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170501 May 1, 2017


Beer for my Horses

The Conversion
Barbara Wilkerson Donnelly
LHS ‘64

    Well, it has finally happened. I wrote this article for The Traveller and have no idea what prompted it! It was within the last year, because I mention my age. The gist of it is my conversion to lovers – no, that’s too strong – let’s say “extreme admirers” – of country music. I suspect that most of my favorites are “new country.” The article started out talking about the “William Tell Overture.”

    “. . .  have to say, though, that I will be playing the "William Tell Overture" for quite awhile. It is one of those pieces that just makes you feel good to hear it, and of super powers should you be lucky enough to be able to play it.

William Tell Overture

    I assume that the “Overture” kicked my music brain cell and started the reminiscing.

    Glenn Campbell's style of music was not mine back in the day, until -- imagine this -- one day I caught myself singing along with him. "I'll be darned," was my first thought because this was probably the biggest step Ed Donnelly made toward getting me to like country music. I used to think, as a die-hard rocker, "What's wrong with that boy?" Now I find myself singing Toby Keith's "High Maintenance Woman," (cause whats-his-face says I am one), "Whiskey for My Men and Beer for My Horses," anything "Nashville," and "Crazy Heart," which, at the age of 69, I own. For some strange reason I also like Hank Williams -- the daddy. I will never forget being so embarrassed (which has happened maybe three times in my life) by, you guessed it -- the man who lives with me.  He was upstairs replacing a window in Christopher's room, when Devon came to me and said, "Mom, I think Dad needs to turn the music down. The neighbors are slowing down and pointing and laughing." Of course, I immediately went upstairs only to see Ed standing on the roof in front of the dormer belting out HW, Jr's "Buck Naked." There were three carloads of neighbors sitting out front and they really seemed to enjoy it when I appeared. I heard, "She's gonna GET him." I was very nice about it, but the volume did come down and new songs were selected.

    I don’t know exactly what caused the aversion to country music because I certainly was exposed to it enough. Daddy loved all the country singers, and I particularly remember him liking Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb and Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. Some of you may remember that the old Armory close to downtown often hosted country music nights. I remember going to those and seeing some very popular singers, but for the life of me, I cannot remember one except for Little Jimmy Dickens!

    The one strongest contributing factor to my dislike of country music was “The Country Boy Eddie Show” out of Birmingham. Every morning, and I do mean EVERY morning during the week at 6:00 AM if memory serves, this show came on TV. And EVERY morning that he was on, so was our TV! I have one memory that may be false, and I would love for someone to either confirm it or tell me I’ve lost it. I remember a girl named Wynette Byrd who turned out later to be quite a singer named Tammy Wynette. She looked exactly the same except none of the frou-frou was present then. Whoever that Eddie-guy was, every time he opened his mouth it was like someone running fingernails down a blackboard! I can hear his voice even now.
    Now, during my conversion, I decided to surprise Mr. Donnelly by purchasing tickets to a Lee Greenwood concert for our anniversary. Let me tell you, that was good for MANY Brownie points, not to mention the fact that I discovered I liked the singer. We had excellent seats (location-wise) until we looked up to see our seatmates. I don't know a nice way to say this, and I would not insult someone over body perception for the world. The problem was that both the lady and the man came in carrying GIANT bags of everything edible -- popcorn, candy, cokes. Now, normally I would say this was none of my business. However, the chairs were not large enough, so every time we gave Lee a Standing O, when we sat down, my right leg became her cushion. And she would NOT let me get it out from under her. The only respite I had was the Standing O, at which I probably cheered longer than anyone while Mr. D. laughed the longest. I kid you not here. I am NOT exaggerating. When they returned after intermission with another large load of goodies, I looked at Ed with silent appeal. My sweet husband immediately walked down front and found two great seats which were never reclaimed. Lee Greenwood is probably the reason I even started paying attention to country music. No one could hear him sing, “God Bless the U.S.A.” without getting chills, and I wanted to hear anything he sang.
    Down the road. Another anniversary. I decided on Charlie Daniels because I LOVED "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." The concert, of course, was phenomenal. I enjoyed the entire thing – every song – and was pleasantly surprised. A few years later when we were in Vegas, we were on our way to our seats and got into the elevator which was occupied by only one gentleman. When I looked at him, he tipped his hat and said, "Little lady." Yes, it WAS Charlie Daniels and a couple of sentences of small talk followed, but I could not tell you what they were. I just kept thinking "Charlie Daniels spoke to me. Charlie Daniels spoke to ME!” 

