2018

Christmas 2018 Holiday Livestreams by Mree

Sunday, December 30, 2018 0
Christmas 2018 Holiday Livestreams by Mree
These are the live streams that the singer Mree did leading up to Christmas. To sum it up: her voice is amazing and beautiful.

More about her from Wikipedia:

Marie Hsiao, best known as Mree, is an indie folk singer-songwriter from New Jersey. She is of Taiwanese and Bulgarian descent. Mree began writing her own songs at the age of 14 and released her debut album, Grow, in October 2011. The album debuted at #18 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Chart.





Blues Singer Willie J. Foster's Garden

Friday, December 28, 2018 0
Blues Singer Willie J. Foster's Garden
R.I.P.: Willie J. Foster
September 21, 1921 - May 20, 2001
Willie J. Foster in his back yard.

The afternoon of Friday, May 15, 1998, started with nothing for me to do. Around 8 pm that night I planned to see harp master Willie J. Foster at the B & B Quick Mart, but 2 pm found me driving aimlessly around Greenville. I found myself where Nelson Street meets the levee. I hadn't been on Nelson Street in more than a year, so I turned the Bluesmobile right, east, and headed down Nelson Street, thinking I'd drive by Perry Payton's Flowing Fountain Lounge just to see if it was still there.

It was, and I also saw Perry's big Buick outside the front door. Thinking the joint might be open at such an early hour, I slowed my big Bluesmobile and looked closely.

Through the screen door, I could see inside the building. The joint was open. I parked the Bluesmobile and went inside.

Perry was alone inside the building. We greeted each other warmly, then he served me a soft drink and sat beside me on an adjacent bar stool. After a minute during which he mostly bitterly complained about the casinos taking the money of his customers, the screen door opened and a middle aged black woman walked quickly inside and sat on the stool on the other side of Perry.

In addition to the Flowing Fountain, Perry operates a funeral home. I kept my mouth shut while Perry explained in detail to the woman all the intricacies of the white man's legal system as it pertained to the affairs of her recently departed mother. During that conversation, which I let go in one of my ears and out the other ear because it was none of my business (except that Perry's funeral home had not handled the funeral arrangements for the recently departed), a thought struck me--white people pay good money to bad lawyers for information that some black people get from their bartender for nothing.

The system explained, the woman exited as quickly as she had entered. Perry and I continued our conversation. "So," he said, "you're gonna see Willie Foster tonight, huh?"

"Yeah. Out at the B & B out by the festival grounds. That's the only place I've ever seen Willie--at the festival. And a long time ago I saw him at a white people bar, but the sound system went out."

"He can blow that harp," Perry said. "Never heard better."

"Yeah, he's good. I'm looking forward to hearing him tonight and to meeting him."

"You never met him?"

"No. Never met him."

"Well, hell, why don't you go over to his house and meet him? He'd be glad to see you. That is if he could see you. He's blind."

"Yeah, I know."

"He don't live far from here. Want me to call him?"

So Perry called Willie and then gave me directions to his house. Thus by the coincidence of driving down Nelson Street began one of the most memorable meetings of my life, one I will remember for the rest of my life.

I easily found Willie's modest and neat white frame house and parked the Bluesmobile at the curb beside a white picket fence. There behind a white wooden gate across his driveway stood Willie J. Foster, a tan cordless phone dangling from a black string around his neck, his arms down at his sides and his eyes looking across the gate and toward the road as if looking for me. But, no, I remembered, he's blind.

I got out of the Bluesmobile and walked up to the gate and the elderly black man on the other side. His eyes still looking across the gate and toward the road, I noticed his right foot seemingly searching for something on the ground on his side of the gate. "Hi, Mr. Foster," I said. "I'm Junior Doughty. Glad to meet you."

"Glad to meet you," he returned. "I've heard Bud [Horton] talk about you. Can you see a wire down here on the ground?"

I looked over the gate and at the ground near his feet. "No sir."

"Well, this gate will just have to stay untied. Come on in."

I joined him in his yard and pulled the gate closed behind me.

He nodded his head toward the nearby front porch and said, "Go on in the house."

I stepped up on the porch and waited while he, using an aluminum walker, came across the yard and agonizingly slowly climbed the steps and joined me on the porch. "Go on in," he said again. "Hold the door open for me."

The door, thick glass from top to bottom, had a sturdy metal frame and was covered with black wrought iron burglar bars. I opened it and stepped inside his living room. It was squeaky clean and neat as a pin. To my right I could see through a doorway and inside a bedroom. It was clean and neat and the bed was made. I turned and held the door as Willie Foster slowly came through it. "Lock it," he said as he entered the room and I closed the door.

I locked it and said, "Damn, Mr. Foster, why do you have such a heavy duty front door?"

He made his way slowly to a wheelchair against a wall. "My youngest son," he said as he plopped down in the wheelchair. "He's 18. I just bailed him out of jail. ‘Leave ‘im in there,' everybody told me. But he's my son."

"Yes sir."

"What could I do?"

"I don't know," I answered, wanting to say, If you have to bar your doors to protect yourself from your son, maybe you should have left him in jail. Then I said, "Is it crack?"

"Crack cocaine," Willie said, sweeping his arm angrily around and pointing it toward the kitchen and a back door built exactly like the front door. "That street back there--it's Crack Alley. I tell him, ‘Stay away from that street.' But he doesn't listen to me, he doesn't listen to me, he doesn't listen to me. . . ."

Embarrassed and wanting to change the subject, I said, "Your house sure is clean and neat. Makes mine back in Louisiana look awful. You married?"

"Yes, but me and my wife don't live together. She lives about 4 blocks over. She comes over and takes care of me. We get along better'n any married people I know. Long as she lives over there and I live over here."

"Is she a lot younger than you?"

"She's 41. That's a lot younger than me."

"That's why y'all don't get along." Then, engaging my mouth before I engaged my brain, I said, "You ought to get you a woman close to your own age. Y'all might could live together an' she could take care of you."

"What? I don't want to live with a woman! My wife takes care of me just fine and we don't live together. I don't want an old woman! I like young women."

"Yes sir. How old are you?"

"I was born on September 21, 1921. I'll be 77 my next birthday."

"Yes sir."

"I was born on a cotton sack."

"You what?"

"My mother was picking cotton when I was born. Started having me out in the middle of the field. They spread out a cotton sack and laid her on it. That's where she had me."

"My God."

"Lots of people don't believe that, but it's true. I'm the only child she had. Don't have any brothers or sisters."

I knew Willie Foster was crippled as well as blind, but I didn't know why he was crippled. Sitting near him as he sat in the wheelchair, I could see that his left leg was artificial. It had been amputated slightly above his knee. "Mister Foster, how'd you lose your leg?"

