Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hey y'all~

If ya get a chance please stop by Claire Walker Holland's
DHS CLASS OF '68 website

Working with my old classmates has me reminiscing a lot about my life so I've started hauling out the archives to search for the bits & pieces of my memories.

College was fun but it was tough. I worked hard every summer saving my money & had a work study job at the Union Building which enabled me to work backstage at the rock concerts. I remember working for Elton John, Jethro Tull, Joe Cocker and The Rolling Stones. In fact, I met my future wife while working the gate to the floor at Jethro Tull. She flashed that pair of play pretties at me and next thing ya know she had full access to everything at that show.

I didn't get to travel at all while in college except for a couple of trips to the Panama City Beach each summer.

Before I settled down to work after college I took a couple of trips up to the Carolinas but I spent most of my college years working and saving my pennies.

My first job out of college was being a Psychologist 1 at Partlow. The first year wasn't bad. I saved up all of my vacation days, holidays and comp time so I could take off an entire month during the summer of '73. Greg Wright & I took my VW van out to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Greg had already served in 'Nam & I was still scared of being drafted so I wanted to check out groovy little hippy pads in Victoria, B.C. in case I needed to take an extended vacation. Driving back to Tuscaloosa, we visited Olympia National Park, Yellowstone & I got to hang out at Philmont in Cimarron, New Mexico for the first time since visiting there in July of '65.

The Partlow job came to a screeching halt one day in January of '74. I got attacked by a patient who almost took out one of my eyeballs so I took off a couple of days and decided to become a school teacher. The Colegio Americano de Guayaquil came to the rescue and enabled me to live in Ecuador for four months and get my teacher's certificate. Before leaving for Ecuador, Susan & I took the train down to New Orleans & we stayed with Jeanie Dowling and her husband Octave Livaudais at their house in the Garden District.


I returned to Tuscaloosa from Ecuador in September of '74 broke & broken hearted. Fortunately the head basketball coach & science teacher at Druid High got caught with his britches down during sixth period so in November I had a science teaching job on the West End of Tuscaloosa.

In '75, I went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans again & took at least three trips to the Smokies. I spent a week hiking the Appalachian Trail above Cades Cove and really fell in love with the mountains.

The Olympics were in Montreal during the summer of '76 so I got this old gal to haul me up to Quebec in her Barracuda. We stayed with Thomas Wheatley and his wife in Hingham, Mass. and then toured Boston and the coast of Maine. We didn't make it to the Olympics but really enjoyed discovering Quebec City & Ille de Orleans. The girl I was with spoke fluent French so we had quite an adventure.

I finished my Masters at the Sea Lab on Dauphin Island in the summer of '77 and celebrated by going out to Austin to meet my old girlfriend Laurie Bensburg & we drove out to Santa Fe in my old '62 Impala. We climbed to the top of Lake Peak and hung out in the cafes on the square in Santa Fe. On our way back to Lubbock, we heard the news that Elvis had died.

Laurie, oldest daughter of Gerry Bensberg

I was getting tired of teaching so I was restless when I attended our DHS 10 Year Class Reunion in the Summer of '78. Ricky Blumenfeld told me about a sales job so I quit my teaching job at the end of July and started my new career as an underwear salesman out in the world "covering the asses of the masses." That didn't work out so another buddy of mine told me about a job out in California so I took off for California. I got to hang out in Austin, Philmont and Santa Fe again and really had a wonderful time in Big Sur and Yosemite but I had nightmares out there so I came back home. I got a scholarship to work on my PhD but in the spring of '79 I dropped out of school and took a job teaching in New Orleans. I got an apartment in Faubourg Marigny and got to hang out in the French Quarter & see why they call New Orleans an ELEPHANT'S GRAVEYARD.

In September of '79, I got my old teaching job back in Tuscaloosa. I married Debbie Emblom and for the next three years I settled down and didn't go anywhere except to Panama City Beach in the summer.

Debbie and I got divorced in '83 so I spent the summer living in Scott Gellerstedt's Gulf Front apartment in Reddington Shores near St. Pete.

Scott and I hatched a business plan to sell Panama hats so in the summer of '84 I returned to Ecuador. I attended the inauguration of President Leon and had a wonderful time except I got my wires crossed with Scott and didn't see him until we both took the same flight back to Miami.

We sold some hats but selling the excellent handmade sweaters Scott had discovered proved to be more lucrative.

In the summer of '85, I quit my teaching job so I could take care of my mother. She died on the day I would have returned to school so after taking care of Mother's funeral arrangements, I went out to Austin to see Laurie again before returning to Ecuador. I returned to Ecuador twice in the fall and winter of '85 and really got the sweater business kicked off in the spring of '86.

I returned to Ecuador twice in '86 to buy handmade sweaters, handbags, belts and earrings.
I also returned to New England again and got to see Thomas Wheatley again. He had moved up to Maine so it was great hanging out with him while I set up the sweater business on the coast of Maine.

During the school year, Scott and I spent all our time selling sweaters in sorority houses all over the South and Midwest. I spent a lot of time at Indiana University, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota,the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue. We worked all the SEC schools and all the girls schools in Virginia and North Carolina.

I returned to Ecuador once in '87 and spent that summer in New England but I was getting burned out being on the road all the time. By Thanksgiving I was hanging out with the girls in Tuscaloosa and by Christmas I was married.

My wife got pregnant right off the bat so in February of '88 we went up to Michigan to unload our merchandise and then took a little honeymoon down to Key West.

On September 14, 1988, my son Christopher was born in Druid City Hospital so for the past 20 years I've been concentrating on raising him making sure that he was able to travel every summer. He's been to a National Scout Jamboree near Washington, D.C., sailed around Abaco Island in the Bahamas, canoed the boundary waters between Minnesota & Ontario, hiked Philmont, camped on the Ontario side of Lake Superior, visited New Mexico with one of his buddies, hiked portions of the Appalachian and attended many national and regional Order of the Arrow meetings as far away as Oklahoma, Iowa State University and Michigan State University.

I've published a bunch of articles on Alabama history and have traveled a lot in South Alabama & Northwest Florida doing research. On one trip from Tuscaloosa to Panama City Beach, I checked my trip meter on my speedometer and saw that we'd traveled 996 miles one way from Tuscaloosa to the beach.

2008 finds me opening an entirely new chapter of my life.
I still have my health so I'm looking forward to all the challenges my new life will bring.

I've still got plenty to accomplish but at least I can be thankful that


From Frank Tanton

Toots and Stevie are my favorate Chromatic Harmonica players... But listen to Howard Levy.
He was the one of the first to use the overblow and overdraw techniques for chromatic playing on the diatonic harmonica... This allow a harmonica player to obtain all the missing chromatic notes in the Richter-tuned diatonic harmonica. You can hear him on the early Bela Fleck & the Flecktones recordings... He's also a world class Pianist...

Check out Howard Levy playing 12 songs in 12 keys all on one C Harmonica...


