Ideas to Do With Your Special Someone

Who knew 2020 would be so limiting and stressful? From toilet paper shortages to wearing masks, our world definitely changed.

However, we decided to make the best of it–as much as we could. Defying the newscasts, Dodie and I even went on a 15-state (plus Washington D.C.) road tour for 32 days in June and July.

Don’t let all this negative news get you down! Love your family and friends. Do something fun.

For today  or this weekend, pick just one!

Bike Ride       

Bowling          

Go to the Zoo    

Cook Together          

Split a Milkshake       

Plan a Road Trip

Pick out Each Other’s Outfits    

Son Brady joined us at SeaWorld.2020.

Go to the Gym            

Aquarium       

Go Tanning    

Match Socks Together          

Take a Nap    

Have a Movie Marathon. (themes: comedy, select movie star, love, drama, horror, classics, sci-fi, etc.) We watch very little TV, but when we do we make it fun with popcorn, etc.

Recently we watched episodes of The Chosen series, Lonesome Dove and even the second season of the 1969s television series Lost In Space.

There’s a big difference in watching the space ones as a man in my 60s vs. the boy I was in the 1960s.

Kiss in the Rain         

Plant a Garden           

Kiss Underwater    

See a Play at a Local Theater           

Paint a Room in Your House       

Shopping        

Buy Matching Bracelets          

Pigeon Forge in July 2020

Ride on a Ferris wheel          

Watch Fireworks    

July 4th Washington D.C.

Scrabble         

Make Breakfast         

Road Trip          

Ride Rails

Write Each Other Letters    

Go to a Vineyard       

Classy Date   

Get Concert Tickets

Eat Ice Cream    

Walk               

Mini Golfing               

Beach             

Kiss at Midnight        

Go Running    

Play the Wii    

Laser Tag

Paint War    

Play Tennis                

Make a Couple’s Video         

Count Stars

Couple’s Scrapbook. Here’s an idea. We have pictures of us how we were in the 1960s.

Take a Picture Kissing    

Put Together a Puzzle           

Sing a Song Really Loud       

Read a Book Together          

Order Chinese Food              

Slow Dance    

Watch a Sunset          

Build a Blanket Fort              

Share Popcorn at the Movies    

YOGA              

San Antonio College Planetarium

Visit Planetarium

Get a Pedicure    

Make Chalupas Together

Silently Stare at Each Other for One Minute Without Cracking a Smile

One of You Draw a Picture. The Other Color It.

Visit a Museum.

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The Most I Ever Laughed in a Cemetery was an Unexpected Roar

How Rodney Dangerfield Got Some Respect

A Hollywood Visit

The most I ever laughed in a cemetery was in December 2011. I remember it well because a few days later my father died.

The eccentric oddball that I am, on a Disneyland vacation with my two youngest sons, Jack and Brady, I took them to Hollywood first. Talk about weirdos, they were all out on the Hollywood Walk of Fame between Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Wax Museum.

Batman, The Flash, a John Wayne Gacy Clown, a Dracula, and a Pokemon character I’d never heard of, were hustling to pose for cameras and pandering for dollars.

Then we went by the Westwood Mann Theater where in 2007, I interviewed Justin Timberlake, Mike Meyers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Julie Andrews, Tippi Hedron, Antonio Banderas, Selena Gomez, and others at the red carpet premiere of the Shrek the Third movie.

After a bite nearby, I drove us to one of my favorite LA destinations, the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary. 

The intent was to show reverence and respect for entertainment history. I explained who baseball great Joe DiMaggio was and how each week, until he died, had red roses sent to Marilyn Monroe’s resting place.

It was DiMaggio, her ex-husband, who was responsible for Monroe’s funeral arrangements in 1962. He selected Westwood Cemetery because it was the gravesites location of her mother’s friend, Grace Goddard, and Goddard’s aunt, Ana Lower, both of whom had cared for Monroe as a child.

Near her crypt was Dean Martin’s, who I vividly recalled seeing perform at the Las Vegas MGM (now Ballys) Hotel Celebrity Theater in 1986.

