Saturday, March 20, 2004

One night in the Spring of '72, I was working the stage front gate for Jethro Tull. Weston and this group of guys from Fat City tried to crash my gate and I thought I was gonna have to call John Law on them. They soon retreated though and in good old 'Nam vet fashion, regrouped and returned with their rear echelon secret weapon, a stunning little blonde with the nicest set of play pretties I'd ever laid eyes on. To say the least, the gate opened and the whole Fat City crew were soon banging their hands on top of the stage as Ian played every tune off "Thick As A Brick".
Yesterday, 32 years later, I attended Weston's funeral and by my side was that stunning little blonde I met that night at the Jethro Tull concert. She is Sharon, my wife of sixteen years, and the mother of my son, Christopher.
Thought you'd appreciate the story.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Click on to see the tribute to Bob Weston


I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you did for Bob. I copied your pages in color and gave them to Bob's daughter. She loved it.
Went by the bank today to make a donation and the teller said,"He must have been from around here because a lot of people are coming by." That was good to hear.
Bobby Guin m.ceed the chapel services. He wouldn't let the Christian minister speak so we had to pay the price at the graveside service. I thought he never would shut up. I was ready to give my life to Christ if it would shut the bastard up.
Marines gave Bob full military honors. Very impressive. They gave Bob's daughter the flag with the spent shell casings folded into it.
Lots of old heads in attendance, room filled with Bob's canvases and a lot of forgiveness floating through the atmosphere, however, when one the girls got up to give her testimony, one of the bikers sitting on my pew mumbled, "Evil!" Unfortunately, he was right.
Nice Robert Frost poem on the funeral program

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down today.
Nothing gold can stay.

Remember one thang, capn: I don't care how bad people talk about you, you're a pretty good guy.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Had a couple of pictures of Bryan I scanned off Locust Fork's album
cover. Thought ya'll might enjoy them. They are now in the photo
Robert Register
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Igor;
> Buddah's blessing is with you and yours,there is saddness and Joy
> celebrate the passing of one of us a transition of the familiar to
> spiritual plane,Bryan Wheeler was and is a friend of mine...
> We will see him againe in another manifestation...
> Peace Bob another B.W.

Bryan's photo from the front of the Locust Fork album

Bryan's photo from the back cover of Locust Fork's first album

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

John Robert (Bob) Weston
March 17, 2004

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TUSCALOOSA | John Robert (Bob) Weston, age 56, died March 15, 2004, at DCH Regional Medical Center. Services will be held Friday, March 19, 2004 at 11:00 a.m. at Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel. Burial will follow in Tuscaloosa Memorial Park. Visitation is Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at the funeral home. Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel Funeral Home directing.

Bob is preceded in death by his parents John William Weston and Dorothy Alieen Weston. He is survived by his brother Joe Weston of Tuscaloosa, a daughter, Celeste Johnson of Ellis, Kansas and a son, Breon Bliss of Chicago.

Bob was born on March 15, 1948 in Tuscaloosa. He graduated from Tuscaloosa High School in 1966. He entered the United States Marines and proudly served his country for three tours of duty in the Vietnam War. He returned to Tuscaloosa a highly decorated veteran.

Bob was a wonderful artist and became somewhat of a legendary figure in and around the local art circles. He also traveled widely and left his artistic mark all across this great land. His unique personality earned him love and respect from people from many different walks of life.

Later in life Bob became a force for great positive change in the lives of many people who eagerly learned from his previous experiences. Bob freely shared his hard earned knowledge with love in his huge heart. The last years of his life were spent lovingly with Indy Ayers who always held his heart with both her hands.

Bob will truly be missed.

In lieu of flowers the family ask that you please make a donation to “The John Robert Weston Memorial Fund" at AmSouth Bank of Tuscaloosa.

Local artist who brightened the walls of The Chukker dies at 56

By Mark Hughes Cobb
Staff Writer
March 17, 2004

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Rippling rainbows of eye-tickling color threading through a knotty jungle of buxom women, fantastic landscapes and mythological creatures, the/smural painted by Bob Weston down The Chukker wall might have been almost as complex as the painter himself.

Tuscaloosa native Weston, 56, friend of millionaires as easily as those down on their luck, a man who probably gave away more of his art than he sold, died Monday at DCH Regional Medical Center.

In high school he was such a good athlete, friends thought he might be a pro football star. But he also painted.

Coming out of Tuscaloosa High School, Weston could have taken advantage of a full scholarship to the Chicago Art Institute, but instead he signed on for the Marines at the height of the Vietnam war.

After serving three tours of duty, during which he was wounded several times, Weston didn’t adjust easily to civilian life. He became a near-/slegendary wild man, paying his bread and board with paintings.

In the last 12 years, he had been sober, a changed man who helped others, especially fellow veterans, to get and stay clean.

“I think everybody who knew him knew he was wild as he could be most of his life," said friend Van Thompson.

