Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hey Y'all:This is the last installment of Buddy Buie's appearance on Wally & Dave's Morning Show on WTBC on March 15.

The entire transcription of the 36 minute 47 second interview is now posted at "Cuba, Alabama"

The following transcript is the complete 19 minute 13 second of Buddy's first interview before the break.

To hear the CD and read the text is a real treat. I really hate it that I am privileged to be the first person to ever experience that multimedia presentation.

Four people are involved with this interview: Wally Price, Dave McDaniel and Ronnie Quarles along with Buddy.

Please get somebody to get me a CD or file with Buddy's April 13 Finebaum interview

because it takes a long time to transcribe these things and I want WOOF in Dothan to record Buddy's upcoming interview on Phil Paramore's Talkin' Sports show on WOOF-AM560, THE BALL.
so I got a lot of work in front of me & I need to get started.

Let me know if anybody wants a sample mp3 of THE DAY BEAR BRYANT DIED.



(Buddy is talking about living in New York City when he was a young songwriter)

I go back to the hotel.
Put the key in the door &
the door won't open!

I go downstairs very irate & said

They said,"YEAH! If you'd pay your bill, it might open!"


They had my clothes and everything back of the counter!

[more laughter]

Wally: Buddy, what's the first song on the radio that you heard that you'd written...

Buddy: That'd I'd written?

Wally: Or produced. The first written or produced. Sandy Posey?

Buddy: Before that, you know, we had The James Gang...

Ronnie: "Georgia Pines"

Buddy: "Georgia Pines". Even before that...
I think that "Georgia Pines" is the FIRST one with any notoriety to it.

Ronnie: "Georgia Pines" was big in the South.

Buddy: ONLY!

Ronnie: But never did get out nationally.

Buddy: Never did and it's never been really covered by a big artist. I always thought one of the Nashville artists would cover that song because it seems like it'd be a natural for 'em.

Ronnie: We had Johnny Townsend here not too long ago.

Buddy: Oh, yeah.

Ronnie: He did "Light Of A Distant Fire."
That thing kind of spread out nationally.

Buddy: Surely! It was a big one...

Wally: "Smoke From A Distant Fire" !

Ronnie: Oh, "Smoke From A Distant Fire".

Buddy: Yeah.



Ronnie: So how did it feel hearing that song on the radio.

Buddy: I can't, I can't relate now to that feeling. I can't remember back...
My mind is mush, anyway, when it comes to memory but I do know that it gave me a little extra edge with the girls in town. I remember that!



Dave: Always looking for that edge, baby!

Ronnie: All about the girls!

Wally: My Daddy had a country music station here in town that I grew up working in.

Buddy: Oh, did he?

Wally: And I just always loved that Sandy Posey song "I Take It Back".

Buddy: That was the first national hit we had.

Wally: Uh, huh.

Buddy: Right before that we had a song by Tommy Roe called "Party Girl" that made it it to like mid-chart. Uh, but, Sandy Posey, "I Take It Back", the way that came about... Chips Moman.I don't know whether you know him. He's a legendary producer. He produced a bunch of stuff for Elvis: "Suspicious Minds", "In The Ghetto". He did "Willie & Waylon". He did "The Highwaymen".

Ronnie Quarles: WOW!

Buddy: I mean, he's legendary. Well, this was when he was in Memphis and,uh, I had... I knew about him and had met him by phone & I said,"Listen, I got a song."So I did the demo myself. I sang the demo and I did "The Girl's Part". You know the Girl's recitation. I did it in the female gender!


Buddy: Then I did the male voice.

Wally: I'm glad I didn't hear that version!

Buddy: It was good enough to get a cut though! He called me in the middle of the night and said, "Hey man! I cut Sandy Posey on that song!"



Ronnie: So how do you write a song and get it to somebody like Sandy Posey? What,what... How did that happen?

Buddy: Well, that's what I was saying. What happened was I knew he was recording because she'd just had "Single Woman". This song called "Single Woman".

Ronnie: So you did not know Sandy Posey?

Buddy: No I did not know Sandy.

Ronnie: OK.

Buddy: I rarely ever know the artist.

Ronnie: OK.

Buddy: You know, it's usually through a publisher or what we call a "pitch" where you go in front of an artist or producer and throw them your song.

Ronnie: Is it easy today to do that?

Buddy: Well,

Ronnie[interrupting]: Is it easier today, I should say...

Buddy: I don't do it as much but when you've had a track record, you know, you can get in the door easier. It doesn't make them like it anymore though...

Ronnie: I see...

Buddy: You know, they'll still tell ya,"Naw, thank you for coming. Really appreciate you bringing it by but, naw, this is not for us."

Ronnie: See, I've always told Wally that we could get the Sunday newspaper, cut out some words out of each headline, put 'em together & line 'em up.We'd have a country song!


Buddy: I got a couple of country titles but I can't say but one of them on the air!




Buddy: That's a Waylon Jennings' line!


Ronnie[laughing] That's great!

Buddy: Can I say "masturbate" on the radio?

Dave McDaniel: Yeah, I think you just did!


Ronnie: Yeah, I think you just did!



Dave: Oh no! There goes our license!

Buddy: I cleaned it up a little bit!

Dave: Yeah you did. We're with you on it , Buddy!


Dave: OH Lord!

Ronnie: Let's move it on!

Dave: Naw! Let it stay right where it's at!


Ronnie: So how did you hook up with the Classics IV?

Buddy: I was in Atlanta. Bill Lowery had... I told you I had a song by Tommy Roe who was a Bill Lowery artist. I met Bill and Bill; later on, introduced me, you know, to different people around town, and what was the question?

Ronnie: The Classics IV.

Buddy: Oh yeah, I was not a producer at that time. I was a songwriter pitching songs. Joe South, the legendary writer...

Wally: "Don't It Make You Want To Go Home"

Buddy: "Rose Garden" , many, many, many songs.
Joe was producing the band and I knew of 'em because I'd been to Florida to see them down at Cocoa Beach and they were an incredible band. They were probably the best copy band I'd heard at that time and the lead singer, Dennis Yost played drums.

Ronnie: Standing up! Yeah! I remember that!

Buddy: &, anyway, they were cutting one of my songs...NO THEY WASN'T!
At that point, they were cutting a bunch of songs that Lowery had given them and Joe South became ill and I became their producer by default.

Wally: Really!

Ronnie: Wow!

Buddy: & during that week we cut "Spooky".

Dave: How 'bout that!

Buddy: I kept hounding Bill Lowery,"Man, if I could just get in the studio and have some real time!"
So they named that NATIONAL BUIE WEEK so I was the only one who could get in the studio!


Buddy: & during that week, the musicians, some of them later on became the Atlanta Rhythm Section, we cut "Spooky".
I think an interesting thing about that session is that Emory Gordy was the bass player and Emory is Patty Loveless' husband.

Ronnie: Is that right?!

Buddy: & he's a very big producer in Nashville. He also played bass for Elvis and Emory was the bass player and J.R. Cobb, who was one of the Classics IV, later on became one of the Atlanta Rhythm Section, J.R. Cobb, they all played on that session, and we cut "Spooky" with just those three pieces. We recorded it on a three track. I don't know how many people in the audience are familiar with a little bit of the technical stuff but we had a 3-track tape machine- a Scully 3-track.

Ronnie: Wow!

Buddy: & we had two of them and what we would do, we'd put the bass and drums on one track, the singer on another track and guitar on the other track and then we'd do what's called "Ping Pong". We take those tracks and record them down to two, then we did overdubs.
By the time we got through recording this song, the tape was so thin you could see through it!


Dave: I believe that, yeah!

Ronnie: & now days, they've got what?

Dave: 64 tracks.

Buddy: Unlimited tracks! Digital! Yeah! Unlimited tracks!
I remember when the first 8 track, I'm telling my age but I remember the first 8 track!


Buddy: I remember the first 16 track!

Wally: We do too!


Wally: We're all old radio folks so we know.

Dave: Yeah, we do too!

Ronnie: So ya'll hooked up with Roy Orbison?

Buddy: Well, the way we hooked up with Roy Orbison...
We recorded "Spooky" and we recorded another song. It was called "Poor People" and I don't even remember the melody of that song now it's been so long but "Poor People" was the A-side and "Spooky" was the B-side.


Buddy: Spooky had originally been a jazz instrumental. Did you know that?

Ronnie: No, I didn't know that!

Dave: Wow!

Buddy: A guy named Mike Shapiro and Harry Middlebrooks in Atlanta. Mike was probably one of the greatest jazz players, sax tenor players, that you'll...
He played the break on "Spooky". He played it on "Stormy". He's just a great player and that song, I was riding down the road, J.R. Cobb and I and I said,
"I love that instrumental."
J.R. said," I do too. Did you know Bill Lowery publishes it?"
I said,"Naw, I didn't."
So I called Bill Lowery. I said,"Man, that song of yours, you know, is just sensational!
Do you mind if I take it and rework it and try to make it into a pop song and write lyrics to it?"
So we took it. Restructured it. Changed the melody to make it, you know, more appropriate for a pop song and , you know, that's how that song came about. It was a B-side as I said. A disc jockey in Louisville, KY played it and the phones rang off the hook and I had a promotion man named Mike Martin who called me saying,"Buddy, you won't believe this but that song 'Spooky', the B-side of the record, it's tearing it up!"
So then it started happening in different towns and, you know, then it became the big song that it was. Now it's been recorded by The Atlanta Rhythm Section, of course, had a hit with "Spooky" and David Sandbourne had a # 1 jazz hit so it's been a great song for us.
Now, what's your next question you asked me?

Buddy: Now what's your next question you asked me?

Ronnie: How'd you hook up with Roy Orbison?

Buddy: In Dothan, Alabama. This was before any of this had happened.In Dothan, there was the Houston County Farm Center there and I started promoting shows. I used to have dances at the local recreation center and things of that kind.

Wally: He was the Tiger Jack of Dothan!

Buddy: Yeah, I've heard a lot about Tiger Jack!


Ronnie: He used to do that here at Ft. Brandon Armory.

Buddy: We probably played for him!

Ronnie: We've got pictures of y'all on our website.

