Tag Archives: Missouri

Movie Wisdom- Wendell Mayes Edition

29 May

The other day, I got a call from Ken Beck, a friend and journalist who writes a lot of articles about local history. He asked if I have ever heard of a former Cumberland University student named Wendell Mayes. When I said that I did not know the name, Ken began to explain.

While doing research on something else, he came across Wendell Mayes and learned that he was a Hollywood screenwriter who worked on screenplays for such movies as The Spirit of St. Louis, Anatomy of a Murder, North to Alaska, The Poseidon Adventure and Death Wish. Ken wanted to write a story about Mayes but discovered that he had no children to interview. He found a great article about Mayes. However, one great article does not turn into another great article. In short, I was sent on a mission to find out about his time at our university.

After spending time not finding much at the Alumni House, I asked one of our librarians. Here is a hint. If you need to find information then see a librarian. They know all of the tricks. One of their best tricks is finding someone who can find the answer. Within a few hours, Joshua, one of my former students, sent an email with information.

Wendell Mayes was born in Caruthersville, Missouri in 1914. This is important because most sources list him as being born five years later. He attended law school at Cumberland University in the 1933-1934 academic year. Joshua even found a copy of his student registration card.

Internet Movie Database list Mayes’ first writing credit in 1951. If anyone knows what happened in those 17 years please let me know.

In the meantime, I will honor Wendell Mayes’ legacy by listing some words of wisdom that came from his movies.

From The Spirit of St. Louis

Nothing too wrong with this dead reckoning navigation… except maybe the name.

From The Hanging Tree

If you open your eyes and look, you’ll see things for what they are.

Where the wind blows too hard, the trees gotta bend.

From Anatomy of a Murder

People aren’t just good or just bad. People are many things.

I never met a gin drinker yet that you could trust.

From In Harm’s Way

All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be someplace else.

On the most exalted throne in the world, we are seated on nothing but our own arse.

Fish, or cut bait.

Indecision is a virus.

From Hotel

A sure way to empty a hotel fast: drop an elevator.

 

 

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“Travel America” and Me

20 Feb

The other day, we were flying to Arizona, and I picked up a magazine to read on the plane. Travel America lists over 250 places to visit in the United States. As I skimmed through the pages, I began to count all of the ones that I have visited. I have been lucky enough to travel to all 50 states and have seen some great stuff. This is a list of places that Travel America and I have in common.

Wait, here is a picture that I took on the trip to get you in the mood. It is in the Superstition Mountains.img_2279

