Daily Archives: December 11, 2023

Reminiscing . . .

After our hotel breakfast this morning, we decided to take a drive around the Cuero area checking out our old haunts.

First up was tracking down the RV park we stayed at after we moved over here from Kenedy. It was a little off the beaten path, but it was a nice little park. I had forgotten the name, but it turned out to be Spacious Skies RV Park.

After circling through the park, we headed off to find the gate that we had been guarding while we were here.

But a couple of minutes later, we came across this sign. Didn’t realize there was a prison in this area.

Took us about 20 minutes but we finally found our old gate.

Called Barnhart Gate, there was a guard shack just inside the gate in the green area on the left where we just directed trucks to the correct site.

I also worked at a site deep inside the area at a new drill pad, usually working out of my truck. Sometimes Jan and I alternated 12 hour shifts at this front gate, and sometimes we worked the same shift with Jan at the front gate and me at the inside one.

Also, we didn’t have all these warning signs when we were here.

And this mansion up on top of the hill oversees all this oil.

And this is the entrance to the place.

And a closeup of the sign over the entrance explains it all.

‘Oro Negro’ means Black Gold.

And here’s a photo essay on the place from Facebook.

Oro Negro Ranch

And according to the signs at our old gate, there are almost 35,000 acres of oil leases. And that just down that one road.

Which explains why they have their own herd of Texas Longhorns.

And also llamas.

I’ll post more of our Saturday in Cuero tomorrow.

Thought For The Day:

They say that those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.
Of course, that means that those of us who DO study history are doomed to stand by watching helplessly while the idiots in charge repeat it.

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

December 11, 2009

‘a vacation from our permanent vacation…’

Since we’re not traveling right now, I probably won’t be posting every day, just for special things.

If you’re just visiting our blog for the first time, or you are new to blogging, note that the most recent posting is at the top of this page. To read the posts in order you can start at the bottom and work your way up. To go to the very beginning of our blog, Click Here and then scroll to the bottom of the page. Also, at the bottom of each day’s post, is a reference to Comments. You can click here to post your comments, or read what others have written. You can also email Greg at [email protected] or Jan at [email protected].

Check out our new 2009 Highlights tab at the top right of the page.

Yesterday, today, and for the next few days, we’re taking a ‘vacation from our permanent vacation’.

We’re in the Texas Hill Country, staying at a friend of our son’s lake house on Inks Lake, near Lake Buchanan, northwest of Austin. We’ll be here until Sunday and then drive down toward San Marcos to visit a friend of ours for a few days.



With Jan and I is our daughter Brandi, our son Chris, his wife Linda, our granddaughter Piper, and her boyfriend Porter. This trip is kind of a Christmas tradition with us, as we always try to come up sometime close to Christmas.

This morning we drove into Burnet, about 10 miles away to eat lunch at Tea-licious, a really nice tearoom with very good food. After that we hit the HEB and Walgreen’s for some stuff and then home.

Tonight we’ll probably eat at Diego’s, a local Mexican place we like, and then head down to Marble Falls to look at Christmas lights.

December 11, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Loaf . . .

The weather was still nice this morning so we were able to get our walk in, but, boy, was it windy.  We were getting wind gusts in the 30’s, and, of course, we were walking directly into it on the last leg of our walk.

Although it’s been in the 70’s the last several days, the weather is about to change. It will be in the low 40’s tonight, with a high only in the 50’s tomorrow. Then tomorrow night we’re down to 30 degrees. Wish the weather would make up its mind. Hot or cold, just pick one.

Getting back from our walk, a nice pot of coffee seemed in order, and so it was. Then we just sat around and enjoyed life and the view.

Our son Chris called a little after noon to see if we wanted to have lunch. So about 1:30 we drove up to Kemah to meet them for lunch at Chili’s. Jan and I both had the Margarita Chicken, which was as good as always, but the service was rotten. It took forever to get our order in, and even longer to get our food. That seems to be the norm for this location. We may have to start trying another one just a little further away.

