unsettled between them.
Grandma and I had been the ones to get the little Christmas tree a few days earlier. We had gone out into the woods and hiked around for quite a while, and found just a little old pine tree that looked nice. Grandma cut it down with the hatchet she had brought with her, and we took it back and Mike and I helped her decorate it. It was about the size of Charlie Brown’s little tree and Grandma had put it up on a table so that the lights could be seen…that one string of lights that she owned. There were maybe a dozen ornaments on it. It looked wonderful to me…as beautiful as any Christmas tree before or since. Grandma also hung our stocking from their mantle, on the far ends away from where the vent from the stove was. There were candy canes hanging around also, giving the old house a festive and fabulous look.

We always slept upstairs in the old house. Since the only source of heat in the house was a potbellied wood stove in the “living room” downstairs. During the cold Christmas weather we slept under 5 or six quilts upstairs. It was one of those situations where when you got warm, you didn’t move out of your “spot” If you moved over a foot, you would have to warm up that spot all over again. Most of the time you could see the fog from your breath, if you had your head out from under the covers. This was how we bedded down on Christmas Eve that year.

I never slept well on Christmas Eve. I always listened for Santa, but never quite heard him. Grandpa would always go “ho, ho ho” a couple of times, but I always knew it was him. He wasn’t fooling me. I heard the trunk of a car slam shut after we had been in bed an hour or so….then drifted off into a light sleep.

I heard Grandpa stoking up the potbelly stove about 5 am, and I waited the required 30 minutes or so until I knew the downstairs would be warm before I woke my brother up and we went running downstairs. All the grownups were already up and having coffee. Grandma already had biscuits in the oven, and we know that a delicious breakfast would soon be coming. Under the tree there were presents! In our stockings there was a plethora of oranges, apples, nuts, peppermint and other great hard candies. We could have our stockings but had to wait until after breakfast to tear into our presents.
We had three presents a piece from Santa, and one from Grandma and Grandpa. Four presents. In this day and age that would seem skimpy, but back then it seemed like more than enough. We place so much emphasis now on the number of gifts given, instead of the number of gifts given in love. There’s a big difference. I despise the TV commercial they have on nowadays with a woman called the “Gifter” whose only goal is to out give everyone else. That tells you where our society has gone.

This was the year I got a telescope, and Mike and I both got a “friction” stagecoach which shot sparks out the back when you revved it up. I also got a plastic “pinball machine” where you shot the balls up into the machine and see whether you get them to land in the highest number “slots”. I think I played that thing pretty much all day long that day. Grandma and Grandpa gave us some clothes of some kind, and I got a couple of new comic books. It was good…no, it was great.

Later on that day, the Uncles and Aunts, and numerous cousins came for dinner. Grandma’s little house was crowded to the gills. A lot of us ate dinner sitting out in the living room or even on the front porch. My cousins and I would find something to play or do after dinner. The food was nothing grand. I don’t remember if we had Turkey or roast beef. It really didn’t matter because Grandma could make anything taste good. I think later on that winter, we got iced and snowed in for over a week or so out there at the end of that old road. Grandpa had to shoot Robins for us to eat. They were delicious. When you’re hungry, I guess anything tastes good!

The air seemed to be filled with good will, good feelings and love that year. Later on, early in the spring we moved back home to Trion. Mom had gotten better, and our lives went back to normal…as normal as it could be in our family anyway. We continued to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house pretty much every Christmas after that. Even after my wife and I married in 1969, we continued to make an annual Christmas trek to “the mountains” Certainly, even now when Christmas rolls around, I think of those days. The camaraderie, the food, the love that we all had for one another. Those were great Christmases, as are the ones we have now with all of our children and grandchildren.

The common factor is family…and love, and remembering what Christmas is all about, not the presents, not the food or the games. It’s all about the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas everyone.

