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Showing 15 articles from May 23, 2012.

John Sloan - Outdoors

So hot, the fish sweat

It was coming.

Smothering, roasting, oppressive heat and humidity. But not just yet.

Rose streaks just beginning to show in the east. It is cool now, less than 90 but not much. Birds are starting to lift off the rookery. I have no idea where they are going. The fish are probably sweating. I know I am and I am sure Alan Clemmons is, too. Alan use to do something with some major bass tournaments. Now he is an editor for a big, deer-hunting magazine. He knows how to fish, too. He takes it too seriously but that is his business. He fishes a lot with heavy jigs and crankbaits. That too, is his business. Im just here to fish.


Ask Ken Beck

Raven star Luke Evans enlists with The Hobbit

Dear Ken: Whats the lowdown on Luke Evans, who stars as Detective Fields in The Raven?

The 33-year-old Welsh native came from a working-class background and labored in a shoe shop during his early teen years, using the money to pay for singing and acting lessons. It paid off well as he kept busy on Londons West End from 2000 to 2008 before making the jump to the silver screen as Apollo in Clash of the Titans. Hes been making movies since, including Robin Hood, Tamara Drewe, The Three Musketeers and Immortals. He stars later this year in the psychological horror film No One Lives and has taken the role of Bard the Bowman in director Peter Jacksons two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkiens The Hobbit. As for The Raven, Evans partners with John Cusack, who portrays Edgar Allen Poe, as they seek a serial killer in mid-19th-century Baltimore. Filming took place in Budapest and Serbia.


Wilson Living

Suicide Sam

Wilson Living Magazine

So for the last few weeks Ive been in a funk, thanks to a new addition to our menagerie.

It started about a month ago when I woke to constant banging. For days I could not find the source until I happened upon the dining room window. There, outside, was a beautiful, red cardinal perched on the windowsill looking in.

The cardinal immediately reminded me of an article I had read. In this article, the writer had felt that the red cardinal, which had recently appeared at her window, was her guardian angel during some trying times.

How neat, I thought, I have my own guardian angel, too. So as I turned around to leave, I was horrified when I heard BANG, BANG, BANG!!!

I quickly turned back to watch my guardian angel flying as fast as he could into the window, over and over and over again.

Figuresmy guardian angel would be completely deranged!!


General Lifestyle

Fantastic fiddlin' fanatic

Editors Note: This is part one of a two-part article on Uncle Jimmy Thompson. Part two will be published in the Friday, May 25 edition of The Wilson Post.

{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=44|imageid=269|displayname=0|float=left}By KEN BECK
The Wilson Post

Whether he was the first performer to play on The Grand Ole Opry may be up for debate, but masterful, marathon fiddle playerUncle Jimmy Thompsondefinitely gets credit for putting the world famous Nashville radio show on the map.

The fiddler, who is buried in a cemetery near the Laguardo Church of Christ off of Highway 109, played for a solid hour the night of Nov. 28, 1925, and probably would have played all evening had not WSM station managerGeorge D. Haycalled it a day.

Asked by Hay if he was tired, Thompson replied, Why, shucks, a man dont get warmed up in an hour. I won an eight-day fiddling contest down at Dallas, and heres my blue ribbon to prove it.

Thompson's music spans three centuries, and his legacy continues. While the Opry thrives in its 85th year, the fiddler, who helped popularize the Saturday night radio show, would relish the idea that a bluegrass festival, part of Granvilles Heritage Days on Saturday, has been named in his honor. And, while he could never have imagined it, Thompsons sawing on his fiddle may be heard around the globe via the Internet.

Fantastic fiddlin' fanatic: Uncle Jimmy Thompson's music reverberates across 3 centuries

Editors Note: This is part one of a two-part article on Uncle Jimmy Thompson. Part two will be published in the Friday, May 25 edition of The Wilson Post.

{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=44|imageid=269|displayname=0|float=left}By KEN BECK
The Wilson Post

Whether he was the first performer to play on The Grand Ole Opry may be up for debate, but masterful, marathon fiddle player Uncle Jimmy Thompson definitely gets credit for putting the world famous Nashville radio show on the map.

The fiddler, who is buried in a cemetery near the Laguardo Church of Christ off of Highway 109, played for a solid hour the night of Nov. 28, 1925, and probably would have played all evening had not WSM station manager George D. Hay called it a day.

Asked by Hay if he was tired, Thompson replied, Why, shucks, a man dont get warmed up in an hour. I won an eight-day fiddling contest down at Dallas, and heres my blue ribbon to prove it.

