I never thought I would ever be remembering something that happened 50 years ago.
It is so daunting to think I can look back over one-half century (Wow! that sounds even worse) and remember an event as well as I remember the one we’re all talking about today.
I was in my first semester of Business College (I never finished the second semester as I quit to join the Johnny Cash Show on the road in March of ’64). But there I sat in class that cold November day when the Headmaster walked into our room and said, “The President and Vice-President have just been shot in Dallas.” After a moment or two he added, “Why don’t we just call it a day and everyone go home.” We quietly gathered our things and did just that.
It was on the short drive across town that I heard on the radio that that initial report was wrong. Vice President Johnson had not been shot, but the President had just been pronounced dead. I can remember exactly where I was; even the store I was riding by. I went straight home and stayed by the television for the rest of the day and night and the rest of the weekend.
I didn’t know it then, but I have looked back many times since and realized this was when the Fifties ended. Not with the New Year of 1960 – that’s not when that peaceful, sweet, carefree decade came to a close. No, it was still going on in all of its black and white glory on the TV screen until that day in Dallas. That’s when it all changed. That’s when we grew up as a nation and realized these horrible things could happen to us.
It had been only a short time before all this, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, that I came to the realization that I was watching something on the small screen with no written ending. I was used to scripted stories and it was scary to know in your heart that this thing could go either way, any second. And now an assassination right before my eyes? History had interrupted our daily lives and we all knew it.
So flash ahead to Sunday morning when I was coming out of church and turned on the car radio again and heard that the man who shot Kennedy had now been shot himself. What was this, the Old West come back to life? People shooting people in the streets. A nation gone mad. Where would it stop?
And then a few short months later, February 1964, the Beatles showed up and changed our music and our fashion and nothing would ever be the same again. But it was November 22, 1963 that started it all. Jack Kennedy and the Fifties were dead and none of us would be the better for it.
It is a sad time to remember.
DSR – November 22, 2013
of those oversized Country Music history books that are made to fit only on
your coffee table and are much too tall to fit onto any normal bookshelf in your
den, usually have a page and a picture or two on the Statler Brothers. I think I have them all. Many I’ve bought and many I’ve been given by
friends and family. Even when some of
the history is wrong, I find them fun and interesting. There’s a new one out right now on Johnny
Cash that is, where else (?), on the coffee table in our den. And there are a couple of pictures of us and
John and June from Folsom Prison that I don’t remember ever seeing before. As I said, fun and interesting.
I hear from folks all the time that some novelist has mentioned the Statlers in
a book they’re reading. I can’t remember
all of them but I do know that Sharyn McCrumb, a very talented mystery writer,
has used our name in her storytelling a time or two. And this always brings a smile. Recently I was told about a book by Nora
Roberts who mentioned the Statlers in a passing, descriptive paragraph that was
germane to her story. And that was nice
as she is maybe the most prolific woman writer on the market today. She has to use two names (J.D. Robb) to get
all the books out of her head and on to the page. The only person turning them out faster than
she, is James Patterson. (But the glory
in this is Nora is doing them all herself while ole James is sitting on the
beach sipping a Mai Tai while letting his co-writers have at it.)
of course, there was Kurt Vonnegut. I
think we told that story in Random
Memories. He talked about us in one
of his books and then got in touch with us and came to some concerts and we
became friends. Again, fun and
the one I had forgotten all about was the Carolyn G. Hart incident. Carolyn Hart is a well-known, award-winning
mystery writer. Check her out. She’s
very good. So back when her new book was
Mint Julep Murder, I settled into a
summer afternoon with an iced tea at my elbow, my cocker spaniel (Sam) on my
lap and both hands full of her latest
novel. And it was only on the second
page when I read these words:
a buffoon who loves Dracula, Frankenstein, and Little Orphan Annie with the
Statler Brothers bellowing in the background.
What! I read it again and then again. I was glad to be put in such Pop Culture as
these other three, but at the same time I couldn’t, for the life of me, glean a
compliment out of this sentence. Bellowing! It was apparent that Carolyn G. did not like
the Statler Brothers. Oh well, you don’t
win them all. I laughed and continued
wasn’t until I reached page 34 and read these words that I decided something
must be done:
The city council’s compromise was to hire a
drug-sniffing “cocker spaniel”. Can’t
you just see it? A ferocious,
salivating, lop-eared, wiggle-butted cocker?
minute now! I covered Sam’s eyes so he
couldn’t see what was being said about him.
I mean you can defame Dracula, mock Frankenstein, belittle Orphan Annie
and even vituperate the Statler Brothers, but let’s watch ourselves when it
comes to such name calling as “lop-eared, wiggle-butted cocker”.
here’s the fun and interesting part. I
sent Carolyn G. Hart a letter saying all this with my tongue firmly in my
cheek. I thought it was funny. But apparently CGH didn’t. Never heard a word and it’s been almost
DSR – October 15, 2013