"It got infected when I was on tour in New Zealand in ‘93. We went swimming in the ocean one day, and I stepped on a shell and it cut me between my toes. I pulled it out and threw it away, but a little piece of it must have stayed in there. It got infected, but I didn't worry much about it until it started hurting. Then it started really hurting. When I got back home I went to the VA in Jackson. They tried everything. They'd get the infection stopped, then it'd come back. I never had anything hurt me like that leg did. That went on for 3 years. Awful pain. Then in ‘96 the doctors told me they could give me an antibiotic that might kill me or they could cut off my leg. I said, ‘Cut it off.' Just like that I said, ‘Cut it off.' Didn't think twice about it. And that leg hasn't hurt me since."

Willie chain-smoked menthol cigarettes. He crumpled an empty green pack and reached out his hand and moved it around until he found one of the several ashtrays on the little table beside his wheelchair. Then he wheeled the chair inside the nearby bedroom. I stood and followed him.

He reached the foot of the bed and got out of the wheelchair. Then, carefully and awkwardly and bracing on the bed, he eased around the bed. I stood on one side and watched as he reached the head of the bed on the other side and then, carefully and awkwardly, got on his knees in the floor and started pulling stuff from beneath the bed. Out came his hand, clutching a green carton. He extracted a green package from the carton and stuffed the carton back under the bed, hiding it from his son, I then realized.

At that moment and as that blind and crippled old man started the slow and awkward process of returning to his wheelchair, my throat swelled with emotion--anger at his son and pity for the old man. "Mister Foster, if you'd asked me I would have gotten you a pack of cigarettes. Next time you need something just ask. I'll get it for you, okay? Won't be any bother."

Willie J. Foster in his bedroom
Willie J. Foster in his bedroom
At that moment I watched the old man swell with emotion--anger at me. He stated, "Listen! Everything I can do for myself, I do! I was born doing for myself! No sisters. No brothers. If I fall, then you can help me." He plopped down in the wheelchair, green pack of cigarettes in his hand.

"Yes sir," I said, beginning to admire this old man.

He started wheeling himself back toward the living room. I followed. Nervous, I started to close the bedroom door. "Leave it open," Willie said and pointed toward the top of the door. "Used to when I'd go to bed at night, I'd close the door and prop a cowbell up at the top. If my son came in there at night, it'd fall off and wake me up."

I was stunned. This old man, blind and crippled, went to bed at night afraid his son would sneak in the room and knock him in the head.

"Now," Willie added, "I've got a burglar alarm in there. If he comes in, it goes off and wakes me up."

Willie wheeled his chair beside the living room window. I sat on the nearby couch and watched him smoke a cigarette. I can't describe my emotions at that moment as I watched him outlined by the light from the window behind him. Suddenly, the phone hanging from around his neck rang. A lady from the Smithsonian calling, making arrangements for Willie's upcoming concert at that institution. All I could think about was a cowbell and an 18-year-old boy.

Then Willie needed my help and asked for it. He sent me in his bedroom for an envelope and a marker, a blue marker I must add. I wrote the Smithsonian lady's phone # down on the back of the envelope. "Large numbers," Willie informed me.

When I finished and he hung up the phone, I handed him the envelope and he held the large blue numbers about two inches from his eyes. "Good," he said.

I remembered Willie mentioning the VA Hospital and that he was about my father's age. "Mr. Foster, were you in World War II?"

"4th Battalion, Quartermaster Corps. In England. I drove a truck. You know, the first time I got on stage was in London in 1943 when I was a soldier. One of those shows came. What do you call ‘em?"

"A USO show?"

"That's it. USO. There was three people with that show. Joe Louis. He was the world's greatest boxer. Betty Grable. The most beautiful girl in the world. Billy Eckstine. He had the most beautiful voice in the world. I went there to see Joe Louis. Joe Louis was an inspiration to me. You know, a black man and he was the world's best at what he did."

"Wow, you actually saw Joe Louis?"

"Did more than that. Joe Louis hit me."

"What?"

"The three of them got up there on stage. Joe Louis got up there and---"

"Wait a minute. Did you say that Joe Louis hit you?"

"On my shoulder. Let me finish. Joe Louis got up there, and he boxed around the stage. Betty Grable got up there, and she paraded around and showed us how beautiful she was. Billy Eckstine got up there and sang. When it was over they left the stage and stood along the wall. Then the announcer came out and said if any of us soldiers had a talent, come on up. One guy did the splits. Another guy done the jitterbug. A guy sang. Then the announcer said, ‘Anybody else?' Nobody went up. Then the announcer said, ‘Where's Private Foster? He's always blowing his harmonica.'

Willie showing me a case of harmonicas with a red  tuning letter on the bottom of each harmonica's box.
Willie showing me a case of harmonicas with a red 
tuning letter on the bottom of each harmonica's box.
"My mother sent me that harmonica. Didn't cost her but a quarter. It was a B. Man, I kept that harmonica for years. Finally blowed it out."

"A "B"? Like Bee Brand playing cards?"

"No. Tuned for B. Like B, C, G."

"Oh," I said. "So that announcer said, ‘Where's Private Foster?' huh?"

"Yes. Then the guys around me started pushing me up on that stage. I'd never blowed a harmonica in front of an audience before, especially an audience that big and in front of Joe Louis. I was scared to death. Not only that, I didn't really know but one song--Lionel Hampton's Hamp's Boogie. You ever heard of Lionel Hampton?"

"Yes sir, but not the song."
Willie blowing a "B"
Willie blowing a "B"

"There was a piano up there, and I walked over to the guy playing it and I asked him if he knew Hamp's Boogie. He did. I told him I'd never been on a stage in my life. He told me not to worry and to just blow and he'd follow me. So I started blowing. That piano player was good. He followed everything I did. The people went crazy. Screaming and yelling. I could see Joe Louis, and he was clapping his hands and yelling. When the song ended, they wouldn't let me leave the stage. They wanted another song.

"I walked over to the piano player and said, ‘That's the only song I know.'

"He said, ‘Play it again.'

"So I played Hamp's Boogie again. Played it a long long time that time. When it ended, I ran off that stage. Guess what? They pushed me back up on that stage. I didn't know what I was gonna play, but I knew I couldn't play Hamp's Boogie again. The only other thing I could do was make that harmonica sound like a train. Wuuuuu wuuuuu wuuuuu. Chug-a chug-a chug-a wuuuuu wuuuuu wuuuuu. Just like a steam train. You know a steam train?"

"Yes sir."

"So I walked over to the piano player and said, ‘I can make this harmonica sound like a train. Can you do a train on that piano?'

"He said, ‘You blow it and I'll follow it. If we don't do it, these people will kill us.'

"So that's what we did. That piano player was great. He could make that piano go clackety clackety clackety just like a train. Those people really went crazy. We went wuuuuu wuuuuu wuuuuu clackety clackety clackety chug-a chug-a chug-a wuuuuu wuuuuu wuuuuu just like a train. We finally had to stop and get off that stage.

"We had to walk by Joe Louis and Betty Grable and Billy Eckstine. They shook our hands. Joe Louis said, ‘That was good, Private Foster. Keep the good work going and you'll be a star someday.'

"And then he tapped me on the shoulder with his fist. Playful like. You know what I mean. A little tap."

"Yes sir. A love tap. Joe Louis was proud of you."