Thompson's music spans three centuries, and his legacy continues. While the Opry thrives in its 85th year, the fiddler, who helped popularize the Saturday night radio show, would relish the idea that a bluegrass festival, part of Granvilles Heritage Days on Saturday, has been named in his honor. And, while he could never have imagined it, Thompsons sawing on his fiddle may be heard around the globe via the Internet.

The colorful character boasted that he could fiddle the bugs off a tater vine. The white-bearded musician, who went through a lively series of calisthenics every morning, enjoyed his tobacco, his liquor and his chewing gum. His habit was to chew an entire package of gum at a time and then was known to save it by placing it into a Vaseline jar he would put in his vest pocket. You cant wear that gum out, hed say.{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=44|imageid=268|displayname=0|float=right}

Regarding Old Betsy, his fiddle, he reportedly kept rattlesnake rattles in it and kept a piece of red flannel in his fiddle case.

He would spread the flannel over Old Betsys breast every night. Hed put her to bed, as he called it," according to his daughter-in-law, the late Katharine Thompson.

Uncle Jimmy was evidently a super-great fiddle player, but he had a good time. He liked to live it up and was a happy-go-lucky-person, said Lebanons Jerry Franklin, whose mother was the niece of Thompsons second wife, Ella Exum Thompson.

He fiddled, fiddled, fiddled. He was good. Aunt Ella would perform with him. She buck danced. My mother hid some of the stories from us other than he could sure play the fiddle. She said it sounded as sweet as the birds singing and that he could play for hours and hours.

Ive been told the Opry old-timers gave him a lot of credit for starting The Grand Old Opry. Whether he played on it first or not, I dont know, said Franklin, who has been to the house where Thompson was born. (The structure is being preserved by Granville Museum board member Stan Webster.)

{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=44|imageid=270|displayname=0|float=left}Thompsons Laguardo home no longer stands, but the well house over his hand-dug well and the tin-roofed, red garage in which he parked his truck remain erect. Faded, hand-painted signs on the two structures testify to the music man/farmer who built them.

Jackie Cowden (CEO of Custom Packaging) has given the well and the barn-type garage to the Granville Museum, and were going to be putting them in Granville as part of the Sutton Homestead in Thompsons memory sometime this fall, said Wilson County Bank & Trust CEO Randall Clemons, who has spearheaded the preservation and restoration of the peaceful village about 40 miles east of Lebanon.

Meanwhile the state historical marker, planted on the side of Hwy. 109 in Laguardo to commemorate Thompson's final resting place, appears to have disappeared.

Jesse Donald Uncle Jimmy Thompsonwas born in the Smith County community of Enigma, not far from the Putnam and Jackson County lines, to father Green Berry Thompson and mother Frances. He had three brothers, a sister and four half-siblings.

When he was about 12 years old, Thompson and his family migrated to Texas, where he took up the fiddle and probably learned a myriad of tunes from veterans returning from the Civil War. By age 17, he could let fly on a fiddle well as any man. In the 1880s, he returned to his native Smith County and married Mahalia Elizabeth Montgomery, and their union produced daughter Sallie and sons Jesse and Willie.

The family moved to Texas in 1902, and in Dallas in 1907 Thompson garnered acclaim after winning an eight-day fiddle contest that had nearly 90 contestants. He brought the family back to Tennessee where his wife died of cancer in 1908 at age 54. She was laid to rest in the family cemetery where Thompsons father and mother were buried about 400 feet behind the old home place in Enigma.

On Jan. 6, 1910, Thompson married Luella Exum, a DeKalb County native who was living in Wilson County. From all accounts, Luella could match Jimmy step for step in his shenanigans musical and otherwise. They soon bought a farmhouse in Laguardo, where the fiddler earned a reputation for joke telling and jug sharing.

In 1922 Thompson bought a Ford truck and modified it into a state-of-the-art RV with a little house on back that held a cot, water bucket, dipper, wash pan and a small wood stove. Thompson would fiddle off the back of the truck while Aunt Ella buck danced in a long white dress on a special red rug.

With their camper, they would hit the road and play at churches, fairs and other social occasions where they could pass the hat and make a decent living. In the fall of 1923, at age 75, he drove to Dallas and won another fiddle contest and a gold watch.{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=44|imageid=271|displayname=0|float=right}

His grandson, the late Fred Thompson, told folks that he remembered how he would wipe the truck off with motor oil and let no one touch the truck body.

He was afraid that the salt in your hand, the sweat, would rust it. Dont touch that, boy? hed say, and he made em back up. He had a big, old walking cane, Fred said.

