Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ukulele Orchestra

This is probably the greatest video I've ever come across on YouTube. I would love to hear these guys in concert. This group is called the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britian. I became an immediate fan.

Friday, February 27, 2009

gina topless

This is a sad but sweet little picture. Believe it or not, Gina remembers this photo being taken. She said her dad took this picture. She said he put her on the hood of his car to take the photograph and didn't think that the hood was HOT! Hence the tears. To this day Gina remembers how hot that hood was.

I get frequent comments from people that our children look like both of us. It's true. You can look at my childhood photos and see the strong family resemblance. You can also see our daughters in little Gina's crying face as well. When I hear these frequent comments, I respond by saying, "it's no wonder, seeing how Gina and I are not just husband and wife - but brother and sister as well." I get the weirdest looks.

I am just kidding of course.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

the pizza yen

Poor Gina. Ever since I've been on this strict diet to get my numbers down, she's suffered with me. We haven't had a pizza in over a month and Gina was talking about pizza all day. I told her several times to go ahead and go get one with the girls but she didn't want to do it. She kept talking pizza - pizza- pizza. She tried calling around town to see if there was a place that made a wheat crust pizza. Finally, Pizza Hut said that they had a wheat pizza called The Natural Pizza. We packed the girls in the car and drove that way after work. When we got there they server told us that the wheat bread was in the freezer and if we wanted to order something else. Rather than leaving, we said we'd wait for them to de-thaw it. I never was a fan of wheat pizza or wheat pasta, but I liked the idea of having a pizza for a change. I was surprised how good The Natural really was. No, it was a big ol'greasy pizza - but it satisfied my pizza tooth. Gina liked the pizza as well. We did not care as much for the Rustica, but the vegetable was pretty darn good.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

bruce lee on my shoulder

I have to mention a friend that I haven't seen for a very long time. James Harp was a pal I knew in Boy Scouts (Troop 54) as well as school. We were very close. His family moved out of the school district and he ended up attending Etowah High School in Attalla. I missed having my friend around. James was good guy - a real bona-fide good guy. It didn't matter if he knew someone or not - he'd jump into a fight just to defend the little guy. I also saw him step between kids who were about to fight - playing the peacemaker. I don't recall anyone not liking James. I don't recall anyone messing with or getting the best of him. Looking back, I think the guy was trying to be a little John Wayne.

James was an unusual fellow. He once showed me his hands. They were tough and hard - like rock. He told me that he toughened them by hitting cinder blocks. I think he said he learned that trick from Bruce Lee or something. By the time James was in high school, he'd muscled up from lifting weights. He was a force to be reckoned with, but I rarely saw him angry. He was always cutting-up and joking around - people liked him. As I said, he was a good guy.

One thing James did for me was to teach me how to get the upper hand in a fight. If you can find a way to get a guy off balance and off his feet - you could best him. If you could get him down, you could keep him down. Did I mention that James was a wrestler? I remember one night he came up to the house and showed me some quick moves to bring someone down fast. It was a simple move that literally swept someone off their feet. I don't know where in the world James learned all that he had learned about self defense - but he sure did - and I am glad he did.

So - James Harp came to my rescue me on several occasions and wasn't even there. Thanks James.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the day i ran out of cheeks

A.J. posted a note on facebook that brought back some unpleasant memories.

I believe I was in ninth grade. I remember having to deal with two kinds of bullying - those from blacks and those from whites. I didn't settle the black issue until I was a junior in high school, but the bullying stopped from whites when I was in ninth.

I considered myself a Christian, and did my best to go day to day "turning the other cheek" when a jerk came up to make sport of me. One thing about being a Christian as a kid, you are an easy mark. People don't think you'll defend yourself, you'll take the beating and they'll walk away feeling all good about themselves. I don't know why, but they did. So much in fact, they'd keep coming back for more. It was a different matter if I saw someone else being picked on - I'd jump in. I don't recall anyone ever jumping in for me, but I thought it was my duty as a Christian to take the vicious blows.

