Lightning and Thunderstorm Preparation and Safety

Which states are the five most prone to lightning strikes in America?

Lightning is a leading cause of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Avg. # of days per year of thunderstorms

The top six most prone states (in this order) are Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Oklahoma.

Thunderstorms are dangerous storms that include lightning and can:

IF YOU ARE UNDER A THUNDERSTORM WARNING, FIND SAFE SHELTER RIGHT AWAY

  • When thunder roars, go indoors!
  • Move from outdoors into a building or car.
  • Pay attention to alerts and warnings.
  • Unplug appliances.
  • Do not use landline phones.

HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN A THUNDERSTORM THREATENS

Prepare NOW

  • Know your area’s risk for thunderstorms. In most places, they can occur year-round and at any hour.
  • Create an emergency plan so that you and your family know what to do, where to go, and what you will need to protect yourselves from the effects of a thunderstorm.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  • Identify nearby, sturdy buildings close to where you live, work, study, and play.
  • Cut down or trim trees that may be in danger of falling on your home.
  • Consider buying surge protectors, lightning rods, or a lightning protection system to protect your home, appliances, and electronic devices.

Survive DURING

  • When thunder roars, go indoors. A sturdy building is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm.
  • Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of thunderstorms. Be ready to change plans, if necessary, to be near shelter.
  • When you receive a thunderstorm warning or hear thunder, go inside immediately.
  • If indoors, avoid running water or using landline phones. Electricity can travel through plumbing and phone lines.
  • Protect your property. Unplug appliances and other electric devices. Secure outside furniture.
  • If boating or swimming, get to land and find a sturdy, grounded shelter or vehicle immediately.
  • If necessary, take shelter in a car with a metal top and sides. Do not touch anything metal. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid flooded roadways. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
Golf course green hit by lightning

Be Safe AFTER

  • Listen to authorities and weather forecasts for information on whether it is safe to go outside and instructions regarding potential flash flooding.
  • Watch for fallen power lines and trees. Report them immediately.
  • If you are sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Pringles Can Hacks (& Things You Don’t Know About the Snacks But We Are Telling You Anyway)

How many chips are in a container of Pringles?

The cans say there is “about” five servings of 16 chips, which means 80 Pringles. When we tested four cans of Original Pringles we counted two cans with 79 chips, one with 80, and the last one had 78.

However, a can of Sour Cream and Onion chips had 82 and can of Pizza-Flavored had 81.

Pringles has 25 different flavors in the U.S. and even more internationally, when combined you can make 318,000 unique flavor stacks. Of all the varieties, the top-selling flavors are Original, Cheddar Cheese, Barbeque and Sour Cream and Onion.

When Fredric Baur, the inventor of Pringles potato chips died at age 89, per his wish, his cremated ashes were placed inside an original flavored Pringles can for burial.

Baur

In 1956, Baur, a trained chemist, used a geometric formula to create a saddle-shaped chip that would not break when individually stacked inside a cardboard cylinder in-a-can invention.

Besides a burial urn, here are other uses for Pringles cans:

Store other foods inside. Chips aren’t the only food that will travel safely inside a Pringles container. You can also safely pack a sleeve of crackers, some spaghetti or other noodles, dried beans, and more inside this handy can.

…and cookies.

Flour, sugar, and breadcrumbs are other products that can be transported via the Pringles container. The sturdy cardboard will protect the food, and you won’t have punctured bags or spilled products On your roadtrip, in the tent or inside a RV.

Make a cell phone speaker. Cut a slit near the bottom of the Pringles can. Make the slit large enough for your cell phone to sit inside. Remove the lid. The can will amplify your cell phone’s speaker.

  • Store plastic bags. Cut a small (one-inch diameter) hole in the Pringles lid. When you need a plastic bag, simply reach into the hole, and pull one out.

  • Office or hobby supplies. A Pringles can will also corral those office supplies like pens, scissors, paper clips, and glue sticks. Hobby supplies like beads, wire, artists’ paintbrushes and more will also fit inside.

  • Hair accessories holder. Use a Pringles can to keep hair ties and elastic bands together. Just put them around the outside of the can. Clips, ribbons, and bows can be stored inside the can, as well.
Dog cage?

  • Makeup organizer. You can cut down Pringles cans so that your makeup brushes, comb/brush, and other tools are easily at hand. Tape a series of cans together so they’ll stay securely upright.

  • Necklace holder. Put weights in the bottom of a Pringles can. Then wind a rubber band around the can, near the top. Hang necklaces and bracelets from the rubber band. Simple! And handy, too!
  • Bird feeder. Use a darning needle to poke and thread a string through the top of the Pringles can. Tie the ends of the string together. Then use a spatula or butter knife to smear peanut butter all over the exterior of the Pringles can. Then roll the prepared can in birdseed. Hang the bird feeder from a nearby tree or garden flag holder.

  • Keep paint rollers fresh. When painting, you can slip a Pringles container over the paint roller at the end of the day. The next day, the paint in the roller will be ready to go.

  • Travel Tools. We use a few select tools when traveling in our car or a RV–a tire gauge, a channel lock, screwdrivers, pliers, etc. An easy way to keep these few, but necessary, tools together and within reach is to store the tools inside a Pringles can.
Cousins?

  • Children Fun. Kids love doing this. Remove the bottom of the Pringles can. Use waterproof tape to securely fasten the lid onto the can. Gently place the lid end of the can into the water. Look through the bottom of the can to see what’s underneath the water’s surface. Here’s more ideas:

Holidays

Even More

Using chalkboard paint.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

What Macaroni Actually Means in ‘Yankee Doodle’

Some of my favorite songs in Mrs. Hobart’s music class at Gillette Elementary in San Antonio during the 1960s were “Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious,” “Bo Weevil,” and “Yankee Doodle.” I often wondered what macaroni had to do with a Yankee Doodle Dandy.” So, over half of a century later, I decided to research it.