"I was so glad that man put his hand on me."

Willie after the Joe Louis story
Willie after the Joe Louis story
Several long silent seconds passed, during which I took the photo on the right. I sat there in awe of a man that Joe Louis actually hit. That man, Willie J. Foster, sat there with the memory going through his mind, reliving it again.

"Mr. Foster? Have you lived in Greenville all your life?"

"No. I left here when I was a young man, ‘bout 18. Went to St. Louis. I'm back now. It's a funny story how I got to St. Louis."

"What happened?"

"There wasn't nothing here but working in a cotton field. I decided to go north. Didn't care where. Just anywhere north. Went down to the train station to get a ticket to anywhere north. There was a white man in front of me in the ticket line. He told the ticket man, ‘Give me a ticket to St. Louis.' When he walked away with his ticket, the ticket man asked me, ‘You want a ticket too?' I said, ‘Yes sir.' When he handed it to me I looked at it and it was to St. Louis. I said, ‘Well, that's as good a place as any. At least it's north.' So I went to St. Louis."

I laughed and said, "Guess if that white man had bought a ticket to Chicago, that's where you'd've went too, huh?"

"That's right," Willie said with a laugh. "But I had a rough time when I first got to St. Louis."

"What happened?"

"Almost starved to death. I got a job right off working in a foundry. They handed me a broom and said, ‘Start sweeping.' You know a foundry?"

"Yes sir. They cast metal."

"That's right. Now I had a little money when I got to St. Louis, but when you go to work at that foundry they hold back a week's pay. You don't get paid ‘til you've been there for two weeks. Now I didn't spend my money on dice or cards or women or drinking like some guys did, but after two or three days I didn't have any money. I got hungry. There was a place where a bunch of men sat and ate their lunches. They'd tear the crust off their sandwiches and throw it against the wall. I got so hungry I'd pick up that crust and blow off the dirt and eat it. But that little bit of bread crust every day at lunch wasn't enough food. I got so hungry I got weak, dizzy. One day one of those men threw half of a pork chop against that wall. I was about to die I was so hungry, and I didn't care if that man's lips had touched that pork chop or not. I grabbed it as soon as it hit the floor and ate it.

"He said, ‘Hey, boy, what are you, a dog?'"

"A white man?" I asked.

"No, a black man. I said, 'No. I'm a man, not a dog.' He said, ‘You a dog. Dog you better get your ass back to Mississippi where it belongs.' Another man said, ‘Boy, why you eat that pork chop and it came out of that dirt over there where people spit and everything?' I said, ‘Because I'm starving to death. The only thing I've ate in three or four days is the scraps off y'all's bread.' The first man said, ‘Dog, you making me sick. Get your ass back to Mississippi.' Then one of those men tore his sandwich in half and gave it to me. The next day most of them brought me something to eat. The day after that even the first man brought me a sandwich. After that I ate fine, and payday came and I made it."

I finally decided that I had taken too much of Willie Foster's afternoon. I thanked him for allowing me that time with him, then stood and walked to the heavy duty glass door. I unlocked it and opened it, prepared to step out onto the front porch. I heard Willie say, "Would you like to see my garden?"

I turned and looked down at him in his wheelchair. His outstretched arm pointed toward the kitchen and the back door. "It's out back," he said.

"Yes sir, I'd love to see your garden." I closed the front door.

"Lock it," he said.
Willie in his back yard.
Willie in his back yard.

I locked the front door and, carrying Willie's aluminum walker, walked behind him as he wheeled through the kitchen and up to the back door and stopped. I went around him and unlocked the door, noticing marks on the casing. "Looks like somebody tried to break in," I observed.

"My son," Willie said.

I held the door open while, slowly and awkwardly, he got out of the wheelchair and into the walker, came through the door, across his back porch, down the steps, and finally stepped out in his back yard. I held my breath that he would not fall. Remembering his words about not helping him unless he asked, I did not offer a helping and stabilizing hand. But I stood close in case he fell.

He led me up to a chain-link fence which once surrounded a small dog pen. Proudly, he showed me some large and budding tomato plants and about six small pepper plants inside the pen.

"That's some damned fine tomato plants," I truthfully observed. Then, more than half seriously, I added, "Looks like they'll be loaded with big juicy tomatoes about the time of my next visit to Greenville."

Willie grinned and said, "Come on by and get you some."

Willie at the gate to his garden.
Willie at the gate to his garden.
"Is that pepper plants?" I asked.

"Sure is. I like peppers with greens. I like to fill my mouth with greens and then take a bite of a pepper and chew ‘em all up together. Man, that's good."

"Well, Mr. Foster, I'm gonna have to take your word for that. I like a little pepper sauce on my turnip greens and mustard greens, but I ain't man enough to eat a fresh green pepper right off the plant. Not even if I got five gallons of buttermilk to chase it with."

Willie laughed. Then he said, "Say, Junior, would you like to see how a blind and crippled man weeds his garden?"

Willie weeding his garden.
Willie weeding his garden.
More than a little shocked, I hesitated before saying, "Ah, yeah, I guess so."

He reached out and found the chain-link fence, clutching it, using it for a guide as he left the walker outside of the dog pen and hobbled inside the pen. To my astonishment, he then eased his body down the fence and got on his hands and knees.

He crawled forward, one hand out, moving, feeling for a pepper plant. Finding one, his hand moved down, finding the stalk, then his fingers moved around in the dirt around the stalk and found blades of grass, then pulled the grass from the ground.

Willie's hand pulling grass from around a pepper plant.
Willie's hand pulling grass from around a pepper plant.
I wanted to rush forward and help him. But I remembered his words: If I fall, then you can help me. So I took the pictures and stood there.

Finally, the last blade of grass pulled from beneath his peppers and his tomatoes, he pulled himself up the fence and out of the pen and got back in the aluminum walker. Now he retraced his slow and awkward path across the back yard, up the steps, across the porch, and through the back door as I again held it open. "Lock it," he told me again as he left the walker and plopped wearily in his wheelchair.

Near tears and with my mind almost overwhelmed with emotion, I locked the back door as he wheeled himself toward the living room. I picked up the walker and carried it through the kitchen and placed it beside his wheelchair, sitting again beside the light from his front window. "Mr. Foster," I said, "I've got to go. I'll see you tonight at the B & B."

"Okay," he said and held out his hand. "I enjoyed talking to you. Come back."

"I will," I said and meant it. I took his hand, shook it, then released it. I turned and unlocked the front door. As I looked through the door, I saw the mailman deposit something in the mailbox attached to the fence. "Mr. Foster," I said, "there's the mailman. He left something in your box."

"Would you get it and read it for me?" Willie asked.

"Yes sir." I walked out to the fence, pulled a letter from the box, and returned to the living room. I hesitated, not wanting to open the letter.

"It's okay," Willie said, I guess sensing my hesitation.

It was a tax receipt. I read it aloud, then placed it in Willie's hands. Then I said, "Goodbye, Mr. Foster."

"Goodbye. Please come again."