The day the bullying ended for me was in a math class. The teacher had this habit of giving an assignment and then leaving the room to go smoke, gossip, and scratch her butt in the teacher's lounge. You could pretty much count on her being absent for most of her class. She'd call roll, give (or not give) and assignment and then walk out until a few minutes before the class period was over.

Anyway, I was assigned a seat in the back of the room with a bunch of rough characters. This guy behind me decided that he was going to show off in front of his pals and whack me upside the head with a text book - and did. It hurt like hell. I turned and asked him to stop. With a smile on his face and sarcasm in his voice, he said he was sorry. I turned back around knowing what was going to happen next. WHAM! He slammed his book into the other side of my head. My ears were ringing and I tried to keep the tears back. I turned back around and told him to please stop. He gave me the same answer and he and the other guys laughed. Again, I knew what was going to happen next as I turned back around. I prayed "God, I've run out of cheeks."


I turned around and made direct eye contact. He was still laughing and already in the process of telling me how sorry he was again. I grasped the front of his desk and tipped it over with him in it. His laughter stopped as he frantically tried to wiggle out of his overturned desk. There was only one way out of that desk and I was standing there. I wore my Dingo boots back then. I kicked the crap out of him until he wept and cried for me to stop. I don't know why I stopped. I was in a boot kicking angry stomp dancing mood, I don't even know why I stopped. I looked up as he whimpered and I saw the entire class looking at me in disbelief. I guess I took every ounce of pain caused by every bully I'd ever encountered out on that guy. Before he got up, I told him that if he ever touched me again I'd kill him.

He never touched me again. Nobody, white that is, ever touched me again. I spent the rest of my stint in junior high without anyone laying a hand on me. It was a great relief to earn a healthy (my health) respect for those who got their self esteem by beating the crap out of someone they perceived as weaker. From then on - if someone was going to try to make me feel pain - they would soon realize that they were at risk of experiencing pain too. I found that when I did get in fights (that I never started) I would fight minus any hate. I fought because I realized that it wasn't doing the bad guy any good to let him have his evil way. I fought because there was a lesson in it for him too. Bad boys were no longer going to get away with it...or at least they were not going to get away with it without it costing them something.

Isn't that a terrible lesson for a kid to have to learn in school? I forget that it's a different world being a kid.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cindy Cindy

Yesterday, Sunday, was my younger sister Cindy's birthday. I'll be nice and gentlemanly and not mention her age. It's a blessing to go to church with Cindy - he voice - her worship - is from her very core. God bless you sister. May you find more freedom in this new year. May God bless you this year and bring you the very thing that has been prophesied over you. You pour out you heart and life to all those around and we are all blessed by your being in our lives.

Friday, February 20, 2009

little feet

Florrie misunderstood what car I meant. She thought that I meant the little blue pedal car. I went out and found a few pictures of it. I am pretty sure the car was originally a gift to me - but gosh darn it - I grew to where I could not longer fit my legs in it. I remember trying to go down hill with it with my legs straddling the sides - but that wasn't any fun. The only way to stop was to aim for a pine tree. Florrie once learned very early about stopping a car with a pine tree. I don't know how old she was - but she was a wee thing. She climbed into a real car parked in our drive and got behind the wheel. Little Florrie played with it until she got it out of gear and took the car for a short spin. One spin. The car went down hill and the car hit the tree. That poor pine lived, but always had a place where the car stopped abruptly.

Anyway, back to the pedal car. I vaguely remember the car. I remember it turning to rust because we it was left outside all the time like a real car. Gina and I ended up with her older brother Terry's pedal car. Years ago I found it in an old shack behind Mrs. Hale's house. Gina and I eventually adopted it and paid a pretty penny to bring it back to it's former glory. It's a much nicer car than what I had as a kid. It's only been outdoors a few times. The last occasion was about seven years ago - J. Holland and I used it in a television commercial for Boaz Outlets.

