If you didn’t see last week, viral country sensation Mason Ramsey covered Hank Williams’s hit song “Lovesick Blues.” This song went viral at the apex of country music in 1949 with the aforementioned country legend. That’s what we’re talking about today on #HistoryMonday.
Just like Mason Ramsey, Hank Williams was not the original writer or singer or “Lovesick Blues” but made it popular during 1948 and much more popular after its release by MGM records in 1949. Also, like Mason Ramsey, Hank Williams was quite young when he shot to fame with this song and much of the rest of his catalog. Williams began his singing career around the age of 14 and by the age of 23 had a recording contract with a major label in MGM records.
Hank had tried to audition for the Grand Ole Opry in 1946 but was rejected. Even after the popularity of his first record with MGM Records, Williams was still declined admission into the Opry. Many of the directors and promoters for the Grand Ole Opry were reluctant to allow Hank to perform due to his well-known struggles with alcoholism. In response to the rejection by the Opry, Williams chose to perform on the Louisiana Hayride where he debuted his version of “Lovesick Blues” to adoring fans.
As the Grand Ole Opry saw Hank’s success with the Hayride, they decided to extend an invitation to him to perform for their show at the Ryman Auditorium. Hank’s performance ranks in the most popular performances of the Grand Ole Opry. The performance included much of Hank’s catalogue of songs and six encores of “Lovesick Blues” per the audience’s demand. Even after the sixth encore, Opry hosts had to admonish the crowd that Hank needed rest and there were other acts that would like to showcase their own talents.
Hank William’s debut performance at the Grand Ole Opry on this day in 1949 was able to earn him regular spots performing at the Ryman for the Opry. The Opry was willing most of the time to overlook Hank’s alcoholism during the continued appearances at the Ryman until 1952. The reason given for Williams firing from the Opry was attributed to his habitual drunkenness and the no-shows for his performances that the drinking caused. Sadly, only a few months later Hank Williams died at the age of 29.
How does this affect us today? Well for those of us who have a vast knowledge and appreciation of historic country, it’s worth remembering the glory days of Hank Williams, Sr. It’s also significant for those same fans to see what this meant for Hank, Jr.
It’s also important to note that even today, country artists aim to meet expectations as Hank Williams, while hopefully avoiding his tumultuous tenure and unceremonious exit. The Grand Ole Opry is the recognition for emerging country artists to see their efforts are worth it. Artists are even more excited when they are inducted into the Opry. I’ve watched the videos on the Opry’s social media accounts of modern and even historical artists being inducted into the Opry, and the emotions they produce.
It’s also exciting to attend shows at the Grand Ole Opry at either the Ryman or the Grand Ole Opry House and see top country acts. I’ve been able to visit the Ryman Auditorium during a National Honor Society field trip and stand on the same stage where legends such as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, George Strait, and others. I would’ve liked to also attend a show at the Ryman during that same field trip, but we weren’t able to do so. I’d also like to attend Grand Ole Opry at the Grand Ole Opry House and watch one of the shows, but as with much of my concertgoing ideas, I have to consider I’m fairly tapped out on cash to really feed those desires. Maybe, one day I’ll have the means and opportunities to really enjoy music in concert. But until such day, the concerts are limited to me singing along with my favorites in the car driving down the road. 😉
Also, of not Hank William’s debut at the Opry provided him the opportunity to continue his influence in country music with other hits over the next 3 years including, “Kaw-Liga”, “Cold, Cold Heart”, “I Saw the Light”, and “Your Cheatin’ Heart” along with others in his complete discography.
The week comes to an end again, and that means #CurrentEventFriday. Today’s installment deals with some particularly ridiculous virtue signaling and feigned outrage. No, it has nothing to do with Trump or the Left being particularly incensed about something he did. That’s pretty much an everyday occurrence and is almost always a current event. So, take heart reader I’m not discussing that. This is something I regard more than your political worldview — breakfast.
