‘Lady Lawman’ Movie: The Good, Bad and Ugly

We love and miss Westerns, so we invited friends to watch “Lady Lawman,” a fictitious movie based on the first real female marshal, Francis Miller, of the Indian Territory in the 1890s.

Jake Jecmenek, a friend from high school, was kind enough to give me a DVD of the movie he co-produced and starred in, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

To provide a fair review, I combined the ratings of all six of us, so as not to skew the results. (Dodie has known Jake since at least the 8th grade and we are both fond of him).

SEE LADY LAWMAN PREVIEW HERE

We had popcorn and tasty beverages for our guests to enjoy as we prepared to project the film outdoors like an old fashioned drive-in theater. The DVD cover and packaging is beautiful, but the first hint something might be amiss was when one of them read the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) movie description:

“A women (yes, plural instead of ‘woman’) is offered a job and because the Shieriff (yes, misspelled, rather than ‘Sheriff’) is short handed to a woman (yes, ‘short handed to a woman‘) whom lost her recent husband (instead of an older spouse?) to the same gang of outlaws as the tracker (so the tracker was in a gang of outlaws?).

Brett William Mauser is the executive producer, writer, director, editor and, among other responsibilities, an actor in the movie.

Here is the good, bad and the ugly with our ratings of Lady Lawman:

THE GOOD

The best acting into this 95 minute movie was by Ryan Jasso (Francis Miller) and Jake Jecmenek (Buck Johnson) who played the prime characters.

Other notable actors included Ernest Martinez (ditch the whiskey bottle in every other scene – you’re better than that), Carlos Leos and Kody Nace.

According to our small six-person audience, among the good features of the movie were:

🔹How a momentous pocket watch was weaved into the story.

🔹Dodie and her girlfriends all “liked the beautiful horses.”

🔹Everyone agreed the background music helped the movie.

🔹”My favorite were the gag shots in the Bonus Features” of the DVD, one said. “Especially when it showed someone actually wearing stiched-in red letters– ‘FLASH’–on black jockey underwear, the obvious rage in 1890s fashion I suppose.”

🔹”The acting and horses saved the movie,” Dodie exclaimed.

.

THE BAD

Mauser may be an improved movie maker since his western, Bass Reeves. It was the only movie I reviewed of his, way back in 2010.

In Bass Reeves, a film about the first Black U.S. deputy marshal, there were some good performances by actors James A. House and Craig Rainey, but audience members were distracted by things like 1970s style paneling and plastic light switches on interior walls during the times of the Old West.

In his latest offering, Mauser releases what could have been a more pleasing movie without two primary familiar disturbances:

1. lack of authenticity.

2. long drawn out dialogue that was sometimes difficult to understand.

🔹Practically every actor sported brand new cowboy hats, bejeweled with Route 66 type trading post or Buckee’s style ornaments and headbands. 1890s? No way.

🔹It’s significant enough as major diversions–as are the shiny new saddles on every horse; pristine and more modern day style shirts, jackets and attire–or replicas–on some of them.

Online ratings: 3 out of 5 stars, Amazon and 4.5 out of 10 on IMDb.

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🔹An asphalt road in front of a seamless metal-roofed house with a concrete sidewalk during the 1890s was way out of the time period. People notice that Brett!

(Asphalt first appeared in North America in the 1870s in Virginia and was used for the centennial of 1876 on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. It took years for cars and buggies to be driven on asphalt roads in Oklahoma or Texas.)

He could work his way towards something more exceptional if he would not still be making the same mistakes. You can’t blame it on budget restraints. Used and authentic can cost less! At the very least, change the camera angles to hide these errors.

Everyone in our small focus group agreed and used descriptives like “annoying,” “obvious,” “blaring” and–

🔹”I couldn’t concentrate, especially when the shine from Wal-Mart stainless bowls were laid out on the table.”

🔹”I couldn’t concentrate on the acting because the clothes looked like they came from Sears, K-Mart or Wal-Mart,” a husband and wife team explained as I took their notes.

🔹”This is a cowboy movie,” she said. “One guy looked like a Low Rider who should be driving a jumping ’65 Chevy.”

🔹”And what about so many of them wearing new outfitter clothes, complete with matching bandanas?” another asked. “I’m sorry, this would have been a fairly decent movie for theater release if they would get help with the dialogue writing, costuming and location help.”

🔹”Look, I enjoy westerns and watch the Western Channel all the time,” said a veteran cowboy western fan. “After awhile, I just tried to ignore all this, and tell myself ‘hey, give them a break, it’s independent greenhorn tenderfoot hour,’ and then was able to enjoy it better. It’s not High Noon or The Searchers after all. It’s some good people making a movie with what they’ve got. I’d give them at least a B for effort. For dialogue, not so much.”

🔹”I did the same,” the second man said. “Maybe it’s because we live around and raise horses, livestock, and goats, that I was being hard on them, but a movie shouldn’t have to make me give excuses for it. I did enjoy it alright, but it took some effort.”

Amazon ratings

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🔹”The rain scenes at night on the closeups looked like the drops were coming down superimposed on the screen,” he continued. “I wanted to concentrate on the struggle, but by this late in the movie I was trained to look at mistakes.”

THE UGLY

🔹”It seems like they went overboard with all the shooting and killing,” our first lady friend said. “The pocket watch part was good, but I kept wondering if they even had musical watches that played Fleur-de-lis in the 1800s. It’s not hard to think that way with so many other noticeable such instances.”

“Since it is in Bonus Feature we can laugh and be forgiving, but those red stiched lettering “FLASH” in the black underwear band was bad, but funny as hell,” her husband noted.

REVIEW RATINGS

By Jack Dennis

In a quirky sort of way, after the movie was over, guests had left and with alone time to reflect, I actually enjoyed Lady Lawman in a campy, nonsensical sort of fashion.

