Saturday, August 29, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: CONCLUSION - Wondergirl and the Supermen Clan

Forever A Hillbilly: CONCLUSION - Wondergirl and the Supermen Clan: Joe’s father David, Tim’s grandfather, started his physical training early. At two, he was so active he was having trouble walking. The d...

CONCLUSION - Wondergirl and the Supermen Clan

Joe’s father David, Tim’s grandfather, started his physical training early. At two, he was so active he was having trouble walking. The doctor determined he was too musclebound to walk properly. Later, his father Ray hitched David up to the plow to work the garden, instead of using a horse. He went on to become captain of the football team at The Citadel. The University of South Caroline was a major football power at that time, but David’s team managed to beat them, the only time that has ever happened.
     David was in the Korean War. He was a forward observer, maybe the most dangerous job in the army. Their job was to move into enemy territory, locate enemy forces, and call in artillery fire.
     This was during a time of change and experimentation in the US army. Up to that point, the early 1950’s, black soldiers were normally not highly trained in fighting, being usually assigned more domestic duties. That was changing. David was given a team of thirty men, mostly blacks, and he trained them up to a very high fighting level.
     Also along about that time, the Chinese were flooding into North Korea to fight for North Korea against the South Koreans and Americans. They came in very large numbers. They fought with guns, pitchforks, hoes, etc. The Large hoards of men more than made up for any shortage in equipment or training.
     David’s team, as forward observers, were spotted by one of these very large groups. The machine guns David’s team was equipped with had two barrels. While one was firing, the other would be cooling off. Facing this vast hoard of Chinese, cooling the barrel was a luxury they could not afford. They had to keep both barrels firing constantly. Over time, both barrels melted.
     Both groups were running out of ammunition.
     Now, it was man to man, hand to hand. David realized they were about to be overrun, so he called in artillery fire right on top of the entire battlefield. That way, the enemy would be taken out also.
     Officers, such as David, carried a pistol. They were trained to shoot themselves rather than be captured. David pulled his pistol, ready to do his duty. But he just could not bring himself to pull the trigger. The only other option was to fight to the end. David dimly remembers he and men around him beating each other with fists, and heads being slammed against the ground. After what seemed like forever, all was quiet on the field. There was no one left to fight. Only David and two of his men survived.
     David’s father Ray, Tim’s great-grandfather, became a professional heavyweight boxer at an early age. He married at fourteen. He and his wife had eight children. His wife finally persuaded Ray to retire from boxing. He always regretted that decision.
     Ray went on to become the ski jumping champion of West Virginia. At 55, he was the national skeet shooting champion. Even his bird dogs were national champions.
     Ray became a state senator in West Virginia. When the presidential elections rolled around, he played a major role in helping John F. Kennedy get the presidential nomination. West Virginia became a key state in the election, and Ray campaigned tirelessly. Who woulda’ guessed?
     When West Virginia compiled a list of the one hundred greatest athletes in the last hundred years, both Ray and David were on that list.
Hopefully, Tim and Caylie will produce the next generation of supermen for the Barnett family. Who knows? Maybe a little of that super manhood will spill over into the Gillum clan.

      Just look at me. As you can easily see, we need a little dab of that.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: Forever A Hillbilly: Wondergirl and the Supermen c...

Forever A Hillbilly: Forever A Hillbilly: Wondergirl and the Supermen c...: Forever A Hillbilly: Wondergirl and the Supermen clan : Wonder Girl and the Supermen Clan      My wonderful granddaughter Caylie got...