Buddy: Oh great! Yeah! I remember that armory very well. I had a show... my first big show was Roy Orbison. I loved Roy Orbison. I told you I loved radio and I loved songs. I was just mesmerized with "Only The Lonely" and even a couple of things before that. I thought he was sensational so I called. I found out who he was with. It was Acuff-Rose Agency in Nashville and I called them & they said,"Sure, he'd love to come down there!" and I said,"How much is it gonna be?" and it was $600!


Dave:WOO! That was big money!

Wally: That was a world of money!

Buddy: $600. Even then I thought it was a bargain. He came down. In those days, big artists traveled with like a guitar player & a music director and they did. Fred Carter was his guitar player and they told me,"Does your band read?"

"Well, of course!"

They didn't read music!


Wally: I read in that article about you that they DID read music!They said that they DID read!

Buddy: They full of crap!


Buddy: They might have learned over years of osmosis...


Buddy: They were just country boys, played by ear as most session players at that time were...The guys in Muscle Shoals, I betcha none of those guys, maybe some of 'em did, the horn players and stuff but most guitar players don't read.So I said,"Sure! They READ!"So they said,"We're gonna bring down some arrangements."Well, immediately we go to the Dothan Recreation Center and start rehearsing and John Rainey Adkins, one of my guitar heroes, & one of the guys that, he passed on, God bless him, we practiced and practiced and John Rainey, he would play a record backwards or slow it down to the slowest spead and learn parts and to make a long story short, by the time Orbison came to town, these guys sounded like his records!

Dave: Wow!

Buddy: They had it down! So he came, got on stage for rehearsal. So he said,"Y'all boys read?""SURE!"So he handed them all this music, you know...


Buddy: And so they counted off,"One,two, three, four

[Buddy imitating Orbison]"I was all right for a while!"
RIGHT! So at the end of the song, Orbison said,"God O' Mighty!"


Buddy: "God O' Mighty! That sounds great!"


Buddy: He's a country boy from Wink, Texas, a small town, like we were small town guys from Dothan, Alabama.

Ronnie: Wink, Texas.

Buddy: Yeah, close to Odessa.

Ronnie: Yeah. I used to live out there.

Buddy: Yeah, did you really? I played a lot of joints out there.

Ronnie: I lived in San Angelo.

Buddy: Did ya?

Ronnie: Yeah.

Buddy: & Orbison, by the end of the night, by the time he left Dothan, we'd become friends and it led from there. He came back, played another show, finally he said,"Man, I'd love to take this band on the road!"I said,"You're not taking that band on the road unless you take me!!!!"


Dave: Oh, that's right!


Buddy: I had a '55 Chevrolet and we piled into it. Bobby Goldsboro was the rhythm guitar player!

Ronnie: Oh, man!

Buddy: We all piled into my '55 Chevrolet and went on the road with Roy Orbison!

Ronnie: Wow!

Wally: You were his road manager, right?

Buddy: I was his road manager and he is...I gotta say; I've said it in other interviews and things; there's no telling how many times I saw him perform.There was never a time when I saw him perform that the hair didn't stand up on my arm!


Buddy: & he was one of the sweetest human beings you would ever meet. He had a song one time called "If You Can't Say Something Nice, Don't Say Anything At All".That's pretty much the motto he lived by. I never heard him say anything bad about anybody else.He was just one of those guys that did not deserve all...First of all, the lack of attention he got!Everybody thinks of Roy Orbison as being a huge artist during that period. He was huge in England but in America, he had hit records but concert-wise, he was just another Joe & nobody like him deserves what happened. He lost his children in fire. He lost his wife when he was riding down the road on motorcycles.They went out motorcycle riding together & he was in the lead and he looked back and she wasn't there and the reason she wasn't there was because a guy ran a stop sign and killed her instantly.

Ronnie: That's horrible! Didn't know that...

Buddy: So that's his life. You know about his children burning up, didn't you?


Buddy: He had a house out by Johnny Cash on Hendersonville Lake in Nashville and they were playing with matches or something and I think their nanny was with them and the house burned to the ground.

Dave: Oh, goodness!

Buddy: With the children in it.

Ronnie: Oh, my God!

Buddy: So he lived a tragic, tragic life.

Wally: Why'd he wear those sunglasses?

Buddy: Well, Roy was... you know there are stories that say he started wearing them in Dothan. Is that what you're referring to?

Wally: I just noticed he always had dark sunglasses on.

Buddy: Yeah, dark sunglasses, I always heard he never wore them until, somebody else told me this, he never wore them before and I don't remember it but somebody told me this that when he was in Dothan, he lost his clip-on sunglasses and he had to buy a pair and he liked himself in sunglasses.He was virtually blind. His glasses were thick like plate glass.Roy was white. His hair was just white as snow when he was a kid. He dyed that hair. It'd get white. I've seen him.Oh, I could gush about him for hours!

Ronnie: Well, there was the special, "Black & White". What a great show!

Buddy: Wasn't that great!

Ronnie: Unbelievable!

Buddy: I wrote with him right after that and that's another tragic thing about his death.All of his life, he'd not really had all the adulation the he deserved. He didn't know that Bruce Springsteen thought he was "GOD"!


Buddy: He didn't know this. All these people...How they felt about him.

Ronnie: So that was a big moment for him.

Buddy: It was HUGE for him! & finally, his idol was Elvis, and finally he got a little of that Elvis type attention...


Buddy: & then right after that he came to Atlanta and wrote with Ronnie Hammond and I. We had a song called "Awesome Love". Roy called me and said,"Man, I love your song "Awesome Love". I wanna come down and put my touch to it."I said, "Come on!"So he came to Atlanta, stayed there at my house for three or four days and that's the last time I saw him. He died not long after that.

Dave: My Goodness!

Buddy: It was heartbreaking.

Ronnie: Yeah.

Dave: Along with the travels with Roy Orbison, you also had a brush with the Beatles, didn't you?

Buddy: No, I didn't.

Dave: O.K.

Buddy: You know a lot of people get that wrong. I didn't!
The Band Did! The band went with Orbison to England and Robert Nix and one of the other guys, they were at a club there and they met McCartney & Lennon in the bathroom.


Dave: Great place to meet 'em!

Buddy: & John Rainey said, " I didn't know what to say! There was John Lennon!"


Wally: & then they wrote "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window"!


Buddy: That's pretty good there!

Dave: You gotta watch him, Buddy!

Buddy: I wasn't there. Lot of times people interpret it that I was there but I wasn't. The band was there and they came back with all kind of stories!

Wally: Buddy Buie's our guest this morning! We're gonna take a short break and we'll be right back!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hey Y'all:
I had the immense pleasure of knocking off from of my regular job at Pake Realty on Monday and Tuesday in order to hang out with the notorious Young Junior Baby Criminal, Buddy Buie.

I made sure he came by our office so he could hug my property manager, Karen, who has fallen in love with his "sexy" voice via recent phone conversations and radio interviews.

God, it must be pure hell being a sex symbol!

Well, when the other girls around the office found out that I didn't bring Buddy to see them, paper cups, paper boxes and paper clips began to sho' nuff be thrown in my direction.

I go out of my way to satisfy Karen and all I do is get in trouble with the other kitty kats.

The wheels of progress for the launch of "The Day Bear Bryant" are spinning rubber as we speak!

We are now crafting out the almost quarter century long "story" behind "THE LOST SONG".

Y'all can help by sharing your memories of the day Coach Bryant died with us and by requesting the mp3 sample from me and sharing it with Bama football media types.

To give you an example:
Buddy was really happy to meet Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News Monday night at the live radio broadcast of HEY COACH! at Bob Baumhower's Wings and Cecil will soon be receiving a nice "CARE Package" from Buddy which will include Buddy's double CD, MUSIC OF MY LIFE.

I shot Tommy Wilcox an mp3 sample of the song last night along with a suggestion that he book Buddy and his wife, Gloria, on his television show Tommy Wilcox Outdoors

Please take out a few moments from your busy day to drop us a few lines here in "Cuba, Alabanana"!
We'd love to hear from ya!


Paul: We welcome you back. Couple of weeks ago I got a note from my good friend, Ronnie Quarles, who runs our affiliate WTBC in Tuscaloosa. He said he'd done a show with a fellow named Buddy Buie. He said it was one the great shows they'd ever done over there and he said,"You need to get Buddy Buie on."
I said,"We'll see if we can track him down," and now I'm looking across the table at Buddy Buie, who has had an extraordinary career and I must confess Buddy, I know the music but I didn't know the story and it's a great pleasure to talk to you.

Buddy: It's a pleasure to talk to you.

Paul: For those who...
& we're going to play some songs in a few minutes which are going to do more than ring a bell! They're going to resonate because they did with me. Pat Smith and I were going over some of your music today. You grew up in Dothan, Alabama and you got into music. You became one of the most accomplished songwriters of your era, putting together some incredible songs that were played by many groups and before we get into some of those incredible songs which will include "Spooky", "Traces of Love" and many others that are almost as well known, I'm curious. How did it begin?

Buddy: First of all let me say, thank you for inviting me and I'm mighty proud to be here. I was born in Dothan, Alabama [note: Buddy was actually born in Marianna, Florida but his family returned to Dothan while he was still an infant] and I always loved listening to the radio. I knew most of the songs...before....I knew them by their intros, you know.
So when I was in high school, I had some buddies. They had a little band and I'd hang out with them and they were real...kinda bashful and I was kinda outspoken so I helped them get jobs & stuff and one of the boy's names was Bobby Goldsboro.


& so anyway, I started writing the songs in high school because I would keep them to myself because I was a little ashamed to tell everybody. I was embarrassed.
"You don't write songs!"
"YES! I DO!"

But I'd write them in my head because I don't really play an instrument but I found a friend of mine in Dothan, Alabama, John Rainey Adkins. I finally got the nerve to tell him about my songs and he was the first one that didn't laugh. So he said,"Let's work out something."
So we'd sit in front of his house in a '56 Chevrolet and write songs. Well, to make a ...I'll try to speed this up.

From there I promoted shows too in the Dothan area and Roy Orbison came to Dothan and Roy and I became friends and he became friends with the boys in the band called The Webs.
One day he said, " I want to take this band on the road." and I said,"I'm not going to let you take that band on the road unless you take me with you!"
& so off we went to see the world!

