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.

What are These Giant Mississippi River Barges Doing in the Middle of a Farm?

Last night I received a curious email from Dave W. of South Dakota:

Before all else, I eminently took the bait to find out how a large barge about the length of Noah’s Ark would be stranded on a farm in Olive Branch, Illinois.

As the mighty Mississippi River snakes around Dogtooth Bend at the southern tip of Illinois, certain curved segments of the riverbank take the brunt of the river’s erosive power.

This especially occurs in Alexander County, where farmers and other hard working residents experienced major floods 21 times between 1844 and 2016. The Len Small Levee, named after the 26th governor of Illinois, was built in 1927 and expanded in 1969 to span the bend in the river and “deflect high velocity floodwaters” away from agricultural land.

Sherry Pecord, owner of the nearby Horseshoe Bar and Grill in Olive Branch, wasn’t prepared for the flood of 2019.

It was July, the monstrous river flowed back out of the hole in the levee and caused six giant barges to relocate via another raging flood.

One of the barges settled in the field just off Miller City Road in rural Alexander County, near the southern tip of Illinois.

“They just floated right on over and took out a utility pole and an irrigation rig and landed in the field right behind my house,” Pecord said.

Pecord and her husband, Sean, grow corn and soybeans acreage near the bend. They’ve been through floods before, but the couple never dreamed barges would land in their fields causing them to plow around them for years.

“I don’t even see them anymore,” she said. “They’ve just become part of the landscape, and I really don’t pay any attention to them anymore.”

These two barges remain stranded in a southern Illinois farmer’s field nearly two years after they were sucked through a hole in the Len Small Levee during high-water event on the Mississippi River. (Photo by Shelley Byrne)
These two barges remain stranded in a southern Illinois farmer’s field after they were sucked through a hole in the Len Small Levee during a 2019 massive flood on the Mississippi River.

The Pecord’s experiences with the floods began in 2011, when a massive storm of thunderous water caused an initial break in the levee. Although officials repaired it, that break also led to a government buyout offer for the surrounding land. Several neighbors took the buyouts. Sean, a third-generation farmer, elected to stay put in the home he built back in 1985.

On New Year’s Day of 2016, the Mississippi River overwhelmed the Len Small Levee again.

“It went over the top and just broke it down,” Pecord said. “It put a 3/4-mile gap in the levee right in front of our house. Over the years, the river has just been eating that away, and it’s probably a good mile now.”

In the 2019 flood, the water remained high enough that the Pecords boated to and from home for 137 days. The restaurant remained closed for seven weeks during that time because it was inaccessible to customers.

The barges floated in on July 3 that year. The day after the Fourth of July holiday, the barges’ owner, Hines Furlong Line Inc., sent representatives to take a look.

“They were going to try to move them and get them back across the road and out to the river,” Pecord said. “Well, the river dropped about that time, and they couldn’t get them back across. 

“In the next year and a half, they were trying to figure it out,” she continued. “First they were going to come in and put air bags underneath them and walk them across the road and maybe leave them on the other side and wait for the river to come back up. It’s a given the water is going to come back up because we have a mile-long breach in our levee. I don’t know what happened to that thought process, but that never happened.”

“Planting season comes and goes, and they’re sitting in the middle of my father-in-law’s field,” Pecord said. So he began charging the barge company rent for each day the barges were in his field.

Negotiations began, resulting in a settlement of Hines Furlong selling the barges to Mr. Pecord.

Two red bars mark the barges.

Map of Dogtooth Bend and surrounding area. (Kenneth Olsen, Impacts of 2011 Len Small levee breach on private and public Illinois lands. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, July/August 2013)

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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.

Elvis Presley, Music in Black and White

Three Music Historians Open the Blinds of Truth on How He United People of All Races

With Over 40 Historical Photos

Presley fans across the globe realize that knowing the truth about Elvis Presley and the subject of racism requires knowledge about his early childhood and an exploration of the facts of his life throughout his career.

The great American musical pioneers of the 1950s were precise in their adamant characterizations of Presley being a uniting force. They often described him as the person who did far more for bringing blacks and whites together than anyone culturally.

According to three of the finest music culture researchers around the world, they all agree that Presley was a catalyst and powerful (as an individual human being and a worldwide example) influencer from the beginning and still continues to be.

Elvis with B.B.King, 1956

Some time ago, I reached out to three experts on the topic to set the record straight. Their cumulative research represents over 85 years of study, exploration and documentation in the field of culture, music history and Elvis Presley. These specialists are: 

  • Guillermo F. Perez-Argüello
  • Craig Philo (CP) is a music researcher and historian from Sheppey, in Kent, U.K.
  • Jay Viviano (JP) is a pop culture historian with over 20 years of experience in research of icons of the 50’s and 60’s, with a strong concentration on Blues artists.

Guillermo F. Perez-Argüello (GPA): “Critics and the uninformed should put themselves “in the position the 7-year-old Elvis Presley found himself in, circa 1942. He was white, but living in an area of Tupelo, Mississippi, totally surrounded by African Americans.

With an unerring ear and a photographic memory, he totally absorbed everything he heard, LIVE, at the gospel churches attended by African Americans. Now, this was not Georgia, Florida, New York, or Illinois, let alone California, Washington State, but Mississippi, a state which was then the poorest of the then 49 states of the Union.”

Craig Philo (CP): “Sam Bell, a childhood black friend in Tupelo, feared for his friend when Elvis made his life changing journey to Memphis at the age of 13 with his beloved parents. You see, perhaps old Sam knew a thing or two about human behavior, knew how his friend’s open and honest approach to all he came in contact with, driven into him by his mother not to hurt another’s feelings would someday hurt him, how right he was!”

Sam Bell

GPA: “Then, at age 13, with his parents, he moves to the second poorest, Tennessee, actually to Memphis, the crossroads of urban and city blues.

Forget about the ear and the memory as, by now, starting at age 16, we are talking about a human being who MUSICALLY loves and masters everything around him–namely R&B, the Blues, and Gospel of all denominations, plus European ballads, Country and Western, Opera, Neo-classical recordings, Pop, you name it, he masters it.

And to top it all, he is armed as well with the most eclectic and elastic voice in history. In 1954, it became the most important, which it remains to this day. And that is why BB King was so impressed when he first met him, a lad of 17. ‘He knew more blues and gospel songs than anyone I had ever met’ and years later added, ‘I understand why they call him the King.’ Nuff said, from the King of the Blues.”

Downtown Memphis

Jay Viviano (JV): “Reverend Milton Perry was an early Civil Rights activist in the 1950s. He had Elvis’ back just like many other great legends did. He published an open letter to Black America in a 1957 magazine that stated, after spending time talking to not only white people, but Black people in the R&B and Blues community, as well as African Americans that knew him as a child in Tupelo.

‘I found that an overwhelming majority of people who know Elvis speak of this boy as a boy who practices humility and a love for racial harmony,’ Rev. Perry wrote. ‘I learned that he is not too proud or important to speak to anyone, and to spend time with his fans of whatever color, whenever or wherever they approached him.’”