I grasped the handle, and the door unexpectedly opened, seemingly of its own accord. There holding the door stood a young black man, the son, I realized. Without a word to me or a look at me, he walked past me and into the living room.

"Hey!" I heard Willie Foster say. "Can't you speak?!"

I turned as the young man turned and looked over his shoulder at me. He sneered at me and lied, "I did," and walked toward the kitchen.

I looked down at Willie Foster, his sightless eyes looking in the direction of my right hand. "Goodbye, Mr. Foster," I said again and went out the door.

For a long moment I sat in the Bluesmobile in silence, my eyes filled with tears and looking through Willie Foster's white fence at the black bars covering his front door. Then I started the motor and drove away, leaving him alone with his garden and his son.

-------------------------------------------------- 



Bow Bridge, Central Park, New York City in Winter

Monday, December 24, 2018 0
Bow Bridge, Central Park, New York City in Winter
The Bow Bridge, which finished construction in 1862, is a bridge with a Classical Greek design and is named for its shaped.

Other quick facts about the bridge:
The bridge is made of cast iron.
It was constructed instead of a suspension bridge that was originally planned.
The eight cast iron urns are replicas of the originals and were installed in 2008.
The original urns disappeared in the early 1920s.

The street view panorama was taken during the January 2016 blizzard




Learn more about Bow Bridge at:
http://www.centralparknyc.org/things-to-see-and-do/attractions/bow-bridge.html
https://www.centralpark.com/things-to-do/attractions/bow-bridge/

Other interesting views of Bow Bridge and nearby points.
From Bow Bridge at Sunrise
Bow Bridge at the Gazebo



Indoor Garden Kit - iRSE Hydroponics LED Growing System

Saturday, December 22, 2018 0
Indoor Garden Kit - iRSE Hydroponics LED Growing System

Indoor Garden Kit


Includes an LED growing light, two planting pots, and is self-watering. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive and many more questions are answered on the product page.
Raised Garden Bed

ORDER HEREIndoor Garden Kit

•  Quick to set up and easy-to-use. You'll be able to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers without having to mess with potting soil.

•  The LED growing light has multiple modes and a timer. Timer: 16 hours on, 8 hours off. Light modes: On always, off always, white (lamp) light, and pink (growing) light.

•  Included with the Indoor Garden Kit are organic Romaine lettuce seeds, vermiculite planting material, and organic fertilizer. So you'll be able to begin planting vegetables right out of the box. Which is perfect for the testing the garden kit and getting used to it before growing other plants.

•  This garden kit is also suited for those who are busy all day and need an easier way to grow a small 'garden' indoors without needing to tend to it as often. The system beeps when it needs more water in the main tub or if the light needs adjustment at its base.

•  Also included are two removable planting pots, two covers for the pots, water container, and the power adapter.

•  At any time you can also (carefully) transplant the plants you're growing if they need more space or in the warmer months

You May Also Like:


Voyager 2 Probe Moves Beyond the Heliosphere

Monday, December 10, 2018 0
Voyager 2 Probe Moves Beyond the Heliosphere
Eleven billion miles from Earth, NASA's long-lived Voyager 2 probe, still beaming back data 41 years after its launch in 1977, has finally moved into interstellar space, scientists revealed Monday, joining its sister ship Voyager 1 in the vast, uncharted realm between the stars.

Voyager 2 was launched in August 1977, 16 days before Voyager 1.


Voyager 2 probe moves into interstellar space

Eleven billion miles from Earth, NASA's long-lived Voyager 2 probe, still beaming back data 41 years after its launch in 1977, has finally moved into interstellar space, scientists revealed Monday, joining its sister ship Voyager 1 in the vast, uncharted realm between the stars.


Steamboat Geyser at Yellowstone National Park Breaks Historical Eruption Record

Monday, December 10, 2018 0
Steamboat Geyser at Yellowstone National Park Breaks Historical Eruption Record
The Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park broke decades-old records when it erupted for the 30th time in 2018 Saturday.

Since then, the geyser had been following a semi-regular pattern of erupting about every five to seven days.

The historical intervals of eruptions range from 4 days to 50 years.

Steamboat Geyser breaks historical yearly eruption record

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (KIFI/KIDK) - The Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park broke decades-old records when it erupted for the 30th time in 2018 Saturday. Yellowstone National Park reports Saturday's eruption surpasses the all-time record for the number of documented eruptions in a calendar year which was 29 in 1964.


Where the Southern Cross the Dog at Moorhead

Tuesday, December 04, 2018 0
Where the Southern Cross the Dog at Moorhead

Moorhead, Mississippi 38761
Gully's Alley Inn

Those railroad tracks mark the location of probably the most important spot in bluesdom--Where the Southern Crosses the Dawg.

When W.C. Handy heard the "first" blues song in the Tutwiler train station, the unknown singer was singing about that spot in Moorhead.

The Southern Line runs east to west and is now the C & G Line. When I visited that historic spot late one afternoon in 1995, a C & G freight train roared by me on its way from Greenville to Columbus, Mississippi. I am perhaps the only person who witnessed that 100th anniversary event, at least the only person aware of its significance.

Southern Crosses the Dawg 1995The Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Line, affectionately know as the "Yellow Dawg" or simply the "Dawg," ran north to south. Alas, railroad officials with no love of history or cool names moved that line fifteen miles eastward to Greenwood, Mississippi, and renamed it the Illinois Central. To me it is almost sacrilegious--the Yellow Dawg Line with a Yankee name.

Here's a photo, taken in 1995, of the exact spot Where the Southern Crosses the Dawg. The camera is facing north and looking up the remaining maybe 600 feet of northbound Yellow Dawg tracks. There's a Baptist church smack dab in the middle of the tracks. You can barely see it in the photo.

Yes, I think that's kind of strange. Why a church? Why not a garage? Do you reckon that old religion/devil music dichotomy/controversy is at work?

Southern Crosses the Dawg 1998

Here's the same photo but taken three years later, in 1998. That's Moorhead's new water tank in the middle of the Yellow Dawg.

Give Moorhead another three years and something new will sit between the water tank and the crossing. Give Moorhead six years and goodbye crossing.


Southern Crosses the Dawg Sign
There's a gazebo a few feet from the crossing, and it's a cool place to sit on a hot summer afternoon while you enjoy a breeze and think about history. I like to close my eyes and mentally transport myself back in time, back to when hundreds of people gathered around this spot. I can see them, in my mind, hear the babble of their voices. I hear a lonesome whistle far down the tracks. I hear them yell, Train's a-comin'!
Southbound Yellow Dawg tracks

When I took this photo, I was standing in the middle of the crossing and looking down the southbound Yellow Dawg tracks. They end about 100 feet from the crossing, just beyond that large shadow. Look closely at the object in the edge of the clearing to the left of the tracks. It's a dog. But it's more than just a dog. It's a yellow dog. To my astonishment, no more than 5 seconds after I took this picture, that yellow dog crossed the Yellow Dawg!

I thought that was a little eerie. Still do.

