The Jesse James’ of the World

16 Oct

I was watching an NFL game and heard the announcer say something about a player named Jesse James. Obviously, this made me think about the famous outlaw, and I began to wonder something. How many people have this name?

In addition to the football player, there is the television reality star who was once married to Sandra Bullock. He made to it television as an customizer of motorcycles.

A professional wrestler also used Jesse James as a ring name. Of course, character names tend of change in professional wrestling, and he has also wrestled as Road Dogg and a few other things.

Locally, there is a country music singer named Jessie James. I do not know what she sings, but I know she is married to Eric Decker, who plays for the Tennessee Titans.

The list goes on and on, but you get the point. A lot of people are named Jesse James. This begs a question – why are people named for this criminal?

It is a question that has a few answers. In fact, I cover a few of them in class.

First, we tend to think of Old West outlaws as heroes. This could be because they represent independence and the ability to do as they please. It could also be because dime novels and movies convinced Americans that they lived a romantic lifestyle. This definitely happened with the original Jesse James.

However, there is one problem. I am not certain that Jesse James is an Old West outlaw. Some of his most famous robberies took place in Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky and Minnesota. Heck, he lived for a couple of years in Nashville. I am not sure those are places people have in mind when they think of the Old West.

Second, Jesse James is a cool name. It is alliterative and roles of the tongue. When people refer to Jesse James, they never say Jesse or James. They always say his entire name. Consider the brother of Jesse James. Frank James was involved in the robberies, but his name does not live on as a football player, motorcycle customizer, wrestler or country singer. The name does not draw the proper attention.

Yes, people are named Jesse James because of the original’s hero status and because it sounds cool. Heck, if the football player was named Frank James I would not even had heard it. I would not be writing this post, and you would not be reading it.

It sort of makes me sad for Frank James. Of course, Jesse was killed because he was the famous one, and Frank lived to a ripe old age. Frank James may be the cooler name after all.

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My iPod Has Issues – It Has Been a Busy Day

11 Oct

It has been a busy day. It all started with a Historic Lebanon meeting at 7:30. Then, I went to work and prepared for my 9:30 class. After a quick lunch, it was time for my 12:30 class. At that point, I spent time at the copy machine making tests. That involves pushing more buttons than they push in a NASA control room.

I left campus and went to the bank. There were deposits to make. Then, it was to a meeting about city council issues. When that meeting was over, I drove to a meeting of the James E. Ward Agriculture and Community Center Management Committee. Yep, that is a along name. A lot of government committees have long names.

At that point, I went back to campus to finish making copies of tests. Of course, that involved pushing a bunch of buttons. On a mission to find copy paper, I ran into a couple of the other history professors and talked to them for a bit.

After all of that, I made it home to have a dinner of cold pizza. To wind down, I decided to have a little bourbon and see what is going on inside the mind of my iPod.

“Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin

“Keep A Knockin'” by Little Richard

“Changes” by David Bowie

“You Could Be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses

“Sleeping Bag” by ZZ Top

“Standing in the Safety Zone” by The Fairfield Four

“Tombstone Blues” by Bob Dylan

“Lady Marmalade” by Labelle

“I Just Can’t Help Believing” by B.J. Thomas

“No Better for You” by Gay Crosse and the Good Humor Six

“Bye Bye Love” by The Everly Brothers

“Westbound and Down” by Jerry Reed

“Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro

“Next to Me” by Clyde McPhatter

“We Will Rock You” by Queen

“Bring It On Home to Me” by Sam Cooke

“Help Me” by Joni Mitchell

“Ain’t That a Shame” by Fats Domino

“Baby Please Don’t Go” by Van Morrison

“I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher

 

 

The Amazing Journey of an Almost Forgotten Fountain

9 Oct

In 1925, the Margaret Gaston Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution donated a fountain to honor the pioneers who settled our city. The fountain was placed in the northwest corner of the square where, at one time, people gathered to collect water. From its day of dedication, the fountain has had an interesting journey. Yes, it has been on the move.