GPA: “Elvis stealing from black music? Tell it to BB King, Otis Redding, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Cissy Houston, Darlene Love, Jim Brown, Mohammed Ali, Jesse Jackson, Al Green, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Sammy Davis Jr. Count Basie, even Public Enemy’s Chuck D, who reconsidered his 1989 views in Fight the Power, and he did so in 2002, as well as to hundreds of other notable African Americans I have on record saying that was NOT the case with Presley.”

JV:BB King, bluesman Little Milton and Little Richard referred to Elvis as an ‘Integrator.’ And they both use the words ‘that guts it took for Elvis to do what he was doing’ in their own interviews.

Elvis ticked off mainstream racist white America when he came on the scene–especially the KKK and white Citizens Council members—by hanging out with black folks in public, speaking respectful of black artists and continually defending rock and roll, R&B and blues music to the point that young white American kids were paying attention and opening up their minds.

This drove their parents (meaning mainstream racist white America) to anger against Elvis. For his first two years on the scene he was public enemy number one. Little Richard in a later interview in his life praised Elvis passionately for his impact on young white America.”

CP: “In all my time on researching Elvis Aaron Presley I have never ever once come across any racial behavior or activity. Indeed the only stuff you will find was a slanderous lie that’s gathered mythical proportions through the years originally reported by Sepia magazine in April of 1957 and consequently torn to shreds by none other than the great Louie Robinson of Jet Magazine.”

GPA: “In fact Louis Robinson, the talented African American writer who Jet Magazine commissioned to go to LA and interview Presley on the MGM set of “Jailhouse Rock”, in 1957, to obtain his views on racist and other “copycat” remarks which appeared in SEPIA, a magazine geared towards the African American market in the US South. But unlike Jet and Ebony, it was owned by white anti-integrationist and based in Fort Worth, TX.

Robinson has just passed away. He unequivocally stated the rumors were false, so this mentioning of Presley as one who stole, or copied, from African Americans and coming from a prestigious magazine as Ebony tells me (that any writer who differs), well how can I put this, is ill informed.”

JV: “The truth though, which stands up to scrutiny, is that there simply was no other white man as famous as Elvis back in those days that took so many hits for proudly befriending the black community.


The ridiculous fact that people try to spread the opposite as ‘some sort of truth’ makes it paramount that this is handled aggressively.”

CP: “When actor Sidney Poitier and tennis great Arthur Ashe wanted to write books, they sought Mr. Robinson’s help.

‘Never in my life have I known a better man,’ Poitier said.

Yes, Robinson went and interviewed Elvis on the set of Jailhouse Rock. The fact Presley was never in Boston when the quote was reputedly made matters little to some. It was and remains a vicious lie concocted by a fearful white middle America as a weapon to try and cut down this brave and carefree spirited individual whose only crime was to record the music he loved and respected. And at all times in doing so paid reverence and respect to those black artists that he deemed did it better than he did. After all, there is no color in music!”

JV: “People need to get over their ignorance about American history. Elvis did himself NO favors back then by hanging out and letting himself be photographed with black folks. Racism was a common blatant practice of the day. It was these very things that made Elvis hated by many older white folks, yet respected by the black community.

Reverend Milton Perry concluded his statement by saying ‘Presley set an example of wholesome Brotherhood. I find something to admire in Presley and that is his attitude on the racial issue. And that it would be good if other people in the South in other parts of the nation emulated his attitude’.”

GPA: “Notice that, in the US, of all the early Blues, Country and Western, Gospel and R&B masters, the ones who sprang from them, namely Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Bill Haley, Little Richard and Ray Charles, let alone the ones who sprang from or appeared in the scene IMMEDIATELEY after them; namely Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent and say Eddie Cochran, the only one whose MUSICAL palette was totally complete was Elvis Presley.

Otherwise, how can one explain that the top singer in the world, on December 4, 1956, should start, the guitar now firmly in his arms, the so called Million Dollar Quartet session with an Agustin Lara song from 1941, the classic “Solamente una vez.” Only Elvis, in this case with (his mother) Gladys’ music taste’s help, was destined to rule.”

JV: “Interestingly, not only did Elvis have the same Blues background as many blues men had, but also their same Country and Western roots. As so many Blues artists did indeed, in many of their interviews, state they had strong Country and Western music influences as well. 

Otis Blackwell had strong country and Western roots. Some in the Blues and R&B community accused him of being too country. That explains why he and Elvis were probably such a perfect fit right out of the gate for Elvis to end up doing a handful of his songs. I always thought these dynamics were interesting and things aren’t always cut and dry as people assume.”

CP: “Is it so farfetched or is it just simple logic that of the time in mid-50’s segregated America that it took a white kid to bust open the doors for all these truly great black artists?

Is it right that Presley gets lambasted and ridiculed by so many because he was that one?

People seem to forget the song that catapulted him to stardom in the south had on the backside of it ‘Blue moon of Kentucky’ steeped in Bluegrass/Country, until Presley spiced it up as he did with ‘That’s Alright,’ which is in no way a theft of any kind! Crudup is in there but so too are other influences. Presley was not a COPYCAT! A COOL CAT YES!”

JV: “I mean is there anybody that SERIOUSLY would say, if they could go back in time, they would tell Muhammad Ali, James Brown, BB King, Bobby blue Bland, Etta James, Sammy Davis Jr, Jackie Wilson and many others, they were wrong for proudly calling Elvis their friend and stating he was a help to black artists. 

Many of them said it wasn’t until Elvis got other white kids across America listening to rock and roll that it was after that, their own records started to skyrocket in sales. And if we go back and look at the physical numbers and sales charts we see this is true.

Even modern activists that have been around since the 1960’s civil rights movement have admitted they were wrong about Elvis. Nikki Giovanni there for the movement since the 1960s is a perfect example: ‘I’m glad to find out I was wrong about Elvis.’

Dret Scott Keyes when becoming aware of the integrity Elvis had, always pointing out the black music influence on him, just as he did the country and western and white pop artists, ‘Elvis was honest.’
And they’re certainly not the only ones.

The R&B community acknowledge him and inducted him into the R&B Hall of Fame the same year along with Little Richard, Bobby Rush and other legends that had publicly praised Elvis.”

CP: “When a reporter referred to Elvis as the ‘King of Rock ’n’ Roll’ at the press conference following his 1969 Las Vegas opening, he rejected the title, as he always did, calling attention to the presence in the room of his friend Fats Domino, ‘one of my influences from way back.’ He often paid homage to Fats recognizing no one could sing those songs like he did.

From close friends to the many, many black entertainers that he adored or merely those that met him briefly, have come out and said PROUDLY he was my friend. To quote Muhammad Ali, ‘Elvis Presley was the sweetest, most humble and nicest man you’d want to know.’ Sammy Davis Junior another also was quoted as saying “the only thing that’s matters, is that he was my friend.”

Fats Domino and Elvis

GPA: Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey was highlighted on a recent Black History Month television program and I the “mention of Mahalia Jackson and Elvis Presley having recorded the Reverend’s ‘Take my Hand Precious Lord.’ There was another song also penned by the Reverend which was, in fact, written for Mahalia in 1937 and which Presley sang live, on January 6, 1957, during his third appearance at the Ed Sullivan Show, at CBS.