In the mid-1920s, an old-time fiddling craze was sweeping the nation, even though fiddle contests had been going on for decades. It was then that Thompson made his historic radio debut.

Now before Thompson, George D. Hay and the Opry came on the air on WSM in late 1925, hillbilly musicians such as Dr. Humphrey Bate, a country physician from Castalian Springs in Sumner County, Gladeville fiddler Sid Harkreader and banjo wizard Uncle Dave Macon had already performed on the radio station.

In October 1925, WSM owners employed Hay, who had been the host and announcer of Chicagos WLS Radio show, The National Barn Dance. Hay brought that idea along with notions of his own to create a WSM Barn Dance, which he renamed The Grand Ole Opry in 1927.

There are various versions of how Thompson landed his radio gig, but the way his niece Eva Thompson Jones, a pianist and singer of the light classics, told it was that she suggested to Hay that her uncle play on the show. She invited Hay for an informal audition at her home on Nov. 27, and Hay asked Thompson to perform the next night.

{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=44|imageid=272|displayname=0|float=left}Hay wrote in A Story of the Grand Ole Opry that he welcomed the appearance of Uncle Jimmy Thompson and his blue ribbon fiddle who went on the air at eight oclock, Saturday night, November, 28, 1925. Uncle Jimmy told us that he had a thousand tunes. Past eighty years of age (the stocky, white-bearded fiddler was actually 77), he was given a comfortable chair in front of an old carbon microphone. While his niece, Eva Thompson Jones, played the piano accompaniment.

When Uncle Jimmy Thompson first sat down he announced over the air, Tell the neighbors to send in their requests, and Ill play em if it takes me all night, Hay recollected.

The first tune supposedly fiddled was Tennessee Waggoner. Before the hour was done, telegrams poured into WSM from every state.

He put WSM radio on the map, doing something he had been doing since the Civil War, playing old fiddle tunes, wrote the late Murfreesboro music historian Charles K. Wolfe in his book, A Good-Natured Riot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry.

Uncle Jimmy plays and plays and plays, and he probably would have still been playing if they had not stopped him an hour into the performance, said John Rumble, senior historian with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. They went on for several weeks. Every Saturday he played for an hour. So George D. Hay immediately saw from all the telegrams that this was a popular program.

Soon, Hay booked banjo picker Uncle Dave Macon and African-American harmonica player DeFord Bailey. The trio became the first real stars of the program.{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=44|imageid=273|displayname=0|float=right}

Hay commissioned publicity photos, and this picture of Uncle Jimmy sitting there in the chair before an old-fashioned microphone and George D. Hay standing there looking at a script really became an iconic image, and Hay circulated those publicity photos throughout the South so that provided a visual component to Uncle Jimmy's legend and George D. Hay's legend and the image of the 'Grand Ole Opry,' Rumble said.

Old-time fiddling contests peaked in 1926 backed by the enthusiasm of auto magnate Henry Ford. So when Ford dealerships held contests the second week of January in Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana, Thompson entered and won in Lebanon, and next captured the regional contest held at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, where Marshall Claiborne, a one-armed fiddler from Hartsville, finished second.

To listen to Uncle Jimmy Thompson play his fiddle, click here.

At the regional finals, the Champion of Dixie Contest, in Louisville, Ky., the plucky Thompson did not even place in the top three. Some in the Thompson family have said that his enemies plied him with drink and when it came time to play, the legend was barely able to make the stage, Rumble said. But we do not know if that is true or not.

Later that year in Atlanta, Thompson recorded two traditional tunes, Billy Wilson and Karo for Columbia Records, and in April 1930, he made a disc for Brunswick/Vocalion in Knoxville. Those songs included Lynchburg and Uncle Jimmy's Favorite Fiddling Pieces (a medley of Flying Clouds and Leather Breeches), plus some dialog with the recording supervisor.

So, while the fiddle genius only left behind about 12 minutes on record, music scholars note that his long bow style of playing united the best of both the Tennessee and Texas styles and that he was capable of tricky turns in extemporized passages.

Sources for this story include: a Eugene Chadbourne article online at, Birth of the Grand Ole Opry by Don Cummings; Thersa Franklins "The Life of Uncle Jimmy Thompson" scrapbook; and the late Thomas K. Wolfes three books: The Grand Ole Opry, The Early Years, 1925-1935, A Good-Natured Riot: The Birth of the Grand Ole Opry and The Encyclopedia of Country Music: The Ultimate Guide to the Music.