An interesting take on the times of our lives. You may copy and paste the link or click on it. It will take a little time to load, so be patient. It would make an interesting show at the upcoming reunion. I think you will enjoy it.

Although this is not MY reunion (I am SO MUCH younger!!), I be tryin to help ya. My son, Matt works at Pilcher's Ambulance & a couple of the guys there DJ on the side. I've already got a call into him to get one of them to call me & give me the scoop. They work soooo hard at Pilcher's....see attached photo of Matt & co-worker at one of the wrestling shows here...

Also, I didn't know Lindsay Hall was your cousin either! My lil sis took dance from her for years & became a baton teacher for Lindsay. Laurie (The Duchess) was a majorette at Young Jr & DHS. See attached photos. One is a VERY young Duchess riding on a dune buggy in our National Peanut Festival Parade. She was a part of the Talent unit. The other is the newpaper article announcing her as baton teacher. That one may be difficult to read. And if she finds out that I have sent you these old pics....she will K-I-L-L me dead!!!! And the Queen will be a has been...
Later Tater,

A portion of a Chips Moman interview from

GaRhythm: So for about five years you didn't listen to music? Were you just trying to get reacquainted with Georgia?

Moman: That and just trying to get a better feeling about myself and the music and everything. It was a difficult time really.

GaRhythm: Now you've built a studio and you've started Records. And you've hooked up with [producer / writer] Buddy Buie and J.R. Cobb.

Moman: Well, they were old friends of mine. My secretary [at American] was Sandy Posey. And Buddy Buie got his first hit - "I Take It Back" - that I recorded by Sandy Posey. So, Buddy Buie and I had been friends for a number of years - since the 60s. So we just renewed our friendship when I came back. We hang out, play golf and poker together. We sit up all night and mess up the house!

GaRhythm: Now you're in the Internet era and you're launching an Internet record label. As far as artists, you've got Billy Lee Riley, Billy Joe Royal, and Carl Perkins. Is that who you're starting out with?

Moman: Yeah, these were the first tapes I came to in a vault full of tapes. I cut all new stuff on Billy Joe. I only used a couple of old sides. And I'm really proud of the album. My son and I produced that together and my daughter sings background.

GaRhythm: It's a lot more relaxing to do it that way...

Moman: Yeah, it's a family affair.

GaRhythm: You have said that there's really nothing new in music. What needs to happen in the music industry?

Moman: I think labels right now are starting to have a problem. I think they've got some serious problems. There are some good records out but also a lot of bad records. It's just different. I think we're probably on the verge of something breaking through that's new or some kind of exciting new artist. You can kind of tell when music gets stale. In country music a lot of the sales have dropped off. I think it's time that something new happens. I don't know if I'll come up with it. But I do know that I don't want to continue being involved in records the way that I have been and with the companies running things the way they have.

What I'm going to do is stick with this Internet thing and see if I break through to have a hit record on the Internet. I'm going to be devoted to trying to make it happen. I think it's a great tool. I don't think we have to put up with the record companies dominating everything. Using the artist and writers and producers. Giving our money away while they don't spend any of theirs. So I'm going to stick with this and see if it can possibly happen cause that's what's interesting to me. I'm just going to hang in there and see if I can develop a company that can work on the Internet.

GaRhythm: That's cool! Can I tell people what else is in the vaults? Is there anything that you might want to hint about?

Moman: Well, there's no way I could name you what's in the vaults. I'm just going by years and what kind of heads are on the machines. I have a lot of 3, 4, 8, 16, 24, and 32-track tapes. Right now I'm working with a lot of 24-track stuff. And I'll be going back to the 16 and on back to the 8. And I might get out some of the mono stuff since that's easy. But that's kind of the way I'm doing it because it'd be hard to do it any other way.

Article about Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham

Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham - the legendary partnership that helped shape the entire course of southern soul music – made a live album when they toured the UK as special guests of Nick Lowe in 1998.

That album, called 'Moments From This Theatre' and hailed at the time as "a master class with two great soul men", has long been unavailable. It is, however, now being reissued by Proper Records on Monday 17th April to coincide with Penn & Oldham's tour this summer. The dates - perhaps their last-ever shows in the UK - will be announced in the near future.

The masterfully understated album features soulfully intimate renditions of many of Penn & Oldham's hits, including "I'm Your Puppet," "Sweet Inspiration," "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," "I Met Her in Church" and "Lonely Women Make Good Lovers" — 14 songs in all, nine of them Penn-Oldham collaborations.

'Moments' gives music lovers the opportunity to hear the hits stripped down to their essentials, with nothing but Penn's deeply soulful vocals and acoustic guitar and Oldham's Wurlitzer and occasional singing. With these two consummate musicians, that turns out to be more than enough to cast a spell.

"You can put me and Spooner in a band and we just disappear, and our songs disappear — within a band," says Penn. "That's why we decided to start playin' some gigs where it was just us, where we could show our songwriting."

A native of Vernon, Alabama, Penn moved to the Florence/Muscle Shoals area while still a teenager and assumed the role of lead vocalist in a local group calling itself the Mark V Combo. When asked what kind of music they played, Penn replies, "R&B, man. There wasn't no such thing as rock. That was somethin' you picked up and throwed." He laughs. "Or threw." It was around this time that he penned his first chart record, Conway Twitty's "Is a Bluebird Blue", and became friends with Oldham, whose given name is Dewey Lindon. During the early '60s, Penn began working with Rick Hall at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, first as a songwriter, and then as an artist under the names Lonnie Ray, Danny Lee, and finally Dan Penn.

Around that time, Oldham, who was then going to college in Florence, started cutting classes in order to hang around the studio, and, Hall, recognising the kid's keyboard chops, started hiring him for sessions. Oldham's reputation grew in this musical hotbed, and he worked at other local studios as well, playing the indelible organ part on Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman"—not on a Hammond B3, as is generally thought, but on a Farfisa.

"He had it on low growl," Penn quips. "There's one of them settin' right here in my studio, because of that record." As the keyboard player in the Fame house band, working alongside guitarist Jimmy Johnson, bassist Junior Lowe and drummer Roger Hawkins, Spooner played on groundbreaking albums by Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin, among others.

While at Fame, Oldham left his imprint on the sound and evolution of southern soul music with his inimitable keyboard playing, but he turned out to be just as skilled and distinctive as a songwriter. In the evenings, after the sessions had ended, Oldham would hole up with Penn, who was engineering at Fame and had the key to the studio, on songwriting sessions, and both immediately became aware of what Penn describes as "some sort of chemical deal together," and that led to effort and inspiration. "We'd write two or three songs a night," says Penn. "We were young. We just wrote and wrote and wrote, and we put the demo down, too." Their early collaborations included "I'm Your Puppet," which became a hit in 1965 for James & Bobby Purify, and "Out of Left Field," performed so memorably by Sledge. These boys had a way with metaphor. Together and separately, the pair also wrote hits for Joe Simon, Jimmy Hughes and Wilson Pickett.