It reminded me of the same illogical, but fun emotions I experienced when my neighborhood pals and I would take the bus downtown to the (now defunct) Texas Theater in San Antonio to watch old 1950s Ed Wood horror and sci-fi movies. The props were ludicrous and the actors (an old Bela Lugosi, Doris Fuller, Vampirella and Tor Johnson) were baffling strange–only Lady Lawman had far, far better acting.

Mauser seems to be sticking to his formula, making independent low budget movies the best he can with what resources he has. Personally, I think he’s better than this. If he would accept writing, continuity and professional costuming help, rather than attempt to tackle as much of it as he can by himself, he could churn out some better products. He has some of the talent and much experience around him, but perhaps this is his comfortable niche.

Effort, B+

Acting, B overall.

Acting, Ryan Jasso and Jecmenek, A-

Production, C+

Writing, C+

Music, B+

Authenticity, C

Total Movie: B-

(Low) 1 to 10 (High) Scale, Five Person Composite

Effort = 8.2

Acting = 6.6

Production = 6.9

Music = 8.6

Authenticity = 5.2

Total Movie = 6.7

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The ‘Hello, My Name is Jose Jiminez’ Eye Opener

When William Szathmary died on June 15, 2017, in Nashville, Tennessee, millions of fans who knew him, did not know him by his birth name.

Eleven years prior to his death, meeting American comedian Bill Dana was a complete surprise, because I had completely forgotten about the entertainer.

Like many baby boomers growing up in the 1960s, Dana would make America laugh with his signature, “Hello, my name is Jose Jiminez” astronaut routine. It was so popular, another celebrity, a country and western singing star, would adapt his own stage introductions with “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash!”

In 2006, I had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin, Wally Schirra, Gene Krantz, and other space related notables at the St. Anthony Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

Among some of the “celebrities” I talked with were movie and television stars James Drury (The Virginian, Disney’s Toby Tyler), Lana Wood (The Searchers, Peyton Place, Diamonds Are Forever) Clint Howard (Gentle Ben, Apollo 13), and Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet). It was certainly an unexpected eye opener to spend some time with Bill Dana.

“Okay, José, you’re on your way!”


With those words, radioed to Alan Shepard as he lifted off to become the first American astronaut to fly into space on May 5, 1961, Bill Dana’s role in NASA history was sealed.

Because of his popularity portraying “José Jiménez,” Dana was bestowed the title of being the eighth of the Mercury 7 astronauts.

When he died on that June 15th in 2017, Dana was 92.

“He’ll be missed not only by the astronaut family, but many more around the world,” said Tammy Sudler, president and CEO of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. “Bill Dana was lovingly known as our honorary Mercury 8 astronaut.”

First created in 1959 for “The Steve Allen Show” and later appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” José Jiménez held several positions, including an elevator operator, a bobsled racer, a Navy submariner and a lion tamer, but it was as the shiny-spacesuited, reluctant astronaut that the Bolivian character became famous (Dana was of Hungarian-Jewish ancestry in reality).

“What do you consider the most important thing in rocket travel?” asked Ed Sullivan, playing the straight man during one of Dana’s better-known skits.

“To me the most important thing in the rocket travel is the blast-off,” said Dana.

“The blast-off…” repeated Sullivan.

“I always take a blast before I take off. Otherwise, I would not go near that thing,” Dana quipped as Jiménez.

Dana’s José Jiménez routine was later released on record albums, rising to the Top 20 on the Billboard charts, which drew the attention of the real-life Mercury astronauts.

“The astronauts, especially Shepard, absolutely loved the record, and listened to it in the office after intense training sessions,” author Neal Thompson described in “Light This Candle” (Crown, 2004), his biography of the first astronaut. “Shepard even tape recorded the album and during lulls between training exercises or during test launches at the Cape would play the tapes at full volume near the Mission Control loudspeakers.”

The astronaut and comedian first met at a Cocoa Beach night club, where Shepard — from out in the audience and without the prior knowledge of Dana — took on the role of the straight man, setting up Jiménez’s replies. Soon, fellow astronauts Wally Schirra and Deke Slayton joined in.

Dana, 3rd from left with Mercury astronauts



“The club was roaring as the three astronauts took turns,” wrote Thompson. After the show, Dana hurried to a phone to call his producer in New York.

“‘They know us. They know every word. And they love us,” exclaimed Dana, as described by Thompson.

Shepard and the other astronauts’ fondness for Dana and his character led to José Jiménez becoming the unofficial mascot of the Mercury program.

In addition to inspiring the 1961 launch call between Slayton (in the blockhouse) and Shepard (on top of a Redstone rocket), Dana performed at President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural ball with Shepard in attendance.

The comedian also inspired a “gotcha” – a practical joke – that Shepard arranged in secret for John Glenn to discover once aboard his Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft. Opening up a pouch while in orbit, Glenn was surprised by a small stuffed mouse floating free, a reference to the “leetle mice” Jiménez would cite as fellow test subjects in his routine.

Sammy Davis, Jr. Meets Archie Bunker

One of the most celebrated televised episodes of the classic and controversial All in the Family aired in 1972. It’s the tale about the time entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. stopped by to visit the Bunkers.

It begins with a briefcase he left in Archie’s cab and ends with the kiss of infamy. Very few people are aware that the writer of this episode was Bill Dana.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS



🔹Born William Szathmary in Quincy, Massachusetts on Oct. 5, 1924, Dana served as a gunner and mortarman in the U.S. Army during World War II.

🔹He began his career in comedy as a page and a writer for other comedians’ stand-up routines.

🔹Dana was also a screenwriter for television and movies, writing the Emmy-Award-winning “All in the Family” episode, “Sammy Davis Visits Archie Bunker” (1972), penning jokes for the “Donny and Marie” show (1977-1978), and co-writing the script for the “Get Smart” film “The Nude Bomb” (1980).

