THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
One of the things I’ve discovered about getting older is that I’m finally starting to have answers as well as questions.
They may not be the right answers, but if I utter one or two with the right degree of self-assurance I often can make myself sound like a wise, confident individual happily sharing what I’ve learned over the years.
And if I’m really lucky, someone I’m talking to will respond in a way that helps me take another tiny step toward becoming that wise, confident individual I’d so much like to be.
Sometimes an answer can even pay off in a way that’s both delightful and unexpected.
One such time was a couple of years ago. Gwen the Beautiful and I were over at Wanda the Arkansas Angel’s house in Conway, and Wanda introduced us to D.C. Rowlett, a childhood buddy living in Vilonia, Arkansas.
A retired truck driver, D.C.’s a smart, smiling guy with a friendly mustache and an even friendlier guitar, and he can sing the stuffing out of all those great old songs that only get played on “Classic Country” stations these days.
After an impromptu performance that would’ve made Hank Williams Sr. proud, D.C. allowed as how’d been a viewer of many of the TV shows I’d written back in the day and was a regular reader of my writing here as well. As a result, he said, he had one question for me.
“Everything you write,” said D.C., “and the way you write it—what’re you all about?”
“Communication,” I said. “In my writing I tell people all about myself, hoping that’ll help them learn more about who they are.”
D.C. looked surprised. Then he nodded, and our conversation proceeded to other topics.
But from that time on, every week, on the day new words appear in this space, I—and many other friends of this extraordinary man—have been privileged to receive his responses to what I’ve had to say.
Responses such as:
“When I was a teen…I played the flat top guitar with a very good guitar picker named Leon. Now Leon and I were acquainted somewhat with Jack Campbell, a singer and songwriter who had his own radio show. Jack took a shine to our style of gospel music and recorded some of our songs on his fancy tape recorder. He wanted us to work up an album and offered to promote it for us.
“Leon and I could not believe in ourselves enough to try. No, no, it would involve too much of our girl chasing time. Because of our hesitating, Jack Campbell gave up on us. My guitar picking fingers are stiff, and my voice is about gone, but I will always wonder, “What if?”
“When I was a boy, my dad brought home a little runt pig. The plan was to let him grow to a gigantic weight, then slaughter him and put him in our newly acquired freezer. My dad, such a gentle soul, named the little guy Charlie.
“Every day, we fed that little scamp, and sure enough he grew and grew some more. D-Day finally arrived, and while my mom and sister and I cowered inside the house the deed was done.
“Well, the freezer was full of pork, and it stayed full until my dad finally realized we just couldn’t eat Charlie and gave the meat to some folks in town who needed the food and did not know Charlie personally.
“Will Rogers was right when he said, “Never name anything you plan to eat.”
And this treasure (at least from my point of view):
“Years ago I found myself out on the road on Thanksgiving day. The only consolation was that I was not alone…I saw hundreds of trucks parked there at the Atlanta Truck Stop.
“When I entered the restaurant I immediately saw why. The giant trucking company, J.B. Hunt, was buying lunch for any trucker on the road, and the waitress was bringing out the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, oversized hams and turkeys…
“I filled my plate with a little bit of ham and turkey but mostly the cornbread dressing, my favorite. When I bit into the cornbread…it tasted like some kind of gritty pudding…I was crestfallen after all the anticipation….Sort of like this morning—The Baxter Bulletin has not posted Larry B’s column….”
Well, they’ve posted this one. Can’t wait to see how D.C. communicates today.