"I became a staff keyboard player, and then Dan and I became exclusive writers for Fame Publishing Co. for about three years," Oldham remembers. "It was sort of an in-house thing, where artists were comin' and goin', askin' for songs, and there was sort of a built-in opportunity to try to be commercial songwriters, which both of us wanted to be. So, as fate would have it, we were in a good place at a good time. And we enjoyed the process of writing. We'd demo it, just him and I putting it on tape that night — we'd be tired and worn out from our endeavors, and then, the next day, there was a whole band wantin' to play in the studio, and we'd get them to do the demo. So we'd live with those songs a couple days runnin'. And then, if we were lucky, maybe two or three weeks later, somebody might want to record it, and we'd get to play it again.

"We got a song or two on a lot of albums, and I got to play on all that stuff and have fun," Oldham continues. "And Dan was learning to engineer, partly because he had access to the equipment at night, and he and would do our demos. He was a songwriter who wanted to produce and engineer; I was a songwriter who wanted to play keyboards. So we had similar but different sidelines. And he was singin' a lot, and I was not singin' hardly ever. But we had a good rapport, and the piano-and-guitar thing seemed to work well. I liked piano and he liked guitar. He had a great way with words—not that I didn't participate in the words. He and I both participated in words and music, but he was really there from the gitgo with his approach to words. We never knew where it was gonna come from—an idea or him strummin' the guitar or me strummin' the piano. We had a kaleidoscope of approaches. We'd make it all work, it seemed like. Whatever angle it came from, we'd try to connect on the idea of the song or the chord changes. If we weren't interested, we'd just move on to another one real fast. We'd usually come up with a few ideas, sometimes only one, sometimes none. So we've approached it from all kind of ways."

Says Penn of their process: "When me and Spooner are doin' it, I usually write the lyrics down on paper 'cause he's got his hands full with the piano, so we just get one set of lyrics. That's what I use when I sing the demo, and I always sing the demo, which has helped us get a lot of cuts in the past. Not that I sung it properly, but I sung it to where people could understand it.

According to Penn, the reason people hear touches of country in his brand of R&B is "because I'm an old hillbilly myself. Took me about 30 years to find out I was still a hillbilly. But compared to R&B, country is much easier. You ain't got to struggle. Anybody can sing, 'Because you're mine, I walk the line.' Go try to write 'Out of Left Field'; go find all those chords and what all that means. So a hillbilly I am, but in the '60s I was pretty smart to love black music, 'cause there was a lot of it to love. I loved Jimmy Reed, Bobby Bland, Ray Charles, Little Milton, James Brown… I always respected the black singers because they were always there — we was trying to get there. Knowing that the black singers wanted my songs inspired me."

A number of their classics were written for particular singers. "'Sweet Inspiration' was written for the group the Sweet Inspirations, 'Cry Like a Baby' was written for Alex Chilton's first band, The Box Tops, 'Out of Left Field' was written for Percy Sledge," says Penn. "I either was involved in the production or I was real close to the production teams, so when you're in the middle of a clique, you got the power to either do it right, do it wrong or get out of the way and let somebody else do it.

"But you have an opportunity to score, and sometimes we scored. By that I mean comin' up with a song that was good enough to get on the session. And then, if it came out and was a hit, the score was really complete at that point. So first you had to get on the session, and then the big question was, did it come out? And then the next question was, is it the single? At least back then.

"Some of these songs weren't written that way. 'Do Right Woman' wasn't written for Aretha, nor 'Dark End of the Street' for James Carr. Me and Chips Moman just wrote those songs and we didn't have anybody in mind. We worked great together while we were together—we're so lucky to have those two songs—but we didn't stay together."

In 1967, Penn relocated to Memphis and began producing at Chips Moman's American Recording Studios, with Oldham joining him a few months later. While at American, Penn and Moman co-wrote "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," which Franklin turned into a soul classic, along with "Dark End of the Street," stunningly recorded by James Carr, while Dan and Spooner came up with "Cry Like a Baby" for the Box Tops and later "A Woman Left Lonely," written at Dan's Beautiful Sounds Studio in Memphis, and chosen by Janis Joplin for her classic album Pearl.

When the golden age of southern soul came to an end, Oldham moved to California, where he played with artists like Jackson Browne, the Everly Brothers, Linda Ronstadt and the Flying Burrito Brothers.

Additionally, he played keyboards on a series of acclaimed albums by Neil Young, starting with 'Harvest' in 1972. In 2005, Young tapped Oldham as a linchpin player on his moving new album, 'Prairie Wind'. "He's so soulful and so gospel and so spiritual, he's playing from this special place,' Young says of Oldham. "He's so great, an amazing musician."

Penn and wife Linda relocated to Nashville in the '70s—where he recently co-wrote and produced Bobby Purify's comeback album, Better to Have It, in his basement studio. The session included Oldham on keyboards, naturally; alongside another of Penn's co-writers, Malaco keyboardist Carson Whitsett. The well-received album was released on Proper American in the summer of 2005. Oldham and his wife Karen have been living in Rogersville, Alabama — "close to home," he says—since 1991.

Penn and Oldham have now been friends and cohorts for nearly a half century. And 'Moments From This Theatre' celebrates, with characteristic understatement, this partnership for the ages, providing captivating evidence of their continuing "chemical deal together," which adds up to quiet brilliance.

* * *

Dan Penn talks about some of his hits:

I'm Your Puppet: "We'd done our usual, which was go get a barbecue plate or a burger. Then we came to the studio, and I had just bought a little 12-string guitar that sounded pretty good, so I just started playin' [voices the guitar line from the song], and Spooner just slid in with [he makes the familiar keyboard sound]. Next thing you know, we're into this song. I started writin' stuff down, we cut a little demo on it and me and Rick came up to Nashville and put some strings on it. Actually, it was a record that came out on me, I believe on MGM, but it was called 'The Puppet'—wasn't no 'Your.' My little record didn't do anything, and it went to the demo file. So when producer Don Schroeder brought the Purify brothers in, they went to the demo file and they picked that one out. When they started singin' it, they sang 'I'm your puppet'—they couldn't remember, I guess. And I didn't like it anyway; I thought it was too fast, kind of a rip-off of Sam & Dave, I thought. At least that's what I was thinkin' then. Later on, when it came out and became a hit, I loved it. It was easy to get on board later."

Out of Left Field: "People say it's a baseball metaphor, but I always think it's a farm metaphor, like an old tractor bringin' some hay in. The chords Spooner came up with and the places we went are kinda strange. I just love it 'cause it's a heck of a way to say 'She walked in out of nowhere.'"

Do Right Woman, Do Right Man: In January 1967, Atlantic's Jerry Wexler brought Aretha Franklin to Fame to record "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You." In an interview with British journalist Neil Rushton, Penn recalled the scene. "When she walked in she was like a young queen. Most of the guys in the studio pretended not to be paying too much attention to her, but they were looking at her from the corner of their eyes.

