Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

April 21, 2013

“THE RODEO” BY: NEAL MURPHY

 

Thinking back on my early years I have decided that my dad, Cecil, loved to go to rodeos.  We never discussed it but I recall that he usually attended any rodeo held in the San Augustine area.  I can recall several different locations for local rodeos in the 1940s and early 1950s.

My earliest memory of attending a rodeo was the most unusual of all, the Texas Prison Rodeo held in Huntsville, Texas annually.  In the mid 1940s I was quite young, but I remember our family riding in the car to Huntsville and taking in the rodeo on a Sunday in October.  I recall at least two occasions when we took the two hour trek.

I had never seen a really professional rodeo before the one in Huntsville.  I was even more awed because the participants were all prisoners, or “convicts” as we referred to them.  I saw many rodeo events including wild cow milking, calf belling, goat roping, wild mare milking, and bulldogging.  Of course, there was also the standard fare of bull riding, saddle bronc, and bareback bronc.  A recent addition to the fare was wild horse racing which I enjoyed.

I never did fully appreciate the background of the prison rodeo which began in 1931 and ended in 1986.  This event was launched during the depression years.  It was first held at the baseball park outside the “Walls” unit.  The baseball park, located on the east side of the prison, was normally home to the Walls Tigers baseball team.

The rodeo was the brainchild of Lee Simmons, General Manager of the Texas Prison System.  He envisioned it as entertainment for employees and inmates alike.  Welfare director Albert Moore, headed up the organization and planning for the early rodeos, along with Warden Walter Waid and livestock supervisor, R. O. McFarland.

The early attendants included a small crowd of local citizens and prison employees.  Simmons realized that he had a winner on his hands.  Two years later, over 15,000 fans traveled to Huntsville for the show.  Soon the Texas Prison Rodeo was drawing the largest crowds for a sporting event in the state of Texas.  With a lifespan of more than fifty years, the Prison Rodeo became a Texas tradition, held every Sunday in October.  Crowds grew to exceed 100,000 in some years.

A favorite event unique to the Texas Prison Rodeo was the “Hard Money Event”.  Forty inmates with red shirts were turned into the arena with a raging wild bull with a Bull Durham tobacco sack tied between its horns.  The object was for some brave inmate to get the sack and take it to the Judge. Fifty dollars usually was the prize stuffed inside the tobacco sack, but donations often ran the pay up, sometimes to $1,500.  This soon became a very popular event for the inmates due to the large amount of money involved, but it was one of the most dangerous ones as well.  The fast action kept fans on the edge of their seats throughout the rodeo event.

prison_rodeo

No rodeo was held in 1943 due to the war, but when it returned in 1944, all profits from the “Victory Rodeo” were invested in war bonds to contribute to the war effort.  The first and only time that the rodeo made a road appearance was in 1950 when it was held in Dallas in the early summer.  During this time a new structure made of concrete, steel, and brick was built to replace the old baseball stadium.  Weekday rodeos were added to the regularly scheduled Sunday performances in some years.  In the year 1942, the rodeos were all held on Thursdays.

Special entertainment began in 1951 with big stars such as Eddie Arnold, Guy Willis, Curley Fox, and Texas Ruby.  That started a yearly tradition which attracted the famous stars, Johnny Cash, Ernest Tubb, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton.  The most famous inmate performer, and one who sometimes stole the show from the paid entertainers, was inmate Juanita Phillips.  She was better known in the “free world” as Candy Barr.  Many of the inmates had never been in a rodeo or ridden on an animal in their lives.  But it was an honor and a status symbol to be among the cowboys selected to compete in the rodeo.

The last rodeo was held on October 26, 1986.  The fans, including several hundred inmates were entertained by the mother and daughter duo, The Judds.  Following the day’s performance, the chute gates were closed for good.  Due to costly renovations that the prison system said were necessary to the arena stands, the rodeo was shut down.  There have been discussions of resurrecting this rodeo event.  However, it will most likely remain only a fond memory for those who participated in, attended, or worked at the “Wildest Show Behind Bars”.

prison_rodeo1

After my graduation from high school, attending college, and marriage, I never attended the Prison Rodeo again before it closed down.  That is regrettable as it was a fast-paced, exciting event.  But, I still have fond memories after more than sixty years.  That is one thing about a memory, one can go to the archives of the mind and relive events such as that.

