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201221 December 21, 2020


When Life Was More Simple
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

        This week I take you back to simpler times and non-pandemic days when we just had fun. The following is first my entry into my journal back in 1963 and the comments I made about those entries 25 years later when I wrote "A Million Tomorrows...Memories of the Class of '64." I hope you enjoy this trip back in time with me.

December 21, 1963

    Dec 21, 1963 - Slept until 1:00 P.M. today.  Got up and got the car pushed off and took Mama Towery's presents over to her.  She got me a pair of pants.  Came back and took Grandmother to work.

    Came to the house and watched T.V.  Saw the South beat the North down at the Orange Bowl Stadium, 24-14.  Miss State beat North Carolina S. in another BOWL game.

    Went and bought Grandmother's present then I went to a dance down at the Navy Reserve.  It was a Post dance.  Fifteen people were present.  We danced, ate, and sang folk songs until 11:00 P.M.

    After that I met Dag and we went riding around in his '63 Impala SS hunting a party.  Couldn't find one so I came home and now I'm going to bed.  Night-Night.

    Despite the car troubles, the day still continued.  Mama Towery is my grandmother on my father's side.  Actually she is not my true grandmother but I was brought up thinking she was.  My real grandmother died when my father was five months old.  She was 27.  My grandfather did not feel that he could raise a small child, so Mama Towery took my father to raise.  She was actually my father's aunt, but she never had any children of her own, so she raised him.

    The dance that evening was small in comparison to the ones I normally attended on a Saturday night.  My transition from Boy Scouts to the older Explorers' group was never really a complete move.  I never really felt at home in the Explorers even though socially their activities were geared toward an older crowd than the Boy Scouts.  That dance was held by the Post, and I went and left without a date.  There were girls there and I never questioned where they came from.  They were probably sisters or tag-alongs or something like that.  The music for the dance was provided by a record player, and the records were brought by the guests.  It was nothing fancy.

YouTube Video

    The highlight of the evening was the folk songs.  This was the period of folk music.  It was the time of The Kingston Trio; Peter, Paul, and Mary; the Smothers Brothers; The Chad Mitchell Trio and the other singers whose names have long been forgotten.  Of all the groups that were popular during that period, the Kingston Trio was my personal favorite.  I spent many hours learning the words to "Tom Dooley" and "The M.T.A." songs.  I bought a cheap guitar from somebody and tried my best to learn how to play it.  Using a group of cords I affectionately called "the dirty dozen" I could strum through most of the popular folk songs if other people sang along.  If they did sing, they had to sing loud.  It had to be loud enough to cover up the music, for I was not a very good guitar player.

    I tried.  I tried hard.  I practiced day after day but never got any good at it.  Years passed before I found my perfect musical instrument for the folk era.  It was one that I could handle without being embarrassed.  I tried to learn the banjo, the twelve string guitar, the piano and organ and passed over all of them.  The tambourine emerged as the instrument for my contribution to the folk scene.  My destiny was to be the tambourine man.  Besides the kazoo, it was the only instrument I ever found that I could play.  I didn't want to be the kazoo man, so stuck with the tambourine.

    That night I didn't have the tambourine.  That night the guitar was the instrument of choice, and songs like "Tom Dooley" were sung over and over, despite the cords that were missed or could not be found.  My short fingers did not wrap completely around the guitar neck to finger the right notes properly, but it didn't matter.  We were still having fun and the others did not mind.  There were gentile people in the folk music era.

    Folk music was a social event and everyone could join in.  It was especially at home on hayrides or around campfires.  It could be mellow or explosive, depending on the crowd and the mood.  It could be gospel or backroom ballads.  Some songs were heavenly while others were raunchy sea chanteys.  Whatever the mood, whatever the tune, the group could join in.

    Some of the best songs we sang came as spur of the moment verses like "Hey loddy, loddy, loddy. Hey loddy, loddy, low."  This song was the place to add the sometimes off color verses like "I know a girl who lives on a hill, she won't do it but her sister will."  It was naughty, but not really dirty.  It was a lot like "Louie, Louie," the song that the Class of '64 claims as its class song.  That was the dirtiest song of our era.  The words were so slurred that no one ever really knew for sure what they were but right after the song first came out pieces of paper circulated in the classes of Lee with the alleged lyrics on it.  "Every night at ten, I lay her again," etc.  It did not meet today's criteria for dirty, that's for sure.  Even if it was dirty everyone sang along just the same.