Lo and behold, the “macaroni” part of “Yankee Doodle” doesn’t literally mean a variety of pasta formed in narrow tubes.

There is in fact an explanation for the inclusion of the wheat noodle in the old patriotic classic that I so learned back in the day. It is not at all what I expected.

In order to understand why the word “macaroni” was used, it is first worth bringing up that “Yankee Doodle” was originally created by the British to ridicule Americans, but later American soldiers reclaimed the song during the Revolutionary War and held onto it, which is why we all know it by heart from singing it over and over again in our youth.

The opening, the part of the song I’m referring to, goes:

“Yankee Doodle went to town
“A-riding on a pony,
“Stuck a feather in his cap
“And called it macaroni.”

But why would he name the feather macaroni?

Well, since the song was written by Brits, a “macaroni” is one who took part in a particular fashion trend which started in 1760 among sophisticated, aristocratic British men.

The trend consisted of a look where men wore big wigs and slim clothing and the name was derived from the then-obscure Italian macaroni dish these Brits seemed to favor. In short, to be macaroni was to be fashionable. Source: Library of Congress

As the trend caught on, it varied over the years and the term took on a more broad definition – male femininity.

Macaronis were people “who exceeded the ordinary bounds of fashion,” with their tight pants and big, fancy wigs. Since men usually didn’t dress like this, not the “manly” ones at least, macaronis were also referred to as “hermaphrodites” or people belonging to neither the man or woman gender.

Another common view for macaronis was that of modern day “hipsters,” because they rejected traditional ways too. More lovely words for these rebels were “devils,” “reptiles,” “monkeys” and “butterflies.”

Finally, and perhaps the greatest perspective of all, macaronis were viewed as brave. Storytellers admired their individuality and often devised folk heroes who came from their kind of society, a society that was laughed at by the mainstream population on the surface yet envied on their insides.

Wow, macaronis were seriously ahead of their time.

However, “Yankee Doodle” wasn’t being complimented in the song but rather mocked by the British via satire, thinking Americans lacked class and were merely “simpletons,” or as it was called at the time, “doodles.” The British mocked the doodle for thinking that sticking a feather in one’s cap would make them macaroni.

The macaroni trend ended in the 1780s, a short-lived ordeal, but its legacy lived on mostly through the many caricatures created and the well-known song that is probably in your head as you’re reading this – “Yankee Doodle” – where a silly man puts a feather in his hat and thinks that’s fashionable.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Goettle HVAC and Plumbing services are located in Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Las Vegas areas as well as regions in Southern California.

The True Story of Fire Fighting Smokey Bear

He is not Smokey ‘The’ Bear and Other Fun Facts

The start of World War II meant that many firefighters and other able-bodied men were deployed, leaving communities to manage wildfires themselves. .

The head of the Forest Service at that time, Lyle F. Watts, decided to attack the wildfire problem by educating the public about their role in fire prevention. Watts invited the Ad Council to join the Forest Service in this new ad campaign.Watts and team soon realized that they needed a symbol or character to represent their fire prevention campaign. A forest animal would be ideal.

The Disney Studios offered one of their characters to be the “face” of the fire prevention plan. The movie, Bambi, enjoyed widespread popularity at the time, so the deer Bambi represented the original ad campaign—but Disney’s licensing contract lasted just one year.

Seeing an overwhelmingly successful first year, Watts and his team chose a bear to replace Bambi.

Two decades before, on a July morning in 1922, a case of magnesium powder exploded in a warehouse in New York’s Greenwich Village. The resulting fire was devasting and claimed the life of a heroic firefighter named “Smokey” Joe Martin.

On August 9, 1944, the first Smokey Bear poster appeared. The bear was named in honor of “Smokey” Joe, and his first piece of public service artwork depicted the animal in his iconic hat, dousing a fire with a bucket of water.

A historic Smokey the Bear poster

Artist Albert Staehle painted this first Smokey Bear poster.

The ‘50s and ‘60s brought Smokey’s “ABC” campaign. This was a national push to educate the public about wildfire prevention in three easy steps, and it was broadcast to American homes through radio and TV spots.

Smokey 2

It wasn’t long before more posters of Smokey appeared. The bear gained widespread popularity. Soon Smokey Bear was featured on everything from comic books to toys. He was an undisputed success.

A real Smokey Bear

In 1950, a wildfire burned in New Mexico’s Capitan Mountains. Firefighters there found a young bear cub clinging to a tree branch. Firefighters presumed the cub climbed the tree to escape the raging fire. The little bear was alive, but severely burned. Firefighters rescued the cub and aptly named him Smokey.

News of a real Smokey Bear soon spread across the country. When Smokey had sufficiently recovered from his ordeal, he was moved to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where he continued to play a role in educating people about fire prevention.

To handle all of his fan mail–up to 13,000 letters a week–the U.S. Postal Service set up his own personal zip code, 20252, for his area in the zoo. The zip code was decommissioned in 1994, but fortunately brought back in honor of Smokey’s 70th birthday.

When the real Smokey Bear died, his body was taken back to the Capitan Mountains for burial in the State Historical Park.

Smokey carried his “only you can prevent forest fires” message into the early 2000s and placed the responsibility on us all to be careful around the campfire. Additionally, the shift in the use of “forest fires” to “wildfires” in Smokey’s messaging is present, as well.

Today, new Public Service Announcements to educate the public on different ways that wildfires are caused, including hot coals, dragging chains, and burning debris. Smokey’s wildfire prevention message was already resonating with audiences—now, they just needed actionable steps to take.