After lunch Jan and I went across the street to check out a Craft Fair/Farmer’s Market there. Jan was looking for a small Christmas to hang up in the rig, and we found the wreath and more. Jan found a pumpkin cream cheese loaf and some cookies, and I found a jar of HOT Habanero salsa, all delicious.

December 11, 2011

I can’t believe he ate the whole thing . . .

First off, our son Chris won a big screen TV last night at his office Christmas Party. Unfortunately he didn’t find out about it until later, because he was at work!

Lucky for him, he didn’t have to be present to win.

Getting over to Brandi’s about 10am, Jan, Landon, and I headed into Webster to have breakfast at The Egg and I, probably our favorite local breakfast place, besides maybe, IHOP.

Jan ordered Landon a pancake off the Kid’s Menu that started out like this,

Landon's Pancake 1

and then went from this,

Egg and I 2

to this,

Egg and I 1

and ended up like this.

Landon's Pancake 2

Plus the cup of fruit he had before the pancake came. In fact his tummy was so full he fell asleep on the way home.

We had planned to let him take his nap and then head over to Bass Pro Shop’s Santa’s Wonderland, but just as we got back to the house, Brandi and Lowell showed up.

Jan thought they wouldn’t be back until later in the afternoon, but I had laughingly said that I wouldn’t be surprised if Brandi couldn’t stay away from Landon any longer.

Turns out I was right.

So after putting the still-sleeping Landon to bed, Brand went with him, and Jan and I headed home. Hopefully we’ll be able to take Landon to the Santa’s Wonderland a little later.

Getting home, Jan went right into nap mode. Keeping up with a 15 month old all weekend is hard work. In fact we both had naps.

About 5pm we headed over to Dickinson to have dinner at Monterey’s Little Mexico. Yeah, I know we were just here Friday night, but what can I say, the Tortilla Soup is great.

Tomorrow, it’s back to doing the client thing with three to see tomorrow, maybe more if I can fit them in. We’ll see.

So far, our humming ghost hasn’t reappeared. As Linda Sand commented, maybe he hums because he forgot the words.

Works for me.

December 11, 2013

Back to Dreary . . .

This morning we were back to dreary once again with no sun to be seen. A little warmer to be sure, but only in the low 50’s. The only good thing was no wind. Dickinson Bayou in front of our rig was smooth as glass.

But it was a little different up in Fairbanks AK today. We spent 5 months there in 2008, but it was the summertime. But even then it only made 80 degrees one day, and that was the 4th of July.

Downtown Faribanks 2013 12 11

This was taken sundown today at 2:20pm. It was 3 degrees, with a low expected tonight of –11 degrees.

Makes our weather not sound so bad.

About noon I headed out for some errands with my first stop at the Post Office to get some Christmas stamps and mail off the first batch of  Christmas cards.

After that, I checked a nearby Radio Shack looking for some soldering iron tips, but they don’t stock them, and it looks like no one else in town does either so I’ll probably have to get them online. Amazon here I come.

My last stop before heading home was to pay some bills. Then after a quiet afternoon that included a nap, Jan and I headed out about 5pm to meet Chris and Linda at Barcenas Mexican Restaurant, right near our house. And even better, Miss Piper showed up since she got off work early.

We’ve been eating at Barcenas since 1998 when it opened and it’s always good. And tonight was no exception. We spend some time talking about our plans for getting together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, trying to figure out everyone’s schedule. But somehow we’ll make it work.

Not sure yet what’s on the schedule for tomorrow. But I’ll probably take another look at my leaking shower problem. I have a couple of more ideas I want to try. And if the weather stays halfway nice I want to look at the problem with our step not wanting to retract or extend.

It’s always something.

December 11, 2014

Original Mexican and Old Friends . . .

As happens quite often, our stay-at-home day turned into a road trip. In this case, a 280 mile round-trip to Galveston.