    Today, Christmas time and Christmas parties are about the only times where a group can stand around and share the songs as we did during the folk period.  I even tried to write my own music, as most folk singers did.  My songs were never heard in public but it didn't really matter to me.  It was the beginning of the inner self period.  You could sing what you wanted to, how you wanted to sing it.

    Following the dance, with no girl to accompany me, I sought other people.  I met Dag who was not a friend I normally associated with outside of school, but he was still a friend.  His car was something else.  It was the car of 1963.  He owned a black Impala Supersport convertible.  What more could you want in an automobile?  It had to be the meanest machine on the streets.  It was cool, neat, and sexy.  The little round ornaments on the back fenders had the leaping impala in the center and the ever important "SS" beside them.  Without the "SS" the car would be nothing, but with them the common Impala was a supersport and it was everything.

    No one ever questioned what a supersport really was.  Was there just a "sport" before it became super?  We didn't know.  We didn't really care.  Cruising the streets in such a machine was a thrill.  To be seen in such a car was class.  It was easy to understand what girls saw in boys who owned such vehicles.  There was a special feeling about cruising the strip in class, but, the strip was not the place for the action that night so we decided to try to find a party.

    There were several neighborhoods where there might be parties going on and they were all searched.  In the end, the quest was in vain.  No parties were to be found, and the clock was nearing midnight.  The gold carriage was turning back into a pumpkin and the '63 Supersport was replaced by the '53 Customline Ford.  As the clock struck twelve, Cinderella went to bed.

        Memphis, TN - When we look back on things in our lives, we find we are sometimes dealt some wild cards. Back when I was17 the Kingston Trio was my favorite group and I worshipped the ground they walked on. I never thought I would ever get to see them perform in person, but I hoped I might someday. It never entered my mind that someday I would not only see them in person, but actually have a drink with them at a hotel bar. As groups fade into the background I find they become more approachable. A few years ago the Kingston Trio performed at the Orpheum Theater here in Memphis and as they were ending the show, rather than running off to a waiting limo, one of them said "We're not supposed to tell you, but we are staying down at this motel and if you would like, we would love for you to come share a drink with us." So, I went down after the concert and did just that.

    In the same tone, I never dreamed as a teenager I would someday get up on stage and dance with Martha and the Vandellas, or shake hands across an autograph table with Joey Dee and the Starlighters or Paul Revere and the Raiders, but I did.

    Oh, and by the way, if you get a chance to see a copy of Old Huntsville, you will find that my Christmas story was selected to be the cover story. I think you will like it. 

Here's My 2020 Online Christmas Letter

Team Towery - 2020

Well, despite the crazy year we have just endured, it has not stopped us from making our yearly travels. This past year we made several fascinating trips to Walmart, Kroger, Aldi, the Navy base pharmacy, and multiple doctors’ offices along with a few other exciting places. Before the pandemic hit, we did get in a great visit to Hilton Head but never realized it would be our only big trip of the year.

Our scheduled 13-day cruise from Montreal, Canada, to Miami via New York City was cancelled and for the first time in many years we did not make it to Hawaii – not even once! Our planned trips to Seattle for the B-52 Association reunion and to Huntsville for a Lee High School class reunion were also scrubbed. As a matter of fact, our biggest trips since all this craziness began was one to put flowers on the family graves at the cemetery in Coldwater, Mississippi, and another to a fly-in at the old Blytheville AFB in Arkansas, an hour away. Our big stay-cation activity was finally going to the new Bass Pro Shop at the Pyramid on Mud Island. For the first time since we started dating we opted out of our season tickets for the Memphis Tigers’ football and basketball games and elected to watch them on television instead. Television has become our prime entertainment and the Britbox subscription Sue received for Christmas last year has been a life-saver.

Just as the pandemic started Sue’s ex-husband, Frank, passed away and both Beckye and Jamie and their families came down for the visitation and stayed with us a few days. Who knew at the time it might be the only time we get to see any of them this year? Our visits with Tiffany’s family have been limited to Facetime sessions over the internet. Like many others, we have not eaten at a restaurant or gone to a movie or sporting event since this began.  So far we’ve put gas in our car 12 times this year.