Massachusetts

Paul Revere House

Old North Church

USS Constitution

New York

Central Park

Madison Avenue

Statue of Liberty

Empire State Building

Broadway

Niagara Falls

Pennsylvania

Independence Hall

Liberty Bell

National Constitution Center

Rhode Island

The Breakers

Florida

Walt Disney World

Kennedy Space Center

Everglades National Park

Miami Beach

South Beach

Georgia

River Street

Buckhead

Georgia Aquarium

World of Coca-Cola Museum

Kentucky

University of Kentucky

Louisiana

Garden District

Lafayette Cemetery

French Quarter

Louisiana State University

Mississippi

Ground Zero Blues Club

Delta Blues Museum

Natchez Trace

North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Biltmore

South Carolina

Harbour Town Golf Links

Tennessee

Beale Street

B.B. King’s Blues Club

Graceland

Ryman Auditorium

Country Music Hall of Fame

The Hermitage

Union Station Hotel

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Alum Cave Trail

Cade’s Cove

Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Arlington National Cemetery

Old Town Alexandria

Mount Vernon

Illinois

Michigan Avenue

Indiana

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Michigan

University of Michigan

Missouri

Gateway Arch

North Dakota

Badlands

Fort Mandan

Ohio

Progressive Field

Warehouse District

Oklahoma

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

Cattleman’s Steakhouse

South Dakota

Badlands National Park

Wall Drug

Mount Rushmore

Crazy Horse Memorial

Custer State Park

Saloon #10

Mt. Moriah Cemetery

Arizona

Tombstone

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Grand Canyon

Canyon de Chelly

Goulding’s Lodge and Trading Post

Sedona

Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Montana

Billings

Pompeys Pillar National Monument

Little Bighorn Battlefield Indian Memorial

Beartooth Highway

Glacier National Park

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Nevada

Death Valley National Park

Luxor

Excalibur

Venetian

New Mexico 

Carlsbad Cavern

Palace of the Governors

Inn of the Anasazi

White Sands National Monument

Texas

Sixth Floor Museum

South Congress Avenue

Sixth Street

River Walk

The Alamo

Utah

Bryce Canyon

Temple Square

Wyoming

Snake River

Grand Tetons National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Inn

Yellowstone Lake

Old Faithful

Lower Falls

Yellowstone River

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park

Denali National Park

California

Universal Studios

HOLLYWOOD sign

Grauman’s Chinese Theater

Walk of Fame

Rodeo Drive

Golden Gate Bridge

Chinatown

Redwood National Park

General Sherman Tree

Sequoia National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Falls

Pacific Coast Highway

Hawaii

USS Arizona Memorial

Lanikai Beach

Volcanoes National Park

Waimea Canyon

Oregon

Haystack Rock

Columbia River Gorge

Mt. Hood

Historic Columbia River Highway

Crater Lake

Washington

Mount Rainier National Park

National Parks and Me

27 May

On our recent trip to New Mexico, we visited several places under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, and those visits made me wonder how many I have visited.Park

This post is simple. It is a list of the ones I have visited with a short comment about each. Oh yeah, they will also be listed by state.

Alaska

Denali National Park – a beautiful view of Mt. McKinley

Glacier Bay National Park – eagles, bears, whales and calving icebergs.

Arizona

Canyon de Chelly National Monument – an interesting ride into another culture

Grand Canyon National Park – a big hole in the ground

Montezuma Castle National Monument – cliff dwellings by the river

Petrified Forest National Park – trees of stone

Saguaro National Park – the insects make a weird sound, but the cacti are awesome

California

Death Valley National Park – hot does not describe it

Golden Gate National Recreation Area – the bridge is not golden

Redwood National Park – a bunch of big trees

Sequoia National Park – another bunch of big trees

Yosemite National Park – one of the most beautiful places on earth

Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Monument – it is a heck of a climb to the top

Mesa Verde National Park – unfortunately, I had to correct the park ranger

Georgia

Jimmy Carter National Historic Site – Plains never had it so good

Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – we visited before they started erupting

Louisiana

New Orleans Jazz National Historic Site – it is a room behind Cafe Du Monde

Mississippi

Natchez Trace Parkway – it is a cool drive but do not speed

Vicksburg National Military Park – this is what a siege looks like

Missouri

Harry S Truman National Historic Site – my favorite president to visit

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial – otherwise known as the Arch

Montana

Glacier National Park – it is my heading on Twitter

Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site – a real ranch is better

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument – my favorite battlefield to visit

Nevada

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – made famous by Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson

New Mexico

Bandelier National Monument – climb the ladders

Carlsbad Caverns National Park – walk in and take the elevator out

Chaco Culture National Historic Park – kivas are everywhere

El Morro National Monument – the most awesome collection of autographs ever

Fort Union National Monument – not much left of the fort

Pecos National Historical Park – exists due to the generosity of Greer Garson

Petroglyph National Monument – a victim of urban sprawl

White Sands National Monument – it is like visiting another planet

New York

Statue of Liberty National Monument – she has big feet

Oregon

Crater Lake National Park – bluest water I have ever seen

Lewis and Clark National Historic Park – this is where they stopped before turning around

Pennsylvania

Independence National Historic Park – they signed some sort of document around here

South Dakota

Badlands National Park – it took some bad people to survive here

Mount Rushmore National Memorial – where are the rest of their bodies

Tennessee

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site – it does not matter that he was impeached

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – it has some great hiking trails

Shiloh National Military Park – the tragedy can be felt in the air

Stones River National Battlefield – it is right down the road

Texas

San Antonio Missions National Historic Park – remember the Alamo

Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park – walk among the hoodoos

Virginia

Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial – it looks down on the eternal flame

George Washington Memorial Parkway – we had a nice lunch along this road

Washington

Mount Rainier National Park – you do not want to be around when it erupts

Washington, D.C.

Korean War Veterans Memorial – truly haunting at night

Lincoln Memorial – covered with people

National Mall – it is bigger than you might think

Vietnam Veterans Memorial – touch the wall and feel the loss

Washington Monument – they play softball all around it

White House – it does not look as big as I thought it would

World War II Memorial – try to find Kilroy

Wyoming

Devil’s Tower National Monument – did not see any alien spacecraft

Fort Laramie National Historic Site – several broken treaties signed here

Grand Teton National Park – what does that name mean in French

Yellowstone National Park – the jewel of all national parks

 

Listeria – Significant Others

7 Dec

We went to the grocery store, which was deserted because no one needs groceries the day after Thanksgiving, and I bought a couple of magazines. In fact, my magazines accounted for half of the total cost. Anyway, the good folks at the Smithsonian have put together a list called “The 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time.”