PART 2 - Wondergirl and the Supermen Clan

Part Two - Wondergirl and the Supermen Clan

     Tim is a swimmer. Six years ago, he was a big time swimmer. He swam every day, five hours per day, with an elite swim team full of olympic hopefuls. He had the second fastest time in the country in the mile, somewhere around fifteen minutes. (A fifteen minute mile is a pretty fast walking pace, in case you haven’t tried that.) Also on Tim’s elite swim team were two little girls, ages eight and nine. They were already, at their tender ages, showing great promise for the future, and have continued that grueling training pace to the present. I feel certain that six years ago, Tim was their hero.
     The Olympic trials were looming. But as bad luck would have it, Tim had a serious allergic reaction to chlorine in swimming pool water, and had to drop out. Tim manages to stay in good shape, and swims when he can in lake competitions, but the world class level at which he had been swimming had to go by the wayside.
     Last summer, Tim and Caylie borrowed my fourteen foot aluminum boat. They floated from Lake DeGray to the Ouachita River Bridge near Arkadelphia, Arkansas. That’s a pretty solid half day float.  I drove down to pick them up, and when I was crossing the bridge, I could see they had missed the take-out ramp. They floated by on the far side of the river, and when they saw it, they were already well past.
     The lakes were releasing a lot of water due to heavy spring rains, and the river was flowing swiftly. They were both paddling as hard as they could, but were steadily losing ground. I hollered for them to paddle to the bank, where Tim could walk along in shallower water and pull the boat up. They did, but immediately saw a large water moccasin on a limb, grinning at them, daring them to get just a little bit closer. They quickly headed back to deep water. Paddling was not the way to go, so Tim jumped into the river, put the rope around his shoulder, and started swimming. Now, for a normal person, considering Caylie was still in the boat, that would have been impossible. But Tim is not a normal man. He started gaining ground. It still took him a long time, but he got it done.
     This past Saturday was a big day for me. For the first time, I was about to see Tim in action, swimming against strong competition. Hundreds of great swimmers from all over were competing at Degray Lake. Tim was entered in the one mile swim. Swimming in the women’s division of that race were two teen age girls. Initially, this really didn’t mean anything to me, I did not know them. But Tim did. They were the same two little girls from his old swim team of six years ago. He knew they had been swimming five or six hours daily all these years since Tim had to quit. He also knew they would be in top condition, and his chances against them would be slim. Not being in the know, I was concerned with the whole herd of musclemen Tim would be swimming against, and I paid little attention to the girls.
     Halfway or so into the race, his shoulders began to give him great pain, but they soon went numb. Other than having to throw up a couple of times, everything was going smoothly. But Tim had been right. The two little girls, no longer little, fourteen and fifteen, were first out of the water. Tim was next out, winning the men’s division, at around twenty four minutes. The musclemen I had been worried about were still specks far out in the lake.
     Tim’s father Joe is 55 years old. He owns a landscaping business, and he normally gets up very early, riding his bike totally unreasonably long distances.  A one hundred mile ride is standard fare for Joe. He then works all day in his landscaping business. Then he goes out after work for a little exercise. Joe is a regular in Iron Man competitions.
     Joe was once present at a one hundred mile run event in the mountains. He was not participating in this, so he had not been training for it. A friend who was entered knew Joe always stays in great shape, so he asked Joe to pace him during the last part of the race.  Joe agreed. He paced him the last forty miles. That put both of them in the medical tent.
     Joe hires several young men, twenty some-odd years old, in his business. Occasionally, they all gang up on Joe and attempt to pin him in wrestling, but have never yet been successful. Joe said recently, “I gotta stop doing that. I hurt one last time.”

     In the one mile swim – twenty five mile bike ride event at Lake Degray, Joe placed second. The one man who beat him in his age group also won first overall, and he is number four in the country in that event. Swimming was Joe’s weakest area, but he made up for that once on the bike.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: Wondergirl and the Supermen clan

Forever A Hillbilly: Wondergirl and the Supermen clan: Wonder Girl and the Supermen Clan      My wonderful granddaughter Caylie got married last spring. Let me back up and explain to ...

Wondergirl and the Supermen Clan

Wonder Girl and the Supermen Clan

     My wonderful granddaughter Caylie got married last spring. Let me back up and explain to you that I do not use the word wonderful lightly. Read on.
     Caylie has never been your average girl. At four months old, she, along with her mother Christi, survived the unsurviveable; a major car wreck involving multiple rolls and flips, with only scratches and bruises. I measured just how far that car flipped and rolled. One hundred yards.

     God, I think, already had big plans for this baby. And, as a young teen, she was already in the mission fields;  She began, early on, paying back God’s investment in her during that one hundred yards straight from Hell event so many years ago. Ever since, she has always been a stern and demanding seat belt enforcer in our family.

     At six, she always got up on her own, fixed her own hair, brushed her teeth,  and dressed herself, usually allowing time to read her books before heading off to school. Her parents declared that she only needed adults around in her life to drive her to school and provide a little money. There was just no time in her early years to hold down a full time job, what with Kindergarten and all, but that does not mean she was not capable of it. She always had everything else pretty well under control all by herself. The turbulent teen years just passed her by. They just never happened. Her high standards she always set for herself were etched in stone early on. 

