Monthly Archives: April 2012

Issue 256 — Our Trip to Miami . . . Oklahoma, That Is

Issue 256    —    The Paregien Journal    —    April 18, 2012

Our Trip to Miami . . . , Oklahoma, That Is

by Stan Paregien Sr.

We left OKC about 8:00 am, with our ultimate destination being the annual meeting of the Oklahoma Historical Society, being held this year at the Coleman Theater in Miami, Oklahoma. Of course, we don’t pronounce the town name the same way that little village in Florida is pronounced. Oklahoma’s Miami is a name taken from the Miami Indian tribe here and is pronounced “my-am-muh”.

We arrived in Miami, Oklahoma about 12:30 pm. Miami is the hometown of such folks as Steve Owens (star full-back at the University of Oklahoma, Heisman Trophy winner, and player for the Detroit Lions), Charles Banks Wilson (painter), and Carol Littleton (Hollywood film editor and Emmy award-winner).

We stopped and had lunch at the famous Route 66 hamburger joint, “The Ku-Ku,” which features a giant ku-ku bird on the top of the building. The food was okay, but didn’t live up to the hype we had been given.

About 1:30 pm we went to the Coleman Theater at 103 N. Main Street and registered for the Oklahoma History Society meeting which starts at 7:30 pm this evening.

Coleman

Then we went to a couple of antique stores and drove just a few miles north to Commerce, Oklahoma—where there were no signs to direct us to the location of the hometown hero, Mickey Mantle, the all-star player for the New York Yankees several decades ago. We stopped two different people for directions, with one saying he had no idea where it was and the other giving us directions and adding that infamous postscript, “You can’t miss it.” But we did.

Anyway, we did stop and take photos out on the highway of a very nice statue of Mickey Mantle.

We hit a few more antique and thrift stores, then went to the Holiday Inn Express and checked in. We had a big lunch, so we settled for granola bars for supper.

We drove back to the Coleman Theater for the 7:30 pm program. Wow, the inside of the Coleman—built in 1929 and in the 1950s declining to a state of disrepair—was beautifully restored as a community effort in 2004. It is impressive.

The program this evening was moderated by Roger Harris, an old friend of ours who for many years was the director of the oral history department of the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City. He is back with the OHS, though in a different capacity, and is the current president of the Oklahoma Folklife Society.

The program was called, “Okie Folkie Coffeehouse Concert.” It featured a bunch of entertainers who got their start performing at coffeehouses in Oklahoma City and Tulsa during the 1950s and 1960s. Those performers included Mason Williams (Grammy for his song, “Classical Gas”; Emmy for writing comedy for the Smothers Brothers TV show; founding member of the Oklahoma-based “Wayfarers Trio” with Baxter Taylor and Billy Cheatwood), Baxter Taylor (founding member of the Oklahoma-based “Wayfarers Trio”; wrote with Shel Silverstein “Marie Laveau,” a smash hit for Bobby Bare), Billy Cheatwood (founding member of the Oklahoma-based “Wayfarers Trio”; banjo and guitar; former constable of Jemez Springs, NM, where he still lives), and Steve Brainard (banjo).

Also, Mike Settle (Born March 20, 1941 in Tulsa, OK; a Creek Indian whose grandfather, Pleasant Porter, was a chief of the tribe; member of the “Kenny Rogers & the First Edition” band; member of the New Christy Minstrel Singers; wrote “But You Know I Love You,” a cross-over hit for Dolly Parton in 1969; currently a journalist and music critic living in Brentwood, Tenn.).

Also, Mike Flynn, Ed (singer & guitarist) & Karen (singer) Petitt, Art Eskridge (blues singer, guitarist), plus additional instrumentalists Richard Sharp (bass), Amber Vallee (concertino), Shanda McDonald (fiddle), and Dr. Kahty Dagg, M.D. (mandolin).

I was able to get nice video clips of Mason Williams playing “Classical Gas,” of Baxter Taylor singing “Marie Laveau,” and one of Art Eskridge singing and playing a blues number. I have posted them on my YouTube page, where my ID is “CowboyStan”.

On Thursday morning, April 19th, we ate a continental breakfast at the Holiday Inn. Then we boarded a bus to take us back to the Coleman Theater. On the bus we met and visited with Brigadier General Revere A. Young (retired) and his wife Mary. They live near Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City. The last few years of his career he was commander of the Oklahoma Air National Guard.

I attended the 8:30 am session in Room A of the Ballroom. The moderator was Dr. Deena K. Fisher, a history professor in Woodward and a member of the executive committee of the OHS. The first speaker was Dr. Michael Hightower on “Bad PR: Oklahoma and the Media, 1889-1923.” He is a consultant on the OHS’s project on a history of banking in Oklahoma. The second speaker was John Wooley, former entertainment editor for the Tulsa World newspaper, and the author of 22 books. His topic was, “Early Cinema in Oklahoma.”