I met Bill Lowery from Atlanta in 1965 and we had a hit with a young guy by the name of Tommy Roe and that kind of started things and I moved to Atlanta. Then in 1967, the producer of this group called THE CLASSICS IV took sick and they were doing one of my songs so I was..., by default, turned out to be their producer and they cut "Spooky".
"Spooky" later on became a very big song; was recorded by a lot of people.
Then we had "Stormy" & "Traces of Love" & "Everyday With You Girl", all those hits right in a row.

Paul: Why don't we listen and then talk about how it came together.

[they play a recording of "Spooky"]

So you did "Spooky" with THE CLASSICS IV. It was a big hit with THE CLASSICS IV.

Buddy: It was #2 in the country.

Paul: & then it became a hit with the Atlanta Rhythm Section.

Buddy: The Atlanta Rhythm Section recorded it and it became a big hit again and then David Sandborne, the great saxophonist, recorded it and it was a #1 "Jazz Instrumental".
It started as a jazz instrumental.

Paul: We were looking earlier today and this song's been done by a lot of folks.

Buddy: Yeah, it has.


We've been real fortunate there because a lot of people seem to like it and it seems to have a life of its own. It's been almost...
That long since it was recorded...

Paul: Do you have a personal favorite among the productions?

Buddy: I produced two of them.


Paul: That's a loaded question!

Buddy: CLASSICS IV & THE ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION so those are my favorites.

Paul: I want to hear THE ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION in a moment because I'm curious, in doing and having a huge hit in '68, with THE CLASSICS IV, how much later?

Buddy: I think we recorded in '80 with THE ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION. Yeah, we recorded it in 1980.

Paul: How much different was it?

Buddy: Not really that much different except the solo is not a sax solo, it's a guitar solo played by the great Barry Bailey that I thought was sensational and it was basically the same structure as the original record.

Paul: The one song, when I was listening to it this morning, I'm not just saying this...
because it's one of the great songs I grew up with & I think so many people when they hear it think,"That guy put this one together!"
Before we listen to it...
CLASSICS IV did it. So many people have done it. How many people have done....
Who else did "Traces" other than THE CLASSICS IV?

Buddy: Well you know, it was done by a lot of instrumental artists...the most recent was Gloria Estafan. We have had so many instrumentals, like everybody from Montovani to...gosh, you know, Paul, it's been recorded about 75 times!

Paul: & this song made the charts on two consecutive years- THE CLASSICS IV & THE LETTERMEN.

Buddy: I almost forgot the LETTERMEN record. That's right! Yes! THE LETTERMEN had a big record with it!

Paul: That's got to be pretty unusual, I mean, you see it in a different generation but the next year!

Buddy: I think the reason is two different audiences, you know, CLASSICS IV , "Top 40" & THE LETTERMEN were, at the time we called "Good Music". It's now called "Adult Contemporary".

Paul: Let's listen to one of my all time favorites, "Traces"

[play a recording of "Traces"]

Buddy Buie, tell me, is terms of putting this song together, what...
Depending on how old you are, it takes you back to another time but what does this song remind you of?

Buddy: This song,this lady who's sitting to my right,
was written for...


It was written about my wife and the song to me...
One of the proudest moments & comments I can make about this song is about ten years ago, Broadcast Music Incorporated, BMI, had their 50th Anniversary. Of all the songs in the complete catalog, "Traces" was the 34th most played song- #1 was "Yesterday". #49 was "My Way".


So we're in there with a lot of nice people. It was played so much. It was played on a cross section of radio stations from "Pop" to "Adult Contemporary", even "R & B", stations like that.

Paul: What did you think of the Gloria Estafan rendition?

Buddy: Well, I was tickled pink to have it!
She was pregnant when she did that, and I don't think they spent as much time as I'd like to see her take with it, but, hey, I'm grateful she recorded it! Very good move for us. She's a great singer.

Paul: Let's see how she did it.

[play a recording of Gloria Estafan's version of "Traces"]

Paul: I may be old fashioned. I think I'll take the earlier version.

Buddy: I'm not knocking it at all.

Paul: Buddy Buie is our guest, We'll also get to your phone calls later on , 1-866-741-7285.
There are so many great songs. We'll listen to that as well.
You also did a song about a fellow who once coached at the University of Alabama.
We'll talk about that as well as your phone calls as we roll on...


Monday, July 13, 2015


“Mother, Mother Ocean, I’ve heard you call.
Wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall.
You’ve seen it all. You’ve seen it all.

Watch the men who rode you
Switch from sail to steam
In your belly you hold the treasures
Few have ever seen.
Most of ‘em dream, most of ‘em dream”
                                  Jimmy Buffett

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.”
                                                                           ~ Zen proverb

Sometimes in our hectic lives even the most ambitious among us desire to turn our backs on the daily pursuit of power and success, to leave the suburban sprawl behind and to embrace the enchanting but unprofitable art of beachcombing. Like our prehistoric hunter-gatherer ancestors who started some of the mounds around St. Andrews Bay, we may choose to begin our intertidal zone scavenger hunt for shells, driftwood or some other part of Poseidon’s treasure on one of Bay County’s many isolated Gulf front beaches [see the BAY COUNTY’S BEST GULF BEACHES box in this article] but even if we don’t get a kick out of having the chance to enjoy Neptune’s blessing by getting something for nothing, a nice stroll on a peaceful beach is a great opportunity to decompress in the salt air, to calm your soul , to “give your head some space” and in the current cultural vernacular, “to stay Zen.”

The word “beachcomber” made its first appearance in print in Herman Melville’s 1847 book OMOO. Melville used the term to describe unemployed sailors who foraged along the beaches of Pacific islands for the remains of shipwrecks. Over the course of the next 166 years, the term has been associated with deserters, free-loaders, bums, drifters and in some cases, the criminal class of wreckers who were known to set up false beacon lights to lure ships onto shoals. Wrecking became such a tradition in the Shetland Islands that Christian preachers there once included this appeal to the Almighty in their prayers, ”Lord, if it be thy holy will to send shipwrecks, do not forget our island.”

Well, times have changed and these days it’s not your Mama’s beachcombing.

Not only do we have “Dr. Beach”, “Dr. Beachcomb” and pricey expeditions that promise “full immersion” within “the beachcombing experience”, we have the annual International Beachcombing Conference, beachcombing autobiographies and self-help beachcombing books that “explore self-being” while bringing a “simplified perspective to beachcombing.” In other words, BEACHCOMBING, INC. (made up of a variety of shamans, neuroconservationists and born-again eco-environmentalists who desperately need copy for their next book or mixed media presentation) is now selling a mixed bag of beachcombing gear and amazing adventures in unadulterated nature.
Beachcombing is really not a tough sell for the corporate beachcomber because it’s hard to argue with the joy beachcombing brings us.  A simple walk surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of shifting sand and shimmering surf, accompanied by the sounds of rolling waves and shrieking shorebirds, somehow has the magical ability to transform us, to bring us deep contentment and to return us to memories of our childhood and our families. In fact, there’s a great deal of scientific curiosity concerning exactly why the sea has this ability to suddenly bring us deep contentment. In the midst of the stress of work, smart phones and deadlines, we often find ourselves daydreaming about our beachcomber life and find ourselves revisiting our excursions in our imagination.

On just about any beach on Earth, beachcombing takes you through some really cool nature but Bay County beachcombing has an added bonus that makes it unique to all of North America. These Gulf front beaches are absolutely, astonishingly beautiful. When clear water comes in with the tide, it doesn’t take a trained eye to see the spectacular display of color produced by sunlight upon the exceeding whiteness of the sandy bottom. Any painter of landscapes who can concoct the right combination of pigment and is able to get just some of that beauty down on canvas, deserves to charge a good price for their work. 

From the intersection of Highway 98 and Florida Road 386 in Mexico Beach on the east to the Walton County line in Inlet Beach on the west, Bay County is blessed with over 40 miles of cherished Gulf-front beaches. Even though Bay County is only 100 years old, accurate maps of the area have been available for almost 250 years. During this time the sea has pounded and flattened this strand of sand many times and over the years, geographical terms like St. Andrews Island (1766), Crooked Island (1827), Sand Island (1827), Hummock Island (1827) and Hurricane Island (1855) have come and gone. This is not the place for a discussion about wave erosion and marine geology but, suffice it to say, the form and extent of the sandy barrier between the bay and the Gulf have changed over the years; in fact, there are no true barrier islands in Bay County anymore, only peninsulas. Even with all this geographical alteration, high rise condominium construction and urban beach, much of Bay County’s shoreline remains in the same natural state it was when the Spanish found it: a quartz white sandy beach with a few scrubby weeds in the dunes.

It’s hard to believe that beachcombing would become a potentially criminal activity but that’s exactly what we have in our present day. Everyone knows there’s always been rules and regulations at the beach like “no dogs”,  “no glass containers” or “walking on sand dunes or sea oats prohibited”, but now we have the threat of  “no shell collecting allowed” or barriers that keep people from walking on the beach such as closing walkways that go through the dunes to the beach. The recent events pertaining to the locked beach walkways at Bid-A-Wee are not the first time this conflict between the private and public has occurred on our beaches. Bay County has seen the horrific results that can occur when private property owners become a barrier between the public and the beach. In the summer of 1930, the owner of Long Beach Resort decided a great way to limit access to this treasured and limited public resource was to pistol whip a man the owner claimed was trespassing “on property of the beach “ when the man decided to relax in the sand just west of the resort. While his entire family stood by in shock, the “trespasser” not only was struck against the head repeatedly with a pistol by the Long Beach owner but was also kicked repeatedly in the groin. This assault resulted in permanent brain damage and impotence in the “perpetrator” and he ended up having to be institutionalized in Chattahoochee but not before May 23, 1931, when someone walked up to the owner of Long Beach Resort as he was getting out of his car on Highway 98 near St. Andrews and sent him to an early grave with a load of buckshot in the face.

The bad arrests on Shell Island during the summer of 2006 were amicably resolved but they exposed the erosion of legal principles as old as the common law itself but you know something’s happening to our right to walk on the beach in the United States when an agency like the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources issues a standing prohibition that “denies the removal of any natural artifacts from the public beaches of Hawaii.” Could this type of regulation be in some Bay County beach’s future?  For beachcombers, the hunt for shells, driftwood and artifacts is as ingrained within us as our own DNA so we bristle when we are permitted to pick up unoccupied shells but not allowed to take driftwood or sea glass. The marine resource enforcement bureaucrats who come up with all this “look but don’t touch” mumbo jumbo, are afraid we might remove an important clue from some ancient shipwreck blown to shore. So next time you find a gold coin on the beach fronting Spanish Shanty Cove, feel free to photograph it but make sure you leave it in the sand the same way as you found it. Always remember that touching anything on the beach could cause terrible erosion or destroy the natural oceanfront camouflage so important to insects and shorebirds.