One of the primary reasons I want to visit this cemetery is to pay respects to one of my favorite singers Roy Orbison. On this occasion I was upset because after 23 years since his death, there was still not a headstone. Because there was none before, I made a note to identify his site beforehand. Beside his grave was a newly buried site that I found out later was his wife Barbara Orbison, who passed away just two weeks before. I wonder if there’s a tombstone now?

Both sons were unexpectedly intrigued as we walked among the gravesites of television stars like Don Knotts (they knew who he was), Carroll O’Connor, Robert Stack, Bob Crane, Brian Keith, Farrah Fawcett, Sebastian Cabot, Jack Klugman, Merv Griffin, Peter Falk, Eddie Albert, Jonathan Harris and Jim Backus.

Movie stars Burt Lancaster, George C. Scott, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Donna Reed, Janet Leigh, Karl Maldin, Eva Gabor and James Coburn.

They were especially curious about the tragic deaths of Natalie Wood, Dorothy Stratten, Heather O’Rourke, Dominique Dunne, and Victor Kilian.

Music entertainers are Beachboy Carl Wilson, Janis Joplin, Mel Torme, Minnie Riperton, Frank Zappa, Buddy Rich, Peggy Lee, Ray Conniff, and Les Brown.

Notable authors and writers included Truman Capote, Ray Bradbury, Robert Block, Jackie Collins, Harry Essex, Ariel and Will Durant.

Seeing the marker for comedian
Fanny Brice (later, Tim Conway would be laid there) made me smile.

We remained respectful and solemn until we walked by the gravesite of the man born Jacob Cohen, who later legally changed his name to Jack Roy.

The tombstone was etched “RODNEY DANGERFIELD.” The epitaph reads:

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Amongst the peaceful chirping of birds in gently waving trees, amid the serenity and beauty of that well manicured cemetery, I roared with laughter.

Hilariously funny in life, Rodney remains funny after death. Rodney passed away on October 5, 2004 in Los Angeles.

Here are some of Rodney Dangerfield’s memorable one-liners:

🔹My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.

🔹I haven’t spoken to my wife in years. I didn’t want to interrupt her.

🔹I looked up my family tree and found three dogs using it.

🔹I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous – everyone hasn’t met me yet.

🔹When I played in the sandbox, the cat kept covering me up.

🔹I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.

🔹My mother had morning sickness after I was born.

🔹What a dog I got, his favorite bone is in my arm.

🔹When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.

🔹My father carries around the picture of the kid who came with his wallet.


🔹A bike in town keeps running me over….

….It’s a vicious cycle.

🔹Is a cow that won’t give milk a milk dud….
….or an udder failure?

🔹I’m so good at sleeping….
….I can do it with my eyes closed.

Dangerfield with Jackie Gleason.

🔹I took a video of my shoe yesterday….
….It has some great footage.

🔹Today at the bank, an old woman asked me to check her balance….
….so I pushed her over.

🔹My wife says I’m absolutely useless at fixing appliances….
….Well, she’s in for a shock.

🔹How many lawyers does it take to fill an ambulance?….
….I don’t know. No-one’s ever tried to save one.

🔹A horse walks into a bar….
….The bartender says, ”Hey.”….
….The horse replies, “Sure.”

🔹To improve my sex life I took Viagra and a bit of cannabis….

….I just ended up with stiff joints.

🔹Two guys walk into a bar….
….The third one ducked

🔹I’ve been watching women’s beach volleyball, and there was a wrist injury….
….but I should be okay by tomorrow

R.I.P. Rodney Dangerfield.
(November 22, 1921 – October 5, 2004)

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COVID Beliefs Blown Away For RVers-Campers on Iconic U.S. Travel Roads

We have just returned from a 32-day, 4500 mile roadtrip (June 19-July 21) from the Texas Hill Country through much of the South, Washington D.C. for July 4th, to part of the Midwest and back.

