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Misty welcoming friends to our motorhome.

And now... the news...
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 22nd, 2019... We don't like to brag around here (unless, of course, it's absolutely necessary...) but... let the bragging commence!
And now, it's time for this week's Adventure!

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ADVENTURE. Miami. Early 1960s. Misty and I were 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 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. In early March, 1970, the phone rang. It was Little Richie Johnson at Wayside. He said, "You better get packed. We're selling 50,000 a day!" A month later, on April 4th, "Tennessee Bird Walk" hit Number One, 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 at a performing arts center. Waylon joked, "You're killing my record. Please get off Number One." That 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 © April 22, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


April 15th, 2019... YAY! TENNESSEE BIRDWALK WAS #1 ON THIS DATE IN 1970! BREAK OUT THE CHEAP CHAMPAGNE! - Jack.
Hey there, folks, your perennially too tired webmeister here. (Who knew retirement would be so exhausting?) So much to catch up on, musically and otherwise; and I'll get caught up by tonight, promise. But in the meantime, Jack has a thing or two to say about the weather. Here he is...

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HURRICANES. It's mid-April, and we're already thinking about storms with names. Here's my account of a hurricane we enjoyed a couple of years ago. * * * We're busy packing for hurricane Irma. We're throwing each other into plastic bags. If we pack all our irreplaceables Misty will have to leave me behind. The stations were out of gas, Publix was out of water, but they had Peanut Butter Cups so I had 4 to cheer me up. We're going to a local motel Sunday. If the storm comes sooner we can't get there. All hotel rooms are booked solid. We're going to be sitting in the hotel lobby from midnight Saturday till 3PM Sunday. I hope they don't mind our drinking beer, smoking cigars, and having sex. Late night watching the Ch. 2 weather guy, I said, "I think he's growing a mustache". Misty said, "It's the shadow of his nose." I said, "That's an old song." When we were checking into the motel, people were sitting around the dining area eating breakfast. They were the exact same people from the hurricane last year, sitting in the same seats... like some kind of weird painting. There may have been dogs playing poker. I was carrying loads of stuff in the rain. A guy said, "You're all wet." I said, "I must have sneezed while peeing." My hands are so swollen I can't get my ring off. I'll have to use the can opener. We heard there was a missing cat in the hotel. Later, at the height of the storm, Misty said, "I just saw something fly by the window!" I said, "Was it a cat?" We were so tired from all the preparations and loading & unloading that we slept through the actual hurricane. One more hurricane and they're gonna hear from me! Copyright © April 15, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


And now, some stuff I missed... from April 8th:

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THE KIDNEY STONE CAPER. We were standing in line for the CMA Awards Show in about 1973 or '74, and talking to friends waiting with us. Faron Young was right in front of us, and he gave Misty a big kiss and hug. I didn't get one. He had recently been in a car crash, and I asked him how he was doing. He said that he'd split his tongue. I said, "Can you do any birdcalls?" We all laughed. That's what we all do when we're not winning that year. We stand in line and make each other laugh. George Morgan was just behind us and we got talking to him. Somehow my kidney stone problem was brought up. I had been to a doctor because of an abdominal pain, and he told me what it was, and that I would have a lot of them. I never did...just that one, but it was a lot of fun. George told me not to have surgery... just to buy a case of beer and drink one after the other. It made a weird kind of sense because beer is a diuretic and a sedative. I should have gone home and followed his instructions. "Home" was our motorhome, parked in The Music City Campground, in LaVergne, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. After the awards we went home to bed and forgot to buy the beer. I woke up in agony around 2 AM. If you're a guy who's never had the thrill of a kidney stone, it's a lot like giving birth to a porcupine. I asked Misty to kill me or get me to a hospital. She chose the latter, and took off for the Murfreesboro Hospital at about 60 miles an hour, with cans and dishes flying out of the cupboards, and the TV antenna still up. I was moaning on the floor in a fetal position, hoping to be struck by lightning. We got to the Murfreesboro city limits when we realized something... We had no idea where the hospital was. Just then a cop pulled us over. He said, "Follow me", and shot away like a bullet. Misty tried to keep up, but we lost him. Somehow, we eventually found the hospital and the nurses put me on a cot in the emergency room, and went to the Bahamas. A month passed. Well, maybe an hour, and no doctor came to see me. I would have welcomed Kavorkian. Misty stormed down the hall, saw a guy with a stethoscope around his neck, and asked him if there was a doctor employed there. He was miffed that she didn't recognize him as a doctor, with his new stethoscope and all. He said, "I'm not going to give drugs to every hippie off the street." They weren't used to my haircut in those days. She assaulted him verbally for a few minutes, and then dragged him out to look at our motorhome, which had our names and "Columbia/Epic Records" written on it. He made a couple of phone calls and verified our identity, and suddenly became a bowing headwaiter. He quickly gave me a shot and some pain pills, and put me up for the rest of the night in the children's section. I woke up at 7 AM to a room with Donald Duck wallpaper, and cartoons blaring on the TV. It wasn't the kids running the television, but another full-grown idiot in the next bed. I got up, walked out to the parking lot in my gown, and woke Misty up to go find my clothes. She'd had a bit of wine after the ordeal and neither of us felt great. We left the Murfreesboro Hospital in our dust, and vowed to never pay them. The pain pills ran out the next evening, and we got the case of beer George Morgan had prescribed. I took it like a good boy. I'd finished twelve or so bottles, and was still feeling some pain, but I didn't much care. I went into the bathroom, and in the silence Misty heard "PING!" And she heard me say "AHA!" She said "Let the man who is without sin pass the first stone." Copyright © April 8, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