People are always putting out lists like this, and I am always buying them. I look through them and wonder why they pick this person over that one. Then, I wonder how I can use it in this blog. Do I pick out the ones that I like and write about them? Do I pick out the ones I disagree with and write about them?

There are a bunch of Listeria posts on this thing, and I have probably already done all of that. This list is going to be different. In an attempt to change the pattern and pump up my state, I went through the list of “The Most Significant Americans of All Time” and picked out the ones who have a connection to Tennessee. Some of them are obvious, but a few may be surprising.Flag

Meriwether Lewis, along with William Clark, led the Corps of Discovery across the Louisiana Territory and to the Pacific Ocean. Upon their return, Lewis was appointed governor of that territory. Facing stresses of many types, he traveled the Natchez Trace on his way to see Thomas Jefferson. Just south of Nashville, he died of two gunshot wounds in a roadside tavern. Lewis remains buried near Columbia, Tennessee.

Those who have studied the Civil Rights Movement know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. However, they may not know that he received training in activism at the Highlander Folk School in Grundy County, Tennessee. Other activists, including Rosa Parks and Ralph Abernathy, also attended the school.

W.E.B. DuBois founded the NAACP. Before that, he graduated from Fisk University in Nashville. Upon graduation, he taught at the Wheeler School in Wilson County, where I live. According to the The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, his work at the Wheeler School influenced his work, The Souls of Black Folk.

Andrew Jackson was the first president from Tennessee and lived a life that could fill a shelf of books. In fact, my colleague is currently working on his third book about Andrew Jackson. To purchase a book and find out more information about Old Hickory, visit his website at jacksonianamerica.com.

Theodore Roosevelt visited Tennessee while he was in office and spent some time at Jackson’s home, The Hermitage. According to legend, the drank coffee brewed at Nashville’s Maxwell House Hotel and said that it was “good to the last drop.”

Before his presidency, Ulysses S. Grant commanded all Union armies during the Civil War. Before receiving those orders, he commanded troops at the Battle of Fort Henry and the Battle of Shiloh in West Tennessee.

Oprah Winfrey is an icon of television and other forms of entertainment. Before all of that, she graduated from East Nashville High School and Tennessee State University. After winning the Miss Black Tennessee pageant, she was hired as news anchor for Nashville’s WLAC-TV, which is now WTVF.

After a failed robbery attempt in Northfield, Minnesota, Frank and Jesse James needed a place to hide. They chose Nashville. With their families, they lived under aliases and lived quiet lives. Unfortunately, Jesse was not content and wanted to return to outlawry. They returned to Missouri where Jesse was killed.

Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi but spent most of his life in Memphis. A lot can be written about the life of “The King of Rock n’ Roll,” but, for the purpose of this post, his rise to fame started in Tennessee. It was a fame that took him to the greatest heights and the lowest depths.

I learned a lot about Bob Dylan while researching for my class on the History of American Music. He has been more influential than I ever realized. What connection does he have to Tennessee? Nashville Skyline was recorded here, and he spent time with several legends of country music. According to the stories, the home of Johnny Cash was one of his favorite places to be.

Jimi Hendrix grew up in Seattle and first gained fame in London. He introduced himself Americans at Monterrey and became a legend at Woodstock. However, he learned how to play guitar in Nashville. While in the army, he was stationed at nearby Fort Campbell and spent his weekends playing in the clubs on Jefferson Street. He met and learned from Johnny Jones, a local guitarist. Hard to believe? Watch this video of his first television appearance on a local R n’ B show.

As far as I know, Cornelius Vanderbilt never visited Nashville. However, there is a university in the city that bears his name. One of the school’s founders was married to a distant Vanderbilt cousin and met the Commodore at a time when he was considering several causes in which to donate. The timing was perfect because the meeting led to a $1 million gift.

Babe Ruth and his teammates used to barnstorm during the offseason, and one of those tours took him to Chattanooga. That is when he was struck out by a female pitcher.

13 out of 100. That is not too bad.

 

 

Listeria – Inspiration Point

24 May

In the last post, I wrote about the list by True West of historic sites “that will make you weep.” That article contains a couple of secondary lists. One of those is “10 Western History Shrines That Will Inspire You.” Following are the ones that I have visited.