Our preconceived ideas from news and the continually changing regulations around COVID-19 were blown away with the reality we experienced. It actually restored our faith in the goodness of America.

People of all ages, creeds, races and sexes were friendly, polite and eager to be traveling. By far, they agreed that what news outlets portray and what is actually happening are not in sync. We met scores of campers and travelers who indicated they had no problems with getting reservations and lodging.

We found our routes and destinations were open to travelers, including campers with self-contained RVs.

Pigeon Forge grist mill in Dollywood.

Most restaurants and stores were open with COVID-19 restrictions varying by state, city and location.

Our plans were modified only twice because of not feeling welcomed due to tourist closures.

1. We bypassed Nashville because the Grand Old Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame and Johnny Cash Museum were closed. Nearby Murfreesboro was welcoming for an overnight stay.

2. We left St. Louis immediately after driving to the Gateway Arch and seeing seedy characters in garbage, urine and feces infested tent encampments throughout the area. Wildwood, about 20 miles southwest on Historic Route 66, was awesome.

Here are some of the most notable routes we enjoyed and recommend.

Blue Ridge Parkway

A road trip gem, left Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas towards the Blue Ridge Parkway. This scenic byway traverses the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains across Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. We especially enjoyed Appalachian towns like North Carolina’s Asheville and Mt. Airy (Andy Griffith Museum).

RVers should be aware some roads have tunnel height restrictions. Check the tunnel restrictions for your planned route. The most restricting tunnels have a maximum height of 18 feet. Cell phone reception could be an issue depending on your carrier (we had no problems with Cricket). There were very few gas stations and other amenities limited. We remained anticipatory and planned ahead just in case.

Blues Highway

Highway 61, known as the “blues highway,” is rich with the history of musicians in the Mississippi Delta area. It’s the birthplace of the blues and the roots of much of American music. 

The original route went from New Orleans to Minnesota, but most of the history of the blues is embedded in Mississippi.

We started in Vicksburg, Mississippi,  a great spot to understand some of the roots of the blues. In 1863 Vicksburg was under siege from the Union Army. General John Pemberton (Confederate) surrendered Vicksburg to General Grant (Union) after sustaining huge losses and facing a catastrophic defeat by an army that greatly outnumbered his abled soldiers.

The Blues developed from slaves toiling on the cotton plantations in Mississippi. The war was over and slavery was officially abolished. Opportunities slowly merged forward toward Memphis, St. Louis and Chicago. The music permeated across the Mississippi Delta.

Some say Clarksdale, Mississippi is the birthplace of the blues. While most of the old Juke Joints have perished, we stopped by  Ground Zero Blues Club (co-owned by Morgan Freeman). It’s a great place to see talented musicians perform and enjoy local food favorites including fried green tomatoes, Mississippi tamales and catfish.

At the Highway 61/49 intersection is a famous location known as The Crossroads. It’s where Robert Johnson was fabled to have sold his soul to the Devil to be the King of Delta Blues. Robert Johnson was born in 1911 and died just 27 years later. 

Highway 61 leads to Memphis, the land of Elvis Presley, SUN Studio, Beale Street and Graceland. The Graceland RV Park is conveniently located next to the Elvis Memphis complex and museums.

Natchez Trace Parkway

The Natchez Trace Parkway is an excellent route to see the southern United States by RV. We loved it because no commercial trucking or 18-wheelers are allowed.

Although it’s over 440 miles from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, we started in Tupelo, Mississippi after visiting Elvis Presley’s Birthplace. We stopped often to see waterfalls, prehistoric mounds, and other historical landmarks.

Like the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, there are maximum RV restrictions. The maximum length is 55 feet (including a tow vehicle) and a 14 feet height restriction. 

Route 66

Long before our current national interstate highway system, federal highways, like U.S. Route 66, were main thoroughfares. On historic Route 66, you can explore America’s Heartland and other enchanting pockets of the United States from Chicago to Los Angeles. 

We began the route in St. Louis and took it most of the way toward Branson. Be sure to visit Uranus, Missouri for a fun, quick pit stop.