I don't know what ever happened to that car. Well - I do know - it rusted away and was discarded. I ounce ran across a little navy blue pedal car (like the one I had) in a Bowling Green, KY antique mall. It was kind of rusty but was the same model. I never saw another one since. Most of those who know me know that I've collected a lot of old stuff. I've gotten to a place in life where I've let a lot of it go. I'd love to have those things but most of the items I like are really big and not too practical to keep. I do like pedal cars and happy with the one I've got. Katie outgrew the one we have (Terry's) a long time ago. Kelsey likes to go downstairs and drive around in it. Her legs fit in there fine and I know that it won't be long before they no longer will. Enjoy those little feet while you can little one. They will take you places that mine no longer let me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

mini me

Strange, I remember that little red truck. I think I had a little blue one too that I'd swap out the wheels between the two toys. I also remember the swing set being in the backyard - before it was moved the the side of the house. My back is to the house because I can see dad sitting in a chair on the patio in the back ground. I look at this photo of mini-me and don't see me as much as I see my daughter Kelsey. Kelsey is six years old and into little cars big time. She likes making things with her hands and draws all the time. She's very imaginative and likes to make people laugh. She surprises me from time to time and even does impersonations. I am glad she's a little mini-me. I just pray she doesn't go through what I did. Well, at least I need to watch out for and pray against. Growing up, surviving pubic education, I felt like I was the odd child out. I don't want either of my children to experience that lost world. I do feel pretty good about Kelsey (Katie too). She's already reading little books and enjoys all her schooling. I do believe she's got both hemispheres of her brain firing all synapses.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I was singing a lot back in 1992 and 1993 than I think I'd ever sung before. Gina encouraged me to record some of my songs and God gave me new songs as production began. I was even dropping songs during the production as new songs came to me. Nori Kelley had helped me pull together the STAND cd and I was out there with it. I didn't know why I was out there, but I was just being obedient. In 93, my then neighbor and still good friend Donnie Obermiller asked me if I had ever been baptized. He said I really ought to.

Baptism was something that I always thought about doing but never did. I never had a strong connection with a church. I grew up around the United Methodist - but baptism wasn't really a priority around those that I were around. Kind of strange, because people were all dunked like doughnuts in the New Testament. Nevertheless, it was something that I had thought about from time to time.
I told Gina about the conversation with Donnie. Gina said "let's go".

I knew it as soon as Donnie mentioned it that it was indeed time for me to do something about it. Three things came to mind - I knew God wanted me to do this soon - that I was 33 years old (the age held a significance to me) - and I wanted my old friend Doug Moore to do it. Doug has been a friend of mine since the late seventies, from the old Christian Brothers days. We used to play a lot together. By 1993 he was pastor of a church in Tennessee. Doug said come on down. I don't remember the day - the time of year - but it was cold. It was real cold - and so was the water in the borrowed swimming pool. Doug had a generous couple in their congregation that said I could use their pool.

There was nothing dramatic about the event - no angels sang - no great emotional experience - no personal revelations. I was just being obedient. Most of my life is that way. I guess it's the same with most folk. We hear something and know that we need to follow through. Even though the heavens didn't open up that day - it was still a milestone event in my life - freezing in the ice cold water - as a few people stood by the pool side - there being prayed over and baptized by an old friend. It was a good day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Angus Westbrook Finlayson

A little is known of Angus Westbrook Finlayson. We know that he was a seaman. On the back of this picture there is an inscription Capt. A.W. Finlayson. A young Angus "Brook" lost his leg when he fell overboard a spice ship while on watch. He was lost at sea for four days and his leg was eaten by a dolphin. Usually this kind of thing happens with sharks, but this incident was worse than if a shark had attacked. Sharks as you know have very large mouths and very sharp teeth which make quick and massive damage. During shark attack, human prey often don't realize they've lost a leg because the bite is so quick. Dolphins on the other hand don't have mouths that are as wide and teeth that are as razor sharp. To be attacked by a dolphin means that you are slowly tortured - because all they can do is jab and nibble. Angus survived his attack and grew to be an old salt. He learned to make good use of the ship's lathe and fashioned his own peg leg.

