Wednesday, December 30, 2015

the beauty that counts

"Beauty is only skin deep."

           No it isn't. 

Judging beauty solely by someone's epidermis is literally superficial. To behold the lasting beauty, one must measure deeper.  We must each invest time to see the true and lasting beauty of someone's soul. Beauty is more inward than outward. Beauty is a pure and loving heart. It is what is inside that counts.

"Rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
~1 Peter 3:4

 As we age, let us allow our Creator to renew our minds and refine our hearts to become more like the beautiful image of our Savior.  As we age, let us pursue His way.  As we age, let us age well!

Monday, December 21, 2015

fruitcake affects me

I detest fruitcake, yet I have been buying it every Christmas for over well over twenty years, until this year.  I have always hated the sight and smell of fruit cake, but my mother loved it.  Every time I saw it on the shelf at the first of the holiday season, I would buy my mother (and my mother in-law) a fruitcake.  My mother in-law passed away December of 2013, and never partook of the fruit cake I had purchased for her that Christmas.  My mother passed away only a few months ago, on October 23rd.  I have been weathering her passing all right, but have moments of true longing.

There has been something kind of sad and humorous at the same time happening to me this Christmas season.  Every time I see a Claxton Fruit Cake ~ I find myself verklempt.   So far I have been blindsided at least three times by a Claxton Fruit Cakes.  I immediately get a lump in my throat and avert my eyes.

There are other things.  A few years ago my mother asked me to be on the lookout for a DVD of a one season TV series called 'Hawkeye'.  I made several attempts to find the show, but failed to find it.  Well, last Friday night, I actually stumbled across it at the DVD stand in the Cracker Barrel store.  I thought "a great Christmas gift for mothe....r)".  There I go again.  I keep getting ambushed!

I have also been ambushed a few times by marmalade.  My mother loved various kinds of marmalade; pineapple, peach, orange, whatever.  Mom loved marmalade.  It didn't take much to please her.  She enjoyed those little treats in life.

She absolutely LOVED ice cream.  Mom loved ice cream more than any treat, and yet I haven't been affected by ice cream. How odd.

Don't get me wrong.  I am doing well.  I am not depressed or obsessing. I haven't gone off the deep end.  I am okay. I do find it strange though, the items that stir the feelings of this loss.

I am having a pleasant Christmas, even without Mom.  Of course I am missing her, and already miss giving her a fruitcake.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

vacant city

i know that I am disappearing
but it is my secret
the doc had a long name for it
but i can't remember
all i know is that i am fading from within
and i cannot tell her this secret
i cannot let on to anyone
that i am no longer ordinary
my end like all men is certain
but my end will come as a day
i will simply no longer remember
you or myself
my heart breaks
not because i am losing myself
but because i will lose you
somewhere in the process

does being a stranger
in a strange town
make it easier or more difficult
i could easily lose myself here
i need to work
i need to keep sending the money back home
i need to keep moving forward
into this uncertainty
no one really knows me here
no one knows me like you
no one will miss me here
i know you will

what a strange predicament
yet i cannot come to grips with it
it seems easier to keep going through the motions
day to day
call you
tell you how much i love you
tell you until i can no longer
until i cannot
remember you
beyond your reach
lost beyond recognition
lost somewhere
within my own reflection

Sunday, November 1, 2015

every time I see blue

For some reason, the first thing I thought when realizing we were days away of Mom's passing, was the line "every time I see blue, I'll think of you".  I then thought, there's a song in that, so I tucked it away.

She died the following Friday morning. For some reason, I fell to sleep easily that night.  I woke up about 3:30 Saturday morning with that line dangling over my head.  I rolled off the couch and picked up an acoustic and started a simple four chord progression.  The melody just poured out, but I had to piddle with the lyrics a little.  You can tell that I have yet to get it quite down.

The last thing I wanted was to take the song in a sad direction.  I am a little sad, naturally, but for some reason, I wanted this to be a song about my Mom not to be a downer.  She loved blue, and I didn't want the song to be blue.

Friday, October 23, 2015


Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
~Revelation 19:6-9

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


there is an eternalness about her
a constancy
a gentleness
that sheltered over me
 like a wing
a touch
a cool cloth
upon a fevered brow
 with a word
a hand
a kiss
i could not guess
to count her prayers
over me
over her brood
throughout our lives
i could not guess
nor imagine
the price
of such love and sacrifice
ever awed
by her endless ways
 of gentleness and grace
that my Heavenly Father
to love me
David B. Finlayson

Friday, July 31, 2015


A few days ago, while leaving a restaurant, I was stopped by a man in a wheel chair.  He saw me heading to the door and rolled up close to the exit in a way that I could not overlook him.  He appeared to be in his thirties.  He looked pretty scraggly, half-shaved, tattooed and unkept.  After he reached out to shake my hand, he gave me a hard luck story about a motorcycle accident and losing a leg.  I knew what was coming, that he wanted money.  Without hesitation I reached into my back pocket and handed him what cash I had in my pocket.

I started having regrets about it as I drove away.  I thought about my dad, how throughout his life as a paraplegic due to polio, never asked for a handout - never begged for a penny.

I can't help it, in hindsight, I don't think I did that guy any favor.