“THE  RODEO”

 

BY: NEAL MURPHY

 

107 HEMLOCK STREET

PO BOX 511

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972

936-275-9033

Cell: 936-275-6986

Email: sugarbear@netdot.com

Advertisements

March 31, 2013

“THE MOSS HOTEL” BY: NEAL MURPHY

 

 

I had just walked out of the Augus Theatre that Saturday afternoon in March of 1946.  As I adjusted my eyesight from the darkness of the theatre to the bright light, I noted some people running toward the Chevrolet dealership south of the courthouse square.  Then I heard the fire siren atop the city hall building wail its signal to the volunteer firemen.  Something was on fire.

I was only nine years old, but I still recall the sights and smell of that large structure fire.  The Moss Hotel was on fire and the city’s two ancient fire trucks and volunteer firemen were no match for the inferno.  I stood on the southeast corner of the courthouse square watching with mouth agape as ashes and cinders floated overhead imbedded in the thick smoke.  I was soon surrounded by many other people watching this fire event.

The Moss Hotel was located approximately where the car lot for Mike Perry Chevrolet dealership now stands.  It was a rambling two-story frame structure and was known far and wide.  It was a favorite stopping place for travelers in the days before the automobile.

The fire was discovered around five o’clock when Mrs. J. J. Mitchell, who with her husband operated the hotel, went to investigate an odor of smoke.  A fire was found inside a box containing four gallons of turpentine which was stored on the back porch.  The hotel was in the process of being painted.

moss_hotel_1946

One of San Augustine’s familiar landmarks, the Moss Hotel was purchased in 1938 by Mr. J. J. Mitchell and had been operated by him and his wife since that time.  The Hotel was built in 1908 by Mr. Louis Thomas, who at that time operated a saw mill a few miles from town.  It was known as the Caney Creek Lumber Company.  When the building was completed it was taken in charge by Mr. J. W. Moss, who came here from Rusk County.

Mr. Mitchell stated that an estimate of the value of the property loss would be around $10,000 total.  The loss of the Moss Hotel was the second time that Mr. Mitchell’s home had been destroyed by fire.  Their home burned around 1931 when some gasoline exploded near an open fire.

The loss of this landmark hotel left San Augustine’s already critical housing situation further strained.

That event left an indelible mark on my young memory.  I had never seen such a large structure burn to the ground before.  In fact, I recall that I decided I wanted to become a fireman when I got old enough.  However, as I aged that desire waned.  I, instead, became an insurance man who would ultimately reimburse property owners for their fire losses.

“THE  MOSS HOTEL”

 

BY: NEAL MURPHY

 

107 HEMLOCK STREET

PO BOX 511

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972

March 3, 2013

“A-1 AMBULANCE SERVICE” BY: NEAL MURPHY

ambulance1

Author on left,
fellow employee on right”….

 

 

The ringing of the emergency telephone awoke me from a deep sleep.  It was very early in a spring morning in 1956 as I jumped out of my bunk bed and put on my white coveralls.  Someone was in need of an ambulance in the city of Waco, Texas at 2:35 in the morning.

I was in my junior year at Baylor University and had taken a job with the only emergency ambulance service in Waco.  It was an exciting job for a 20-year-old young man, but the atmosphere was not conducive to studying my courses.  The salary of $110 per month seemed very good at the time as it helped with my living expenses.  The job was somewhat confining as I had to be at the ambulance station at 2317 Washington Avenue whenever I was not in classes. My social life took a severe hit with this schedule.

The service was owned by A. D. Sherrill of Waco, who, along with his son, Buzzy, ran an efficient organization.  Mr. Sherrill insisted that the telephone be answered no later that the second ring, even during the middle of the night.  Mr. Sherrill owned two 1953 Chevrolet panel trucks which had been converted into ambulances, which we referred to as “hot shots”.  He also owned two 1955 Pontiac long ambulances which we used as transfer vehicles on non-emergency calls.   All the vehicles were equipped with Motorola two-way radios, which was a distinct advantage over the Connally Funeral Home who owned and operated one emergency ambulance not so equipped.

