Saturday, November 22, 2014

Darrell Speck: Behind The Record (Rockabilly)

In the early 1940's, Syd Nathan was having success selling used records in his downtown Cincinnati dry goods store, so he decided to make his own records and in 1945, launched King Records. He hired both white and black artists and successfully cross-marketed their songs in the rhythm & blues and country markets. This cross-pollination of musical styles would be a major influence in the development of rockabilly and popular rock and roll.

In the early 1950's, a growing market for recording local artists was recognized. Nathan had already created a company known as Royal Plastics, located at 1540 Brewster Avenue in Cincinnati, to master, press and print his records and over the next 15 years, King produced thousands of releases for small independent labels.

How I Love You (AV-45-101)

One such label was AL VIC Records, owned by Allie and Lefty Combs. The studio operated out of the Harrod Theatre Building in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Besides being a theater owner, Lefty was also a country music singer. Naturally, he released his music on his own label. Others who recorded on AL VIC were Gary Link and The Rock-A-Fellas, The Rhythmettes, Clarence Walls, George and Pee Wee - The Tennessee Pals, Gordon Sizemore, Jay Hammond, Le Troy Reed, The Vandells, Lefty Combs, Tommy Howard, The Routeens, The Hocking Hillbillies, Don Youngblood, The Blue Grass Mt. Boys, Dale Anderson, Wanda K. Lefler, Mary Jane Hisey, Old Joe Clark and Darrell Speck and The Rebel Rousers.

Soon after Syd Nathan began King records in Cincinnati, in Albany, Kentucky, nine-year-old Darrell Speck told his mother, Dimple, that he wanted to learn how to play the guitar just like her. The year was 1947. And so, she began teaching him the chords and soon Darrell was singing and playing anywhere and everywhere he could. By the age of 16, Darrell had gotten a job performing on WAIN-AM in Columbia, Kentucky. He and his band, Darrell Speck and the Rebel Rousers, would drive to Columbia every Saturday morning to do a 15 minute radio show. In 1955, a new radio station signed on the air in Monticello, Kentucky. Darrell auditioned at WFLW and soon he and his group left Columbia for a weekly show at the Monticello station. Darrell did not attend high school past 1955. In 1956, he joined the Navy and married his high school sweetheart, Glenda. After a two-year stint in the Navy at Newport, Rhode Island, Darrell returned home to help his dad put WANY-AM on the air. In addition to becoming a broadcaster, a career that would last over 30 years, Darrell also regrouped his band and continued performing on the side. By June of 1959, Darrell had written two songs that he thought were good enough to be on a record. So, in a few weeks, Darrell and his group (Buddy Bell, Larry Wayne Guffey, Don Daffron andand Jake Smith) traveled to Harrodsburg, where they recorded three tracks at the AL VIC studio. The songs were How I love You, Take Me Back and Not A Word From You. The first two songs were put on a 45 r.p.m. single and 500 copies were pressed at the King Records pressing facility in Cincinnati.

Take Me Back (AV-45-100)

The Rebel Rousers eventually split up. Darrell did several music projects during his life. He remained a radio broadcaster for more than thirty years. He and Glenda raised five children. About a year before he died, in 2003, I was online doing research for my blog, when I stumbled upon a rockabilly website that mentioned dad's AL VIC record. It was then I discovered his record had somehow managed to travel overseas and since 1981 had been released on a total of six various artist rockabilly compilation albums and CD's. Later, I found more (twelve total) in Germany, England, Spain, the Netherlands and France.

They are as follows:
1981 - Bison Bop (Germany) The Bop That Never Stopped, Vol. 11

1981 - White Label (Netherlands) Primitive Sound

1985 - Buffalo Bop (Germany) The Bop That Never Stopped, Vol. 11

1996 - Esso SP (England) "Rockabilly Ramblers 6

1998 - Buffalo Bop (Germany) Teen Town

1998 - Buffalo Bop (Germany) Campus Cutie

year? Club (Spain) Grab This And Dance, Vol. 22

2007 - Rockin' Rarities (France) Vol. 5: 16 Red Hot Rockin' Hits

2012 - Presto Records (UK) Big Bad Rockabilly Boppers Vol. 11

2014 - Thundersqueak Records (England) Rockabilly Rock and Roll Nuggets, Vol. 13 The Rare, the Rarer and the Rarest Rockers

2014 - Thundersqueak Records (England) Rockabilly Rock and Roll Nuggets, Vol. 16 The Rare, the Rarer and the Rarest Rockers

2014 - Pocatello Records - Rockin' Through The Years, Vol. 121 "A Mega Collection of Boppin', Jumpin', Jivin', Shakin' Rockers"

Elam Huddleston, Civil War Union Guerrilla

At his Nashville trial, one of the 53 deaths listed in the indictment against Champ Ferguson was that of Union guerilla Elam Huddleston. If there was one Unionist who was a thorn in Ferguson's side, other than Tinker Dave Beaty, it was Elam Huddleston.