Today’s Smokey Bear

Other Smokey Bear facts

  • The Smokey Bear campaign is the longest-running Public Service Advertisement campaign in U.S. history.
  • In 1953, the Ideal Toy Company made a Smokey Bear doll. Included with the doll was a card that when mailed back gave children an official “Junior Forest Ranger” identification card. Within two years, over half a million kids had applied and received the unofficial honor.

  • Since its development in the 1940s, it’s estimated that the Smokey Bear ad campaign has reduced the number of acres lost to wildfires by 15.6 million annually.
  • Smokey does not have a middle name. (It’s Smokey Bear. Not Smokey “The” Bear.) A song about the forest icon added “The” to his name in order to make the lyrics and melody sync better. 

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.
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The Three Stooges: Secrets and Legacy

By 1940, the Three Stooges were at their peak when they starred in the comedy short You Nazty Spy! It was a hilarious hit piece as Moe, Larry and Curly openly lampooned Adolph Hitler.

The Nazi dictator was so outraged by the short that he officially listed Moe Howard, Jerry “Curly” Howard and Larry Fine as “favored casualties” on his personal “death list.”

The Three Stooges began as part of a vaudeville troupe known as “Ted Healy and His Stooges” in 1922. Howard brothers Moe and Shemp, along with violinist Larry were the original cast.

When the Stooges were offered a studio contract by 20th Century Fox in 1930, it was without troupe leader Healy. Healy took offense to this and saw to it that Fox withdrew the offer, claiming that the Stooges were his employees and couldn’t leave him.

With Ted Healy exerting full control over the Stooges in these early years, the trio found its professional life to be difficult. Healy was harsh and irritating.  Although he had made Moe the trio’s business manager, for Shemp the fun was gone. Shemp left the Stooges to make comedy films in Brooklyn.

Curly, Moe’s younger brother, was recruited to replace Shemp. In reality, Curly was a quiet man who kept a low profile in public and preferred the company of dogs to people. He only acted as he did on screen when he was with the other Stooges and preferred to keep a low profile.

Healy’s tyranny grew and was becoming more unbearable to be around as he began drinking heavily. A huge rift grew between him and the Stooges until 1937.

On the night his son was born, the quick tempered Healy drove to Sunset Strip to celebrate. He died mysteriously that evening, allegedly of a heart attack at age 41. Bruising on his face, coupled with reports of him starting a fight soon surfaced and coupled with his aggressive nature keep the idea of him being killed  lingering to this day.

The Stooges were soon signed by Columbia Pictures with a heavy requirement to produce at least eight short films in a period of 40 weeks. Their hard work paid off and they became immensely popular with audiences who lapped up the trio’s hilarious antics. However, the trio were purposely being kept in the dark about their fame by Columbia president Harry Cohn, who saw them as a cheap commodity with enormous market potential.

Cohn kept an open option placed in their contracts so that every year they would have to re-sign. This tactic caused the Stooges to believe they were unpopular with audiences, and thus Cohn could fire them at will.

On top of Cohn’s open contract, the Stooges were not paid as much as their box-office draw suggested. When they first signed the contract with Columbia, they earned $1,000 a week. This was good money in the 1930s, equivalent to over $16,000 in 2022. They quickly realized that they were being treated as one single performer, which meant they had to split that $1,000 between them.

It wasn’t until 1934, that the Three Stooges became Oscar nominees for their film Men in Black, which was a spoof of the Clark Gable/Myrna Loy film Men in White (1934). This was the the Stooges only nomination ever, but two good things came about:

🔹It brought heightened respect and absolutely shut their critics up at the time.

🔹Their earning, divided by three, grew to $7500 per week (2022 value is over $121,500 each week).

The Stooges were recognized for their hilariously dangerous stunts in their films. Usually these were faked for the camera, but sometimes they weren’t. In a scene when a character acted as a human dartboard, Larry got a fountain pen lodged in the back of his head. In another gag Curly had to get stitches in his forehead, and within hours he was back on set wearing a wig that covered the bruising.

While filming Three Little Pigskins (1934), the Stooges drew a line in the sand. They were supposed to be stampeded by a group of professional football players, but they stood their ground and refused. Stunt doubles were called for the scene and they ended up getting seriously injured, suffering cracked ribs and broken bones.

Curly

A common skit seen in The Three Stooges films was a manic Curly running around in circles. In later scripts this was written in on purpose because audiences thought it was hilarious. But it actually began as complete improvisation for whenever Curly forgot his lines.

The Stooges used many physical idiosyncrasies for the sake of comedy. But one of these was not faked; it was caused by a childhood accident.

Curly’s limp was a hilarious antic of his character’s appeal and he worked to make it more comical in their Shorts and Live acts. The limp was actually natural, a result of having shot himself in the ankle when he was cleaning a rifle as a child.

Jerome “Jerry” Horowitz originally shaved his head to secure the part of Curly after his older brother Moe told him a studio executive didn’t believe he looked like a person that could make people laugh. He actually had a thick mop of hair and a handlebar mustache, but shaved it all off. Although successfully funny, the shaved head embarrassed him because he felt women didn’t find him attractive. He would take to wearing hats often to cover up his bald head. This anxiety led him to drink and eat excessively when touring, and by the mid 1940s his weight was causing him serious health problems.

Moe noticed it was becoming more difficult for his little brother to perform in their films. Curly’s career came to a screeching halt in 1946 when he suffered a stroke. He was able to appear briefly in one last Stooges film as a train passenger before suffering a second stroke and spending his final years in a wheelchair. Jerry “Curly” Howard was the first of the Stooges to die, at just 48.

Moe

Moe truly was the brains for The Three Stooges and their films were always popular with audiences. To Hollywood, they were seen as B-movie pictures in the industry. Because of this, they were often forced to cut corners and work on sets that had previously been used by other films.

It wasn’t merely sets that they borrowed, but also props and entire wardrobes left over from other productions.