The ambulance driver looked over at me and said, “Let’s go.  We have an overdose victim at a motel.”  I jumped into the passenger side of the white ambulance as the driver started the engine and turned on the red lights.  Washington Avenue was still alive with vehicles even at this early hour.  The sound of the siren and the reflection of the red lights around me always was an adrenalin rush.

We arrived at the motel and carried the cot to a room where we were met by an older man wearing a bathrobe.  I noted a younger woman lying still on the bed, dressed in a night-gown.  The man was holding a bottle in his hand.  As we directed our attention to the young blonde on the bed, the driver asked, “What did she OD on?”  The man pointed to the bottle which we noted to be rubbing alcohol.  “She drank about a half-inch of this stuff, and then she just passed out.”  We tried to awaken her but without success.  “Let’s get her loaded and to the hospital as fast as we can”, the driver said.

This event happened in the days before patients were stabilized before transport as done by EMT’s and paramedics now.  In fact, we knew very little about administering first aid. The “load and leave” method was used, or some referred to it as “scoop and run” method was all that we were trained to do.

After loading her into the ambulance I got in the back with her and sat on the small fold-down chair.  I tried to find a pulse.  I checked her wrist, her carotid artery, and finally her chest.  There was no pulse or breathing that I could detect.  “This girl is dead”, I yelled to the driver.  “Step it up!”  Just in case I was wrong, I put an oxygen mask over her nose and turned it on.  The driver radioed the station to call Hillcrest hospital to advise them that we were on our way with a possible DOA (dead on arrival) patient.

The doctors at the hospital pronounced her dead and they began drawing blood from her arm.  A doctor made the comment, “that small amount of alcohol won’t kill anyone.”  At this point, our job done, we put clean sheets on the cot and went back to the station.

The following afternoon a couple of detectives from the Waco police department arrived wanting more information on the man who had been with her.  Unfortunately, we were in such a rush to get the patient to the hospital neither of us had stopped to get his name, address, and telephone number.  Mr. Sherrill commented to them, “Well, our guys are not police officers.  We don’t investigate, we transport.”

ambulance2

” Shows
A.D.Sherrill and son picking up a young man who had been struck by a
car” …….

By June 1, 1956, I had returned to San Augustine for the summer and started working at Wyman Roberts Funeral home. I never heard anything else about the “older man and young lady” case in Waco.  For the record, Mr. Sherrill sold his A-1 Ambulance service to the Daniel EMS of Hillsboro in 1982.  He died in 1985, and his son, Buzzy Sherrill died in 2007.  All that is left of the A-1 Ambulance Service of Waco are memories, some good, and some not so good.

+++++++++

“A-1 AMBULANCE SERVICE”

 

BY: NEAL MURPHY

 

PO BOX 511

107 HEMLOCK STREET

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX 75972

936-275-9033

Cell: 936-275-6986

Email: sugarbear@netdot.com

June 17, 2012

“THE NEUVILLE CAVE” – JUNE 17, 2012 – BY: NEAL MURPHY

“THE  NEUVILLE  CAVE”

BY: NEAL MURPHY

Email: SUGARBEAR@NETDOT.COM

 

 

Why was its existence kept a secret from me for so many years?  My mother used to have picnics there when she was a teenager.  My father hunted in and around this unique piece of real estate when he was young.  When in junior high, I played baseball against a team from Neuville.  Yet, no one ever told me about the cave.  I found out about its existence about twenty five years ago by accident.

Since locating the cave I have taken my young grandchildren exploring several times and they had a blast playing in it.  This well-kept secret is located ten miles north of San Augustine off Highway 96.  A left turn on to county road 1012 for about a mile will get you in the vicinity.  It is safer to go in a four-wheel drive vehicle as the deep sand can snare a sedan.  One has to walk approximately twenty-five yards south on an old logging trail  to the cave, and it can still be missed because the road goes over the cave which is, in reality, a long tunnel.  Once located it is a rather steep drop to the cave entrance which must be negotiated with care.