Jan got an email late last night from her long-time friend/coworker Linda Furlong. wanting to get together today down in Galveston. Linda and Jan used to work together at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center in Webster. Then a few years before we started full-timing, Linda decided she wanted to move somewhere completely different, so she upped and moved to Billings, MT. And we’ve visited her there several times over the years as we’ve RV’ed around the country. But it’s going to be a lot harder to visit her next time.

She’s moving to Peru next month!

Her long-term goal is to open a bed & breakfast there. Though she’s visited there a number of times, now she’s going to be teaching down there, while she gets the lay of the land.

She’s going to be staying in Cusco, known as the Historical Capital of Peru, and the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. In addition, the famous Incan city of Machu Picchu is located nearby.

Wow. And people thought we’d gone off the deep end just because we chucked it all and started RV’ing.

We left the Colorado River Thousand Trails about 11:30am, heading for Galveston, about 135 miles away. After a quick stop for gas and a restroom break along the way, we met Linda at The Original Mexican Café.

Old Mexican Cafe 4

Old Mexican Cafe 2

Built in 1916, it’s the oldest continuously operating restaurant on Galveston Island still at its original location. We have eaten here a lot over the years, but not recently. So we were happy to try it again. And we weren’t disappointed.

Linda Furlong and Jan

And with the great food and good company, we spent two hours talking and eating, laughing and going over old times. Then Linda and Jan drove over to Murdoch’s Souvenirs on the Seawall so Jan could get some shells for her new shell jar, and I followed.

Finally saying our goodbyes, and promising we’d try to visit her sometime, Jan and I headed home about 4:45 with a detour by Brandi and Lowell’s to pick up my new Power Converter which had been delivered this morning.

Powermax 110 Volt to 12 Volt 55 Amp Power Supply Converter Charger

We finally got back to the rig a little before 8pm, and the first thing I did was to hot-wired the converter into my battery circuit using the jumper wires off an old battery charger that I had thrown away. I knew they would not take the full 55 amp output for a long period of time, but I didn’t expect them to have to.

I was happy to see that the converter quickly brought my engine and coach batteries up to 13+ volts, and held them there, even as I went around and turned on every 12 light in the rig. I was happy to see that the coach voltage hardly dropped a tenth of a volt, still staying above 13 volts, as I did this. And the cooling fan on the back of the unit never came on. Nice.

Next up, I’ll order the new transfer switch and wire up the power converter permanently under the bed. I’ll probably do these both at the same time so I only have to get under there once, but it may be after Christmas before that happens.

December 11, 2015

Old Friends and Good Music . . .

Since our daughter Brandi’s day surgery for sinus problems got pushed back to 1pm today, our original reason for staying at Brandi’s house, to take Landon to school this morning, went away. So we were able to sleep in a little, or at least I was. Jan’s pretty much always an early riser

A little after 10am Jan and I made the half-hour trip over to Richmond to have lunch at Sandy McGee’s, an almost legendary restaurant there. Jan and her coworkers used to eat here a lot when she worked at Polly Ryon Hospital there in the 1990’s. And I always wanted to eat here whenever I was in the area too.

Located in an old pharmacy building on Main St. in downtown Richmond, its very eclectic décor is a large part of its charm.

Sandy McGee's 1

Sandy McGee's 2

But the food is what makes the place famous. Their award-winning broccoli-cheese soup, along with their great sandwiches and cut-to-order fruit selections really can’t be topped.

My favorite is the Miller’s Choice, which has fresh oven-roasted turkey breast, big chunks, not dinky slices, melted Swiss Cheese, fresh spinach, with mayo and a honey-mustard vinaigrette,

Sandy McGee's Miller's Choice

as well as a cup of the broccoli-cheese soup, and fruit.

Really, really good.

Jan had their Chicken Salad Croissant,

Sandy McGee's Chicken Salad Croissant

a fresh baked butter croissant with creamy chicken salad, lettuce, tomato and avocado slices, as well as a cup of the broccoli-cheese soup.