The bad blood between them started before the war. Allegedly, Ferguson had been swindled by some Fentress County, Tennessee men in a business transaction involving hogs. Even though Ferguson received a judgement in his favor, his brother, Jim, and another man took a horse belonging to one of the Fentress County men, Alexander Evans, as attachment to the debt. Unaware of this, Champ went to a camp meeting near the Lick River in Fentress County and there was beset upon by a group of men that included Elam Huddleston. Ferguson physically fought off these men, cutting one of them with a knife. Huddleston vowed to kill Champ, who turned himself in to avoid that. On October 28, 1862, Champ and his men ran into Elam and his men near the town of Albany, and the gun battle that ensued is probably the biggest skirmish that occurred during the civil war in Clinton County. Both men escaped death that day.

Sixty five days later, on New Years night, 1863, Champ Ferguson killed Elam Huddleston.

Champ Ferguson, along with some of John Hunt Morgan's men, had caught up with Elam Huddleston at a log house in Adair County. The home was under construction. It had no floor upstairs, but a few plank on the joists. Huddleston was upstairs shooting out of a window upstairs, when someone ordered the house burned. Someone inside doused the fire with water about the time that Huddleston was shot. He was believed killed as he fell between the joists and dropped to the ground floor. He was brought outside where Ferguson put another bullet in him.

Just before Champ Ferguson was executed, the commandant, Colonel Shafter, read the charges and specifications together with the sentence of the Court. As the different charges were read he either bowed in acknowledgement or shook his head in denial of them. When the name Elam Huddleston was read, he shook his head, and remarked that he could tell it better than that. During the trial, Ferguson said this about Elam Huddleston's death: "I did not kill Elam. I was along, however, I think Ab. Hildreth shot him. I know that Elam shot at me, and the ball grazed my clothes."

According to J.A. Brents' book, Elam Huddleston was five feet ten inches tall, had light hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. He was a man of good sense, was true to his country and was as brave as any man that ever breathed.

Huddleston enlisted in the 1st regiment of Kentucky cavalry, commanded by Colonel Frank Wolford. He was a private in company C.

On January 19, 1862, he took part in the battle of Mill Springs. The Union pickets were attacked at daylight, and twenty mounted men were immediately sent to their support. Elam Huddleston was one of the twenty. When they arrived, the Union pickets were confronted by an entire regiment of infantry. The pickets took a strong position, and received the attack of the rebel regiment. The latter however were held in check until other forces formed and marched to the scene of action, a distance of half a mile. It was however with considerable loss in killed and wounded. The pickets stood firm until their foes were nearly upon them, when all retired except Elam Huddleston, who remained until he was nearly surrounded, when, throwing himself flat upon his horse, he galloped to the rear without any injury. Before his return, his brother Ambrose said to an officer that Elam had acted very foolishly; that he had remained until he was surrounded, and was then killed. Elam, upon his return, reported that he saw four men fall, one he believed to be a commissioned officer. After the battle the ground was examined, and one captain and three privates were found to have been slain. Huddleston took his horse to the rear, and returned and did good service on foot. After the battle, he pointed out a spot upon which he said he had shot several of the enemy. The ground was examined, and the bodies of one commissioned officer, and ten privates were found.

Elam Edward Huddleston is buried in plot F, 0, 665 at Mill Springs National Cemetery at Nancy. Kentucky.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dennis Hopkins, Light Horse Soldier

My great-grandmother, Della Craig Means, was the granddaughter of Ellison Leslie, who was the brother of Kentucky Governor Preston H. Leslie. During the revolutionary war, their grandfather, and my 5th great-grandfather, Dennis Hopkins, Jr. served in the Randolph County, North Carolina Militia. He was twenty years old when he joined.

Dennis filed his Revolutionary War Pension Application in Clinton County on Jan. 2, 1843, at the age of 82. Born on July 13, 1760, in Orange Co., North Carolina, he was raised in Randolph Co., where he lived during the Revolutionary War. He entered the service as a light horse soldier in Randolph County for three months, beginning in October of 1780, under Capt. Wm York and Maj. Thomas Dogin. He was drafted at the house of Betty Cole and marched down Deep River ranging throughout Randolph and Chatham counties and was stationed some considerable time at the barracks in Chatham county on the Plantation of Col. Littrell. A portion of the time he also stayed at Bell’s Hill in Randolph County, where the company's headquarters were located. He also participated in marches through Guilford and Orange counties. He was shot in his foot during a skirmish with the Tories in Randolph County but still served out the full term of three months before receiving a written discharge from Capt. York sometime in January of 1781.

Dennis volunteered for another three months on April 1, 1781 and marched down Sandy Creek to his previous station at Col. Littrell’s Plantation at Bell's Mill. During his time at war, he said he caught, whipped, killed and hung many Tories or helped drive them out of the country. Sometime around July, he marched to the Randolph County Court House, where he received his final discharge as a revolutionary war soldier.