She appeared so calm, but I knew she was scared to death. She just sat down at the piano, calmly took a deep breath, lifted her hand up and then just hit the unknown chord! The instant she did that all the guys stopped eating or talking or whatever and just headed for their guitars and drums to play. You just knew history was going to be made that day."

Wexler okayed the recording of "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man' as a perfect b-side, provided that Penn was able to come up with a usable bridge on the spot. A few minutes into the job, Aretha came up to him. "She said, 'Dan, bay-bee, what you got?' I said, 'This is what I've got, Aretha: "They say it's a man's world, but you can't prove that by me,"' and she comes right back and says, 'I've got the next line: "As long as we're together baby, show some respect for me."' And I said, 'Thank you, Aretha.

But Wexler canceled the session the next day, choosing instead to continue cutting the rest of Aretha's album in New York. Since Moman was playing guitar on the sessions, Penn went along with him to New York. "We went to the Atlantic building up in the elevator and Jerry Wexler says, 'Dan, you and Chips come with me. He took us to the Atlantic studio control room and played us what they done to our little song. Aretha had redone the vocals, they had added her sisters (Erma and Carolyn) and I was hearing this big, big sound. It was astonishing, one of the most amazing moments in my life."

The Dark End of the Street: "We tracked at Hi, and a few weeks later we bought James Carr to American and did his vocal overdubs and I did some background vocals," Penn told Rushton. "We thought James was fantastic; he had made some good records before, and we knew we had made a good record. Did we realize it was going to become hailed as a masterpiece? Not really, but I liked the song and the record a lot. What did I think of Aretha's version? There are no other versions, not even mine!"

Now, Penn explains further: "I've heard other people sing it besides James Carr, but they weren't thinkin' about the lyric. I've heard a lot of 'heady' versions of it, a lot of singers that are mentally right up there, but you can tell that they're not thinkin' about those words. Singers shouldn't be thinkin' of anything except what that lyric means to him. And if that lyric don't mean nothin' to him, he shouldn't be cuttin' that song. That's why writers are so good when they sing their own songs—because those words actually meant somethin' to them somewhere along the line. Then you don't have a chance, really, to mess up. If you start thinkin', you're in trouble."

You Left the Water Running: "Otis Redding did a demo for me on 'You Left the Water Running,'" Penn told Rushton. "I got to be around him the day he cut Arthur Conley on 'Sweet Soul Music' at Fame. Otis was the most effective record producer I have ever seen."

Cry Like a Baby: "Everybody thinks I coaxed [Alex Chilton] into doing a lot of vocal tricks, but it's not true—he just had it. The only thing I ever told that young man to do was sing 'aeroplane' instead of 'airplane' on 'The Letter'—I was just tryin' to make it flow better.

"Anyway, we'd had a big hit on 'The Letter' [which Penn produced], and around 'Neon Rainbow,' the record company started talkin' about wantin' 'The Letter #2,' and I'd go, 'No, I don't do sequels.' I was pretty adamant, and still am, about that. But I did know we had to go uptempo. Nobody would send me any songs and nothin' was comin' to me, so I called Spooner and said, 'Spooner, we're gonna have to write this next Box Tops hit.' 'Ok. When do you wanna start?' I said, 'Well, tomorrow night.' 'OK.' We stayed in the studio two or three days, we'd write stuff down, tear it up. We were doin' everything we could to write a song—stayin' up, drinkin' coffee—but nothin' was happenin' and we were dead. So I said, 'Spooner, I guess we just need to go on home and forget about it. We just didn't catch any this time.' 'OK.'

"So we went over across the street to a place called Porky's to have a meal. We were sittin' there lookin' at each other all dejected, and Spooner just laid his head on the table and said, 'I could just cry like a baby.' I said 'That's it!' I'm sure my eyes must've flashed. I said, 'To hell with the food. Here's some money—just keep it.' By the time we got halfway across the street, I was already singin', 'When I think about the good love you gave me, I cry like a baby.' And then the key was in the lock to open the studio back up, and I said, 'Spooner, you run to the organ, piano or whatever you wanna play; I'll get the lights on and the gear runnin' again. So I got the lights on and he was crankin' up the little organ. I had the mike open, I got one of the machines going, I put on a reel of tape, went out into the studio and we wrote it before that reel of tape was done. After we did that, it was just like we'd had eight hours of sleep. Alex was supposed to be there the next morning at 10 o'clock, so my back was against the wall, and it was just like it dropped out of the sky. The pickers came in, I gave it to Alex, everybody loved it and we cut it in a few takes. So there's nothin' like right now. When you try your best, I think the Lord just gives you somethin', you know?" Penn adds, "I was so happy and proud to have produced 'Cry Like a Baby' another million seller."

Friday, March 14, 2008

RR.....Dan Penn,Spooner Oldham,and Bobby Emmons, have been friends of mine since Hitler was
a Boy Scout.

They are all great writers and musicians and have been writing and recording since ole' Betsy was a calf.

J.R. and I were cutting a demo on ROCK BOTTOM at Chips Moman's studio in Nolensville and
Emmons was playing keyboards. In the first verse of the song,Bobby made a mistake and stopped the take.
I said,"Bobby,what's wrong?"
and he said,"I just ran out of talent".

We all laughed till our sides hurt.

Dan and Spooner are a pair to draw to. If you get a chance to see or meet them, don't miss it.
You'll see an extroverted Penn wearing overalls and singing his butt off and an introverted Spooner
playing soulful keys.
These guys are old school,just like me,but I'm afraid we are a dying breed.
The music business we knew was
fun and carefree.
I miss it.
I hope the new guys can bring it back.

Keep Rockin',

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hey y'all:


I live out here on
I still gotta get it done-


Below this intro message you will see the part of the minutes of Tuesday's organizational meeting of our Class of '68 Reunion Committee which deals with


(sorta like what you did when you met the Sheriff face to face on the driver's side window back in '67 &
right at that moment
you just happened to be sitting on top of a carload full of booze)

Saturday night ( July 27, 2008)
will have a part of it's reunion budget dedicated to expenses for a D.J. & P. A.
(I need references & the cost$

but Friday night July 26 is the kicker.

All I can think of
is for some of you cats going ahead and getting your group booked at one of the watering holes
& hope that the participants in
show up with an enthusiastic audience to occupy the front of your stage.

Once I get your pitch, I'll be in
to pitch
so that maaaaaaaaaaybe
we might be able to swing a "guarantee".

As most of you well know,
I've got enough Hell in my life right now
& I ain't looking fo' no mo'

Please feel free to email me with your suggestions &
other unwanted comments.


III. Friday night is left to Robert to inform us as to a place where there will be music for us to gather and enjoy.

Friday night of the weekend will be pretty much “on your own.”

Robert Register is working with Dothan musicians of the 60s to put together an event on the Friday night of our event for us all together wherever that occurs.