That’s right the International House of Pancakes® is changing from their familiar name IHOP® to the newly-branded name IHOB®. Fans of the diner style restaurant known almost extensively for it’s fluffy flapjacks and multiple syrup flavors is changing its name. The outrage was not even based on party lines, with both blue and red fans being upset about the name change.
Frankly, I couldn’t care less. I’ve always been more of a Denny’s fan, but I can remember visiting IHOP in Terre Haute during undergrad more than a few times late at night. I can also remember visiting the IHOP in Columbus, Indiana for my brother’s rehearsal dinner (mostly because there were only 5 minutes of rehearsal and they were cheap and didn’t offer dinner). I also am not surprised or upset about this, because I’ve seen sweeping name changes of other companies and organizations and it doesn’t stop people from referring to them by their well-traveled name. Recently Domino’s® rolled out an announcement they were dropping Pizza from their name because they offer more than pizza. Sorry, but I’m not calling them for their Pasta, Wings, or Cheesy Bread. If I call Domino’s I’m calling to order pizza. I will admit their non-pizza offerings are really good, but it’s a pizza place at the end of the day. Of course, since most people already shortened their name to Domino’s from Domino’s Pizza it’s not a stretch, but the announcement was silly. Just recently as the Boy Scouts of America have agreed to accept scouts of any gender they have renamed their organization Scouts of America BSA. Again, fairly unnecessary since the former name was abbreviated as BSA prior to the sweeping enrollment requirements being changed. Also more than a little confusing. Why use BSA? Because either the S & A are redundant abbreviations for Scouts and America or they’re nonsense letters that stand for nothing. The FFA had already made a similar change in 1988 from the Future Farmers of America to National FFA Organization, even though the letters no longer were abbreviations representing the original words and FFA only stands for the letters themselves.
Locally, many got upset a few years ago at the renaming of the local children’s hospital after an affiliation with the local Shriners’ Charity ended. Growing up much of my time spent undergoing surgeries and tests for my heart condition was spent at Kosair Children’s Hospital, but when the Kosair Charity ended its affiliation with the hospital it reverted to Norton Children’s Hospital. Somewhat out of spite and obstinance, myself and others who’ve known the hospital by its former name continue to refer to it by that name rather than recognizing the name change.
I’m perfectly fine with businesses and organizations changing their names for legitimate reasons and to reflect an innovative approach or new pursuits, but sometimes the changes cause more confusion, particularly when they use an abbreviation from their earlier days as part of the new name that becomes redundant or nonsensical. AT&T works because they didn’t change their name from American Telephone & Telegraph Company to AT&T American Telecommunications, Inc. They just changed it from their abbreviated form and kept the incorporation designation as their official name and still remain known by only the abbreviation. I’m also okay with people choosing new names for themselves to signal a difference from their parents or a past life or adopting nicknames to show that they are cool. Biblical examples include Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter, and Saul to Paul. All these name changes reflected an encounter with God who changed the trajectory of their lives and they recognized that their lives had been changed.
What bothers me is companies and organizations changing their names and making big official announcements about the name change when in my mind there was nothing that really should have precipitated that change. Basically, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Anyways, back to your regularly scheduled programming, I chased the old ranting coot out of here. Enjoy your weekend.
Hey hey, kids it’s Daniel Boone Day today. Yes, I know any kids reading this likely have no idea who Daniel Boone is or why he has a day devoted to him, but I wanted a funny hook.
Today really is Daniel Boone Day and it’s important particularly for mid-Southern and Midwestern residents. Daniel “Dan’l” Boone was an important pioneer in both of those regions and his name litters the landscape of those regions in memory of his contributions.
I’ll admit, I’m a little bit more familiar with Daniel’s brother Squire Boone, Jr. Squire Boone resided south of Corydon, Indiana and a system of caverns located on property previously belonging to the Boone family bear his name.
Anyway, back to the more famous Boone brother — Daniel Boone. Daniel Boone began his adult years serving in the British army in the French & Indian War and his unit was commanded by future president George Washington. Boone would subsequently after the war relocate to North Carolina. It was during this time and during his military service that he learned about the existence of a passage into the frontier lands of Kentucky.