     But wait. That’s not all. I’ve been saving the best for last.

     I do not remember ever seeing Caylie angry. I’m sure I must have, common sense would tell you I have. But it’s not in my memory pool. Of course, I’m 71. My memory pool is a bit shallow on both ends. Her bubbly, bright, smiling, and loving personality just makes all around her love her.

Caylie was in no big hurry to get a driver’s license. When she finally did, she was always very slow, always very careful. We all call her our “Granny Driver.” When her papa Corey was training her, one could often hear him saying, “Caylie, you need to speed up just a little.” But when her younger brother Christian was being trained, one could hear a touch of panic edging into Corey’s voice.  “Slow this thing down! You just clipped a sign back there!”

      Caylie and Tim Barnett have been hanging around together for a long time. After they had been together for a year or so, Tim had a question for his friend, who would later become his best man. “ Do you think it would be too forward of me to hold her hand?” This story was a major hit when told much later at a very special event in their lives.

     When Caylie, one year older than Tim, was about to graduate from high school and go off to college, she decided it was time for her and Tim to have a talk. Tim should be free to fully enjoy his senior year. The prom, dating, and all that goes with it. Somewhere in the translation, it didn’t come out just like she had envisioned. Tim did not want to date anybody else. But he accepted her decision.

     “If you’re going to break up with me, Caylie, we should at least wait until after the prom.” On the big night, it was difficult to determine who was breaking up with whom. Tim was heartbroken, but he took it like a man. Caylie was the one who cried all night. When Caylie got home afterwards, flowers were awaiting her in her room. As Tim later said, “I wanted to let her know I still wanted her, and I was not angry.”

      A few days later, Caylie graduated. As I walked through the parking lot afterwards, I saw a large bouquet of flowers on Caylie’s car. I had to smile. The battle was enjoined; Tim’s struggle to win her back had begun.

     Long before she left for college, Caylie was having major second thoughts. Once she got to Ouachita Baptist University, she soon realized the boys around her did not measure up to Tim. Soon, she tentatively inquired how Tim felt about the two of them getting back together. She feared she had messed up; Tim may have found somebody else.

     Tim thought about this for a long time, then replied, “I will need to pray about this for three days.”

     This was a long three days for Caylie, especially the third day. Walking to her dorm from classes, her head down, she got a call from Tim. “Where are you, Tim?”

    “ In a parking lot somewhere on campus. I don’t really know where I am.”

     When she finally found him, he was by his car. He had a large bouquet of flowers, her favorite candy, and her favorite gum. He had one question. “Will you be my girlfriend again?” He handed her a card after her answer. Written on the card was one word.


      Now, they are Mr. And Mrs. Tim Barnett. They are both still in college, and that can be a problem financially. But they are both hard workers, and manage their many sideline jobs, along with college, really well. They both have their priorities in order. They are proving to all around them that a young couple, deeply in love, does not require great wealth to fully enjoy life, and each other.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: The Messed Up Bust

Forever A Hillbilly: The Messed Up Bust:      Some time back, Barbara and I were minding a couple of the grand kids for a few days. We had all just been to daughter-in-law Chris...

