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Misty welcoming friends to our motorhome.
NEW JACK AND MISTY LOGO UPDATE! Thanks to Ann Collins for smoothing the edges! :) --Jack and Misty. (P.S.: Click on logo to see it at full size! -- Jerry.)

April 5, 2020... To our readers at home and around the world: As you are, we're busy trying to cope with this pandemic, so we're sending you a few column reruns, the cheerier ones. Love, Jack & Misty.
May 24th, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

CHEERING US ALL UP. HOW I BECAME A MUSICIAN. God looked down and said, "I think you need some help getting girls." My first instrument was the bassinet. GOOD MORNING: I leapt out of bed, banged my toe on a chair, did a two minute pain dance, and passed out. A goldfish has a memory of three seconds, or was it..., no. I forget. "And those seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Nietzsche The old guy said, "How 'bout a date, baby?" She said, "Get lost." He said, "I AM lost!" Everybody has his own idea of a good time. A moth likes to bang his head on a porch light. I like Karaoke Bars. I could eat one right now. My Little Golden Book: "Strangers Have the Best Candy." I said, "The world is getting overpopulated." Misty said, "I wonder what's causing it?" I said to the lady at the bookstore, "Can you direct me to the self-help section?" She said, "Wouldn't that sorta defeat the purpose?" "IRRITABLE VOWEL SYNDROME": A Fear of the alphabet. HEADLINE: "China may be using the sea to hide their submarines!" Misty just said, "There are two mockingbirds out there mocking each other." If you swim in the sea and a fish bites your knee THAT'S A MORAY. I didn't know Misty was outside when I locked the door. She knocked. I looked through the window at her and said, "Who is it?" They say all life is precious. I wouldn't give you two cents for a fruit fly. After all these years I'm still thinking about the sexy girls in my high school. After all these years those girls are thinking about Bingo. Misty said, "What do you want to do on your birthday?" I said, "Sit up." My Aunt Bess once posed nude for a famous photographer. He never looked up from his newspaper, and she was barred for life from the lobby of the Biltmore Hotel. Misty was sniffling. She said, "I'm all stuffed up!" I said, "By Elvis Presley." I said, "CAN I HAVE A BURGER AND FRIES?" The lady said, "This is a library." I whispered, "can i have a burger and fries?" I just bought a camouflage cap and I can't find it. A side effect of my new medicine is Involuntary tap dancing. I said to the pilot, "Did we land or were we shot down?" We watched Star Trek tonight. The Enterprise was attacked by Kardashians. One night we checked into a lodge on top of a mountain at Lake Arrowhead, California. We got up the next morning, pulled the cord on the drapes that covered a whole wall, and they opened onto a wall-sized picture window. Outside, the mountain forest was covered with two feet of new snow, without a sign of life, except for some rabbit tracks. The pine cones were as big as footstools. A real-life Christmas card... In California… in June. Copyright © May 24, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


May 17th, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

SEASONAL THOUGHTS. Autumn is my favorite time of year… a season of moods. The first chill after summer has worn out its welcome... That’s when I start to feel the holidays coming on. Not that we do any big celebrating these days… but it’s the remembering of celebrations past, and those who were with us during good times. The empty places at our table. I write more songs during the remnants of the year… when emotions are nearer to the surface, the past is just over our shoulder, and old voices whisper in our ear. ONE WINTER, when it was minus 35 degrees and windy in Minnesota, Misty and I stayed in a cement floor cabin on a lake shore. I heard what sounded like whale sounds. It was the frozen lake groaning as it expanded. We had recently had such bad times that we were thankful to be there with friends close by at Christmas. We didn't mind the cold. When we played Walt Disney World Roy Clark and Hank Williams, Jr. were at the ends of the park, and we were at the center stage. We were assigned a guide for the day. He looked 12 years old. Misty thought he was a boy and called him honey and sweetie, and he liked it. Turns out he was a Disney Vice President. He must have started out as a duck and worked his way up. After the week's shows Boots Randolph threw a party for the artists. Later in the party, there was some excitement going on at the ballroom door when some medics rushed in with a stretcher. Roy Clark grinned, raised his glass, and said goodbye to everybody. Then he made himself comfortable on the stretcher, and was carried out to the ambulance. He was late and had a plane to catch. FOLLOW THE BOUNCIN' BALL. Got no reason, Got no rhyme. Kickin' a can down the road o' time. Follow the Bouncin' Ball, Sing an old song. I don't mind if you tag along. Saturday matinee, give away a funny book, free of charge. Also a CrackerJack. Read "Red Ryder", "Little Beaver". Trade it for a Dizzy Dean baseball card. Down to the roundhouse, Look at the trains. Up on the rooftop, spottin' airplanes. Follow the Bouncin' Ball, Sing and old song. I don't mind if you tag along. (Words & music by Jack Blanchard.) CHRISTMAS ENOUGH. 'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the park, One trailer was leaky and covered with tarp. On the wall were two cards where you taped them up. By the light of a candle I poured us a cup. Our tree on the table was scrawny and thin... A foot and three quarters of plastic and tin. The carolers sang on our clock radio, It's the thought, after all, that counts, as you know. The snow on the window, the smell of the pine, Were sprayed from a can, but we didn't mind. No money, no shopping, no last minute rush. Christmas with love is Christmas Enough. Copyright © May 17, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. "Follow The Bouncin' Ball" and "Christmas Enough" lyrics by Jack Blanchard. © Jack Blanchard Songs (BMI). All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