Curly, Shemp & Moe Howard

Being the business manager of the team, Moe was also the most money conscious of the brothers. He felt responsible for making sure the small budgets on the films made good use of their limited resources and props. Though there were many pie-throwing scenes in the films, there were not actually that many pies available on set, so Moe felt it was important to always hit his target. He developed a way of throwing the pies; he could tell by the weight of the pie how far it could travel and how likely it was to hit some unlucky person in the face.

Moe’s head was one of the most instantly recognizable of the trio’s due to its bowl-cut style. Ironically, it was Moe who had curly hair as a child, as his mother had wanted a daughter and decided to grow her son’s hair out. A nasty dose of school bullying caused Moe to cut his hair by himself, and he kept the bowl cut for the rest of his life.

Larry

Larry Fine, the most musically inclined of the three, had unique violin-playing skills. This came about when he was very young. Larry’s father was a jewelry maker and used acid to etch his jewelry. Larry tried to drink the acid one day, and his father knocked it out of his hand. Some of the acid landed on Larry’s arm, corroding its skin and muscle. To help strengthen the damaged muscles in his son’s arm, his father sent him to violin lessons, which seemed to help restore some of the damage.

As a man, Larry absolutely loved dancing. He would dance at any opportunity and was often found at the Triangle Ballroom in Brooklyn. Often, he would be late for filming and rehearsal because he was overcoming the effects of his many nights out at dance halls. In his retirement, when he was confined to a wheelchair, he would attempt to dance even though he was mostly paralyzed.

Shemp

After Curly’s first stroke, Samuel “Shemp” Horowitz rejoined the Stooges. For the films made in this era, Shemp found that directors and movie executives wanted him to play a similar role to the one played by Curly before he had left. Audiences had reacted to Curly the best, but Shemp didn’t want to mimic his brother’s style. When he did try, critics and audiences found his performance to be lackluster.

On November 22, 1955, Shemp was coming home after attending a boxing fight. He had told a joke and lit a cigar when he hunched over to Al Winston and burned his friend. He died of a heart attack. Having just completed four out of eight scheduled films, producer Jules White used stand-ins footage of them that was cut alongside pre-existing footage of Shemp to give the impression that he had completed these films.

In the years since, body doubles used to replicate an actor who has passed away has come to be known as a “fake Shemps.” Some examples include using Fake Shemps for Natalie Wood, Bela Lugosi, Bruce Lee and John Candy after their deaths during productions of Plan 9 From Outer Space, Brainstorm, The Game of Death, and Wagons East, respectively.

The 1950s were an usual time for the Stooges. On a personal level, Moe and Larry were dealing with the deaths of Curly Howard and Shemp Howard. However, professionally the act was experiencing a new rush of popularity thanks to their shorts airing on television. By 1959, all 190 Stooge shorts were airing regularly on television.

When Joe DeRita replaced the late Shemp in the mid-1950s, he wore his hair in a style similar to Shemp. Because of the awesome popularity of the group’s shorts on television, DeRita was asked first to buzz his hair, then totally shave his head in an attempt to resemble Curly Howard. He was dubbed “Curly-Joe.”

The Three Stooges remained active throughout the 1960s, appearing in full length feature films such as:

🔹Have Rocket Will Travel

🔹It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World

🔹The Outlaws Is Coming

🔹Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze

🔹The Three Stooges Meet Hercules

🔹Snow White and The Three Stooges

🔹The Three Stooges in Orbit

They filmed the pilot of a potential travelogue/comedy hybrid show known as Kook’s Tour. The series would’ve followed the “retired” Stooges to various real locations around the world. However, tragedy struck during production…

Their syndicated shorts continued on television, and they had a successful live tour. By the end of the decade, age had begun to catch up with them, making their traditional brand of slapstick stunts untenable.

They began filming a pilot program for television to be called Kook’s Tour in 1969. Before completion, Larry Fine suffered a massive stroke, paralyzing him. Fine would spend the next five years in a wheelchair. After several more strokes in late 1974, he died in January of 1975.

In 1974, the Stooges, with Moe, Curly-Joe, and the yet-to-debut Emil Sitka, were scheduled to star in the film Blazing Stewardesses. The casting was announced, and publicity photos were taken. Just prior to production, Moe Howard was diagnosed with lung cancer and had to disband the Stooges. He passed away in March of the following year.

Awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983, The Three Stooges continue to live on in the numerous remakes, re-releases and animated adventures that have been released over time.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Awesome Favorite Movie Lines We Can’t Forget

Some movies go down in history as such brilliant masterpieces that it seems as if they speak directly to you and turn the world as you know it upside down. The most powerful movies can accomplish this with just a couple of lines that you may never forget.

Here are some of ours. Which ones did we miss?

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Goettle HVAC and Plumbing services are located in Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Las Vegas areas as well as regions in Southern California.

The Real Grizzly Adams, Mountain Man


John Capen Adams [1812-1860] became so famous for his love of grizzly bears, he would go down in history simply as “Grizzly Adams.”

“Grizzly Adams,” in the 1970s, was the title of both a popular motion picture and NBC TV series “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.”

On the television, Dan Haggerty played the role of Grizzly Adams” and established new Thursday night record-ratings for the network. Even so, today few people realize there was a real “Grizzly Adams” who migrated to the Sierra Nevada mountains to escape the confines of civilization after participating in the great California Gold Rush.

Dan Haggerty as Grizzly Adams

In 2018, Adventure Outdoors Magazine recognized Grizzly Adams as one of the three greatest American outdoorsmen of all time alongside Buffalo Bill Cody and Ernest Hemingway.

Adams challenged both conventional norms and untamed nature, first by turning his back on a greed-driven society born from the California Gold Rush, and then by blazing a trail into the wildest parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

There, he built a cabin home in the wilderness, made friends with nearby Native American tribes. Of special note, he found companions among some of nature’s untamed beasts, that especially featured his prized grizzly bears.