Monday, June 22, 2015

abide in love

The above is one of my early t-shirt designs.  I designed it and had them printed around 1976, when I was eighteen years old.  Last year I found a few of these old shirts in storage and my daughter started wearing one.  There she was wearing a shirt I designed when I was her age.
The design hasn't really dated, and still quite fashionable.  I printed four different designs with that batch of shirts, hoping at the time to start a t-shirt business, they were: Abide in Love, Praise God for His Love, Return of The King and Lady Wisdom.  The first two were simple, playful images and the other two were more involved pen and ink illustration,  I think I still might have a sample of Praise God and the Lady Wisdom shirts.  I have the original art in storage somewhere.  One day I'd like to revisit the Abide In Love and the Praise God for His Love shirts.  They are still good designs for today.

I rarely do t-shirt designs, but they represent my first foray into the graphic design business.  I thought that I would end up having a silk screen shop, aimed at doing original designs...but that never came to pass.  It's nothing that I'd do now, but there's nothing like the feeling of taking an idea, sketching it, inking it and then seeing it in print.  It's especially nice when folks like to wear your very own design.  How cool is that?

One of these days I might revisit and refresh some of these old designs.  I can do better work than this now, but I still pretty much like what I see all these years later. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

the ordeal in the rearview

A few weeks ago while traveling back from Huntsville, the Buick Century I was driving died.  While stranded off the highway, I called AAA.  I was told that a wrecker would be by within the next 20 minutes and then offered a discount on a rental car.  I still needed to get home that evening, so I said I'd take them up on it.  I was assured that a car would be delivered to my location within the hour, so everything would be fine.  But all was not fine, an Enterprise Rent A Car representative of the 11803 Memorial Parkway SW never showed up.  I waited and waited and no rescue, no car, no such luck.  I had let the tow truck driver leave earlier because I had been assured twice that Enterprise would deliver.

As it turned out, by the time I could reach Enterprise, the Enterprise had closed for the day.  By nightfall, my wife left Gadsden (84 miles away) in my old '73 VW Beetle to bring me back home.  I enjoy  tooling around Gadsden in my VW, but don't quite trust it on long trips.  We were in a pinch that evening and puttered back home at 45 miles an hour. Thank you for nothing Enterprise.

Well, the 2002 Century's block was broken and it was going to cost us $3,640.00 to put a refurbish in it.  Gina and I decided to let it go and sell it for junk. My Malubu had been in the shop getting a paint job from the hail damage in early April. We were down to two cars.  Gina was driving the VW on the home-front and I was using Katie's 2003 Century to make my daily out of town excursions to and from work.  While at work, I got online to see if I could find a place that would take my dead Buick Century.  I found and gave them a call.  They said they would pay me $150. dollars for it and I agreed.  I regret having ever called them.  The 2002 Century's title was in Gina's name - so Gina took off work and drove up with me on Friday to meet up with the representative to sign over the title, and close the deal. 

All phone contact with the representatives over the phone were rude.  We had all day Friday to finish the deal and the people kept saying they had sent an email to the local guy and to call back.  They kept asking us to call back, until they finally told us that it was too late for anyone in the area to do anything about it.  The people on the phone were rude and kept talking over me.  I had to raise my voice and to talk over them.  I won't bore you with the details, but they treat their customers terribly.  My wife and I were inconvenienced throughout the day, lied to and insulted until we finally got through to someone higher up in the company.  I remember my last call, being told that the situation had been resolved and that the order to pick up the car had been canceled.  Canceled?  Resolved?  Dealing with those folks was like stepping into The Twilight Zone.  Where do they hire their phone reps?  I kept asking the lady on the phone, April, that I wanted to speak to her supervisor, but she never did.  She kept saying everything wasn't her fault and I told her that it was her fault if she didn't really resolve the issue by getting someone to meet us where the dead car was.  I don't recall ever being treated so rudely over the phone by so many representatives.  None of them seemed trained in their jobs or friendly.  Unfriendly and rude must be a job requirement for that company.

What a fiasco!  Most folks that know me know that it's hard to get my dander up, but push me, talk over me, blame me, lie to me, and I will give you both freaking barrels.  Next time I have a dead car, I will veer away from  Next time I find myself in need of a rental - I won't count on Enterprise.

I just picked my Malibu up from Drummond Auto Finishing.  He did a great job, great service.  He did what he promised and is such a nice fellow to work with. It was refreshing to do business with someone dependable and friendly for a change.

We still need to find a car for Gina.  Even though that VW was the first car she learned to drive, it's not the one she wants to continue driving throughout the Summer.  I am glad to get this ordeal behind us.  We still need a car, but the worst of our troubles are behind us.


Monday, May 25, 2015


This song was written almost twenty years ago, after having visited Arlington National Cemetery for the first time. I don't sing Arlington much, rarely in public.  Pardon the sound quality, I recorded it on my iPhone 6.  I just thought I'd share the song here on Memorial day.

Friday, May 1, 2015


i know the river came first
but the ancient rails
that curve along beside her
seems as if they were born together
running there since time began

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Capra lives.

No spoilers here, just go see it.  Little Boy is an incredible movie, the kind like they used to make.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

if God left

If God ever silenced his voice in our consciousness, withdrew his hand from our lives, removed his very presence from this world - everyman would feel the absolute void - experience immediate immedicable darkness from around and from within. Like the air we need to breath to live, we would each cease to be and this world end.

Friday, March 20, 2015

V-Mail from Murdoch

Click on letter to see in separate window.