Falling in love again with taking a stroll down a lonely beach may be the perfect way for each of us to take control of our cluttered lives. In May of 2013, Cruzan Rum took the “beachcomber lifestyle” as the state of mind and the way of life they want to brand onto their rum. In their television commercial, the viewer finds himself adrift within the towering waves of a stormy sea and hears the announcer say, “You are drowning. You are literally drowning in a figurative sea of busyness. When…wait! Is that?” The viewer suddenly sees an island on the screen and hears a greeting from a voice with a strange accent, ”Welcome! Welcome to the Island of Don’t Hurry where life never moves too fast and Cruzan Rum flows freely. For two hundred and fifty years our pastime has been ‘passing time.’ Join us. Come leave your hurried life behind.”

After introducing you to the National Bird, a rapping parrot who “can fly but chooses not to” and showing a domesticated tortoise hauling a cart of rum on the beach, the announcer gives you a preview of the national sports of “Zero K Runs” and “Sleep Yoga” along with advertisements for “Monkey Massages”. Then the announcer ends the ad with the words, “Slow down and enjoy the Don’t Hurry lifestyle wherever you may find it. When you hurry through life, you just get to the end faster.”

There’s is a tendency to underestimate our experiences walking the beach. How much is “pretty” worth to you? The value to the elderly or infirm of their entire life’s catalogue of beach scene memories has not been accurately calculated but a nice testable hypothesis would be whether pleasant memories at the beach are a great predictor of late-late-late life satisfaction.  Stay tuned…

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

image courtesy of
If any uv ya'll remember Mr. Dean from Scouts,shoot me a reminiscence. The following came from his son in Dothan:

I really appreciate your comments about Daddy. He did truly love scouting and stayed with it until he was no longer able. He had a bad stroke in 1993 that put him down; he lived another 11 years flat on his back, 9 of those years in a nursing home. We visited him every single day. Christmas Eve day I gave him my usual goodbye ("See you later, alligator"; he responded with his usual "After a while, crocodile"). As I left the room, I told him I'd see him tomorrow; he looked at me slyly with a grin, and said, "I won't be here." Sure enough, Christmas Day, 2003, he left us.He had just turned ninety years old.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

from page 59 of Greg Haynes' THE HEEEY BABY DAYS OF BEACH MUSIC~
REMEMBRANCE: Memories of a Roadie by Rodger Johnson

My musical career started by listening to rock-and-roll music by Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis in the 1950s, and I began to want to be a part of the music scene. I was in school with Dean Daughtry, a musician who could play the piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. This impressed me very much. Dean and I became best of friends and played together in bands around Kinston, Alabama. I played drums, while Dean played piano. Once we won first place in district, and fifth place in a state contest.

I met Roy Orbison in 1962 and became a fan of his right away. Later on, I met Roy Orbison's band, the Candymen, when they came to a club in Dothan, Alabama, where we were playing. I wanted to travel and be a part of what they were doing. Mike Martin, Roy Orbison's road manager, was being drafted into the service. I met with Roy and his band and asked for Mike's job. Later, John Rainey Adkins, who was leader of the band, called me and told me that if I wanted the job to come to Auburn, Alabama, where they were doing a concert in early 1965.

At Auburn, I met with Roy and his father, O.L., and the band. I wanted to know when I could start. Roy said, "Tonight." I told him that I did not bring the things I would need on the road. Roy said,"Rodger, there is nothing you will need that you can't get here on the road."

I started that night. After the show in Auburn, we all loaded up in Roy's Dodge motor home and drove to Houston, Texas, for a show the next night, then to Dallas, Dayton, Ohio, Miami, and on, and on to the next city doing shows.

This was a dream come true, working with Roy and his band, the Candymen. In three years, I worked in all 50 states and all provinces of Canada. While working with Roy, "OH, PRETTY WOMAN" was No. 1 all over America and around the world. I was road manager for the top bill on all shows we did. My job was to take care of all the needs on the road for Roy Orbison and the Candymen.

We did shows with all the top acts of rock-and-roll - the Beatles, Neil Diamond, Billy Joe Royal, the Newbeats, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others.

When the keyboard player for the Candymen, Bobby Peterson, was drafted, me and some members of he band who knew of Dean's talent went to bat to try to get my friend Dean Daughtry the job as a member of the band.

It was a dream to be working with Dean as a lifelong friend and touring the country with the greatest act of the time. We were just kids from Kinston, Alabama. WHAT A LIFE!

Roy Orbison was the nicest, kindest, and gentlest person there has ever been to work with and for. Thanks for the many years of memories. I hope that what we did and the music we gave had a happy effect on your life.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Johnny Mack Brown: From Gridiron Hero to Hollywood Hero

"Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them, cheer them, scream their names. And years later, they'll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them how to hold on a second longer. I believe there's a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams." ~ Aunt May in Spiderman II

"In Hollywood - in Hollywood, you're as good as your last picture." ~ Erich Von Stroheim

 Fight on, fight on, fight on men!
Remember the Rose Bowl, we'll win then.
Go, roll to victory, Hit your stride,
You're Dixie's football pride,
Crimson Tide!

 Before every BAMA game and after every BAMA score, we hear the tune of YEA, ALABAMA and most of us sing along. The lyrics, often sung by heart by even toddlers, refer to the day BAMA won its first national championship: January 1, 1926. Almost 90 years have passed since the heroics of Alabama's first championship team in the Rose Bowl established BAMA as a national power so memories of the 1925 squad are slowly fading from popular culture. As the 2013 BAMA team attempts to make college football history once more by winning three national championships in a row, it might be appropriate to remind THE CRIMSON NATION of how "Dixie's Football Pride" was able to first find it's way into the center of the national spotlight.

BAMA's football fortunes turned on a single immortal play that Friday afternoon so long ago when the Tide went ahead of Washington 14-12 on a third quarter Grant Gillis’ touchdown pass that was caught by Johnny Mack Brown. Up to that point in time, Gillis' 59-yard pass was the longest in Rose Bowl history and one of the longest in the entire history of American football- college or pro. In his souvenir book of the 1926 Rose Bowl, THE WILL TO WIN, Champ Pickens called the Gillis pass "the longest ever thrown." After the 20-19 BAMA victory, Johnny Mack, who had caught two touchdown passes and made a game winning tackle on the last play of the game, was declared the game's Most Valuable Player and the wheels of progress began to turn for this gridiron hero, rolling him along a path in life that would see him become a Hollywood hero.

So how does a little barefooted boy who grew up playing in the dusty streets of Dothan get himself out of the Piney Woods of the Wiregrass and up on Hollywood's silver screen? It's an amazing story and without the help of some loyal Crimson Tide fans, it never would have happened.

When Johnny Mack Brown graduated from Dothan High in 1922, Southeast Alabama football had about as much status in the Gulf South as CRIMSON TIDE football had on the national scene. It was completely irrelevant. Southeast Alabama football was just as irrelevant in our region as BAMA football was irrelevant to the entire nation.

Johnny Mack Brown was one of the first Southeast Alabama players to ever be named to the All-State team much less get a football scholarship to BAMA.  In these first thirty years of its existence, the BAMA team had never won a single championship in any league and only one player in its entire history had made All American: Bully Van de Graaff in 1915.  Johnny Mack Brown would have a tremendous impact upon changing not only the regional perception of Southeast Alabama football but also the national perception of BAMA football.

In February of 1926 a reporter for the DOTHAN EAGLE wrote that Johnny Mack Brown "is credited with doing more to advertise Dothan than any other individual." The same could be said about Brown's impact upon the nation's recognition of University of Alabama football. When the 22-man BAMA squad arrived at its hotel in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl, the chairman of the selection committee greeted Coach Wade and told him that until Alabama Governor Brandon sent them a telegram urging them to consider Alabama they'd "never heard of your team." Johnny Mack explained the importance of the game years later when he said, "We were the first Southern team ever invited to participate. We were supposed to be kind of lazy down South- full of hookworm and all. Nevertheless, we came out here and beat one of the finest teams in the country, making it a kind of historic event for Southern football. We didn't play for Alabama, but for the whole South."

After Bama's victory, Ed Danforth of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION wrote, "The South will outdo itself in welcoming Mack Brown home. It should. He has written DIXIE all over California."

A Chinese philosopher once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” For Johnny Mack Brown, it may be said that his personal journey to California began on Saturday, November 7, 1925, at Rickwood Field in Birmingham when he met actor George Fawcett who had been allowed to sit on the BAMA bench during the Kentucky game along with other Hollywood actors who were in town to make a film called MEN OF STEEL.  Fawcett told Brown, ”You ought to come to Hollywood, son, and have a try at pictures.”

Johnny Mack and the Alabama team got a step closer to California the next Friday night at the Exchange Hotel in Montgomery. It was the evening before Saturday’s game with Florida in Cramton Bowl. Coach Wallace Wade was in his hotel room when Champ Pickens came in for a visit. Champ had no official title but in 1925 this sports agent, promoter and advertising man acted as the Tide’s one-man athletic director, recruiting coordinator and sports information officer. Champ said, “Wallace, let’s go to the Rose Bowl.”

Wade’s reply was two words: “Let’s do.”

Champ described what happened next in his 1956 autobiography, A REBEL IN SPORTS:

“I knew he thought I was joking, but I grabbed ahold of the old phone hanging on the wall, and put in a call to Governor Brandon, an old friend. (ed. Note: Champ had been elected Alabama State Representative from Sumter County in 1922 after promising Budweiser’s August Busch that he would get elected so he could change Alabama’s Prohibition laws so Bud could sell their “near-beer” Bevo. Champ failed to get the law changed.)

‘Bill,’ I said, when I finally reached him, ‘I want to send a wire and sign your name to it.’

Without even asking for an explanation, he said, ‘Go right ahead, Champ.’

‘Don’t you want to know what it’s all about?’ I asked.

The governor only chuckled.