Daniel Boone had learned how to hunt, fish, and trap during his formative years in his native Pennsylvania. The frontier skills he learned in the appropriately named Penn’s Sylvania meaning (William) Penn’s Forest that Boone would later use in the wild and untamed lands of early Kentucky. Daniel and Squire Boone were able to find the passage between Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky known as the Cumberland Gap along with several other North Carolinian and Virginian explorers. Unfortunately for most of the other explorers, they met untimely deaths at the hands of various Native American tribes, especially the Shawnee. The Boones were the only frontiersmen who managed to escape relatively unscathed in the exploratory parties.
Daniel Boone spent much of his life in Kentucky and its frontier and was able to guide others to make their way into the relatively unsettled region. Boone was again eager to serve in the military and fought for the Americans in the Revolutionary War and he was able to survive various dangerous skirmishes during the war and retired again to Kentucky.
As more settlers began settling in Kentucky, and Boone’s ill-fated decisions regarding deeds and land titles, Boone chose to move from the land that had provided him notoriety and a new home. Upon departing Kentucky, Boone traveled to the next American frontier located in the Louisiana Territory. Settling in Missouri, Boone was able to receive official positions in the Spanish territory of Louisiana before the American ownership of the lands. When the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from the French, Boone spent the next decade working to get official recognition of the ownership of lands in Missouri. He lived the remainder of his days until his death in 1820 in Missouri and is buried there. Yet, Kentucky has a grave connected to Daniel Boone that supposedly contains a plaster casting of Daniel Boone’s skeleton, but historians debate whether the skeleton that was cast in the plaster was actually that of Boone or an unknown slave.
Boone’s legacy of course lives on today in Daniel Boone Day, as well as Boone counties in Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, West Virginia, Missouri, Arkansas, and Kentucky. As well as towns named Boone, NC and Boonesborough, KY and the Daniel Boone National Forest. Additionally, Boone’s legacy and legend grew thanks to John Filson’s book The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke which included a section titled, “The Adventures of Col. Daniel Boon.” Writers like James Fennimore Cooper adapted events in Boone’s life in The Leatherstocking Tales and Lord Byron’s poem Don Juan. Much of the lore provided by Filson, Cooper, and Byron about Boone likely took artistic liberties and tall-tale characteristics in describing Boone’s exploits. While the actual individual events described in these events may be suspect, Boone’s shrewd lifestyle of a frontiersmen is not debated, and his cunning survival instincts are admired by Americans and celebrated as part of the pioneering spirit of America even to this day.
I’ve written a couple posts about recent places I’ve traveled and reviewed restaurants and attractions in those locations, but I want to talk about one I’ve barely been. I’m tempted to say I’ve never been to this location and want to go, but I did go when I was about a year old, so my memory and knowledge is limited to one or two old photos and reminiscing from my parents.
If you’re not a vexillophile like Sheldon Cooper at least my title hopefully gives you a clue about the location — New Orleans, Louisiana. The image featured on this post is the flag of the City of New Orleans in case you didn’t know.
I know I’m not the only one who wants to travel to New Orleans, and I’m also not the only one who’s been that’s for sure. Based on the number of city guides on Fodor’s, The Travel Channel, and numerous posts on Pinterest I’m in good company.
I did make a trip about 10 years ago to D’iberville, MS and the surrounding communities of Gulfport and Biloxi for United Methodist relief efforts years after Hurricane Katrina but didn’t make it to New Orleans even though it was about an hour and a half away. Even Ross has been more recently to New Orleans, thanks to his time spent in Mississippi for a summer.
Traveling to New Orleans is definitely something I’ve romanticized. I like much of Cajun cuisine including gumbo, jambalaya, and boudin. Although I like those dishes, I will admit I’m not a fan of the chicory coffee. I can’t say I’ve had beignets to know whether I’d like them, but I assume just based on other people’s posts and videos of them eating beignets they are sinfully delicious. I’ve had bananas foster flavored dishes but not the official dish available at Commander’s Palace.