Somewhere in North Africa
James M. Finlayson SK 1/c
3 November 1943
Flotilla Nine LCT (5)

Tonight before going to bed, I've been riffling through and reading Murdoch's V-Mail to Cheraw, SC..  His letters aren't as detailed as his younger brother Pat's mail.  The above is one of his fewer longer letters.  Most of his letters read the same; letting his parents know that he's safe, asking for items that he can't get hold of (usually articles of clothing), asking about his siblings stateside, and trying to get siblings to write.

Even though Murdoch and Pat are in the same Flotilla, they don't see each other as much as they'd like. He'll either inform his mother that he's been with Pat or that he hasn't seen Pat and would like information about him if they've heard from him.  So you could be on the other side of the world, closer to a loved one than other family members far away at home, yet still depend on those at home to let you know that your little brother is okay. All of these wartime letters reflect Murdoch's love and concern for his little brother, and Pat's love for his older brother.  Pat could get annoyed with Murdoch's peculiarities, but they showed great concern for one another, always looking for the time they could hang together.

For years I had heard that Murdoch coded his letters, so the censors could not pick up on his secret messages so his mother back home in Cheraw could know what was going on.  I think I am picking up on it, but not able to decipher the odd lines.  He would write about "Papa building a fence", or "How's the garden?" or "Have Papa build a second story to the house".  Some lines were just strange and a little out of place, and all I can figure Murdoch was writing code.  Only Murdoch and his parents knew what he was writing about. I'm guessing that throughout the letters, anything that has to do with carpentry and gardening are coded messages.

Rest assured, when Murd was talking about money, he was writing about money.  Both Murdoch and Pat were sending money home, making sure their parents were being taken care of.  There were lots of letters being written back and forth, every one touching base and doing their best to watch over each other.

So long ago now, and touching to see the love written clearly between the lines.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

LCDR Patillo A. Finlayson, USNR

Click to see larger version.
I received a such a large influx of letters, documents, photos after Uncle Pat's death four years ago, that I am still finding gems every time I rummage through the boxes.  I have yet to read all the wartime letters home from aboard the LST-312,  many of which I will eventually share here at The Long Journey Home blog.  Pat achieved Lieutenant Commander during the Korean War, and served as Information Officer at Orlando Air Force Base until he left the Navy to sign on as Base Historian for Warner Robins AFB until his retirement in the 1980's.  I have many-many great photographs (mostly 8 x 10's) that I have yet scan the first one. Eventually, I'd like to share the majority of these photographs with Warner Robins Museum of Aviation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

letter from a tour

H. Westbrook and His Orchestra
The letter is written in pencil on very aged yellowed paper.  I am straining to read it as I transpose it to this post. For those of you just dropping by, H.Westbrook Finlayson had polio as a child and remained on crutches for the rest of his life.  In his early days, he started up an orchestra to help pay for college which led to some success.  Being on crutches had it's limitations, but the fellow that later became our Dad rarely allowed life's inconveniences to hold him back.

Monday Evening

Dearest Mother-
I got your letter today written last Friday.  It sure was welcome.  Pat wrote too. - As I had written Evelyn the details etc. and told her to pass the letter around.  I guess Pat will get all the news from her.  However, I'll include a few notes in here for him.

I'm out of ink so you'll have to excuse this pencil.  You'll also find you $5.99 here - and Thanks!  By the way, Wofford was to have given I.S. Funderhurke the money for that tire.  Did he?
Mother, the hotel here is nice.  A big resort hotel with all conveniences - and my room is right among those of the heads of the various departments.  I'm perfectly safe here.  The night watchman (a swell old fellow) looks after me every night, fixes my windows, opens my doors and everything.  You can rest assured nothing could happen to me.

Bill Cantry has only played with me a couple of days.  He's been in bed every day for the past four days with a strep throat. I'm going to send him home when he gets able to travel.  He's better now but for awhile he was pretty bad off.  We have a Boston C(?)ns man playing piano for us now and he's only 18 and jives. Tell Pat I've added two very fine men to the band.  One trumpet man and a bass.  Tell him we're playing a Hal Kemp style with tenor playing under staccato, cup-muted trumpet.  It sounds swell and the crowds have increased tremendously over the other bands.

Have I been writing you enough?  I've been awfully busy but I've tried to keep you informed.  We went to Canada again last night.  It was fun but I believe that will be our last trip.

Our southern drawl is going over pretty big!  I play all the tunes that they request and that makes them like us.  I tell them that will get their request if we haven't got it and they are flattered into coming back.  The old people are the ones that are more on our side and will fill up the table with people from 40 to 75.  Three old people (one old man and two old women) never miss a night and they rave about my band and voice every time.  I talk to them.  It embarrasses me. - I met a very nice couple from Maryland, their mother and father, their daughter, son and son in-law.  He came up in a 16 cylinder Cadillac- and they were real nice to me.  He invited me to call on him when we drive through Baltimore - and to dinner.  He asked me to come to the races there, too.  It seems he owns a race track. Gosh!

One lady and gent tipped me $15.00 for playing the "Beer Barrel Polka".  (Don't tell the fellows, however, 'cause I use that money to run the band on.  They might think differently.)

There is so much to tell that I'll save some of it till we can talk it over.

Tell Evelyn when you write that I saw Ora Sherrill Poulnot in Charleston and I mean to tell her but I forgot.  She asked me to dinner, too.  That was while we were in Folly.