The committee requests that Robert Register investigate a DJ for our Saturday night event that might co-ordinate with his program. (This DJ's P.A. will need to support a Power Point presentation-ed.)


here's what Cindy Long Hudson writes about remembering your grandmother. Charles Headley's back yard joined ours. Cindy was the leader of our "hood". Damn, she made us laugh when we didn't think we could.
Never knew Lindsay Hall was your cousin, either.
-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------
From: "Cindy Hudson"

Subject: Re: garage sale
Date: Thu, 13 Mar 2008 23:02:18 +0000
I remember well where she lived.
I spent many summer hours on her front porch.
She was always making pound cakes.
She lived at the end of Jeff, one house away from the corner on left hand side if coming from Porter Square.
White house with front porch.
Next to Charles Headley. He committed suicide years ago. He was a nice person.
Lindsey Hall was her niece and would visit, always bringing her tap shoes. Alan Zeigler is coming to Dothan on Tuesday and is staying the nite with us,

image courtesy of

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hey y'all:

Ain't it great they taking care of bidness...
As of now,

we begin.

This comes from Jerry Henry AT PLANET WEEKLY!

Eddie McNees: Specialized Collector

Wallace Daniel Pennington was born November 16, 1941 in Vernon, Alabama.

Dan Penn (Nashville super producer and Phil Campbell, Alabama native, Billy Sherrill suggested he shorten his name) is a singer, songwriter, record producer and sometimes guitar player who co-wrote many soul hits of the 1960's including "Dark End of the Street" and "Do Right Woman" (with Chips Moman) and "Out of Left Field" and "Cry Like A Baby" (with Spooner Oldham).

Penn has also produced hits such as "The Letter" by The Box Tops, amongst others.

Though he is considered to be one of the great white soul singers, Penn has a meager recorded output, preferring the relative anonymity of songwriting and producing.

Penn spent much his teens and early twenties in the Muscle Shoals area. He was a regular at Rick Hall's FAME Studios as a performer, songwriter and producer. It was during his time with FAME that Penn cut his first record, "Crazy Over You" in 1960, and wrote his first hit, "Is a Bluebird Blue?" which was recorded by Conway Twitty in the same year.

The success of "I'm Your Puppet," a #6 pop hit for James and Bobby Purify, convinced him that songwriting was a worthwhile (and lucrative) career choice.

In early 1966, Penn moved to Memphis, began writing for Press Publishing Company, and worked with Chips Moman at his American Studios. Their intense and short-lived partnership produced some of the best known and most enduring songs of the genre. Their first collaboration, the enduring classic "Dark End of the Street", was first a hit for James Carr and has been recorded by many others since, notably by Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstandt.

A few months later, during the legendary recording sessions that saw Atlantic Record's Jerry Wexler introduce Aretha Franklin to FAME Studios and her first major success, the pair wrote "Do Right Woman" in the studio for her. In early 1967 Penn produced "The Letter" for The Box Tops.

He and long-time friend and collaborator Spooner Oldham also wrote a number of hits for the band, including "Cry Like a Baby".

Penn continued writing and producing hits for numerous artists during the 60s and finally released a record of his own, Nobody's Fool, in 1972.

He was coaxed into the studio again in 1993 to record the acclaimed "Do Right Man" which saw him reunited with many of his friends and colleagues from Memphis and Muscle Shoals.

He now lives in Nashville and continues to write with Oldham and other contemporaries such as Donnie Fritts, Gary Nicholson and Norbert Putnam. He and Carson Whitsett have had their collaborations recorded by Irma Thomas and Johnny Adams and often teamed with writers Jonnie Barmett and later, Hoy Lindsey.

The Penn/Whitsett/Lindsey team are responsible for Solomon Burke's "Don't Give Up On Me", and Penn produced 2005's Better to Have It by Bobby Purify that featured twelve songs from the team. He and Spooner Oldham also tour together as their schedules permit.

Eddie McNees is the second generation to operate Town & Country jewelry and clothing in metropolitan Vernon, Alabama. Eddie is a collector of Dan Penn recordings whether by Dan or someone else.

He has 139 different songs, 211 versions of those songs by 70 different artists on 91 CD's. His collection is growing weekly. He orders most through Randy at Northport's OZ Music.

The day I interviewed Eddie, he was excited because Dan was releasing a new CD the next day. He has other music, like 30 Bob Dylan CD's, but Dan being his main focus.

Dan told Eddie that he considers Bob Dylan the best songwriter that ever was.

Eddie is also a close friend of Dan Penn.

He was looking forward to traveling with Dan the week after our interview. Dan was to perform at the Capital City Oyster Bar in Montgomery
and then on to the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida. Both were raised in Vernon, but Dan was older and had moved away by the time Eddie became a teenager. Eddie had always known who Dan was and had always followed his music, but didn't get to meet him until one of the frequent trips Dan made back to Vernon to see his mother. In the past 15 years they have become very close. Eddie says, "Dan is an interesting guy and a great American."

Even with Eddie's great love for music, he never learned to play an instrument. His brother plays the guitar, his sister plays the piano and organ. Eddie says, "I play the CD."

When he was only 6 or 7 years old, he asked his older brother, Pat, why was the name under the singers name smaller and in parentheses? His brother told him it was the song writer. It amazed him that the singer was often not the one that wrote the song.

That's when he started to become fascinated with songwriters.

The first collectible he got was Janis Joplin's Pearl album with Dan and Spooner Oldham's song "A Woman Left Lonely." Spooner Oldham had pitched the song to Janis; she liked the song and recorded it. She sent a copy to Dan and Spooner and they both liked her interpretation. Spooner went to see Janis to tell her that he and Dan really liked her recording. She thanked him for coming to tell her. Spooner told her that we never know how long we are going to be on this earth and that he felt it was important to let her know of their gratitude. Janis died that night of a heroin overdose.

Not only does Eddie have Janis' version of "A Woman Left Lonely" but also has Dan's, Erma Thomas and Cat Power's.

His rarest recording is Dan singing "Blind Leading The Blind" which is a demo that he found at Dan's mother-in-law's house in Vernon (Dan married his high school sweetheart, Linda and they are still happily married). He brought the demo to Dan's attention and now Dan is adding it to his set list because Bobby Emmons is playing with him and Bobby was the co-writer on that song.

Bobby is from Corinth, Mississippi and is a great songwriter/musician in his own right playing with Bill Black Combo and later a session player on many of Elvis projects, and toured with The Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristoferson) for about 10 years.

Included in Eddie's odd finds is Ester Philips singing "Cheater Man." Her delivery is much like Janis Joplin. Another odd offering is rapper Trick Daddy's version of Dan's "I Want To Sang."

Eddie told me the song most played on radio is "Cry Like a Baby" by the Box Tops. It has been played between 2 and 3 million times. He got to meet Box Tops great Alex Chilton when he played at House of Blues' Ponderosa Stomp event in New Orleans. Eddie had traveled there with Dan, who also played for the Stomp. Some are willing to pay big bucks for Dan's music. Recently a 45 rpm was brought for almost $1200 for a seller in Argentina on Ebay.