Well, y'all, hang on to your hats because Junior's about to climb on his soap box again.
Johnny Russell Moorhead Sign

Take a look at this picture of a huge sign at the front door of Moorhead, Mississippi.

I never heard of Johnny Russell. Have you?

If you're traveling Highway 82 across the great state of Mississippi, you can't help but see this sign when you reach Highway 3 and the turn-off to Moorhead. Notice the neatly trimmed hedge. Notice the spotlights.

At the back door of Moorhead there's another sign located where Highway 3 meets the city limits. To read that small and faded sign, you have to get out of your car and walk up to it. It informs the local farmers--with good eyes and legs-- that Moorhead is the fabled location of Where the Southern Crosses the Dawg.

I'm not a tourism expert, but I believe most country music tourists travel to Branson, Missouri, and Nashville, Tennessee, and not across the Delta. I do know for a fact that, every year, several hundred thousand blues fans attend various blues festivals near Moorhead. I can't estimate how many of those thousands of blues fan/tourists travel Highway 82, but I can guarantee you this: If that huge sign at Moorhead's front door read LOCATION OF WHERE THE SOUTHERN CROSSES THE DAWG, lots more tourists would visit Moorhead.

The problem is what I call "white column mentality." In other words, city fathers and travel and tourism agencies with a "our columns are bigger and whiter than yours" mentality. They seem to think there isn't a soul in the world with an interest in the other Delta culture, the black one.

I'm reminded of an incident on the Louisiana side of the Delta. An old and rich white man told me this about an old and poor black man: "Who'd want to listen to that old n____r twang his guitar?"

My answer was: "Junior Doughty and about a million other folks."

Folks, if we don't do something to combat that white column mentality, we will wake up some morning and Where the Southern Crosses the Dog will be nailed to the wall of a House of Blues.

--------------------------------------------------



Sacred Lands of the Wintu Tribe

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 0
Sacred Lands of the Wintu Tribe
The Wintu Tribe has had an ongoing experience of their lands in Northern California being encroached upon for exploitation and misuse/abuse since the 1800s. One such example, over the past few decades, is one of those who are only driven by making a profit off of what's sacred. That is the annual Mount Shasta "Shamanism" retreat that's been being held for 38 years in the region. Its 38th year being on July 17th - July 21st, 2019.

As said in the post, about the retreat at https://www.facebook.com/winnememwintu/posts/10156572020635519
Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk Statement

There's an informative website at dives more into the history of the Wintun, their lands, the experiences once ranchers and gold miners arrived, and how disrespect of the lands and/or their traditions has been commonplace ever since. Visit the website at http://mclane65.tripod.com/native/wintun.html

An excerpt from the page's intro:

The so-called Cottonwood Indians had existed for hundreds of years in this area prior to the coming of the Europeans. At the time of the arrival of the whites, the indigenous peoples had fairly definite areas of habitation, with the Yana (Nosa-Nozi) occupying the area east of the Sacramento River, and three general Wintun peoples occupying the area west of the river and into the foothills. Frémont named what we now know as Battle Creek "Nozi Creek" after these Yana people. Less observant whites frequently lumped them all together with the unfriendly epithet "Diggers."


The page infers that Wintu society (as societies should be) were living in rhythm with nature instead of trying to push against it. The complete opposite of the new arrivals seeking gold and other resources to devastate. Or, in the case of the previously mentioned shamanism retreat for white, leftist new-agers to exploit the land and traditions for one's own ego-fulfillment and/or for profit.

Another excerpt from the page, a quote which was documented by a man at a gathering between miners (believed to be during the early years of the California "gold rush") and the Wintu.:

"The white man takes the Indian`s hunting ground and his women and drives the Indian away. When the bad Indian steals from the white man, the white man kills all the Indians. The Indians can`t fight the white man. He don`t want to fight. He don`t want the gold. He wants the fish. He wants the game. He wants his hunting ground and his women and children. When the white man comes he takes all."

In time, these encroachments led to a wider scarcity of food amongst the Wintu and other nearby tribes. Which led to starvation. They were also chased from their villages and their resources, died from diseases for which they had no immunity, were killed in massacres and poisonings. These attacks were only ramped up when volunteer military forces, funded by the gold profits no doubt, became far more aggressive in their actions. It was the yellow journalistic standards of Northern Californian newspapers of the day that stirred up these stories as an unjust means to support such crimes against the Wintu and other tribes in Northern California.

One of these same newspapers, the Shasta Courier, went on to practically wash themselves clean of inspiring atrocities. With a tone of false, empty lament, they stated in a September 17th, 1864 article:

"Many of the domesticated Indians who had for years been living in peace on the ranches on the opposite side of the river, molesting nobody, have been exterminated and at our present writing no one can tell where the bloody business will end ... The Indians about Shasta and in other locations in the county, alarmed by the exterminations, are fleeing to the mountains for safety."

To read the rest of the article and learn about the Wintu Tribe and its history visit http://mclane65.tripod.com/native/wintun.html. Also, visit their main page at http://mclane65.tripod.com/



Minnie Quay - Tragedy in 1876 Forester, Michigan

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 0
Minnie Quay - Tragedy in 1876 Forester, Michigan
Minnie Quay was much more than a legend, a ghost story, or a tall tale that many internet posts water down her life and death down to. She was a real person who lived in Michigan in the latter part of the 1800s. Most sources say that she was born in May of 1861 in New York State. She was the oldest child of James and Mary Ann Quay and was raised up in Michigan. Her parents were well known in the town of Forester since they owned a tavern named Quay. Minnie's name is also listed as Mary Jane Quay on Find A Grave.

Back then, Forester was a port town with four warehouses along their shore of Lake Huron to supply the arriving ships. The main industry of the town, fitting the town's name, was providing raw wood materials and lumber. The industry there provided a lot of stable work for loggers in the town.

The story goes that Minnie had fallen in love with a sailor who worked on one of the ships that frequented the port at Forester. The details are scant and the name of the sailor, who Minnie wanted to marry, has long been lost to history. Minnie's relationship with the sailor was frowned upon by the busybodies in Forester. One busybody took it upon themselves to tell Minnie's mother about Minnie's beginning relationship with the sailor. Her mother, along with her father, both disapproved of the relationship and kept them apart. It is said that her mother even once yelled at Minnie, where many in the town could hear, that she'd rather see her dead than in a relationship with the sailor. Out of this, they forbid Minnie to ever see the sailor again.

In the spring of 1876, news had reached Forester that a ship had sunk in a storm. Back then shipwrecks across the Great Lakes were very common. The ship that sunk, in either Lake Huron or Lake Michigan, was one of the ones that frequented Forester. Minnie found out and knew that the sailor that she had fallen in love was gone. She fell into a depression over the loss. She had never been able, due to being not allowed by her parents, to say her goodbyes to the sailor when he'd last been at port.