Thanks for telling Elizabeth Stricklyn about it all.  Let me know what she wrote.  And tell Pat to keep me posted on the baseball.  I never see a paper.  Tell Evelyn to mail me a State sometime if she has the money.

I shan't go in boats.  I did, however go to Burlington, Vt on the "Streamline Ferry". to see Ing's sister but that's perfectly safe.  Lake Champlain is beautiful.  It freezes over in the winter and is it big!  It gets 35 degrees below up here, they say.  I can understand that.  It's cold here now.  We ay catch some of the real cold before we leave.  - cause we'll get away about Sept. 3 or 4th and we sure are North!

Be sure and let me hear from Rutha.  Florence nor J.L. have written.  Did Wofford and Edith move?  What are British sailors doing out at the Lake?  That "chicken egg" business sounds like Canada.

I used my French - and believe it or not - I read the entire front page of a Canadian friend's newspaper last night and ordered my  food in French.  One English-French waitress said I did real well at French.  How 'bout that?  Wouldn't Mme Sweeney be proud of me?  Oui?

Mother, the work here isn't easy and I have to stay in a hurry - but enjoy it all and I'm managing real well.  Laundry is high and I could certainly use someone to keep my clothes hung up and straight - but otherwise everything is swell.  The food is fine, I have a nice room and all the people here are wonderful.  My chief and only worry at this writing is for Bill Cantry.  I'll be glad when he can start home where he can be cared for properly.

Guess that's all the news so tell Pop and the rest "hello".

-Love Westbrook

P.S. Maybe you'd better send my mail to Henry Westbrook.  I don't want to take the chance of missing any of it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Service Station at Cabin Creek

"A short story appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine about a newspaper reporter and a madcap heiress spending the night near Cheraw in a motel room at Cabin Creek.  They separated the room with a blanket.  Much later the movie "It Happened One Night" (with Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable) was made.  It was taken from that magazine story."
~Thomasine McCown Haynes

Source: All in One Southern Family Volume II: Life in Cheraw

Monday, March 16, 2015

simple and true

My twelve year old daughter borrowed my notebook last week. I didn't see what she had drawn in it until the next time I had need of my notebook.  Kelsey, as far back as I can remember her drawings, her characters have always had a spark of life in their little smiling faces. As simple as they are, they have always given good representation of who she's drawn.  All of her little smiling faces jump right off the page.

This picture, minus the mermaid, is an excellent family portrait.  Unfortunately for me, I think she nailed it.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Time for Murdoch's close-up

Click to see larger image.
J.M. Finlayson's close-up
I just scanned two images of my uncle James Murdoch Finlayson during the war years.  In this large group photo, Murdoch is on the 3rd row from the top, 4th from the left.  He's the fellow with the big smile on his face. I cropped and enlarged his image so you can see this good looking fellow a little closer. On the back of this panoramic crew shot is "Finlayson SK 2/c US Navy"...that's short for Store Keeper Second Class.  It wasn't long before Murdoch stepped up to Chief Store Keeper - Acting Appointment CSK (AA)  to Chief Warrant Officer (CWO), and served in the very same flotilla (Flotilla 18) that his brother Patillo Ainsworth Finlayson served.  Uncle Pat told me on several occasions how Murdoch was treated like royalty about the LST-312 anytime he came aboard to visit his kid brother.  Pat said that Murdoch the bookkeeper for the entire flotilla and made the payroll for every man on every I'm sure he was treated well.

J.M. Finlayson
Last night I found another image of Murdoch that I had never seen before, donning his Dixie-Cup hat.  He almost looks like he could be a movie star in this picture.  Even in his old age, he photographed well.  I wonder why our kinfolk didn't head to Hollywood with mugs like that?  They were all sharp and talented.  Perhaps is was that graceful Southern drawl of theirs (think Shelby Foote).  My dad was the only one in the family that seemed to have dropped his drawl along the way.

Anyway, these are images of Uncle Murdoch during his time in the Navy.  I thought my siblings would enjoy seeing these images, perhaps for the first time.
Note: James Murdoch Finlayson CWO, Service No. 724-08-14, Flotilla 18, LCT(5).  An earlier ship muster day has Murdoch in serving in Flotilla 9.  Records show that Murdoch enlisted in the United States Navy October 22, 1942

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Cheraw Chronicle ~ Jan 11, 1971

 In 1934, Henry Westbrook Finlayson wrote the Cheraw High School Alma Mater, 'With Loyal Hearts'.  Then he was a bright, handsome, popular Cheraw High senior, now he is a prominent attorney in Gadsden, Ala.

Recently Ann Jones of the Spokesman staff of the high school wrote to Westbrook to find out about him today. "It was just fabulous, and we ran a story in our paper; but we simply did not have space for all that we wanted to say.  :lots of older people called us so we asked Eddie Sweatt if he would like the rest of the story.  He sad he certainly did, and here it is."

When Westbrook was in high school he could always be found where exciting things were going on.  Sports editor for The Chronicle, a marvelous singer at impromptu affairs, he was a good guy with a merry heart and woulds of personality.

In spite of the fact that he had polio as an infant and had always had to wear braces and use crutches, no one ever considered him "handicapped" even Westbrook himself.  He seemed "challenge."  Westbrook's family lived in that big brick house next door to the Old Southland Inn on Market Street in Cheraw.

He was one of three boys and three girls, the children of Burruss and Jennie Wait Foster Finlayson.  Mr. Finlayson was a well-known merchant and his wife, a music teacher for over 60 years.