He has 14 different versions of "Dark End Of The Street" with James Carr being the definitive version. His collection is too large to list but three that were surprising, Marrilee Rush, Al Kooper and Three Dog Night.

When Al Kooper was doing his song "Going, Going, Gone, he got stuck for lyrics and called Dan to help him out. When he called, Dan told him "I will be over right after my welding class." Al told him, "I am serious and I need you now because I am in the middle of a session." Dan repeated "I will come to the studio after my welding class." That's exactly what happened. Dan went to the studio after welding class, gave Al the lyrics he needed and saved the day for Al. Of course he got half of the songwriting royalties.

Vernon, Alabama is in an area that has been a hot bed for musicians. Big Ben Atkins is from Vernon. Big Ben and Pat Turner perform with the Class of '65 band when they play for the area's street fairs. Ean Evans is the bass player for Lynyrd Skynyrd and lives close to Columbus, Mississippi, he took Leon Wilkerson's place. Eddie used to date his sister-in-law. Many session musicians from that area can still be found in Nashville and Memphis.

Sometimes Eddie tells Dan about his songs being recorded that Dan does not even know about. Like the time he asked Dan about Arthur Alexander's hit "Baby, I Love You." Dan told him he didn't write that song. Eddie told him the CD he had said that Dan and Spooner wrote the song. He gave the CD to Dan to read while he went and put it on the player. He heard it, remembered it, and told Eddie, "Man, I haven't thought of that song for 40 Years."

Dan doesn't know how many songs he has written. Eddie's research shows BMI pays him on 363 songs played on the radio. When he told Dan those figures, Dan told him that he probably has twice that many that have never been recorded.

Dan wears overalls most of the time and has a passion for restoring old cars. His new CD is called Junk Yard Junkies which is a tribute to vehicle restoration addicts.

Dan has been living in the Oak Hill area of Nashville since about 1980. The reason he lives there is because it is on Nashville's southside. He didn't want to have to travel through Nashville when he was coming home to Vernon.

When he comes home to Vernon he is not thinking about music, his mind is on putting one of his cars back together. He has about 50 cars in various stages of disrepair. His latest project is a '54 Chevy like the one he owned back when.

Eddie regrets not having a recorder when he took a trip with Dan and Bobby Emmons from Nashville to gig in Chicago and Columbus, Ohio and back to Nashville. That entire trip the radio was never turned on because Dan and Bobby were reminiscing of days past, what had happened to people they had known, what they did here and there. Eddie heard music history riding down that road.

He told a great story of Dan going into a car dealership to look at a Corvette in his overalls with dirty hands from his restoring projects. The salespeople didn't want to wait on him until he pulled a huge royalty check from his pocket, then literally the doors were opened for him to test drive that floor model.

Stories about Delbert McClinton, and on and on.

Last year an African-American woman was shopping in his store. As she shopped she sang along with every song that came on Eddie's sound system. They were all Dan Penn songs by various artists. She sang along with Percy Sledge, James Carr, Aretha Franklin, Bobby Blue Bland even Joe Simon. Finally Eddie asked her if she liked the music. She said she loved it. Eddie asked if she knew that all the songs were written by one guy and he was raised in Vernon. She asked how old he was. Eddie told her that he was in his mid-60's. She wondered if her mother knew him. Eddie said that she should know that he is a white man. Her jaw dropped and she said "You mean that a white man wrote "It Tears Me Up," "Do Right Woman," "Nine Pound Steel" and "The Dark End Of The Street?" She went on to say "Well he may be white but he's sure got a black ancestry! There is sure some black blood running through his veins."

There is a great story that Dan and Spooner tell on the Scott Boyer Benefit DVD about the writing of "Cry Like A Baby." They'd written hits for the Box Tops and the time had come to provide that next hit. They go into the studio 3 days before the Box Tops are scheduled to arrive to record. For 3 days and nights they worked, they had material but not of the hit quality. Then on the morning of the Box Top session they go across the street to a restaurant, tired, whipped and beaten down. They order breakfast and are waiting on it to be served, trying to decide what to say when it comes time to face the music with the Box Tops.

Spooner feeling dejected puts his head in his hands and says, "I could cry, cry like a baby." A light goes off in Dan's head and he shouts "that's it, that's out song!" They get up and pay for the breakfast that they never see and return to the studio. There they are still writing "Cry Like A Baby" when the Box Tops arrive.

If you want to help Eddie find some of those rare ones, he is looking for Joe Cocker's version of "Don't Give Up On Me." The story goes that Joe listened to Solomon Burke's version and said it was great but he wanted Dan Penn's demo. They got the demo for Joe and that was his inspiration for his version. According to Dan, it is very close to his demo. It has never been released in this country and he is still looking for the import.

Eddie always does something special on his birthday like scuba diving, kite flying, or skateboarding down Red Mountain in Birmingham. He says it was a real cool ride until the crash.


A good friend of mine wrote a story in Planet Weekly

about a cat who collects Dan Penn stuff & the article includes a story about you.

This stuff is TOTAL RUMOR
but it makes good copy in a biweekly entertainment rag in a college town.

I'd really appreciate it if you would read this & respond to it &

Oh before I tell you your story I gotta tell you this story from THE POSSUM DEN LODGE #2
We're all in there at Happy Hour after the news broke and everybody's going-

"Damn, Robuht! Go look that gull up- My gracious, $5000 an hour! I gotta see that!"

"Yeah, me too"

I said, "OK! OK. All I know is ALL THIS violates the PAKE REALTY COMPANY RULE of never paying more than $20 for a hand job!"

B.T. replied, "Hell, I'll give her five dollars just to talk dirty to me
& I'll take care of the hand job!"

Tee hee!

HERE GOES with your story:

...When Al Kooper was doing his song "Going, Going, Gone", he got stuck for lyrics and called Dan to help him out. When he called, Dan told him, "I will be over right after welding class."

Al told him,"I am serious and I need you now because I am in the middle of a session."

Dan repeated,"I will come to the studio after my welding class."

That's exactly what happened.

Dan went to the studio after welding class, gave Al the lyrics he needed and saved the day for Al.

Of course, he got half of the song writing royalties.

Ok, boss man that's the quote.

Hope it rubs a couple of memory cells fo' ya &
gets us broke ass barefooted rebel sons of bitches a response.


There will be a benefit for Norman at Cowboy's Night Club April 13 (Sun. @ 2-6pm)

image courtesy of

Norman's widow Pam, has a lot of medical and funeral expenses and no insurance but a lot of Normans' former bandmates and friends will be jamming there and donations of $10 and up will go to help defray Pams' debt.

Anyway for more info, e-mail me @,

David Adkins

image courtesy of
John Rainey's daughter Tara , Kevin Scott, David Adkins

I just noticed in the picture of Tara and David Adkins, Laura Scott's son Kevin
was unidentified. Thought I'd give you a heads up.
Kevin is an extremely talented bass player, like his grandfather Jay Paul Scott.
His uncle is Jay Scott.