‘Forget the details,’ he said, ‘and lots of luck.’

I phoned Western Union that night and dictated the following message: ‘Speaking unofficially and without knowledge of the University of Alabama authorities, I want to call your attention to the Crimson Tide’s great football record this year. Alabama plays Florida tomorrow for the championship. Please watch for score. If you are interested in a real opponent for your West Coast team, then give Alabama serious consideration.’
It was signed W.W. Brandon, Governor of Alabama, and addressed to the chairman of the Tournament of Roses Committee, Pasadena, California.

Champ could not have had better timing. November of 1925 was the turning point for college football as well as for professional football in America. Suddenly, with Red Grange playing his last college game at Illinois and going pro, the word football was being spelled with the letters M-O-N-E-Y. College presidents and editors across the country were spilling all the ink they could get writing opinion pieces about how the commercialization of the sport threatened “Mom, Apple Pie and The American Way.” The cultural phenomena of “Red Grange” had made an invitation to the Rose Bowl “politically incorrect” but there was a big crowd of Crimson Tide supporters around Tuscaloosa ready to take advantage of this new opportunity brought on by the self- righteous academic attacks on college football coming from the Ivy League campuses.

BAMA had drawn a winning hand and all they had to do was take care of Florida and Georgia. Florida fell 34-0 in Cramton Bowl on November 14 and Thanksgiving Day saw Georgia collapse 27-0 in Rickwood Field. As the train returning the team to Tuscaloosa pulled out of Birmingham Terminal Station that evening, everything was coming up ROSES for the Crimson Tide but when the professional football contracts promising thousands emerged on the ride back to T-town, the celebration by the new Southern League champs with hopes of a Rose Bowl bid was replaced by the somber tones of a serious business discussion inside Coach Wade’s rail car.

Years later, in 1929, an enterprising sports writer intent upon helping Johnny Mack’s movie career wrote a wire service article using the headline, GRIDDER, LOYAL TO ALMA MATER, GETS MOVIE JOB. The article, which also ran with the headline GRID STAR TURNED DOWN $5000 BUT PICKED UP JOB IN MOVIES, went on to describe how Johnny Mack Brown’s loyalty to BAMA caused him to refuse to sign a pro contract on the train coming back from Birmingham that night after BAMA’s 1925 Thankgiving victory over Georgia. In the story, Johnny Mack turned down a contract to play five games for $5000 for a team of barn-stormers selected to play against a Red Grange led professional team. The story has a Hollywood ending with Johnny Mack sacrificing the money in order to play in the Rose Bowl and returns home to spend the summer selling insurance, not knowing that soon his name would be up in lights and he’d have a successful career on the screen. This story is probably apocryphal, however, there’s no doubt that big money was being promised on the train that night from non other than Champagne-Urbana, Illinois, theater owner C.C. “Cash and Carry” Pyle, owner of Red Grange’s All-Stars.

A far more accurate picture comes from Champ Pickens’ autobiography:

“No matter where I was or what I was doing, I kept an eagle eye on the football fortunes at Tuscaloosa. One season, right in the midst of a successful campaign, a big-time sports promoter, Charlie Pyle, hit the Alabama campus with a bundle of greenbacks and tried to lure Pooley Hubert away to join Red Grange’s All Stars. When I heard of this attempted piracy, I got ahold of Pyle and promised him a compromise. We arranged a meeting in a New York hotel room.

‘Charlie,’ I said, ‘I’ll see that Pooley (ed. Note: quarterback of the ’25 BAMA squad) signs with you for a post-season coast-to-coast tour if you will wait until the college season is over.’

‘All right,’ said Charlie, ‘But when BAMA finishes its season you agree to see that he comes with the All-Stars.’ ”

Champ successfully negotiated a contract that promised Pooley Hubert $5000 for ten games and Hubert went on to play the next year with the All-Stars.

One of the reasons Johnny Mack did not pursue a professional contract was due to the fact that he was getting married and he really did have dreams of making it in Hollywood. There are many unsubstantiated stories that Johnny Mack made a screen test during Bama’s 1926 Rose Bowl trip. There probably was no screen test made in Hollywood but what literally amounted to a screen test was the film of Johnny Mack and the teams’ return to campus in which it was very obvious that the motion picture camera was very kind to a 21 year old Johnny Mack Brown.

Again, we find the evidence for this is in Champ Pickens’ A REBEL IN SPORTS:

“Movies of the Rose Bowl Game were taken, and, as a means of recruiting new students, we showed them in hamlets, towns and cities throughout the state. We always closed by saying, ‘Come to the University of Alabama.’

Johnny Mack Brown, a regular big buster of a guy, with the profile of a matinee idol, stood out in the film. He photographed particularly well. One night, at a showing I thought particularly well. One night, at a showing, I thought to myself,  ‘That big, handsome lug ought to be in Hollywood.’

Johnny was earning outside money for school by selling insurance. I went to him and told him about my plan to get him in the movies. I’d be his agent. He agreed and we got on a train and headed for Southern California. (ed. Note: This was BAMA’s 1927 Rose Bowl trip where the team fought Stanford to a 7-7 tie and Johnny Mack served as backfield coach.)

Johnny’s screen test was a smash hit. They offered us a five-year contract, with options. I told him to sign. They put him in Westerns and he’s been making pictures since. How he could remember his lines I will never know. His memory was terrible. They called him ‘Dumb Dumb’ at Tuscaloosa because he had a hard time remembering football signals. Coach Wallace Wade, in fact, had to install the huddle system for Johnny’s benefit.

Once he got his signals straight, however, it was a case of Mr. Brown doing it up brown.

He needed no script to score touchdowns.”

Now, thanks to Champ Pickens, we all know “the rest of the story.”

From the Corolla From the Corolla From the Gargoyle. That's his youngest brother, David, walking next to him Leslie Howard, Will Rogers, Carol Lombard, Spencer Tracy and JMB All four men are holding their trophies for winning the game. Miss Pelham is on the left. On the steps of the present-day Dothan High School. The Brown Store in Downtown Dothan. I need this address. JMB on the bench after a game was "on ice." He is surrounded by the Hollywood actors who were in B'ham making MEN OF STEEL. publicity shot from the Twenties From the Corolla During his career in silent pictures, he was billed as both "John Mack Brown" and "Johnny Mack Brown". Dell Comic Book back cover of Dell Comic wire service story printed in papers coast to coast at the beginning of the 1925 football season First silent picture where Johnny Mack got star billing wire service story printed in papers coast to coast during the summer of 1926 example of the way image quality varied from different newspapers The Dothan Antelope in the 1926 Corolla Johnny Mack changed the name of his horse from RENO to REBEL Johnny Mack wasn't the first athlete to try out acting in Hollywood but he was the first one to be successful. Johnny Mack wrote a great article comparing Mae West to Greta Garbo in a movie magazine. Joan Crawford may have had a major role in ruining Johnny Mack's career as a leading man when talkies came in. This was Mary Pickford's first talkie and she won the Academy Award. She also introduced Johnny Mack and Connie to CHRISTIAN SCIENCE. I'm pretty sure only 22 players went to the Rose Bowl from Tuscaloosa and there were only two substitutions during the entire game. Champ Pickens, Johnny Mack Brown's first agent Headline from 1928/29 article 1926 Rose Bowl Johnny Mack Brown's first starring role still from THE FAIR CO-ED Cornelia and Johnny Mack in the yard of their house, NINE GABLES, in Beverly Hills. NINE GABLES

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The last episode of the CNN's series, THE SIXTIES, premiered tonight, August 14, 2014. It was entitled SEX, DRUGS AND ROCK 'N ROLL.Here's what I got out of it...
Ken BABBS "Stagnant materialism"; Peter Cohen "Coyote"; ON THE ROAD; Douglas Brinkley; WORK FOR THE CORPORATION; "Go roll your bones alone." Kerouac; "You're square."; coffee houses; beatniks; folk singers; Joan Baez; folk revival; Greenwich Village Movement; Dylan 1963 Medger Evers; "Took Beat energy and linked it to folk culture."; "Bob Dylan was in this white hot moment."; THE SCENE MOVES WEST; "Everybody moved to Laurel Canyon."; Lookout Mountain, Graham Nash; FIRST AD: Jos. A. Bank...; San Fran, Kesey, Stanford; LSD patient is asked, "Is it a beautiful experience?" He replies,"YES!"; Kesey in La Honda; BABBS UNSETTLING AMERICA "Blowing peoples' minds"; "Making the Squares pay notice of the Underground."; Kerouac drinking a tall boy Bud; "Torch had been passed."; Kesey messianic; THE ACID TEST; the Warlocks/ THE GRATEFUL DEAD; Tom Wolfe; the third time Garcia is seen; Counterculture in California is born.; Reagan,"Just being complete fools."; SECOND AD: St. Croix Virgin Islands, Microsoft, Quicken Loans, Transamerica, CNN promos: Harry Reasoner of CBS News; "It offers some kind of hope."; "It's like you were in one big happy family."; "You couldn't understand if you hadn't gotten high."; DIGGERS FREE STORE; 5th time they show Garcia and they let him talk,"NOBODY WANTS TO HURT ANYBODY."; "Here to celebrate LIFE!"; "They had a monster war."; Grace Slick; SUMMER OF LOVE; Group sainthood; Harry Reasoner,"This is not a new idea and it has never worked."; "HIPPIE" is a fabrication: "Question the paradigm of materialism."; "You own this big metal box."; "What joy is there in life?";  ECSTASY; fascist cops; WAR BETWEEN GENERATIONS; "Never trust anybody over 30."; "He wants to stop human growth!"; "If it's necessary to bring in the National Guard, I'll bring in whatever force is necessary."; THIRD AD: Infiniti, NOVEMBER MAN, Citi Bank, CNN Sixties Promo, Talking diabetes meter; BKG Boxing, CNN promo; "intense preoccupation with pursuit of pleasure"; 8 MILES HIGH; Ginsberg & Leary; Leary,"TURN ON WITH YOUR CHILDREN WHEN YOU ARE READY."; super peaceful family atmosphere; express themselves creatively, Dylan, Kesey, Leary, Garcia, GIANT LOVE-IN; Joplin at Monterey Pop singing ARITON'S BIG MAMA THORNTON'S "Ball & Chain"; "MONTEREY HIT LIKE LIGHTNING!"; "Get on board! We're leaving town!"; Mama Cass watching Janis perform at Monterey.; Michelle Phillips, 9:35 P.M. EDT; Love & peace and Monterey Police Chief bought flowers for the police force and said,"Don't arrest anybody."; GRASS!!! Mo' & mo' gettin' ZONKED; LIVING IN THE STONED AGE; "...changed their mind about premarital sex..."; "If you want to make love to somebody you should."; "THE PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC IS BUNK."; The ruling theme was, NO RULES.; NEXT AD:, AARP, U.S. Virgin Islands, Quicken Loans, (ed. note: something dot com) Beautyrest, CNN promos; William F. Buckley; "Kerouac never wanted to be a prophet but fame destroys people in America."; Kerouac, "I believe in order and piety."; treat hippies like they were animals; "largest hippie colony in the world"; HASH-BERRY; hippies try to get away to communes; BABBS sez, "People could just help themselves."; Bethel, N.Y.; WOODSTOCK; "Woodstock was an opportunity for people to find out they were not alone."; MAX YASGER; "Word got out and everybody and his brother came out..."; IRRESISTIBLE RIVER OF CHANGE; FREEDOM by Ritchie Havens; Cocker, Baez, Hendrix; LIKE A MEETING OF ALL THE TRIBES.; WAVY GRAVY; Cronkite; Frank Reynolds; Woodstock merchants were stunned by the politeness.; QUESTLOVE,"Woodstock marked the end of it."; NEXT AD: CNN SIXTIES, Plaza Ford, Verizon FIOS, CNN; Michael Lang; ALTAMONT; Graham Nash; HELLS ANGELS; Grace Slick, "There was a lot of speed and alcohol. That's a deadly combo for bikers."; Garcia; Manson; mystical hippie clan; SVENGALI; Vincent Bugliosi, " was mass orgies and LSD trips..."; "After the Manson murders, nobody picked up hippie hitchhikers."; drained idealism; really rotten people in the HAIGHT; "There have been generation gaps before..."; Kesey and his kids; BABBS,"Mercy is better..."; "Most carefree period of my life.", said Peter Cohen "Coyote".