Getting back to Brandi’s, we thought we now might have to pick Landon up from school, since we weren’t sure if Brandi’s surgery would be done in time for Lowell to pick him up. But after Brandi was taken in for the surgery, Lowell drove back over to the school to pick him up a little early, and then took him back to the hospital.

So since we were no longer needed for possible Landon duty, about 3:15 we headed out for Pasadena and the Jimmy Changas restaurant there to meet up with some old friends for dinner and then a visit to the local Opry.

Our daughter Brandi called about 4:15 to let us know she had survived the surgery, and was on her way home. Hopefully this will put a stop to all the sinus problems she’s been having.

When we got there about 4:30, we were seated immediately, but within about 15 minutes the place started filling up. Unfortunately part of our group got hung up in the Friday afternoon traffic and didn’t make it until after 5. But we all had a good time, and a good meal.

Afterwards we headed right down the street to the Pasadena Hometown Opry. Jan and I have never been to this one before, but we went to the Alvin Opry for more than 15 years, until it closed about a year ago.

But seeing the schedule of performers tonight was like being back there. Four of the six performers were Alvin Opry alumni, and, as it turns out, some of our favorites, too.

Earl Epps looks like George Jones, and sings like him too.

Hometown Opry Earl Epps

And in some cases, maybe better than the original. Probably because Earl is always sober.

Missy Brown has a vocal range that would astound you, and she really put it to use on O Holy Night, hitting a couple of dog-worthy notes there at the end.

Hometown Opry Missy Brown

She’s as good as anybody you hear on the radio.

Shawn Johnson started singing at the Alvin Opry as a kid, and we’ve watched him grow up.

Hometown Opry Shawn Johnson

His version of the Christmas song, ‘The Gift” brought tears to a lot of eyes. Not mine, of course. I just have allergies.

Margie La Blanc is from Louisiana, and really knows how to belt out a song.

Hometown Opry Margie La Blanc

She’s a much-featured performer on the Opry circuit, and her take of Brenda Lee’s “Rocking Around The Christmas Tree” was a real hit.

During the intermission, we had a chance to say Hi to them all, as well as a lot of familiar ex-Alvin Opry faces in the audience as well.

The show ended right on time at 10pm, capping off a night with good friends and familiar faces. Really nice!

After saying our goodbyes, we were on the road for the trip back to the rig by 10:15. After a potty break, and refueling with coffee and gas at the Flying J in Brookshire, we were home about 12:15, wrapping up a really nice day. Long, but very nice.

December 11, 2016

Never Boring . . .

You know you’re in Texas when it’s 45 degrees and you’re running the heaters on one day, and it’s 70 degrees with the AC going on the next day.

It’s never boring

Jan and I headed out for lunch at Barth’s about 12:30, not wanting to miss their Turkey & Dressing and Fried Chicken.

Barth's Turkey & Dressing

In fact not wanting to waste plate space on the creamed red potatoes and veggies, Turkey & Dressing and Fried Chicken was all I got.

And it turns out that we just missed fellow gate guard, JW Wilks, who apparently arrived about 5 minutes after we left. We’ll try to meet up next time.

Then it was on up to Wal-Mart for some baking stuff for Jan’s Christmas Cookie Bake-off. We also picked up a boy’s toy and a girl’s toy that we dropped off at the Toys for Tots booth outside the exit.

Coming home, we just goofed off and napped during the afternoon.

I did get a text from Todd, our SiteWatch supervisor, changing my work schedule tomorrow, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 5:30pm – 5:30am to 5:00pm – 5:00am. Not a problem for me.

Seen Around the Web:

I’ve talked several times before about the future of 3D printing. And it’s amazing what they’re doing with them. Whether it’s astronauts printing repair parts on the International Space Station, Jay Leno printing new parts for his collection of antique cars, doctors printing new body parts, or even builders constructing entire houses, there’s always something new coming out.