Although a California Mountain Man, he was actually born in Boston in 1812. As a young man he fled into the wilderness in search of adventure. To earn money he would trap all kinds of animals and sell them to zoos. It was here he learned to survive in the wilderness and get close to animals.

When he attempted to train a Bengal tiger in a local zoo, he was mauled almost to death. This did not deter him. When the California gold rush kicked off, Adams headed for California himself. Finding no luck as a gold miner, he took to the wilderness, living the life of a reclusive mountain man.

“And it was in the mountains that I successfully worked out for myself the great problem which other men have to work out, each in his own way, before they say that they live.”

– Grizzly Adams (1812-1860)

Grizzly Adams cared for the California grizzly bear, and studied their behavior. He learned to approach and even tame them. He even had a pet Grizzly bear who he stole from a bear den when it was just a pup. Called “Benjamin Franklin,” the bear saved Adams life on numerous occasions.

Another bear Adams named “Samson” was confirmed by the California State Historical Society to be the bear image on the state’s flag.

It was rendered from an 1855 painting done by famous Gold Rush artist, Charles Nahl, who came to know Grizzly Adams well in the 1850s.

With his familiarity, Grizzly Adams captured numerous bears over the years, selling them to zoos, circuses and private collectors. On occasion he would perform in the circus with them.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Goettle HVAC and Plumbing services are located in Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Las Vegas areas as well as regions in Southern California.

Then and Now, Do You Remember?

From the 1960s through the 2000s these stars all made their mark on television, movies and/or on stage. Some were mere teenagers, and we enjoyed hours of their performances that give us wonderful and nostalgic memories now.

Do You Remember?

Then and Now!

Phoebe Cates
Tony Danza
Goldie Hawn
Sally Fields
Suzanne Somers
Kirk Cameron
Barbie Benton
Jonathon Taylor Young
Catherine Bach
Nancy McKeon
Amanda Bynes
Molly Ringwald

Who are your favorites?

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Top 10 Celebrities Whose Deaths Remain A Total Mystery


1. Princess Diana

As a “princess of the people,” Princess Diana was a globally-beloved woman. When she died in a car crash on August 31, 1997, the world was shocked. Paparazzi chased the car that she was in into Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris, France. Her partner, Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the Mercedes-Benz W140 S-Class, Henri Paul, were pronounced dead at the scene. Their bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, was seriously injured, but survived the crash. 

The condition of the drivers, the ruthlessness of the paparazzi, and potential motives from the royal family have all been called into question since her death.

2. Natalie Wood

The death of Natalie Wood is among the most famous cold cases of Hollywood. Wood fell off a boat near Santa Catalina Islsnd and drowned while onboard with her husband, Robert Wagner and actor Christopher Walken on November 29, 1981.

Her death was originally ruled an accident; however, the case was reopened after new testimony and mysterious bruises on her body were identified.

Nominated for three Academy Awards and starred in “West Side Story” and “Rebel Without a Cause,” Wood, with Wagner, Walken and the boat captain were celebrating Thanksgiving weekend. After a night of drinking, her body was found floating in the waters off Southern California’s Catalina Island. She was 43.

Years later, CBS News aired an interview with Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Corina, who said he doesn’t believe Wagner has told the whole story about what happened.

In 2013, investigators said Wagner had not been interviewed since their probe was reopened. They had tried at least 10 times to interview him but he refused.

3. Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe died of an overdose on Saturday, August 4, 1962, at her 12305 Fifth Helena Drive home in Los Angeles, California. Her body was discovered before dawn on Sunday, August 5.

Immediately the media reported she died of barbiturates overdose, but over the years her death is believed by many to have been a murder. The most popular conspiracy theory is that she was killed by the government due to her rumored affairs with John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.

4. George Reeves

Star of The Adventures of Superman George Reeves was found dead with a gunshot wound in his head. Though his death was ruled a suicide, a few suspects were identified including an ex-lover. Read more about his death here.

5. Bob Crane

Bob Crane, the TV star known to millions as the wise-cracking title character on the 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, was found bludgeoned in his Scottsdale, AZ apartment at age 49 on June 29, 1978. The case has been cold since then.

All roads of the murder investigation led to John Henry Carpenter, a video-equipment salesperson from Sony—and a friend of Hogan’s Heroes cast member (and future Family Feud host) Richard Dawson. Carpenter helped Crane obtain gadgetry to watch and make erotic videos long before they were available to the public (Carpenter also sold similar equipment to President Lyndon B. Johnson and Elvis Presley).

“At the scene, there was blood everywhere,” former Scottsdale detective Vassall recalled. “There were some traces of blood on the back of the exit door, the front door, the doorknob. There was a red stain on the curtain. We found blood in [Carpenter’s] rental car and on the passenger door. It was Crane’s blood type. Nobody else who handled that car had the same blood type as Crane. It was type B blood, all of it.”

DNA testing wasn’t available in 1978, but other clues and evidence were presented to the local district attorney who rejected the case. Scottsdale detective Jim Raines uncovered a previously unseen crime-scene photo that showed a speck of brain tissue in Carpenter’s car. The actual tissue sample was long gone, but the image was ruled admissible by a judge, and Carpenter was eventually charged with Crane’s murder in 1992. Again the information was rejected by the county attorney’s office. He was acquitted in 1994 and died four years later.

6. Brian Jones

Rolling Stones founding member Brian Jones was found dead at the bottom of his pool on July 3, 1969, at the age of 27.

The coroner’s termed Jones death as a “misadventure” with traces of pep pills, sleeping pills, and alcohol in his system, as well as evidence of significant liver damage from drugs and alcohol.

At the time and over the years investigators speculated that he may have been the victim of a crime. Jones’s daughter, Barbara Marion, believed so as late as 2019.