May 10th, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

CHANGING MY NAME. (This happened in 2010.) Life is getting weirder. Last week I went to renew my driver's license. For some reason they now require the following: Your birth certificate; Your old driver's license; Two proofs of residence; Your Social Security card; A marriage license, whether or not you've ever been married; Medical records with your name and birth date; A pint of blood; And other proofs that you exist. Misty went with me to renew hers. Our birthdays are close together. She had to prove that her last name was now Blanchard. This is true: An 84 year old friend of mine was recently required to provide an affidavit swearing that he and his elderly wife were actually married, and not living in sin. It was to prove that her last name was legally the same as his. We're all under suspicion. Anyway... They noticed that my driver's license and Social Security card said "Jack Blanchard", but my birth certificate said "John Blanchard". This made me a suspect and they wouldn't renew my license. They told me to go to the Social Security office 25 miles across the city, and get them to change my S.S. card to "John". Misty was sent on a similar mission. The next day was 85 degrees in the shade here in Florida, and about double that in our car because the A/C Freon was low. We drove an hour and waited on a steel bench for two hours. We couldn't share our anger with any of the crowd, because they were as mad as we were.. Misty got a friendly clerk and zipped right through. The woman asked her "Are you really Misty Morgan?". She was a fan. I got a sleepy-eyed clerk who had her young son with her, and they were ready to go home. We were not happy to see each other. She looked at her computer, which was out of my line of sight, and said this: "We have you as 'Jack' for your whole life." I said, “Me too.” She asked if I could name any companies I'd worked for. I named about six Buffalo factories where I'd labored away my youth. She studied the computer screen and said nothing. By now she knew who I was, but wouldn't admit it. I had two large manila envelopes packed with what I thought were important papers. She shoved them back at me and said, "You need two pieces of ID that say "John". I said "I know. That's why they sent me here... to have you change my S.S. card to "John", and then I'll have to live as John for life." She said "You will have to change all your legal things to John... titles to your home and vehicles, your credit, your will, your bills, and your underwear." She was getting tired of me. She told me it would be easier to legally change my first name to "Jack". I've been Jack all my life and didn't know it was a crime. I stomped out the door as everybody else was doing. So I called our lawyer and said this: "Hi. This is Jack. I need to change my name to Jack." We went to court a couple of weeks later. After being strip searched on the way in, the case went well. Even the judge laughed. I said “Haha.” After endless driving in traffic and arguing with morons, it cost us over $1,100. But, now I’m legally “Jack”. Copyright © May 10, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


May 3rd, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

LITTLE THINGS. I was in a dark mood, sitting on a bench at Publix, waiting for Misty and watching people check out. A little girl 5 or 6 years old said, "I'm going to sit by you." She sat and talked with me for about 5 minutes. She held a small black purse with two straps, and she didn't deal in affectations or childish cuteness, but looked directly into my eyes and conversed person-to-person. She said, "Is your mommy here?" I said "Yes." She said, 'What's her name?" I said "Misty." She pointed to her mother and told me her name. She turned and took a closer look and asked "Do you have make-up on?" I said no and she said, "A beard." I said "Yep" and she said, "Why?" I said, "Style, I guess." She accepted that, and pointed at my longish hair. I said, "I've got to cut that hair.", and she said "No! Long hair is nice!", running her fingers through her blond hair to illustrate. A lady shopper stopped and told her, "You're so pretty!" The little girl just smiled her thanks. Misty appeared with her shopping cart. She smiled and said, "I see you have a friend." The little girl said, "Go!" to me, as if people should go when their parents are waiting. I said I'd probably stay seated there. (I was having a bad hip day. An old Disco injury.) She asked, "Why?" I told her I liked to watch the people, and she thought that over. Then her mother came by and they walked away. She turned and waved and called ""Bye". She made me happy! I won't forget her. Copyright © May 3, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


April 26th, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

THE STORY OF SAM FROM CASABLANCA. Sam played "As Time Goes By" in a bar in Casablanca. Ten years later, in the fifties, he had learned a second song. He tried to keep up with the musical trends. In the sixties he bought a reverb unit, a sitar, and took guitar lessons. In the seventies he got a fuzz box and a drum machine, and began singing "As Time Goes By" like Neil Diamond. All the musicians in town were playing guitar, singing like Neil Diamond, and wearing black vests. To break the monotony, the musicians started trading jobs without telling the bar owners. Nobody noticed because they all sounded the same, looked the same, did the same songs, and went with the same waitress. Bars were disappearing, so gigs were getting scarce. Every fifteen minutes a stern voice on TV said: "DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE". Less people were going out. They were drunk at home with the kids. Sam had been replaced by a karaoke machine. Sam sat in the park, trying to figure it all out. Even with all his equipment he couldn't get a job. The public mind was headed for prohibition, against drinking, against smoking, against guns. Sam was so mad he felt like getting an abortion. As far as he knew, drinking and staggering was acceptable, so that's what he did. He staggered between a fat lady and her bald dog, tripped over the leash, and arced gracefully into the path of an oncoming piano truck. He settled out of court for enough to buy his own club, and more equipment. He even put in a giant screen TV. He was so proud of it he left it on even while he was playing. One night he was playing his digital keyboard and singing "As Time Goes By" like Taylor Swift, when he looked up and saw that his customers had grown thick hair all over their faces! The shock gave him a heart attack. After all he was a hundred and fourteen. Nobody noticed as he grabbed the money from his tip glass, slid off the bench and died. The crowd was facing the other way, watching Casablanca on the giant TV. They didn't recognize Sam in the movie, singing in his own style and playing a regular piano. At "The End", the bartender turned off the sound and they heard the funny noise: Sam was lying dead on his new bass pedals. The bartender said: "Here's looking at you, kid", and bought the house a drink on Sam. He put about half the cash from the till in his pocket, poured one for himself, and closed early. Copyright © April 26, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