Kevin & my son Drew are friends.


Morning Robert,

I'm sorry L. can't do it.
Well, what's plan "B"?

I don't know of anyone else in our class that are ministers but a couple
of suggestions would be M. (a Bishop) who will be there with
M. or Fr. L. T., my minister who is an Anglican priest,
who will be there with me.
I personally think, of these two,
would be the better choice since he knows everyone and vice versa.
bring this up in the meeting today if you like.


A message from LaJuana from Wicksburg:

Thought you might find this interesting.
I was doing a web search hoping to find a pic of the old Bob-a-Lu Roller Rink that, as I recall, may have been near the Skyview Drive-in (?) and came upon this. He mentions some of what I think are your old stomping grounds.


Thanks for digging up the video of the Hang Out.

I can still feel the sand underneath bare feet and the coolness of the concrete floor and shaded pavilion.
I think I even fell in love with some stranger who was sitting on the railing "clicking" his Zippo.
Aaah, nursing home memories..


Like two big birds spiraling together skyward in a thermal updraft,
we feel the push from the rushing wind
& as we glance over our shoulders at one another,
we know that life has brought us back together once more.

There is a "common sense" between us;
a telepathy that comes from sharing the same heritage
but now we're moving into an unknown territory
that promises so many rewards.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


That piece about Ideal Bakery across the ditch from John Rainey's house brought back memories.
John Rainey
and I would sit out front in my old Chevy and write songs. We thought every thing we wrote
was a hit and couldn't wait to get out of Dothan to share it with the waiting world. After traveling all over the
world I'm convinced that southeast Alabama is God's country and like John Rainey, I came back home. When
I drive down Main St. and pass the place it all started, I miss him badly. He was one of a kind and without his
positive attitude and encouragement, those songs in my head might have never seen the light of day. David now
carries the torch we lit. Like his brother, he is super talented and the best picker in Dothan. I know John Rainey would be proud of him.


left to right: Dave Robinson, Amos Tindall, Bobby Goldsboro, John Rainey Adkins, Gerald Hall

top to bottom: John Rainey Adkins, Bobby Goldsboro, Amos Tindall, Dave Robinson

Okay Robert,

Now you are really opening up the can of worms.

We lived across the street from Amos Tindell, so we were "blessed" with "The Webbs" music wafting through opened windows & doors.
We thought that was some wild stuff, back then.
My mother thought it was so funny when she'd drive by and one of the band members would amp their familiar cricket sound. It would startle every driver who stopped at the intersection.

I still see Amos occasionally.
His hair is no longer pony-tailed down his back but his familiar gait is the same.

I wonder if he still makes that cricket sound.



I'm pretty sure the cricket noises came from Goldsboro. He still does them along with other special sounds with his cartoon characters, The Swamp Critters.


Hey y'all:

O.K., this gonna be my fristest mini shout out to the DHS Nation about the MaryWilliepedia Project.

I'm not gonna blind copy the email addresses tonight so everybody can see each other's email address.

image courtesy of
Here's the frist image I have found for THE PLACES IN THE HEART PAGE at Claire's Class of 68 website.

It's Blue Spring in Marianna last summer & that's my sister Becky's daughter Lana in the red bathing suit. She's the lifeguard.
Family tradition.

I could not find the old image of the Skyview that used to be on the Web so I'm gonna hire my son to pack all my stuff up and haul it over to Archie's Whorehouse so I can discover some ancient DHS CLASS OF '68 treasures.

I was born and raised in Dothan, Alabama,
and I can remember many evenings going to
the Skyview Drive-in Theater, which was
owned and operated by the Davis family, who,
at that time, owned and ran ALL the theaters
in Dothan. This was back in the 60,s ..

I remember Rufus, the son, seeing me out
walking one day, and he turned around and
picked me up in an exact replica of Herbie-
from The Love Bug movie that had been loaned
to them by the production company, so that
they could drive around town to advertise
the Love Bug film, which had just opened.

Steven Gellerstedt,
Lakeland, Florida

image courtesy of Old Captain Dean who's down in Honduras rite now.

From: "Sharman Ramsey" >

I must rectify a glaring omission in Robert’s list of places to remember.

It is definitely right up there in my family’s list of “happy places.”

My sister and my brother agree.

It isn’t a birthday without a visit to (drum roll) Ideal Bakery.[located next to Northcutt's on West Main Street]

I plan to send Rolen’s[who owned Ideal Bakery-ed.] in to the Food Channel as one of the must visit places in the USA . Helen Rolen was a magician with lard. Nowhere can one get an icing like that…except Rolen’s. Mr. Rolen has passed away, but Hellen upon occasion still ices cakes. I know, I’ve called up there and the girl who answered would quote her saying: “I know how Sharman likes them.” I assume Guy has learned the craft from his mother, because in spite of Helen’s retirement, the cakes are still superb.

My mother threw great birthday parties and a Rolen’s cake was ALWAYS the centerpiece. Those cakes represent brightly colored balloons, gaily beribboned presents, happy times and good friends.

Once early in our marriage I said to my husband, “No birthday cake for me this year. I’m dieting.”

He actually believed me and didn’t buy me a Rolen’s birthday cake. How could he have taken me seriously? How had I married someone who had absolutely no clue about what was important in life? I mean, really, what does that say to your wife when you don’t buy her a birthday cake?

And you knew that was her absolutely favorite thing in the whole wide world.

The thing that if someone asked what she wanted for a last meal she would say…a Rolen’s birthday cake with extra icing between the layers and lots of pretty pastel roses.

When I married my husband I thought he was a really sensitive guy.

I was almost a college drop out. It was my first day of class, the last day of drop and add. I was supposed to have my pledge class picture at the University of Alabama made. But what had I done all day? Run back and forth over the quadrangle at the University of Alabama dropping a math class and picking up something else. I was physically exhausted, traumatized over not getting to be in the group picture of my pledge class, and sure that if this was college I was simply not up to the challenge.

So, I was standing at the bank of phones downstairs at Martha Parham Hall with the phone in my hand to call my mother and tell her to come and get me when I decided to call Joe first. (No cell phones then. Just the phone in the hall at the fraternity house. That speaks to how traumatized I was because GIRLS DID NOT CALL BOYS back then. But, since I was dropping out of college it didn’t matter if his fraternity brothers thought I was FAST.)

He said, “I’ll be right there.

“But, I want to go home,” I sobbed.

“Just hold on. I’m coming.”

So I went outside and sat forlornly on the steps. He drove up with his roommate and said, “We’ll go get some ice cream.”

My college career was salvaged by Rocky Road and what I thought was a sensitive guy.

That was the extent of his sensitivity.

“I should have called my mother,” I thought when that birthday cake did not appear on my birthday the first year we were married. A sensitive guy would KNOW that a birthday cake from Rolen’s was a requirement for a loving caring man. When a woman says she needs to diet, a sensitive man would say, “You’re just right for me the way you are,” and produce a Rolen’s birthday cake. Right?