1. The Arch, St. Louis, Missouri – It is impressive to see. Driving into St. Louis, anyone can see that it dominates the skyline. However, I never saw it as inspiring. That could be because I have never been in it. I have been at its base and in the underground museum about westward expansion. However, my dislike of heights has kept me from going to the top. By the way, its real name is the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

2. The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas – In the last post, I wrote about my disappointment with the Alamo. Any place where people gave their lives is a place of inspiration. However, I cannot get over my initial feelings about the site.

3. Custer National Cemetery, Little Big Horn National Historic Battlefield – Before you get to the welcome center or the battlefield, you pass the cemetery. Like other military cemeteries, this one makes you think about all of those who gave their lives for their country. Our nation has not always gone into a fight for a just reason, but that does not lessen the sacrifices of those who served.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 123

4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho – The last time I was in the park was with my dad, my brother and my nephews. We did not go into the heart of the park but walked around the Mammoth Hot Springs and the Yellowstone River. The natural wonders are amazing, and the power of the earth is inspiring. Everyone should see Old Faithful at least once.Montana 2012 and Other Stuff 275

5. The Palace of the Governor’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico – I could have been there this week but had other things to do. It is the oldest government building in the United States. Today, it is a museum, but it has witness great events in history. It has been under Spanish rule and American rule. Heck, it has also been under Confederate rule. Governor Lew Wallace finished his novel, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, within its walls.SONY DSC

6. The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California – My wife and I drove across the bridge on our honeymoon. It is a cool feeling to drive across one of the most famous bridges in the world. However, I did not expect all of the people walking and cycling across it. Just thinking about the power of the currents underneath is enough to inspire.image-25

8. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota – This is truly an amazing site. Looking up at George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln is an inspiring view. However, I cannot help but think that the Black Hills were taken from the Native Americans to get at its gold.

9. Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer, South Dakota – This one is also in the Black Hills and is the Native American answer to Mount Rushmore. Crazy Horse was a famous warrior, but I wonder what he would think about a mountain being carved into his likeness. There are no known photographs of Crazy Horse, so we have no idea if this looks like him. On top of that, they have been carving the mountain for decades, and it is nowhere near finished. When I see it, I cannot help but think that the Native Americans are getting shafted again.

There is another list called “10 Western Sites That Will Make You Misty.” Next time, I think I will skip that one and move on to another subject. I do not find it very interesting or misty.

I Want My Tay Made With Really Old Water

9 Aug

We left the wheat fields and returned to Lewistown to get our tire fixed. In my town, it takes forever to get that done, but in Lewistown the job went lickity split. My nephews wanted to cross the street to check out a cool-looking store. Alas, it was closed, but there were some interesting objects outside.

Nice guy. He’s just a little stiff.

We followed Highway 87 westward through towns such as Moccasin and Geyser before reaching Great Falls. I’m not sure what we thought we would find in Great Falls, but it is a thriving city with all of the franchised amenities of other cities. We all assumed that this was because it serves as home to Mainstrom Air Force Base.

We checked into the biggest hotel room I have ever stayed in; my youngest nephew swam; then, we went out for dinner. This brought us to a problem that faced the expedition several times. No one cared where we ate. You must understand that this is coming from a group of individuals who like for things to go their way. Yet, we rode around while the SUV filled with indecisions.

Finally, we decided to try Jaker’s, a restaurant chain in that part of the country. My dad and oldest nephew had been to one before, so we figured it would be good. We got seated next to the slot machine room (most Montana establishments have slot machines), and the waitress came by to take our drink orders.

Brother: I would like iced tea, and my dad would like iced tea, as well.

Me: I would like tea.

Waitress: (confused look) What?

Me: I would like tea.

Waitress: I don’t understand. You want tay?

Me: (getting frustrated) I WOULD LIKE ICED TEA!

My brother said something to ease the tension, but she walked off. I understand that I have a southern accent, but I also know that my brother has the same one. She understood him just fine. On top of that, there are probably some southern people serving at the base. Anyway, I was tired and wanted food and drink. I probably overreacted because she never came back. Some other waitress worked with us after that. Oh yeah, the food and tay sucked.

We went back to the hotel, and I made the same mistake that my youngest nephew made earlier in the day. I used a toilet that didn’t work and ended up going to the front desk to get a plunger.

The next morning was spent visiting the tourist sites of Great Falls. First, we went to the Lewis and Clark National Trail Interpretive Center.

For some reason, I like to take pictures of signs.