An Old Fashioned Christmas

I was thinking today about a Christmas Cantata we did quite a few years back entitled “Old Fashioned Christmas”. It was back when I was still a member in good standing at the TFBC in Trion. I can’t remember the year…maybe 1999 or so? I know someone would remember, but it’s not that important. The important thing was the people involved.

You see, I wasn’t always such a pariah. At some points in my past I was an acceptable member.

But ahh, the wonderful people.

We’d begin to rehearse musicals like these at some point in October most of the time. Wednesday nights after prayer service we’d gather and pass out the booklet of Music. This one musical always sticks in my mind. I think maybe it’s because we did it twice in the space of five or six years.

An “Old Fashioned Christmas” about a young lady disenchanted with the way a Christmas is conducted nowadays wants to go back to the good old days of the 1890’s, and the wonderful Christmases they had back then.

But, it was the people who were there at that time, in that place, who made the event special. They were all people I loved, and almost all are gone now.

Mr. Tip sang the deepest bass you ever heard and beside him was Eldred Barrett. Rev. Richardson filled out that low side. Then there was my brother Mike, me and…the first time we did it, I think Johnny Brimer was there, and by the second time my son Ted. It’s tough remembering everyone.

Mrs Yvonne Barrett, and Eldred’s two sisters. Ruth Locklear, and Ruth Collette. Marilyn, Carol, Myra, and some of us other “younger” ones. Myra was one I always had to keep in line (ha) It was always so much fun giving her a hard time because she gave me just as hard a time as I did her! All in good fun.

Norman’s wife Carolyn was on the organ, Ann McCollum as always was there to play piano….ever faithful, always willing to go over and over a part that we just couldn’t quite get. I winged it most of the time anyway, alternating between the tenor part, and harmonizing with the sopranos in some weird harmonies that sounded good, but definitely weren’t in the music. I couldn’t read a note, but you’d have never have known.

Jim Sprayberry ran the sound system. Ted helped him for a lot of years.

There were others I can’t remember right now. Wonderful people with good hearts. That’s what made it fun. It made it seasonal. It made it Christmas for me. The big night of the performance (or day sometimes) we would all sing our hearts out, and “leave it on the stage”

I loved that musical. I wish we’d had film back then as convenient as now to record those musicals. I miss them.

I miss Mom and Dad out in the audience, along with many others from their generation who would come by afterwards and pat you on the shoulder and say “nice job”. Few are left and they are passing on so quickly.

For many, many years that was the highlight of the Christmas season. From about 1975 until 2009.

The people. It’s always the people. Your family. Your friends. The times that you have that you think will go on and on. But they don’t and that’s just the rub, isn’t it.

In any case, all of you folks out there who are singing in a Christmas musical, or caroling, or just humming a song to yourself, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

And to think, I just thought 2019 was bad……

I think all of this trouble started when everyone wanted a TV in their homes. Then one in every room. The rich weren’t satisfied with Huntley and Brinkley, or Cronkite. Too honest and only on thirty minutes a night. So, they invented 24 hour news. It was great! A wonderful place to spread propaganda and lies disguised as truth. And so in those days, the media outlets prospered. The rich found more and more ways to influence people to do their bidding. “Buy more stuff” “ everyone needs new cars” “those aren’t the droids you’re after”.

CNN came along. Then Fox. Lotsa people watched. The rich sunk more and more money into convincing people that stuff was the most important thing. Professional sports was the common man’s balm. Work six days for the man, and watch the NFL on Sunday. Watch “news” 24 hours a day. Believe what they tell you. Work, work, work, and pay your taxes. Watch pro wrestling. NASCAR.

But we can’t spend as much as we want to on politics and buying politicians, said the rich. 2010 comes along, and SCOTUS gives then Citizens United. Bingo!! Unlimited dark money. Koch’s, and Adelmans, and Rupert, and Soros throwing money everywhere! Computers are everywhere now. Social media taking over. Facebook! Twitter! Influence galore. Take the generation just dumbed up on 24-7 news, and put them on hyper drive. “ Now all we need is somebody that can capture the headlines day after day after day with outlandish, lying, and over the top megalomaniac personality”.