And from April 1st... TIME SQUARE. The sound of the city rush hour wakes him up early. He's been sleeping under the newspapers and cardboard, dreaming that he's still a boy at his grandmother's house... that he still has someone who gives a damn. That he's still somebody! Dreams and reality have become blurred lately. He drinks coffee from a Styrofoam cup and watches the people going to work, and then again in the afternoon he watches them from a bench as they crowd the bus stop, studying the signs on the buses, waiting for the one that will take them home. He never sees a bus that will take him home. The sun goes down and the city changes character as the temperature drops. The well-dressed business folks are replaced by dangerous people. Desperation makes you dangerous. He's gotten some wine somewhere and is wandering the downtown night alone. He checks pay phone slots for change and finds a quarter in one. Thinking about the dreams of family he's been having, and being about half stoned, he drops in the quarter and dials Grant 1623, the phone number that was his grandmother's, a lifetime ago, when he was a child. Somehow the wires and circuits of time get crossed, and from across the void his grandmother answers the phone. She says, "Hurry home, dear. Supper's on the table. I hope you're wearing your sweater... You'll catch your death of cold". These are the first words he's heard in an eternity that sound like somebody cares about him. That he really exists at all. * * * The policeman speaks into his radio, "We got a homeless here. No hurry. I think it's too late for this one". But the policeman is wrong. The boy is already home. Copyright © April 1, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.
March 25th, 2019...

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EXCITEMENT AT OUR HOUSE TODAY. Misty shouted, "Jack, come here right now and listen to this!" It was the sound of water rushing against the back of her bathroom wall. We thought the hot water heater had burst, so I ran out to the shed. Nothing. Silence. Nick, our neighbor came over and thought it was a burst water pipe behind a wall with no access, meaning the wall would have to be torn out. I said, "I'll have to get a plumber", and Misty started filling water jugs. Then I went out and shut the water off. The wall still kept roaring! That can't be! I started moving things out of the bathroom closet to see if there was a trapdoor or something. The roaring water STOPPED! It was Misty's electric toothbrush spinning against the hollow board wall! We all swear it sounded like water shooting out of a broken pipe. After a moment of silent relief we all broke out laughing. * * * A BUG ROMANCE. It's Spring and we have wasps here. Some are bigger than I am. Wasps like nooks and crannies. They prefer nooks, but will settle for a cranny. I came outside and was going to get into the car and noticed two wasps, a large one and another more petite. The large one, the boy, was looking for nooks on the car door, trying the cracks around the edges, and the space at the bottom of the window glass. He only wanted the very best nook we had to offer. I took a stick and started blocking him at every turn. This didn't make him happy. It made him more determined. Meanwhile, the girl wasp was hovering patiently a few inches away, while he was checking in. He ran and dodged like a quarterback making an end run. Then he flew about a yard away to get some air, and to tell his sweetheart not to worry. I quickly got into the car and slammed the door. Ha! I forgot where I was planning to go. I slid over, got out the other side, and escaped into the house. The next day I came out and found them inside the car, and still on their honeymoon. I opened the door wide and waved them out like a hotel door man. They gave me a dirty look and flew out, still hand in hand. * * * FROM MARCH 20th, 2014... Today we woke up to the sound of our new next-door neighbor, Nick, cleaning our roof, a good three hour job. What nice people! Then our friends Bill & Suzie came over and hung up the vertical blinds on our double glass door and window. While they were here a family of friends from our old neighborhood dropped in. They have moved to this same town. Old home week. Misty and Suzie went and got some Bo Jangles' Chicken dinners. We couldn't ask for a better day, or better friends. Copyright © March 25, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