Dana also showed up as José Jiménez in a number of TV cameos, including as part of a 1966 episode of “Batman,” appearing alongside the late Adam West and Burt Ward.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Interviewing Gentle Ben’s Owner and Ron Howard’s Brother

Or How to Tick Off My Teacher Without Really Trying…

Or Finding My Porpoise in Life

“This time find a book with porpoise, Jackie,” Ms. Nancy Lewis instructed me in 1965.

Purpose?

The previous time I checked out a book from the Harlandale School District Book Mobile, it was a brand new novel by Walt Morey entitled Gentle Ben.

Ben was a big brown bear in Alaska who befriended a boy named Mark. I imagined the boy looked similar to my fifth grade classmate, Mark Kuykendall, because he was somewhat adventurous.

Well, I supposed Ms. Lewis was upset about my book choices because she obviously didn’t think my Gentle Ben skit—performed in front of her fifth grade class in lieu of a book report— was as brilliant as the class did.

“GET MY PADDLE”

The week before, I had seen Ms. Lewis use her “discipline paddle” on Kenneth Andrews. Ken was upset because the recess bell rang– meaning we were to get back to class. It went off just as he had stepped up to bat during an exciting softball game.

I was playing second base when pitcher David Cardenas took the ball and walked back towards the second wing of Gillette Elementary School in south San Antonio that day.

The words that red-headed Kenneth screamed in anger, for not having the ball pitched to him, was dialect unfitting to a 5th grader, Ms. Lewis determined.

“Jackie, go get my paddle,” she directed me.

Why me? Kenneth is my friend. I don’t want to see his butt blistered by her spanking paddle.

I ran to our classroom and obediently brought out the paddle.

“What porpoise does that serve to cuss like that?” she asked Kenneth before the WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!

His buttocks were seared. All I knew was I wanted to make certain I had a good porpoise for anything I did around Ms. Lewis.

The next time the Book Mobile came to our school I made sure my book had porpoises in it.

I wasn’t certain what she had against bears, but as long as I never was on the receiving end of the teacher’s paddle, I would learn as much about porpoises as required.

CLINT HOWARD

A couple of years later, Gentle Ben became a TV series and the boy in that show didn’t look anything like the adventurous Mark Kuykendall at all.

The actor was Clint Howard, younger brother of Ron Howard, “Opie Taylor” of Mayberry and Andy Griffith fame at the time.

It was an okay show, but as long as Ms. Lewis wasn’t my teacher anymore it was all right by me.

Fast forward forty years later. It’s 2006, and I finally know the difference between Ms. Lewis’ pronunciation “porpoise” and the word “purpose.” That year I had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin, Wally Schirra, Gene Krantz, and other space related notables at the St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio.

Among some of the “celebrities” I talked with were movie and television stars James Drury (The Virginian, Disney’s Toby Tyler), Lana Wood (The Searchers, Peyton Place, Diamonds Are Forever), comedian Bill Dana (Jose Jiminez), Warren Stevens (Forbidden Planet) and more.

It was certainly an unexpected eye opener to spend some time with the one and only Clint Howard. Although known to Baby Boomers for his role in Gentle Ben, he was at the Space conference for his part in the Ron Howard movie, Apollo 13.

The real life Apollo Mission control commander, Gene Krantz was nearby and in passing, called out to Howard: “Afternoon Sy!”

Clint Howard grinned and explained his role in Apollo 13 was the part of Sy Liebergot, a key member of the Mission Control crew under Krantz.

Howard loved the role acting with Ed Harris who played Krantz:

Sy LiebergotFlight… I recommend we shut down reactant valves to the fuel cells.

Gene Kranz: What the hell good is that gonna do?

Sy Liebergot: If that’s where the leak is, we can isolate it. We can save what’s left in the tanks and we can run on the good cell.

Gene Kranz: You close ’em, you can’t open ’em again! You can’t land on the moon with one healthy fuel cell!

Sy Liebergot: Gene, the Odyssey is “dying”. From my chair here, this is the last option.

INTERVIEW

Howard was kind enough to place his signature on a photo alongside his brother Ron Howard’s autograph and was willing to be interviewed for a few quick questions. Ready go:

Biggest influence?

My dad, Rance Howard is definitely my biggest influence. He has taught both Ron and I attributes of being a good man of the earth type solid human beings. We’ve learned to apply this to our work, the entertainment business.

The work can be hard enough in the morning but it is especially grueling by the end of a very long day on the  set. Through Dad, we learned to remain focused because all time counts.

I’m sure you’ve been asked this often, but I would never forgive myself if I didn’t ask, how was it working with Gentle Ben?

Yeah, that’s a good question. I’ve never really heard of that question before (He winked and grinned).

Gentle Ben was really Bruno the Bear and he actually was a gentle bear. I remember he smelled bad and enjoyed drinking Coca-Cola and eating candy, especially lemon drops and sometimes Tootsie Roll.

I was already accustomed to acting and wasn’t starstruck at that age, but co-starring with a bear was cool. My dad was always on set with me down on a ranch in the Everglades, so I was away from my mom for a bit. When we would come back for Christmas break, our house was decorated to the max for the holidays. Good memories.

I would describe you as a character actor, with a diverse set of many different roles. How do you describe your acting persona?

That’s right on. You know, my great brother Ron, five years my senior, basically played all similar roles. There is Opie (Mayberry), Ritchie (Happy Days), Chad (The Smith Family) and the character, Steve from American Graffiti, basically.

We both started very young. By the time Gentle Ben was around, I had years of experience. I’m in my fifth decade of acting and now find myself in the position in my career as a character actor with a lot of experience.