Days later after the news reached Forester, on April 27th, 1876, her parents left the home and she was left to watch her little brother James. While her parents were gone she walk towards the shore of Lake Huron that was about (my estimation) a quarter mile from her home. As she walked, she passed by some of the businesses and homes in Forester. Most residents didn't even notice her. While a few waved to her as she quietly, in the loss-fashion of determination, walked down the road and past the Tanner House. Dressed in a white dress, she made her way to the town's dock and jumped into the cold waters of Lake Huron, taking her own life by drowning. One newspaper article from back then says that her little brother was on the beach and saw her jump in.

Just like that, a young life was extinguished. A tragedy brought on by the careless gossip of a small community, disapproval, and how a young person was made to feel unwelcome in their town and perhaps even her own home. Her grief, her broken heart, had all overwhelmed her. Her young heart had her feeling that taking her life, by drowning herself in the waters which took her love, was preferable to a broken existence in the torturous land that she felt was her hometown of Forester.

Now, many of the only remnants of her are recollections of the story of the 'Ghost of Minnie Quay' preferred by the ghost hunters and whatever tourism industry that exists in modern-day Forester Township. Her family's tavern still stands (though some sources say the tavern was never owned by her family). As do many other buildings from back then. The pier though has long since decayed and what's left of it are worn pylons. As has Smith's dock where Minnie jumped into Lake Huron from.

The remnants of the pier at Forester (source)
There are stories of her ghost wandering the shores of Lake Huron where the docks of Forester had been near or that her spirit tries to coax young girls, those around her age, to jump into the water as she had done. The latter story, of course, being typical of those told by individuals for the 'creepy factor' and turning every lost spirit into a demon wishing harm. Whether or not her spirit roams the beaches on some nights is up to the individual to believe or not believe. But such an innocent, as in life, would never bring harm to innocent people as a spirit.

For others, her true resting place is in the family plot at Forester Township Cemetery, marked by a singular headstone with her name and those of her family, her brother, father, and mother who passed after her.

The Quay Family Plot (pink granite headstone) at Forester Cemetery (source)
Sources and More Information:

You can find different details about the tragedy in the articles and some of the comment sections at these links.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnie_Quay
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/13580810/mary-jane-quay
http://99wfmk.com/foresterandminnie/
https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Ghost-of-Forester-Michigan
http://www.prairieghosts.com/minnie.html
https://web.archive.org/web/20090729143441/http://www.geocities.com/wlmmcn7/
Other family information: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Qua-6
Newspaper article (typed out): https://www.genealogy.com/ftm/w/h/i/James-White-WA/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0128.html
Ballad of Minnie Quay: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnie_Quay#Ballad_of_Minnie_Quay
http://michigansotherside.com/the-ghost-and-legend-of-minnie-quay/

Unfortunately, no known pictures of Minnie Quay exist.

This videos shows footage of Forester and also of Minnie's grave

Minnie Quay

The Ballad of Minnie Quay Performed by Blood Harmony in Forester, Michigan
(though not the original ballad from the Wikipedia link above) Lyrics were written by author Denise Dutcher who also wrote the book, Dead Reckoning A Great Lakes' Love Story


Foxtail Lily - Facts and Planting Tips

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 0
Foxtail Lily - Facts and Planting Tips

The Foxtail Lily

The Foxtail Lily is amongst the most notable and incredible flowers of the Lily family. The "spikes" of each individual growth, which resemble foxtails, can be anywhere from three to up to ten feet in height. Each spike can contain hundreds of bright flowers.

The Foxtail Lily comes in an assortment of colors, such as: soft to deep pink, salmon to orange, lemon yellow to deep yellow and white to cream colored. There are early flowering species, such as Elwesianus, Himalaicus, and Robustus, which bloom in June. Other species, Olgae, Bungei, and hybrid varieties typically bloom after the early flowering varieties. Note: The non-hybrid, heirloom varieties are harder to find for purchase in some regions.

At one time these flowers weren't as well known, and still aren't to an extent, but they're becoming more popular as additions to flower beds and flower gardens. They aren't that complicated to grow and definitely stand out once they've established themselves and mature. A good thing about Foxtail Lilies is that they are perennials. So you'll be able to enjoy them year after year in Zones 5 through 8. Some varieties may also be able to grow in USDA Zone 9.

Foxtail Lily Varieties and Their Colors

Eremurus himalaicus 'Foxtail Lily' (Asphodelaceae) flower
By Magnus Manske [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons
Robustus has a rose pink color that blooms in early June. It can reach heights of 8 to 10 feet.

Elwesianus has a soft pink color and is similar to Robustus, though more "robust". The flowering spikes can reach heights of 10 to 12 feet and bloom in June.

Himalaicus has pure white flowers, bloom in June, and can reach heights of 6 to 8 feet.

Bungei have a deep yellow tone, flowers in July, and reaches heights of 4 feet.

Olgae are white, ribbed with red, and have a pink shading on the flower petals. They flower in July and can get up to 6 feet in height.

Hybrids

Hybrids of the Foxtail Lily include Him-rob, Bungei superbus, Bungei pallidus, Sir Michael, Shelford, Tub-rob and others. These varieties are in varied shades of yellow, orange, and pink.


Quick tips on planting and growing these flowers

Plant the flowers in an area where they can get full sun. This is to allow them to grow to their maximum height and bloom. Also, plant them in an area where they will not be damaged by, and protected from, strong winds.

When planting, be careful to not accidentally break off any parts of the plant. The tubers can sometimes be brittle and may require careful handling and planting.

Foxtail lilies require a well-draining, sandy soil instead of a clay-like soil. Plant them 4 inches deep in cooler growing zones and 2 or 3 inches in warmer zones. Each tuber should be planted about 3 feet apart from each other and other plants to give them room to thrive and spread.

In colder zones, such as zone 5, you should cover your foxtail lilies with organic materials such as straw, mulch, or compost. You can also use pine tree branches as covering over the top of the organic material for extra protection from winter weather and snow.

Roque's Blues Hall in Natchitoches, Louisiana

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 0
Roque's Blues Hall in Natchitoches, Louisiana
Map to Roque's

Roque's Blues Hall in Natchitoches, Louisiana

Roque's Blues Hall
235 Carver Avenue
Natchitoches, LA 71457



On a map of Louisiana, you'll find Natchitoches in the northwest part of the boot, south of Shreveport. You'll find Roque's Blues Hall in East Natchitoches, across Cane River from the historic district.

Natchitoches, founded in 1714, is one of the most historic towns in the United States. But if it's close to the end of the month, forget history and get your blues-loving butt to Roque's Blues Hall in Natchitoches. You will find yourself in what I consider the best juke joint/blues bar in the South and, therefore, the world.

Stanley Roque (pronounced "Rock") inherited Roque's Blues Hall from his father, who opened it in 1938. Think about that: With the exception of a short period in the 1960s, Roque's Blues Hall has operated continuously and in the same building at the same location for almost 60 years. If another juke joint can match that record, please send me its name and address.