Dennis Hopkins married in Randolph County and lived there thirteen more years before moving to Clark County, Georgia, where he lived ten years before moving to Wayne County. Kentucky, where lived some 32 years. That portion of Wayne County where he lived later became part of Clinton County.

Dennis Hopkins died on June 26, 1850 at the age of 90. He is buried at Hopkins Cemetery in Clinton County, Kentucky.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Escape

On April 9, 1954, a man escaped from the jail at Albany, Kentucky by sawing a latch on the lock to his cell and then, removing several bricks from the back wall of the jail, dropped from the second floor to the ground using a rope made of blankets. Jail officials shouldn't have been too surprised though. Just hours earlier they had confiscated two saws, 56 saw blades, brace and bits, a screwdriver, oil, putty, a rope and other tools from Means' cell, but apparently overlooked the fact that he had been sawing on the latch and had camouflged it with hte t. He was being held on default of an $8,000 bond.

The Professor

On Gilligan's Island, the professor could do just about anything. He went on the three-hour cruise to write a book about ferns but he brought along enough books to last a year or longer. But, in those books were solutions for every single problem the castaways encountered. He thought up all the plans to get the castaways out of danger from island invaders. He could hypnotize the Skipper. He produced electric power for phonographs or washing machines by having Gilligan or the Skipper manually pedal, or turn a pulley, which the Professor engineered. He even invented a way to recharge the batteries in the radio using coconuts and bamboo. The only thing he could never do was fix a two-foot hole in the boat. RIP Russell Johnson. Thanks for all you did to bring comfort to your fellow shipmates, and for all the laughs you gave those of us who were watching from 'a thousand miles away.' You did something that every boy in the world wanted to kissed Ginger. Way to go, dude!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Where We'll Never Grow Old

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelation 21:4
James Moore (1888-1962) was a Missionary Baptist minister, a singing teacher and a gospel songwriter from Georgia. He wrote over 500 songs. Sales of his phonograph records ran into the millions. His songs included I Believe in Jesus, Inside the Gate and the beautiful classic hymn, Where We'll Never Grow Old, written on April 22, 1914.

I have heard of a land on the far away strand
’Tis a beautiful home of the soul
Built by Jesus on high, where we never shall die
’Tis a land where we never grow old
Never grow old, never grow old
In a land where we’ll never grow old
Never grow old, never grow old
In a land where we’ll never grow old
In that beautiful home where we’ll never more roam
We shall be in the sweet by and by
Happy praise to the King through eternity sing
’Tis a land where we never shall die
When our work here is done and the life crown is won
And our troubles and trials are o’er
All our sorrow will end, and our voices will blend
With the loved ones who’ve gone on before

The Goodman Sacred Singers recorded their version of the song on Champion Records in 1928.

Andrew Means: "The Battle of Horseshoe Bend"

Andrew Means, Jr., was born Randolph County, North Carolina in 1791 and migrated to Overton County, Tennessee in 1808.

As a young man, he fought in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend as a private in Colonel Stephen Copeland's regiment of Tennessee Volunteers.

It was the War of 1812 and the place was Alabama. The Creek Indians had become divided into two factions: the Upper Creeks (or Red Sticks), a majority who opposed the American expansion, and the Lower Creek, who were more assimilated and sought to remain on good terms with the Americans. On March 27, 1814, General Andrew Jackson's troops attacked a red stick Creek village. The battle lasted for more than five hours before the Creek warriors were defeated. Roughly 800 of the 1,000 Red Stick warriors were killed. Jackson lost fewer than 50 men during the fight and reported 154 wounded.

After the war, Andrew and his family migrated to Missouri. He died there in 1879 and is buried in Means Cemetery near Liberty. Andrew and his wife, Sara, raised 11 children.

Andrew's brother, Benjamin Means, was my 4th great-grandfather.

(Andrew Means)

Hitler Rides In The Empty Seat: "Conserving In A War"

The Office of Price Administration was established on August 28, 1941. Its functions were originally to prevent wartime inflation by managing price controls and rents after the outbreak of World War II.

Everyone in the nation was encouraged to 'do their part' to conserve as much as possible. Folks were also reminded that the enemy might be 'closer than they thought.'

Advertising slogans during the war were many...

"Can what you can!"
"Team Up To Keep Food Prices Down!"
"Don't Bite Off More Than You Can Chew"
"Loose Lips Can Sink Ships!"
and of course....
"When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler!"

The OPA had the power to place ceilings on all prices except agricultural commodities, and to ration scarce supplies of tires, automobiles, shoes, nylon, sugar, gasoline, fuel oil, coffee, meats and processed foods. At the peak, almost 90% of retail food prices were frozen. The OPA was abolished on May 29, 1947.

Here are some of the print advertisements during the OPA's tenure.