7. Gianni Versace

Fashion icon Gianni Versace was returning home from his morning walk from the News Cafe in 1997 when Andrew Cunanan, 27, fatally shot him in the back of the head.

After shooting him on the steps of Versace’s home, eight days later, Cunanan, suspected of killing four other people in three states, killed himself on a houseboat in North Miami Beach.

The mansion was built in 1930, and Versace bought it in 1992. After his death, it was sold and became a hotel and event space. The day before the 24 year anniversary of Versace’s death, housekeeping staff at The Villa Casa Casuarina called police around 1:20 p.m. after discovering the bodies of two men, 30 and 31 years old, who were from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Police said it was a double suicide.

8. Brittany Murphy

Actress Brittany Murphy was found dead at age 32. Her official cause of death was a combination of pneumonia, iron deficiency, and drug overdose. As if her death wasn’t strange enough, her husband Simon Monjack died the same way five months later. Her father has called for investigations to see if his daughter and son-in-law were poisoned.

Director Cynthia Hill claimed Brittany was one of Simon’s “last victims.”

“He was a disturbed individual who was used to conning people and Brittany was one of his last victims,” Hill, who made a documentary for HBO, claimed. “There was a pattern of behavior that became very obvious the more research that we did.”

9. Brandon Lee

Bruce Lee with son Brandon

Brandon Lee, actor, and son of Bruce Lee died while filming The Crow. His gun was supposed to be filled with blanks, but the studio tried to make their own to save money. The homemade blank misfired and fatally wounded Brandon. This accident seemed to be a mistake, but conspirators are not so sure as his father also died mysteriously and there is said to be a curse of the family.

10. Tupac Shakur

In the midst of the East Coast vs. West Coast rap battle of the 1990s, Tupac Shakur was shot at a boxing event and died in the hospital a few days later. No suspects or even eyewitnesses have been identified

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The Mysterious Death of Superman George Reeves

It wasn’t Kryptonite that killed Superman. It was a bullet to the head.

Two Los Angeles police officers arrived at 1579 Benedict Canyon at almost 3 a.m., June 16, 1959. It was the two story house owned by Toni Mannix, the woman that big-time mobster Mickey Cohen called “the only person in Hollywood who had any balls.” She was also the wife of the one-and-only Eddie “The Bulldog” Mannix, the vice-president and general manager of MGM. Eddie had been accused of staging the murder of his first wife Beatrice. She died in 1937 in what many believe was a “make believe” high speed car crash. The incident also raised questions because mobster Al Wertheimer was involved in the accident.

Eddie Mannix first noticed Toni in New York when she was a in a line-up of Ziegfeld showgirls. Her arrogant and lavish mannerisms were attractive. They married in the late 1940s while Eddie was one of two “fixers” at MGM. Howard Strickling took care of studio publicity, while Eddie provided the muscle. Strickling handled the press. Eddie handled the police. Their responsibilities included duties like cleaning up corpses, paying off politicians and law enforcement, buying prostitutes, fixing tickets and hiding illegitimate children.

Toni and Eddie

“I spent my whole life inventing cover-ups,” Strickling said. “Eddie did the covering up.”

By 1959, Eddie had experienced several heart attacks and was confined to a wheelchair.

When the police officers were greeted by several drunken guests downstairs. One of the visitors was the beautiful Leonare Lemmon. She explained this was her boyfriend’s home and that she knew he was going to kill himself because when he came down earlier to greet her partying friends, he had been in a bad mood. He was now dead upstairs.

“If you thought he was going to kill himself,” on officer asked. “Why didn’t you try to stop him?”

She denied she didn’t really say that he was going to kill himself.  But she had a feeling he was going to use his gun. They walked up the steps and approached the bedroom. The nude body of a muscular six-foot-two-inch 45-year-old man lay on the bed. His blood gushed through the sheets beneath him like a flowing red cape.

A Lugar lay between his feet, which remained on the floor, as if he’d been sitting on the edge of the bed before falling backward. He’d been shot through the head. The bullet that passed through his brain blasted a hole in the ceiling above and left a casing under his back.

George Reeves home

Upon closer examination, the two officers looked at each immediately after recognizing the man. It was Superman. George Reeves played the role of the world’s most famous TV and comic book superhero from 1952 until the previous year.

There were no powder marks or burns from the gun’s discharge found on Reeves’ head wound. These marks are usually present with a suicide.

The bullet that killed Reeves was recovered from the bedroom ceiling. The police determined that there was no sign of forced entry. They also found  two additional bullet holes in the bedroom floor, but they were discovered at a later date. They had been covered over with a rug on the night of Reeves’ death, a rug that friend Gene LeBell claims did not belong there. A further examination revealed that the same Luger automatic that killed Reeves had fired these two other bullets too. Lemmon told police that she had been “fooling around” with the gun at an earlier time.

After talking with everyone in the house, the police established the death as a suicide. No fingerprints were taken. No one, including the body, was checked for gun residue. They didn’t even consider trying to determine if it was even physically possible for Reeves to have killed himself.

George Reeves and Phyllis Coates as Superman and Lois Lane (1950s TV)

The police discovered the home was not Reeve’s, but was owned by Toni Mannix, Eddie’s wife. They also learned that Toni had called Phyllis Coates, the actress who played Lois Lane on the “Adventures of Superman” TV program. Toni, in hysterics, told her Reeves had been killed. Even more suspicious was that the gun found at the feet of Reeves was registered to her husband, Eddie Mannix.

It was common knowledge to many that George Reeves and Toni Mannix had been lovers for about seven years. Prior to George leaving to go on tour for Superman, Toni had wanted to build a house further up in the canyon. George liked the idea only if she would leave her husband Eddie and marry him. Toni refused, citing that Eddie was in poor health and did not have much time to live. George decided it was time to move on.