At the age of 58, Angus Brook lost his other leg when he fell overboard yet again while trying to swab the deck during a storm. He was known for keeping a very tighty ship and preferred swabbing during storms. It makes sense that the water washing aboard helped loosen grime between the cracks of the ship's decking. The poor soul this time did not lose his leg to dolphin or shark, but to a school of rabid seawater goldfish that thought they were sharks. It took those determined goldfish nine days to eat most of his leg. Angus eventually became frustrated and angry and cut the leg off using his own pocket knife, surrendering it to goldfish.

Angus Brook was always one to make the best of a bad situation and quickly went about turning himself a matching peg. Some time after losing the second leg, he decided to build fine looking railing for the ship to keep from being washed overboard ever again. It is said that Angus Westbrook Finlayson became a talented dancer and his peg-tapping and mouth harp playing could be heard across the bay as he jigged aboard his ship at night when ever he was on watch. No, Angus never was washed overboard again, he died in a tragic lathing accident due to poor eye sight when he was an old man. He was buried at sea - not too far from Goldfish Reef.

Monday, February 16, 2009

nice nieces

Here are my four of my nieces when they were wee little critters. From left to right, Carrie Elrod (now Carrie Brooks), Elizabeth Finlayson (now Liz Wood), Charity Rakestraw (aka: Chae Rakestraw), and her little sister Emily Rakestraw (aka: Foster Rakestraw). This photo was taken on the little padded stool that Dad made. How do you like that expression on Charity's face?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

choosing the red pill

Michael B. has a post at his blog Voice Of The Little Man about a certain Jesus Saves poster he ran across on the Internet. It reminded me of something I saw on a bathroom stall wall at our local Ryan's. I don't know if it is still there, but is was there for years. It said, "Jesus saves, but satan pays." I know the nut job was trying to be offensive, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw truth in it.

I remember having lunch with Dave Hope (former bassist of Kansas fame). and he shared the story of his conversion with me. He said that he had it all - rock and roll super-stardom delivered on everything it promised - sex, drugs, and rock & roll baby! Funny thing about this brother, he said that he missed elements of his old life - because sin was fun. Ever hear a Christian be honest and talk that way? Well Dave said that he had everything and it was fun. He told me that being on the road could get pretty monotonous, and that some idiot left a Bible laying around in the back of the bus. He was so bored that he picked up that book and started reading. What Dave found was the Kingdom. There was no comparison to the life and light Jesus offered than what the world offered.

I believe you can have it all on earth, but in the end - you'll lose out. "what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" - Mark 8:36

So yes, Jesus saves and satan pays. There is a point however than every man must make that choice between what he perceives to be real as to what is actually real. To put it in Matrix terminology, we each need to choose between the blue pill or the red pill. Do we want to continue in darkness - amid our comfortable familiar?...or do we really want to know what's behind the curtain - or should I say who is behind the curtain.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

my valentine

This photo was taken in December of 1990. It was the first Christmas I was to share with my new bride. I took this picture while sitting across from her at the dining room table. It's my favorite picture of her because I know what that look in her eyes means - that I am loved beyond measure. I have seen the intensity of that wondrous look through out our relationship and I will never take it for granted. It is a deep love that pours from her eyes and from every action of her life. Her love for me is from her very soul. Her love for me is from her very core. How can I explain it? From the day I said "I do", I have pursued trying to measure up to that beautiful woman's love. I am a blessed man.

Gina - I love you too!

Friday, February 13, 2009

true story

I drove over to my insurance company to make a payment on my automobile insurance. While sitting at the clerk's desk waiting on a receipt I jokingly said,
"I sure wish Obama would hurry up and start paying for my insurance."
The clerk laughed and said, "If you only knew!"
"Last November - the day of the election - a lady called me and said she wanted to cancel her health insurance policy. I inquired why. The lady said that once Obama is made president, she wasn't going to have to pay for her health insurance anymore - Obama was going to pay for it!"
The two clerks and I laughed. I said, "Boy, she's in for a rude awakening!"
The clerk said, "That's not all, the lady asked me if I was going to vote for Obama and I said that I was pro-life and also against gay marriage. She then got very angry and said that I was being judgemental and was going to hell for it."
Another round of laughter erupted. I exited the building chuckling but knowing full well that there are plenty more people out there BELIEVING IN THE HOPE - that hope soon to suck on the big government teat.