The fountain remained in place for a couple of decades. I can imagine people in the 1930s gathering around it and discussing the hard economic times. They could have walked by while talking about the new president Franklin Roosevelt and wondering if he could do anything about it. During World War II, it was probably a backdrop for gatherings to sell war bonds or to see sons off to fight. It definitely survived the Tennessee Maneuvers, which were headquartered in our town. I wonder how close it came to being knocked down by a tank.

The fountain sat on the square through all of that, but it could not survive construction. The city was doing major repairs on the northwest corner of the square when Joe Graves, who served as county sheriff, saw the fountain on the back of a truck. When he learned that it was headed for the trash dump, he took it to his home on West End Heights and turned it into what must have been the nicest bird bath in town.

In 1967, Mr. Graves passed away. A year later, his widow sold the house, and the fountain was relocated to the home of their daughter Pam Tomlinson. The fountain that started on the town square was now a fixture in the Centerville community.

In the 1970s, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lawlor contacted Pam about the fountain and asked if she would be willing to return it to the Daughters of the American Revolution. She happily gave it back for it restored to a place of prominence. In 1976, it was rededicated and placed in front of City Hall on College Street, which was only a few blocks from its original location. A plaque commemorating the event was placed on its base, and it was transformed into a drinking fountain.

Finally, the fountain that had a home on the square and a home on West End Heights and a home in Centerville had a permanent home. Except, it did not. City Hall was moved to the former campus of Castle Heights Military Academy, and the fountain did not make the transition. Pam, like her father decades earlier, became concerned about the fountain. She asked several city officials and employees about their plans. After months of inquiries, she found it behind the city’s Public Works building with a pile of trash headed for the dump. She asked a city employee to deliver it to her house. Once again, the fountain was saved.

That was a couple of decades ago. The fountain faded from the memory of most, and those who remembered thought it was gone for good. Then, I received a call from my friend Larry, Pam’s husband. He had an offer I could not refuse. I had been appointed City Historian, and he was sitting on one of our city’s great mysteries – the Missing Daughters of the American Revolution Fountain. He told me that they wanted to give it back and for me to tell everyone that I knew where it was located.

At the next meeting of Historic Lebanon, I made the announcement that I had talked to the person who was in possession of the fountain. Mary-Margaret, member of Historic Lebanon and the Daughters of the American Revolution, immediately wanted the details. I told her that the location had to remain secret, but they could have it when a good location was chosen to display the fountain permanently.

Last week, the Margaret Gaston Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution held a ceremony to once again rededicate the fountain.

It now sits in front of the Fite-Fessenden House, which is home to the Wilson County Museum. The fountain is a few hundred yards from its original location. After 92 years, we all hope that the fountain has finally found a permanent home. If not, then, hopefully, someone in the Graves family tree will come to the rescue.

 

 

Remembering Road Music

23 Sep

Today, we had a delivery to our house. However, this one was a little different from the typical visit from UPS or FedEx. A big rig, 18-wheeler semi-truck and trailer pulled into our driveway and parked at the side of our house. When the stuff was unloaded, the driver headed through the gate and turned around in the pasture behind the house.

I immediately started singing, “Give me 40 acres to turn this rig around.” My wife looked at me like I was nuts, and I had to explain that it was an old Country song.

When I was a kid, they sold albums on television. The commercial played snippets of songs on the album, and the announcer gave out a phone number to order it. Those commercials always got my attention, and I always wanted to buy the albums.

Certainly, my mom did not buy all of the albums that I wanted, but she bought one of the all time greats – Road Music: 23 Truckin’ Hits.

Looking back, the producers were certainly trying to capitalize on the trucking and CB craze of the time. However, they also mined some classic Country hits of the trucking genre. It included artists like Minnie Pearl, Del Reeves, Jimmy Martin and Red Sovine, who made a career out of trucking songs.

Of course, I did not know all of that when I was a kid. I just knew that it was a cool commercial with cool sounding songs. It also had a cover that attracted my young attention.

I listened to the album over and over. My favorite songs were:

“Six Days on the Road” by Dave Dudley

“Convoy” by T.H. Music Festival

“Give Me 40 Acres to Turn This Rig Around” by The Willis Brothers

“Phantom 309” by Red Sovine

It was a great album. Now, I have to see if I can find a copy out there somewhere. No more phone numbers. I will just Google it.

Whatever Happened to Sandahl Bergman?