The audience, estimated by Trendex, the precursor of Nielsen, at 50 million. As this may be the largest audience ever assembled on US television for a gospel song, ever, and that includes Obama’s swearing in which drew less than 50 million. It may be important to take note of what became of it.

Presley wanted to sing it, as he had promised his mother that he would do, but Ed Sullivan was initially against it. During rehearsals that same day, the decision to film Presley from the waist up only was taken by Sullivan, for other reasons, so eventually Sullivan eased on Presley’s request.

Elvis was allowed to sing it that night, immediately following Sullivan’s announcement that Presley wanted specifically for those watching to send their contributions towards the lessening of the plight of some 250,000 Hungarians fleeing the Soviet intervention of their country and which had taken place on both the 24th and 31st of October of 1956. Sullivan added that Presley wanted to dedicate the song to the Hungarians.

By the end of 1957, in the next 11 months, some $6 million were received as a result of Presley’s request. In 2010, the Mayor of Budapest honored Presley posthumously by making him a citizen of that city and naming a park facing the oldest and most beautiful bridge, the Margaret Bridge, after him.

Elvis Presley Park, Budapest

The song’s delivery by Presley was so earnest, that it brightened the hearts of the 50 million watching, and they in turn, as I said, sent the equivalent of $49.5 million in 2016 dollars (SFR 26 million at the 1957 SFR 4.31 to the US$ exchange rate). So, the Reverend’s song brought a happy ending, via Elvis, as the refugees settled for life in both Vienna and London.”

JV: “Just one example is Elvis being the ONLY white artist that bothered to show up at charity events for black folks. Google ‘Elvis Goodwill Review Memphis.’ Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Bill Haley and many other white artists, were NOT doing these things. And many of the black artist from those days have pointed this out, while making it very clear, Elvis WAS.

People need to get over the NEED to inaccurately, continue to portray Presley as just some ‘cold-hearted cultural bandit.’ We need to quit believing the lies and rumors that keep getting passed on over the decades as “truth” and to start respecting the words of our legends who said otherwise.

Elvis Presley With Sweet Inspirations Astrodome March 3, 1974

To even try to disagree with these things or argue against it only makes those that do look bad, and it’s a disrespect to our great black legends that have praised and defended Elvis.

There were white guys back then that were cheap imitations, just jumping on the bandwagon, like Pat Boone, and others that are guilty of appropriation, but James Brown, BB King, and many others said Elvis was NOT the one. They pointed out Elvis came from extreme poverty and humble conditions and new and respected the music he was singing.

The R&B community has done the research themselves in recent years and found out Elvis was incorrectly labeled ‘a racist and cultural thief.’ They have done their part trying to publicly honor Elvis in many ways the last few years and help clear Elvis name of slanderous claims of him being a ‘racist thief.’

Many have paid attention to many of our great black legends from the past who have defended Elvis in their interviews and in their own autobiographies, basically stating how much credit EP always publicly gave to black artists in his interviews and how much help he was to the black community ….especially when we consider the KKK is documented to have hated Elvis.”

CP: “For far too long accusations of cultural thief, racist and white trash have been disgracefully hung around Presley’s neck like a blinding Vegas neon sign. The time has come once and for all for this crap to be debunked–blown to smithereens. You can label it anyway you like, but purely and simply, isn’t it time the real truth was told?

Now telling the truth, researching the truth is far different from listening to rumor. If you think by cupping your ear to listen with intent to nasty whispers and needless tittle tattle in trying to dirty a man’s name is without shame, then continue. The real shame here is that actually that man stood for so much that was right with the world. Still, if that is OK and of noteworthy behavior to you then stand up and be counted and look like the fool you are. Do some reading! In all seriousness it borders on stupidity and ignorance of biblical proportions.”

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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.

Pet Foods, Health Products, Cosmetics and More Recalled in 6 States at 404 Stores

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a major recall of various products sold at Family Dollar Stores in six states: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The recall includes, but is not limited to: 

  • FDA-approved dietary supplements
  • Cosmetics, including skincare products, baby oils, lipsticks, shampoos and baby wipes
  • Animal foods, including kibble, pet treats and wild bird seed
  • Medical devices, including feminine hygiene products, surgical masks, contact lens cleaning solutions, bandages and nasal care products
  • Over-the-counter medications, including pain medications, eye drops, dental products, antacids and other medications for both adults and children

The FDA said they began an investigation into their West Memphis, Arkansas, distribution facility after receiving a consumer complaint in January.

Inspectors found live rodents, dead rodents, “rodent feces and urine, evidence of gnawing, nesting and rodent odors throughout the facility, dead birds and bird droppings, and products stored in conditions that did not protect against contamination,” the FDA announced this week. After fumigating the facility, more than 1,100 dead rodents were discovered. 

Between March and September of last year, the company’s internal records showed it found more than 2,300 rodents in the facility, the FDA said.

Any and all pet food — whether it’s a can of Alpo or a bag of the “good stuff” — has been recalled from 404 Family Dollar stores in the South because a distribution center in Arkansas had an apparent rodent infestation.

“There are numerous hazards associated with rodents, including the potential presence of salmonella,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noted in its recall announcement.

Here is the full list of affected Family Dollar store locations.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Jerry Lee Lewis: The Killer Keeps on Rockin’

Jerry Lee Lewis is one of the first true rock ‘n’ rollers. He catapulted to fame with his 1957 hit, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” and proved to the world that a piano man could play front and center on the world’s biggest stages.

He has stirred up some trouble in his days, once lighting a piano on fire on stage with a Coca-Cola bottle of gasoline to close out the show. Other rock legends have said that they never wanted to follow Jerry Lee Lewis’ performance.

Dodie and I drove by his home, the Lewis Ranch in Nesbit, Mississippi not too long ago, but on that particular day, “The Killer” was not home. He was out rockin’–but not in a rocking chair. It was where he needed to be, on a piano bench.

Lewis was born on September 29th, 1935, in Ferriday, Louisiana. He began playing the piano at age 9, copying the styles of preachers and black musicians that traveled through the area.

He signed with Sun Records in 1956 and quickly became a star. He was the first person inducted into the first class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

With his innovative and flamboyant piano playing style, Jerry Lee Lewis emerged as one of rock music’s early showmen in the 1950s. His musical talents became apparent early on in life. He taught himself to play piano and sang in church growing up. Lewis listened to such radio shows as the Grand Ole Opry and Louisiana Hayride. Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams and Al Jolson were some of his early influences.

When he was 10, Lewis’ father mortgaged the family farm to buy Jerry Lee his first piano. He gave his first public performance at the age of 14, wowing the crowd gathered for the opening of a local car dealership with his piano prowess. With little formal education, he basically gave up on school around this time to focus on his music.

Rise To The Top

Lewis eventually ended up in Memphis, Tennessee, where he found work as a studio musician for Sun Studios. In 1956, he recorded his first single, a cover of Ray Price’s “Crazy Arms,” which did well locally. Lewis also worked on some recording sessions with Carl Perkins. While working at Sun, he and Perkins jammed with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. This session by the “Million Dollar Quartet” was recorded at the time, but it was not released until much later.