Besides the cuisine of New Orleans, I know that there are attractions like St. Louis Cathedral, shops on Bourbon Street, the French Quarter, historical Jazz attractions, steamboat commemorative exhibits, botanical gardens, and the St. Louis Cemetery. Also of note are museums dedicated to the contributions of African Americans in the city. I know I’m only scratching the surface, but not having been there for 30+ years and having no memory makes it hard except to read the travelers’ guides.
I write all this about my desire to travel to New Orleans as I stare at this framed promise and encouragement. Travel does await, hopefully that includes a trip to New Orleans in the very near future. Until then, I take this inspiration from someone well acquainted with New Orleans, Mark Twain who had this to say of travel, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in you sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Hopefully it won’t be twenty years until I get to New Orleans and regret not going sooner. I’m sure I’ll be there before then and I already can’t wait.
What about you is there somewhere you haven’t explored or discovered, but dream about? Have you been to New Orleans?
Time for another #HistoryMonday post, and today had quite a few historic events to choose from and I deliberated awhile on what to write about, and I finally settled on something that might be a little less known than some of the other notable events. Be sure to look at https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history if you want to check out some of the events I chose not to discuss.
About a third of automotive fans will be excited about today’s post and the other two-thirds will find some way to tease the other third. Regardless of the friendly rivalry between automotive brands from their fans, Henry Ford can’t be overlooked. Now I’m guessing you’d assume that on this day the Model T was first produced but you’d be wrong.
Before the Model T was created on Ford’s assembly line Henry Ford had to build his first gas-powered automobile. It was on this day in 1896 that Henry Ford built what he termed the Quadricycle. As with most of Ford’s contributions to the automobile industry, it’s not that he is the first inventor of an automobile component or automobile, it’s that he perfects the construction and design of automobiles.
Henry Ford was working for Edison Illuminating Company when he first conceived of building a quadricycle. Ford found inspiration from another inventor and fellow engineer — Charles Brady King. King was able to build a four-cylinder gasoline engine powered automobile that was able to reach a whopping speed of seven miles per hour. Ford saw an opportunity to make a quadricycle that was lighter and faster. With help from King and others at the Edison Illuminating company Ford achieved that feat just three months after King’s maiden voyage.
Without Ford’s vision to improve on automobiles and see the potential of gas-powered engines the United States wouldn’t have the car culture we have today. It still amazes me how young the technology of automobiles really is compared to other technologies. Some will object and point out that it’s over a century old but compared to much of our other technology and industries it’s relatively young.
Ford’s proof of concept with the quadricycle continued to fuel his passion for the automobile and gas-powered engines eventually led to the creation and success of the Ford Motor Company. And yes, GM and FCA/Dodge fans you have to give credit to Ford. Ford’s success with the Model T helped push the popularity of other Detroit automobile companies like GM. Also, specifically, Fiat Chrysler/Dodge should give credit to ford since Ford gave actual credit as investment capital to the Dodge brothers to begin their company. Consider automobile production from a capitalist perspective, every car company tries to do what Henry Ford did. Each company wants to do better than their competitor whether by making a faster, more affordable, or safer car than the other guy. They each push each other to get better in one or all those traits plus other traits of production to sell more.
Oh yeah, and just because I’m Team #MoparOrNoCar, the Ford Quadricycle did break down during the drive thanks to a faulty part, so yes even the first Ford was the inspiration for the backronym Found On Road Dead. Sorry Blue Oval Crew, I had to get one shot in.
Friday has rolled around again, and that means it’s time for #CurrentEventFriday. I’m discussing a current event that’s more personally connected — Family Reunions.
I chose to discuss this, because our Annual Family Reunion is coming up tomorrow. This reunion celebrates and memorializes my dad’s maternal grandparents and their descendants. The official name is the Gilbert Free Reunion, but when advertised on the banner at the shelter house it could easily be mistaken by passersby as an invitation to a free reunion.
I’m reminded of a portion of comedian Ralph Harris’s standup bit about his inebriated uncle and the uncle’s complaints directed at the family and their “re-u’ion” and their nitpicking ways. Fortunately for our family reunion none of these outbursts happen (Although, I’m guessing a few cousins enjoy at least a few cold ones).