“But then he basically turned around. It used to be you’d kind of hate to see him coming; then it got to be great to see him coming," Thompson said, laughing.

A longtime student of the martial arts -- in the Marine Corps, he was a two-time heavyweight judo champion -- he could physically defend himself or friends but thought violent aggression dishonorable.

Health problems, possibly related to his war experiences, continued to plague him. In recent years, he toted around a canister of oxygen everywhere he went.

Weston didn’t talk much about the war. What his close friends gathered came in dribs and drabs over the years.

“He didn’t elaborate that much on Vietnam," said childhood friend Bill Caldwell, who also served.

But friends agree that he returned a different man.

“He came back pretty messed up and was pretty irresponsible for about 20 years," said Bob Guin, another friend.

“But he always had a good heart. You just had to give him his space."

Weston painted numerous smaller murals at The Chukker before he began the wall-spanning jungle mural many remember best.

Back when the bar was by the front door, Weston painted a reclining lady on a wall.

“Bobby called the painting a whore," Caldwell said, laughing. “One day I’m sitting at the bar when the door swings open, and Bob brings in his little-bitty mom. 'There she is, Mom!’

“And she said, 'Well that’s a real nice whore, Bobby!’ She was quite a character also."

After Weston sobered up in the early ’90s, he began helping others, through Alcoholics Anonymous and the Veterans Administration.

“There’s a lot of stigma attached to alcoholism. Folks don’t talk about it, so he didn’t do it for aggrandizement; he just did it for other people," Guin said.

Caldwell was one of those Weston helped.

“When I finally hit bottom and had to do something, I called Bob," Caldwell said.

“All alcoholics are looking for an easy answer, that it’s going to be easy to quit.

“But Bob would not tell me that. He told me what I had to hear, which is that there’s no easy way, you just have to get in there and work at it. That probably saved my life."

But Weston’s skills weren’t limited to the visual and physical. He had a writer’s insights and the vocabulary to match, leading to endless hours of discussion, even after the drink of choice became coffee.

“I talked to him [Monday at the hospital], but he couldn’t talk back," Guin said.

“He always had a retort, so I figured for once I’d get the last word in.

“I told him, 'Don’t kick out on me now, otherwise I’ll have to have these meaningless philosophical conversations with myself.’ "

Visitation will be 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel. Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at the funeral home, and burial will follow in Tuscaloosa Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to the John Robert Weston Memorial Fund at any AmSouth Bank branch.

Bob Painted The Mural Above The Old Bar

Many thanks to the folks at for putting Bob's picture online

Bob Weston, Rest In Peace

Tuesday, March 16, 2004


» More From Today's Mobile Register


Professor wants UA apology for slavery

Alfred Brophy will present proposal for university to consider reparations to slave descendants


Staff Reporter

A University of Alabama law professor wants the school to apologize for its pre-Civil War ownership and use of slaves, and to consider a commission to study the history of slave use at the school and the possibility of reparations to slave descendants.

Alfred Brophy, who studies the legal history of slavery, plans to present his proposal at today's Faculty Senate meeting. The faculty body isn't scheduled to vote on Brophy's resolution until April.

From Our Advertiser

Brophy, who is white, said Monday that he has discovered numerous links between slavery and the Tuscaloosa school, established in 1831. The school owned a handful of slaves for much of its early existence, and rented others, according to Brophy's research. Professors, students and at least two university presidents owned slaves, he said.

Slaves cleaned buildings, planted trees, served students and aided professors, according to records Brophy has found. Though the professor hasn't found any direct evidence yet, he believes slaves helped build at least some of the seven surviving buildings that escaped destruction by Union troops in 1865.

But Brophy believes what UA really needs to atone for is the intellectual defense of slavery made by many of its leaders. Brophy points particularly to two university presidents and a Mobilian who founded the forerunner of the university's medical school. All three were prominent public defenders of slavery and the idea that blacks were naturally inferior. All three have buildings on the Tuscaloosa campus named for them.

So far, the resolution has caused little stir on the 20,000-student campus. Cathy Andreen, a university spokeswoman, declined comment on behalf of administrators.

"At this point, we're not ready to comment on it, because we haven't seen it," Andreen said.

Robert Turner, a senior from Tuskegee, said he had heard about some of Brophy's work, and said he hoped university leaders would support further inquiry.

"It should be something we look into, discovering the role the university played," Turner said.

Turner, who is black, is the outgoing executive chief of staff for Alabama's Student Government Association.

Success in race relations:

The University of Alabama, though famous for George Wallace's 1963 attempt to prevent integration, known as the "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door," is in some ways a success in today's race relations. The school's student body is more than 13 percent black, a higher share than Auburn University or some other Southeastern Conference schools.

Even if the Faculty Senate adopts Brophy's proposal, UA President Robert Witt or University of Alabama System trustees would have to take a similar position for the faculty action to mean anything. For example, student and faculty resolutions last fall calling for the university to condemn discrimination against gays and lesbians have so far garnered little public recognition from top UA leaders.