When I walk on set and I think people look towards me, somewhat for some of a bit of guidance and mentoring. Now, I don’t stick my nose somewhere where it doesn’t belong. I’m there to act, my job. Thats my thing. I’m not going to step on anybody’s toes and automatically mentor. It is not my responsibility. But I realize now that some people do look up to me, and respect my experience. So I keep that in mind when I work on any project. I will be a leader and positive influencer for the director, crew, the actors if and as needed.

Like I said, I grew up with wonderful parents. My Dad mentored and I remain grateful.

Note: At the time of this interview Rance Howard was alive. He passed away on November 25, 2017. Clint’s mother, Jean Frances Speegle Howard, died on September 2, 2000.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Happy 82 Birthday Sir Tom Jones, From My Mom in Heaven

Knowing I’m an advid autograph collector, my mother, Geraldine Dennis was always on the lookout and obtained several signatures for me.

In April 1969, she took me to a Tom Jones concert with my cousins Carolyn Sanders Gerland and James Johnson at the Hemisfair Arena in San Antonio, Texas. Gladys Knight and the Pips and comedian Norm Crosby also appeared.

They performed on a stage, in the center of the arena, with an amazing orchestra on one side. I was only 13 and the entire show was incredible. Tom Jones sang such hits as “It’s Not Unusual,” “Delilah,” and “Help Yourself.”

I was mesmerized by the strength in his voice and boldness of his showmanship. (It would be three years later, in April 1972, when I would see Elvis Presley for the first time at that same arena…and up until that concert, never did I believe Tom Jones could be beat. LOL.)

Elvis & Tom, 1969

For years Mom would laugh and say, “When I die I want to come back reincarnated as a gospel backup singer so I can stand behind Tom Jones and watch him work on stage.”

She meant it.

On her 50th birthday we took her to the Magic Time Machine restaurant. It first opened in 1973, the year I graduated from high school, and continues to be a fun favorite in San Antonio.

 The Time Machine is like no other restaurant I’ve ever seen, with no two seating areas alike. In San Antonio, you can sit at the Sweethearts Table, in The Attic, a Thatched Hut or even an old Refrigerator. Mom loved the salad bar, a shiny red 1952 MG-TD Roadster modified to serve as a soup and salad vegetables.

“The thing that sets The Magic Time Machine apart is our zany cast of characters who transport our guests into another point in time,” their website bills themselves. “Our servers dress in costumes representing popular pop culture icons from the past, present, and future. The entertainment comes from the humorous interaction with your server in a family friendly environment. Pirate or Princess? Hero or Villain? We have characters for every occasion and group. At The Magic Time Machine, ‘Laughing Aloud is Allowed’!”

It was a fun night that January 17, 1988. Elvis was in the house and Mom told her friends Wayne and Betty Lewis, “I wished Tom Jones would make an appearance too” and explained her reincarnation wish.

We had great laughs but it was especially joyful to see her open my present to her—an 8×10″ glossy personally autographed picture of Tom Jones. The smile and happy tears on her face endure in my thoughts even today.

I took mom to see Tom Jones two more times (she had even seen him in Las Vegas) both in San Antonio’s Majestic Theater and the Laurie Auditorium. Each time she repeated her reincarnation wish–“gospel singer behind Tom Jones.”

When Mom died in September 2006, the funeral at First Baptist Church in Boerne, Texas was full. My sister Bobbi Shipman and I both addressed our dear family and friends, some we hadn’t seen in decades. Of course, there was great emotion and sadness.

To end it all, a gospel group from a Black San Antonio church led by Janet Givens (she has sang to royalty and backed up Michael Bolton) practically blew the stained glass windows out of the church with their songs. They concluded with “Oh Happy Day!”

Mom’s funeral was appropriately uplifting…just like her.

Happy Birthday Sir Tom Jones

I imagine that as Sir Tom Jones celebrates his 82nd birthday here on Earth June 7th, Mom will be wishing him good will and happiness from Heaven–and looking at his behind.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

America Celebrates a Century of ‘Our Gang’ Comedy Classics

Who Can Name These Little Rascals?

It All Began in 1922 by Film Producer Hal Roach

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The first long term contract ever given to a Black actor in Hollywood was written for Fred Morrison.

Frederic Ernest “Sunshine Sammy” Morrison, born in New Orleans started out in films called the Baby Marie Osbourne series. He earned his “Sunshine Sammy” nickname for his big smile and easygoing personality. 

Producer Hal Roach had originally planned on giving him his own series, but “The Sunshine Sammy Series” failed after a few attempts. Hal and his wife brainstormed the idea of expanding it, not on just one character, but to a band of “Rascals.”

Mrs. Roach, very impressed with Morrison, suggested that her husband should get the 7-year-old under their studio contract. With the addition of more children, the “Our Gang” series was born.  Sunshine Sammy Morrison ended up working in the aerospace industry and died of cancer when he was 76.

When Roach first started making the shorts way back in 1921, the “Our Gang” the short films were shown in theaters prior to the main picture. When they eventually made the jump to television, the series became “The Little Rascals.”

After the 23 years of “The Little Rascals” run came to an end, 220 films had been made. Reruns ensured generations of fans would continue to enjoy the series.

PETEY THE CIRCLE EYED DOG

Who remembers Petey, the adorable dog with the black circle under his eye?

He was portrayed by a pit bull named Pal who had the naturally-occurring marking—accented with makeup to complete the ring.

Pal was introduced into the series as just a 6-month-old pup. He became a massive star and the beloved family pet of trainer Harry Lucenay. Tragically, in 1930, Pal passed away after being poisoned.

“The Little Rascals” was still going strong, and the gang needed their Petey. Pal’s own son, Peter, stepped in as the new “Perry.” Makeup artists drew the distinctive circle around Peter’s opposite eye, in tribute to his much-loved father.