April 19th, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

THE LAST DAY. Simon Lescart woke up on his last day, plugged in the coffee maker, and sat down at the computer to check his email. There was the usual spam and forwarded jokes, which he deleted without reading. The sixth message subject line read "Final Notice", and the sender was an acronym, "T.P.T.B." He started to dump it as spam, but for some reason he clicked it open. The message was this: "NOTICE OF EXPIRATION. "Dear Mr. Lescart, "This is an automatic reminder that your life expires at midnight tonight. Please do not try to reply to this email. Have a nice day. Very truly yours, The Powers That Be." Simon tried to reply anyway, but his email bounced back from the "unknown recipient". He knew it must be a stupid joke, but he couldn't stop thinking about it as he fought the city traffic on his way to work. What if this really was his last day? He'd often heard the old saying, "You should live every day as if it were your last." What should a person do on his last day, anyway? Get drunk? Smell some flowers? Confess his sins? What? He didn't have much of a family to visit, just a brother up in Akron and an ex-wife in Atlanta. They hadn't spoken in years. He couldn't think of any old sins offhand. Maybe he should commit some? He knew that the weird email was a fraud, but he decided not to go to work today, just in case. He pulled off at an exit and got back on the expressway, going the other way, toward the ocean. This is nuts, he thought. He couldn't think of anything really important to do, befitting a persons last day on the planet, so he just sat on the beach for most of the day and drank a few beers. He felt a little nervous, like a high school truant, but he also felt something else he couldn't define. Was it freedom? He had some guilt too, for wasting the day looking at the ocean. Someone sat down beside him. The man was obviously homeless, in his ragged black suit and dirty torn sneakers. The man said, "Are you okay, friend? You look kinda lost." Simon said, "That's an odd word... 'Friend'. Now that you mention it, I guess I don't have any of those. Just a bunch of acquaintances." "Maybe you never really tried", said the man. "I've been pretty busy", said Simon. "You must have accomplished great things, being so busy", the man said. "No great things. Just keeping even. Paying the bills", said Simon. "Do you think you have any great things in you", asked the man? Simon said, "Maybe. I've been doing a lot of thinking. If I had the time I'd do things differently." That's when the chest pain struck and the world faded to black. He heard voices. "What Happened?" "Get back!" He was being carried. Then a blinding light above. People working over him. "We're losing him! CLEAR!" Then a huge shock and the world was gone again. The smiling nurse said, "Welcome back. You've had quite a day." "What time is it", he asked? "Almost midnight", she said. "I have to call my brother", he insisted. "We'll contact him for you. You can talk to him in a few days." "I wish I HAD a few days", he said! A cell phone rang. "That sounds like mine", he said. "Where is it?" "It's beside your bed, but you need to rest." He reached for it, but she stopped him. "I'll answer it for you", she said. "Lie back down!" She said, "It's just a text message." "What does it say?", he groaned. The letters on the cell phone screen said this: "EXTENSION GRANTED." Copyright © April 19, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


April 13th, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

RAILROAD DAYS. A long time ago we were on our way to do a national television show from the PBS main studio in Pittsburgh, and then to a Nashville recording session. Tennessee Birdwalk had become a surprise hit. Sometimes life can be good. The porter showed us to our compartment and stowed our luggage. Orlando was sliding away past our windows, so we settled down, propped our feet on our suitcases, and waited for snow. An official voice over the PA system: "You're invited to the dining car for the hospitality hour", Free coffee and orange juice". Misty said, "Let's live a little", and we staggered forward with the sway of the train. Passing through the club car, the train rounded a curve, and Misty sat on an elderly man's lap. His wife said, "Well, I never" and glared out the window at nothing. She failed to see the humor in it. The best part of the dining car is watching the scenery fly by in sunset colors. Telephone poles tick away the time, and up ahead the train whistle adds to the adventure. At every road and city street, cars are lined up waiting for us to pass by. Make way for the train, the biggest thing that moves on land! We stayed awake most of that night wiping our breath steam from the train window, and watching the sparkling towns and moonlit woodlands fall away behind us. Washington DC was having a brisk morning as we left our luxury train and boarded a coach bound for Pittsburgh, which wove slowly through the gray land Appalachia. There were untidy traces of leftover winter, dingy crusts of snow and slush. Smoky air had left its film on town and country alike, dulling the colors. Trees, houses, factories, cars, dogs, cats, grass, and people all blend to a drab tannish gray. Men in work clothes stand in the cold rain waiting for the train to take them home after another hard day. A pregnant woman struggles to get a baby carriage over the curbside slush pile without dropping her bag of groceries. Clothes are functional. No time for style. A gang of workmen lined up in the aisle waiting to get off, whisper and snicker at our haircut and clothes. We must seem outlandish to them. Misty and I smile at each other, taking no offense. The train stops and they file off, lunch boxes under their arms, heads bowed against the gray rain, each seeking out the dreary street that leads home. The train was owned by The Baltimore and Ohio/Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, and the train staff was proud of it: R.G. Whitling, Conductor; L. Boone, Flagman, and E.A. Popp, Baggageman. Their hospitality brought color back to this leg of the journey. Nature soon followed suit, producing a beautiful rocky river that wandered for miles through scenic hill country. Journeys can remain after destinations fade from memory. Copyright © April 13, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