We did join Route 66 again later in Oklahoma City. Continuing West, we could have carved out time to visit Grand Canyon National Park, but elected to return back to Texas after four weeks on the road.

New Travel Resources

U.S. State Department’s Traveler Checklist. Read more

The TripIt app has a relative new feature that shows safety scores from 1 to 100 for neighborhoods around the world, representing low to high risk. These scores cover a variety of categories, such as women’s safety, access to health and medical services, and political freedoms. Travelers will find safety scores for their lodging, restaurant and activity locations there.

Lessons From Andy of Mayberry We Could Use Today

Those of us old enough to remember the 1960s know it was a decade marked by assassinations, civil rights battles, the sexual revolution, an increase in drug experimentation, and the Vietnam War.

There was much turmoil, but millions of us found solace by tuning in to one of three available TV channels to watch The Andy Griffith Show.

Week after week, Americans tuned in to a place where folks genuinely loved and looked after each other. Mayberry may have been a fictional town, but for many, it was the place they longed to call home. 

Growing up, I often asked myself what would Sheriff Andy Taylor do when faced with challenges. It helped immensely and I give the program plenty credit for helping me through life by setting some key examples.

I’ve been aching for simpler times.
In many ways I see similarities in those turbulent 60s and today. But it appears we are living in a world that’s filled with a lot more anger and bitterness and hate.

People seem willing to go to court or to start a fight whenever anyone even makes the slightest mistake or doesn’t agree with their lifestyle demands.

Congress has become so polarized on both sides that they can’t get anything done without first playing their game of “political chicken” to see how close to the edge they can take us before we go over the ledge.

Issues like racism, abortion and the same-sex marriage debate continue to divide the American people. The mainstream media can’t be trusted and seem to want to divide us. But we could learn a thing or two about living in Mayberry, and maybe find some peace with others and within ourselves along the way.

I climbed a great career ladder with an admirable company by modeling many of my thoughts after Sheriff Taylor. Even today, I still ask “what would Andy do?”

With that in mind, Dodie and I decided to head out to Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mt. Airy, North Carolina while on our month long roadtrip. Many say, and the city itself claims, that Mt. Airy was the inspiration for Mayberry. 

We learned much more than I thought we would.

According to George Lindsay, who played Goober in the series, “One of the incredible things about every single episode is that Andy insisted each show have a moral point – something good, lofty and moral. It’s a shame current shows on TV don’t adopt that high road.”

Here are some key things I’ve learned along the way that was underlined by visiting Andy Griffith’s childhood home, his museum, Floyd’s Barbershop, Wally’s Garage and Main Street.

1. Lead by Example. It’s important to remember that others see you and can be influenced by your lifestyle. It’s important to model the Mayberry mindset consistently if you want others to see its value and start living it for themselves.

Early in my leadership career at H-E-B Food/Drugs, my vice president Ralph Mehringer told me to “always be aware that people are watching, learning and ‘being’ from you. The example you set will be reflected in your organization.”

I took his wisdom to heart.

2. Value Other People. This means putting the needs and feelings of others ahead of your own and learning to be humble.

For me, it was delivering pizzas to night staff, including janitors and maintenance technicians, surprising them at 3 a.m. Remembering birthdays, anniversaries, or their spouses and children’s names (and activities: sports, art, hobbies, etc.). Visiting their family members in hospitals, attending weddings and funerals across Texas was a leadership quality I learned and practiced from H-E-B.

I suppose I’ve hired and terminated hundreds of people over the years. The concept of valuing them, even when letting them go, was rewarding.

Look how Andy treated the town drunk, Otis. Always with respect.

3. Seek Peace With People. This goes hand-in-hand with the first two and emphasizes the importance of love, patience, and the ability to let things go. It means accepting people who are different from you, and it means looking for non-violent or non-confrontational ways to resolve conflicts as often as possible.