Comes 2016….ALL the media is in love. The haters and the lovers have a focus from now on to make money, money, money……and the people….who cares about the people. They’re there just to work, work, work and listen to us, or give us likes or loves or emojis. We’re all good now!!!

No, I’m not drunk or crazy,…just tired, so…very…tired of it.

And I need sleep after that!,

The Baby Boomers

The Baby Boomers

I think that my generation, our so called “baby boomer” generation has been awarded the privilege and had the luck to grow up during the last, best America which will ever exist.

I don’t say this as a matter of contention with other generations either before or after the boomer generation, but it’s just my considered opinion.

We were the first television generation. Except instead of CSA and Bones, we had Ed Sullivan and Bonanza. We played outside in the sun and rain. We ran and ran, playing hide and seek, freedom, pick up baseball with paper tape balls and broomsticks, tackle football with no pads, and any other active game we could conjure up, including a lot of “cowboy and Indians” (please pardon me my native American friends)

Our Moms and Dads wore us out for lying, bad homework, cussing and back talking. Most of us don’t resent it, or feel like we were abused. There was rarely a parent who didn’t know when to stop. Some abuse existed, but I don’t believe it was as bad as today’s society. We had a lot more newspapers and a lot fewer news channels. A lot more reporters, and a whole lot fewer pundits.

Elvis was alive and singing, and you got his music on something you could hold, and not something you “download” Rock and roll was born, and songs had lyrics you could understand and melodies that stuck in your head. Think about “Unchained Melody” right now and then see how long it takes you to get it out of your head. There’s a reason they still use those songs in movies.

You could go off for a day and not lock your doors. You helped your neighbor with his garden and he helped you with yours, and people shared the excess with others. You could pull your car up on the curb and do most of the work on it yourself, but if you needed a mechanic you got somebody with a pouch of tools and not a computer.

People were not afraid of sweating during the Summer, or wearing a few more clothes to keep warm during the Winter. The clothes we had also had to last us an entire school year. There were no “designer” clothes unless you considered “Levi-Strauss” to be one.

Our parents didn’t like us to waste food because “children in India” were starving. They would have been welcome to a lot of the stuff that Mom tried to make me eat, mainly the foods that fell into the “green” food group.

Most of all, we were all primarily happy. We weren’t afraid to walk to the movies or to school by ourselves. We were embarrassed to think about even kissing or holding hands with a member of the opposite sex. We knew all the cops and postmen by their first name. We weren’t afraid to roll in the dirt and get filthy, dirty and sweaty.

We dreamed of doing big things, and some of those things got done. Some of the impetus to do them got lost in the late 60’s and never got reclaimed. Its still not too late through. There is still time left for we fifties babies to do a lot of good if we will just remember that it was our purpose in life to make the world a better place for children, dogs and all other living things. Peace.

Walking with Memories

I’ve walked over 5000 miles, probably closer to 6000, according to this “Fitbit “ I wear since I started this daily ritual over three and a half years ago. I don’t know if it’ll extend my years any though.

I can’t remember back far enough in my childhood to remember when my Grandpa Jervis was any active man of any sorts. I remember having to live with my Grandparents for half a year when I was 10 years old, and Grandpa mostly just sat around in his chair and listened to his radio, and sang songs out of his songbooks, and smoked his pipe. Occasionally during that long snowy winter, he would drag himself, bad knees and all, out of his chair and go down to the woodshed and haul a wheelbarrow of wood or two up in front of the porch and toss it piece by piece over the porch rail onto the porch right next to the door. Bad knees, but nothing wrong with those strong arms.

That was 1960, and Grandpa was born in 1893, so…that woulda made him…67. Just like I am today.