April 5th, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

A LITTLE MIRACLE IN ASHFORD, ALABAMA. When you're hitch-hiking cross country you usually wind up taking circuitous routes, getting stranded in places you never knew existed, and meeting people who are surprised that you exist. We were once detained as suspected chain gang escapees, which is where this story will eventually arrive. You may be trying to go north, but find yourself heading east or west, and happy to get a ride, to get off the side of a long and often creepy road. When hitching you see the roads differently. You notice the gum wrappers, cracks, puddles, weeds and insects on the shoulders. You get to know them well, sometimes being there for many hours. A bend in the highway that cars disappear around in seconds, is a mystery to you. Maybe there's a town up there, or an old gas station where you might get water, or a lucky ride, or more endless miles of nothing, Hitch-hiking to a place a thousand miles from where you start can easily cover almost double the AAA route, moving laterally as often as forward. And you can plan on a number of extra days in the burning sun or cold rain. This isn't all bad. Looking back on it It's an adventure. At the time it seemed like punishment. Bob Egan and I were trying to get back to Buffalo from Florida, and got dropped off at nightfall in a tiny southern town by a bakery truck driver going in for the night. The two-lane county road traffic amounted to a vehicle an hour, it was dark and getting chilly, we hadn't eaten, and were practically broke. We were in Ashford, Alabama, at the intersection of US84 (now called Old US 84), and the road going northward was the narrow County Road 55. There was a streetlight on the corner, so we stood under it, trying to look wholesome and non-threatening. Kids from the town came around to watch us stand there. We were the biggest thing going on in town. They were just a few feet from us, but we couldn't understand a single word they said. We were from another planet. After an hour or maybe three, a dump truck rumbled toward us from the wrong direction. Shovels were hanging on its sides and clanging. It stopped and large elderly man in a plaid shirt got out. He was the sheriff or maybe the constable. The big man was friendly, but said he had to take us in because we fitted the description of two chain gang escapees... two young Yankee fellas, one dark-haired and one blond. We tried to tell him how innocent and nice we were, but the report said that they were smooth talkers, and not to believe anything they said. We climbed up into the truck cab and he drove us about two blocks to the police station, where we sat and were given coffee and a sandwich, while the sheriff made some phone calls. The police station was on Main, which in my memory was an unpaved dirt street. After a while he said "We don't have a regular jail here, but we've got a place for you to stay until court in the morning." Then he drove us to a big wooden house of indeterminate color, and introduced us to a matronly lady... the proprietor of this rooming house. She was as friendly as he was, but we were surely headed for life on the chain gang, and that took a little edge off the fun. We did get some needed sleep and some breakfast in the morning. The rugged old cop picked us up and said we had been cleared of all suspicions. He drove us to the county line. Like an idiot I said "Good luck catching those guys." He waved out the truck window and headed back to town. It only took a few decades for me to figure out what really happened. He knew we would be stuck all night on that corner. He could see that we were tired and probably hungry, and he made the phone call to the boarding house lady to put us up for the night. There were no escaped convicts. Just two young strangers who needed some help. I have a warm spot in my heart for Ashford, Alabama, and those good people. Copyright © April 5, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


March 29th, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

MORE LAUGHS TO CHEER YOU UP. Misty said, "You're growing old with grace, and Grace is getting sick of it." Something dropped in the kitchen. I said, "What are we having?" Misty said, "Floor pie." The husband said, "Well, I only have 24 hours to live. Let's take a ride through the park, eat at the best restaurant, and make love all night." She said, "Easy for you to say. You don't have to get up in the morning." A trainload of thesauruses jumped the track. Witnesses were startled, aghast, amazed, appalled, astonished, astounded, and dismayed. The light in our refrigerator goes off when you open the door. THE BABY SWALLOWED A BULLET. The doctor said, "Give him a laxative but don't aim him at anybody." The cowboy said: "That's the ugliest, stupidest looking beast I've ever seen." The buffalo said: "I think I just heard a discouraging word." On Thanksgiving I enjoy catching squirrels and dressing them up as Pilgrims. DUMB JOKE.... A dyslexic guy walks into a bra. I said to the pirate, "How did you get the eye patch?" He said, "It was my first day with the hook." I was walking down the street wearing my glasses and the prescription ran out. At Publix a guy said to Misty, "I saw you giving the bananas a dirty look." She said, "They started it." I said, "You're really ugly!" The bartender said, "You're no open casket case yourself." Misty said, "Leave the door open. The flies haven't been out all day." The teacher said, "What is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?" I said, "I don't know and I don't care!" Prozac killed my blues career. Since I learned Morse Code tap dancing drives me crazy! I was playing the piano and some guy yelled. "Go, Man!" So I left. They say all life is valuable. I wouldn't give you two cents for a fruit fly. Aunt Bess got a hamster fur coat. We couldn't keep her off the Ferris wheel. I asked the mechanic about our car. He said, "You're not getting enough steam." They can keep me in prison, but they can't keep my face from breaking out. I caught a loudmouth bass. He wouldn't shut up so I threw him back in. The other fish threw him back in the boat. My dad said, "I'd like to purchase a chicken." The farmer said, "Wanta pullet?" Dad said, "No. Just put it in a bag. I'll carry it." I'm getting my elbows pierced so I can wear cuff links with a short sleeved shirt. Bird watching is a popular pastime. The birds call it "stalking". "Bewitch me, darling." "I'll bewitch you in a minute. I'm busy." My first instrument was the bassinet. Dr. Phil has a TV show, while I just sit on a bench and yell advice at squirrels. Where am I going, and what am I doing in this hand basket? Copyright © March 29, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


March 23rd, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

A FEW LAUGHS TO CHEER YOU UP. I'm getting crows feet, but somehow my shoes still fit. When I was a young brat a lot of the kids in our neighborhood were getting their adenoids taken out. It was a war to eliminate adenoids from the Earth. I don't think anybody knew what they were, but they wanted them gone. THE LIMO. Misty and I once bought a raggedy old limousine for $90. We needed transportation and would rather look eccentric than poor. To add to the effect, we colored it powder blue with house paint and a brush. At a gas station two tough guys said they knew the car and we owed money there. We'd never been there before in our life! I floored it and sped away at four miles an hour. Asthma only bothers me around cigars or dogs. The worst is a dog smoking a cigar. Misty said, "My hair looks like a drowned rat." I said, "No. It looks like a nice rat." Every Thanksgiving I enjoy catching squirrels and dressing them up as Pilgrims. Chickens can't fly backwards except when they sneeze. They sent my uncle down in the mine to make sure it was safe for the canary. EXCITEMENT IN A SENIOR COMMUNITY... The unexpected pregnancy. I've been sitting on the porch staring at the birds. They're starting to stare back. Oh, to be young again and full of false hope. I was fired from the orange-juice factory because I couldn't concentrate. "Bewitch me, darling, Bewitch me." "I'll bewitch you in a minute. I'm busy." At my colonoscopy they found my car keys, a pair of dice, and a harmonica. I was taking a milk bath. The cow slipped on the soap and broke my leg. I wonder why my eyes burn after sex. Maybe it's the pepper spray. I asked the bank teller to check my balance. She leaned over and pushed me. We have enough money to last for the rest of our life, unless we buy something. Copyright © March 22, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