Roque's Blues Hall
Here's a shot of Roque's. That's Stanley standing in the shadow outside the front door. Stanley runs a tight ship. In my 100+ visits to Roque's, more than any other juke joint I've visited, I've never witnessed a fight. Roque's clientele consists mostly of black and Creole folks with a splattering of white folks, especially on band nights. Those white folks are about half local couples who know where to party and about half college students. But many nights, I've been the only white person in the joint.


Roque's beer prices fit my thin wallet. Even on band nights, 12 oz premium beer costs $1.25. You can buy--as I do--one of several 16 oz non-premium brands for the princely sum of $1.10. Believe it or not, I've seen 16 oz beer on sale for 75 cents--on band night!

On the last Friday of every month, Stanley hosts what he calls (of all things) "Last Friday Blues Jam." Below are some photos taken during the blues jam on July 25, 1997.

Hardrick Rivers
The gentleman on the right is Hardrick Rivers, the leader of Roque's Blues Band. He has blown that golden and mellow saxophone all over the United States and Europe. He's at home near Natchitoches, now, luckily for the folks in northwest Louisiana. You should hear him sing. His smooth voice reminds me of a younger Bobby Blue Bland. It's every bit as golden and mellow as his saxophone. One of these "last Friday" nights--he keeps telling me--he's gonna sing "St. James Infirmary." He's back in college, but as far as I'm concerned he has a Ph.D. in bluesology.


Pop HymesThe fellow on the left is Pop Hymes, the drum-beating man. Look at that look of concentration on his face. He's the guy you hear but seldom see because he's stuck in a corner. But, hey, you can't have a blues band or any other kind of a band without a drummer. So, Pop, this Bud's for you.

James LeeTo the right, cast your eyes on James Lee, keyboard player extraordinaire. That brown face is never without that smile. I suspect he smiles when he sleeps and even when he argues with his wife. I know for a fact that the only kind of Beethoven his keyboard will play is the roll over variety.

Rick Seale
Nowadays it's hard to have a blues band without a white boy, and Roque's Blues Band has two. James Wagley plays bass guitar, and Rick Seale plays lead guitar. Here's a photo of Rick. You can't tell it by looking at the picture, but he's an anthropologist. Maybe he's really a preacher because he can play the hell out of that 6-string guitar.

the band in actionOver on the right is a photo of the band in action. You can't see James Lee at all because he's hid behind Rick Seale. Look behind Hardrick Rivers and you can see the top of James Wagley's head. The white boy in the black T-shirt is Kenny Cardino, and he drove all the way from Shreveport for the blues jam. Y'all, he could play!

You see that fan down on the floor? They put it there to keep those two guitars from catching on fire. This was in the middle of a blues guitar war. If you wonder who won, well, I did.

Mr. Overton "Dr. Drip-Drop" Owens
Here was my favorite part of the blues jams at Roque's. At the left, the old gentleman at the microphone is Mr. Overton "Dr. Drip-Drop" Owens, the granddaddy North Louisiana bluesman. He passed this life at the age of 74 on November 20, 1998.


Dr. Drip-Drop learned the blues from none other than Lowell Fulson, who lived in Natchitoches for a while back in the 50s. Dr. Drip-Drop told me that his favorite song was Lowell Fulson's "Reconsider Baby." Listening to Dr. Drip-Drop was like going back in time. It was like no music touched his ears after 1960. He always sang Big Joe Turner's "Flip Flop and Fly." In this picture, he's in the process of yelling, "Caledonia! Caledonia! What makes your big head so hard?!"

Me and B.B. Majors
This is me and the best bluesman in Louisiana--B.B. Major. I ran out of film before B.B. got on the bandstand and plugged his six-string Gibson into an amplifier and took the microphone in hand. Y'all, this man can sing the blues. He's lived the blues. He is the blues. He works days in a cotton warehouse, believe it or not. He's played in juke joints for $20 and slept outside in the back seat of his car and ate bologna sandwiches.


He can play and sing B.B. King's "Sweet Sixteen" like B.B. King. And you ain't heard Larry Davis's/Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Texas Flood" until you hear B.B. Major sing and play it. I shouldn't tell my own secrets, but every time I show up at Roque's with a date, B.B. plays "Sweet Sixteen" for me.

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy Miss Claudy, I have a fine time at Roque's.

B.B. Major recently recorded a CD titled Evil Woman/Evil Ways.   You can find ordering info and B.B.'s schedule on the new B.B. Major web site.

Here's some photos of the blues jam on January 30, 1998.


Rivers and Seale, bluesmen
In this shot taken a few minutes before the band started, Hardrick Rivers and Rick Seale look very happy. You'd be happy too if you could play the blues like these two guys.

Hey! Something tells me that they're laughing at something somebody's doing to the cameraman--me--behind his back!

Okay, guys, tell the truth. Somebody's mooning me, right?

Looks like Rick's about to grease up his vocal cords with a cold Bud.


The band on the stand
Here's most of the band on the Last Friday Blues Jam in January, 1998. From left to right you see Luke Brouillette (pronounced "Brew-yet") on guitar, James Wagley on bass, Pop Hid-In-A-Corner Hymes on drums, Hardrick Rivers on sax, James Lee on keyboards, Rick Seale on guitar and James "Bubba" Prudhomme on guitar.


Rick and Bubba both work at the replication of Fort St. Jean Baptiste, a fort built in Natchitoches by the French way back in 1722. Maybe next blues jam Rick and Bubba will wear their 1720s French soldier's uniforms. Very cool blues juke joint attire. Might start a trend.

Cane River Writers
This fine group of folks having a blast to the juke joint blues are some members of my writing group--Cane River Writers. Our fearless leader, Kate Myers-Hanson, was way out in Iowa attending the U of A so she could perfect her already-perfect as-far-as-we're-concerned fiction writing abilities.


Hey, Katie! Don't let those damn Yankees get you down!

The dark-skinned lady leaning over my buddy's shoulder wanted to know if all us white folks were having a good time. We were!

Dr. Drip Drop
Here's the good Dr. Drip Drop in the healing process of curing what ails almost anybody--a good dose of Dr. Drip Drop's special Grab Yo' Honeychile Babylove Sweetthang an' git yo' butt on this floor an' git downto the blues, y'all! medicine.


He's in the act of singing, "I gave you seven children, and now you wanna give ‘em back!"

Sorry, Dr. Drip, some women are like that.

Dr. Drip Drop and Roque's Blues Band recorded a CD titled The Next Time You See Me. They also completed a CD of Christmas music.

You can order both great CDs direct from the Roque's Blues Band web site (mirrored link, no longer available for purchase there). Check out their web site for more info on this fine bunch of guys.

Mr. Miles Armstrong
Introduce yourselves to the elderly gentleman on the right, Mr. Miles Armstrong. He's drinking his usual Old Milwaukee, and he's toasting us all. Here's to you, too, Mr. Miles.


I call him Mr. Miles because, well, because I like him and respect him.

Mr. Miles and I have a lot in common even though he's an African American gentleman from East Natchitoches and I'm a wild-assed redneck white boy from East Tullos:

We both like Roque's
We both like blues.
We both like to drink cheap beer.
We both like to shoot pool, especially with each other.
Neither one of us can shoot worth a damnwhen a good-looking woman walks by.