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

ANDREW ELLICOTT'S INSTRUMENTS PHOTOGRAPHED WHILE IN STORAGE AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY IN WASHINGTON, D.C. This is Ellicott's small zenith sector that he used to build an astonomical observatory in present-day Houston County Alabama in August of 1799. It is now in storage in the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Here's a link describing this instrument.

This is a link to a chart of Ellicott's observations of 4 stars  using the small zenith sector at his observatory on the Chattahoochee in present-day Houston County Alabama in July and August of 1799.

Need to get info on this instrument. I was told that it was Ellicott's. It looks like a refracting telescope.


Need to get info on this instrument. I was told that it was Ellicott's. It looks like a quadrant with a telescope and plumb line.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxThis is the base of the small Zenith Sector which was used to mount and level it on a tree stump for astronomical observations.

This is a magnetic compass made for Ellicott by Benjamin Rittenhouse. It was probably not used on the Southern Boundary Survey but a venier compass made by Rittenhouse was used on the survey. Here's a link explaining this instrument.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxThis is Benjamin Rittenhouse's
mark on the magnetic compass he made for Andrew Ellicott.
The curator allowed me to remove the top off of Ellicott's compass. She will never know how much I appreciate that privilege.
I wrote the text for this historic marker which is located south of Dothan on the northbound lane of U.S. Highway 231.
The painter of this mural, Bill Smith, used Ellicott's transit as a model for this 1968 work. The transit is now in storage at the Smithsonian and the Maryland Department of Transportation has also stored the mural. This is the same transit Ellicott used in present-day Houston County, Alabama in August of 1799. Here's link that explains it.

by Robert Register

Le Bouf
August 1st, 1794
"My Dear Sally,
...We live here like a parcel of Monks, or Hermits, and have not a woman of any complexion among us-our linnen is dirty, our faces, and hands brown, and to complete the picture, our beards are generally long-
O sweet Woman!
without thee man is a Brute,
& society a blank:
thou shapest man into a valuable being, and directeth his ambition to useful pursuits.
Can that man be possessed of rational sensibility who adoreth not a woman?
I am Dear Sally your
Affectionate Husband."
[Andrew Ellicott]

In our present age in which political expediency and twisted syntax replace legal proof and Biblical morality, it's almost refreshing to hear the old axiom, "There's nothin' new under the sun."

As one contemplates the following story, the self-evident truth of this old maxim applies once more to the unwavering foibles of the condition that goes by the title, "Human Nature."

As we contemplate more than 200 years of American dominion over this land we call "home",
we can find comfort in knowing that our ancestors had ample opportunity to witness the shortcomings of their leaders. So it was with the 1811 court martial of General James Wilkinson, Commanding General of the U.S. Army and, arguably, the most greedy, deceitful and devious rascal to ever walk across the stage of West Alabama history.

General Wilkinson's career in West Alabama was brief, but consequential. Under orders of President Thomas Jefferson, Wilkinson traveled during the summer of 1802 to the ruins of the old Spanish Fort Confederation near present-day Epes in Sumter County. By October he had produced a treaty that proved that in the future his powers of salesmanship would never be equalled by any slick selling cars or trailers on Skyland Blvd.

The ink on the yellowed paper of the treaty sez it all:

"...the said Choctaw Nation, for, and in consideration of one dollar, to them in hand paid, by the said United States, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, do hereby release to the said United States, and quit claim forever, to all that tract of land..."

In other words, with language lifted from an Alabama used car sale before the title law, Wilkinson picked up one-and-a-half-million acres in present-day Southwest Alabama, "in consideration of one dollar."Almost nine years later, on April 10th, 1811, General Wilkinson took the offensive in one of the greatest feuds between men who shaped Alabama history. His legal arguments bore strange fruit in a federal courtroom in Frederick, Maryland. General Wilkinson, commander of the U.S. Army for seventeen years (1796-1813) was on trial for being the notorious secret agent "Number 13" for the King of Spain. Wilkinson, who would later claim Mobile for the U.S. from Spain in 1813, had spent more than two decades taking Spanish money in exchange for privileged information and now he was about to be convicted of treason. Options were of the essence so Wilkinson played "his ace in the hole."

Wilkinson's hidden ace was Thomas Freeman, Surveyor General of Mississippi Territory and the namesake of the Freeman Line passing east to west through Montevallo which separates North & South Alabama to this day.

The entire case for the government hinged on the testimony of Major Andrew Ellicott, the former commissioner for the United States during the first American survey of Alabama soil in 1799. During the survey of this first Southern Boundary of the U.S., Ellicott had intercepted a letter which proved Wilkinson was on the take.

Freeman, the man who established the Huntsville Meridian upon which every North Alabama property line is now based (including the lines which keep my neighbors off uv me here in Tuscaloosa as I type),
had a grudge to pick with Ellicott. Ellicott had fired Freeman during the U.S. Southern Boundary survey so the court martial was an opportunity for Freeman to get some payback.

Freeman testified that during the entire 1796-1800 survey of the first southern boundary of the United States, Andrew Ellicott and his son, Andrew Jr., employed
"a prostitute of the lowest grade" to share their camp cot during their trip through the wilderness. This testimony produced "the utter demolition of the character of the eminent astronomer."

It didn't matter that Ellicott could prove that Wilkinson was on the take. All the jury heard were salacious tales of the government's chief prosecution witness having "a beastly, criminal and disgraceful intercourse with a harlot."What follows are excerpts from Thomas Freeman's sworn deposition:

Question: Did you know a woman called Betsy who sat at Mr. Ellicott's table?
What station did she appear to occupy in Mr. Ellicott's family, and what was her known character?

Answer: I did know the woman called Betsy who sat at Mr. Ellicott's table. She appeared to occupy the position of washerwoman to the party. Her known character was that of a prostitute,
and of the lowest grade.

Question: Did you observe and particular familiarity and attentions, in the intercourses of the said prostitute, with Ellicott and his son, and what was the age of the boy? Be particular in time, place and circumstances.

Answer: I did observe frequent, particular familiarities and attentions in the intercourse of Ellicott and his son and said prostitute. I cannot now, from recollection, be very particular in
time, place and circumstance. The boy appeared to be nearly full grown, of about nineteen years of age. I recollect that Ellicott introduced the woman, Betsy, to Governor Gayoso, on his first visit to the barge after we landed at Natchez [February 24, 1797: ed.];
and, as far as their conduct (Ellicott & son) came within my observation afterward, they continued to pay mutual friendly and familiar attentions to her.
It was said and generally believed that extraordinary trio:
father, son and washerwoman,
slept in the same bed at the same time-
I did not see,
but I believed it.
I was even pressed by the old sinner, Ellicott, to take part of his bed with himself and the washerwoman, for the night.

Question: Was it not your opinion and that of all the other gentlemen of the party, that Ellicott, the father, and son held criminal intercourse with the said harlot, Betsy.

Answer: It was my opinion, and I understand it to be the opinion of every gentleman of both parties, American and Spanish, that the Ellicott's, both father and son,held, and continued a beastly, criminal and disgraceful intercourse, with the said harlot Betsy.

J.F.H. Claiborne in his 1880 history of Mississippi makes this statement about Thomas Freeman's testimony:

"As Mr. Ellicott, in his journal and official correspondence traduced many worthy persons living and dead, and did not hesitate to break open private letters, surreptitiously obtained, and represents himself as pure and immaculate, it is but justice to show what manner of man he was. This can be seen by reference to the deposition of Major Thomas Freeman before the court-martial at Frederick, convened September 1, 1811, for the trial of Major-General James Wilkinson. The witness was a man of the highest character, then and until his death holding a responsible position under government, and he charges Ellicott, under oath, with untruthfulness and official corruption, and with conduct personally and most degrading, indecent and beastly."

So the next time you look at an Alabama property deed or drive down by the Florida line, the demarcation between the Anglo-Saxon civilization of the U.S. and the Latin civilization of Florida in 1799, think about Betsy- Mr. Ellicott's washerwoman. She was probably the first woman from the United States to see the 381 miles of impenetrable wilderness between the Mississippi and the Chattahoochee Rivers. By cleaning Ellicott's linen, Betsy added a civilizing touch to the survey party, but her place in history is assured because Betsy was the first of a legion of American "ladies of the evening" who followed the almighty dollar down the Mississippi River to the rowdier sections of Natchez, New Orleans, Mobile and Pensacola.