March 22nd, 2019... Well, THIS was faster!!
Our song "Old Song" is Number One on the SoundClick Country Chart today. Listen to it here: https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=13851887 And congratulations to Jack and Michael! Well done!!
March 19th, 2019... Well, THAT was fast!

March 18th, 2019...

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A SONG FROM LIFE. My sister was in a nursing home some time ago. Her memory seemed selective, and conversations were somewhat confused. Misty and I went to visit one afternoon and she wasn't in her room. We found her with a group of patients. and we watched from outside the door. Someone, probably a nurse, was playing old time songs, and the patients were smiling and singing along. My sister was singing with enthusiasm, not missing a word. The first time we'd seen her happy in too long. More recently, I was thinking about that day, and thought this should be a song, so I wrote and rewrote the words. I thought of my friend, Michael Warner, a musician who lives in Australia. We've written a few funny songs together, and I emailed him the words. He wrote the music, sang it on a demo, and emailed it to me within three days. Misty loves it and that's good enough for me. I did a mastering mix and today we're sharing it with friends. * * * "OLD SONGS". Mrs. Miller is singing the old songs With the nurses at afternoon games. She remembers the words to the old songs, But forgotten her family's names. The past is just over her shoulder And the music can turn back the years. Old times flicker by the corner of her eye When the old songs ring in her ears. So, bring up the band and give them a hand. While we can, let's all sing along And maybe we'll find lost love in the memories That live in the heart of old songs. So, bring .. back.. the songs from the radio. Leaving the cold of this old room behind. The music we know will show us the way to go, Take us to places that wait in our mind. So, bring up the band and give them a hand. While we can, let's all sing along And maybe we'll find lost love in the memories That live in the heart of Old Songs. * * * Listen to the demo here: https://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=13851887 Jack Blanchard. Words: Jack Blanchard, Music: Michael Warner. Jack Blanchard Songs (BMI). Copyright © March 18, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


March 11th, 2019...

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MORE TRUE STORIES AND A COUPLE OF LIES. Politicians are my heroes. They are honest, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent servants of the public. They manage to get by on the same old enormous salaries until they croak. I love Republicans and Democrats equally. They ought to have two co-presidents, one from each major party. Twice as much brain power! I try to divide up my day in such a way as to be conservative on the odd hours and liberal during the even ones. I would vote twice if I could. They deserve our encouragement. They are always welcome at our home if they can find out where it is. * * * I did hard labor for minimum wage at the Dunlop tire factory. They had these giant molds that formed huge tractor tires. The molds had to be cleaned. Pieces of rubber and dirt that got in them would make the tires come out funny. The molds looked like the world's biggest waffle irons. My job was this: I'd put on a big protective mask and gloves, grab a thick hose with a ten pound nozzle, climb a ladder, bend over, lean into the mold, and start sand blasting. It was LOUD! At this point somebody would usually poke me on the butt. I'd jump, bang my head, turn off the pressure hose, back down the ladder, take off the mask, and look around. Nobody was ever there. I saw little smiles on some of the faces at break time. * * * Once I was so desperate to rid myself of writer's block that I went to a hypnotist. Just as he went into his hypnosis act somebody started a motorcycle right outside his window. I couldn't hear anything he said. The hypnotist pretended he didn't hear it, and kept on going so he could charge me full price. * * * After the week's shows in Atlanta, Boots Randolph threw a party for the artists. Later in the party some medics rushed in with a stretcher. Roy Clark grinned, raised his glass and said goodby to everybody. He got on the stretcher and was rushed to the airport in an ambulance. He had a plane to catch. * * * A lady pointed at my leather vest and said, "You know a cow was murdered for that jacket?" I said, "I didn't know there were any witnesses. Now I'll have to kill you." * * * A Wendy's cashier demanded that I show ID to prove that I was NOT eligible for the senior discount. Copyright © March 11, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


March 5th, 2019...