Wooley

Stan Paregien Sr. with John Wooley

At 10:15 am I attended a session moderated by Roger Harris and titled, “The Coffeehouse Era in Oklahoma”. Musicians who participated included “The Wayfarer Trio” members Mason Williams and Baxter Taylor and Billy Cheatwood, plus Mike Settle, Art Eskridge, Mike Flynn, Carol Saunders Young, and Steve Brainard.

Meanwhile, Peggy attended a 10:15 session featuring Dr. Guy Logsdon (folklorist and subject of my latest e-book on Amazon.com) as the moderator. The first speaker was Bobby Weaver, retired archivist from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, speaking on: “Who Are Those Oilfield Hands and Why Do They Act Like That?” The second speaker Joe Specht of the Grady McWhiney Research Foundation in Abilene, Texas, on the topic of “Boomers and Boomtowns: Oil Patch Songs from Oklahoma.”

Then we were bused from the Coleman Theater to the Student Union banquet hall on the campus of North Eastern Oklahoma University. Mason Williams was the speaker for the luncheon.

After the luncheon, Peggy and I rode the bus over to The Gordon House and toured it. Then the bus took us to the Dobson House & Museum, where we also had refreshments. And then we returned to the motel. We again had granola bars for supper.

We drove to the Coleman Theater for the 7:30 pm. It was a video detailing the restoration of the Coleman Theater. Then we were treated to a tour backstage.

Peggy

Peggy & Stan Paregien Sr inside the Coleman Theater

Friday, April 20
A thunderstorm rolled in during the night and left at least a half-inch of rain. The temperature dropped significantly and the wind came up to about 30 mph. So it was pretty chilly all day.

We drove to the Coleman Theater for the 8:30 am session. I picked up a Miami newspaper and, lo and behold, there was an article about the OHS meeting . . . and they quoted me on page 3, as well as General Revere Young.

The moderator of the session was Emmy Scott Stidham of Checotah, current president of the OHS. George Nigh, former two-time Governor of Oklahoma, gave an entertaining speech on “Oklahomans Who Have Impacted the Popular Culture.”

Nigh

Stan Paregien Sr. (right) with former two-term Oklahoma Governor George Nigh

The second speaker was Miami-native Carol Littleton, Emmy-award winning Hollywood film editor. She spoke on, “From Miami to Hollywood.”

At 10:14 am Peggy and I attended a session moderated by Marty Pennington of Ada, a member of the board of directors of the OHS. The first speakers—Cindy Wallis, Gwen Walker and Traci Walker—presented and narrated a slide show of “48 Hours at Atoka,” dealing with the huge (35,000 to 50,000 attendees) country music show in a pasture near Atoka, Oklahoma. It was Oklahoma’s equivalent of “Woodstock,” with similar craziness.

The second speaker in that session was Jana Jae of Grove, billed as “The First Lady of Country Fiddle”. She spoke on “Roots Music in Green Country: The Grand Lake Festivals.” She brought alone her regular fiddle, plus the miniature fiddle she used as a child (made in about 1780) and the signature blue-colored fiddle she used on the Hee Haw TV show.

Jana Jae

Jana Jae and Stan Paregien Sr

Jana Jae was born August 30, 1942. She started playing when she was two and a half years old. Both of her parents were violin students at the Juilliard School in New York, and her maternal grandfather was a country fiddler. In her youth, Jae won scholarships to Interlochen and the International String Congress. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in music and studied abroad at the Vienna Academy of Music.

Jana Jae won the Ladies’ Division National Fiddling Championship. However, she earned a living by teaching some 200 violin students per week. She began to feel as though she might “burn out” doing that, so she inquired around about her chances of playing in a bluegrass or a country band. She interviewed with Buck Owens and was hired to be part of his band, “The Buckeroos”.

Jana Jae gained national fame by appearing on the nationally broadcast “Hee Haw” television show as part of Buck Owens’s band in the 1970s. She married her employer, Buck Owens, in 1977, becoming his fourth wife. In just a few days she had her fill of Mr. Owens and filed for a divorce.

Since the late 70’s, Jae has continued performing internationally, both as the leader of her own band, and with orchestra. Additionally, she has appeared with such country music artists as Chet Atkins, Roy Clark, Ray Stevens, The Oakridge Boys, Mel Tillis, Ricky Skaggs and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Today she organizes an annual fiddle camp and fiddle festival in Grove, Oklahoma, where she has lived for several years.