She survived the Ellicotts, Indian attacks, a voyage around the peninsula of Florida, a trip up the St. Mary's River to Okefenokee Swamp
& when her story was used in court,
she allowed Major General James Wilkinson, a clever scoundrel whose reputation is rivaled only by Benedict Arnold,
to get away with 23 years of espionage.








[ed. note: The following article is related to Ellicott's Survey of the First U.S. Southern Boundary (1796-1800) because Panton, Leslie and Company, the forerunner of John Forbes and Company, financed the outfitting of the Spanish Boundary Commission which accompanied Ellicott on the survey and confirmed his observations. James Innerarity would have met Ellicott at Panton, Leslie and Co. headquarters in Pensacola in 1799 but his younger brother John Innerarity had not yet arrived.)
 The Long Road To the American Acquisition of St. Andrews Bay


A title search for any deed to any piece of property in the Panama City area is a strange mosaic of clues to a long story that goes back over two centuries and includes international intrigue, complex individual and international interests, the long delayed settlement of St. Andrews Bay, the preservation of Florida’s public domain and the sovereignty of the United States. The oldest deeds in the Panama City area only go back to 1835 yet Spain turned the land over to the U.S. in 1821 so why did it take Florida’s land hungry pioneers fourteen years to gain title to some of the best unsettled land on the shores of one of the most important and beautiful harbors in all of frontier Florida?


When the federal government tried to settle the Spanish land claims in Florida, they discovered that St. Andrews Bay was part of the largest Spanish land grant in all Florida history which claimed the entire seacoast and all the bayshore from present-day Apalachicola west to East Pass at present-day Destin. The United States always delayed land sales until all Spanish land grants had been legally recorded or invalidated. This particular Spanish land grant was issued in 1818 by the Captain-General of Cuba to the John Forbes & Co., a mercantile firm of Scottish Indian traders based in Pensacola and Mobile who had received a permit from the Spanish to conduct a monopoly on trade with the Southeastern Indians. This huge land grant was compensation for the company’s services to the Spanish government of West Florida and for the losses it incurred during the 1814 British invasion of West Florida during the War of 1812. Until the litigation concerning this Spanish land grant was settled, none of present day Bay County’s land could be placed in the public domain and be offered for sale to Florida’s frontiersmen.

A drawing of the John Forbes and Co. warehouse on the waterfront in Pensacola. 
A photograph of the John Forbes & Co. complex on the waterfront in Pensacola 

 John Forbes & Co. deserved some sort of compensation because the Spanish government welcomed the British army and navy into West Florida and allowed them to establish British martial law in Pensacola under which John Forbes and Co. suffered greatly. 

The name, John Forbes & Co., was adopted by the old company of Panton, Leslie & Co., in 1804 when it reorganized after the death of the original Scottish partners, William Panton of Pensacola, Thomas Forbes of the Bahamas and John Leslie of London. The Spanish government confirmed all of the privileges of the old company to the new one. The new principal partners, John Forbes, James Innerarity and John Innerarity were tied to the old partners by kinship but were decidedly more pro-American than the original partners. It is not that the new partners necessarily changed their political allegiances but more importantly, American rule appeared to be inevitable and certainly promised to be better for their business if they were able to sell the land they had acquired from the Indians with the approval of the Spanish government.

James Innerarity, head of Forbes & Co. in Mobile, negotiator of the Forbes Purchase east of the Apalachicola and first American mayor of the City of Mobile
John Innerarity, head of Forbes & Co. in Pensacola

 In the spring of 1814, the British navy and marines arrived off the coast of Northwest Florida and in preparation for the invasion and conquest of New Orleans attempted to incite a general slave and Indian uprising similar to the one that had previously gripped Haiti. This proposed slave insurrection along the Gulf Coast was designed to incite terror in the general populace, to target the women and children of the settlers for slaughter and to engage American forces which would otherwise be used in defense of New Orleans.

The British chose to build the fort that would support this war effort at the John Forbes and Co. store on the east bank of the Apalachicola River at Prospect Bluff located about thirty miles north of the present day town of Apalachicola. Even though all of the partners of John Forbes and Co. had been born in Great Britain, they did not welcome the British invasion of their adopted homeland and the British military men considered the John Forbes and Co. partners to be American spies.

A map of the Forbes Purchase showing the location of the Prospect Bluff store on the 1.25 million acres the company received from the Creek Indians in 1804 to clear the Indians' debt to the company.

The Brits picked John Forbes and Co. clean during their one year stay in Northwest Florida. The company’s slaves taken by the British created the greatest monetary loss for the firm but the British also took John Forbes & Co. cattle, horses, mules and gunpowder. The company store at Prospect Bluff was closed and replaced by a fort to protect the Indians and Negroes recruited to the British cause.

When John Forbes retired from the company and moved to Cuba in 1818, he used the move as an opportunity to appeal to a Spanish government superior to the one in Pensacola for the losses the company experienced in West Florida at the hands of the British during the War of 1812. Forbes successfully convinced the Captain-General of Cuba, Don Jose Cienfuegos, to invoke an 1815 royal ordnance meant to increase the population of Puerto Rico to justify giving John Forbes and Co. title to all the land between the Choctawhatchee and the Apalachicola Rivers south of a line running from the mouth of the Choctawhatchee east to the point where Sweetwater Creek enters the Apalachicola River. This grant included over 1.5 million acres of land and encompassed all of present-day Bay County along with the entire seacoast between present-day Apalachicola and Destin.

When you look at I.G. Searcy’s 1829 Florida map, the first American map of the Florida Territory, the entire Washington County portion of the map around St. Andrews Bay is labeled “Innerarity’s Claim”.  This was the Spanish land grant of John Forbes and Co. and the Innerarity brothers of Mobile and Pensacola were in 1829 the controlling partners of John Forbes and Co. These Scottish brothers had taken over John Forbes and Co. after Forbes retirement in 1818 and his subsequent death in 1823.

In the early years of the Florida Territory, land ownership controversies like “Innerarity’s Claim” were the most pressing problems facing the government. On May 22, 1822, Congress created a Board of Commissioners on Land Claims for Florida which validated Spanish land grants of less than 1000 acres. Wealth in Florida was defined by land ownership so administration of the land claims commission as well as the offices associated with the public land system became the road to prosperity for many of the recently arrived Americans who owed their appointments to these offices to their association with Florida’s first territorial governor, General Andrew Jackson. The land claims commission could not rule on a grant as large as “Innerarity’s Claim” so in 1828, Congress passed a law allowing claimants of grants this large to file suit against the United States in the Superior Court of the district where the disputed land was located. With this law, the stage was set for a showdown between the Inneraritys and Andrew Jackson’s cronies who had used Old Hickory’s influence to gain their positions in Florida’s courts and land offices.
Richard Keith Call

 Even though he was a partner with James Innerarity in the purchase of property on Santa Rosa Island, lawyer Richard Keith Call was the last person Innerarity needed to see representing the United States when his case came before Judge Henry M. Brackenridge’s Pensacola courtroom in the fall of 1830. Call had been appointed by President Jackson to assist government attorneys in these larger Spanish grant lawsuits. Through service as Florida’s delegate to Congress, two terms as the Florida Territorial governor and as Receiver of Public Monies at the public land office in Tallahassee, Call had become an expert on Spanish land grants and was convinced that all of the Spanish land grants issued in the last days of the regime were frauds. Besides being suspicious, in his commercial role as a land speculator, Call understood that preserving land in the public domain would mean that in the long run it would be cheaper to buy the property at the public land office than from private owners.  In preparing for the case in 1829, Call received a federal commission that paid him to sail to Havana in pursuit of original documents pertaining to the case.

Call was the fifth government official sent to Cuba since 1821 to retrieve Spanish archives of Florida which had been taken out of the country in violation of the 2nd article of the Adams-Onis Treaty in which the U.S. acquired Florida from Spain. This February 22, 1819 treaty required that all documents relating to property were to be left in the possession of “officers of the United States.” For whatever reason, Spanish officials began exporting Florida archives to Havana immediately after the treaty was confirmed and had no intention of turning over one paper to an American official yet holders of Spanish land grants in Florida were constantly presenting original and copied documents from Cuba in Florida courtrooms to support their cases. Men like R.K. Call were convinced that the holders of Spanish land grants were cheating the U.S. government out of land that was rightfully its own and were able to present original and verified supporting documents in Florida courts because they bribed the Spanish officials in Havana in order to get them.

Because Call requested only the documents he needed for his land grant cases and did not demand all of the Florida archives illegally held in Havana be returned to the United States, he was successful in getting original documents and verified copies for the first time after four previous attempts failed to acquire a single piece of paper.

With the documents he desired, Call returned to Pensacola and when the court heard the case, he produced the original document where he showed Judge Brackenridge that the actual date of the land grant had been altered in order to make it conform with the provision in the treaty that made it illegal to make land grants in Florida after January 24, 1818. On the date on the original document a line had been drawn through “March” and the word “January” written above it. So by a matter of days, the company lost the land grant that compensated it for all its wartime losses. This was a catastrophic defeat for John Forbes & Co. but a triumphant defense of the public domain of the United States. Indian title to the land had already been extinguished in 1823 by the American Treaty of Moultrie Creek with the Seminoles so in 1831, Robert Butler, the Surveyor-General of Florida, ordered surveys of the townships surrounding St. Andrews Bay to begin and by 1834, the land of present-day Bay County was being purchased at the Tallahassee land office. For the first time in American History, citizens who had been living on the shores of St. Andrews Bay for decades as squatters were able to exercise their pre-emption rights to the land they had improved and purchase their property for about two bucks an acre.