Although production had ceased on the Superman television series on November 9, 1957, due to its popularity the producers had decided to shoot another two seasons worth of shows for release in 1960. Reeves had agreed to return and was given a substantial pay raise.

Reeves met Lenore Lemmon at Toot’s Shores restaurant in New York City somewhere in the vicinity of September 1958. Eventually, the two met up again in Florida while he was on another publicity tour for the Superman TV series. In 1959, by the time Reeves came back to California from a New York trip with Lemmon, Toni was out of the picture. In fact, Reeves and Lemmon were scheduled to elope to get married in Spain just three days before his death.

George and Toni

Reeves had been married to Ellanora (Robinson Needles) Rose, a Cincinnati woman who had come to California to be a star. She met Reeves and married him in 1940, a year after Reeves had starred as Stuart Tarleton in Gone With the Wind. Reeves and Ellanora were married for nine years.

Not long after Reeves brought Lemmon back from New York, he started getting up to twenty silent phone calls in the early hours each night and during the day.

Toni began stalking and keeping surveillance of the house. Reeve’s dog suddenly disappeared. While Reeves was planning a marriage to Lemmon, Toni continued to pay for his restaurant and liquor store bills. Practically everything Reeves had–house, car, gun, alcohol, and food– belonged to Toni, and everything Toni owned was paid for with Eddie’s money. She would often say that Reeves “was like a son to Mr. Mannix and me”.

In the following months, Reeves had two minor car accidents and one major one, which led the mechanic who looked at his car to conclude that “somebody wanted him dead.”

Reeves was scheduled to go on tour dressed as Superman and box former light-heavyweight champ Archie Moore in an exhibition match. Reeves, who had aspired to become a boxer in his youth, was excited about the match. “The Archie Moore fight will be the highlight of my life,” Reeves told reporters. “Immediately after the fight I will be married to the most wonderful girl in the world. We’ll fly to Spain, then Australia for six weeks.”

Toni and George

Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen in the Superman series, accompanied Toni to Reeves’ home a few days after his death, where she nailed prayer cards over the bullet holes in Reeves’ bedroom floor.

Years later, a journalist called Toni to inform he was writing about the death of George Reeves. She immediately phoned Howard Strickling in a panic. He drove over with his former colleague Samuel Marx, a retired screenwriter he’d asked to ghostwrite his memoirs. Strickling explained to Marx what the trouble was.

“Well, Eddie did do it of course,” Strickling said. Marx pointed out that Strickling would have to decide how much of that kind of thing he wanted to reveal in the book. Strickling’s memoirs were never published.

Helen Bessolo, Reeve’s mother, thought the case should be treated as murder. She hired Jerry Giesler, Hollywood’s most colorful and successful lawyer, to plea with Los Angeles Police Department. A second autopsy noted bruises were found on Reeves’s head and body. But no one on the police force pursued this new evidence. Some say Giesler back down and dropped out of the investigation after being ‘leaned on’ by Strickling or the Mob.

Bessolo ultimately had her son cremated. Lenore took the $5000 in travelers checks originally intended for her and George’s honeymoon. Lenore returned to the house with Gwen Dailey and they broke the police seal to get in. She claimed that she went in for the lunchmeat and a cat. This is most likely when she took the money. After the press reported that the traveler’s checks were missing, Lenore turned them over to her attorney Leon Kaplan, who then turned them over to Reeves’ estate. However, only $4,000 in traveler’s checks were returned, which leads many to believe that Lenore kept $1,000 for herself. Leonore Lemmon went back to New York and never returned.

Toni Mannix was put under heavy sedation. When Reeves’s will was made public, she appeared as its sole beneficiary. Husband Eddie died four years later. Toni spent the rest of her life alone, occasionally inviting people to her house to watch reruns of Superman.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

What Were the Original Names of Disney’s Seven Dwarfs?

One of our favorite rides at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Many young girls have grown up reading Snow White and dreaming about their Prince Charming.

It is only after the world turned into a more “woke” society that certain fringes saw the traditional story as somewhat problematic. To some, this tale is not child-friendly enough. In any event, for me it was the seven little dwarves who were the highlight – even when my cousins and classmates read the books and watched numerous TV adaptations and animated films based on Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs.

What Are The Names Of The Seven Dwarfs?

Have you ever thought of the names of these dwarves? Not many can tell you all the seven names. We asked ten people. Only one was able to name all seven. Between the two of us, Dodie and I could only remember five. Don’t peek. How many can you name?

Initially, Walt Disney came up with different names for the dwarves, which were later changed when the cartoon movie came out. If we go by the original names, the seven dwarfs were called:

🔹Wheezy,

🔹Deafy,

🔹Stuffy,

🔹Burpy,

🔹Puffy,

🔹Lazy, and…

🔹Jumpy.

In our humble opinion, the new names are far better than the original ones.

1. Bashful: Known for his shyness and flushed cheeks, Bashful is easily recognizable by his batting of eyelids and blushing. In the 1937 movie, Scotty Mattraw gave his voice to the character. 

2. Doc: In the movie adaptation, he was voiced by the great Roy Atwell. Often regarded as the wise leader of the dwarves, Doc is the only one with the glasses. His bossy attitude, along with those glasses, makes him the natural chief.

3. Dopey: He is like the little kid of the group. You can recognize him by his quietness as well as the affectionate bond he shares with Snow White. Eddie Collins voiced him in the movie. He is easily noticeable among the seven dwarves as he is the bald one wearing a purple hat and his oversized tunic.

4. Grumpy: Staying true to his name, Grumpy has major temperament issues. He is always complaining or arguing and is never up for anything. He is always at loggerheads with Doc, and his angry face makes him distinct. If you see a stubborn faced dwarf in a red tunic, you’d know he is the one. He is voiced by Pinto Colvig in the film.