In 1957, Lewis became a star with his unique piano-driven sound. “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” became a hit on the pop, country and R&B charts. By this time, Lewis had also developed some of his famous stage antics, such as playing standing up and even lighting the occasional piano on fire. He had such energy and enthusiasm in his performances that he earned the nickname “The Killer” for the way he knocked out his audiences.

Lewis was on a roll with his next single, “Great Balls of Fire,” proving to be another big hit in December 1957. The following March, Lewis struck again with “Breathless,” which made it into the Top 10 of the pop charts.

Later Albums

In the 1960s, Lewis returned to the music of his youth. He found a new career as a country artist, scoring a hit with 1968’s “Another Place, Another Time.” Lewis recorded several country albums over the next few years, including 1970’s Olde Tyme Country Music and 1975’s Boogie Woogie Country Man.

Lewis never left the rock world completely. In 1973, he did well on the album charts with “The Session”. He revisited some of his older songs as well as the works of Chuck Berry and John Fogerty on this popular recording.

When he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s first class in 1986, there was a strong resurgence in his rock & roll career and music. A new generation of listeners got introduced to Lewis through the 1989 biopic “Great Balls of Fire”, when Lewis was played by actor Dennis Quaid.

Recent Projects

This nearly lifelong musician and singer continues to record new music and perform around the world. For 2006’s “Last Man Standing”, Lewis sang a number of rock, blues and country classics with some help from such famous admirers as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Buddy Guy. Collaborator Kristofferson described Lewis as “one of the few who can do rock ‘n’ roll, country or soul, and every song is authentic.” He told USA Today that Lewis is “one of the best American voices ever.”

Kris Kristofferson

Lewis and Kristofferson worked together again on Lewis’s next effort, 2010’s “Mean Old Man”. The all-star guests on this release included Eric Clapton, Tim McGraw, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock and John Fogerty among others.

In April of 2013 Lewis opened Jerry Lee Lewis’ Café & Honky Tonk on historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. It is filled with one of the Killer’s pianos, a motorcycle, photos, and memorabilia, along with great food and live music.

2014 kicked off Jerry Lee’s “80th Birthday Tour” with shows across the country, from California to Tennessee to New York. The Killer is also traveling to Europe.

In October of 2014 The Killer released his first ever biography with Pulitzer Prize winning author Rick Bragg. “Jerry Lee Lewis – His Own Story” came out to critical acclaim. His new CD “Rock & Roll Time” also came out in October. He told Rolling Stone magazine “This is a rock & roll record…That’s just the way it came out”. As he looks back on six decades of music and what the future holds, Lewis says he’s grateful. “I just think it’s a blessing from God that I’m still living… and I’m still rocking.”

Personal Life

Lewis spends most of his time-off at The Lewis Ranch in Nesbit, Mississippi, where he is happily married to his wife Judith, since March 9th, 2012.

Judith, a fan favorite, keeps the faithful up to date on social media. Here are some recent photos.

Home at the Lewis Ranch
Mick Jagger
Lewis turned 85 in 2020.
Sir Tom Jones
Cousin Mickey Gilley pays a visit.
Peter Noone, Herman’s Hermits.
Studio time. James Burton standing.
Visiting SUN Studio in Memphis.

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Simple Things Baby Boomers Know That Millennials Don’t #1

I watched a video of two fourteen year old boys recently trying to use a 1970s vintage rotary dial phone without any instructions. It was hilarious. Hadn’t they ever seen an old movie video of anyone using a dial phone? Or watch an old episode of the Dynamic Duo on the Batphone?

“What is this coiled cord for?”

“These holes? With numbers?”

It took them 21 minutes, together, to do it. The dial tone was hard to figure out, but putting their fingers in a dial (especially “9”) and seeing their reaction as the dialer spun around was amusing.

This made us wonder what other things younger generations may not know about.

When my daughter, Jennifer, was a teenager, a large closet was open upstairs in my home office.

“What are those, Dad?”

“What?”

She pointed to hundreds of LP record albums in my collection.

“You don’t know what record albums are?”

I reached for one and unsleeved it to show her how to handle them. Fortunately I still had a workable record player at the time. She was amazed how the needle made the music.

Since then, we’ve gone through 8-track and cassette tapes, DVDs and a few other advancements along the way. Dodie and I Bluetoothed it along the way in our recent road trips and we are still not certain how they work.

As long as they can play Elvis, Beatles, Eagles, Roy Orbison, The Cars, Rod Stewart, Blondie, Dire Straits, Merle Haggard, George Jones, George Strait, Stevie Ray Vaughan and some good Mississippi Delta Blues, the technology doesn’t matter to us.

We started thinking about simple things younger generations may not know about. Some of these might be nice tips, hints for better living, or just interesting history. Here’s a few. We will add more now and then.

Loop In Back Of Shirt

First of all, this doesn’t apply to garden-variety t-shirts. Surely, you own at least one nice, collared shirt that has this mysterious loop in the top middle of your back. We actually have the Navy to thank for the loops on our shirts.

Believe it or not, there isn’t a lot of closet space while you’re out at sea, so sailors would have loops on their shirts so they could just hang them on hooks. College kids in the 1960s and 70s also utilized the loops, as we could hang up our shirts and keep them neat and wrinkle-free while at the gym.

Today, manufacturers put them on shirts as a sign of class and quality. Also, you may have noticed that young ladies sometimes pull the loops of boys they like, so there is still a practical reason to have these on our shirts.

Randomly Placed Buttons On Jeans

Avid jeans wearers are no doubt aware of all the extra buttons scattered about their pants, usually around their pockets.

Yes, it seems a little odd, but you’ve probably just accepted that’s how jeans are made. But those buttons actually have an important purpose.

First, they’re technically called rivets, even if they resemble buttons. More importantly, they are strategically placed on the jeans to prevent them from getting worn out at the seams and ripping. Imagine that happening at an inopportune time and you’ll be glad your jeans are properly riveted.

It’s actually interesting to note that jean tycoon Levi Strauss owns the patent on these rivets. The idea came about in 1829 after miners complained about how quickly their jeans were wearing out. Young Mr. Strauss came up with a solution to the problem, and now it seems like jeans can practically last forever.

Ridges On Coins

We’re not sure if everyone has noticed this, but both quarters and dimes have rough edges while pennies and nickels don’t.

Go ahead, check all of your coins to confirm that I’m not lying to you. See, it’s true. Well, the reason for this goes back to the days when coins were stamped in different weights to reflect the true value of the coin.

To stop people from shaving the edges of the coins and melting them into new coins, minters put ridges on coins made of precious metals so that it would be easy to tell if the edges had been shaved off. It’s not really an issue today, but we still have edges on our coins.

Volume 2 Coming Soon: Same Bat Channel, Same Bat Time.

Signs A Child Might Be in Danger, Homeless or Sex Traffic Victim.

Years ago, as a private investigator I was fortunate to solve many missing persons cases, but the child abuse cases were most disturbing.

About nine years ago, son Jack and I were walking just a block from my apartment above the Majestic Theater in downtown San Antonio when a young teenage girl approached me.