It has been a monumental year for me (Tommy) as I celebrated five years of my bladder cancer being in remission. Another of my highlights was getting to take a flight in a WW II B-25 Bomber when it visited Blytheville. We did get to go to both Celine Dion and Beach Boys concerts before social distancing became our daily lifestyle. The highlight of Sue’s summer was growing a tomato plant from a tiny seed in a tomato she bought at Aldi’s. The plant took off like Jack’s beanstalk and produced over 800 cherry tomatoes.

            Our Sunday school class will finally meet again next week with strict social distancing in effect, but as president of the class, Sue has kept in touch with everyone throughout the year to keep them aware of what was going on and how everyone was doing.

We used the trip money we saved to put in on a whole house emergency generator. But due to all the hurricanes happening this year and the workforce at the Generac plant being cut back for Covid-19, it looks like we will not be able to get it installed until February of next year. The best thing to celebrate is that we have stayed healthy and safe and will continue to do so until the end is reached. We hope all our friends and family will stay safe as well and that the world will heal soon.

Can Anyone Verify This Person Graduated With Us?


    Robert James Andrews, 74, of Huntsville, AL, passed-away, Saturday, December 12, 2020.  A private celebration of life memorial will be conducted, by the family at a later date.  Robert was born January 16, 1946 in Huntsville, Alabama to Robert Elvis Andrews and Lois (Shasteen) Andrews.  He graduated from Lee High School in 1964.

    I cannot find him in the yearbook or in the list of the graduating class of 1964 program.


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Math

 Kay Hillis

    I substitute in the schools around my area. I can get a book and understand any subject except math. It makes no sense to me so I find the smartest kid in the class to explain. Half the classes do not have books. Almost everything is on chrome book. The kids do not learn to tell time on a regular clock and they have not been taught Cursive writing . I found this out when I wrote something on the board in cursive. I think we got a better education for dealing with every day life. Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

Subject:    Lost Contact
Diann Fox Muller
LHS '64

    Hi, not sure the reason but I no longer receive the email notification when you publish a new issue of the Traveller.  It does seem to happen now and again when there is a computer update.   When the next issue comes out would you add me to the list and I'll see what happens!  Oh, this is Diann Muller, should say Diann Fox, class of 1964.  Hoping all is happy and healthy with your family.  Everyone here in Rochester, New York is just fine. The last time I came to Huntsville I finally saw the "new" Lee High School.  I haven't been back since 2017. We lost Mom in August, 2014, Daddy-o in September, 2015 (they had been divorced since 1969 I believe it was) and our brother Danny was murdered in 2016 in Atmore, Escambia County, Alabama.   Well, no more of the sadness talk.  

    Hey, as long as I'm writing I'll test your eyes a bit more.  Been married since 1966, moved to Rochester, NY in 1967.  We have twin sons born in 1972. Husband worked at Eastman Kodak for 35/36 years and took early retirement.  I worked for York Borg Warner until they closed the district office here. Last job was 26 years for the Rochester City School District, retired in 2009. I worked in the district offices for two years but wanted to work in a school. Didn't want to continue as a secretary so I worked as a teaching assistant which led to working with administration dealing with gang members and those in and out of county jail.  We lost some, some have gone to prison for life and some just don't know where they are.  They were rough but once they trusted you, no one would mess with you!   Nicer subject, we have three grandchildren. Grandson is 25 and does coding and programming, his employer was just acquired by Price Waterhouse so he will be working for them beginning in January. Next is our 21 year old granddaughter who is a senior at University of Rochester studying cognitive neuroscience and our youngest granddaughter is 20 years old and in the nursing program at Brockport University hoping to go into pediatric NICU nursing.  One of my brothers (retired military)  and his wife are in Laurel Hill, Florida, the other brother remains in Huntsville. One sister and her husband moved from Huntsville to living on the river in Athens. My other sister and her husband (both retired) now live in Toney, Alabama. Well, now I've basically run my mouth long enough (bet you were just captivated by all this information weren't you? 😉) hahaha  Again, hoping all is well there. Fingers crossed that you email about the Traveller comes through.  Thanks, Diann

Subject:    Math
Dennis Tribble

Thanks Tommy. I'm with you; I'll stick with math.



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