John Forbes and Co. was more successful with their lawsuit against the U.S. pertaining to their Spanish land grant east of the Apalachicola. They lost their suit in the Superior Court of Middle Florida but appealed that decision to the Supreme Court of the United States. In his last case as Chief Justice, John Marshall overturned the lower court’s decision and found for that the company’s title to the 1.2 million acres between the Apalachicola River and the St. Marks River to be perfectly legal. In 1835, the Apalachicola Land Co. was formed to promote land sales and the legacy of this old company comes down to us to this day when we look north from the bridge that spans the mouth of the Apalachicola River and see that the first three streets we find in the town of Apalachicola are Forbes Street, Leslie Street and Panton Street, the names of the three founders of the firm that would become John Forbes and Company. If R. K. Call had not found the fraudulent date on the original Forbes grant to the land between the Apalachicola and the Choctawhatchee, the main streets of Panama City might also have been named for the original founders of John Forbes and Co. 
Forbes Street in present day downtown Apalachicola Leslie Steet in present day downtown Apalachicola Panton Street (sign misspelled) in present day downtown Apalachicola
A model of the Forbes and Co. warehouse in present day Pensacola

Raise your glass to the hard working people
Lets drink to the uncounted heads
Lets think of the wavering millions
Who need leaders but get gamblers instead

Lets drink to the hard working people
Lets drink to the lowly of birth
Raise your glass to the good and the evil
Lets drink to the salt of the earth
(M. Jagger/ K. Richards) 


The story of the Civil War in Florida is one long drawn out drama characterized by deprivation and tragedy. Less than a month after secession and two months before the war even started, the New York Times reported massive inflation in Florida and that the price of slaves had dropped by one half in the past six months. Small town businesses were already closing and poor people were going hungry. 

On Friday, April 19, 1861, only one week after the first shell was fired on Ft. Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln issued a "Proclamation of Blockade Against Southern Ports". By June, the blockade had already begun at Apalachicola and September saw the first naval action of the Civil War occur in Pensacola harbor. From the very beginning of this awful war, anyone who thought they could sail out of St. Andrews Bay in their sloop or schooner in hopes of going fishing or engaging in the coastal trade was in for a rude awakening. The Civil War came to Northwest Florida coast right from the very get-go.

You know there's a lot of truth to that old expression,"You don't know what you got 'til it's gone."

How many times have you heard someone exclaim, "I can't imagine living down here in the summer without AC!" Well, imagine living down here without refrigeration as well. There was one main way to preserve food in 1861 and that was with salt and President Lincoln's naval blockade had an immediate impact on salt. The people of Florida at the time of the Civil War probably used more salt per capita than any group of people who have ever walked on the face of the earth. No one worried about extracting it from seawater. That was too much trouble. Hell, you could get a 200 pound sack for just about nothing on the docks at Apalach. It came over as ballast from the European ships loading cotton. You may not have been keeping up with the news in 1862 but suddenly you noticed something truly strange and unusual. There was no salt.

It got really, really bad in a world without salt. No one realized how valuable and vital salt was until it was gone.Salt served as preservative, disinfectant, seasoning and fertilizer. When it got to be hog killing time in the autumn of 1862, there was no reason to kill the hogs because you couldn't cure the meat. The Confederacy started making wooden soles for canvas shoes because without salt no one could tan leather. Livestock suffered. Without salt, the Confederate army couldn't make disinfectant to clean the wounds of the injured.

Suddenly a new industry designed to extract salt from sea water popped up on the shallow, secluded shores of St. Andrews Bay. By 1862, hundreds of salt works dotted the landscape from Phillips Inlet all the way to California Bayou in East Bay. The Confederate government exempted salt workers from conscription so St. Andrews Bay suddenly had a huge influx of draft dodgers and in a world at war even the draft dodger had to prove he was "worth his salt." The only way you could keep your draft exemption was to produce over 1000 pounds of salt a day. You had everything from "Mom and Pop" operations with a single kettle to huge factories over a hundred feet long with a hundred kettles boiling 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Pretty soon as many as 2500 men were out in the salt marsh digging brine wells, chopping wood, stoking fires, dipping boiling brine and making salt in the St. Andrews Bay area and 4000 wagons pulled by teams of mules and oxen were employed in moving the product north to Eufaula so the railroad could transport it to Montgomery and from there to a salt hungry Confederacy.

It didn't take long for the Gulf Blockading Squadron headquartered at Pensacola's Ft. Pickens to target this wartime industry for destruction. Many of these military missions are described in the official military records and the record reveals that St. Andrews Bay experienced repeated amphibious search and destroy missions from the U.S. Navy's sailors and marines from September of 1862 until February of 1865.  The blockading squadron made up mainly of gunboats constructed from sidewheel steamers and bark rigged clipper ships built their naval blockade station, barracks, wharf, refugee camp, prison and cemetery on Hurricane Island, the barrier island that once existed at the mouth of the channel entering St. Andrews Bay. John A. Burgess in his 1986 book, SAND IN MY SHOES, uses a  June 1985 Panama City News-Herald column by Marlene Womack and concludes from her information that by 1934 all traces of Hurricane Island disappeared underneath the waters of the Gulf but that during the Civil War the island existed "in the open channel approximately one mile east south-east of the present day land's end (the eastern tip of today's Sand Island)." In 2013, the former land's end of Shell Island would now be a portion of Tyndall Beach. 

The purpose of this article is not to chronicle the merciless and persistent destruction which the salt makers of St. Andrews Bay experienced from the U.S. Navy but to describe the industrial plants which the Union was unable to exterminate and which, like the mythical Phoenix, arose from the ashes as fast as the navy could demolish them.

Thanks to an aging matron from Tallahassee who decided to publish her Civil War diaries in 1925, we have a contemporary description of one of the small "Mom and Pop" operations which was built on Apalachee Bay east of St. Andrews. For our purposes this diary entry best captures life at a typical single syrup kettle Gulf Coast salt works. 

October 27th, 1863.—We went to the salt works today and, though I am tired and dirty and have no good place to write, I am going to try to tell you about it.
A year ago salt began to get scarce but the people only had to economize in its use, but soon there was no salt and then Father got Cousin Joe Bradford to come down from Georgia and take charge of some salt works he was having installed on the coast. He had plenty of hands from the plantation but they had to have an intelligent head and then, too, it is a rather dangerous place to work, for the Yankee gunboats can get very near the coast and they may try shelling the works.
Though they have been in operation quite awhile this is my first visit. Father brought us with him and we will stay three days, so he can see just how they are getting on. We are to sleep in a tent, on a ticking filled with pine straw. It will be a novel experience.
I am so interested in seeing the salt made from the water. The great big sugar kettles are filled full of water and fires made beneath the kettles. They are a long time heating up and then they boil merrily. Ben and Tup and Sam keep the fires going, for they must not cool down the least little bit. A white foam comes at first and then the dirtiest scum you ever saw bubbles and dances over the surface, as the water boils away it seems to get thicker and thicker, at last only a wet mass of what looks like sand remains. This they spread on smooth oaken planks to dry. In bright weather the sun does the rest of the work of evaporation, but if the weather is bad fires are made just outside of a long, low shelter, where the planks are placed on blocks of wood. The shelter keeps off the rain and the fires give out heat enough to carry on the evaporation. The salt finished in fair weather is much whiter and nicer in every way than that dried in bad weather, but this dark salt is used to salt meat or to pickle pork. I think it is fine of Father to do all this. It is very troublesome and it takes nine men to do the work, besides Cousin Joe’s time; and Father does not get any pay whatever for the salt he makes.
We expected to have a grand time swimming and fishing. We are both good swimmers, but Father and Cousin Joe will not allow us to go outside of this little cove. Yankee gun-boats have been sighted once lately and there is no knowing when the salt works may be attacked.
Even though we may not have a picture of the Confederate government salt works on St. Andrews Bay, the largest in the entire state of Florida, we do have a Harper’s Weekly engraving of a large salt works near Port St. Joe that was attacked by the U.S.S. Kingfisher in September of 1862. From this image along with descriptions of large salt works of the time, we may gain an idea of how what was called the salt block was constructed. Like an old time wood stove, the works had oven doors with a fi re box at one end and a chimney at the other. This created a draft that drew the fl ame, heat and smoke to the chimney and heated the double row of iron kettles, basins or tanks that rested on open- ings in the masonry foundation. Old steamboat and sawmill boilers, coastal channel buoys and anything else made of iron that could be split into reservoirs for brine along with syrup kettles were mounted in a double line along the brick and limestone rock foundation of the structure. A white saline vapor rose from the boilers and was professed to be a cure for respiratory diseases but this was dangerous work. Sleeping in tents located in a mosquito infested salt marsh, constant one hundred degree temperatures, boiling brine and blazing ovens have their hazards. Huge ladles were used to dip the crystallizing salt out of the cooling brine and it was placed in split oak or wicker baskets hung above the boilers to drain. The salt was then thrown onto oak boards on the fl oor of sheds built on both sides along the entire length of the furnace. The kettles boiled down about three times every 24 hours and work went on day and night for about a week when the entire operation had to be shut down for a clean out of the incrust- ed scale called pan stone that accumulated on the bottom of the pans and interfered with the transmission of heat. This was considered the worst job in the entire process.
The heart and soul of the operation was the reservoir of brine which fed the entire salt works. This is the part we know little about. The pumps, gutters, pipes and aqueducts used to supply the salt block are a mystery as well as the reservoir, basin or well that was the source of the brine. On the Bon Secour River in Alabama, brine wells were dug above the reach of the high tide. These 12 foot by 12 foot pits were about 10 feet deep and were built like inverted pyramids with the sides made of squared logs narrowing down to the bottom which prevented the pit from fi lling in with sand. The brine seeped in through the loosely placed timbers and, brine being heavier than the fresh water, it sank to the bottom of the pit. On St. Andrews Bay, basins may have been built where the brine was allowed to stand for a few days and concentrated before being pumped or dumped into the iron tanks of the salt block.
Ella Lonn, a Goucher College professor from Baltimore, who wrote the classic book, SALT AS A FACTOR IN THE CONFEDERACY, stated about St. Andrews Bay, “Nowhere perhaps was a greater persistence manifested than in St. Andrews Bay in rebuilding the works so continually destroyed by the Federal fleet. It is diffi cult to explain whence the Richmond authorities found the means and as- sembled the materials for this really remarkable feat.”
Professor Lonn also does a great job of describing how the scarcity of this commodity condensed into a microcosm all the frustrations of the Confederacy and gave rise to this early St. Andrews enterprise,” It is only when a prime necessity thrusts itself upon public attention by its absence that a person ceases to take it for granted. Only when he no longer has it, does he realize what an important ingredient for his palate and digestion is plain, ordinary salt, necessary alike for man and beast.”