The year 1934 was in depression days, and most people had to walk where they were going.  Westbrook was no exception.

Whether the crowd was going to Caston Field for a ball game or was meeting at the Methodist Church (where his family were "pillars,") for a hayride, Westbrook would set out for  the meeting, as one old clasmate expressed it, "with that heavenly voice of his."

He always knew the latest popular songs as well as the old sentimental ones, and everybody loved him.  When Westbrook was asked to tell about entering the University of South Carolina in these days of dark depression, he said, "It was a big step for a little fellow."

"State Representative Campbell laney was kind enough to give me my first lift to Columbia and, if memory serves, I carried with me about $1.25 for spending money.  There was waiting for me NYA job at the University Co-op Store.  I was to work under Coach Whitey Rawls as a bookkeeper and was supervised by Prof. Frank Meeks of the university accounting department."

"My high school introduction to the "big band" business seemed to make up too strong a temptation to resist in the days when musicians were both in demand and greatly admired.  My sophomore year I put together an eleven piece band made up of student musicians and a few outsiders, mainly fellows working in the state government. We practiced at old Flinn Hall on Campus.

From every standpoint this was a shaky start; but it was a start.  In time, the personnel of the band was changed, the arrangements were bettered and the group soon showed real signs of progress and some measure of popularity on the campus.

About this time I gave up my job at the Co-op and went into the music business head first as a means of paying for my education.

This seemed a very fine thing to do because there were others in the band at that time who were also dependent upon outside income to help with their education.

As I recall now, many prominent South Carolinians and graduates of the University of South Carolina shared the success of what was later to become on of the State's fine dance orchestras.    Several doctors, an airline pilot, a county school superintendent, a postmaster, to name but a few, made up that first unit. What they lacked in music and experience, they made up for in noise." 

In time, and with personal changes, the band seemed to achieve an enviable status for its musicianship.  They played such places as the Ocean Forrest Hotel at Myrtle Beach; The King and Prince Club at St. Simons Island; and numerous other resorts elsewhere in the area in the Summer. They were booked will in the Fall, Winters, Springs with college and what they called "society jobs."

In 1941, just before Pearl Harbor and the beginning of World War II, the band played an engagement at Ausable Chasm, N.Y., located on Lake Champlain just south of the Canadian border.  After returning to Columbia in the Fall of 1941, the band's personnel seemed to fly apart as many of our men were called into service.

Fortunately, however, because the band was playing so many armed service installations, they worked out an arrangement to use some army personnel stationed at Ft. Jackson. 

With them they had, not only fine musicians, but some of the finest arrangements in the country.  This was to result in making contact with some fine personnel who came to make up the band as soon as the war was over. "I left school in 1939 because I could not keep up the pace with the band and still attend classes properly," said Westbrook.

"In 1941, however, I went back to the University and took some post graduate and special subjects in writing and psychology in order to qualify me for entrance into law school.  The latter part of 1942 saw me standing on the sidelines while the other male members of my family were either in the armed forces or on war jobs.  Having a great love for my country, as I still do, I looked into the possibility of obtaining a commission with the special Services section of the army that bandleader Glenn Miller had entered.

This branch required no physical examination , and one representative of the Army told me that I was being given consideration for a commission in the branch about time that Congress did away with the department over a hassel involving President Roosevelt's appointment of Mayor Leguardia of New York as Governor General of Italy, once it had been taken over.  This meant that I could see no form of service at all, so I went about looking for something to do.  I served as an assistant to the accountant of a large firm in Columbia for about a year. 

In time I took position with the U.S. Army Air Corps as an assistant property auditor.  This turned out to be a very interesting job involving a sizable contribution to the war effort, but, true to my promise to myself, I left it just as soon as Japan surrendered and went to work setting up the machinery for the new band.  I knew the band I had on paper could be sensational.  All of the contacts I had made with the service musicians set me on fire to get started.

Somewhere along the line in the earliest days of my music career, while appearing in Columbia at The Township Auditorium, the late Jimmy Dorsey advised me to drop the name "Finlayson" from my band name and to call it simply "Henry Westrbook and His Orchestra".

The new band assembled in due time and again under that name and, after enrolling myself in law school, I was in business!  The success of the new Big Band is fairly well known in old timers in the Columbia area.  What may not be as well known is that I had overlooked a little rule involved in my law studies.

At that time the university law school would not permit a law student to engage in any kind of work or activity other than the study of law.  I suppose this is still the case.  Since it was an impossibility for me to attend law school if I did not have the income from the orchestra, I blinked at the rule and survived two full years of work before Dean Prince, the dean of the law school, found out that Henry Westbrook and 'Westbrook Finlayson' were one and the same.

When he did find out, it was with real understanding that we discussed the matter in his private office.  I was told, none the less, that I had to give up one of the other - law school or the band.

My contention was that giving up the band meant giving up both.  Giving up law school was certainly not what I wanted to do.

The glamor of the bandleader had long since been dimmed to the long hours, long trips, and personal troubles.  As long as I remained in Columbia I would be tempted to play the jobs that came my way in order to help myself and the men in the band.

I knew, of course that this was a decision that I alone, had to make.  The best thing to do seemed to be to remove the temptation of playing by changing schools - going where they had never heard of the band.

