The Yellow Rose and The Gray Ghost
by Tommy Towery
Class of '64
There were an abundance of songs featuring the word “yellow” in their title in my early years. I have often written about “Itsy Bitsy, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” in the past and some stories related to it and a former cheerleader classmate. Even though that is a cherished memory, that does not qualify it as my favorite yellow song.
The one song that I would have to say was the favorite “yellow” song of my childhood was one associated with a TV series that I loved to watch back then. I have great doubts about whether or not such a show would ever make it to the airways today, because of the political correctness of today’s society. The show was about a band of Confederate guerilla fighters of the War for Southern Independence (aka the Civil War) led by a man named John Mosby.
Each week the show would start out with the credits rolling to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” I was never sure why that song was selected as the theme song of the TV show, but it was. Many references site it as a favorite Confederate song. The series’ hero, Major John Singleton Mosby, like “The Swamp Fox” (another TV guerilla warfare hero only of the Revolutionary War and not the Civil War), wore a feather plum in his hat and each week his band of marauders would wreak havoc upon the Union Army as we Southern viewers would cheer him on. I am not sure how his exploits were received by the rest of the country, but to the “Save your Confederate money boys, the South's gonna' rise again” populace he became a cult hero. I guess I never thought much about what our friends and classmates, newly arrived from Germany, thought about the American Civil War or how we sometimes still argued over it. When I saw Fess Parker play a Yankee guerilla in Disney's “The Great Locomotive Chase” in 1956, that was probably the closest I would get to understanding their feelings, and it always seemed strange watching that movie and pulling for a Yankee. It was like pulling for a rival team in a football game. One memorable moment in “The Great Locomotive Chase” was when Union General Mitchell talked about moving troops to Huntsville. I don’t think I had ever heard our great city mentioned in a movie before.
Anxiously I would plop myself down in the floor in front of the TV set (I never seemed to sit in chairs and watch TV in my youth) and watch 30 minutes of action as Tod Andrews donned his gray uniform and mounted his trusty steed. “The Gray Ghost” was cancelled after one season of thirty-nine half-hour episodes. High production costs may have made the program too expensive to continue. Even though I watched it each week, I don’t remember the storyline of even one episode; however, the opening voiceover of the credits always stayed with me … “Both North and South they knew our fame. The Gray Ghost is what they called me; John Mosby is my name.” And in the background of that voiceover “The Yellow Rose of Texas” set the tone of the evening.
Later, in another TV show that was a pioneer of karaoke, I remember hearing “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and even today when I hear it, I still think back to my Gray Ghost heroes. The second show which stands so prominent to me was “Sing Along With Mitch” and I vividly remember him leading his chorus in their rendition of the song. His version went to #1 on September 3, 1955 on the Billboard Top 100 and stayed on top for six weeks.
I guess I was too young then to allow a yellow polka-dot bikini take precedence over a swash-buckling Rebel guerilla. Later in life that would change.
Memphis, TN - Text
Class of ‘64
50 Year Reunion
by Linda Taylor
Class of '64
I have had lots of questions asking if we are going to have a Special 50th Reunion for our class. Unfortunately, it falls before the scheduled 2015 event for all three classes, '64, '65 and '66.
The ’64 Reunion Committee have said they are all in agreement to do this: JR Brooks, Alice G Preston, Linda Lee Norris, Linda Taylor, Mike Smith, and Jerry Brewer. I have heard from everyone except Jerry, and we all agree we want to do this! I would like to have your input on this because it will take some planning, money and time on both sides.
Anyone in the '64 Class that did not get the email Announcement/Survey about the 50th Special Reunion in 2014, please contact Linda Taylor at email@example.com, 256-469-7567 to leave a message (leave updated email address) or 256-509-7723 to contact. Thank You.
Your Favorite Songs Prior
To High School Graduation
Featuring Yellow in the Title
Mary (Ardrey) Aukerman, LHS '66 -The first song that came to mind was "Yellow Submarine" by the Beatles, featuring Ringo Starr on vocals, from the Revolver album. My 5 year old grandson loves the song so his mom decorated his bathroom in that motif. You'd be surprised how many classic Yellow Submarine looking things you can buy on the internet.