14 Sep

My wife has an addiction, and it is called Outlander. I would have watched it with her, but she binged the first season before I could catch up. That is fine. Now, she cannot make fun of me for being addicted Game of Thrones. By the way, Outlander is tiddlywinks compared to Game of Thrones.

Anyway, I am sitting in one room watching Conan the Barbarian while she sits in another room watching her show. Actually, I am listening to Conan the Barbarian while I type this post. Without a doubt, the best scene in the entire movie is when James Earl Jones turns into a giant snake.

When I was at work, something entered my mind that I wanted to write about. Now, I cannot remember it. I reckon that is what getting older does. Hopefully, that thought will come back before the typing stops. There is nothing worse than having a blogging idea and having it disappear. Well, there are worse things, but that is the worst thing that happened today.

Whatever happened to Sandahl Bergman? She played Valeria, Conan’s love interest. Man, she was something. In fact, she was so great that I included her in one of this blog’s earliest posts.

That is all I have for now. My mind needs to prepare itself for tomorrow’s classes and the test I have to create for next week. I wonder how difficult I can make it. Perhaps I should ask them whatever happened to Sandahl Bergman.

Mys iPod Has Issues – Working on the Back Porch

27 Aug

I am sitting on the back porch working on stuff for tomorrow’s classes. The sun is shining. A breeze is blowing. The chimes are chiming. The cows are grazing. I decided it was time to take a break from work and see what is happening inside the mind of my iPod.

Here we go.

“Legend of Billy the Kid” by J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers

“Who Do You Love?” by Bo Diddley

“Free Fallin'” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

“Wasted Time” by The Eagles

“Against All Odds” by Phil Collins

“Maggie May” by Rod Stewart

“Time of the Season” by The Zombies

“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

“Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin

“Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits

“Train, Train” by Blackfoot

“Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green

“Phone Booth” by Robert Cray Band

“Save a Prayer” by Duran Duran

“Song for a Winter’s Night” by Gordon Lightfoot

“Hot in the City” by Billy Idol

“Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” by Neil Diamond

“Sunshine on My Shoulders” by John Denver

“Sonny Got Caught in the Moonlight” by Robbie Robertson

“Slow Movin’ Outlaws” by Waylon Jennings

The Eclipse Was Bigger Than Politics

25 Aug

Earlier this week, we were in the path of the total solar eclipse, and it was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. When the moon completely blocked the sun, there was a ring in the sky. However, that was not the only fascinating part of the event. There was a 360 degree sunset. Crickets began to chirp because they thought it was night. Deer came out from their hiding places. For more than two minutes, we were in a different world.

However, those were just part of the experience.

We were invited by a local business owner to watch the event from his office. He hosted a cookout with all kinds of great food. There were games to play while we waited for the eclipse. A DJ play music that had a certain theme. Every song was celestial. When the sun went completely out, he played “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd. Of course, the soundtrack was not complete without “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler.

Dozens of people had their special glasses and used them to look into the sky. During the party, I was struck by our differences. Represented in the crowd were different races, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. No matter our experiences or ideas, we were all experiences the same feelings, and we were experiencing them together.

Lately, we read and hear a lot about our differences, but, for a few minutes, we were in a crowd that was united by an amazons sight.

When the total eclipse ended, I jumped on to Twitter to find out what people were saying about their eclipse experience. That is when I saw that some people were being snarky about it and trying to put a political spin on it.

The sun is even hiding from the president.

Hey Trump, God turned the lights out on you.

I could list a lot, but that is not the point of this post.

The point is that some things are above politics.

I do not care who likes the president and who does not like the president. Frankly, I do not care what people say. However, I care when people take an event like this and use it to create some witty comment. Yes, they probably received a bunch of likes, but they missed the reality of the situation.

There is a lot going on in our world, and a lot of people have differing opinions. Earlier this week, we experienced an event that brought a lot of people together. In our crowd, I am certain that different people had different thoughts about the president and everything else. However, none of that matter. We were experiencing something together that made us all equal, and that equality showed us how small we really are. We are people living in one country on a small planet in the middle of a big universe.

We get bogged down in politics, but some things are bigger than all of that. People should not diminish it with some witty Twitter post about what is wrong about the world.