The Messed Up Bust

     Some time back, Barbara and I were minding a couple of the grand kids for a few days. We had all just been to daughter-in-law Christi's birthday dinner at US Pizza, and on the way home, we all were to stop at an ice cream hotspot for a bit of dessert. Well, as is often typical of me in a big city, I couldn't find that hotspot, so we just pulled over at McDonald's, so that the grand kids would not be disappointed too much, to get some ice cream. Barbara was ordering, and I herded the grand boys back to a booth, and stood guard, to keep them hemmed in there. That usually helps keep down the ruckus some, although Jackson had already crawled under the booth and sat beside, and made "friends" with, a tolerant lady sitting near by.
      I took my eye off the boys for a moment, and saw that a young man had come in, and had approached Barbara. I strained to hear what was going on. He pointed toward our car, out front, and I heard Barbara ask, "Did you hit my car?" He was shaking his head no, But I could tell he was asking her something, and in spite of the fact that she was cool and smiling, as always, she was getting nervous. I threatened the boys about staying put, and headed that way. By the time I got close to the action, another young man was there, and I heard enough of the conversation to tell they both were telling her they wanted her to go outside with them. When I neared this conversation, Barbara was telling them, "You need to talk to my husband about that," and they just looked at each other, and one said, "Husband?" Then I kicked in with, "What's going on here?" in my gruff voice. They then started saying, they wanted us both to go outside with them. Barbara said, "But we've got grandchildren in here!" Then they really looked puzzled, looked at each other a second, and said, "Grandchildren?" I had not been privy to the fact that they both had flashed their police badges at her, that were on a string around their necks, hidden under their coats. The last guy to show up started quizzing Barbara about where we lived, where we had been, etc. And I was just starting to say, "What business is that of yours?" which would likely have gotten me slammed to the floor and handcuffed, had I had time to complete it. But the last guy changed his tack, and said, "Both of you stay right here, don't leave, we're going outside now, and we'll come back."
As they left, I asked Barbara, and all the McDonald's staff, who had gathered around by now, "Who the heck were those guys?" Seems I was the only one who didn't know by now, and Barbara and the McDonald's staff all chimed in at once with, "The police!" I turned a little pale.
    Barbara later said, "After flashing his badge, he  must have told me six times to step outside with him, and I never, ever said no. I just smiled each time he said it, then started talking about something else. I was not about to make it easy for him to slam my arthritic body to the pavement and handcuff me." That's just Barbara for you.

      In about 5 minutes, one of them came back in, all smiles now, and explained. "We have been following that truck out there, and a car just like yours with a woman in it, for thirteen hours. Somehow, that HHR must have crossed paths with yours, and we got onto the wrong car." He left, and we ate our ice cream with the boys, and apologized to all the people around us because Jackson had been talking to them relentlessly while we were distracted from doing our grand parental duty for a while. They understood, and a McDonald's employee brought out a whole armload of toys for the boys. When we pulled out of the parking lot, those undercover guys had the people in the truck handcuffed, and were tearing apart their truck. Jordan and Jackson thought that was just about their coolest trip to McDonald's ever, but Barbara and I just wanted to get home.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: On Looking for a Mate.............

Forever A Hillbilly: On Looking for a Mate.............: Forever Cry is available at Hardman Interiors in Arkadelphia.  Contact me at for your signed and personalized bo...

On Looking for a Mate.............

Forever Cry is available at Hardman Interiors in Arkadelphia.  Contact me at for your signed and personalized book.


     A guy who has never had a thought about hitting a woman just never speaks of it. If he has ever told you he would never hit you, he has that thought in his head, or he has done it before.
If he tells you that regular-like, plan on being a human punching bag after the wedding. Bust outta there!

     Don't marry for looks; looks will fade. (Barbara's the exception!) Character is what lasts forever.

     Watching how he/she treats their  family gives you a good idea how you will be treated.

     If he/she cheated with you, he/she will cheat on you. But then again, we don't even need to consider this one. You two deserve each other.

     If you have gone over the top, helping him/her, and been shown little appreciation, he/she has just gotten into the habit of expecting that of you. He/she is taking you for granted already. It will get much worse, but never gets better.

     If the wild, bad boy/girl is the only one who attracts you, your life will be one long, living nightmare.

     A woman can never change a bad boy. It just gets worse.

     If she expects her parents to go into debt, or steal from their retirement fund, to finance her big fancy wedding, she's selfish and self centered. Get away from her. She'll break you, too, and then you'll be history, anyway.

     If he/she cheats on you before the wedding, it will increase tenfold after the wedding, when the hot passion with you settles down some. Forgiving can, at best, only buy you an insecure future. First, express your appreciation for having given you this little warning sign, then turn and run. Before its too late.

     If you know he/she loves you more than you love him/her, you won't be doing any favors by settling for that. You WILL be doing everyone a big favor by easing out of it now. If the spark is not there now, it never will be. A gentle letdown is in order.

     The dominant person will set the pace, and by now you know where you fit in. If the dominant one is not good with money, and goes through it like slicing hot butter, and If you're not that dominant one, get out fast. Hell on earth is headed your way. Best if both are good with money, but that might be a little too much to ask.

     When all your friends and family say no, you'd do well to go - - fast! Remember, they're the ones who love you the most.