It’s always interesting to get together with the family and enjoy the fellowship, which seems somewhat strange since 85% of the family lives within 15 miles of the old family homestead. Of course, there’s a few outliers which now includes me. It now also includes Ross and his family too. It’s also somewhat startling to watch the younger cousins and those in my generation grow up and be parents and now even grandparents. Sadly, too it’s jarring that my grandmother is the lone surviving sibling in her generation. Thankfully she’s still going strong, and at least two of her sisters-in-law will occasionally make appearances at the reunion.
I’m always amazed at the reunion following the same routine almost every year, but nobody ever complains that, “But, we did this last year.” We usually gather at one of the local state parks to celebrate the reunion rotating between Spring Mill — site of Astronaut Gus Grissom’s memorial or Patoka Lake — a man-made lake created through efforts of the Army Corps of Engineers to dam a local river. In recent years, we’ve also included another local campsite funded by a private family trust.
The routine always starts with a pitch-in meal beginning around 1 p.m. Of course, anything connected to fellowship should always be connected to food, and the wealth of food ensures good fellowship. There’s the usual picnic fare: fried chicken, potato salad, slaw, and watermelon. Besides that, because we’re in Indiana there’s usually corn. There are also a dozen or so casseroles with meat or other vegetables, and to round out the meal there are at least a baker’s dozen or more desserts including flavors of chocolate, strawberry, peach, and sundry fruits. This is always a good idea given the fact that every single sibling in grandma’s generation was diabetic, and more than a few of dad’s generation suffer from the same disease. None of this stops anyone from overindulging in the food and fellowship.
Thankfully the routine usually includes an exercise component as the meal finishes. About 1/3 of the family plays horseshoes, cornhole, or other games just a few feet from the shelter house, and another third takes turns in groups of 5-10 walking the trails in the park. For those at Patoka Lake, this includes a trip often down to the beach to enjoy the cool muddy water as a respite from the unbearable June heat. Much more fun can be had at Spring Mill, the hiking component here includes a trip to the recreationist Pioneer Village. As mentioned, even though the routine at each routine is the same and by my count I’ve hiked to the village around 20 times, it’s always an opportunity to observe what life might have been like in the late 19th Century. Part of the trip through the village also includes demonstrations at the still operating grist mill used to grind cornmeal for sale. There’s also the usual attempts by the men in the group to add levity to the tour through some well-timed remark about needing to stop by the tavern or needing to stop at the schoolhouse since according to fictitious claims they barely grajiated the 8th grade.
For the other third that don’t play horseshoes and the other games or take the hiking tour, there’s times of sitting around and shooting the breeze and reconnecting about what’s going on in each other’s lives, and maybe sneaking another slice of Mamaw’s raisin pie.
What also strikes me about the family reunion is that it seems to be more of a phenomenon for Dad’s family. We celebrate every year the Gilbert Free Reunion and Mamaw’s family, but I can remember Papaw (my paternal grandfather) having family reunions with his family growing up as well. Some of these reunions were officially organized to celebrate the Agan family, and others included more casual affairs when Papaw’s distant relatives were in town from Minnesota, Colorado, Texas, or Iowa respectively. I’ve remarked to Mom that her family doesn’t seem to have reunions and she recognizes that, and she’s gotten used to family reunions as she’s been involved with dad and began attending when they began dating. There have been a small handful of reunions with Mom’s family that I can remember but they weren’t greatly attended, so apparently not everyone has family reunions. I was reminded of this fact last summer as it was my turn to bring an outsider into the fold as I brought my ex and she was subjected to the usual initiation rituals.
It’s surely a credit to Dad’s family and their efforts to insure continued connection between the family and incorporating new generations into that connection along with the various in-laws and outlaws into that connection as well. I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older that it’s important to celebrate the annual tradition of the reunion. Because if we can’t celebrate the connection of those we are connected to as family, what hope is there to celebrate connection of friends and other acquaintances?
What about you, does your family have reunions and are they looked forward to every year?