Fortunately, my mother still loved me and came through for me. My marriage was saved. After two pieces of cake, my sugar level was up and I could stay in the marriage just as I had stayed in college.

My daughters have been well trained. They make sure Mama gets a Rolen’s birthday cake on her birthday.

So I must add Ideal Bakery to our list of places near and dear to our hearts. Rolen’s cakes are unique. They recall the taste of home and happiness here in our fair city of Dothan , Alabama .

By the way, I got engaged at “Little PC near Newton .” The sensitive guy took me and a bucket of Kentucky Fried down to the creek and produced a gorgeous ring. It was June and hot as the dickens. Little kids splashed around us.

But love bloomed on that creek bank.

Sharman Ramsey

Well, thank you so much for the "kudos" - however, let me clue you in on a few facts.
"Rolen's Bakery" was built 36 years ago with Guy being the supposed owner. His parents remained there until his fathers death. His mother, Helen, decorated cakes (not baked in the actual kitchen) and has since, thankfully, retired for over 3 years, now. While she was and is still a very talented cake decorator, we also employ 3 other women, one in particular who has perfected the craft beyond belief.
And, if you've noticed any improvements in the overall appearance, it is because of the fact that Guy and I are finally the actual owners and decision makers. Any credits for all hard work, baking or otherwise go strictly to Guy.
True, his parents did own Ideal Bakery, next to Northcutt's Drugs on Main St. but sold that business to Ray Rutland, Patty Simpson's father back in early 1969.
It has been 36 years of Guy's hard work compared to his parent's 20-year ownership of Ideal Bakery.
So, Sharman your wonderful childhood memories are of Ideal Bakery, not Rolen's Bakery.
I lived on Herring St. and my sister & I would walk to Ideal, get a cream horn and go next door to Northcutt's for a vanilla coke - all for less thant 25 cents!
Just recently, I mentioned that memory to Guy and told him how we would stand on that concrete railing over the creek and smell the bread baking. He said he never even noticed it had a smell. Imagine that.
I didn't have a clue back then that I'd one day marry that man that "smelled so good"! (that's also the same man that I could choke the life out of sometimes!)
see you tomorrow,

And on the other side of the ditch was the house that John Rainey
and David Adkins grew up in. I used to sit in their front yard and listen to the music coming out of their living room.

My Grandmother lived on Jeff Street so I have great memories of playing in the ditch while walking through Porter's Woods to get a comic book or strawberry ice cream soda at Northcutt's or a chili cheese burger at Buddy's or a doughnut at Ideal Bakery.

We found stashes of booze and moonshine in Porter's Woods all the time. The bootleggers built little treehouses and had walkie talkies so they could keep up with John Law.

I think a lot of these guys caddied at the Country Club because they made a driving range out of the field that was on the northeast side of Porter's Woods.

Northcutt's was the reason I had one of the world's best comic book collections until my Mother threw them all away. It's also where I found Lurie News Agency on Dusy Street which saved me in all three years of high school with Julia Juathena Nall, Julia Bedsole and Mary Willie Jones. Mr. Lurie would let us go in his warehouse and pick out any issue Classics Illustrated comics we wanted & they always had titles that just happened to be on some stupid DHS English teacher's reading list.(Going to Lurie's was also a lame ass excuse to visit Frank)

Whew, Ideal Bakery opened up some windows into the past..


Sunday, March 09, 2008


David & Roberto,

I would love to attend the benefit for Norman, but
will not be able to. Is there a way I can buy 10
tickets get a radio station to give them away for
publicity? Or some other way to send money? I'm sure
there are many like me who cannot attend but would
like to help.

My father, Vic Hodges was a photographer and made
publicity photos for half the bands in Dothan. He knew
Norman well. Years ago, Norman and Pam asked him to
visit their home and photograph some of their cats for
a newspaper article about their pet shelter. Norman
and Pam were incredibly warm and unselfish.

I was too young to see Norman's bands in most of the
venues he played, but I was a regular for a while
during the 70's at a bar (BustStop?)
in the old
Greyhound bus station downtown.
Concrete Bubble was
the house band.
I believe Danny Tedder was the
drummer, Doug Morris was the bassist, maybe there was
a piano player or a rhythm guitarist. and the lead
guitarist was a guy whose name I forget, but he lived
next door to my parents on Glenwood St. He was a huge
guy so apparently not to tip the stage, he was on one
end and Doug Morris was on the other.

I haven't seen
Doug in years , but my sister saw him when my father
died, and she said he was looking like Jesse Ventura's

The guitarist was great and could play ZZ
Top's LaGrange note for note and also sang a perfect
lead vocal. Norman had an incredible original voice,
but also had an uncanny knack of sounding like other
singers. He could sound like Van Morrison, Elton John,
almost anyone. "Bennie & the Jets" was a house

The BusStop was also a strip joint in the early 70's
named the BustStop. What a great pun. That was a time
when the Baptists had a momentary lapse from faith and
allowed sinning within the Circle.

As I said, my father was a photographer and took
hundreds of publicity photos for many Dothan bands. He
died in 2002. He had a room in his studio full of
negatives and proofs dating back to the 50's. I was
home a while back and asked Mother what happened to
all of them, and she said she and my sister threw them
all away a year after he died. Lost treasures. He also
had a 45 or two by Norman. Can't find them either.
Maybe someone somewhere had copies?

I remember one photograph well. It was of Obie Lee and
the "Indians." Obie (with a Mohawk haircut) was
sitting on the floor with his legs crossed Indian
style holding a peace pipe (wonder what was in that
pipe?) while his band kneeled in a semi-circle around
him. One of the "Indians" was Dean Daughtry. I'm not
sure of the year ... maybe pre-Candymen, or perhaps
post-Candymen and pre-Atlanta Rhythm Section?

Jerry Keel once described Obie Lee as not needing a
microphone, because he could sing as loud as any of
the amplified instruments. If he was 20 years younger,
he could have been one of those blues shouters like
Wynonie Harris or Big Joe Turner who had crappy
microphones and had to sing over a big band or a large
combo of piano, guitars, bass, sax, trombones,
trumpets and drummers. Definitely had to have a good
set of lungs.

During the early 70's Robert Dean (Jimmy's brother)
opened a nightclub, Checkers, in the old Lum's
Restaurant on Montgomery Highway and Cherokee.

specialty was hot dogs steamed in beer.

That was a
time when the Baptists had a momentary lapse from
sinning and did not allow sinning within the Circle,
so Lums went out of business pretty soon.

Anyway, Obie
Lee played at Checkers occasionally. I was there one
night and Obie asked Wilbur Walton to join them on
stage. They did an absolutely phenominal version of
"The Thrill is Gone." That was one of the best live
performances I have ever seen by anyone! Wish we had a
portable digital recorder back then.

Lament over more lost treasures.

You all take care,

Jim Hodges