My current post retirement job is being a golf marshal at two beautiful courses at Fair Oaks Golf and Country Club in the foothills of the Texas Hill Country. Conflict comes with the job throughout each day. But I can truly say that 99% of anyone I’ve had conflict with eventually turned out to be a friend. I respect them.

4. Live With Grace. This includes things like tolerance, forgiveness, trust, helping each other, and just generally treating people with the same kind of respect you expect from them. Andy was a master.

5. Slow Down. Getting enough rest is a value that seems to be under-appreciated in today’s society. From cars to computers and cell phones, technology seems great because we imagine all the ways it can make our work easier so we can have more leisure time. But the reality is that now we live in a world where everybody’s moving in hyper-speed – go, go, go all the time! 

In Mayberry, everything seemed to move at an easier pace. People stayed active, yes, but they were never too busy to sit on the porch in the evening or to go out on a date to the duck pond. (“Barney, why do you want to go to the duck pond at night? You won’t be able to see the ducks!”)

Folks in Mayberry knew the value of a hard day’s work, but they also realized the importance of leaving work at work, taking time to enjoy the company of friends and family, and enjoying the simple things in life.

I’ve been particularly disenchanted with naysayers, socialist driven politicians and political correctness police going after businesses that close on Sundays so their employees could benefit.

The whole “closed on Sundays” thing was a lot more common in the 1960s than it is today, but the truth is that, for thousands of years, people have generally made a point of resting one day a week – it’s only really been in the last couple decades that this value has become more and more lost.

The idea of a day of rest began because people wanted to honor the Ten Commandments found in the Bible, where God instructed his people to honor the Sabbath. (The word “Sabbath” literally means to cease working.)

The point of slowing down, then, for many people including the citizens of Mayberry, was and is often not just to clear the mind, but also to reconnect with God and seek spiritual rejuvenation. 

Maybe for you, you choose to live by this code because it ties in with your religious beliefs. It’s possible to link all five of these keys to Biblical teachings, and in fact, I’m sure that’s one major reason why the folks in Mayberry live this way. While they rarely quoted Scripture, there are several episodes that feature hymns and church – we know these things are on their minds.

If you don’t choose to live this way for religious reasons, maybe you just do it because you know it’s the right thing to do. 

True Things We Didn’t Know About States Until We Visited Them

We left the Texas Hill Country on June 19th on a roadtrip through the South. On our 28th day (We’re in Oklahoma City), we sharing some interesting facts about each state we’ve learned along the way.

Louisiana

Louisiana has the longest coastline (15,000 miles) of any other state in the U.S.

Louisiana makes up approximately 41% of the wetlands in the U.S.

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway at 23.83 miles in Metairie is the longest continuous bridge over water in the world.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and killed (Bonnie struck 53 times and Clyde struck 51 times) by Louisiana and Texas state police near Bienville Parish, Louisiana. Bonnie was married to another man and never divorced him. The Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum in Gibsland, Louisiana, is located a few miles away from their death site.

In 1977, Luisa Harris, the only woman in U.S. history to officially be drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA), was drafted by the New Orleans Jazz basketball team.

In 2010, the world’s record for the largest pot of gumbo was set by award-winning chef, John David Folse. The pot served 10,000 people. It contained 50 pounds of white crab meat, 85 pounds of oysters, 100 pounds of crab claws, 200 pounds of alligator meat, 450 pounds of catfish, and 750 pounds of shrimp.

Mississippi

In 1963 the University of Mississippi Medical Center accomplished the world’s first human lung transplant and, on January 23, 1964, Dr. James D. Hardy performed the world’s first heart transplant surgery.

In 1902 while on a hunting expedition in Sharkey County, President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt refused to shoot a captured bear. This act resulted in the creation of the world-famous teddy bear.

In 1884 the concept of selling shoes in boxes in pairs (right foot and left foot) occurred in Vicksburg at Phil Gilbert’s Shoe Parlor on Washington Street.

Guy Bush of Tupelo was one of the most valuable players with the Chicago Cubs. He was on the 1929 World Series team and Babe Ruth hit his last home run off a ball pitched by Bush.