    Couple of years later. Reba McIntyre is going to appear. Ed gets fantastic tickets (I think he has a gigantic crush on her!), and we are both looking forward to seeing Miss Reba. Of course, the best laid plans. I am not certain of the exact reason, but I KNOW work messed it up. This could be when we had to drive down to Myrtle Beach and represent the company by meeting Vice-President Dick Cheney. When we found out we couldn't go, we gave our tickets to my friend and her husband. Upon our return, Corinne told me that Reba came up out of the floor on a circle pedestal, and she was so close that Corinne could have touched her. I felt bad for Ed. Reba is a great country singer. Reba is just a great singer. Period. And there we were being frisked by men in black while standing TOO close to two German shepherds the size of Shetland ponies. (I don’t think they actually frisked us – we walked through a detector.)

    I suppose I found myself a country fan sort of by accident and finally admitted it when Ed asked if I wanted to go see Faith Hill in Vegas. I was almost as excited when Tim McGraw, her husband, walked out onto the stage and the two of them put on a show not to be believed. If you ever get the chance, go see her.

    Ah, yes, I can no longer deny a propensity for country music. In fact, at Lee we just grew our own country singer -- our own star, Jim McBride, who married one of my best friends, Jeanne Ivey. Bet ya I could even say more than one sentence to Jim if he tipped his hat. Uh-huh. Oh, Mr. Jim, Jack says "Hi," and he hopes to see you sing one day. I know we’ve more great things to hear from you. In the meantime, I think I’ll play a little “Whiskey for My Men and Beer for My Horses.”   

        Memphis, TN - Did you know this about Glen Campbell?  From December 1964 to early March 1965, Campbell was a touring member of The Beach Boys, filling in for Brian Wilson. He also played guitar on the band's Pet Sounds (1966) album, among other recordings. On tour, he played bass guitar and sang falsetto harmonies. In April 1966, he joined Ricky Nelson on a tour through the Far East, again playing bass. In 1965, he had his biggest solo hit yet, reaching number 45 on the Hot 100 with a version of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier". Asked about the pacifist message of the song, he elected to assert that "people who are advocating burning draft cards should be hung."

     I got some pictures and info on the latest Lee Lunch Bunch get together but already had this week's edition ready to go so I must wait until next week to share them.


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Teachers
Rainer Klauss
LHS '64

    Miss Penny Moore, redhead, was indeed from Sylacauga (which was, for a time, part of the route we took to get to Auburn—before another, faster route was found). And she was, indeed,  a classmate of Jim Nabors. I went back to Lee right after I got my BA in English and wanted to express my appreciation for her excellent tutelage at Lee and let her know that one of her students followed, sort of, her educational footsteps. She had taken me aside one day early in senior English and told me to straighten up and fly right. I had been doing a class clown routine and not taking English seriously. Thereafter I cooled it and applied myself. 

    I was lucky to encounter her that May day in 1968; the school year was at or near its end when I saw her that afternoon. However, it was not a happy reunion. She could barely talk and seemed to be quite fatigued. I never knew for sure, but something had taken a lot out of her in the intervening years. She was a bit high-strung, as I remember, and teaching (or something else) had taken a toll on her. I don’t even know if she remembered me. It was a very awkward situation, and I only stayed a few minutes. I asked Miss Faulkner about her a couple of years ago at one of the Lee Lunch Bunch gatherings, but she chose not to throw any light on that part of the past.

    Mr. Fox was an inspiring teacher. As I’ve written in a “Traveller” piece, he inspired me to try to become a chemical engineer. I had guessed that he left the teaching profession for a better-paying job, but never knew that he had stayed in Huntsville. And I also didn’t know that he was from Auburn. Do you know if he played basketball at ‘Bama?

Subject:    LHS Teachers
Craig Bannacke
LHS '65

    I can't say if Mr Fox played basketball at Alabama, but I'm sure if he had it would have come up.  