In the 1930’s and 1940’s the Neuville (Gunnels) Cave  became a place for teens and young grown-ups to visit.  Rumor is that Sam Houston hid in the cave from Indians, and that Davy Crockett spent the night there on several occasions.  It is also said that the Declaration of Independence was drafted in this cave, and that the first sermon ever preached in Texas was done so directly in front of it.  Immediately over the cave is a large tree, it is said, under which General Robert E. Lee spent one night on his return from the Mexican war.  A rusty and blood-stained knife was found in the cave, and with this knife in this cave Sam Houston cut Santa Anna’s throat.  This was after Santa Anna had escaped from the field and was captured in this cave.

No one knows if any of these stories is real, but at least it makes for a good discussion.  At least, we know that the cave has been in existence for a very long time.  The cave is located on private property south of what once was the old Gunnels farm house.  The cave is a unique attraction for East Texas.

In 1935 the Center Chamber of Commerce was working for the designation of a State Park for Shelby county.  The Chamber wanted to include the Neuville cave as a state park.  However, the cave was bypassed as a state park and nothing more became of the proposal.

The town of Neuville was founded during the latter part of the 1800s, and was named for the Stephen de Neuville family, who settled in the area in the 1840s. A post office was opened in 1901 with  William J. Neuville as postmaster.  The Neuville community had a hotel, several stores, a large lumber operation, and a population of 450 by 1914.  By 1925 its population had declined to 300, and was reported at this level through the mid 1940s.  In 1938 the community had two schools, one for seventy-five white children, and one for thirty-five black children.

After World War II Neuville began to decline as much of the timber in the area had been cut over.  By 1949 the population was estimated at 100.  The local school district was consolidated with other districts by 1955, and the post office was closed in the 1960s.*

Back to the cave.  It is approximately 270 feet long and has two parts. One part tunnels through a hill and opens into an immense sink-hole covering an area of at least two acres, and an average depth of forty feet. In this area several springs have their origin and the small stream goes through the main tunnel of the cave and out the west opening.

The cave is actually one long room, approximately 20X40 feet.  The roof of the whole cave is arched, and the hard sand and clay deposits offer a solid wall that appears to be safe from cave-ins.  It is dark enough to warrant having a flashlight handy when wading through the shallow water.   It is truly an amazing thing to see right in the middle of the sand hills.

On our last trip to the cave our daughter had a close encounter with a bat  whose nap she interrupted.  In addition our vehicle got stuck in the shifting sands.  Out of nowhere a vehicle appeared on the road which we flagged down.  The driver happened to have one of those new “car telephones” and called for help to get us out.

I have been told that the cave is still private property and should not be entered without expressed permission.  I am still amazed that I never heard about this unusual cave when I was younger and more agile.  Perhaps some day the state will make a recognized park of it.  It is richly deserved.

*  Cecil Harper, Jr. – “Neuville, TX” –  Handbook of Texas Online

+++++++++++

Outside the Cave

———

inside cave showing a bat on the ceiling

———-

my daughter with grand kids playing inside the cave

++++++++++

About the Author

Neal Murphy resides in his birthplace, San Augustine, Texas, with his wife Clara. He has two children, Kay Fatheree, a pastor’s wife now living in Abilene, Texas, and Douglas Murphy, a police officer in North Carolina, and has five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Neal earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and a master’s degree in insurance from the Insurance Institute of America. He also attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he studied religion courses. He is a deacon at a Baptist Church, has taught Sunday school classes, and directed church choirs for many years. He began his writing in 2005, and many of his short stories about his life growing up in a small Texas town have been published in Reminisce Magazine, Good Old Days Magazine, Looking Back Magazine, and the Town Square Magazine. He had a story included in Memories of Mother, a book published by Xulon Press. Another story was published in the book Dear Old Golden School Days published by the DRG Publishing Group. He published a book, From the Heart of a Country Preacher, by Xulon Press in 2006. His second book entitled Those Were the Days was published by Xlibris Inc. in 2007. In 2008 he published another book, The Psalms—From the Heart of a Country Preacher, by Xlibris Inc. He is a founding member of the Deep East Texas Literary Guild of San Augustine, Texas, founded in 2009. He has weekly stories in the San Augustine Tribune and the Toledo Chronicle, an online newspaper. He has a monthly story in the Shelby County Today online newspaper.