Root beer was invented in Biloxi in 1898 by Edward Adolf Barq, Sr.

Tennessee

There are more horses per capita in Shelby County than any other county in the United States.

Davy Crockett was not born on a mountaintop in Tennessee, as the song says. He was born on the banks of Limestone Creek near Greeneville, where a replica of the Crockett’s log cabin stands today.

David Crockett

The capitol building was designed by noted architect William Strickland, who died during its construction and is buried within its walls.

Tennessee ranks number one among other states in the total number of soldiers who fought in the War Between the States.

The name “Tennessee” originated from the old Yuchi Indian word, “Tana-see,” meaning “The Meeting Place.”

Coca-Cola was first bottle in 1899 at a plant on Patten Parkway in downtown Chattanooga after two local attorneys purchased the bottling rights to the drink for $l.00.

Cumberland University, located in Lebanon, lost a football game to Georgia Tech on October 7, 1916 by a score of 222 to 0. The Georgia Tech coach was George Heisman for whom the Heisman Trophy is named.

Alabama

In 2004, Chad Fell of Haleyville was certified by the Guinness World Records for blowing the World’s Largest Bubblegum Bubble, Unassisted (without use of his hands) at Double Springs High School in Winston County. He used three pieces of Dubble Bubble gum.

In October of 1989, residents of Fort Payne built a cake to celebrate the city’s centennial. The 12-layer cake was 32 feet wide and 80 feet long and weighed 128,238 pounds. It was certified by Guinness World Records as the World’s Largest Cake.

The country’s first 911 call was made on February 16, 1968, in Haleyville. Alabama Speaker of the House Rankin Fite went to City Hall and called U.S. Representative Tom Bevill, who was at the local police station. The red phone used is on display in City Hall.

The actors who portrayed Goober and Gomer, fictional cousins on the Andy Griffith Show, were both born in Alabama. Jim Nabors, “Gomer,” was born in 1930 in Sylacauga. He died Nov. 30, 2017. George Lindsey, “Goober,” was born in 1928 in Fairfield. He died in 2012.

Virginia

About 1/2 of all the people in the United States live within a 500 mile radius of the Capital of Virginia.

Over 1/2 the battles fought in the civil war were fought in Virginia. Over 2,200 of the 4,000 battles.

The first Thanksgiving in North America was held in Virginia in 1619.

Yorktown is the site of the final victory of the American Revolution.

The first English colony in America was located on Roanoke Island. Walter Raleigh founded it. The colony mysteriously vanished with no trace except for the word “Croatoan” scrawled on a nearby tree.

Mount Mitchell in the Blue Ridge Mountains is the highest peak east of the Mississippi. It towers 6,684 feet above sea level.

Washington D.C.

Herbert Hoover and John Quincy Adams had pet alligators in the White House.

To date, nobody has beat Jimmy Carter’s record of watching 480 movies in the White House movie theater.

Washington DC is missing “J” Street. It uses letters for streets traveling east to west. But numbers are also used for streets. I was told it’s because “J” and “I” look too similar on street signs.

There’s a crypt under the Capitol building that was made for George Washington. Although he was not buried there, the crypt still exists; they also had a viewing chamber built so people could go by and see him.

John Adams was actually the first president to live in the White House. George Washington never lived there; it was built after he died.

There are 35 bathrooms in the White House. There are also 132 rooms and 6 levels in the residence. Even more staggering are the 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases and 3 elevators.

There’s only one U.S. president buried in Washington D.C. Woodrow Wilson is entombed at Washington National Cathedral.

Missouri

The first successful parachute jump to be made from a moving airplane was made by Captain Berry at St. Louis, in 1912.

The most destructive tornado on record occurred in Annapolis. In 3 hours, it tore through the town on March 18, 1925 leaving a 980-foot wide trail of demolished buildings, uprooted trees, and overturned cars. It left 823 people dead and almost 3,000 injured.

At the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, Richard Blechyden, served tea with ice and invented iced tea.