     Watch out for the "Hollywood Syndrome." If he/she requires constant adoration, you won't be able to hold up to those standards very long. And they'll be looking for someone else, who will.

     Beware of the control freak. If he/she tells you  they are the only one who loves you, and are always trying to get you away from family and friends, break the door down if you have to. But get gone.

     In our wedding photography career, Barbara and I saw a few little tell-tale signs that always prompted us to put a rush order on the pics!

     If  the bride gripes a lot at her bridesmaids on the wedding day, just remember. She picked them, like she picked you. Don't expect to fare any better after the wedding. You might want to consider sneaking out the back door.

     If the bride's Mama is a good Mama who has worked hard to bring this thing together, and the bride gripes at HER on that day, she's selfish and self-centered. These people don't stay married. Cut your losses and get outta there, however you can.  

      If you see, on the wedding day, that the wedding itself takes priority over the groom, plan on always playing second fiddle, at best. Start running, and never look back.

     If your new husband and your father get into a fist fight at the reception, and yes, we have seen that,  It's too late. But you might wish to check about an annulment. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: Seduced by Pearl White

Forever A Hillbilly: Seduced by Pearl White:      Barbara just had to have a new car. Not NEW new, but new to us. We don’t buy new cars. Bonnie, Barbara’s cute little HHR was just ...

Seduced by Pearl White

 Barbara just had to have a new car. Not NEW new, but new to us. We don’t buy new cars. Bonnie, Barbara’s cute little HHR was just way too hard on her bad back, to her way of thinking.

      She had already decided which car she wanted, a Nissan Murano, a couple of years old. She had ridden in one before, belonging to our friend Judy, and she knew it rode well. I told her on the way to Little Rock, this was her buy, her car. I would just be watching.
We went to Lander’s Toyota first, arriving about 10:00 AM. The nice young guy who came out to help us was a very good salesman. Barbara told him she was going to buy a Nissan Murano, today, one or two years old, and asked if he had one. He had three. After she had seen them all, she settled on the one she liked best. But she just could not make up her mind. Said she should probably go to the Nissan dealership, who had already described one he had, on the phone, just to compare. And, it’s just right over there.
     She never, all day long, mentioned the possibility of them lowering the price.  “This car is silver. Well, my last two were silver. I had hoped to change colors.”  The nice young man dropped the price a few hundred. She considered that for a long time. “Well, It IS really nice, and I really like the cute hubcaps and the miles it has. But the inside is dark, and it will really be hot.”  The young man trimmed a few hundred more off the price.
     After a few more rounds of spotting possible drawbacks, accompanied by more trimming, the young man retreated inside and brought out the big gun, the little Lander’s brother. After proper introductions, and Barbara going on about knowing his wife, how she knew her, etc., she went back to work on the car problem. “Well, I just can’t decide this so quickly. I just should drive over and at least see that other one at the Nissan dealership, then it will be easier, and that way I can think awhile. And it's just right over there." The young salesman chipped in from time to time, in more of a begging tone now. Little Landers dropped a few more hundred. Barbara headed for our HHR, saying, “Well, before I buy, I’m just going to drive by that other one and look at it. I really like this car, but I’ve just got to be sure. It will only take a moment."
     As we drove off, the young salesman was hollering, “Just drive by! It will be a lot quicker if you don’t stop at all!”
     As we drove in at the Nissan Dealership, we saw Pearl White, though at this point, that was only her official color, not yet her name, right beside the entrance.  Barb immediately liked her.  A very nice young man came out to greet us. He was also an opera singer, as well as a car salesman. “Hi! We’re going to buy a Murano today, and I love this one!” Barbara said. We looked Pearl White over, and he took us inside to his desk to fix us a drink while our trade- in was evaluated. A quick, easy sale was looming. As she sat at his desk, she got a text.  The little Lander's brother said he’d drop off another thousand.
     We went back out to look at Pearl again. “Oh goodness. Her seats are very light colored. That will get dirty so fast!” Opera man drops 500 off.  “Are the seats automatic?”
     “No ma’am.” Opera man drops 500 more.
     “That pearl white color is sooooo beautiful. But I just can’t seem to get over those light colored seats.”
      “Let me get the manager over here.” Said opera man.
      When he arrived, the problem was explained to him by Barbara. “I just love this car, but the other one we’re looking at has dark seats, won’t get dirty so easily.”
     “Tell you what, ma’am, we’ll take it and get a professional job of scotch guarding done on the whole inside before you leave.”
     Barbara was impressed. “What about that little spot on the seat?”
     “We’ll get it professionally cleaned, too.” He took another few hundred off.
     I had been listening to so much of this, I was beginning to get into it. “Will you fill up the tank?"
    Barbara elbowed me in the ribs. “Stop being so picky over such tiny little money things! That’s crude!”
    “Yes, of course we will.”
     Barbara noticed that the tires seemed to have some wear on them. Opera man walked around showing the new tire tags, still showing on the bottom of each tire. Manager man left.  “Oh no! I just noticed this one does not have automatic lights!  Maybe I should just real quickly run over to Lander’s again. They’re right over there, and I need to see if it's lights are automatic. And it’s much more sporty!  I just can’t make up my mind.”
     “Well, Ma’am, that other car IS a year older. And don’t forget that 68 month power train warranty that a non-Nissan dealer can’t give. But let me  talk to the manager again.”
     He returned. Finally, everyone involved was obviously about worn out, the two cars were about $100 apart in price, and a deal was struck. Barbara had been totally seduced by Pearl White, in only four hours or so. As we waited for the cleaning, scotch guarding, and filling up the tank, the manager walked over to Barbara, smiling, shaking his head and her hand.  “That was the best job of negotiating I’ve seen in a very long time. Just look at how much you got our man to come down.”
    As we drove away. Barbara said, “I don’t know why he said that. He sounded like I was a haggler! I never even mentioned money! Haggling is such a man thing! Oh, my! It’s nearly five o’clock!  And I was planning to eat lunch with Kinley, after we bought the car. This day has just FLOWN by!”
     Barbara had her new car named before we got home; Pearl White.  And a string of pearls now adorns the rear view mirror, but not until after Barbara had considered this move for a few hours.
     “But do you think those pearls are not white enough to match the car? Do they look tacky up there? Do you think they block the view too much?”