March 16th, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

STRANGE TIMES. There may be an overdose of panic due to the virus, but it's not a hoax, and nobody knows how bad it may get. The influenza pandemic a hundred years ago killed more people than a war. We went out yesterday, buying what supplies we can afford, out of what the stores have left. It's so strange out there. Misty's worn out. All I do is take her places and wait in the car. If we were young we wouldn't let it bother us, but we're in the first-to-croak age group. That's a medical term. We live out in the country but just inside the city limits. Not the best place if everything gets locked down. In answer to a few inquiries, I've had asthma for 5 or 6 years, and I'm having trouble walking. It could be an old sports injury. I got a lot of them. Otherwise I seem strangely healthy. We got a dehumidifier to ease my asthma. It seems to help. I don't change much in appearance and I can't get pain pills because they don't believe my age, but I'm enjoying hemp gummy bears. Misty says the people working in the stores are very nice, and try to help. A retail store worker sent me this note: "We're like the band on the Titanic who kept playing while the ship was sinking." "Make the days a little longer. I don't know where the time has flown. Lord, I'm having such a good time, I don't want to go home." (From one of our songs.) We hope you stay well. Copyright © March 15, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


March 8th, 2020...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

RUSTY DIAMOND: A TRUE STORY. 1960s. Rusty Diamond was a Country recording artist, with releases on Starday and Stop records, but his main talent was getting money from rich girls. One of these angels, a very sweet and buxom blonde from Chicago, bought into Rusty's career to the tune of $48,000 in one week, probably more than double that as this is written. He hired me as his producer and we flew to Nashville to record some hits. Rusty passed out $50 tips to waitresses, porters, and anyone who had his hand out. To Rusty the important thing was the public gesture. In Nashville, he called up one of the finest men's stores and had them bring a truckload of assorted clothes to our motel. We selected a few thousand dollars worth, and he paid the driver in cash. Returning to Miami, a crowd awaited us at the airport. Women stood in line to kiss Rusty while photographers flashed pictures. Police directed traffic as we pulled away in a new rented Lincoln limo. I found out later that Rusty had hired the whole crowd, photographers, cops and all. Rusty moved into an oceanfront suite and hired a valet/bodyguard, for about two grand a week... a tough guy about six foot eight. The blonde's father heard about her business venture and hopped a plane for Miami, hopping mad. He threatened everybody in sight with jail sentences, if he couldn't arrange for the guillotine. Rusty not only calmed the old man, but hit him for another forty grand. The last I heard of Rusty he was broke and running from his bodyguard, whom he had neglected to pay. When Rusty Diamond had a buck he made Howard Hughes look like a bum. He never realized that being himself would have been enough. Once, when we were alone, I saw him in tears, saying that nobody really cared for him. But he had set it up that way by acting the bigshot, and trying to buy admiration and loyalty, but we'd like to see him again, even if he's broke. EPILOGUE. Since this was written we have found Rusty's obituary in a Salt Lake City newspaper. Copyright © March 8, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


March 5th, 2020...

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TRYING TOO HARD. Recently I pulled out of a streak of depression that I think was due to lack of creative ideas and financial pressure. I kept forcing myself to go to the piano or guitar and forcing myself to try to write a song. I felt guilty when it didn't work. I'm supposed to be a writer. Isn't that who I am? Have I lost it? I even took the recommended therapeutic walks, but it seemed as if I was trying too hard to enjoy it, consciously looking at trees, sky, etc.. "Great sky. Nice tree. Is this working?" Again... forcing it. It was my businesslike left brain fully in charge and beating the hell out of me. One morning I got up and told Misty this: "I've had it! I'm going to stop torturing myself." I stayed away from the music room and just did whatever I felt like doing. I actually got happy! A night or two later I got a surprise urge to play the keyboard, and did it without trying to produce a masterpiece. With no self-pressure and no guilt it was more like fun. A couple of ideas came to me out of the blue. I wrote them down for later. Today I feel okay. I may play a little music tonight. You never know what might happen when you're not trying to make it happen. Copyright © March 1, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.



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February 23rd, 2020... A LETTER FROM AN OLD FRIEND. I get mail from amateur songwriters, many of them past acquaintances who feel something is due them for associating with me before I was of any practical use. I got one like this a while back. Notes in parentheses are mine. "Hi, Jack! Sorry about taking so long to answer your letter, (Note -- Eight Years), but we've had company from out of town. We were just talking about you the other day after we noticed your albums in the stores up here. You look great, even with the long hair and strange clothes. Have you put on weight? (Note - He just killed any chance of a favor.) "Do you remember the cold winter night I gave you a lift down to the gas station to get kerosene for your heater, after the gas and electric companies had shut you off? And I'd have run you all the way back home through the blizzard, except for the smell of the kerosene. You know I would have. "Well, you finally made it, didn't you? Everybody up here always knew you would. We were just kidding when we used to call you a no-good bum. HA -- HA. We were just trying to put some spunk into you, and you'll have to admit -- IT WORKED! "Since you are an old friend I am giving you first crack at the enclosed original song. If you don't record it I'll have to send it to Johnny Cash, so let me know right away, and don't worry, it's copyrighted. "Your old kerosene buddy, Robert." The following is the hit song he enclosed: "WHEN I'M GONE (or THE GOODBYE SONG) "When I'm gone - you'll find that I won't be here anymore When I go - I'll say goodbye and walk out thru the door Then you'll see it won't be me that's with you as before When I'm gone - you'll find that I won't be here anymore. "When I'm gone - if you're alone, you'll know that I'm not here When I go - if I am far away, you'll know I won't be near Then you'll see it won't be me that's with you as before When I'm gone - you'll find that I won't be here anymore. (CHORUS) "Goodbye - Goodbye - I think you ought to know It doesn't mean I'm going to stay, It means I'm going to go Goodbye - Goodbye - The sun comes up at dawn You'll find I won't be here no more, Honey, when I'm gone." Here's the answer I wrote to my dear old friend: "Dear Robert, In unbiased critical appraisal I must admit that your lyric has a certain steadfastness, not leaving the slightest worry in the listener's mind as to the protagonist's departure. "It drives home the point and makes its title known with a repetitiveness highly valued in the commercial field. Its simplicity is to be complimented as well as its portrayal of a situation in which each of us has found himself at one time or another. "The first-person style and identifiability of the characters only strengthen the argument that you have invested the total of your talent in this one grand effort. "In consideration of the above, and in sincere gratitude for the kerosene you took me to get, I cannot, in good conscience, stand in the way of you and Johnny Cash. Please send it to him and take all the credit for yourself. Don't mention me at all. Heaven knows you deserve it. "Your old friend, Mr. Blanchard" Copyright © February 23, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