I don’t smoke a pipe, and the radio is long gone. I love music, but don’t have any song books except Grandpa’s old ones that I salvaged. I don’t sit around all day anymore though. I hope I never have to.

Seven years ago on this day, I didn’t know it fully quite yet, but I was entering into the hardest two weeks, and then the hardest year of my life. Four bypasses are a tough haul. It’s certainly something my Grandpa never had to go through, and he lived to be 98, albeit the last several years, he was not “himself”. I don’t expect my body will carry me that far, but I’m certainly going to keep on walking, and hope I can get there.

I’ve still got a lot I want to do, grandchildren to watch grow, and junk I’ve collected that will take at least 20 years to get rid of. I have love I want to give, and stars in the sky which I haven’t yet seen.

I want to better understand this Universe in which we live, so that perhaps when I leave this little speck on which I live, I can enter into whatever comes afterwards in joy and not sadness.

Musical Rambling-from 2013


My son has the 1948 model Philco combination radio/record player sitting in his house now. It’s the the one I spent countless hours sitting in front of during the first 8 years of my life.
There were radio shows on a lot. I first remember hearing people like Sid Caesar, and Red Skeleton on the radio. I remember listening to the Lone Ranger. Then there were the local radio shows. There was lots of preaching. Here locally we had “AA Tanner” and some others who I remember preaching on the radio a lot. I was a Baptist before I ever went to the first grade and just didn’t know it. A lot of my views have altered since those early years, but I still remember the musical cadence of many of those preachers…waxing and waning, I could see them swaying out and back in my mind and jumping up into the air when the spirit moved them.
We had maybe only half a dozen 33 rpm records. A lot of Perry Como, Martin and Lewis, Doris Day, and Bing Crosby. We had classical. We had some country…actually we had Hank Williams. There was a spot on the floor in front of the radio where my Mom put a throw rug. One of those round, braided really colorful ones. This was my spot. I wasn’t a very hard child to take care of. I could just be planted in front of the radio and left there. I knew how to change the records before I was potty trained really well. I imagine that caused a few “crisis moments” but really don’t remember. I had the radio, my comic books, and a little later on an old cracked baseball that the High School coach had given me, and a couple of worn out baseballs. I would get my exercise by going outside on nice afternoons and throwing those balls up into the air and them whacking them off into the distance before they hit the ground. I got really good at it.
I learned all of the songs on all of those records by heart. I thought I was a real hot shot singer. My Dad bought an Elvis 45 sometime in the mid 50’s. It was “Hound dog” and “Don’t be Cruel” I personally liked Don’t be Cruel the best. I learned those two by heart and on the night Elvis was on Ed Sullivan in 1957 he sang “Don’t be Cruel” We hadn’t had a TV very long, and when I saw “my song” being sung I jumped up and started doing my best Elvis right there in the little back closed in porch which Daddy had converted into a “den” I thought I was something…but then my Mom laughed at me….
I’m not sure if it was because she thought I was funny, or if I was doing a good job. But it embarrassed me. I’m not really sure why. Being the boy I was though…I never sang again in front of anyone for a long, long time. I would make sure nobody was around, maybe like when I was outside hitting the baseball. Maybe in the bathroom in the evenings while the water was running. Perhaps really low under the covers at night. I didn’t want to be laughed at again. I never talked to Mom or Dad about it, and they never thought anything about it, I guess. They just thought I had turned to baseball and sports.
I got talked into joining the “glee club” in the 8th grade. I think it was because I liked one of the little girls who was singing…I’m not certain. I still liked to sing, and I thought for sure that being surrounded by 15 or so other people singing would keep me from being heard. The guy who was over the glee club was Mr. John Carruth, who was also the Band director at the time. We were preparing music for Christmas, and I noticed Mr. Carruth kept leaning over and listening in my direction. He stopped the rehearsal and said “hey Bowers…sing the next verse by yourself” and I did…and so ended up doing my first solo ever of “White Christmas” at our school musical program that year.
Mr. Carruth had me sing a couple more times before he left Trion to move on to better things. I have to really thank him for giving me the boost of confidence I needed to realize that people would not laugh at me for singing by myself.
I ended up singing quite a bit in High School. We had quite a musical group of students at that time. It was the 60’s and folk bands, rock bands, and hippies were coming of age. I remember Mack Myers, and Agnew Myers, Susan Cavin and a couple more folks had a little “folk” band. They sang some Peter, Paul and Mary on stage at school. I really enjoyed it. We had a really good piano player…Ronald Whitley I believe it was. He was really great. My old buddy Dale Rosser was a good singer, and beat me out one year for soloist at Literary meet, although me and Agnew, and Johnny Brimer, and I think Randy Orr were the “barbershop” quartet and did a pretty fair job. Agnew’s Mom Ms. Sarah Myers was our “coach”…or mentor I guess you’d say. A really wonderful woman.
We had Larry Maddux and company playing country and rock and roll…I remember singing “Your Cheating Heart” with them one time at some program we were having…and from then on that dang Johnny Suits would call me “Hank” every time he saw me. Still did it when I went to work with him in 1988 at Crown Crafts. . Binky Dawson and Wayne Greene were great musicians. Several went on to become Band directors like Bill Locklear.
Yes, we had great bands, great musicians, and great individualists back then. I can’t name them all because there are so many, many more. I’m not sure if it was the times, or if there was something in the Trion water. I know that several of the above named beautiful people are gone now. I don’t know all the stories…I’m just kind of on the “edge” of things when it comes to keeping up with people. It’s a shame we have lost them, because when a musical person dies, some of the music of the world dies with them, and in this day and age, unlike the day and age we grew up in, that’s something we just can’t afford much more of…..
…..and by the way Mom…I know I took that laugh the wrong way….