June 10, 2012

“THE OHLY FACTOR” BY: NEAL MURPHY – JUNE10, 2012

“THE  OHLY  FACTOR”

BY: NEAL MURPHY

Email: SUGARBEAR@NETDOT.COM

 

I did not know it in the middle 1940s when I was in elementary school in San Augustine, Texas, but I was breaking the law.  In fact all we students were lawbreakers.  Some of you might recall this event that the courts now say was very detrimental to our very souls.  Yet, most of us grew up to be intelligent and useful citizens in spite of the learned judges’ opinions.

Once a year, without fail, the principal would report to each class room that there would be a general assembly in the auditorium at 10:30.  I usually had an idea what was going to occur, and I was excited about it.

Several hundred six to twelve year old students would be herded into the large auditorium for a special program.  Yes, I was right.  I could see the large felt board on the stage and there she was, Mrs. Ohly.  She and her husband, R. M. Ohly from Tyler, Texas, toured from school to school sharing Bible stories with all the students.  Now she was on our stage, and she had a magic board.

She always began her presentation with these words, “Good morning, students.  My name is Mrs. Ohly – O-H-L-Y.”  As she told stories from the Bible she would use cutouts of the different characters which she would place on the large board and they would magically stick.  I never figured out how that worked.  As she related stories of Noah and the Ark, Daniel in the lion’s den, the birth of Jesus, Jonah and the whale, and many others, she would illustrate the stories with the figures placed strategically on the magic felt board.  Her stories always captured our young imaginations. If I had only known what damage she was doing to my mind I would have exercised my right to stay in my class room.

After her stories were over, she always gave each student a small New Testament to take home and read.  We then returned to our studies refreshed and just a little wiser in the ways of God.  Perhaps we did not realize that at the time.

Unfortunately our Supreme Court and Federal judges now tell us that it is illegal to hand out New Testaments on school property.  It is now against the law to pray out loud – perhaps you can sneak in a silent prayer just before a mid-term test.  There are no more Christmas carols sung, in fact there is no more Christmas.  The religious holiday has been replaced by “Winter Break”.  Students are in serious trouble if they even mention the name of Jesus on school property.

I am sure that Mr. and Mrs. Ohly never realized what terrible law breakers they were for those many years of poisoning thousands of young minds.  No doubt they are both gone on to their rewards by now, but I am one student that appreciated and enjoyed their ministry.  I keep hearing people ask the question, “What is wrong with our schools these days?  Why are the kids so unruly?”  I am sure that Mrs. Ohly and God are looking down at us now and saying, “We have the answer!  Look up!”

June 3, 2012

THE BAPTIST FOX – June 3, 2012 – Neal Murphy

THE  BAPTIST  FOX

 

BY: NEAL MURPHY

(sugarbear@netdot.com

The night of June 3, 2005 was hot, humid, and dry.  The drought conditions in deep East Texas had continued unabated all year.  Both man and beast were in search of cool air and wet water.

As deputies for the Shelby County, Texas Sheriff Department, my partner and I patrol the county, checking the security of businesses, churches, residences, and schools.  On this particular night, we were driving through Blair, a community on the far western side of Shelby County.  We pulled into the parking lot of a small Baptist church located right off the Farm-to-Market highway.  As we drove up to the church, suddenly an animal ran from under the church into the trees beyond.

Although we had gotten only a fast look, we identified the animal as a female fox.  She gave a glance back at her intruders as she disappeared into the pine trees behind the church.

Larry and I mused that the fox was probably hot and was using the church crawl space to rest and cool off.  Then, suddenly, a young fox peered at us from the church crawl space opening.  He seemed not to be very afraid of us as he ventured outside the entrance and stared at us.