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HOT LONG FOOT DOGS. Almost every morning when we wake up, I say something like this to Misty: Do you come here often?" Today she said... "Not if I don't have to." She had some Strauss waltzes playing on a CD. I didn't comment. After about ten minutes of Strauss' three-quarter time, she got up and changed the CD, saying... "I want some music where I don't have to count!" Anyway... A lot of people make me laugh: Stephen Wright, Bob Newhart, Mark Twain, Homer Simpson...The list is endless. But the one who makes me laugh most often lives right here. At first I thought it was a tendency toward spoonerisms, years ago, when Misty read a roadside sign to me as : "Hot long foot dogs", and "Look at the Clydes up in the skow!" (Clouds up in the sky.) After a while I began to notice the little smile she had when saying one of these things. She knows she's funny, but she doesn't care if people think she's mixed up. Mixed up like a fox! Over the years I wrote most of them down for posterity on the inside covers of legal pads. I now have hundreds of these which I plan to go through someday, to put her sayings into a book. In the meantime, here are a few I can remember: "He's watching me like I'm a hawk." "Bleeding like a stuffed pig". "Life is a three-way street." "Let the guy without sin pass the first stone." I said "Who's that singing?" She said "The Elderly Brothers." She once said to me: "You could charm the women right out of the trees." "Running around like a chicken with its hat off." The first half of our drive from Tennessee was dreamlike, through spring mountains, rivers, and friendly country towns. The road south from the Florida border was comparatively dull. We passed an "IHOP" sign on the highway, and Misty sang a little song: "I Hop Alone. Because, to tell you the truth, I'm a rabbit. I don't mind. It's a habit. I Hop Alone." Sometimes she gets deep. Copyright © March 5, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


February 26th, 2019... Okay, here's the scoop. Vulchur digital magazine recently conducted an interview with Jack, and it's due to be published shortly. We'll have a link for it as soon as it's ready, folks. In the meantime, Jack has some words of wisdom for those of you out there who want to be songwriters. Tell 'em, sir...

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WRITING SERIOUS SONGS. I can't tell a songwriter how to write, but I can describe some of my methods that others may find helpful. On a serious lyric I try to avoid cleverness. First I stare out the window a while and mentally put myself in a place and situation, and see where it goes from there. In my case, most of them are places and situations I've been in. I set the scene with a few details I call "furniture", to get the feel of it, then the story develops from that. I have some examples. "Dandelions that grow along the highway, Silver gray they blow away like foam. Trucks roll by and make the blackbirds fly away. Seems like there ain't no goin' home." I was broke and hitchhiking in the rain outside Phenix City, Alabama. I had a hangover, a new sore tattoo, and no home to go to. Until then I'd thought I was the happy wanderer. I was hitching vaguely northward because I had remnants of a family somewhere up there. "Spent what I had left in Phenix City. Nothin' in my pocket but my comb. The way I look this morning ain't so pretty. It seems like there ain't no goin' home. Oh, it seems like there ain't no goin' home." I had walked away from a couple of relationships, thinking there would always be another waiting in the wings. I found you can't depend on that. These were not perfect relationships, but on this journey I could have used a partner. "Over on the hill I see a farmer, Workin' in his field behind a mule. There'll be smoke from the chimney of his cabin, In the evening when the air is turning cool; And a woman cookin' supper in the kitchen. That's not for me, you see my freedom's all I own. Here and there I get my share of lovin', But it seems like there ain't no goin' home. Yeah, it seems like there ain't no goin' home." After a lot of rides to nowhere that left me stranded in desolate places, I wound up in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania with the flu. It was cold and all I had for warmth was a fold up plastic raincoat. The town was having a centennial, and a bunch of good-natured men, including a sheriff, wanted to arrest me for not having a beard, as I was sitting shaking in the Greyhound station. I had somehow come up with bus fare to Buffalo, where relatives agreed to take me in, but the bus driver didn't want to let me on the bus because of my shaking, and the awful way I looked, and the wrinkled plastic I was clutching around myself. But it must have turned out all right because I'm still here, and I got a song out of it. You can listen to the song here: http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=8081265 Copyright © February 26, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


February 25th, 2019... Just an advance notice... Our peerless leader (aka: Jack) has recently been talking to a Vulchur. (Yes, that's spelled correctly.) More to come tomorrow!
February 11th, 2019...