Also, at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, the ice cream cone was invented. An ice cream vendor ran out of cups and asked a waffle vendor to help by rolling up waffles to hold ice cream.

The Arch has foundations sunken 60 feet into the ground, and is built to withstand earthquakes and high winds. It sways up to one inch in a 20 mph wind, and is built to sway up to 18 inches.

The most powerful earthquake to strike the United States occurred in 1811, centered in New Madrid, Missouri. The quake shook more than one million square miles, and was felt as far as 1,000 miles away.

During Abraham Lincoln’s campaign for the presidency, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat named Valentine Tapley from Pike County, Missouri, swore that he would never shave again if Abe were elected. Tapley kept his word and his chin whiskers went unshorn from November 1860 until he died in 1910, attaining a length of twelve feet six inches.

Situated within a day’s drive of 50% of the U.S. population, Branson and the Tri-Lakes area serves up to 65,000 visitors daily. Branson has been a “rubber tire” destination with the vast majority of tourists arriving by vehicles, RVs and tour buses. Branson has also become one of America’s top motor coach vacation destinations with an estimated 4,000 buses arriving each year.

Indiana

The first professional baseball game was played in Fort Wayne on May 4, 1871.

Santa Claus, Indiana receives over one half million letters and requests at Christmas time.

Deep below the earth in Southern Indiana is a sea of limestone that is one of the richest deposits of top-quality limestone found anywhere on earth. New York City’s Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center as well as the Pentagon, the U.S. Treasury, a dozen other government buildings in Washington D.C. as well as 14 state capitols around the nation are built from this sturdy, beautiful Indiana limestone.

In 1934 Chicago Gangster John Dillinger escaped the Lake Country Jail in Crown Point by using a “pistol” he had carved from a wooden block.

Comedian Red Skelton, who created such characters as Clem Kadiddlehopper, and Freddie the Freeloader, was born in Vincennes.

Arkansas

Alma claims to be the Spinach Capital of the World, but Texas knows Crystal City really is.

A person from Arkansas is called an Arkansan.

The state contains six national park sites, two-and-a half million acres of national forests, seven national scenic byways, three state scenic byways, and 50 state parks.

North Carolina

The Venus Fly-Trap is native to Hampstead.

The first miniature golf course was built in Fayetteville.

Babe Ruth hit his first home run in Fayetteville on March 7, 1914.

North Carolina has the largest state-maintained highway system in the United States. The state’s highway system currently has 77,400 miles of roads.

West Virginia

On January 26, 1960 Danny Heater, a student from Burnsville, scored 135 points in a high school basketball game earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Nearly 75% of West Virginia is covered by forests.

Outdoor advertising had its origin in Wheeling about 1908 when the Block Brothers Tobacco Company painted bridges and barns with the wording: “Treat Yourself to the Best, Chew Mail Pouch.”

Bailey Brown, the first Union solider killed in the Civil War, died on May 22, 1861, at Fetterman, Taylor County.

The first brick street in the world was laid in Charleston, West Virginia, on October 23, 1870, on Summers Street, between Kanawha and Virginia Streets.

Oklahoma

Boise City, Oklahoma was the only city in the United States to be bombed during World War II. On Monday night, July 5, 1943, at approximately 12:30 a.m., a B-17 Bomber based at Dalhart Army Air Base (50 miles to the south of Boise City) dropped six practice bombs on the sleeping town.

Sooners is the name given to settlers who entered the Unassigned Lands in what is now the state of Oklahoma before the official start of the Land Rush of 1889.

The world’s first installed parking meter was in Oklahoma City, on July 16, 1935. Carl C. Magee, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is generally credited with originating the parking meter. He filed for a patent for a “coin controlled parking meter” on May 13, 1935.

During a tornado in Ponca City, a man and his wife were carried aloft in their house by a tornado. The walls and roof were blown away. But the floor remained intact and eventually glided downward, setting the couple safely back on the ground.

Bob Dunn a musician from Beggs invented the first electric guitar in 1935.