Let me repeat myself - for every dollar that somebody gets that didn't earn it, - there's somebody out there who worked for that dollar and isn't going to get it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

the davidson side

This photo is of my great grandfather on my mother's side of the family. John Davidson was her father, Fred Davidson's, father. John Davidson was the sheriff of Walker County, AL. There are some tales to tell about this man, I'll get my facts together and post them sometime.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

oh very young

Years ago, right after Don and Jennie bought the Volvo station wagon, Brook and I joined them in a trip up to the N.A.M.M. (National Association of Music Merchants) show in Chicago, IL. I can't remember if Barry Goss went on that trip with us. Brook, did he? It was a very long in haul in a car with out an A/C. It was a fun trip nonetheless. As I probably have mentioned before, my brother in-law Don Rakestraw worked for Laverty Music Company. I don't know why, but they let me tag along. N.A.M.M. is a cool place to go. It was my first trade show to ever attend and it was H.U.G.E.. I would love to go to one again. You get all kinds of really neat free stuff. It's the musician's trick-or-treat dream come true. Just go up to a counter and hold out your bag. The trip only lasted a weekend. We loaded the car and drove up, got a room, and spent a day at the show. We drove back the next day. It all happened very fast.

As you can see, I am wearing my FRODO LIVES t-shirt. I don't remember where I bought it but I wore that thing out. I am bad about that. If I find a shirt I like, I will wash and wear it day after day. Most of my old clothes would mysteriously disappear after getting so worn and ragged. Mother never did own up to any of the strange disappearances. I have to take her at her word because she is a Christian and is my mom. I guess I just have to mark it down to yet another alien abduction. Somewhere deep in the galaxy, there are alien life forms wearing my cool old clothes.

Often I would find the clothes in the trash can out in the garage. I don't know how this would happen. I had a particular pair of patched blue jeans that seemed to always walk out there on their own. If ever they disappeared from my room I would go out and look through the trash. The coolest pants ever would some how disappear if I ever put in the clothes hamper to wash. I took up the task of washing them myself by hand in the bathtub and hanging them out to dry. The coolest pants ever had dozens of patches - patches upon patches. It was a constant labor of love to keep sewing up the holes and applying blue jean patches from jeans newer than to old pair I kept patching. It was a beautiful thing.

So to keep the alien abductions from happening to my clothes - I'd have to keep an eye on them while I wasn't wearing them. Clothes would still disappear nevertheless. I can't be in two places at once. That's why I always tried to keep the cool clothes on me all the time. They couldn't go anywhere if I were wearing them.

My faded and torn blue jean jacket was abducted. It took years for that jacket to wear down to it's faded glory that it became. I actually had people try to buy that jacket off my back. Richard Moon was among the ones who expressed great interest. Some articles of clothing were so cool that they had a personality of their own. Maybe that's what happened. They acquire their own life and decide to make it out on their own.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

ms. bubbles

Here's more Gina. The photo says January of 1973. Gina's was ten at the time. I told Kelsey to jump in the tub last night. I made her a bubble bath. Kelsey, unlike her big sister, loves to take baths. She likes staying in so long that she comes out a six year old little old lady. I watched Kelsey last night try to build a snowman out of bubbles. She lives in this wonderful and curious little world. She is always into something, making things with her hands, playing with every last toy in the house. She has so many toys and we try to figure out which ones to have disappear. Funny thing is that Kelsey plays with all of the toys. It's not like she doesn't play with certain toys. She's into it all.

I ran across this photo of Gina and thought of Kelsey. I had wished that I had taken a picture of Kelsey and the bubbles last night to post with this one. Kids are so much fun to watch. I am on the front row of an incredible adventure unfolding. God bless the little ones.

Monday, February 9, 2009

mother & daughter

Here's a picture of Gina Hale long before I came along and rescued her from her life of Hale. Sitting behind her is her mom Betty Hale. When I look at Gina's early pictures - I still see my Gina. She is still that sweet, loving, and bright eyed girl today. There is a sparkle about her that Katie and Kelsey have had passed down to them. Gina was all about her family growing up. She loved her Mom and Dad and her big brother and sister Terry and Becky. On Sunday mornings when everyone was getting dressed for church, she'd run into each room and tell everyone she loved them. She really hasn't changed that much - and her daughters are so very much like their mother.