The Dean and several other faculty members offered to write fine letters of recommendation to any school to which I would apply for entrance.  I guess I  hated most of all leaving the high office to which I had recently been elected.  I was, understand, the only junion to be elected to the Honor council of the law School at that time."

After looking over several schools, Westbrook decided to go to the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University in Macon.  This was a small ivy league type school with an excellent program in corporation law and a building he could get around in quite well.

It would be the first time that he had ever been able to go in school without working, and through the generosity of several members of my family and my good credit, he was able to go without any kind of outside activity.  For the first time he could appreciate what it was to go to school as a student rather than a working man.

It proved quite a relief to be away from the constant attention and notoriety of being a band leader.  Even a "territory name" band got a lot of attention in those days.

New friends took him for what he was as a person; and somewhere along the line he began to see that God must have intended him to be something more than a musician.  Indeed, it was out of many struggles and many disappointments that he came upon the realization that God must have been taking a special interest in him and that he was not returning His love with due obedience.

In a sort of gradual awakening he became more sensitive to the spiritual and less attentive  to the the worldly.  He found himself trying to go to church every time the doors would open.  While he was learning law, he was even assisting Dean F. Hodge O'Neal with the writing of his book on bankruptcy.  From graduation, he went directly to a position as Associate Counsel of General Newspapers, Inc with offices in Gadsden.

In time he met and married a beautiful girl named Esther Davidson of Gadsden.  Her ancestors can be traced back to Rockingham, N.C. within only  twenty-two miles  of his own birth place.

"Esther and I have six children," said Westbrook, "ranging in ages from eight to eighteen.  The oldest boy is in his first year of college and also plans to be a lawyer.  His name is the same as mine, but they call him 'Brooky'."  The next oldest is a girl, Jennie, who is, we think and accomplished folk singer-guitarist.  All six of the children are bright and beautiful, at least in the eyes of their loving father.

"All I am happy to say, like their mother, are deeply spiritual.  The older ones, like their parents, follow the Wesleyan Armenian Evangelical beliefs in old Methodism although Esther was first a Baptist.  Most of them sing, some are artistic, and all are exceeding healthy."

Westbrook's profession has been largely in the fields of corporations, estates, wills, trusts and management.  It is a successful practice, claiming a good list of distinguished people and clients.  Within the past three years, he has been able to build a new Williamsburg-styled law office in downtown Gadsden, with ample space for continuing growth.  He has a staff of three girls and associate  - a research man - and two certified public accountants for special work. Another lawyer will join the firm next Summer and, in time, his son should come into the firm as well.

When he was asked where his brothers and sisters are, Westbrook replied that Wofford is a commercial artist in Columba; Murdock is a retired accountant, also in Columbia; and Ainsworth is a government historian in Macon Georgia.  Rutha Dyal, the oldest sister, is a music teacher and voice coach in Blackville; Florence is a retired teacher in Columbia; and Jennie Llew Guyton, wife of the late Dr. C.L. Guyton, who practiced in Cheraw for some years, also lives in Columbia.

Westbrook is a very busy man.  His hobbies include woodworking, fishing, table tennis, music composition, singing, writing and enjoying spectator sports.  He is the author of both words and music to some popular songs of the few years back, "All This," "Waltz in the Sky," "You're the Only One," "Just Out of Reach," and "Roll Down the Field." the last fight song for Cheraw High.

Westbrook's address is 2624 Scenic Highway, Gadsden, Alabama 35901.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Rev. John Thomas Finlayson

[Document No 7.]
Memoir of Rev. J. T. Finlayson
John Thomas Finlayson was born on the 20th day of October, A.D., 1855, and was received into the M.E. Church, South, at Princeton, N.C. on profession of faith in the year 1873.  He was admitted on trial into the traveling connection of the north Carolina Annual Conference at its session held in Wilson in December, 1879, and served the following charges:

1880, Junior preacher on Smithfield Circuit
1881, Hanner’s Creek Mission
1882-’83, Youngsville Circuit
1884, Junior preacher on Tar River Circuit
1885-’88, Lumberton Circuit
1889-’91, Shelby Station
1892-’93, Roper City Station, where, during the latter part of his second, which is the present year, his health became so much impaired that he was compelled to desist from labor and suffer the unpleasant experience of several weeks confinement to his bed.  While the hand of affliction was thus being heavily pressed upon him, he was called upon to undergo a sorrow of quite a different character in the loss of his beloved wife, daughter of Rev. J. Sanford, D.D., with whom he had happily lived for several years.  And although it seemed impossible from any human standpoint for him to endure the exposure and fatigue of a trip extending from Roper City to Lumberton, yet, excited by an ardent irrepressible love for his departed loved one, he accompanied her remains to the latter place for internment; ignorant of (and perhaps little caring if such should prove)the fact that he too would soon follow to the land where love reigns and sickness is unknown.  Such, however, was the case, for about nine days after her burial his redeemed spirit entered upon its eternal ministry of praise in the City of God.  He died at the residence of his father-in-law on the 17th day of October, 1893.

Brother Finlayson was the descendant of Methodist ancestors, and was an humble sweet-spirited Christian gentleman.  He possessed by nature an intellectual power above the average.  This, with close application to study, soon brought him into prominence among his brethren in the Conference.  During the present year, on his charge, Roper City Station, his ministry was crowned with a gracious revival resulting in the conversion of about thirty souls.  For some hours previous to his death he was in a state of unconsciousness, but just before entering into that condition he was heard distinctly to exclaim, “Ho! Every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.”