The center was pretty cool, with a couple of good films and a decent museum. Most of it focused on the Corps of Discovery making its way over the waterfalls of the Missouri River, from which Great Falls gets its name. The group had to tote their boats around the falls, and they covered many miles.

Fake people taking a fake boat over fake land and around a fake waterfall.

Honestly, I had more fun looking over the real Missouri River behind the center.

Lewis and Clark passed by here. Of course, they passed by a lot of places.

Next door was a place that our wheat-growing friends told us to visit, and it turned out to be very interesting. This thing flows at over 330 million gallons of water per day and forms the Roe River, the shortest river in the world. It has been determined that the water travels for 3,000 years from its source before reaching this point.

This water has been around since they were counting years backwards.

Then, we made our way to the C.M. Russell Museum, which displayed the works of Charlie Russell – cowboy turned artist. It was a huge museum that showed works by many artists and had an excellent exhibit on the story of bison, a symbolic animal of the West. It was also the location of Russell’s home and workshop. My youngest nephew is an aspiring artist, and I took a picture of him in front of the shop.

One day, people will be taking pictures in front of his workshop.

In the next post, we will journey north.

The State of Music – Part 3

17 Apr

Well, we have made it to the long string of states that start with “M”, but I promise that we will get through it and move over to the “N” ones. I must confess that this project has become more tedious than I anticipated. However, I have happened upon some decent performers and songs. Without further adieu, here goes it with the next ten:

Massachusetts – Most remember the Bee Gees from the disco era, but they had a long and fruitful career before delving into that nonsense. One of their better songs was “Massachusetts”, and I choose it for a couple of reasons. One, I like it. Second, the Bee Gees have faced past tragedies and are going through another. Robin Gibb is currently in a coma; Maurice Gibb died almost a decade ago; Andy Gibb, the youngest brother, died in the late 1980s; and Barry Gibb bought Johnny Cash’s home (which is not too far away from me) only to have it destroyed by fire a short time later.

Michigan – This one comes straight from my iPod. I realize that “1823 S. Michigan Ave.” is not really named after the state. But, they name streets after states, so it has to count for something. Besides that, it is a cool tune by Magic Slim.

Minnesota – This one was a little tricky because I really couldn’t find anything. I did find some newspaper articles about how there aren’t many songs about Minnesota. However, I kept on searching and found a not-so-good song by Northern Light called – surprise – “Minnesota”. It’s weird to hear a Beach Boy-ish sound about a place with no beach.

Mississippi – There are a lot of Mississippi songs in a lot of different genres and by a lot of great artists. They range from social commentary to comedy, but I am going with something off the regular path. Mountain recorded “Mississippi Queen” about a prostitute, and, since I have written about the history of prostitution, it seemed fitting. Maybe that should be my next musical project – the best songs about whores.

Missouri – I am going more modern with this pick. Several weeks ago, I saw a David Nail, a new country artist that doesn’t sound very country. That’s the kind of country artist I like. He sang a song named for his home state of “Missouri”.

Montana – There is a herd of cowboy songs about Montana, and, as a historian of the American West, something inside makes me think I should pick one. I am not going to do that, though. Cowboy songs are kind of hokey to me. With that in mind, I choose “Hey Montana” by Eve 6 about a girl who needs to return to the mentioned state. By the way, Montana is one of my all time favorite states, and we are working on a “male family members” only trip this summer.

Nebraska – Known for corn, football and…that’s about it, Nebraska, like many others, has not inspired many songwriters. After a long and wandering search, I found a Josh Rouse singing “Dressed Up Like Nebraska”. It’s a rough video and tough to hear, but the song seems quite good.

Nevada – Las Vegas songs. Reno songs. Even songs about Hoover Dam. There are all kinds of songs about places within Nevada, but there is one excellent song named after Nevada. To preface, I will listen to anything by Mark Knopfler, and he had a record called “Sands of Nevada”.

New Hampshire – Going in, I thought this would be one of the hardest to get. As it turns out, it wasn’t difficult at all because Sonic Youth had a song called “New Hampshire”.

New Jersey – I found out one thing for sure. There are bunches of songs that refer to Jersey. However, I need the Jersey with the New in front of it and have found it with Red House Painters. I didn’t know this group before the state project began, but, when I heard it, I immediately downloaded “New Jersey”.

I am sixty percent into an alphabetized list of states and have used some good songs and some not so good songs. Honestly, I can’t wait to see what I find with the next two installments. To catch up with the states already covered, check out Part 1 and Part 2.