      I didn’t say a thing. I had learned that day that sometimes, a little indecision can be a good thing.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: That's Just Barbara

Forever A Hillbilly: That's Just Barbara: Barbara has a problem with straight and crooked, something we worked very hard to control while we were in the photography business, with l...

Forever A Hillbilly: Forever A Hillbilly: Excerpts from Spreading Wing

Forever A Hillbilly: Forever A Hillbilly: Excerpts from Spreading Wing: Forever A Hillbilly: Excerpts from Spreading Wing : I am Printing several excerpts from my book, Spreading Wing, to give you an idea what it...

That's Just Barbara

Barbara has a problem with straight and crooked, something we worked very hard to control while we were in the photography business, with lots of cropping and tripods. When we were in Italy, and finally found the Leaning Tower of Piza, Barbara took a picture. In the photo, it was standing straight up! She quickly deleted it, knowing I would get a lot of mileage out of that little jewel.

      When we checked into a little villa in Austria, we could not communicate with the owner, who only spoke German. The only other guest there quickly started  interpreting, speaking perfect, even southern, English, as well as perfect German. Barbara just had to know what was going on, and soon found out he could speak pretty well any language, and also regional dialects. Barbara befriended him and quizzed him mercilessly. He offered to buy us dinner, and we accepted. We never pass up free food. After he had several beers, he finally decided we were harmless, and told us his story
      He was a citizen of the world, he said, claiming no country as his home. He was a free-lance spy. His specialty was, he could become anybody from anywhere. Starting with the first Gulf War, the United States has been the highest bidder, since he looked Arabic, and spoke it perfectly. He told of making a number of military friends while training in Colorado Springs. When he went to work in Iraq, he was in his Arabic dress. His friends arrested him one night. He told them, “It’s me, guys.” They would not believe him, and he had to show his USAF pants on underneath his Arabic dress before they accepted his story. He walked us out to our car as we were leaving the next morning. He had a small lecture for Barbara. “You travel far too lightly about the world. People will entrap you. You should have never let me in your car yesterday. “
       Barbara looked ha him a moment, then said, “We had you out numbered."
       He laughed. “I wasn’t worried.”  He waved Barbara’s camera away, would give us no phone number, no address, no e-mail address. He said he would e-mail us. We’re still waiting.