February 18th, 2020... Our song* is NUMBER ONE TODAY on the Soundclick charts, Feb. 18, 2020. YAY!!! - Jack. *The song in question, by the way, is Michael Warner's collaboration with Jack, "OLD SONGS". You can listen to it HERE! Well done, both of you! - Jerry.
February 17th, 2020... HOLD THE BUS! This is BIG!... (drum roll, please...) From our friend Frans Martiz at Airplay Express: A Multi Platinum Disc is awarded to "Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan" for landing the Number One slot on the AirplayExpress Country Top 40 Chart for two weeks in a row with their latest 2019 Remix of their worldwide Billboard hit, "Tennessee Birdwalk"! Radio Stations and DJ's can download this new remix on this link: https://www.airplayexpress.com/airplay-express-apx55/ Well done, Jack & Misty! And thanks again to Airplay Express! - Jerry.
February 16th, 2020...

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GHOST TOWN. Somehow we had missed the turnoff to the southern Ohio town. We went back to where the highway ought to be and found a narrow old road, with grass growing up through the cracks in the pavement. Could this be the main road to town that I remembered from my childhood? The sign said it was. The small city, after slumbering quietly for generations, had become a boomtown with the coming of a large chemical company. For a while the population grew with the influx of labor. The little corner taverns where old cronies had once exchanged worldly wisdom became juke joints as the town opened up. Housing became scarce, money became plentiful, and the townsfolk began a new habit... locking their doors. The picturesque, American town of stories was the only memory I had to go by. I was surprised at the desolate weeded over road that had once been a main artery. We turned off the superhighway and followed the rustic lane toward the town, trying to spot familiar landmarks. There were new shabby buildings, some vacant and boarded up. There were new gas stations, looking aged and toothless with their pumps gone. I thought I recognized an old building... a certain curve in the road... but the clutter made it impossible to get my bearings. Drifting into town, I was relieved to see the railroad station and its surrounding park untouched by time. I had often told Misty about the good times at Aunt Bess' house, where I had spent a lot of my childhood. Now I was about to show her the actual place where it all happened, but at first I couldn't find it. It used to be right there on the corner of Fourth and Maple. Now there was just a rundown Frankenstein house hiding in the weeds. We parked while I stared at it for a long time. I had somehow forgotten... They're all gone. The whole smiling, partying family had died off one by one since I'd been gone. I knew it, I'm sure, but I’d blocked it out. The small grocery store across the street had a new name but looked the same. I went in and asked, but they didn't remember who had lived in that corner house. They didn't recognize my desperately mentioned names, and they were busy. Asking around we learned that the chemical plant had laid off thousands of workers, and the government had built a superhighway that bypassed the town, so it went quietly back to sleep, somewhat the worse for wear. We searched the town all day, and it was sunset before we found anyone we knew. They were all together, as always. The squeak of the rusty wrought iron gate pierced the evening stillness, as we entered the old cemetery, and began brushing away weeds and dust, to peer at names on tombstones... names that clicked on familiar faces in my mind. We drove out of town and didn't talk for a while. Nobody said goodbye. If this was a ghost town these new people didn't know it. We were the ghosts. Copyright © February 16, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


February 9th, 2020...

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LUCKY EDDY AND THE SWAMP CHICKENS. Lucky Eddy was an over-the-road car hauler. He had a full load of new Ford Fiasco’s on the trailer... and he was headed down the Turnpike toward Miami. Naturally, It was a dark and stormy night. By pure coincidence, Harlan Crapper happened to be driving a truckload of schizophrenic chickens northward to Yeehaw Junction, where he planned to sell them as Grade A to his cousin Ranier. He was pleased with his own business acuity. Harlan liked to brag that he was a direct descendant of Sir John Crapper, who had changed the world with his plumbing marvel. It was a lie, but Harlan had told it for so long he considered it to be as good as true. Meanwhile, Lucky Eddy thought he was either going blind or his headlights were growing dim. In the middle of nowhere, his headlights went completely out. At the Exit sign he thought it said Holopaw and Yeehaw Junction, but he didn’t see any town. He coasted down the ramp, and onto a two lane side road, where he eased onto the shoulder, and stopped to think. They don’t give these trucks to chimps. The idea hit him like a crazed mink. He climbed up to the new Fords, went to the front car, and turned its headlights on. Back in the cab, he found that he could see okay with the car headlights. He was pretty proud of himself as he headed on down the road looking for signs of life. Unfortunately, the only life forms headed his way were Harlan P. Crapper and his crazy chickens. Harlan was listening to his favorite radio talk show about Bigfoot, crop circles, and UFO’s. He was rattling toward Lucky Eddy at his usual 70 mph, deep in thoughts of alien abductions, when he thought he saw a plane coming in. The only trouble was, there was no airport. As the flying object drew closer he saw that it had two bright lights aimed right at him, it looked to be about twenty feet off the ground, and it was coming for him fast. “Whoa!” he hollered, and thought “This is it!” He prayed that the aliens wouldn’t probe any sensitive areas. When the thing was right on top of him, Harlan yanked the wheel all the way to right, and sailed off into the nice safe swamp. Lucky Eddy couldn’t believe his eyes! He stopped and walked back to where the chicken truck had flown off. He shone his big flashlight into the swamp water, and saw Harlan treading water, and a bunch of funny acting chickens trying to fly. There is no moral to this story, and nobody learned anything from it. Copyright © February 9, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


February 2nd, 2020...