During a comparatively short life he was a great sufferer.  For several years at least he writhed within the embrace of that dreadful disease, dyspepsia.  But, believing as we do that “he looked not at the things which are seen but at the things which are unseen,” his afflictions have worked out for him a “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

In the quiet cemetery in the town of Lumberton, N.C., his mortal remains were laid to rest beside those of his wife and their only babe.  Sleep on, young father, mother, babe!  He who is “the resurrection and the life” will awaken they dust at his coming.
~F.B. McCall

Journal of the North Carolina Annual Conference,Volumes 52-57 By Methodist Episcopal Church, South. North Carolina Conference

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Finlaysons of Mt. Olive

Murdoch Uriah Finlayson was the son of Daniel and Charity Finlayson, Daniel being the first of my family's line to come to America. There is an interesting link that locates Murdoch Finlayson in the 1850's in Wayne County - specifically in the small, growing township of Mount Olive, NC.  Lower Wayne County's major industry was turpentine.  Murdoch was not only a merchant, but listed among the five turpentine distillers in the area.

Lower Mt. Olive was known for it's brandies, ciders and liquors. 
"Spirits were a part of the life of most citizens, including ministers. A.J. Finlayson, a prominent Methodist preacher in Goldsboro, was previously the owner of a tavern." Rev. A.J. Finlayson was also a son of Daniel and Charity Finlayson, an older brother of Murdoch Uriah Finlayson.

Murdoch Uriah and his brother Angus Joseph fought on the side of the Confederacy.  After the war, Murdoch is found advertising Boots and Shoes in the 1871 Wilmington, NC business directory. By 1880. he had already settled in Cheraw, SC.  By 1881, AJ is dead and buried in Wayne County, but AJ's son Deems Finlayson is located in Cheraw, living close to his Uncle Murdoch.  At one point, 'Cousin Deems'  (Henry Dennis Finlayson) was a neighbor of my grandfather Burruss Finlayson (Mudoch's youngest son).

Thursday, February 26, 2015

U.S. Freedman Banking Record 1873

Name: H W Finlayson 
Birth Year:1857
Account Date: 14 Apr 1873
Father's Name: M U [Finlayson]
Mother's Name: M L [Finlayson]
Birth County: Duplin
Birth State: North Carolina 
Siblings: E V B,J F
Henry Wright Finlayson was my grandfather's older brother. His parents were Murdoch Uriah Finlayson
and Martha Lucinda Pate Finlayson. His siblings were Elias Vance Finlayson, Burruss Finlayson
and Julia Francis Finlayson.  There were other siblings, who's young lives were too short, and not recorded
on this document.  This document was found at this site. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Any time dad would get Mr. Roy Rakestraw to come over to the house to work on the large projects that required carpentry skills, dad would offer me to help.  I was told that Mr. Rakestraw would give dad a discount for my assistance, but I know that I was more of a hindrance than a help.  I wasn't very thrilled about it the first time, but Mr. Rakestraw was a very pleasant fellow to be around.

I'd be his tool fetch-it boy, running back and forth from his truck to the work-site. My dad had a well-stocked workshop, but Mr Rakestraw had tools in the back of his truck I had never laid eyes on before.  I had no idea what they were called, so I would bring tools back and forth to him asking, "Is this it? Is this what you want?"  He would smile and usually send me back to the truck again and again with a more detailed description of said tool.  He was a very patient boss.

He didn't really need my help, he was a true master of his craft and could handle any project alone. Perhaps he didn't mind me there for the sheer unintentional comic entertainment of my tool-fetching-ignorance.  He was very easygoing, always with a calm and steady demeanor.  He was a quiet, gentle giant of a man who seemed to always speak with a smile.

I would see him throughout most of my life, he was my sister's father in-law. Today I heard of his passing.
He was truly a man among men. He will be missed and remembered as such.

I know Roy is feeling right at home now, after all, Jesus is a carpenter too.

Monday, January 5, 2015

about the last name

This ancient surname is of Scottish origin and is the patronymic (son of) form of Finlay, and is the Anglicization of the Gaelic 'MacFhionnlaigh', and generally translated as fair hero, from the elements 'fionn', fair and 'laoch', a warrior or hero, which has been reinforced by the Old Norse personal name 'Finnleike' with the second element 'lieikr', play or sport, thus Finn's sport. In the Isles of Lewis the fairies are known as Muinntir Fhionlaidh (Finlay's people). In the Gaelic manuscripts of 1467 the name occurs as Finlaeic, in the Duan Sebanach, the old poetical chronicle of the Kings of Dalriada (circa 1070), as Fionnlaoich. The following examples illustrate the name development after 1296 (see below), Michael Fynloson (1478), Ade Findlaisone (1528), Robert Fyndlasoun (1585). Amongst the recordings in Scotland is the christening of Alexander Finlayson on May 28th 1749 at St. Nicholas's, Aberdeen. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Brice Fynlawsone, which was dated 1296, Netbolge, Stirlingshire, during the reign of King Robert 1 of Scotland, 'Bruce', 1306-1329. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

letter home for Mother's Day

Somewhere In England
6 May, 1944

Dearest Mother and PaPa,

Please tell Evelyn how much I appreciated the shoe shine rag she sent me.  It arrived today.  I haven't tried it out yet, but am anxious to do so as soon as my shoes get dirty again.  We had captain's inspection this morning, so I already had shined my shoes before Evelyn's gift arrived.  It'll come in handy next time tho'.

