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140623 June 23, 2014


William L. Spry
LHS '66
 July 23, 1948 – June 14, 2014

        William L. Spry, age 65, of Toney passed away on Saturday, June 14, 2014. Mr. Spry is a veteran of the United States Air Force, where he served in Vietnam as a weapons specialist on the F105 Thunderbolt. After his time in the military, he attended The University of North Alabama, and then worked for his family business, Spry Funeral Homes for over 40 years. He is survived by his Wife Debbie Soland Spry, son Samuel Soland Spry, father Samuel L. Spry, sister Susan Spry Padot, mother in-law Betty Soland, sister in law Kay Soland, and numerous nieces and nephews.

The Four Seasons

Jersey Boys
by Tommy Towery
LHS '64

        How many of you remember seeing the Four Seasons when they were on American Bandstand? I know for sure I watched them perform on that show every chance I got because I loved their music. Sherry was a number one song in 1962. I don't care how old I get, I will always associate this song with Sherry Adcock when I hear it, primarily because she was the only Sherry I knew at the time. Sherry and I saw Sherry almost every week at Carter's Skateland during that period, but we never dated.

        Though we have yet to see the play, Sue and I went to the movies last Friday to see Jersey Boys and found it very entertaining. Although the dialog is not for sensitive ears, the music was great and the storyline very enlightening. After seeing it I came home and did some searching on the internet to see how much of it was true and what seemed to be altered for the movie and found a lot of truth in the film version.

        I have to mention my first date with Sue back in 1995 was to a Mud Island concert to see a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons concert.

        If you want to enjoy a good trip back to the days when we really enjoyed the music that was playing on the radio, I highly recommend this movie.

        Memphis, TN - First day of Summer last Saturday and my 68th birthday. I think that is starting to sound old, but I am still healthy and still enjoying life, so I won't worry about it. I'm trying to break in a new computer again this week and it seems to be going a lot better.

The Rifleman

TV Westerns of the 50s and 60s
 "The Rifleman"
John Drummond
LHS '65

        Per special request of Rainer Klauss, LHS '64 (who is now recovering from total knee replacement surgery he had on June 17), we review "The Rifleman," starring Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, a widowed rancher and single parent of son Mark, played by Johnny Crawford.  The series was set in the 1880s in the fictional town of North Fork,  New Mexico Territory.  It  aired on ABC for five years as a half-hour B&W TV western, producing 168 episodes from September 30, 1958 through April 8, 1963.



        "The Rifleman" was one of the first Prime Time TV series to show a widowed parent raising a child.  The character of Mark grew from 10 to 15 years old during the life of the show. There is no doubt  many of us LHS guys at the time identified with his character, as we were the same age.   Lucas McCain was a peaceable, law-abiding veteran of the Civil War (a Union Army officer, but we of  Huntsville will not hold a grudge).   A major supporting character was Marshal Micah Torrance, played by the actor Paul Fix.  The series was developed, and many episodes written and/or directed, by Sam Peckinpah, later famous for "The Wild Bunch" film.  Not surprisingly, there were frequent clashes between Sam and the network over violence depicted on the small screen during the Eisenhower/Walt Disney years.


        TV Westerns had become quite popular when "The Rifleman"  first appeared in 1958.  Producers had to try hard to find a gimmick that would distinguish one from another.  To solve this problem, the peace-loving rancher Lucas McCain's weapon of choice was a modified Winchester Model 1892 rifle, with a large round/ring lever designed to cock the rifle by spinning it around in his hand.


        Here is a brief bio of Chuck Connors:  He was born April 10, 1921 and died November 10, 1992.  He was one of only 12 athletes in the history of American professional sports to have played in both Major League baseball and the NBA (not even Michael Jordan can say that, having never made it out of the baseball  Minors).  During WW II, he was a tank instructor in the Army at Fort Knox, KY, and later West Point.  In 1946, he was drafted by the Boston Celtics.  A major advantage to his value as a professional athlete was his height at 6' 5".    On November 5, 1946, he became the first-ever professional basketball player to break a backboard, shattering the glass at Boston Arena.  In 1949, he  was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, but only played one game for them; traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1951.  A three-pack/day Camel smoker, he died of pneumonia due to lung cancer.


Episodes of "The Rifleman" are currently aired on AMC Saturday mornings, beginning at 6:00 AM.


TV Trivia  Questions:


1)   What position did Chuck Connors play in baseball?


2)    In the TV series, son Mark's mother died of what disease when he was 6 years old?  (Hint:  it was considered an epidemic at the time).

3)    In a breakthrough episode (for the times), titled "2 ounces of Tin," a leading character was            played by an African-American actor, who actually wore a cowboy hat and carried a six- shooter on his gunbelt.  Who was this brazen, gutsy actor?  (Hint: he made his primary living as a song-and-dance man.)

Last Week's Trivia Answers

1)  Gene Autry's horse was named Champion, a sorrel with a blond mane, given the title "World's Wonder Horse."

2)  In his first film, 1934's "In Old Santa Fe," Genes' first sidekick was Cactus, played by George "Gabby" Hayes.  Leonard Slye was then still a supporting actor, to be renamed Roy Rogers by Republic Studios in 1938.  Subsequent sidekicks included Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnett), Shadrack Jones (Pat Buttram) and Jingles (Andy Devine).

3)  In addition to his trademark roundish white Stetson, Gene often wore a white scarf, knotted at the left side of his neck.  John Wayne, on the other hand, favored an unknotted red bandanna hanging down the front of his neck.   In The Duke's world, only sissies wore scarves.

4)  A lifelong passionate baseball fan,  Gene Autry purchased the California Angels of the American League in 1961.  He later served as Vice-President of the American League until his death at 91 years old.