Writer Ken Beck may be contacted at


Our Feathered Friends

Our Feathered Friends - May 23

While doing my Owl Prowl at Cedars of Lebanon State Park, Buddy Ingram asked me if I could come back the following Wednesday morning and take a group of kids from Trousdale County out to see some birds. Of course, I answered. Not everyone has an interest in just one subject. Thats why Our Feathered Friends has certain readers, as well as Telling Tales and our resident fisherman and hunter, John Sloan.

{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=20|imageid=250|displayname=0|float=left}Bright and fairly early, I made my way to Cedars, looking forward to hiking up the concrete walkway past Hermit Cave in hopes of locating a few birds. The school buses had taken a wrong turn and were waiting up by the swimming pool when we discovered that they would be late. Buddy had planned on breaking the school bunch into groups of 17 which made four groups. The best time to find birds, especially during migration is first light in the early morning. It was almost 10:15 a.m. before we could get started, and the first thing they wanted to do was drink from the hose pipe down on the corner by the Nature Center. The birds were too quiet and there was nothing stirring except a Red-bellied Woodpecker. We looked all over the Jackson Cave area and then went out toward the Dixon Merritt -mile trail. Everything there was also muted till we took a short cut off the trail into the field next to where the Ranger's horses are stabled.



Let the roars of the wooly mammoth affect you


I noticed you mentioned recently youve been writing this for several years now which makes me sure you must have answered my question, but here goes anyway. When should I use affect and when should I use effect? I know your birthday is in May, so Happy Birthday!-A Buddy

When should you use? Why maybe at 3:00 PM you can use one and at 3:05 PM you could use the other, and then on another day alternate.

Oh, who really loves a smart aleck? Well, I do, as I love myself. How can one love others without loving oneself? And one is supposed to love others, even those who are miserably mean. Mark 12:31a The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.

So, loving you, Ill give you a serious answer after a paragraph or two devoted to me.

And yes, I am a May baby, from a long ago May when the world was young and the dinosaurs only recently departed and saber-toothed tigers roared from distant hills filled with wooly mammoths. A May before Pearl Harbor. A May when cars had running boards. A May with big, wooden radios as large as fireplaces. A May of washing machines with wringers. A May without interstates (well, the Constitution does mention interstate commerce). A May without Internet. A May without cell phones, dumb or smart. A May when the youth were polite and respectful to their elders maybe, some of the time.


Guest Column

Honoring heroes during National EMS Week


When asked to describe a hero, many words come to mind. Adventurer, daredevil, conqueror, even an idol. However, when asked to describe an everyday hero, different words come to mind. Brave, selfless, caring, knowledgeable.

Anyone who has ever had to dial 9-1-1 or be rushed to the emergency room with a life-threatening problem has firsthand knowledge of the skill and expertise our Emergency Medical Services team provides. In honor of the selfless work our EMS professionals give to all of us in Wilson County, on behalf of University Medical Center, we want to thank them for their service and dedication.

There couldnt be a better time to celebrate these everyday heroes. I am in awe of these unique individuals who thrive in stressful situations, all while staying calm and performing life-saving procedures in the process. EMS professionals are used to being on call and working holidays all in the name of serving our community. They are true public servants, which is why they deserve special recognition.


At the Movies

Battleship sunk by lackluster action, storytelling

The Wilson Post

There has to be a number of difficulties to adapting a board game where players randomly select points on a grid to hit or miss an opponents secretly-placed nautical force, and Battleship certainly pays homage to the game, but achieves little else in terms of enjoyment.

Battleship is based on the classic Hasbro game that actually dates back to World War I, when it was played with pencil and paper.

The film depicts wayward hero Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch), his brother and U.S. Navy Commander, Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard) who must repel an alien invasion during international Pacific war games off Hawaii.

The film starts by laying out the reason why the faceless and nameless antagonists come to earth. NASA sends a signal into space to a planet similar to earth, in hopes of contacting life. They succeed and bad things happen.

Nothing really happens for the first half-hour except attempts to show that Alex is a guy without much direction, while Stone is the polar opposite and gets his brother to join the Navy to give Alex some structure. Even though the opening is trying very hard to establish the characters, theyre still pretty one-dimensional.


General News

8 nonagenarians plan return to WHS

The Wilson Post

Among the 400 or so alumni slated to attend the centennial celebration of Watertown High School on May 26 will be eight graduates over the age of 90.

The nonagenarians include Lela Beatrice Adams Robinson Forester, Cassie Martin Hallum, Kathryn Hearne, George James, Nancy Macon, Elmer Marler, Frank Mullinax and Georgia Neal.