With sincerity, she asked for some money because she needed bus fare to get back to Corpus Christi because a boyfriend beat her up the night before at the hotel they had been staying at.

Her plight and request seemed scripted. As I asked her questions about it, she became nervous, looked behind me and walked away. So we followed her without her knowing.

The next day I saw her near the bus station soliciting money from others. This confirmed my instinct so I reported to the downtown police bike station located on the first floor of my building.

On the third day, camera in hand, I took her photo and that of her “boyfriend,” a man who looked to be in his late 30s-early 40s. The police followed up and while there was no evidence of prostitution yet, the man was grooming her for it. He was arrested for an array of charges.

After posting an article about 150 missing children found in Tennessee in Jan-Feb. 2021, it prompted me to move forward with this article.

Pay special attention to any person, especially a child, who is…

  • Unusually fearful, anxious, or submissive, or showing signs of physical abuse.
  • Monitored, controlled, or guarded by someone else at all times, or who is prohibited from interacting with others.
  • Unaware of what city they are in or unable to explain the purpose of their stay.
  • Not in control of their own money or documents.
  • A child in a suspicious circumstance, such as being alone at a hotel.

Additional Warning Signs

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE

  • Has injuries or other signs of abuse and is reluctant to explain them.
  • Appears malnourished.
  • Branded or marked with a tattoo, such as a man’s name, symbol of money, or a barcode.
  • Dressed in a provocative manner or in the same clothes, regardless of weather or circumstance.

POSSESSIONS

  • Has very few personal possessions.
  • Has an unexplained, sudden increase in money, clothing, or possessions like jewelry without explanation.
  • Doesn’t carry identification.
  • Has a number of hotel keys or key cards.

BEHAVIOR

  • Claims to be an adult, though their appearance suggests adolescence.
  • Seems to move frequently from place to place.
  • Talks about an older boyfriend or sex with an older man.
  • Has inconsistencies in their story.
  • Claims to be visiting, and can’t state what city they’re in or for how long.
  • Isn’t able to speak for themself.
  • Has sexually explicit profiles on social networking sites.
  • Is not enrolled in school or is consistently absent.
  • Seems to be withdrawn, depressed, or “checked out.”

LACK OF CONTROL

  • Accompanied by someone who seems to control their every move.
  • Seems scripted in the way they speak.
  • Doesn’t have control over their own money.
  • Can’t come and go from place to place on their own.
  • Not in control of their identification or travel documents.

Article V, US Constitution Growing in Favor by More States to Restrict Federal Government

What do Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Sarah Palin, Sen. Jim DeMint, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sean Hannity, Steve Hilton, Ben Shapiro, Charlie Kirk, Mark Levin, Louie Gohmert, and Allen West have in common (besides being censored by Big Tech websites)?

They all endorse using Article V of the United States Constitution to reign in Deep State operatives and the abuses of power by federal government.

The Convention of States Project is a national effort to call a convention under Article V of the United States Constitution.

The intent is to propose amendments that will impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit its power and jurisdiction, and impose term limits on its officials and members of Congress.

Americans want to bring power back to the states and the people, where it belongs. Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. shouldn’t be allowed to make sweeping decisions that impact millions of Americans. But right now, they do. So it all boils down to one question: Who do you think should decide what’s best for you and your family? You, or the feds?

WHAT’S A CONVENTION OF STATES ANYWAY?

Article V of the U.S. Constitution gives states the power to call a Convention of States to propose amendments. It takes 34 states to call the convention and 38 to ratify any amendments that are proposed. The convention would only allow the states to discuss amendments that, “limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, impose fiscal restraints, and place term limits on federal officials.”

Once 34 states apply for a convention to propose amendments on the same issue (i.e., limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government), Article V requires Congress to name the place and the time for the convention. If it fails to exercise this power reasonably, either the courts or the states themselves can override Congressional inaction.

States are free to develop their own selection process for choosing their delegates—properly called “commissioners.” Historically, the most common method used was an election by a joint session of both houses of the state legislature. 

Delegates discuss and propose amendment proposals that fit the topic framed by the 34 state resolutions that triggered the convention. All amendment proposals the convention passes by a simple majority of the states will be sent back to the states for ratification.

Each state has one vote at the Convention. If North Carolina sends seven delegates and Nebraska sends nine, each state must caucus on each vote. North Carolina’s one vote would be cast when at least four of its delegates agreed. Nebraska’s vote would be cast by the agreement of at least five of its delegates.

Current status

The ratification process ensures no amendments will be passed that do not reflect the desires of the American people. In addition to this, there are numerous other safeguards against a “runaway convention.” 

Citizens for Self-Governance (CSG) is the parent organization of the Convention of States Project. CSG provides the resources and experience necessary to make this project a success. The CSG mission is as follows: “Self-governance must be restored across America. Citizens for Self-Governance will elevate awareness and provide resources, advocacy, and education to grassroots organizations and individuals exercising their rights to govern themselves.” CSG sees the COS Project as a means to accomplish this mission.

http://www.conventionofstates.com

A True Story of Elvis Presley and June Juanico

March 19, 2021 will be the 64th anniversary of the day Elvis Presley bought the Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee. Over the years Presley welcomed many people into his homes, but in Pat Napier’s case, it was the house Presley owned before Graceland.

“I was a friend, not a fan,” Napier was gracious enough to tell me about her “most private story” about Presley on this anniversary date. “There is a difference. I was always welcomed at Graceland. I reminded him of the ‘good old days’”

The good old days for Presley and Napier were 1955 and 56 and situated in the South. Napier deemed herself “a military brat.” Her father, a sergeant in the Air Force, was transferred to Keesler Air Force Base near Biloxi, Mississippi in 1953. Through the years Napier “lived everywhere” and to this day “I never know what to say when someone ask where I’m from.”

June and Elvis.

Seventeen-year-old Napier was in high school when she met June Juanico, also 17, in 1955. 

“She was beautiful and funny and I had an instant crush (although I didn’t recognize, as such, it at the time),” Napier recalled. “I became her comedic sidekick, someone she trusted. Also I usually had my dad’s car for us to run around in.”

Sergeant Napier became concerned about the mileage his daughter was racking up and started checking the gas gauge. Napier and Juanico, who enjoyed driving to the local teen hangouts, began tapering down on the distances of their outings. Always the comedian, Napier would have them laughing to the point of hysterics by putting the car in reverse, looking out the back windshield, and driving it backwards down the streets of Biloxi. 

June with 1955 Ford Fairlane.

It was about this time that a 20-year-old up and coming singer from Memphis began appearing in Biloxi.

On June 26, 1955 Elvis appeared at the Slavonian Lodge. The screaming and commotion from the girls on the dance floor caused the news of this “cool hillbilly cat” to spread like wildfire in the area.

Presley stayed in the area two more nights while Scotty Moore on guitar and Bill Black on bass, played with him at the Airman’s Club at Keesler Air Force Base.

They returned to play again on November 6 at the Biloxi Community House for matinee and evening shows. Presley enjoyed the area and was happy they played the next two nights, again at the Keesler Airman’s Club.