The little fox probably was hot, hungry, and thirsty.  Larry had brought along a sandwich to eat later on during our shift.  He eased out of the patrol car, opened the back door, and got half of his sandwich.  He moved toward the small fox, talking to him gently.  The fox retreated back into the safety of the church while Larry placed the sandwich on the ground at the entrance.

Then Larry found an old bowl, and filled it with water from a nearby water hose, and set it beside the sandwich.

After retreating to our patrol car, we sat and watched as the young fox came out of hiding, gulped down the food, and lapped up the water, ignoring his audience only a few feet away.  Then he just stood there watching us intently long enough for us to take several pictures of him.

I left a note on the front door of the church advising them that they had a family of fox living under their church.

Each time we were in the Blair community, be would stop and check on our fox family.  We saw the mother a few more times, and the young fox began to run from us.  His mother probably gave him some lessons about the dangers of humans and how to avoid them.  Eventually, they were both gone, but they served as an interesting break for us while on patrol.

A church member jested that the two fox were baptized, and were never seen at church again.  Seems I have heard that before.

+++++++++

+++++

About the Author

Neal Murphy resides in his birthplace, San Augustine, Texas, with his wife Clara. He has two children, Kay Fatheree, a pastor’s wife now living in Abilene, Texas, and Douglas Murphy, a police officer in North Carolina, and has five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Neal earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and a master’s degree in insurance from the Insurance Institute of America. He also attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he studied religion courses. He is a deacon at a Baptist Church, has taught Sunday school classes, and directed church choirs for many years. He began his writing in 2005, and many of his short stories about his life growing up in a small Texas town have been published in Reminisce Magazine, Good Old Days Magazine, Looking Back Magazine, and the Town Square Magazine. He had a story included in Memories of Mother, a book published by Xulon Press. Another story was published in the book Dear Old Golden School Days published by the DRG Publishing Group. He published a book, From the Heart of a Country Preacher, by Xulon Press in 2006. His second book entitled Those Were the Days was published by Xlibris Inc. in 2007. In 2008 he published another book, The Psalms—From the Heart of a Country Preacher, by Xlibris Inc. He is a founding member of the Deep East Texas Literary Guild of San Augustine, Texas, founded in 2009. He has weekly stories in the San Augustine Tribune and the Toledo Chronicle, an online newspaper. He has a monthly story in the Shelby County Today online newspaper.

May 20, 2012

“AN ALARMING SITUATION” – Neal Murphy

“AN  ALARMING  SITUATION”

 

BY: NEAL MURPHY

(sugarbear@netdot.com)

 

 

The boarding house on Wettermark street near the campus of Stephen F. Austin State College was the setting for many a juvenile prank during the fall of 1955.  I was a freshman student at the Nacogdoches college living in the large, two-story house with eight other male students at the time.  More time was invested in playing pranks on each other than in studying the expensive courses required for a degree.

Looking back on this year I am amazed that I passed any courses at all as so much time was spent playing dominoes or forty-two than anything else, except perhaps jokes and pranks on the other residents.

One of the residents was a young man from a small town near Tyler.  He was somewhat socially inept, the perfect target for innocent harassment.  One fall afternoon while *Jim was gone someone of our group devised the perfect practical joke which had Jim’s name all over it.  After explaining the details of the prank to the rest of us, we all agreed.  All the tools needed were as many alarm clocks as we could gather together, which was a total of five.

Most alarm clocks in those days were the wind-up kind not needing electricity to work.  We entered Jim’s room and began carrying out our devious plot.  We set each alarm clock to go off at thirty-minute intervals, beginning at two o’clock in the morning.  Then we hid each one in places such as desk drawers, the closet, chest of drawers, and under his bed.  Our plan completed, we all retreated to our own rooms and waited.

Jim returned home just in time for supper at the boarding house, an experience in itself.  Around midnight we all retired for the night awaiting the results of our plan.  At two o’clock I heard the muffled sound of an alarm clock in Jim’s room.  Then the sounds of someone stumbling over furniture in the dark combined with a few choice words.  Our scheme was working.

Things settled down for awhile as he evidently  located the clock and turned it off.  It would not be long before the second one would go off.