    Speaking of giving English teachers who we can credit for our writing ability, Miss Faulkner was my influence........ and also benefactor.  For all intent and purposes I had done so poorly in my first Semester of English that I failed it.  I had to make a B or better the second semester in order to pull up the first Semester .  Well John you know me...... the only B I had in high school was the one my last name started with.  But I really put forth the effort and she noted that.   Pretty sure she pushed me across so I could graduate.  Also as I recall the second semester was primarily literature and composition. Literature and writing were my strong points if I had any at all in English. 
    Many years later at one of our Reunions,  I think the first one she attended, I went over and reminder her of what she had done for me and thanked her.  It really seemed to mean a lot to her. I then went on to tell her I had graduated college .... think that was when I lost her.  Probably should have quit while I was ahead. 

    But we were truly blessed with all the great teachers we had at Lee.   

Subject:    Zip Codes
John Drummond
LHS '65   

    While reading Niles' articles about 45s, I noticed that none of the address labels contained a Zip Code, so I began to wonder about when this numerical postal code was introduced.  I clearly remember that our home's Zip Code, and virtually everyone else I knew in Huntsville while at LHS and also during college years, was 35801.  Google informs us that the Zip Code, an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan, was introduced by the United States Postal Service (USPS) in 1963, as a way to more efficiently and quickly deliver mail to the proper address.  During the 1980s, a hyphen followed by a 4-digit code was added for even more specificity.   In the 1960s, I think a stamp for a standard letter cost about a nickel or so, and a bit more for "Air Mail."  Further Googling revealed that Huntsville, as of the year 2000 at least, then was up to 24 Zip Codes, but the LHS part of town, including Monte Sano, remains 35801.

Subject:    Records
Mike Crowl
LHS '65

    Niles, you talking about those records reminded me of the collection of records I had. I have given them away or donated to some cause many moons ago.

    The funny part of this story is I never had a record player ! To this day I don't know where or how I obtained those records. I never bought any records!

    I have always wondered whose records they were!

Subject: Teachers
Spencer Thompson
LHS '64

    A great job by everyone in the Traveller this week. Speaking of teachers I had the honor of preaching the funeral of a former Lee teacher recently Mr. Bob Lorren.

Subject:    Mr. Fox
Chip Smoak
LHS  '66

    I remember Mr. Fox showing up at a track and field practice held at the city stadium one day for some reason.  He displayed his high jumping skills to the delight of those of us in attendance at the high jump pit.

Subject:    Teachers
Mike Crowl
LHS '65

    John you're right , we all we're very fortunate to have such great educators during our time at LHS. One hates to have to pick just one when everyone of our teachers were exceptional. They all took their oath to educate their students very serious.

       John since you asked the question I will give my response by what teacher touched my life .  I would have to pick Mr. Blackburn.

    For those who don't remember Mr. Blackburn, he taught trigonometry and advance math. Trust me, why I was in his class I don't know! I was no mathematician. However it was important for me to succeed because I loved playing sports and without the proper grades there would be no sports for me.

    Enough about me let's talk about Mr. Blackburn. He was dedicated to insuring I passed his class. Mr. Blackburn always gave extra time to me. He offered to tutor me before and after school if needed. He really showed a sense of really caring that I succeeded. Without his dedication and perseverance I would have never passed his class.  Maybe all the teachers were like Mr. Blackburn.  My other studies came fairly easy and I didn't need the one on one that Mr. Blackburn gave me.  I can only hope that ,yes all our teachers were like Mr. Blackburn ,they were there for those who needed extra time in their classes. John we were very blessed to have the educators we had. 
    Thanks for your thoughts.

Subject:     Niles' Records
Tom Bush
LHS '65

This is in reference to Niles' 45 rpm record  collection. It is refreshing that Niles FINALLY decided to come clean on his ill-gotten gains. Ha!

To this day, Craig Bannecke and l have had a running joke about Niles' ability to coerce us out of our treasured 45's on the pretense of borrowing them for a few days only. Haha!

I remember, as though it were yesterday, a 45 that l had just purchased by the Zombies, titled " She's Not There ". I bought it on Saturday, told Niles about it on Monday, and it was gone by Tuesday. I told Craig about the loan on Wednesday and he scolded me through Friday. You see, Craig had already been a " victim ". Haha! Ha!

I guess, since Niles sorta, kinda admitted to this, he thinks the Statue of Limitations  has run out. Haha! Haha!

However, after inspecting the stack of records featured in Niles' article, l believe l spotted MY record. Can l have it back? " She's Not There " by the Zombies. Thanks, buddy. Love ya!


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