Later, Juanico had heard from others about Presley’s performances:

“You need to see him, they said. And I went on this one night. I thought he was the most gorgeous thing: big, dreamy eyes. Girls were screaming over him, and I’m just not that kind. I was passing by him, not even looking at him, and he reached through the crowd and grabbed my arm. He said, ‘Where are you going?’”

According to Juanico’s accounts, the night turned into magic and she remembers “sitting in his car outside my house, just talking, while my mother kept an eye out to see what I was doing.”

Never having heard of the name Elvis, she asked him what his real name was.

“What do you mean my real name? My name is Elvis Aaron Presley.”

 The attraction between the two was strong. Juanico said the kissing “was just marvelous, a little pecking here and there. He was a magnificent kisser. He asked me who taught me to kiss. I told him I was just about to ask him the same thing.”

“I had never heard of Elvis,” Napier said one Sunday a few years ago from her home in Biloxi where she is enjoying “retirement to the Mississippi Gulf Coast after a 50 year absence.”

Vernon and Gladys Presley were very fond of June.

“Then in 1956 I was included in trip to Memphis with June and another girl that had also had a date with him in 1955 when he played in Biloxi,” Napier continued. “I had heard one song of his. We got his address and went to the house on Audubon drive. And he was there.”

The Presleys were building a swimming pool in the back yard and the girls wanted to see if it was in the shape of a guitar or something. Presley saw them and came out to talk. He made sure to get Juanico aside.

“He spent the rest of our days there hanging out with us–mostly June,” Napier said. “They even flew to Dallas to pick up his new Cadillac before we drove back to Biloxi. This was in June. He came down a few days later. That’s when I took the photos of him and June. We hit it off right away. That’s when he sort of took me under his wing. Well, long story short, we spent June through October in his entourage–on tour, on vacation, and as a guest in his home. He always invited me along.” 

June, Elvis and Pat Napier.

“Well this is the most private story that I recall,” Napier continued. “When he flew me and June up to Memphis (my first flight) to be his house guest at the home on Audubon drive, Gladys and Vernon picked us up at the airport in the pink Cadillac.”

“When we arrived Elvis ask how I liked the flight and I commented ‘I want to be a stewardess,’” she said. “Anyway, we stayed in Elvis’s bedroom with a private bath and he moved to the guest room. He felt that it gave his parents more privacy, not sharing a bathroom. We had been there several days when Elvis ask me to come into the bedroom with him.”

Elvis and June.

“Earlier on I had been smoking in the bedroom, the cigarette rolled out of the ashtray and burned a spot on the dresser. I covered it up with the ashtray. Well, Elvis sat me down on the bed, stood in front of the dresser pointing to the burn spot.”

“Alberta (the maid) told Mama about this and Mama doesn’t want you to smoke in the bedroom,” Presley looked her straight in the eyes.

“Well, of course I was devastated,” Napier remembered. “I apologized and was to the point of tears.”

“It’s not about the dresser,” Presley responded. “Mama’s afraid of starting a fire, so it’s ok.”

“When he realized how upset I was, he picked up his guitar, sat on the bed beside me and sang ‘Old Shep’ to me,” she smiled. “When he finished he laughed and ruffled my hair and said ‘It’s ok, Baby’ and walked out of the room. I think he and his mother got a chuckle out of his big brother reprimand. He always made me feel special.”

Not many people can say their very time in an airplane was to go be a guest at Elvis Presley house. But when she told Presley she enjoyed the flight and thought she wanted to be a stewardess, she wasn’t insincere.

Pat Napier became an attendant and “flew for Eastern airlines for 32 years and then with five different worldwide charters.” She has lived in Sicily, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Thailand “as well as most every major city in the states, coast to coast, north to south. All in all she was an attendant for 45 years.

“I sometimes think back of what might have been with June and Elvis,” Napier said. “He called her in November after our visit in October. I don’t know what he said, but it shattered her–something about Nick Adams telling him that he could do better than her. Nick wanted him to be a member of the James Dean gang.”

Elvis and actor Nick Adams.

“I pleaded with her not to rush into the marriage,” she said. “I knew Elvis would be back. She once told me that she was determined to break his heart before he broke hers–and she did.”

“When she married in June on 1957 at age 19, needless to say, I was not invited to the wedding,” Napier laughed. “In my heart of hearts, I can say that June was the one for him and he knew it. She had every quality that he needed. Gladys knew it as well.”

These Wacky American Town Names Will Make You Laugh

Our faith in America’s sense of humor was restored during the pandemic summer of 2020.

We escaped from the onslaught of negative news and propaganda by just getting away. Our travels  through 14 states and Washington D.C. for over a month thoroughly offered a lighter side of truth and experiences.

Besides counting the number of Trump (159) and Biden (0) flags and banners along the way, we got a kick from some of the names and places we saw. Uranus, Missouri,  Santa Claus, Indiana and Hot Coffee, Mississippi were three favorites that come to mind.

To pass some of the highway mile time away, we researched and gathered humorous and fun town names from all 50 states. Here’s are list:

ALABAMA

Screamer, an unincorporated community in southeastern Alabama, may have come from 19th century Native Americans who screamed and  heckled white train travelers as they passed by what was then a reservation. Smut Eye, Alabama is doozie too.

ALASKA

Unalaska has over 4,500 residents, making it the largest city in the Aleutian Islands. Originally, Unangan residents named it Agunalaksh, a word that means “near the peninsula.” Eek, Alaska is noteworthy.

ARIZONA

Why a call a town?” Yes, that’s right “Why” is a small community near the U.S.-Mexico border namhed after the Y-shaped intersection of two nearby highways. But because of an Arizona law requiring place names have at least three letters, “Y” became the much more pragmatic “Why.”

ARKANSAS

Smackover, a town of 1800 people in southern Arkansas, was once a major oil producer. Settled by French trappers in the early 19th century,  “Smackover” may have derived from the French name for a local creek, Chemin Couvert, which means “covered way”—and “sumac couvert” means a covering of sumac trees, a local plant. Goobertown is another fun one

CALIFORNIA

Rough and Ready, California, is named after an old mining company with that same label. It was the first to secede from the Union and become its own “republic” in 1850 as a protest against mining taxes, prohibition mandates, and laws that weren’t enforced. They rejoined the United States three months later.

COLORADO

Colorado has No Name. When government official first marked a newly constructed exit off I-70 with a sign reading “No Name” as a placeholder, it stuck.

CONNECTICUT

Hazardville, Connecticut, was an 1800s industrial village that made gunpowder. The town was named after Colonel Augustus George Hazard, who purchased and expanded the gunpowder company in 1837.

DELAWARE

Corner Ketch is an unincorporated community in New Castle County, Delaware. A rough-and-tumble local bar was known for warning strangers that if they didn’t get you in there, “They’ll ketch ye at the corner.”

FLORIDA

Two Egg, Florida, got its name during the Great Depression. When bartering transactions occurred with two eggs traded, almost like currency, for goods.

GEORGIA

Climax, Georgia sits at the highest point on the railroad between Savannah and the Chattahoochee River.

HAWAII

Volcano, Hawaii sits near the Hilo Volcano and several volcanic hot spots.