I got a couple of nice video clips of Jana Jae talking and playing her fiddle, and I have posted them on my YouTube page under my ID of “CowboyStan”.

At noon we left the OHS meeting. We ate a block or so away at a Mexican food restaurant. Then we drove back to Edmond, arriving home about 5 pm. It had been a fun-filled, informative three days and one of the best conferences we have attended in years. Dr. Paul Lambert of OHS was the primary organizer of the event, and he just did a bang-up job. And those local folks up in Miami, Oklahoma really made us feel welcomed.

Issue 255 – My Song: “Ireland Is Your Land”

Issue 255    —    The Paregien Journal    —    April 16, 2012

My Song, “Ireland Is Your Land”

by Stan Paregien Sr.

Our verbal family tradition has always been that my great-great grandfather, Jacob Mac Paregien, left his home in northern Ireland and came to America as a stowaway on a ship.

 Verbal traditions can get a little twisted in the telling from generation to generation. In our case, Jacob Mac Paregien was actually born in Kentucky, here in the good ol’ USA, in 1813. And what we do know for sure, is that about 1880 he answered the questions for the U.S. Census by saying that his mother had come from South Carolina and his father had come from northern Ireland.

 So, even though I still have not been able to find a document related to any “Paregien” in Ireland, I have really wanted to go there and see the country for myself. The chances are very good that, since he lived in northern Ireland, he probably sailed from the port of Derry (also called Londonderry).

 Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Ireland and looking at hundreds of photos of that beautiful and ancient country. That moved me to write a new song, one which I’ve titled “Ireland Is Your Land.” It should be sung to the tune of my fellow Oklahoman Woody Guthrie’s classic song, “This Land Is Your Land.”

 Ireland Is Your Land

 Also, Peggy and I are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in May. Wow, 50 years. That’s a lot of years and a lot of happiness, thanks to my lovely sweetheart. Anyway, I designed a greeting card for us to use this year that looks like this:

Business card
Well, last Saturday Peggy and I joined a bunch of other workers—from teenagers to . . . well, to us old . . . I mean, us more mature folks—in doing some cleanup work for Cross & Crown Mission in the heart of Oklahoma City. Somehow they were given an old, former public school building and the property on which it sits. It has some 40,000 square feet of space (4 floors at 10,000 square feet each).

 The building is massive and, if it can be updated and used, it will take a massive amount of money. But, hey, stranger things have happened when folks leave room for the Lord to operate.

 Cross

 

 

This next sign has nothing to do with the Cross & Crown Mission, we spotted it at another mission church in the same area:

 Hope your week is going well. Here in Edmond America we barely dodged tornadoes on two successive nights. So I guarantee you Peggy and I are doing mighty fine.

 –Stan

Issue 254 — Florida In My Rearview Mirror

Issue 254    The Paregien Journal    —    April 12, 2012

Florida In My Rearview Mirror

by Stan Paregien Sr.

Hello, again.

Wow, the last few weeks have been unbelievably busy for Peggy and for me. We’re supposed to be “retired,” but it sure doesn’t feel that way most of the time.

Peggy and I flew from Oklahoma City to Tampa, Florida back on Thursday, January 19, 2012. We went there to spend some six days with her sister, Charlotte (“The Elder”) Allen Richardson, and her husband Bill. They picked us up at the airport and we drove to their newly acquired winter home at a nice mobile home retirement village on the south side of Sarasota.

There is a whole nest of snowbird Yankees living there who all regularly go to church with Bill and Charlotte back in Indianapolis, Indiana. So they have a lot of fun together.

                  

Stan, Peggy, Bill & Charlotte in Sarasota, FL

The first full day we were there the Richardsons took us to the Ringling Mansion & Museum on the north side of Sarasota. We spent three or four hours there, but never even got inside of the very large art museum on the property. What we did see, though, was very informative and beautiful.

We took the ground floor tour of the huge mansion that circus man John Ringling and his wife built on the edge of the bay. It was spectacular in every way, and we were more than impressed at their ornate architecture and over-the-top styles of furniture and decor.

Next, we spent some time looking at and sniffing at the great variety of roses in the Ringling rose garden. All of this was done under a clear blue sky and about 75 degrees. Ah, . . . so very nice.

Then, after a nice lunch in the small cafeteria on the grounds, we spent a couple of hours in the circus museum portion of the estate. The first part, of course, mainly dealt with artifacts from and the history of the Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Circus. Sarasota was their winter headquarters for many, many years. The movie “The Greatest Show on Earth” starring Charlton Heston and James Stewart gives a pretty good inside view of the circus, and some of it was shot right there in Sarasota.