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THE COMEDIAN. I sang with The Dawn Breakers quartet in a show club called The Elmwood Casino in Windsor, Ontario, across from Detroit. The emcee was a very funny comedian named Frankie Rapp. I once saw him in a Jerry Lewis movie. There was also a classy female singer named Gloria Brooks. She was Frankie’s ex-wife.and she told me she didn’t like old comedians. She’d been married to two of them. After comedians make us laugh we expect them to be jolly in real life. They can be quite different . Lou Costello got 60% and Bud Abbott got 40% of their income. When asked if he thought he needed Abbott, Costello said, “I could have him painted on the curtain.” Misty and I have known hilarious comics who were depressives offstage.. We got involved with one who was evil. I was producing a Starday Records artist named Rusty Diamond, who had a knack for getting rich women as backers. Rusty wanted to put together a Vegas type stage show. I knew he wasn’t ready for that, so I suggested we hire a comedy coach I'd heard of. His name was Danny Rogers. Rusty’s backer was paying for the coaching sessions, and the rent on a rehearsal hall. Danny could be funny, lovable, humble, devious, and cruel. He could be different people at different moments. He did so many characters I didn’t know which was the real him. I think he was the mean one. He’d been fired from Milton Berle’s Vegas show for being too funny. He told me “Berle was right. It was his show.” The potential comedy group consisted of Misty and me, Paul McLaughlin our sax player, and Rusty was to be the star. Rogers began calling Paul “the hick” and riding him mercilessly. I was the designated straight man, Misty was “the chick”. It never became clear what Rusty was supposed to do. It did become clear that Rusty was not going to be the star. Danny was getting paid to train him, but Rusty was on his way out. It was morphing into The Danny Rogers Group. Rogers was a terrific comedian and I was to be his Dean Martin. He didn’t even want Paul in the act. That’s why he made his life miserable, but we made sure that Paul stayed. To be fair, Danny did teach us a lot about stagecraft and comedy. He taught us some great routines, but he yelled at us all the time, which took the fun out of it. Rusty’s backers pulled the plug and he left the group, Paul “the hick” was miserable, and Misty and I were imagining fun ways to kill Danny Rogers. Misty bought an expensive new dress and Danny commanded her to “Never wear that again!” Then he booked our act into a famous showplace in the Caribbean. We all knew at that moment that we were not going to be on any island with Danny Rogers. We were actually afraid to tell him. He had become the cruel warden. But we did tell him, and he wasn’t at all happy. First he became the poor soul who’s been hurt, to make us feel guilty. He was good! Finally he got mad, did a troll dance, and left. (Maybe I made up the troll dance.) Ten years later, after we’d had several hit records, I was calling old names in our address book for some reason, and got Danny Rogers on the phone, I asked if he remembered us, and he said this: “Yeah. Too bad you never made it. I'm in the diamond business now.” With all our modern technology \we still can't strangle jerks over the phone. Copyright © February 11, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


February 5th, 2019... Well. Through fatigue and snow (NOW?!?), YFNW™ is finally catching up on things around here. Here's Jack...

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TRANSITIONS. (Written February 28th, 2015.) It's a cool gray rainy day here in Hickory Hollow, 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 © February 5, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