IDAHO

Slickpoo, near Culdesac, Idaho, was once a bustling village and site of a Catholic mission. Landowner Josiah Slickpoo donated acreage to the missionaries. Dickshooter, Idaho made us laugh too.

ILLINOIS

Sandwich got its name from Sandwich, New Hampshire.

INDIANA

Santa Claus, Indiana celebrates the spirit of Christmas every day, but especially at the Post Office in December. Gnaw Bone is an interesting name too.

IOWA

What cheer Iowa has in What Cheer, Iowa. It was derived from an old English greeting.

KANSAS

Gas, Kansas is the butt of many jokes. “You just passed Gas.” “Gas Kan.” “Get Gas!” Natural gas was discovered in the area in 1898.

KENTUCKY

Bugtussle is a tiny spot on the Kentucky-Tennessee border is an homage to doodlebugs. Personally, I think Kentucky has some of the best town names with Knob Lick, Bald Knob, Chicken Bristle, Fearsville, Hippo, Krypton, Mud Lick, Monkeys Eyebrow, Pig, and Raccoon.

Bald Knob (guess they licked it too much?), Chicken Bristle, Fearsville, Hippo, Krypton (say hi to Superman’s parents for us!), Mud Lick, Monkeys Eyebrow, Pig, and Raccoon.

LOUISIANA

Uneedus is the settlement site of the Lake Superior Piling Company. Their corporate slogan was “You need us.”  Residents founded another farm community nearby and called it Weneedu.

MAINE

Burnt Porcupine is an island off the coast of Maine.  Located near Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, Burnt Porcupine has nearby sister islands with equally intriguing names: Bald Porcupine, Long Porcupine, and Sheep Porcupine.

MARYLAND

Boring, Maryland. Enough said.

MASSACHUSETTS

Belchertown wasn’t named for the aftermath of a particularly gassy meal. It’s named after Jonathan Belcher, a colonial governor of Massachusetts.

MICHIGAN

Hell is 15 miles northwest of Ann Arbor. In the 1830s, the town settler, George Reeves, traded homemade whiskey to local farmers for grain. The farmer’s wives said “He’s gone to hell again.”

MINNESOTA

Nimrod, Minnesota is full of nimrods. In the book of Genesis, Nimrod is described as “a mighty hunter before the Lord” and is credited with overseeing the construction of the Tower of Babel.

MISSISSIPPI

Hot Coffee is marked as the midpoint between Natchez, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama. A late 1800s inn was erected and capitalized on the spring water, molasses and New Orleans beans used to make hot coffee for weary travelers.

MISSOURI

Although Uranus was our favorite spot in Missouri, Tightwad has a cool name too. There’s also a Cooter and a Licking.

MONTANA

Pray, Montana. And they do. But the town of Pray, Montana, was named for then-state representative Charles Nelson Pray in 1907.

NEBRASKA

Magnet, Nebraska was named by settler B.E. Smith in 1893.

NEVADA

Jiggs, Nevada is about 30 miles south of Elko. It’s named after a top hat-wearing, cigar smoking Irish-American protagonist from an old comic strip Bringing Up Father. A women’s organization in town dubbed itself Maggie’s Club after the character’s wife.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Sandwich is named after The Fourth Earl of Sandwich, John Montague, who actually invented the sandwich.  In 1763, he chartered the town between the Lakes Region and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

NEW JERSEY

Loveladies, New Jersey, was named from a nearby island owned by Thomas Lovelady, a local hunter and sportsman.

NEW MEXICO

Candy Kitchen lies between Zuni and Navajo reservations in western New Mexico.  A local moonshine distiller needed a front to hide his illicit operations during Prohibition. To secure the sugar necessary to concoct barrels of hooch, the moonshiner established a confectionery that produced pinion nut candy on the side. Just 85 miles away is Pie Town.

NEW YORK

Neversink, New York is currently sunk under about 175 feet of water. Named for the Neversink River, the longest tributary of the Delaware River, the city of 2000 was a Catskill towns flooded in the 1950s to create reservoirs that would provide water to New York City. It relocated afterwards. But another town, Bittersweet, remains underwater. On land, are towns called Coxsackie and Butternuts.

NORTH CAROLINA

Why not Why Not? That’s the named settled upon when the post office was established in 1860. If not, try Lizard Lick, NC.

NORTH DAKOTA

Cannon Ball, North Dakota gets its name from geological curiosities called concretions. There’s also Zap.

OHIO

Knockemstiff, Ohio. Bar brawls and street fights during moonshine days, prompted the advice from a preacher. When asked by a woman on how to keep her cheating husband home and faithful, the preacher responded simply: “Knock ‘em stiff.” Take that advice however you want.

OKLAHOMA

Gene Autry, Oklahoma was named after the singing cowboy who purchased a 1200-acre ranch nearby that he would turn into the headquarters of his Flying A Ranch Rodeo. On November 16, 1941, the town of Berwyn officially became Gene Autry, Oklahoma. It’s home to a museum and film festival in his honor.

OREGON

Zigzag, Oregon, in the middle of Mount Hood National Forest, is named after the Zigzag River, which drains from the Zigzag Glacier. Notable is

PENNSYLVANIA

Intercourse is in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. “It’s okay, you can giggle!” the village’s website says. “We’re happy with our name. It’s the perfect conversation starter.” About 20 minutes away is the town Blue Ball, named after an 1850s inn.

RHODE ISLAND

Woonsocket is the sixth largest city in Rhode Island ands was originally known as la ville la plus française aux États-Unis, which translates to “the most French city in the United States.”
Historians believe the name is an evolved variation of a word from a Native American language.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Ketchuptown got its name from a country store built by Herbert Small in 1927 were locals went to “catch up” on news and gossip.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Mud Butte was named for a nearby barren butte. In 1981, archeologists digging around unearthed the sixth Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered, after a local rancher finally got around to calling a museum about the dinosaur bones he’d seen digging out of a cliff on his property for years.

TENNESSEE

Difficult, Tennessee isn’t too hard to remember.

TEXAS

Muleshoe, Happy, Dime Box, Gun Barrel City, Cut and Shoot, Telephone, Jot ’em Down, Loco, and Comfort were among my favorite town names in Texas until I came upon Ding Dong.  Located in Bell County, the community was named after its founders, the Bell family.

UTAH

Mexican Hat, Utah, has a 60-foot-wide, sombrero-shaped rock formation on the northeast side of town.

SATANS KINGDOM

Satans Kingdom, Vermont is not the only state with that town name. Massachusetts and Connecticut does too. The land was said to be rocky and void of fertile soil.

VIRGINIA

Bumpass, Virginia is pronounced “bump-iss.”

WASHINGTON

Humptulips was a major logging center. The name comes from a local Native American word meaning “hard to pole.” Native Americans used to canoe by propelling themselves along with poles.

WEST VIRGINIA

Lick Fork, Virginia is basically known for photo opportunities with signs bearing that name. There’s more in Booger Hole.

WISCONSIN

Bosstown, Wisconsin takes its name from a William Henry Dosch, a storeowner nicknamed Boss. Wow! There’s also a Spread Eagle.