Now it’s 3D Printing in Molten Glass.

3D Molten Glass Chihuly-Chandelier

3D Molten Glass Vase

Now they can make things from glass that can’t be made any other way.

Ever wonder about those expensive vehicle inspections that a lot of you go through every year? Wonder if they really do any good?

Well according to this GAO (Government Accounting Office) report no one really knows, but probably not. And the 15 states, including Texas, that still have the inspections, spend $100’s of millions a year for what seems to be no discernable benefit. Apparently that’s why a number of states over the last few years have dropped their inspections, and now Texas is thinking about it.

Tomorrow, it’s back to work.

December 11, 2018

How do they do that?

Jan and I headed out about 12:45 with our first stop The Egg and I up in Webster for lunch. As is normal, Jan got her Avocado Toast with a side of greens. and I got my eggs, over medium, crispy bacon, English Muffin, with a side of fruit.

But unlike our usual visits, this one was kind of a near-miss in several cases.

Jan’s side of greens was really just a side of ‘green’, as in it was only made from spinach. Of course the green shortage isn’t really their fault, and it’s better than getting E. coli, I guess.

And I still don’t understand the Hazelnut coffee situation. They bring an insulated pot of it to your table, and then pour your first cup for you. But this time, rather than the scalding hot version I usually get, it was just lukewarm.

So, for my second cup I asked for another, hotter, pot of coffee. And so when the waitress poured a cup from the new pot, it was nice to see the steam coming off the cup. But somehow it was still only lukewarm. How does that work?

And how do they cook one side of a couple of eggs different from the other side?

Egg and I Split Cook Eggs

As I said before I always get two eggs, over medium. But somehow today they managed to cook one egg over hard, as in solid hard yolk, and the other egg, just an inch away, was cooked over easy. But maybe they were just going for the average. You know, half over hard and half over easy averages to over medium.

How do they do that?

Next, it was on over to WallyMart for a few things, before a stop by my client’s to install a new sound card, well, actually a sound USB plug, on the office manager’s computer. She likes to listen to music during the day and last week the sound card up and died.

But, unfortunately, the sound card in this system is built in on the motherboard, so no plug-in card to just switch out. I could, of course, just install a card, but then I found this on Amazon.

USB Sound Card

USB Sound Adapter

It wasn’t supposed to be here until tomorrow, but I got an email saying it had been delivered, so I thought I’d go by and get it installed.

And just like the instructions, I just plugged it into a front panel USB port, plugged in the speaker system, and it worked.

No separate drivers, nothing else. Nice!

Then it was a couple of gift shops looking for Christmas gifts, Bodhi’s in Kemah for some of Jan’s Neuropathy Essential Oils,  some Coffee ice cream from Marble Slab, the PO to put the Christmas cards in the mail.

And then home. Whew!

The rest of the week is pretty busy too, first with dinner tomorrow night in Alvin with long-time friends Janice and Dave Evans. Then it’s my next 16 minute 40 second trip through the Devil’s Easy Bake Oven on Thursday

PDT Extra Crispy 468

and Jan’s next appointment with her eye surgeon on Friday.

Wasn’t there supposed to be something ‘restful’ about retirement? I mean, it’s been 11 years now since we retired and hit the road full-time in our RV, and it’s not slowing down.

Instead it seems to be speeding up.

December 11, 2019

It’s God’s Way of Telling Me . . .

There’s the old saw about how having a heart attack is God’s way of telling you to slow down.

Now, don’t get excited. I’m just fine.

But I think this was God’s way of telling me that we need a new TV.

When Jan and I came back from supper last Tuesday night, right before we left for New York, we found our 40” Samsung TV on the floor of the RV, and Miss Karma trying to look innocent.

She said it was the dog. But we don’t have a dog.

Anyway, when I set it back up, this is what I found when I turned it on.