At the sound of the second alarm clock more choice words were heard as he searched out the location of this clock.  This time he yelled out,  “Who the hell is doing this to me?”  I heard several voices from other rooms: “It wasn’t me.”   “I didn’t do it.”  “What clocks?”  “Anybody hear any clocks?”

After the third clock chimed Jim finally got up and began an all-out search for the remaining clocks which he located.  Seems I recall a couple of them being hurled at the wall.  “This is not funny.  I have a test tomorrow”, he whined.  The boarding house was extremely quiet the rest of the night.

Poor Jim was a good-natured fellow and accepted our pranks as just a part of college boarding house culture.  However, I recall that the next week several of us had our beds “short-sheeted” by a person or persons unknown. Tit for tat, an eye for an eye, sowing or reaping, giving and receiving – whatever one wants to call it, it was definitely in effect here.

I have often wondered what happened to Jim.  He did not return to the boarding house the next year.  It was suggested that he probably became a clock and watch repair man, considering his background and experience.

* name changed

+++++++

About the Author

Neal Murphy resides in his birthplace, San Augustine, Texas, with his wife Clara. He has two children, Kay Fatheree, a pastor’s wife now living in Abilene, Texas, and Douglas Murphy, a police officer in North Carolina, and has five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Neal earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and a master’s degree in insurance from the Insurance Institute of America. He also attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he studied religion courses. He is a deacon at a Baptist Church, has taught Sunday school classes, and directed church choirs for many years. He began his writing in 2005, and many of his short stories about his life growing up in a small Texas town have been published in Reminisce Magazine, Good Old Days Magazine, Looking Back Magazine, and the Town Square Magazine. He had a story included in Memories of Mother, a book published by Xulon Press. Another story was published in the book Dear Old Golden School Days published by the DRG Publishing Group. He published a book, From the Heart of a Country Preacher, by Xulon Press in 2006. His second book entitled Those Were the Days was published by Xlibris Inc. in 2007. In 2008 he published another book, The Psalms—From the Heart of a Country Preacher, by Xlibris Inc. He is a founding member of the Deep East Texas Literary Guild of San Augustine, Texas, founded in 2009. He has weekly stories in the San Augustine Tribune and the Toledo Chronicle, an online newspaper. He has a monthly story in the Shelby County Today online newspaper.

April 29, 2012

“A GRAVE SITUATION”

“A  GRAVE  SITUATION”

 

BY: NEAL MURPHY

(sugarbear@netdot.com)

 

 

The summer of 1956 was an interesting one for me.  Charlie Lawrence hired me to work at Wyman Roberts Funeral Home as a general flunky.  I did whatever needed to be done at the time.  It was a great summer job between semesters at college.  It was here that I met an unusual and talented man.

Bobby Selden was the band director at Hemphill High School from 1954 through 1958.  He was an in-law of Charlie and occasionally helped out at the funeral home in the summer.

One summer morning Bobby and I were dispatched to the cemetery at Liberty Hill Baptist church to erect a grave tent for a funeral that afternoon.  This was not a regular task for us, so we must have been very busy.

The grave had already been dug, so we began working on the erection of the tent which was a two-man job.  One of the first things to be done was to drive into the ground large metal corner stakes on which to anchor the canvas tent.

Bobby retrieved a large sledge hammer and four stakes and began hammering away at a strategically placed stake.  I was busy unloading the panel truck.  The sound of metal striking metal reminded me of the old song, I’ve Been Working On the Railroad”.  I was interrupted by a loud “OUCH” from Bobby.  I turned to see him throw down the hammer and grab his left forearm.  I rushed over to him asking “What happened, Bobby?”  He was obviously in pain and I noted blood running down his hand.

“I’m not sure, but it feels like I’ve been shot”, he grimaced an answer.  I noted blood seeping from a wound about half-way up his left forearm.  “You better drive me to the emergency room”, he instructed as he wrapped a handkerchief  around the wound.

On the way to the hospital in the panel truck we discussed what might have caused his injury and concluded that a sliver of metal from either the stake or the hammer flew off and punctured his arm.  Our diagnosis was later confirmed by x-ray.  The doctor said that a sliver of metal was resting on the bone in his arm but removing it was not necessary.  He said that the wound should heal without any problems.  So his wound was dressed and he was given a tetanus shot.