Oklahoma has more man-made lakes than any other state, with over one million surface acres of water.

Kentucky

Cheeseburgers were first served in 1934 at Kaolin’s restaurant in Louisville.

Chevrolet Corvettes are manufactured in Bowling Green.

Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest cave and was first promoted in 1816, making it the second oldest tourist attraction in the United States. Niagara Falls, New York is first.

The song “Happy Birthday to You” was the creation of two Louisville sisters in 1893.

Daniel Boone and his wife Rebecca are buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. Their son Isaac is buried at Blue Licks Battlefield near Carlisle, where he was killed in the last battle of the Revolutionary War fought in Kentucky.

Boone Gravesite

The public saw an electric light for the first time in Louisville. Thomas Edison introduced his incandescent light bulb to crowds at the Southern Exposition in 1883.

The radio was invented by a Kentuckian named Nathan B. Stubblefield of Murray in 1892. It was three years before Marconi made his claim to the invention.

Joe Bowen holds the world record for stilt walking endurance. He walked 3,008 miles on stilts between Bowen, Kentucky to Los Angeles, California.

Miscellaneous

The most fun Dodie and I have experienced so far was riding the mile long Branson Sawmill Coaster. We were able to control the speed of our individual coaster pods.

Floyd the Barber Haircut in Andy’s Mayberry?

I purposely haven’t had a haircut in a while because I wanted to fulfill a boyhood dream of getting it trimmed at Floyd’s Barbershop in Mayberry.

If Sheriff and Opie Taylor, Deputy Fife, Gomer and Goober liked it there, it was good enough for me.

On “The Andy Griffith Show,” Mayberry’s Floyd the barber was played by actor Howard McNear, a popular supporting role in television history.

McNear had been in radio since the 1930s and was most notable as the voice of Doc Adams in Gunsmoke. His first appear as a barber on TV was as “Andy” in an episode of Leave it to Beaver.

Legend has it that Andy Griffith himself would sometimes have his hair cut by Russell Hiatt, a barber on Main Street in his hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. The city is now proclaimed as the inspiration for and “real” Mayberry.

Main Street Mt. Airy July 2, 2020

Hiatt trimmed hair for 68 years until declining health prevented him from continuing at age 90. Two years later,  in 2016, he died, but memories of his kindly disposition and sense of humor live on at the barber shop.

Thanks to his son Bill Hiatt, 74, the shop remains open for tourists who stop by to snap photos and relive memories of the beloved program.

“My father never claimed to be Floyd the barber,” Hiatt told me. “But visitors from all over the world loved the show so much that when they came in and saw the kind gentleman he was, well, he became their Floyd.”

The shop was once called City Barber Shop and was founded in 1929. Hiatt began cutting hair there in 1946 and added the reference to Floyd in the shop’s name around 1989.

There are 20,000 photos of visitors sitting in the now famous barber chair all over the walls. Some who’ve had their hair trimmed there include George Lindsey (Goober), John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard) and Oprah Winfrey.

“Everything resembled the barbershop in the show,” Hiatt said. His father “didn’t like to be in the limelight. This was his niche being right here in this place.”

“Some of his customers who were aging couldn’t get out anymore. He would go on over to their house and cut their hair and never take a dime,” the barber’s son remembered. “He would go to hospitals, funeral homes, wherever he was needed to help. Some would come in who couldn’t talk plain, but everyone was equal in his eyes.”

“I do have a couple of part time barbers for hair cuts, but with this COVID thing, we haven’t been doing that for a while,” the friendly Hiatt explained. “I just can’t bare to close this down, and I’m retired. It means so much to people that they come here and feel like they are going back in time to the ’60s, when folks were friendly and more simple.”

Bill Hiatt keeps his father’s legacy open. It was a joy to sit on that famous chair.

Needless to say, thanks to the pandemic, many of our wants aren’t happening. No haircut for me. So what would Andy Taylor do? I suspect he’d do what I did–just thank the barber’s son for his hospitality, wink and walk out whistling.