Among campus structures that survived the Union Army destruction are outbuildings of the 1841 President's Mansion that have been identified in the past as slave quarters. Today, they appear on university maps under names like "President's storage."

At least six buildings on the campus are named for people who owned slaves or advocated slavery, according to Brophy. He notes that Basil Manly, university president from 1837 to 1855 and Landon Garland, president from 1855 to 1865, both owned large numbers of slaves who worked the presidents' personal plantations. Manly and Garland encouraged their students to believe that slavery was part of the natural order ordained by God, according to their surviving papers and other accounts.

Brophy also points to Josiah Nott, a physician in Mobile who founded the forerunner of the University of Alabama Medical School in 1858. Nott wrote and lectured about claims that blacks were genetically inferior, based partly on skull measurements he made in his medical practice. Slavery suited black people, Nott said, because the race could never hope to achieve the level of accomplishment and civilization that whites had reached.

The question of whether universities profited from slavery, and what they should do to make up for it, has been a prominent subplot in a larger national debate about reparations in the last 15 years. Up until now, most attention has focused on Ivy League universities -- Brown, Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

Most recently, Ruth Simmons, the first black president of Rhode Island's Brown, appointed a committee to examine the school's ties to slavery, teach students about that history, and consider whether Brown should do something to compensate for that past.

Some black leaders have called for economic payments -- typically called reparations -- as a way for the nation to erase some of the damage caused by slavery, and share the economic gains that slave owners enjoyed. They point to reparations paid to citizens of Japanese descent whom the American government imprisoned during World War II. They also note payments by Germany and German companies to Holocaust victims.

But opponents say that idea is logistically difficult at best, and an ideological travesty at worst. Those against reparations say its unfair to tax people for the sins of previous generations. A federal judge in Chicago recently dismissed a lawsuit seeking reparations, in part because there are no slave owners or slaves still alive.

A 2002 Mobile Register-University of South Alabama poll found the state's citizens racially polarized over the question of reparations. While 67 percent of black respondents favored the federal government making cash payments to slave descendants, only 5 percent of white respondents agreed. Pollsters said some white people became so upset that they had trouble finishing telephone interviews for the poll.

Favors reparations:

For his part, Brophy has favored reparations. As a law professor in Oklahoma, he counseled black residents of Tulsa in their efforts to gain compensation for a 1921 race riot that left numerous blocks of a black business district in ruins and may have killed 300 people.

He thinks it might be possible to track down descendants of slaves owned by the university and its early professors, to offer them scholarships or some sort of symbolic payment. He acknowledged, however, that such an effort would provoke widespread opposition.

"I'm not going to fall on a sword for reparations," Brophy said.

He said other measures, such as an open debate about UA's slave past, headstones for unmarked slave graves, a university apology, and maybe a museum in one of the former slave quarters, would all be healthy for the school

"It's not like we don't have the buildings built with slave labor," Brophy said. "Having benefited from that labor, this institution has a moral duty to make amends."

Monday, March 15, 2004


History Corner: The Mystery of the Camak Stone
Gregory Spies, PLS

Not often does one get the opportunity to delve into an antiquarian survey mystery of such magnitude that has persisted for more than 175 years. I can allow, however, that many surveyors have been hesitant to accept the "locally accepted" monument in a case such as this because it just did not fit the historical record. In fact, this tale involves the boundaries of three states, two of which corner on the third's South line. Since I haven't yet provided much geographical detail, probably no one, except those who have dealt with this dilemma, has guessed which three states are in such a coterminous limbo.
Perhaps if I mentioned that this mystery centers around a stone monument that was placed on the "thirty-fifth degree above the equinoctial," circa 1818, as it were, a few more astute students of survey history will perceive which monument is in dispute. Since I have to limit this digression to as few words as I can muster to convey the story, I shall quit beating the bounds and inform the masses that a grand effort was put forth to solve the mystery this past summer.
The mystery of the Camak Stone was the heart and focus of the first retracement seminar sponsored by the Tennessee Association of Professional Surveyors (TAPS). This event was held June 13th and 14th, 2003, on the South boundary of Tennessee near Nickajack Cave where the sister states of Georgia and Alabama corner up. I was honored to be asked to direct this inaugural retracement effort which, unlike the more traditional retracement seminars that deal with U.S. Public Land surveys, concentrated on the somewhat more unique delineation and marking of the various common lines of jurisdiction between states. I asked my good friend and colleague Robert Register, to enhance this event with his vast knowledge and participation as a fellow instructor.


Here I stand near Nickajack where Alabama,Georgia and Tennessee intersect. Please send all suggestions and other unwanted comments to

Muchas gracias a mi buen amigo, babbs, para el t-shirt. Git yur skypilotclub t-shirt @