I figured Bobby would take the rest of the day off, however such was not the case.  We drove back to the cemetery and completed our job.  Bobby was dedicated to the task at hand and a puncture wound did not hinder him.  Such was the case with his professional life.

Bobby Selden was born in Palestine, Texas.  He was interested in music and became a drummer. He married Claudine Sparks in 1949 after he graduated from Stephen F. Austin University in 1948.  Bobby was hired as the band director at Kennedy, Texas high school the same year.

Over the next years Bobby worked at several other Texas schools as band director, including Joaquin, DeSoto, and West Sabine.  All these school bands were transformed into “award winners” under his tutelage. He was hired as the band director at Hemphill in 1954.  My future wife, Clara, was a member of his band during these years.  I was impressed with his turning the Hemphill band into the Tri-State champion marching band of 1957 in Enid, Oklahoma.

During Bobby’s musical career he played drums for several “big time” bands.  He was in the Marine Corps Band, which was only a “warm up”. He played drums in the Clyde McCoy Orchestra.  Clyde was a jazz trumpeter who made famous his rendition of  the song “Sugar Blues”.

Later he played with the Gene Krupa Band which entertained America from 1920 to 1960.  Krupa was a famous drummer himself, but as he aged he needed relief on the drums, so Bobby filled in for him on many occasions.  Bobby wrote most of his drum routines himself.

In September of 1956 I returned to college.  Bobby continued his music teaching in Hemphill.  I lost contact with him for many years.  It was my pleasure to have known him for even a short time.  I assume the metal remained in his arm for the rest of his life, and did not hinder his drum playing – a wound sustained under a grave situation.

++++++

April 22, 2012

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU”

Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:26 am
Tags: ,

“HAPPY  BIRTHDAY  TO  YOU”

 

BY: NEAL MURPHY

 

 

Who among you have NOT sung the little four-line ditty to honor someone’s birthday:  “Happy Birthday To You;  Happy Birthday To You;  Happy Birthday Dear ( fill in name);  Happy Birthday To You.”  According to the 1998 Guinness Book of World Records, this song is the most recognized tune in the English language, followed by “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”, and “Auld Lang Syne”, the three most popular songs in the English language.  The song’s base lyrics have been translated into at least eighteen languages.

 

Who would have thought that this little tune would be so famous?  I have sung it all my life, so far.  I did not realize that the melody actually comes from the song Good Morning To All,  which was written and composed by American siblings Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill in 1893.  Patty was a kindergarten principal in Louisville, Kentucky developing various teaching methods at what is now the Little Loom house.  Mildred was a pianist and composer.  The sisters created “Good Morning To All” as a song that would  be easy to be sung  by young children.

 

The song first appeared in print in 1912, and probably existed much earlier.  None of these early appearances included credits or copyright notices.  However The Summy Company registered it for a copyright in 1935, crediting authors Preston Ware Orem and Mrs. R. R.  Forman with the “Happy Birthday” song.

 

In 1990, Warner Chappell purchased the company owning the copyright for $15 million, with the value of “Happy Birthday” estimated at $5 million.  Based on the 1935 copyright registration, Warner claims that the United States copyright will not expire until 2030. So, unauthorized public performances of the song are technically illegal unless royalties are paid to it.  In one specific instance on February 2010, these royalties were said to amount to $700.00.

 

In 1988 Birch Tree Group, Ltd. Sold the rights of the song to Warner Communications, along with all other assets, for an estimated $25 million dollars.  American law professor Robert Brauneis, who has heavily researched the song, has expressed strong doubts that it is still under copyright.  Whatever the case may be, this little simple song “Happy Birthday To You” continues to bring in approximately $2 million dollars in licensing revenue each year according to Warner Communications.

 

It seems that the singing of the song “Happy Birthday To You” at a person’s birthday party could be subject to copyright laws.  Who would have thunk it?  I suppose I will just have to take my chances on this as I will continue to wish my friends a Happy Birthday by singing this song.  Just in case, may I borrow bail money from someone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.