Country Connections

The Crow’s Nest

Country Connections by James and Ellen Perry
It’s early autumn now, nights getting cooler, days getting shorter with cool mornings and warm afternoons. Some trees are showing color and goldenrods are bright yellow with flowers.
Goldenrods are the last honey flow for the bees before winter sets in. The reptiles are searching for underground places to overwinter in. Black bears and groundhogs are hunting food to build fat reserves for their upcoming hibernation.

LBR - Liars Bench Report

It’s a balmy afternoon with the temperatures hitting the 90s, but I’m comfortable on my porch as the afternoon shadows get long. The birds and squirrels are searching for their supper in my yard and trees.
While watching this late afternoon daily happenings I am hit with an old memory that almost ruins my afternoon reverie.
My thoughts go back to my earlier and more naïve life. As a younger man, I wanted to live my life on the ocean in a southern region.

From Forest Gump: Stupid is as stupid does

Country Connections By James and Ellen Perry
As I sit here on my porch in the late evening shadows, I am thinking of men’s necessities in life.
They are: at least one good dog, one good old pick-up truck during your life, an understanding wife who never complains and only thinks of you when you are away, bluebird sky days after a soft rain, a fish on the line every cast, grandchildren who sit on your lap and don’t squirm and are very quiet, a good baseball game on TV, a Sunday afternoon nap and sardines for a snack.
Also, a good barber who tells you jokes.

Boys will be boys

Dan was always the sergeant, fully in command with the rest of us boys his privates. This summer day we were fighting the Japanese on some Pacific Island.
We crawled, jumped over oak tree stumps, eased through briars and bushes on the Perry farm overlooking Norris Lake in 1954. We knew that our Sergeant Dan was about to have us attack the Japs, win another victory and march home later that day being patriotic soldiers in this boys’ army.

Time Changes Everything

Country Connections by James and Ellen Perry
“Time Changes Everything” was recorded in 1940 by Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan: “Heavenly shades of night are falling, It’s twilight time, Out of the mist your voice is calling, ’Tis twilight time.”
These beautiful lyrics were sung by Tony Williams and The Platters in the late spring of 1958. It was an international hit with lyrics written by Buck Ram in the ’40s. He later became the manager of The Platters.

Frank Carter, the legend

Country Connections by James and Ellen Perry
Circa 1954: Rose Hill School, five miles north of Maynardville, Tennessee, on Highway 33
Jerald, Johnny Milton, Howard, Dan, Jerry, and Larry, let me tell you what I heard the teachers talking about. I just heard the big room teacher tell the little room teacher that Frank Carter will be here Monday in the big room ’til he gets all the big boys straightened out. I heard that he has three or four boys beginning with Ken to get a lesson in humility by his paddle Monday morning.

A thank you to good neighbors

Zola Hurst
After my father returned from Europe at the end of World War II, he along with my mother and me moved to his home county that was Union County, Tennessee.
For two-and-a-half years they rented a home in the Central Peninsula that is now called the Chuck Swan Management Area. Then they moved to the Hacker place between Hickory Valley and Kettle Hollow.

Changes: Good or bad?

James Perry

Country Connections by James & Ellen Perry
Time marches on. Memories, like old pictures, fade. Family members and old friends die.
The homesteads and farms remembered from youth are torn down or divided and sold by their heirs. Subdivisions are encroaching on our beloved mountains and valleys and now encompass the beautiful lakes we once enjoyed. “Keep off” signs are popping up as developers buy up property and build houses on top of our scenic hills ruining our vistas and changing the mountain silhouettes forever.

Christmas Gift

Country Connections By James and Ellen Perry
The sun had made its daily trip through Southeast Alabama and had set in the west. Everyone that night in the Elmer Hunter home near Columbia, Alabama, was enjoying supper, and after eating, cleaned the table, washed the dishes and retired to the center room to sit around the fireplace while listening to the radio, talking small talk and getting ready to retire to bed.

Halloween Surprise

Country Connections by James and Ellen Perry
It was late October, the best I remember 1957 or 1958. Our neighbor’s wife, who was also my father’s sister, invited our family to join her family and others for our first Halloween party.

The Roarks: From Kentucky to the world

By James and Ellen Perry
As an acorn sprouts and grows into a sapling, then matures into a large oak tree, so did the growth of Paul Roark’s family.
This story begins in the coal mining town of Coxton, Kentucky, which is in Harlan County. Paul was born into a family that had mined coal for generations, as did most boys and men in the region. Paul’s father, after seeing an accident where a miner was killed, decided to move his family north where jobs were more plentiful and safer.

Betsy Stowers Frazier: from Entertainer to Angel

Early Picture of Mike and Betsy Stowers Frazier and their daughters Nancy Lee and Beth

Early Picture of Mike and Betsy Stowers Frazier and their daughters Nancy Lee and Beth

In 1933, the northeast corner of Union County, Tennessee, saw a new business open in Luttrell. A short fifteen years later, after surviving the Great Depression, and World War II with most of the young men serving in the armed forces, the property that consisted of a general merchandise store and a small brick home was sold to Bethel Reed Stowers and he moved his family there.

Carl Smith - From Union County to Mr. Country - Part 3

Country Connections By James and Ellen Perry
Carl Smith’s talent and good looks took his career in country music into a four-year, 190-episode TV show called “Carl Smith’s Country Music Hall” for Canadian Television, and was also syndicated in the USA. The show ran from 1964 until 1969.
Carl’s television show was appreciated by men and women of all ages. Ladies especially liked Carl because he was tall and handsome with wavy black hair and blue eyes. Carl was very courteous and had easy going mannerisms and a smooth voice. Carl had it all, as Mrs. Ruth White said.

Carl Smith - from Union County to Mr. Country - Part 1

Country Connections
by James and Ellen Perry
As March 15, 1923, came, the Doc and Ina Smith family had no notion of what was to transpire in a short 23 years, and how their family would be impacted by the birth this day of their only son after bearing and raising five girls. The name given to this baby boy born on this day, just a short walk north of Maynardville, Tennessee, was Carl Milton Smith.

Chubby Beeler, the Man Behind the Stars

Sharon and Chubby Beeler

Country Connections by James and Ellen Perry
I first met Chubby Beeler during my freshman year 1959/1960 at Horace Maynard High School in Maynardville, Tennessee, the county seat of Union County. Chubby was a phenomenon at school as he was a very good guitar picker and had an easygoing personality, as we called it back then. He hasn’t changed over the years even after all his success as a guitar picker displaying his great talent from Union County to the Grand Ole Opry and many places in between.

The Betterway Quartet - A dream that came true

From small acorns, large oak trees grow, and so did a Union County gospel group. This group started jamming about 1978, so said one of the founding members to me. They included Jerry Cole, Sr., Bill Turner, Neal Walker, and Dannie Peters.
Then they became known as Union Grass, a bluegrass and bluegrass gospel band. Union Grass started entertaining at bluegrass festivals, local churches and pie suppers. They always closed with a bluegrass gospel song or a gospel song by Hank Williams.

“Lath” Wyrick—A man before his time

Esther Keck Wyrick and William Lathan “Lath” Wyrick

Esther Keck Wyrick and William Lathan “Lath” Wyrick

It was 1954. My brothers and I were sitting on the front porch of our home with our Dad, Jesse Perry, when a 1950 Dodge pickup came into the yard. It was Lath Wyrick.
He got out and walked up to the porch. Daddy said, “Get a chair and set a spell, Lath.”
“I believe I will, Jess,” Lath said.