ALFALFA

Carl Switzer spent five years portraying the very popular role of “Alfalfa” in 75 films. When he became to old for the part, his intention in 1940 was to continue his career in show business. Often uncredited, Switzer appeared in small parts in nearly sixty films, including My Favorite Blonde (1942), The Human Comedy (1943), Going My Way (1944), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), State of the Union (1948), Pat and Mike (1952). Switzer even played a slave in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956).

In early 1959, Switzer was breeding and training hunting dogs. He was hired to train the hunting dog of a man named Moses Stiltz. While training the dog, it took off. Desperate, Switzer offered a reward.

The dog was returned, Switzer ended up paying up, then decided to go to Stiltz to try to get his reward money back. The two men got into a fight, and Switzer was shot in the groin. He died when he arrived at the hospital.

JACKIE COOPER, A TOUGH RASCAL

Jackie Cooper passed away in 2011 and the world mourned the loss of the Superman film’s Perry White. Older fans knew Cooper had been one of “The Little Rascals.” 

Director Norman Taurog, told the young actor that he would shoot his dog if he didn’t cry on command during the filming for a 1931 film.

In “Our Gang,” Cooper was called “the little tough guy,” and unlike many of the kids who came and went through the “Rascals” roster, Cooper stayed in show business. (Which wasn’t entirely surprising, as his father was a studio production manager, and his uncle was the director that threatened to shoot his dog. He’s pictured signing his contract with MGM.)

OTHER NOTABLE RASCALS

🔹Norman “Chubby” Chaney died of a heart condition when he was 21.

🔹Billy “Froggy” Laughlin was riding a scooter when he was hit by a car and killed.

🔹Alfalfa’s brother, Harold “Slim” Switzer, took his own life at the age of 42. 

CAN YOU RECALL THESE RASCALS?

Then & Now, Cast of 1994 Movie

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Redneck Wisdom for America First, Liberals Last

I ain’t a redneck ’cause I talk American real good.

You might be a Redneck if you take a load to the dump and bring back more than you took.

YOU MIGHT BE A LIBERAL

You might be a redneck if… you can recognize your friends by the sound of their mufflers.

You might be a redneck if your house doesn’t have curtains, but your truck does.

You might be a redneck if instead of buying your girlfriend candy and flowers, you spray paint her name on an overpass.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

You May Be Cool, But You’ll Never Be Johnny Cash Cool

The Wit, Wisdom and Mistakes of the Legendary American Performer

In 1964, when his recording of “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” (about the tragic end suffered by a Native American hero of World War II) received an initially lukewarm reception at radio, Cash took out a full-page ad in Billboard demanding of programmers, “Where are your guts?”

San Antonio, TX

On January 13, 1968, Cash recorded his masterly live album At Folsom Prison, from which came a new #1 hit version of “Folsom Prison Blues.” This album and the follow-up 1969 live recording At San Quentin pushed his career to new heights. Taken from the San Quentin album, “A Boy Named Sue” (#1 country, #2 pop) became his biggest-selling single and the Country Music Association Single of the Year (1969). Cash was also voted the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year for 1969.

From 1969 through 1971, Cash hosted a prime time network television variety show that showcased his status as a national icon while featuring an eclectic mix of guest performers. A live cut from this show, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” (written by Kris Kristofferson), was a #1 country hit. Increasingly, Cash recorded and featured on his television show the work of new songwriters drawn to country from folk and rock music backgrounds.

Cash died in 2003. Two years later his life became the subject of a biographical film, Walk the Line, starring Joaquin Phoenix as Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter. Phoenix and Witherspoon both won Academy Awards for their performances. American V: A Hundred Highways (2006) and American VI: Ain’t No Grave (2010), further strengthened Cash’s reputation as a cultural hero.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

JOHNNY CASH MUSEUM

JOHNNY CASH MUSEUM

Lisa Marie Presley Tells Thoughts on Elvis Biopic Movie

“Channeled and embodied my father’s heart and soul beautifully”

The day before the May 15 release of Lisa Marie Presley’s album,  Storm & Grace, the daughter of the most famous entertainer in history sent a social media message to the world regarding the upcoming Elvis movie.

This release, her first album in seven years, is also her Universal Republic/XIX Recordings debut. Presley is managed by Simon Fuller, CEO and Founder of XIX Entertainment. The album was produced by 12-time GRAMMY® winner T Bone Burnett and recorded at The Village in Los Angeles.

“When Lisa Marie’s songs arrived, I was curious,” Burnett said. “I wondered what the daughter of an American revolutionary music artist had to say. What I heard was honest, raw, unaffected, and soulful. I thought her father would be proud of her.”

“The more I listened to the songs, the deeper an artist I found her to be,” he continued. “Listening beyond the media static, Lisa Marie Presley is a Southern American folk music artist of great value.”

Since 2019, Lisa Marie has met several times with director Baz Luhrmann about the Elvis movie. She told Us Weekly, “I have been involved with Baz. He has come to my home and he has been emailing me… In fact, we’re going to be having another lunch at my home. He’s keeping me on top of everything. It’s been wonderful. He is a genius. I’m not getting involved with any kind of telling him what to do or how to do it or suggestions. No, no. I think this will be very stylized, very different.”

The movie follows a young Elvis, played by Austin Butler, as well as his dealings with his wife, Priscilla (played by Olivia DeJonge) and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (played by Tom Hanks.)

When prompted about what she thought of the Colonel Parker role, Lisa Marie said, “Tom Hanks can pretty much capture anybody as far as his acting ability and how professional he is and how deep and deeply involved he gets with the character…I’m extremely pleased. I think that it’ll be very good.”

During filming, Tom spoke about a conversation he had with Priscilla, who revealed she had great affection for Colonel Tom, which is a different perception to that which many have.

He told late night host Stephen Colbert: “I was expecting to hear stories about the distrust she had for Colonel Tom Parker over these many years.”