She sent me a good picture of the Salerno Beachhead - The best view I've seen so far.  For censorship reasons, I should not place any marks on such a picture and send through the mail, as the requested 0 but I shall return the clipping and ask her to keep it until I get back - then I can explain everything to her.  I will say, tho', that the place looks very familiar.  For all I know, one of these LST's may have been ours, but, hardly think so.

I shall also enclose a "Superman" comic trip, which one of our officers had (his wife sent it to him).  He gave it to me so I shall forward it to you.  Now you see just how popular these ships have become.

Tell Evelyn I'm also enclosing a "Pat on the back".  She'll know what it's for.

I got a big laugh out of the little story you told about Carl Burch's child and Mr. Meyers.   It would have been a wee bit funnier had it been Mr. Cantey instead - don't you think? Anyway, it's one of the best to come out of Cheraw in a long time.  Do you remember the time Mr. Cantey paid a personal call on Mr. Walter Knight?  I don't know what ol' man Cantey was visiting him for, unless it was to get Mr. Knight to attend church services or subscribe to the Southern Christian  Advocate or something.  But Mr. Cantey knocked at the door - Knight appeared and Cantey beamingly remarked, "You don't know who I am, do you?  Mr. Knight gave him a cold look and said, "No, and I don't give a - - - -!

The other day one of our sailors came to me while I was standing on deck watch and asked for permission to go on liberty in place of him to go ask Mr. McRae  to send me my little book (a little notebook in which I keep a list of men in the liberty section) - so I could figure out whether he could go or not.

A minute later he returned and with "The Upper Room"!  McRae had followed him as far as the hatch (door) leading out from the officer's quarters.  He was watching the boy hand it to me.  He (the boy) said "Mr McRae told me to give you this."  Then McRae died laughing.  That reminded me of the type joke Murdoch would pull.
I'm glad you received Mr. Vernon's letter.  Am very anxious  to read what he wrote you.  Did Mrs. Sullivan enclose a note to you in it?  She said she was going to do so.  How about telling me what you wrote him?  He reminded me a lot of Mr. Lytton, only he was a lot more frisky than Mr. Lytton.  They looked a lot alike.  

Recently I received the following V-Mails:  Florence's April 19, Jennie Llew's April 19, Jennie Llew's April 17, Evelyn's April 17, Mother's April 16, Rutha's April 16, Jennie Llew's April 10... also the following Air Mails.  Mother's  April 22, -

Mother, what made you say I had better be careful over here "where air raids are more severe than any I've ever experienced"?  What makes you think they are worse over here than last Summer where I was?  Don't let yourself be deceived.  I don't believe i could ever get in much tighter situations than several of those I was in.  It reminded me of movie "serials" - to be continued!  Will Pat and Murd escape the Nazi bombs? - watch for next week's chapter play!

All joking aside, don't worry about me.  I'll be as careful as I can.

Rutha seemed to be carried away with the good results of my pencil V-Mails.  I'll have to use pencil more often.  Tell her I was surprised to hear that they photographed so well.  I just used a plain pencil, and believe it or not, it was rather dim too.  That's why I was worried until I hard from you all.

How about buying Beverly Anne something nice for her birthday - a present from me.  Also I want Mother to take out 5 or 10 dollars of my money and get her something for Mother's Day.  Be sure and do both of these.

Oh, yes, I forgot to continue with the Air Mails I've received - one from Edith (April 11).  Did Beverly's little burned arm heal all right?  Also Mother's April 7, Mother's April 18.  I knew that Palm Sunday letter would make her blue.  Sundays are beginning to seem more like Sundays used to seem to me.  It always was the bluest day in the week to me.  After first boarding the ship, I could never tell when Sundays came - every day seemed the same.  Now the gloom and loneliness of Sundays in re-appearing.  I'm glad tho'.  I like to sense the Sunday atmosphere.  After all, it's the Sabbath Day - and we shouldn't forget to keep it HOLY.  (Don't be misled - I'm writing this on Saturday).

Tell Rutha thanks for her letter of Aprill 11, which I received the other day (here Air Mail letter).

Thanks, Mother, for the manuscript paper, but as Rutha said, it won't do me much good.  I can't copy  P-turkey in music.  Tell Evelyn and Westbrook to thank Mr. Williamson for sending me that song.  Didn't mean for them to send me that song - all I wanted was the words to it.  But thanks anyway.  I wonder if Evelyn noticed anything strikingly interesting in the words.  Murdoch used to work at the place mentioned in it.  That's where I expected to find Murdoch that time, but he had moved - then I left there, if you remember.

I also received Evelyn's  April 9 Air Mail.  (I think I've already acknowledged receipt of it).

And I received Mother's Air Mail of April 11, that's the one in which she told about Mr. Meyers.  I'm going to try and buckle down and write more often.

This letter is not the usual literary style - but who cares>?  All I hope is that it makes sense.  I'm no good away from the typewriter. 

Bless your flesh, bones and your sweet heart Mother, and a happy joyous Mother's Day for you!  I'll be thinking of my "FiFi", and lots of love to you "Pop".  Write me all the "dope".


Note: The names Vernon and Lytton mentioned in this letter has to do with a family he got to know during his visits to England.  He stayed with this British family on several occasions and wrote to them often.

This is the clipping mentioned in the letter that was in Pat's scrapbook.