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THE ROOM IN THE MIRROR. (2020 rewrite.) Hank Wallace leaned up against the big mirror in the corner of the bedroom, studying his receding hairline at close range, and trying to tune out Elsa's nagging voice. She stood almost behind him now, a little to his right, and addressed herself to his reflection in the mirror. "Henry! Why are you gaping at yourself? Your boss and his wife will be here any minute and you haven't even started to get dressed! No wonder they all get ahead of you at the office. I hope you haven't been into that wine again. I can check the bottle, you know." He stared at her over the shoulder of his mirror image, and said nothing. "Well?" she demanded. He looked into his own eyes and remained silent. "This is your last chance to show Ed Herman that you're not an idiot! I'm the one who had to bow and scrape to set this evening up! I'm going to go check that wine bottle, and when I come back you'd better be dressed." He noticed that the closer you get your face to the mirror, the more you can see of the room inside it. The mirror room, of course, was identical to his own, only backwards. But the lighting in there seemed a little different,... cozier. He found that he could look in and around the corner of the frame when he pressed his nose against the nose of his image. He was straining to see if he could look around the inner frame and see the flowers on the mirror room wallpaper. That's when his head went through. He was aware of the warm glow the second he stepped into the mirror room. There was a peaceful atmosphere the other one never had. The other Hank Wallace smiled and motioned him to sit down. Hank observed that his new friend's clothes buttoned on the wrong side and his hair was parted on the right. He also noticed that his image looked somehow younger than before. There was motion on the other side of the mirror. Elsa marched into the bedroom with the wine bottle in her hand. She looked around the room. She stormed to the closet and threw open the door. She stood hand on hip, in puzzlement. She got down on her hands and knees and looked under the bed. She was on all fours in front of the big mirror when she glanced in at the two Henry Wallaces. Her face erupted into a silent scream. Sound didn't come through the mirror. Hank wondered what next. There was an outside exit door in the mirror room just like in the other. He wondered what kind of a world was out there. Elsa reappeared in the frame, pointing hysterically, with the Hermans behind her, staring through the mirror. All three were gesturing and silently shouting at the two Hanks. He felt a little sorry for Elsa. Hank Wallace stood up, shook hands with himself, walked to the doorway, stepped out into the reverse world, and lived happily ever backwards. Copyright © February 2, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


January 26th, 2020...

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THE WORLD NEEDS A LAUGH. My father said, "I'd like to purchase a chicken." The farmer said, "Want a pullet?" Dad said, "No. Just put it in a bag. I'll carry it." "Bewitch me, darling." "I'll bewitch you in a minute. I'm busy." They can keep me in prison but they can't keep my face from breaking out. Back when we had the million-seller Tennessee Birdwalk there were only a million people in the world. In an old theater that had mice, Misty said, "Down-on-their-luck show mice." SONG. "They tried to sell us egg foo young." COUNTRY SONG. "Cranky, I'm Cranky for feeling so lonely." WARNING: Bears can go 35 mph... Faster if they're in a car. There's a fly in here! I thought this was a No Fly Zone! It's sunny, beautiful. and in the 50s here in Florida. Makes me feel almost alive! Our car only makes left turns. I'm never gone long. HEARD ON THE ARK: "All hens on deck!" EXCITEMENT IN A SENIOR COMMUNITY... The unexpected pregnancy. MY NEW INVENTION... The Suppository Gun. MY SELF-HELP BOOKS... "The Power of Positive Whining. "Build a Mechanical Squirrel in Your Garage." THE LIMO. Misty and I once bought a raggedy old limousine for $90. We needed transportation and would rather look eccentric than poor. To add to the effect, we colored it powder blue with house paint and a brush. At a gas station two tough guys said they knew the car and we owed them big money. We'd never been there before in our life! I floored it and sped away at four miles an hour. TO A HECKLER: "Why don't you get a toupee with a brain in it? A friend said, "I bet you never have a dull moment at your house." I said, "I'm having one right now." At Christmas our phone never stops ringing! It's those four calling birds! My dad had a mole on his nose. He had it tattooed to look like a fly. I'm getting my elbows pierced so I can wear cuff links with a short sleeved shirt. Aunt Bess could jump 3 feet straight up without bending her knees. My dad talked to himself a lot. Nobody knew it because he was a ventriloquist. A cashier demanded that I prove I'm NOT eligible for a senior discount. On Thanksgiving I enjoy catching squirrels and dressing them up as Pilgrims. No more chicken for me. The feet get caught in my throat. Misty said, "My hair looks like a drowned rat." I said, "No. It looks like a nice rat." She laughed. I'm heading for the roundhouse. They can't corner me there. Copyright © January 26, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


January 19th, 2020...

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TRANSITIONS. (This was written when we first moved to our new home in 2014.) It's a cool gray rainy day here, a transitional day, with the remnants of Winter and early signs of Spring. Standing under the edge of our carport I can see almost a mile of tan fields and lines of trees, until the landscape gets lost in the mist. The trees and Spanish moss are moving with the breeze, as are the flags on our street. These are mostly World War Two people and that kind of patriotism doesn't go away, even though the nation has changed over their lifetime. I didn't like Florida for a long time after I landed here. The palms annoyed me. They were foreign and reminded me that I wasn't home; that this was all temporary and I didn't belong here. I could go to almost anywhere up north and not feel like an outsider, but Florida felt unreal... like a movie. As I stood just out of the rain today and took in the palms, the giant oaks in rainy-day colors, and the Spanish Moss like graceful fringe on a gown, it occurred to me that I like it. When did that happen? I still love Buffalo with it's four seasons and the energy in the air, but it's mostly the Buffalo in my memory. The last time we visited there, I enjoyed it, but I had a sense of being outside looking in. The world has changed so much that maybe we all feel a little like strangers at times, but this subtropical place has sneaked up on me and it's started to look right. Maybe I'm home... or as close as I'll ever get. Copyright © January 19, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


January 12th, 2020...