On her post, Lisa Marie revealed she has seen Luhrman’s movie twice. Her thoughts?

“It is nothing short of spectacular,” she said. “Absolutely exquisite.”

“Austin Butler channeled and embodied my father’s heart and soul beautifully.”

“In my humble opinion, his performance is unprecedented and FINALLY done accurately and respectfully.”

“You can feel and witness Baz’s pure love, care and respect for my father throughout this beautiful film, and it is finally something that myself and my children and their children can be proud of forever.

“Elvis” will be released in theaters June 24, 2022.

Favorite Fan Photos

Elvis Presley, The Rockin’ Motorcycle King in Photos

Elvis Presley, The Rockin’ Motorcycle King in Photos

Elvis Presley, The Rockin’ Motorcycle King in Photos

More Rare or Unseen Elvis Presley Pictures From the 60s

More Rare or Unseen Elvis Presley Pictures From the 60s

More Rare or Unseen Elvis Presley Pictures From the 60s

25 MORE Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the Army

25 MORE Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the Army

25 MORE Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the Army

20 Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the U.S. Army

20 Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the U.S. Army

20 Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the U.S. Army

20 Elvis Presley Photos You May Have Never Seen From The 1960s

20 Elvis Presley Photos You May Have Never Seen From The 1960s

20 Elvis Presley Photos You May Have Never Seen From The 1960s

Elvis Presley: Rare Shots From the 1970s

Elvis Presley: Rare Shots From the 1970s

Elvis Presley: Rare Shots From the 1970s

Elvis Presley Movies Ranked

Elvis Presley Movies Ranked

Elvis Presley Movies Ranked

10 Rare Elvis Presley Photos in the 1950s

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Top Songs Elvis Presley Fans Wished He Would Have Recorded

Over 3,400 Elvis Fans Around the World Polled

Elvis Presley was flat out the world’s greatest singer. The King of Rock and Roll has been gone longer than the number of years he lived, but the truth of his legacy keeps marching on.

Even now, the recorded voice of Elvis has been heard by more people on earth than any other human being in history.

With his amazing versatility, he mastered and broke records (no pun intended) across music barriers.

Jack Dennis polled Elvis fans across the world from August 1-December 1, 2017 and again for CleverJourneys from January 3-May 1, 2022 to find out which songs they believe or wished he should have recorded. Over 3,400 fans (3,421 to be exact) responded.

Note: Jack Dennis (Texasjackson) was the president of the Texas Chapter of the Official Elvis Presley Graceland Fan Club in the late 1970s and at the time of Presley’s death in August 1977. He continues to maintain friendships with Elvis’ friends, family and fans globally.

Here are the top 50 songs Elvis fans wished he would have recorded.

I Will Always Love You 

Originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton in 1973, “I Will Always Love You” is the number one song Elvis fans wished he would have recorded. The song won an Emmy for Best Recording of the Year by Whitney Houston in 1992 (from the movie “Body Guard”). Other notable covers were by Kenny Rogers in 1983 and Connie Talbot in 2007.

Old Rugged Cross

“The Old Rugged Cross” is the number two choice of Elvis fans. It is a popular hymn written in 1912, the year Elvis’ mother Gladys was born, by evangelist and song-leader George Bennard.

In order of Elvis fan choices here are the other 48 songs they wished he would have recorded:

3. Hallelujah

4. He Stopped Loving Her Today

5. I Fall to Pieces

🔹Need You Now


🔹Today I Started Loving You Again

🔹The Most Beautiful Girl


🔹I Love a Rainy Night


🔹Save the Last Dance For Me


🔹Fire & Rain


🔹Brown Eyed Girl


🔹All Summer Long


🔹When a Man Loves a Woman


🔹Autumn Leaves


🔹The Prayer


🔹One Pair of Hands


🔹The Lighthouse


🔹Tears From Heaven


🔹Don’t Pull Your Love


🔹Puddle of tears


🔹Crazy Little Thing Called Love


🔹Rock n Roll is King


🔹Miss Ann


🔹Shake a Hand


🔹Send Me Some Lovin


🔹I Told You SO


🔹Don’t Close Your Eyes


🔹Let It Be

🔹Me and Bobby McGee

🔹Fire


🔹Only the Lonely


🔹Piece of My Heart


🔹Delilah


🔹Only You


🔹Bohemian Rhapsody


🔹Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

🔹To Love Somebody


🔹Candle in the Wind


🔹Annies Song


🔹Oh Holy Night


🔹Sleigh Ride


🔹You Lift Me Up


🔹Behind Closed Doors


🔹The Keeper of the Stars

🔹In the Still of the Night


🔹There Goes My Baby


🔹Kansas City

🔹Sittin on the Dock of the Bay


🔹I’m a Honky Tonk Man

Favorite Fan Photos

Elvis Presley, The Rockin’ Motorcycle King in Photos

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2021/07/04/elvis-presley-the-rockin-motorcycle-king-in-photos/embed/#?secret=PiyyBRSf3r#?secret=bmFIRMFK45

More Rare or Unseen Elvis Presley Pictures From the 60s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2021/06/10/more-rare-or-unseen-elvis-presley-pictures-from-the-60s/embed/#?secret=uTktdtSy6l#?secret=M1T0AJRS5z

25 MORE Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the Army

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/09/16/25-more-rare-photos-of-elvis-presley-in-the-army/embed/#?secret=UOyeJk5X5D#?secret=on4xtc033j

20 Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the U.S. Army

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/20/20-rate-photos-of-elvis-presley-in-the-u-s-army/embed/#?secret=IgHEGbNvxs#?secret=SKZZ5wdVuD

20 Elvis Presley Photos You May Have Never Seen From The 1960s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/20-elvis-presley-photos-you-may-have-never-seen-from-the-1960s/embed/#?secret=GgcHR62Mnp#?secret=fpAp549wBW

Elvis Presley: Rare Shots From the 1970s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/23/elvis-presley-rare-shots-from-the-1970s/embed/#?secret=fee25bCw4D#?secret=RzVA6HMpi1

Elvis Presley Movies Ranked

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/elvis-presley-movies-ranked/embed/#?secret=IM0okZpvDG#?secret=K8Zg16VZEN

10 Rare Elvis Presley Photos in the 1950s

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.
Visit Graceland

Elvis Presley’s Texas Home During Basic Training in 1958 Still Visited by Fans

In 2020, defying lockdowns and wearing masks, we took a 32 day roadtrip from the Texas Hill Country to Washington DC and back.