I enjoy PhotoShop because I am able to scan old photographs and restore them and enhance the image. Here is a prime example of working with keepsake photographs within the program.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

VWs & other Things

This is a drawing that Kelsey (6) brought home from school a few weeks ago. It of course is a picture of our little beetle along with two other VWs. I meant to post this earlier. For a little kid, she's a pretty darn good little artist. She draws a lot better than I did when I was a kid. Gina said that Kelsey is going to blow my doors off one of these days. I agree, God bless her.

Today while on the way home from church, a fellow by the name of Tom White pulled behind me and followed me in his yellow 73 bug. We both pulled off of Hwy 77 and talked bug for about thirty minutes. I'd met Tom a while back, he lives in the same subdivision as I do, just around the corner. Tom pulled in my driveway not long after Mrs. Hale gave me the car. It's nice to have someone to swap information & resources for these little cars. The VW herd has been thinned out down through the decades and not as many roam the highways.

There's a guy somewhere in the neighborhood that owns an nice looking VW Thing. I'd like to get a closer look at his vehicle sometime. Dennis Twigg, co-owner of Floyd VW has a nice looking Thing.
Eddie Floyd said that Things in good condition are in high demand and are not cheap. I remember when Gina and I first got married, she would not believe me that there was such a thing as a Thing. Eventually, we saw one one day and she became a reluctant believer. Why would I lie about a Thing like that?

the gift that keeps on giving

As you’ve heard several times amid my postings, I have a 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle that my mother in-law, Mrs. Betty Hale, gave me early on last year. I can never express my gratitude for her generous gift. I knew what it meant for her to let it go. It was her pride and joy for so many years. Several years ago she felt it necessary went out and bought a newer car, one that she she felt more reliable. She bought a nice spacious car that had A/C and heat – one that she could rely on to get her down to visit relatives in LaGrange, GA and back without worrying.

The Volkswagen had been in and out of the shop, and mostly sat in her driveway since the purchase of the new car. It became an ordeal to keep up with both cars. The newer car, and Oldsmobile, took the garage space where the beetle used to have a safe haven. Upon our receipt of the car, Gina and I promised Mrs. Hale that we would take extra good care of it and make a cozy place for it in our garage.

I ran across this picture above of Gina, age ten, standing by Mrs. Hale’s new VW. Gina said that her mother washed that car every weekend religiously. I asked Gina why she believed her mom gave the car to me. Gina said that it meant something to mother that I had once owned a yellow 73 bug and that I always spoke fondly about VW's. Knowing the history behind this little car, owning this particular Volkswagen means more to me than the bug I once owned back in 1980. This little bug has a history. This is the VW that Gina learned to drive a straight shift in – the one that she would drive herself to school at the age of 13! Gina talks about a sleep-over party with a bunch of her friends in which Mrs. Hale packed all nine of the girls into the VW to go to McDonalds (the one on 12 Avenue). I don’t care if they were little girls – Super Beetle or not, nine is a lot to cram into it. There was yet another sleep-over party where Gina and her friends won an apple pie each from Burger King by singing the “Have It Your Way” jingle for a local radio station. Once again, Mrs. Hale packed the giddy little girls in the car for their free apple pie.

I can’t just spend money on just anything and not be questioned by Gina. This VW though, Gina hasn’t minded that I’ve spent some money fixing it up. In fact, she even brags about all the little things I’ve done to it to her mom.

I went out and washed and waxed it earlier this week in the cold. It just didn’t seem right that I let the winter season keep me from doing what Mrs. Hale would have done. It’s sitting out in the garage all nice and shinny now. It was a beautiful day today and I didn’t take it out. I’ve been driving it every chance I get. It’s running like a top these days. The girls love being picked up from school in it. About the only time I don't drive it is when I have to haul something bigger than I can fit in the bug. I think I’ll drive it to church tomorrow.