WYOMING

Chugwater, Wyoming was home of the Mandan tribe, whose chief was reportedly injured during a buffalo hunt and sent his son to lead the hunting party in his place. According to Chugwater’s website, the son determined that the easiest way to kill the buffalo was to drive them off the local chalk cliffs. “The word ‘chug,’” the town’s website notes, “is said to describe the noise that the buffalo or the falling chalk made when it hit the ground or fell into the water under the bluff, depending on which version of the legend you wish to believe. Indians began to call the area ‘water at the place where the buffalo chug.’”

Diehard Fans Will Enjoy New Book of Elvis Presley’s Teenage Fate With Sun Studio


 The recorded voice of Elvis Presley has been has been heard by more people than any other voice in history.

More photographs of Elvis have been taken than any other entertainer in history.

More articles have been written of Elvis than any entertainer.

More books have been written about Elvis than any other entertainer.

More people visit Graceland in Memphis and Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo than any American each year.

I’ve known and admired many Elvis fans since the early 1970s during the days of his record setting concerts across America. Some I classify as Superfans. Loyalists like Carol Nowell, Sherry Evans, Kathy Savelio, Vera Burford, Cissie Lowe Young are just a few that immediately come to mind as people I would nominate if there was an Elvis Fan Hall of Fame.

Charter members would include:

Lida Kiejzer, from Holland spent years, with painstaking detail, creating miniature replicas of Graceland and the Tupelo birth house.

Becky Yancey, who was Elvis’ secretary and a confidant from March 1962 to July 1974. I’m honored to be her Facebook friend. Her book “My Life With Elvis” was the first honest book I read about him in 1977.

Mindi Miller, a devoted girlfriend to Elvis since 1975 has remained steadfast in her love and remembrances through the years.

Don Wilson, who has hung out with and faithfully chronicled the life of Elvis friends, relatives, associates and other actors over the years.

There are so many to name and admire, but without reservation, the most intriguing are those aficionado types who study, research and nearly obsess about the life and mind of Elvis.

One such Superfan is Darrin Lee Memmer, who has written at least a score of books on Elvis. 

A few days before Dodie and I embarked on our month long roadtrip in June 2020, Darrin’s late book, a curiously titled “ELVIS, The Hand of Fate & SUN,” was published. I ordered it through Amazon, knowing I wouldn’t be reading it until our return home.

During out trip we visited many Elvis sites including his Killeen, Texas rented home in 1958 near Ft. Hood, his memorial at the home of the Louisiana Hayride, Circle G Ranch, Graceland, Audubon house, Humes High School, Lauderdale Courts, and SUN Studio.

When I mentioned we’d be going to Tupelo, both Darrin and Mindi Miller said they found it a different experience–more “spiritual” and “soulful” than Graceland. They were right. To get the same effect at the Memphis mansion, I had to walk away from the tourism and set alone in the back yard for a while.

I decided to wait until today, in fact, I began last night, the 43rd anniversary of Elvis’ death to read Darrin’s book. Like many fans, it’s our own “personal holiday” set aside for reflection, music and memories. I’m glad I waited until after I experienced some of these locations. It made the book even more meaningful.

I was somewhat surprised and humbled to be listed alongside the names of Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, Mindi Miller, Scottie Moore, Kathy Westmoreland, TCB Radio Network, and others on page 14 as a reference in his research.

For the most die-hard fan, Darrin offers a detailed analysis into some of the most sacred moments in music history–especially the defining experiences of “Elvis Presley the teenager” during high school and into Sun Studio.

He actually interviewed some of Elvis’ classmates and neighbors that we are fortunate to still be around to provide intimate insight. The result is a analysis so detailed, Darrin compares the minute features of  lyrics between studio takes and other artists.

Just from reading this book (and scanning the titles of his other Amazon offerings) it’s obvious he takes on some of the misinformation and misinterpreted stories of Elvis’s life. In the Elvis World, there are occassional threads offering different and sometimes skewed opinions of history. Darrin is tenacious in weeding the tales from the truth.

Darrin shows his references in detail and describes his research including
“access to primary source materials, and interviews with those who were there at the time.”

It took me a chapter or two to jive with his writing style, but once I figured it out (he uses “your author” to describe himself or nicknames like “”Cat” for Elvis, for instance), it was no different than doing the same during opening scenes of a movie.

The book title threw me off, until I read it. He explains that it’s drawn from Marion Keisker, Rufus Thomas and Sam Phillips quotes. If you’re beyond casual fan level, you recognize those names.

“It was Elvis who said in a ’56 interview (by Louis F. Larkin, a piece called “God is my Refuge”) that his success in entertainment had to be “a Plan of God.”

Of special interest for me are the never-before-read eyewitness accounts of Elvis’ 12th grade Carnival Variety Show performance and Sun Studio recordings.

Marion Keisker’s account of Elvis’s first record being played on the radio.

“By the time the evening was over, we knew that we had a big hit,” she said. “I never saw it happen with any other record…by a complete unknown…that sounds so different and so packed with excitement–that before it even played one minute, the public reacted immediately. And I have always found that to be true, since then. Now matter how you feel about how you act to Elvis, you react.”

“It’s impossible to remain neutral about Elvis Presley and one of his performances. You feel something and you feel it very intensely…”

I will be ordering another of Darrin’s Elvis books today. 

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How Elvis Became a Guitar Man

Walking into Tupelo Hardware, I wondered how Elvis Presley felt when his mother Gladys took him there for his eleventh birthday, on January 8, 1946.

It wasn’t too long after his very first public performance, singing “Old Shep” at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair children’s talent competition the previous October 3rd.

October 3, 1945

Forrest L. Bobo, was working at the hardware store and remembered Elvis “wanted a 22 cal. rifle and his mother wanted him to buy a guitar.”

“I showed him the rifle first and then I got the guitar for him to look at,” Bobo wrote in 1979. “I put a wood box behind the showcase and let him play with the guitar for some time.”

Today, an X marks the spot where Elvis made the transaction. It was nice to stand and ponder how that location changed history.

“X” marks the spot.
Photo: Jack Dennis

“Then he said that he did not have that much money, which was only $7.75 plus 2% sales tax. His mother told him that if he would buy the guitar instead of the rifle, she would pay the difference for him.”

“The papers have said that the guitar cost $12.50 but at that time you could have bought a real nice one that amount. The small amount of money that he had to spend had been earned by running errands and doing small jobs for people.”

Elvis has pure raw talent and passion, but he needed help developing his musical gifts.

Enter Frank Smith. Local pastor, neighbor and guitar picker.

Smith would always remain humble about how much credit to take for teaching Elvis guitar.

“I would show him some runs and different chords (D, A and E) from what he was learning in his book. That was all: not enough to say I taught him how to play, but I helped him.”

“That was all.” What a striking reflection.

How many people played guitar within a three mile radius of the Presley house in East Tupelo in the mid-1940s? We’ll never know.

Here’s the better question. How many people took the time to teach a younger musician what they knew about playing guitar?

We know at least one did, and his name was Frank Smith.

One mentor’s “that was all” may be another person’s “that was everything.”