Our first stop was near Fort Hood in a central Killeen Texas neighborhood. If the walls of the circa 1950 ranch-style house at 605 Oakhill Drive could talk, they’d sing!

Photo by Loralyn ‘Dodie’ Dennis

It’s a nice house but doesn’t have any visual features that dramatically set it apart from the other homes in the area not far from Conder Park. It’s a one-story, brick home with a rather large mailbox out front.

As big Elvis Presley fans, we thought there might be a landmark sign designating it as the house the most famous entertainer in history lived while going through Army training.

At the height of his early fame, the Army drafted Elvis in 1958, and at the Memphis induction center, he received his shots, his buzz cut, and his orders. On March 28, he and others were sent by military bus to Fort Hood, the Second Armored Division, General George S. Patton’s “Hell on Wheels” wild bunch.

Enroute the new troops stopped for a restaurant lunch break in Hillsboro causing “a small riot” when teenage customers recognized him. 

Elvis didn’t want any special treatment offered. His desire was to be just another G.I. His fellow soldiers saw that in him and Elvis became one of the guys.

Private Simon Vega recalled, “I thought he was gonna get special treatment but he did KP, guard duty, everything, just like us.” 

When basic training was completed, the Army allowed soldiers to live off base as long as they had dependents living in the area. It was not long before Elvis’ parents, grandmother, and a friend traveled to Killeen where they found a three-bedroom home to rent from Chester Crawford, an attorney who charged an outrageous $700 a month.

Soon crowds began showing up on Oakhill Drive to catch a glimpse of Elvis. It was common for him to stand outside and talk to fans for hours. Occasionally, he detoured through neighbors’ backyards to avoid the crowds, and according to neighbor Janie Sullivan, the clothesline in their yard once caught Elvis and the dog bit him. 

Elvis with friend Red West (far right)

Not everyone was thrilled by Elvis’ presence in the neighborhood. Some Oak Hill residents called the police to complain about the clouds of dust stirred up by the cars and the carnival-like atmosphere.

While completing an additional ten weeks of advanced tank training, Elvis had to take emergency leave to fly to Memphis to be with his mother, Gladys, who had returned home to be hospitalized. She died two days later on August 14.

After his mother’s funeral, Elvis returned and put in long days at Fort Hood learning to be a tanker. During his final days at Fort Hood, large crowds gathered outside his house, and some nights a hundred people kept vigil. The last night, on September 19, 1958, Elvis and his gang gathered at the home to make the drive to the troop train that would take him and 1,360 other G.I.s to Brooklyn to sail for Germany.


Biographers and friends reported that Elvis’ time at Fort Hood and in the Army was among the happiest of his life. For a time, he was almost “just another soldier.” Everyone agreed that Elvis was a good soldier, one of the best in the company.

His longtime girlfriend, Anita Wood, said, “he had finally found himself.”

Elvis said later, “I learned a lot about people in the Army. I never lived with other people before and had a chance to find out how they think.” 

In 1958, longtime Killeen resident Edith Carlile lived four doors down from the house Pvt. Elvis Presley lived in with his parents, Vernon and Gladys. Presley rented the home for seven months from a local lawyer when he was stationed at Fort Hood.

“The street was extremely crowded with cars going by,” said Carlile, who lived next door to the house Presley lived in before she passed away a few years ago. “People were standing in the yard, wanting to touch him, kiss him.”

Carlile was a mother of four at the time, and wasn’t really into the rock ’n’ roll music that Presley is famous for.

“I’m not a fan of music of that age,” Carlile told a local news reporter, adding she was more into the tunes of the big band era.

Her children did get autographs from Presley, but Carlile said she threw the signed pieces of paper away years later.

She said the rock ’n’ roll king dated a few of the local girls when he was here, and his presence made a big impact, especially in the Oakhill Drive neighborhood, which in 1958 was home to lawyers, business owners and other upper-middle class families.

More than 64 years later, the house is still standing, and although it’s aged, the outside doesn’t look dramatically different from when Presley lived there.

Surprisingly, more recent owners of the Presley’s rental house indicated they didn’t even know the house had once been lived in by Presley when they bought it some years ago.

To this day Elvis fans regularly pop by the house to take a video, some puctures or inquire about the former home of the King.

On display at Graceland complex in Memphis, Tennessee

Some drive hundreds of miles to do so. Others want to peep inside or look at the backyard.

Although there has been updated renovations (exterior windows and roof) owners are reluctant to offer details.

In November 2006, the 2,400-square-foot house was placed for purchase on eBay.

The owner at the time, Myka Allen-Johnson, a sales representative for CenTex Homes, said she wanted to sell the home to someone who would understand the historical significance.

“I didn’t buy the house with the intention of selling it on eBay,” Allen-Johnson told the Killeen Daily Herald in 2006. “I just don’t want people to forget that he lived here in Killeen.”

Ft. Hood front gate 1958

Penny Love was 3 or 4 years old and lived around the corner in 1958. She recalls her family seeing Presley sneak through her backyard to avoid the crowd that waited out front. She said she would sometimes sit on Presley’s father, Vernon’s lap on the front porch.