Broken TV


Strangely enough, last weekend when Jan and I were shopping at Walmart, I checked out a 43” Samsung that they had on sale.

The big problem with the size of the TV we can have is whether or not it will fit below our cabinets at the front of the rig. And it looked like it would.

So tomorrow we’ll go TV shopping, I guess. But in looking things over online, I think I may upgrade to the newer 2019 model that’s more expensive, but has a better picture, and is also Alexa compatible.

This morning I took the 22” TV we have in the bedroom and set it up on the end of the sofa so Jan could have TV until we get the new one. So she’s happy with that for a while.

I’m still going through all the New York photos that I took. When that’s done I’ll start recapping our trip on the blog.

Stay Tuned.

December 11, 2021

A Wonderful, Magical, Delightful, Fantastic Weekend

is how Jan described the last week, and I certainly agree.

We saw:

Yakov Smirnoff


The Titanic Exhibit



Legends - Blues Brothers



Beach Boys Tribute

Branson Beach Boys Review 1

Showboat Branson Belle

Steamboat Branson Belle Stage

The Platters

Platters 1

The Aquarium Exhibit

Branson Aquarium Octopus By Day



The Haygood’s


Neil Diamond Tribute

Neil Diamond

Pierce Arrow

Pierce Arrow

Lights of Joy Drive

Lights Of Joy Trail

We ate at:

Famous Dave’s BBQ

Famous Dave's BBQ Branson

Billy Bob’s Dairyland

Billy Bob's Dairyland

Showboat Branson Belle

Steamboat Branson Belle Stage

Starvin’ Marvin’s

Starvin' Marvin's

Billy Gail’s

Billy Gail's

and Famous Dave’s again.

Famous Dave's BBQ Branson 2

In the next few days I’ll start catching up on all this.

December 11, 2022


or 59 Years Ago Today.

The rain that held off for yesterday’s Christmas Market made itself known last night and into this morning with a lot of thunder along for the ride. Glad it didn’t spoil it for everyone.

*Crickets* is what I’ve heard back from Cracker Barrel since I submitted my complaint to them last Monday evening. Here’s what I sent them.

I’m writing this because I don’t dare let my wife near the keyboard.

On November 11, I ordered online the large Heat N Serve Thanksgiving Dinner to be picked up at your League City, TX location.

We picked it up as scheduled on Sunday the 20th about 12 noon on our way to our daughter’s house in Katy, TX, about 60 miles away.

When we got there and unpacked the large box, we found the two turkey breasts, a large pan, six smaller pans, 2 labeled ‘SP’, 2 labeled ‘GB’, and two labeled ‘MP’, all tightly sealed with foil.

As well as two quarts of Turkey Gravy, a quart of chicken broth for the dressing, along with Rolls and Cranberry Sauce.

So we packed everything away in the refrigerator and waited for all our guests to show up on Thursday.

Then, with our guests there, including friends from Canada, experiencing their first American Thanksgiving, and my wife raving over how great Cracker Barrel’s Cornbread Dressing is, and that it’s her favorite part of the meal, it all came crashing down when she discovered that we had NO dressing at all.

Just a large pan of Sweet Potato Casserole, to go with the two smaller pans of Sweet Potato Casserole.

At this point my wife was actually in tears. And using words I very seldom hear her say.

Hoping to fix this, I immediately got on the phone to the League City CB trying to see what could be done about the problem. I was thinking maybe they could call our local Katy CB to give us a pan of dressing.

But either the phone stayed busy (off-the-hook) or it would ring and then you could tell that someone picked up the handset and put it right back down.

I then tried calling the Katy location directly (they answered) and told them my problem, asking if I could just come by (about 10 minutes away) and buy a pan of dressing.

However they said I would need to have ordered the dressing ahead of time to be able to pick it then. So that was no help either.

Giving up for the day, my wife tearfully served friends and family a ‘dressingless’ Thanksgiving Dinner, I.e. Turkey & ????.