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THE DISNEY WORLD GROUNDBREAKING. I just found an old newspaper article I wrote back when I was a cub reporter. It's about The Walt Disney World groundbreaking, The truth can be funny. * * * It was a Rolaids morning. At 8:37 AM I remembered why I stopped getting up early, when stomachs growl, and the breath of man strikes fear into the hearts of moose. The Parkwood Plaza Cinema was packed with press people, snapping pictures and interviewing the crap out of each other. At the Disney Groundbreaking Press Conference I thought there would be mice and ducks, but not an animal spoke, and not a magic wand waved. The affair proceeded with the hilarity of a colonoscopy in the rain. One by one, executives confessed to excitement, undetectable to the human eye. The audience reacted with a burst of apathy. There were speeches about hydro-pneumatic modular electromagnetic prefabrication, followed, two or three days later, by a spirited race to the rest rooms. I think Scrooge McDuck is running the company. We stood in awe of cardboard models hovered over by cardboard dignitaries, while cameramen kneeled and stretched in their native dance. News people rattled off reporter lingo into phones, scooping each other. I was amazed to see many of them typing. I do all my writing with a brown crayon. Buses carried us to a two-hour presentation of mud, where holes were being dug on Disney swampland. Balloons represented future hotels which were the project's main theme. Then back to the buses for another ride. I awoke with a start when the bus door opened, thinking we had reached Cincinnati, only to find us at a Ramada Inn. I checked my watch. It had rusted to a stop. A nice lunch of Chicken Formica awaited us poolside. There was no shade, so we ate, glowered, and watched each other burn, to the music of a sweating Latin band. I was in such pitiful shape that when I got home my dog tried to bite me. The family asked me how it went. "Disney magic was all around", I said. "The entire day was one of beauty and song." Copyright © January 28, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


January 21st, 2018...

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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 © January 21, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


January 16th, 2019... In the immortal words of Johnny Cash, come along and ride this train...

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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 © January 15th, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


January 8th, 2019...

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SOME MUSIC MEMORIES. We were doing a Southern tour with Leroy van Dyke, and at one place they didn't have enough electricity to run to the flatbed for our show. Leroy offered to let us plug in to his bus generator. It worked fine. People share on the road. Merle Haggard used our PA system when his wasn't working. Walt Disney World put on a Country Cavalcade. The three acts were in three sections of the park and we alternated show times, so the crowd would move from one stage to the next to see all the shows. Roy Clark was at the front by the castle. Hank Williams, Jr. was at the opposite end of the Park, and Misty and I and our band set up in the center near the big merry-go-round. Our section was called Vanity Fair. It was a great day to be in show business. We got some celebrities in our club in Orlando. Roni Stoneman would come in and play her banjo with us. One night she finished an amazing solo and the audience stood and cheered. She said, "I bet you thought I was just a pretty face." Fabian was in the audience a lot, always with a good looking date. He didn't sing, but we'd sit and talk with him. The first time Ferlin Husky came in he sat at a corner table to the right of our stage. We loved Ferlin. He was such a classy guy. When we introduced him to the crowd he stood up and almost knocked himself out on a TV platform over his head. We felt bad about it. In the 1970s we did "The Three Couples Tour": with Jack Greene and Jeannie Seely, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, and Misty Morgan and me. Good times. Copyright © January 5, 2019 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


December 31st, 2018/January 1st, 2019...

Thousands of intelligent good-looking readers.

BEING ALIVE. For some people the world changes so slowly they hardly notice it. Things happen on a small familiar set, like a stage play. For others of us, our horizons have grown so far apart it's hard to get our bearings. If I ever do get back to my old neighborhood I'm sure I'll run into a guy I used to know for whom nothing much has changed. Reality is fluid. The scenery of life changes constantly. There is only one thing we can depend on, and that's the thing we fear most: Change. Relationships change, that's for sure. If we're lucky they change into something better... different, but better. Misty is my full time family. After all these years we still have lots to talk about, and we make each other laugh.. Our occasional arguments last only minutes. We were in a bad hurricane in Miami in the 60's The metal posts holding our carport were banging up and down in the 135 mph wind. A guy on the radio yelled "Holy crap! The back door just blew off!" I said, "Isn't he supposed to cheer US up?" I was sitting by the window listening to the sound of emptiness. This is not like listening to no sound at all, because the sound of emptiness contains all the things you hoped would be in it, and all the sounds that once were. ROGER MILLER. Roger Miller walked in on our session at Columbia. I stopped everything and went to meet him. I put my hand out and was going to say "I'm a fan of yours." Before I could, he said "I'm a fan of yours." A high spot of my life. My grammar school was pretty strict, but they gave us education on par with today's colleges. In seventh and eighth grades all us boys had to wear ties. The result was grotesque but funny. The most popular style was this: A blue flannel checkered lumberjack shirt and a bright red rayon clip-on tie with a picture of Popeye on it. 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. Copyright © December 31, 2018 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of the author.


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 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 2019! Happy New Year, everybody! Jerry D. Withers, Your Friendly Neighborhood Webmeister™
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