I noticed in the picture above that this Volkswagen once had some kind of chrome gravel guard on the rear fender. I found a set at J.C. Whitney pretty cheap. When I add the guards on - I’m going to change out the running boards too. I am not sure if I am going to replace the running boards with a factory issue look or those really cool looking steel or aluminum ones. I would really be pimping then. There's a good bit of rust on the ones I have now, and rubber is looking pretty worn. We’ll see. I don’t think that I am a purest when it comes to my bug. I’d like to chrome it out a little. I’d like to eventually replace the rusted out front bumper – add some chrome to the front and rear vents – wear a big furry purple pimp hat while cruiz'n up and down the avenue – ahhh yeah!

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I am sure many of you remember my postings earlier last year of my uncle Pat's, Patillo Ainsworth Finlayson, experiences aboard the Landing Tank Ship (LST-312). I found an interesting article at the official U.S. Army web site about LSTs during WWII and it mentions the 312. Go check it out.

Friday, February 6, 2009

randall dan

Dan, his dog Jody and his old truck
I guess it was 1975 or 76 that Brook told me about this guy named Dan Noojin. Brook knew how much I liked Cat Stevens (singer/songwriter) and that he met this guy that played a lot of Cat Stevens music. As a little time went by, I had heard that Dan's dad was in a wheelchair too. Ever since I first heard of Dan - I wanted to get to know him.

Finally, he showed up. I was at the Central United Methodist Youth Hut while the band was practicing. The band consisted of Don and Jennie Rakestraw, Quantrilla Edwards, and Chris McDonald.  I can not remember if Brook was in that band at that time or not.

Anyway, this guy walks in the room where I was standing.  I was in a different room from where the band was practicing. "Brooky told me that you played Cat Stevens." Dan borrowed my guitar and played 'The Wind'.  Dan had a very nice voice and guitar style. We didn't talk much afterward, he then made his way back to the room where the band was practicing. He didn't hang around long.  
I don't know why, but from the very beginning I wanted to be Dan's friend.

Dan played with Chip Lasseter (later Dan Maddox) and they had an incredible sound together. Their music was very fresh.  Listening to all those acoustic sounds entwined into one another, having it's own unusual dynamic. The sound sweetened even more when Dan Maddox joined the group (Chip, Dan and Dan).

Dan began working at Laverty Music Company (Forrest Ave / East Broad) where Don sold guitars. I remember Dan adjusting the neck of my Yamaha FG-180 and putting on a new set of keys. I was prepared to pay him for a set of Grovers, but he said not to bother. The keys he put on were a nice set that had laying around the shop. I appreciated and remember the kindness.

I guess when I got to really know Dan was when he started dating my little sister Florrie. He'd come up to the house and we'd end up spending a lot of time together. Almost every weekend night, Florrie would get sleepy and go to bed.  Dan and I would end up hang around together for hours.  I soon discovered that Dan Noojin had a very funny sense of humor. We'd almost always find some reason to laugh ourselves senseless.  I don't really know when it happened but Dan eventually became my close friend along the way.

I was glad that Dan and Florrie married. It meant Dan would ensure be a close friend for life. We share a strange connection. We seem to always be in on the same joke - on the same page. Someone will say or do something that sparks an old joke and there will be some moment in our past that Dan and I will remember.  We'll make eye contact across the room and smile. I can't explain it. We spent so many hours together those many years ago that we got tuned into one another. How many times did we start laughing while driving down the road in that old truck of his? My thoughts go to the harvesting whale sperm conversation - and how we hurt ourselves laughing so hard - imagining what such a task would involve. I don't know how Dan was able to keep his old truck on the road. Ohh - I am laughing now.

Dan is a poet. I have never personally met or known anyone that could write songs the way Dan can. If you strip the music from his songs - you'll always be left with beautiful poetry. My songs aren't that way. My lyrics need the music to stand. I can read through Dan's songbook and enjoy it's flow and thought without the need of the melody.