{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=42|imageid=256|displayname=0|float=left}Marler, who lives at Elmcroft in Lebanon, and Mullinax, of Memphis, both served in World War II and Mullinax was a prisoner of war.

A story in The Wilson Post earlier this spring reported Marler, 97, a member of the Watertown High School class of 1933, as the oldest known living graduate. Since then, two older alumni have contacted the paper.

Cassie Martin Hallum, who turns 99 in October, appears to be the oldest surviving Watertown High graduate. The class of 1931 graduate was born Oct. 8, 1913, in Statesville, and raised in Watertown on Holmes Gap Road with her parents, two brothers and sister. She married Eugene Hallum of Lebanon, and they had four sons and a daughter.

A step ahead locally on mass transit

From Post staff reports

Lebanon and Wilson County are fortunate to be a step ahead in whats become a regional challenge to recognize and embrace the values and need of mass transit, said Charles Bone, chairman of the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee yesterday.

Speaking to the Tuesday Rotary, Bone said many across the Middle Tennessee region are envious of whats occurred in Wilson County with respect to mass transit.

He said the county has gotten high marks from many of its neighbors for being on the leading edge of mass transit with the commitment made to the Music City Star, the states first commuter rail line.

We should all understand that concerns about mass transit are not restricted to any particular county but instead apply to the entire region surrounding Nashville.

This one issue alone is so important. It will likely define our progress, prosperity and growth in the immediate future, said Bone, a Nashville attorney who resides in Sumner County.

Dixie Taylor-Huff dies after battle with cancer

From Post staff reports

Family and friends from far and wide are mourning the passing of Dixie Taylor-Huff, 71, president and CEO of Quality Health Care and Rehabilitation and Cedars Health Care in Lebanon.

Mrs. Taylor-Huff of Castalian Springs died Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at Centennial Medical Center following an extended illness.

Her sphere of influence touched a broad range of individuals from high ranking public officials to blue collar factory workers.

Several Tennessee governors were friends with her and she was a frequent visitor on healthcare issues in Washington.

A native of Trousdale County, her career in healthcare began as a nurse and was elevated to a position of ownership of several healthcare facilities in the region.

Vote for best design by graduates

In today's edition ofThe Wilson Post,you'll find a special insert honoring the graduating seniors of 2012 from all local high schools. While we usually honor the graduates in this way, we decided to change it up this year.

Each school layout was designed by that school's newspaper or yearbook staff. We're offering Wilson County the chance to vote for which one you feel is best. From Wednesday, May 23 through Friday, June 1, you will have the chance to vote once per day for the best layout and design.

The voting will end at 4 p.m. on June 1 and the school with the most votes will receive a $500 donation.


General Sports

Lebanon's Cragwall signs with TSU

Shaq Cragwall, holder of two Lebanon High records, signed an NCAA National Letter of Intent Wednesday morning to continue his track & field career at Nashville's Tennessee State University.

Cragwall will compete Friday in the Class AAA high jump and triple jump in the BlueCross Spring Fling Friday at MTSU's Dean Hayes Stadium.

One of 12 county-wide finalists for the Wilson County Sports Council's academic-athlete award, Cragwall won sub-sectional championships in both the high jump and triple jump; was mid-state champ in the high jump, triple jump and long jump as well as District 9AAA champ in the high and triple jumps.

Son of Alicia Neal, Cragwall is leaning toward a major in drafting or architecture at TSU.

Contact TOMMY BRYAN at

SPRING FLING -- Local baseball, softball teams eliminated Wednesday

Class AAA softball
Daniel Boone 4, Mt. Juliet 3
MURFREESBORO -- Mt. Juliet's Lady Bears were eliminated Wednesday morning at the Starplex, falling to Daniel Boone High of Washington County 4-3. The loss ended Brad Rowlett's first season as head coach in the BlueCross Spring Fling with a record of 34-15-1.

Trailing 4-0, Mt. Juliet mounted a comeback in the bottom of the fourth as Rachel Atnip tripled and Lauren Woodards RBI groundout was followed by Ashton Stowes run-scoring single.

Boone second baseman Hannah Montoyas error allowed another run to score and it was 4-3. Mt. Juliet had a golden opportunity in the bottom of the fifth inning- with runners on first and second with no outs, but couldnt score.

The Lady Bears dropped their tournament opener to Munford 6-5 on Tuesday. Madison Taylor was robbed of a 3-run homer on a great catch by Munford outfielder Tori Ray.

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