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OUR ADVENTURE. In early March, 1970, the phone rang. It was Little Richie Johnson at Wayside Records. He said, "You better get packed. We're selling 50,000 a day!" A month later, on April 4th, our "Tennessee Bird Walk" became the Number One Country record in the world and our life changed completely. A week later on April 11th, it was Number One again, and we were doing a show with Jerry Lee Lewis and Waylon Jennings. Waylon joked, "Please get off Number One. You're killing my record. " Now a look back at Miami in the Early 1960s. Misty and I had been struggling, mostly broke, and even homeless on the street for a few days. In the mid-1960s we had a trio on the road playing small clubs all over the East and Midwest. Our old car and homemade trailer kept breaking down and taking all the money. Misty was "Mary" then. Then we got lucky and landed a steady job at a Miami supper club, where we met Richard Nixon and other famous people. Things were getting better. We started singing duets, Mary Blanchard became Misty Morgan, and we got a one month booking at a lounge in Key West. Two guys came in and signed us to a four song contract. and we went to Nashville to record. There were no hits, but our song "Bethlehem Steel" made the Billboard Chart, and Wayside Records signed us. In December, 1969, Misty and I were entertaining crowds at Orlando's Everglades lounge and commuting to Nashville to record. We had had another Billboard charted single, "Big Black Bird". We had a steady job, a nice home, and bought a new Corvette. After struggling for years on the road playing low-pay gigs. the stress was off and we were reasonably happy without any big hits. Our song "Big Black Bird" had gotten a Pop Pick in Billboard, along with Aretha Franklin and others the same week, although we considered it Country. Wayside Records got excited and negotiated with Mercury Records for our distribution. Mercury was ready to go with the record, but the master sent to them by Wayside was faulty. They had to call Wayside and wait for another master. Radio stations were ready to play it but had no copies, and the record died. But now we were on Mercury, a major label. With three hit records, 1970 was the wildest year ever. We were doing major network TV shows, state fairs and festivals, recording "Humphrey the Camel", "You've Got Your Troubles, I've Got MIne", and others, and dealing with big time agents and managers. We were disoriented, facing new problems, and on the road all the time. We were often exhausted, and didn't know where we were. The money went through our hands to agents, managers, musicians, roadies, travel expenses, and wardrobe for TV and live shows. Our happiest times were in the studios, recording with great musicians. It was a wonderful year, an exciting year, and a grueling year. Then a bunch of IRS guys showed up at our house. The hard times and the good times made it an adventure. Copyright © January 12, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


January 5th, 2020...

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THE LAST DAY. Simon Lescart woke up on his last day, plugged in the coffee maker, and sat down at the computer to check his email. There was the usual spam and forwarded jokes, which he deleted without reading. The sixth message subject line read "Final Notice", and the sender was an acronym, "T.P.T.B." He started to dump it as spam, but for some reason he clicked it open. The message was this: "NOTICE OF EXPIRATION. "Dear Mr. Lescart, "This is an automatic reminder that your life expires at midnight tonight. Please do not try to reply to this email. Have a nice day. Very truly yours, The Powers That Be." Simon tried to reply anyway, but his email bounced back from the "unknown recipient". He knew it must be a stupid joke, but he couldn't stop thinking about it as he fought the city traffic on his way to work. What if this really was his last day? He'd often heard the old saying, "You should live every day as if it were your last." What should a person do on his last day, anyway? Get drunk? Smell some flowers? Confess his sins? What? He didn't have much of a family to visit, just a brother up in Akron and an ex-wife in Atlanta. They hadn't spoken in years. He couldn't think of any old sins offhand. Maybe he should commit some? He knew that the weird email was a fraud, but he decided not to go to work today, just in case. He pulled off at an exit and got back on the expressway, going the other way, toward the ocean. This is nuts, he thought. He couldn't think of anything really important to do, befitting a persons last day on the planet, so he just sat on the beach for most of the day and drank a few beers. He felt a little nervous, like a high school truant, but he also felt something else he couldn't define. Was it freedom? He had some guilt too, for wasting the day looking at the ocean. Someone sat down beside him. The man was obviously homeless, in his ragged black suit and dirty torn sneakers. The man said, "Are you okay, friend? You look kinda lost." Simon said, "That's an odd word... 'Friend'. Now that you mention it, I guess I don't have any of those. Just a bunch of acquaintances." "Maybe you never really tried", said the man. "I've been pretty busy", said Simon. "You must have accomplished great things, being so busy", the man said. "No great things. Just keeping even. Paying the bills", said Simon. "Do you think you have any great things in you", asked the man? Simon said, "Maybe. I've been doing a lot of thinking. If I had the time I'd do things differently." That's when the chest pain struck and the world faded to black. He heard voices. "What Happened?" "Get back!" He was being carried. Then a blinding light above. People working over him. "We're losing him! CLEAR!" Then a huge shock and the world was gone again. The smiling nurse said, "Welcome back. You've had quite a day." "What time is it", he asked? "Almost midnight", she said. "I have to call my brother", he insisted. "We'll contact him for you. You can talk to him in a few days." "I wish I HAD a few days", he said! A cell phone rang. "That sounds like mine", he said. "Where is it?" "It's beside your bed, but you need to rest." He reached for it, but she stopped him. "I'll answer it for you", she said. "Lie back down!" She said, "It's just a text message." "What does it say?", he groaned. The letters on the cell phone screen said this: "EXTENSION GRANTED." Copyright © January 5, 2020 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


January 1st, 2020... And now... a holiday greeting from our sponsor:
It's that time of year again, folks. A lot has happened in the last 12 months, like it seems to do every darn year, and in the spirit of old adages like "a new broom never boils" and "a watched pot sweeps clean" (or some such stuff... forgive me, I'm old...) it's time to put this past year's news page out to pasture. But don't worry if you missed anything -- it hasn't gone far. You can now find every little belligerently centered* bit of it HERE! (And shortly on the Old News page, as usual.) So on behalf of myself, Lee, and Jack and Misty, let me wish you all a safe, sane and happy 2020! Happy New Year, everybody! Jerry D. Withers, Your Friendly Neighborhood Webmeister™ *P.S.: Still can't fix the code, so it looks like 2020 is gonna be belligerently centered as well.
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