Like most people, Dan and I have differences, but I have always valued his opinion. He's very wise, honest, and forthright. He's a very gentle fellow, but doesn't hold back when he feels something needs to be said or done. He's the kind of friend that a guy needs to have around. Dan is a good man.

Dan has taken good care of Florrie down through the years. He's a great dad too. He doesn't sing as much as I'd like him to. He rarely, I'm mean rarely, plays. We used to often go into his back room and play guitar together, sharing what we've written, working on, or sing old songs that are familiar to us both. I asked him not too long ago if he'd written anything and he said he hasn't in quite a while. Florrie told me a few months ago that Dan doesn't think he can sing any more. That's a shame. I love his music and I have always loved his voice.

We don't spend near the time together that we used to. I got married, moved away for a while and then back.  We've lived back in Alabama for over a dozen years now and still don't see family as much as we'd like.  Dan and I occasionally see each other, usually on family holiday get togethers.  Gina and I live in our own world, and don't see much of our siblings and sibling in-laws...except for holiday occasions. I do miss Dan. Glad that we became friends a long time ago, better yet, I am glad that we became family too. I miss hanging with Dan (aka: Carl, aka: The Nooj). I miss the laughter.

Dan and I on a hike to High Rock

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

vaguely familiar

This is me some time in the late seventies. I don't know where this picture came from - I think it was taken in the basement of Central United Methodist Church. I cropped the Bose speakers out of the picture. I don't know - I've been in many a church basement in my youth.

I am wondering if this is the night that we (Don & Jennie Rakestraw, Brook Finlayson, Bill Scroggins, David Asbury,and David Creel) did that spoof of a George Creel service, Christmas Carol rolled into one. We also tossed in some Monty Python-ish & SNL-ish bits in the mix. It was a hilarious event and we were asked to repeat the show the following weekend.

If the picture didn't come from that night, then it might have come from one of the many events I tagged along with Brooky or with Jennie & Don to sing some where. I was just learning guitar back then. I'd roadie for anyone that was going any where to sing. It was a good time. It seemed that every one I knew was writting and singing Jesus Music. It's how I met Dan Noojin. Dan at the time was playing with Chip Lasseter (Dan Maddox later joined them), and they sounded so good. I remember the first time I met David Asbury, it was in Rome, GA. David had his van loaded down with a sound system and was playing various places. The gang at F.R.E.E. House (soon to become Christian Brothers Association) hooked up with Psalm. Psalm was a band from Centre, Alabama that were nothing short of incredible. The band consisted of Barry Goss, Arnie Sanford, Larry Sanford, and Skip Seagraves. Barry and Arnie wrote incredible songs and they had a great sound together. There was so much music in those days. I looked forward to weekends through out the seventies.

I look at the photo above and I don't really remember that guy. He's young, he's lean, and he's got a head full of hair (ah-hair). I ran across this picture and was wondering where it was taken and what I was doing at that moment. I just can't remember - I can only guess. It only made me think of the time and the people that surrounded me - my Christian brothers (and sisters). I don't remember me, I remember them. I remember the passion for Jesus, all the music, the close fellowship with a common cause. I don't remember me - I remember you.

Monday, February 2, 2009

last picture

My sister Jennie Rakestraw took this picture the last day dad was up. Who knew. The photo was taken at their new house on Henrietta Place on Friday, June 8, 1990. See, even amid illness he took a good picture.

I remember when dad got his first electric wheelchair. When that lift lowered from the van, dad landed like a Marine. He'd tilt the toggle full speed ahead and leave mom and me in his electric wheelchair dust. Image all those years of relying on someone else to get you around at their speed. That chair meant a whole new freedom. Dad went where he wanted to go and at the speed that he wanted to do it.

Back in the day, wheelchairs where few and far between. You just didn't see many of them around. When shopping at Mason's or Kmart, you'd always get curious looks from strangers. A guy in a wheelchair was like an alien presence in the room. Now a days, every one seems to want a power-chair. It's amazing to see all those handicapped parking spaces in parking lots - and all of them filled. I don't think there are that many disabled people out there. I think people have gotten lazy and don't want to walk anymore. It would probably be healthier if most of them rose from their powered-chair and walk.