       While visiting Kenya, we decided to ride a bus to Tanzania one weekend. Upon getting ready to return to Kenya, we were told our visa was a one-way thing. We would have to buy a new one, $200, to get back into Kenya. They would only take US dollars, and we didn’t have enough. I was in the early stages of another panic attack, but Barbara said, “Don’t worry. I’ll handle it.”

     When we got to the border, she watched each of a dozen or so border agents carefully. She finally chose an agent who seemed to be friendly, and sometimes smiled. She led me to his line. When we got up to the front, she started flirting with him shamelessly. Told him all about us being missionaries, laughed and joking. She passed the old visa, not valid now, over to him with a friendly smile. He stamped it, and smiling, said, “You have a good day.”
     We got gone quickly. Barbara just seems to have the ability to have her way with any man. Of course, she never uses that ability unless I am at her side. At least, I think so……….

      Standing in a very long line at a toilet at a festival in Sweden, absolutely nobody spoke a word. Barbara, of course, did. “You Swedish people are an awfully quiet bunch.”
      An old man, way up the line, replied, “Yes, we have always been a very stoic people.” That broke the ice, and by the time our turn came, Barbara knew each of them personally, and left  dozens of new, smiling friends behind when we left that toilet.

     Returning by train from Monaco to our car and motel in one of dozens of little towns on the Italian coastline, we knew we must be about there, and Barbara asked, “Now, what was the name of our village?” I didn’t have a clue, and it was now getting dark. We strained to see something familiar as the train slowed for a village. “There’s our car!” Barbara screamed, and we bolted for the door. She was well ahead of me, and she had the door open before the train stopped. But she was on the wrong side, and she was about to step out onto a live track. Those trains are totally silent, very fast, and they run about a foot apart. Stepping out could quickly bring about an instant, silent death.
     The way Barbara remembers it, she instantly realized her mistake, and quickly shut the door. The way I remember it, half a dozen people grabbed her and dragged her back.  Funny how each person has their own way of remembering things!

Driving through Australia, we noticed a nice clubhouse with a beautiful green lawn surrounding it. Dozens of old men, all dressed up fancy with broad brimmed hats, were rolling black balls around on the lawn. We had never seen anything like this. Barbara said, “Park the car. I’ll go see what’s going on.” I stayed in the car, pretty well knowing what was about to happen. Barbara walked onto the lawn, and started asking questions. Every game stopped, and every man gathered around Barbara, all anxious to explain the game to her, many wanting to hold her hand to insure that she rolled the ball properly.  Barbara quickly learned a little about lawn bowling, and a lot about old men.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Forever A Hillbilly: Excerpts from Spreading Wing

Forever A Hillbilly: Excerpts from Spreading Wing: I am Printing several excerpts from my book, Spreading Wing, to give you an idea what it’s all about. The first Gillum house at Wing...

Excerpts from Spreading Wing

I am Printing several excerpts from my book, Spreading Wing, to give you an idea what it’s all about.