5. Happy: As the name suggests, Happy is completely opposite of Grumpy. You will never see him without his endearing smile and a joyous mood. Happy is voiced by Otis Harlan in the movie. This dwarf, with his broad smile and puffy stature, is very easy to recognize on the screen.

6. Sleepy: Of course, Sleepy loves his sleep! No matter what time of the day is, this dwarf is always up for a nap, and once he gets drowsy, nothing in the world can stop him from snoring. Not just Grumpy, Pinto Colvig voices Sleepy as well. His droopy eyelids and the tired look is enough to tell you which one of the lots is Sleepy. 

7. Sneezy: No, it’s not COVID! He is the one dealing with flu and cold all the time. It’s best to keep your distance away from him if you don’t want to fall sick. He just cannot control his sneezes. Also, the sneezes are timed at the worst moments. Billy Gilbert voiced him in the movie.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Happy Birthday Tommy Smothers

In late 1960s, before cable television had been invented and there were only three networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS), Tommy and Dick Smothers challenged those who tried to tame their wildly popular show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Their show premiered on CBS in 1967 and was cancelled suddenly in 1969. Because the show reflected the counter culture and the anti-war movement, there were frequent battles with network censors.

🔹The Smothers Brothers had quite the following and by 1967, Tom was an occasional onstage presenter, at the Monterey International Pop Festival, scouting such breakthrough acts as the Who, Jefferson Airplane, and Ravi Shankar.

🔹In 1968, Tom was an early champion of the Broadway show Hair, and instrumental in bringing the show to the West Coast.

🔹In 1969, Tom could be found at the bedside of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, playing guitar and singing with Lennon as a group of friends recorded the classic anthem “Give Peace a Chance.”

Most families had just one television and they watched it together. Tom and Dick Smothers used their show as a platform to young writers, like Steve Martin and Rob Reiner, new bands like The Who and Jefferson Airplane, and performers who opposed the war in Vietnam, like Joan Baez and Pete Seeger.

They had Kate Smith and Simon and Garfunkel on the same show. They had Mickey Rooney and The Who on the same show and appealed to both, you know, generations. But they were known for giving network censors fits.

“And so they would put in things that really meant nothing and instruct the crew and the writers and everybody around to laugh, like, dirty, sniggering little laughs,” explained TV critic, David Bianculli, author of book about the Smothers Brothers, called Dangerously Funny. “And so the censors would say well, you can’t say ‘rowing to Galveston.’ And they’d say, well, why not? Well, you just can’t say it. So they would drive them crazy just for the fun of it, too.”

In 1964, the Beatles made history with their first American appearance on Ed Sullivan, CBS, Sunday night. It made the Beatles, the whole British Invasion and changed society.

Four years later, the Beatles have stopped touring. They’re still the biggest thing in the world, and they’ve made this new thing called videos – of “Hey Jude” and “Revolution,” – and so for the United States premiere, instead of giving them to Ed Sullivan, Sunday night at eight, they gave them to the Smothers Brothers, Sunday night at nine. Attitudinally, the Beatles wanted to side with their generation. They wanted to be where the Smothers Brothers were in society.

At the beginning of an episode, George Harrison walks on stage unbilled–a Beatle, just to show up on the Smothers Brothers.

Looking a bit startled, Tommy Smothers asks, “Do you have something important?”

“Something very important to say on American television,” Harrison replied.

“You know, we don’t, we – a lot of times, we don’t opportunity of saying anything important because it’s American television, and every time you say something…”

The surprised audience roared with laughter and applause.

“…and try to say something important, they…”

More laughter.

“Well, whether you can say it or not, keep trying to say it,” Harrison encouraged.

Thomas Bolyn Smothers III was born February 2, 1937 at Fort Jay Army Hospital on Governor’s Island in New York City. His brother Dick would be born over a year later.

They were the sons of Ruth (née Remick), a homemaker; and Major Thomas B. Smothers, an army officer who died a Prisoner of War in April 1945.

After moving to California, he graduated from Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California. Tom was a competitive unicyclist, a state champion gymnast in the parallel bars and at San José State University, participated both in gymnastics and pole vault for the track team.

The Smothers Brothers initially set out to be folk musicians. Tom did not feel that he was good enough to be a professional musician, but he was funny enough to do comedy. The two began adding comedy bits to their act.

It was a series of performances when we started out as a duet in Aspen. I did all the introductions. I’d just make up stuff for every song. And Dickie said, “Why don’t you try repeating some of that stuff?” I said, “I don’t know.” I didn’t know that you could repeat the stuff. And I started repeating it and Dickie would say, “That’s wrong.” And pretty soon he’d say, “That’s wrong, you’re stupid.” It sort of became an argument.

Tom’s first foray into the medium of television was as a regular on The Steve Allen Show in 1961. He followed that role with a single episode of Burke’s Law.

The brothers next appeared on the CBS sitcom The Smothers Brothers Show from 1965 to 1966. Tom felt that the show did not play to the brothers’ strengths and gained creative control over their next venture: The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

“The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen,” said Tom.  

The brothers’ oppositional politics led to their show’s demise, with David Steinberg later observing that “The most innovative variety show on television shut down because of political pressure”. 

After television, “Yo-Yo Man” became part of their touring shows with Tom’s mostly non-speaking character performing of tricks using a yo-yo. The term “Yo-Yo Man” is registered in his name. In their 2008 tour, Yo-Yo Man was listed as the group’s opening act.

In 2008, during the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards, Tom was awarded a special Emmy. 

Tommy Smothers is now the owner of Remick Ridge Vineyards in Sonoma County, California, with his wife Marcy Carriker and two children, Bo (born 1991), and Riley Rose (born 1996). He also has a son, Thomas Bolyn Smothers IV (Tom Jr.), from his first marriage, and one grandson, Phoenix Parrish-Smothers.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.