The next day (Friday) around 10:45 I called the League City location once again and spoke to a female manager, who, after I told her what had happened, told me to call back after 2pm. And when I did I was told that the manager was busy and that she would call me back later. And she never did.

And since that time, for the last week+, I have called a couple of times a day, always being told someone will call me back. And no one ever has.

And, ironically, this is not the first time we’ve had a ‘dressing’ problem at Cracker Barrel.

In 2014 we stopped off at the Conroe, TX location to pick a to-go Thanksgiving Dinner for my wife to have later in the week. And once again, no dressing.

Turkey, Ham, Veggies, and Pumpkin Streusel Pie, yes. But no Dressing.

So my wife was devastated, embarrassed, and in tears over this. And for her part she feels we should get the entire $162.36 that we paid for the dinner refunded.

So I’ll leave it up to you.

FWIW the many readers of my daily blog are also waiting to hear your response.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Greg White

Still thinking about what my next move might be.

For Jan’s part, she says she never wants to eat at CB again, and she love’s CB.

Jan and I were on the way out this afternoon around 12:30 with our first stop at the Dollar General along FM646 for some Christmas stuff. Then it was on up to Webster to have lunch at Texas Huddle again. And they were probably busier than we’ve ever seen them, probably due to the fact that there was a Houston Texans-Dallas Cowboys game going on, as well as a couple of playoff games that actually counted.

And we got to watch the 1-10-1 Texans blow a 23-20 lead to the 9-3 Cowboys in the last minute of the game, going to 1-11-1 for the season.

But we got to eat some really good Wings and Tenders, along with salads, fries, and fried okra, so it more than made up for it. But we did stay for an extra 20 minutes or so to watch the Texans lose.

Then it was on down to our HEB for this week’s stuff, before getting home a little after 4pm.

Tomorrow morning I’ve got my lumbar MRI/X-Rays to see if there’s been any further deterioration in that area since last October. What I find out from this will give me some idea on how to proceed.

59 Years Ago Today –

It was Christmas time, 1963, I had just turned 15 a couple of months before, and I had somehow been roped into narrating the Christmas Story play at our church in Athens, AL, I think because I was the only teenager whose voice wasn’t still squeaking.

As I told the story, of the Manger, the Three Wise Men, the Angels, and the Shepherds, a bunch of young kids were acting out the story in front of me. One of the Shepherds even had a live sheep on a leash, who immediately crapped on the floor.

The Sheep, not the Shepherd.

Anyway, I had asked the Minister if I could also perform a couple of hymns afterward. He just asked if I needed the organist and I said no.

At the end of the pageant, I pulled out my trusty Sears Silvertone acoustic guitar from under the podium, and after a shaky start, (my $24.99 guitar never was very good at holding tune for very long. If fact the A/C coming on would cause it to lose tune. ) I first played and sang Stille Nacht in the original German, and then again as Silent Night in English. I was taking German in the 10th grade and we had to learn it for class.

Silent Night was originally written in German and first played in an Austrian church for Christmas Eve midnight mass on December 24th, 1818. It was written for the guitar because the church’s organ had been damaged by a recent flood.

So it made sense to do it on guitar in a church again.

I finished up with one of my two favorite hymns, ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ (the other one is ‘In The Garden’), kind of covering from the beginning of the Christmas Story to the very end.

I got a lot of compliments afterward, from parishioners who didn’t know I could play and sing, and especially from my surprised parents, who knew I could sing, but didn’t know I could play the guitar, since I had practiced in secret.

And it all worked out great, since I ended up getting a new Fender Stratocaster Sunburst for Christmas.

Fender Stratocaster Sunburst Guitar

I really wish I had kept it, because though I thought it was expensive at the time (about $300 if I remember correctly), it would be worth $35,000+ by now. Yikes!

I later played guitar and keyboards in two college bands, as well as trumpet, French horn, and baritone in school bands.