Christmas Years Ago

I was talking to a friend today about Christmas,and life in general. We were both amazed at the differences. He remembers when he lived at home and there was no running water, and his folks owned two cows because he loved to drink milk so much. His Dad was a WWII vet, who spent the first 7 years back from the War mainly at the VA hospital and was never in good shape after he got out. They never had much, but his Dad steadfastly refused to take “charity” even in the form of Christmas gifts for his children. He remembered one year that a man offered some Christmas presents but his Dad refused. His Mom drove them to the man’s house and they put the presents in the trunk. After they already had them, and had them opened on Christmas morning, his Dad’s anger quelled somewhat at the site of them playing with the toys.

It was that way with a lot of our Dads from that generation.

I was a happy boy every Christmas at my Grandparents, where we usually spent Christmas, to receive my one “big” present and one little present. I also got a few more comic books to add to my burgeoning collection. Most of the time we got a few more things than that, especially after I hit my teen years and Dad’s job and pay got better. But, the joy of the younger years lingered and perhaps even outshone the later years. Having to decide what you really wanted the most…it was a story similar to Ralphie’s obsession with the “Red Ryder” BB gun.

The other thing which was exciting and which we looked forward to, was the big “brown paper bag” of goodies from the local church. There were apples, oranges, nuts, and candy. More candy than I would see at any other time of the year with the exception of Halloween. The Halloween candy was long gone, and my favorite candy of all time, the “orange slice” was in that brown bag. I was able to trade with some of the other kids at the church, and ended up with as many orange slice candy as possible. Grandpa would buy those soft peppermint sticks by the box too, and they disappeared quickly if he didn’t hide them.

….and so my friend and I talked about old times. Once a season pig killings, hunting hen eggs, eating squirrel and rabbits and churning butter. Catching fish, and going to the “little shack out back” with the Sears and Roebuck catalog sitting there waiting on us. Things most folks wouldn’t know how to do, or want to do nowadays even if they had too.

Well, I gotta go now and get on Amazon and see if they can ship that last Christmas present I need for someone special and get it here for Christmas.