The first Gillum house at Wing, after they arrived in 1898, was built atop the first ridge as the Ouachita Mountains arise from the north side of the Fourche La Fave River Valley. Two miles of flat, fertile bottom land stretches out below, cut by the meanderings of Stowe creek, the primary watering source of the livestock. It is surrounded by hundreds, or thousands, of acres of hardwood forests and fertile fields. Many more fields appeared as more and more crops were planted, but much reverted back to timberland, again, as the overworked soil played out and row crops diminished and virtually disappeared. The river, two miles away, flows lazily along the base of the south mountains, Fourche Mountain arising steeply from the river bank. The south mountains curve into a dip, not unlike the cleavage of a modest, beautiful woman, to allow Barnhart creek to rush from the south mountains to meet the river. This is the sight I awoke to every morning, for the first seventeen years of my life, out my bedroom window. One might think it would become routine. But it never did. My Dad arrived at that hill, a young boy of five. He was destined to live out his life, on and around that hill. From the look in his eyes as he gazed out over that valley, I don't think it ever became routine to him, either. Dad moved four more times in his life, but he was always within short hollering distance of that hill.
Dad was once engaged, but his future wife died. Dad had built a house in the meadow for her. Grandma, Hallie, and all loved her. When Dad and Mom, Cornelia Irene Lazenby, later married, they did not live in the house in the meadow at first, but on the hill with Grandma and Hallie, Dad's unmarried sister, a Peabody College trained teacher. There was no electricity in the meadow house. Even though Mom was very hard working, kind, gentle, and loving, Grandma, and even Hallie, on occasion, were harsh in judging her. Her life was miserable. Sarah Turner said, “The first woman, who died, is put up on a pedestal. No wrong can she ever do.” I think that was at work here. After three children - Harry, Harold, and Jonnie, Mom wanted out of that house. They moved to the house in the meadow, with no electricity. Jan was born there. Then they moved to a third house, the “other house.” (The Marion Turner house.) It was bought by Dad along with twenty seven acres after it was repossessed. It was larger than the meadow house, and the family was growing. Barbara was born there. After Hallie and Grandma died in 1941, the move back up on the hill closed out the moving triangle, all within “hollering” distance of each other.
Now that you have somewhat of an idea what Mom faced, moving in with all those dominant Gillums, I have a very fitting little story that I love. After Dad and Mom married, a picture of Dad's dead sweetheart continued to hang on the wall. After a time, a picture of Searce Pickens, Mom's old sweetheart, showed up on the wall also. Stirring up the situation somewhat was the fact that Searce Pickens was now working for Dad. After a time, both pictures came down. Mom had beaten the Gillums at their own game. A very rare occurrence.
I can find no other source that gives anything other than the highest praise to Hallie. She was obviously a wonderful influence in the lives of all her students, and was dearly loved by all others who speak of her. But my brother Harry related to me why life became so unbearable for my mother in that house. He was there, in that house, and he was old enough to see. And hear.
JR Turner was sweet on Ruby, Mom's younger sister. The romance dragged on. Grandpa Lazenby was not big on long romances without a wedding ring. His oldest daughter had gotten into trouble like that. He asked, “When are you getting married?” JR would reply, “I need to save just a little more money.” This went on and on. He probably did need more money, this was at least close to the time of The Great Depression. But JR also had a wanderlust. He could not settle down to one place easily, and I suspect responsibility for a wife at that time sat heavily on his shoulders. The California sisters sent money, and Ruby was headed for California. She entered into a romance with Homer Greear. Marriage was looming. But before that happened, she went back to Wing for a visit. The old romance started to heat up. Grandpa Lazenby met JR At the front door one night, to again discuss his intentions. JR still was not quite ready to settle down. Grandpa called Homer Greear and warned him. Homer jumped in his car, drove straight through to Wing, scooped up Ruby, fled to California, and married her.
JR continued his wandering ways. He would be here, then gone. Be here, then gone. For many years. I always loved talking to him. He would show me gold and other treasures, found in Mexico “a thousand miles off the blacktop.” Such stories fueled that wanderlust desire in me. But when my time came, and I had to make my decision after college to “scoop Barbara Sue up and marry her,” or see the world, I saw at least three other guys looming on the horizon who wanted to marry her, also. I wanted her more. We raised a great family, Corey and Kinley. They produced wonderful grandchildren for us, Caylie, Christian, Jordan, Jackson, Carson, Cati Beth, and Jett, who was, sadly, stillborn. We retired. I was pleased to discover Barbara loved to roam the world every bit as much as I do. So, after our early retirement, we found ourselves spreading wing and seeing the world. Barbara has seen all fifty states, and we have seen every continent except Asia and Antarctica. By the way, you don't happen to know anybody who would like to lease our house for a year, do you? It's on the market. We have done this before, and if it happens again, we'll be outta here!
For many years, when JR saw a member of my family, he always asked about Ruby. At one hundred, he still did. He looked great. He got around well. But his short term memory recycled very fast. When we had to tell him, again, that Ruby has been dead many decades, he began the mourning process all over again. But it did not last long.

The last time I talked to JR, His memories were essentially gone. He made no mention of Ruby. He had, at last, been released from his lifelong agony of loving, and losing, Ruby. JR passed away in 2012 at the age of one hundred two.

Spreading Wing can be purchased at Or, you can order your own personalized copy of it or Forever Cry by contacting me at Forever Cry is not yet on Amazon. It is on sale at Hardman Interiors in Arkadelphia. I'm busy shopping it around with traditional publishers. Thanks for your time and your attention.