PgUp and look at Mr. Miles's picture again. Notice the merchandise on the shelves behind him. Yep, it's toilet paper and paper towels. The actual name of Roque's is Roque's Grocery, Pool Hall and House of Blues.

There's canned goods on the shelves out of site to the left. Roque's is a combination grocery store and bar. That ain't unusual at all in the Delta. The B & B Quick Mart in Greenville, Mississippi, is like that for example.

That's good for, let's say . . . oh, heck, your wife sends you to the store on Friday night for a can of pork ‘n' beans, a roll of toilet paper and a bar of soap. Where you gonna go? To a 7-11? Hell, no! Not if you live in the Delta!

Mr. Miles and friends
Here's some more fine Roque's folks. From left to right you see Mr. Miles Armstrong, Earl Jefferson, Michael Dupree, and in the lower center you see Earl's sister Helen. Now, I met Earl and Helen the night I took this picture. Mr. Miles I've known for several years, as you know.


I've also known Michael Dupree for several years. I'd guess the pool game score between me and Mr. Miles is maybe Junior 500 and Mr. Miles 495. Mr. Miles would probably say it's Mr. Miles 500 and Junior 495. Between me and Michael Dupree there ain't no doubt that it's probably Dupree 700 and Doughty 300. It's a hell of a note, is what it is. A damned shame.

But the real damned shame is the score between Junior Doughty and Stanley Roque. Folks, I'm gonna guess that it's Roque 950 and Doughty 50. (It takes a lot for a redneck boy to admit that.) When I think I'm hot and the other rednecks are getting mad and won't shoot pool with me, I'll ease up to the bar at Roque's, drink a beer or two so Stanley will think I'm in there for the blues and so it'll loosen up my muscles, and I'll say, "Hey, Stanley, I can tear up yore ass on that pool table."

He says, "Rack ‘em up!" and precedes to tear up my ass 12 games to 2 or 10 to 1 or something ridiculous like that. It's a double-damned shame is what it is.

Mike Dupree lives in a shotgun house one block behind Roque's. He doesn't have a problem with cops and Driving While Intoxicated because he walks to Roque's. Sometimes he rides a bicycle. Mike's a Cane River Creole, and his brother Patrick still lives, as Natchitoches folks say, "down Cane River."

Patrick is a bar-b-que man and looks the part. He makes the best damned bar-b-que hot-link sausage sandwiches this white boy ever tasted, and he wears size 54 x 32 blue jeans. He used to set up shop at the corner of Roque's bar, near the front door. His equipment consisted of a fork for spearing sausages, a spoon for dipping sauce, five or six packages of hot dog buns, a roll of paper towels for napkins and an electric crock pot filled with thick round sausages and secret-recipe bar-b-que sauce. His entire restaurant fit inside an empty cardboard box.

A sausage on a bun and dripping with sauce cost $1.50. That was probably the world's greatest fast food bargain.

One night a date and I were the last customers to leave Roque's after the 2 am closing time. It was a warm summer night illuminated only by a street light down at the end of the block and by a low-wattage bulb on Roque's front porch. As my date and I started across the dimly-lit street and toward my car, we passed Patrick Dupree in the process of placing his restaurant in the trunk of his car. "Hey," I told my date, "I'm hungry. Want a hot-link sandwich?"

"Sure," she answered.

So Patrick opened his restaurant and the trunk of his car and served us a sandwich. We stood there at the rear of Patrick's car, munching and talking to Patrick. Up rode Mike Dupree on his bicycle. He stopped beside us and, still siting on the bicycle's seat, stated, "Do y'all know that Patrick's bar-b-que has killed about a dozen white people?"

"That so?" I replied through a grin, knowing that Mike was kidding and knowing that if I died from eating Patrick Dupree's bar-b-que I'd sure die happy.

"Yep, it's a fact," Mike informed us. "Their systems can't take it. Ain't used to good food."

My date grinned then, realizing that the chubby black guy on the bicycle was kidding us and the fat black guy standing beside us. I then introduced her to the two brothers. Mike then asked us, "Do y'all know what kind of meat's in Patrick's bar-b-que?"

"Nope," I answered. "What kind?"

"Dead ‘possums and armadillos. He finds ‘em on the side of the road."

We laughed long and hard and continued eating those delicious bar-b-qued opossums and armadillos. From the darkness behind us and from the direction of Roque's, someone said, "What's so funny?"

I turned and watched Hardrick Rivers place his saxophone case in the cab of his pickup. Then he closed the door and walked toward us. He wore dark pants and shoes and a white shirt. His black skin looked invisible against the black of the night. The effect was like a white shirt walking toward me. When Hardrick reached us, I said, "Mike's telling us that we're eating ‘possums and armadillos."

Hardrick laughed and reached in his pocket for money. "Give me one," he told Patrick. "Need my daily dose of ‘possum."

So we all stood there at the rear of Patrick's restaurant and munched and talked and laughed. Mike Dupree soon pedaled away, headed around the corner and home. Patrick Dupree soon closed his trunk lid and his restaurant and got in his car and drove away, headed down Cane River and home. Now only Hardrick and my date and myself stood there, munching and talking and laughing in the dark and empty street outside a closed juke joint. At some point, I said, "Rivers, when you gonna play ‘St. James Infirmary' for me? I wrote down the words on a napkin for you. Still got it?"

"Yeah. It's in my saxophone case. I'll do it one of these nights."

After a minute or two, my date tugged my shirt sleeve. Time to go. We told Hardrick goodbye and turned and started walking toward my car. Just before we reached the car, I heard a voice behind me, mellow and like a whisper and slowly singing, "I went down to St. James Infirmary. . . ."

I froze in my tracks. I waited, listening for the rest of the verse. Nothing came. I turned. There far down the dark street stood that ghostly white shirt. Waiting, I then realized, for me to finish the verse. I sang, "And I heard my baby moan. . . ." And I stopped.

And the ghostly white shirt sang, "And I felt so broken hearted. . . ."

Back and forth and a few words at a time we sang the song. When it ended, Hardrick got in his pickup and drove away. And that was the only time I've ever heard him sing "St. James Infirmary."

It was a magic night, one of many I spent at Roque's.

Goodbye Roque's
In this picture, the camera points toward the bandstand. The bar sits to the left and turns the corner and extends out of sight to the far left.

I took this picture while standing in Roque's front door. I now turn and go out that door.

We'll return again some day.



God, I hope we do. . . .

Page 2 and Page 3 mirrored on archive.org

Click for a map of Juke joints, restaurants and other locations written about on Junior's Juke Joint

--------------------------------------------------


If you have the know-how, time, and ability then the Delta Blues website, linked above at archive.org, is definitely worth downloading and mirroring elsewhere. Multiple archives are better than one.

The Delta Blues site contains a whole collection of info, history, and photos that are worth preserving. Which includes history and information about many people who are no longer around and many places that no longer exist.


Katelyn Nicole Davis ♥ Forever Missed