The community has missed out on any significant tourism and marketing opportunities over the years. In August 1958, Presley fans petitioned the Killeen City Council to change the name of Oakhill Drive to Presley Drive, bringing nationwide publicity to the area. Today, however, Oakhill is still the name of the street.

The owner said she allows Presley fans to take a quick picture of the front of the house. But those who try to pry closer are not totally welcome.

The backyard has a steep incline, she said, which can be dangerous, and a German shepherd patrols back there, too.

Favorite Fan Photos

Elvis Presley, The Rockin’ Motorcycle King in Photos

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2021/07/04/elvis-presley-the-rockin-motorcycle-king-in-photos/embed/#?secret=mCsDyQTdl8

More Rare or Unseen Elvis Presley Pictures From the 60s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2021/06/10/more-rare-or-unseen-elvis-presley-pictures-from-the-60s/embed/#?secret=OrH73oXJB4

25 MORE Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the Army

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/09/16/25-more-rare-photos-of-elvis-presley-in-the-army/embed/#?secret=QM7UuXuv5W

20 Rare Photos of Elvis Presley in the U.S. Army

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/20/20-rate-photos-of-elvis-presley-in-the-u-s-army/embed/#?secret=aoCYSwtQ3k

20 Elvis Presley Photos You May Have Never Seen From The 1960s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/20-elvis-presley-photos-you-may-have-never-seen-from-the-1960s/embed/#?secret=dQQFfwxfNP

Elvis Presley: Rare Shots From the 1970s

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/23/elvis-presley-rare-shots-from-the-1970s/embed/#?secret=4h7ZdpV2LL

Elvis Presley Movies Ranked

https://cleverjourneys.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/elvis-presley-movies-ranked/embed/#?secret=4IUVI49WXl

10 Rare Elvis Presley Photos in the 1950s

Please Support These American Owned Businesses Today

___________________________

Get Your Natural Vitamins A & D from the Sea!

CLICK HERE for GOOD HEALTH!
CLICK HERE for GOOD HEALTH!

___________________________

Now Available CLICK Here!
From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.
Visit Graceland

The Night Johnny Cash Set 500-Acres of Forest on Fire

Cash

Johnny Cash started a massive ring of fire on June 27th of 1965. It was in California’s Los Padres National Forest.

According to Cash’s FBI file acquired via the Freedom of Information Act, the music icon said his camper shot sparks out of its faulty exhaust system after getting stuck along the side of the road. Cash tried to gun the engine and accidentally lit the forest ablaze.

Cash’s nephew, Damon Fielder, was on the fishing trip with Cash when the fire started. According to his story, Uncle John was just drunk and allowed their campfire to get out of control. The blaze burned 508 acres of forest, spread across three mountains, and 49 of the area’s 53 California condors disappeared.

Ring of Fire

After feigning illness to avoid a court date, the “Ring of Fire” singer eventually paid a fine of $82,001 in damages.

🔹Throughout his career, Cash would often perform in prisons and recorded two live albums during those performances — Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison in 1968 and Johnny Cash at San Quentin in 1969.

🔹Cash was actually arrested seven times total for charges including reckless driving, drug use and public drunkenness, though he never spent more than a few nights in jail.

🔹One of his arrests was for picking flowers in Starkville, Mississippi, when he drunkenly took flowers from someone’s yard at 2 a.m. At the Starkville jail, he kicked the door so hard he broke his toe and later recorded a song about the experience.


🔹In 1981, Cash was attacked by his pet ostrich, Waldo. The big bird left him with five broken ribs and internal bleeding. The attack happened on the grounds of the exotic animal park Cash had established behind the House of Cash offices in Tennessee.

🔹In his book Cash: The Autobiograph, the musician wrote that Waldo was “not happy” to see him one day and that he swiped at the animal with a stick to show him who was boss.

“I missed,” Cash wrote. “He wasn’t there. He was in the air, and a split second later he was on his way down again, with that big toe of his, larger than my size-thirteen shoe, extended toward my stomach. He made contact — I’m sure there was never any question he wouldn’t — and frankly, I got off lightly. All he did was break my two lower ribs and rip my stomach open down to my belt, If the belt hadn’t been good and strong, with a solid belt buckle, he’d have spilled my guts exactly the way he meant to. As it was, he knocked me over onto my back and I broke three more ribs on a rock — but I had sense enough to keep swinging the stick, so he didn’t get to finish me. I scored a good hit on one of his legs, and he ran off.”

In the history of music, Johnny Cash definitely is one of the best-known names in the industry.

Cash

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

JOHNNY CASH MUSEUM

JOHNNY CASH MUSEUM

Barbara Eden to Appear at Graceland for Elvis Week 2022

Barbara Eden will make her first-ever appearance at Elvis Week 2022 on August 15 at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee as a special guest at Conversations on Elvis. In memory of the 45th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s passing, she will share some of her favorite memories of co-starring alongside Elvis in the 1960 film “Flaming Star.”

Throughout her illustrious career, Barbara Eden has starred in over 25 feature films, five network TV series, and 19 top-rated network made-for-television movies. Her iconic “I Dream of Jeannie” NBC Television series, launched in 1965, became an instant hit.

Flaming Star

In addition, Barbara is a New York Times bestselling author with her memoir, Jeannie Out of the Bottle. She most recently released her debut children’s book, Barbara And The Djinn.

Barbara also guest starred on Nickelodeon’s #1 animated Pre-School series Shimmer & Shine lending her voice, for the first time, as Empress Caliana.  Barbara keeps busy acting, making personal appearances, touring, participating in numerous charity events and home life, all of which are a part of her regular agenda.

Tickets for Elvis Week 2022 are on sale now. Click here for more information.

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Get Your Natural Vitamins A & D from the Sea!

CLICK HERE for GOOD HEALTH!
CLICK HERE for GOOD HEALTH!

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.