My second choice is, of course, "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" by Brian Hyland (although I really liked him better on "Sealed with a Kiss").
(Editor's Note: This song is right on the edge of meeting the criteria of being a song you liked before you graduated from high school for the Class of '66, but it is still a fun song and we're not going to be picky. According to Wikipedia ""Yellow Submarine" is a 1966 song by the Beatles, written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney), with lead vocals by Ringo Starr. "Yellow Submarine" was finished after five takes on 26 May 1966, in Studio Two at Abbey Road Studios, with special effects being added on 1 June 1966 and was mixed on 2 and 3 June, and finished on 22 June 1966.It was included on the Revolver album and issued as a single, coupled with "Eleanor Rigby". The single went to number 1 on every major British chart, remained at number 1 for four weeks and charted for 13 weeks.)
Jeff Fussell, LHS '66 - We’re all too old to list “Yellow Submarine” (1968) and “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” (1971), but that won’t stop me. Just under the wire, my favorite pre-graduation song featuring Yellow was Donovan’s 1966 hit, “Mellow Yellow”. Donovan was often dismissed as a Bob Dylan wannabe, but I never saw it that way. He had a lyrical style that was all his own and totally unlike Dylan. Honorable mention to Elvis Presley singing “The Yellow Rose of Texas” in the 1964 movie “Viva Las Vegas”.
Craig Bannecke, LHS '65 - Can't say that any song with "yellow" in it came to mind from my high school days but when I got to looking around "Yellow Bird" sounded familiar. With Folk Music being popular during our high school days the Brothers Four sounded very familiar. People say Harry Belafonte first recorded and popularized this old Haitian song. Yellow Bird, charted three time in 1959 for the Mills Brothers, Arthur Lyman, 1961 and Lawrence Welk in 1961. Chet Atkins, has an instrumental version that I would have to say is probably the best of all the versions I listened to.
Pat Fanning LHS '65 - Yellow Submarine?, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, Yellow Rose of Texas, Itsy Bitsy Bikini, 18 Yellow Roses. My favorite is "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" I love yellow roses tho'... they represent friendship which to me is golden. God bless you and all of our alumni.... Keep a Song in Your Heart,
(Editor's Note: "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" reached number one on both the US and UK charts for four weeks in April 1973 - well outside our music criteria of prior to high school graduation. I have included the video of "18 Yellow Roses" instead because it fell into the correct time period and because I like it too.")
What Was Your Favorite Song Prior
To High School Graduation
Featuring Brown in the Title
Remember, it does not have to be a song that came out while you were in high school but only one that was a favorite before you graduated from high school. This is basically any song that you liked before you graduated. (or left school).
Click Below to Email me with your picks
From Our Mailbox
Subject: It's a Male Thing
Barbara Wilkerson Donnelly
Subject: Hallway of Memories
Even tho' I view the IN MEMORY section almost every time I log on to the Lee site, my heart aches afresh for friends gone forever. Jackie Haley had the most beautiful voice - and I wonder what caused her death. She was so bright, beautiful and the epitome of sparkle. Going back further, Max and Mike Garrison should have been called the Marx brothers - funny guys. All who've gone before will always be young in our hearts. I love the music you chose to use for this section, "in my dreams I'll see you soar ...." wouldn't it be awesome to just go back to Lee 1965 for one day only just to tell everyone how special they are -- to me and many others... and to just wallow in the enthusiasm that filled the hallways regardless of circumstances?
Thank you again for keeping "the hallway of memories" alive.
Subject: Lee's Traveller
Carolyn Burgess Featheringill
Tommy, We should all be delighted that there is a Lee's Traveller that arrives in our inboxes every Saturday or Sunday without fail and full of fun! Formats come and go, but the Fami-Lee is forever! Thanks to you and to Sue as well for keeping us connected!
The Video of the 2000 Reunion
of the Lee High School
Classes of '64-'65-'66
This week we continue featuring segments of the video tape made at the 2000 reunion and supplied by Niles Prestage, Class of '65. It will be broken down into approximately five minute segments and continued each week as permitted. We hope you enjoy these visits back and the chance to see some old classmates who are no longer with us.
For other items
Email Me at
The Comments Section below is not available for viewers.
Google only allows the editor to leave comments, so please use the email link above to send me any comments you have.