The final thing there at the Ringling Estate was the museum of miniatures. Yeah, I know, I wasn’t too impressed by the prospect. But the reality was quite astonishing and spellbinding. Really. A gentleman named Mr. Howard spent some 20 hours a week for about twenty years of his life creating all of the thousands of miniatures that it took to give an aerial view, as it were, of the large, fictitious “Howard Circus”. As you enter you begin a walk in a very long circle showing what it was like for a large circus to roll into a town and set up for business.

You had the main circus tents, of course, and then dozens of smaller tents around the perimeter for the blacksmiths, the horses, the dressing rooms for the hundreds of performers and workers, their own cafeteria where they served nearly 4,000 meals a day, and on and on . . . and on and on. And all of this was filled with miniatures made to scale by Mr. Howard – camels, elephants, visitors, railroad cars, rolling cages for the lions and tigers, and trucks loaded with equipment, along with dozens of railroad cars.

Wow. It was really an eye-opening and captivating display. So the moral of that story is to go gentle on that “pre-judging” business. I liked it a lot and would highly recommend you see it if you’re in the area.

I have to tell you, though, I picked up what I thought was a “head cold” or some such on Sunday, January 22nd. We returned home on Tuesday, the 24th, and I was soon coughing my head off and having to sleep in my recliner at night to get any sleep at all. And it wasn’t much.

So I went to my doctor on that Friday and he said I had bronchitis. Sounds like something you’d get from a horse, huh? Bronc . . . oh, never mind. So he started treating me for that.

By the following Monday I was about twice as bad off. Miserable. So I went back and my doc checked me and took an x-ray. My “head cold” had shot right past the bronchitis and it was . . . ta dah .  . . pneumonia.

Yuk. Let me tell you, pneumonia is a nasty business for people of any age. And for old geezers it can be deadly. So my doc loaded me up with prescriptions and sent me home in care of our family nurse (Peggy).

I learned from reading WebMD.com that a fairly high number of people over 65 who get pneumonia actually get it because they accidentally swallow a piece of food into their windpipe/lungs. I don’t know how I got it, but this is the third time in my life that I’ve had it.

Anyway, through all of February and part of March I did not felt like writing much.  I’m about 99 percent healed, at this point, and felling much, much better.

AGING

The ever-popular Beach Boys singing group performed at the Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 12, 2012. Then they embarked on their 50th anniversary tour. TV comedian and talk show host Conan O’Brien said, “Now when they sing about surfing, they mean surfing the Internet for discounted prostate medication.”

MY NEW E-BOOK

I’m glad to be able to announce the recent posting on Amazon.com of my latest Kindle e-book. It is titled, Rootin’ Tootin’ Cowboy Poetry: 100 Poems That’ll Make You Laugh, Cry and Think. It has 155 pages of poems and illustrations, most in color, and sells for just $2.99.

 Among these 100 poems are such crowd-pleasing favorites as “Ben’s New Filly,” “The Coyote Hunt,” “Christmas Delight,” “A Tribute to Roy Rogers,” “Ode to Identical Twins,” “The Cowboy and the Cougar,” “The Big Surprise,” “The Wet Sinner,” “Montana Cowboy Earmuffs,” “The Cowboy and the Lady,” “Bullet and Cousin Clem,” “The Cowboy’s Bandana,” “The Parrot and the Cowboy,” “The Cowboy’s Sermon to His Preacher,” “The Raven,” and “A Tribute to Gene Autry.”

Now here’s a terrific deal. For five days, running from 12:01 am on Friday, April 13th to 11:59 pm on Tuesday, April 17th, you may download this e-book and read it FOR FREE. That’s right, absolutely free. You will need a Kindle Reader, but you may download the reader for free to your Iphone, KindleFire, or your personal computer.  Pretty nifty, huh? The only thing is . . this free offer does not come with a free set of Ginsu knives. Give it a try, anyway, if you would please.

NEW YOUTUBE VIDEOS

Just today I uploaded two new videos to my YouTube account (“Cowboy Stan”). Each is totally different from the other, and I think you’ll enjoy both of them.

The first clip is titled “Rwandan Students Dance and Sing”. It is a film that I took in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on March 21, 2012. The Rwandan government selects 10 to 12 of their brightest students in the whole country for Presidential Scholarships. These highly competitive awards provide for four years of tuition and room and board at Oklahoma Christian University. After a few years of being in place, there are now 75 or so Rwandan students current enrolled at Oklahoma Christian.

So . . . the film is of several of those young male and female Presidential Scholars singing a traditional Rwandan song and performing in costume a dance to that music. They are also involved in a wonderful program called Rwandas4Water which raises money to go to the rural areas of Rwanda and create wells with safe drinking water.

You’ll find it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohSB99hYy5M  Or just do a search on YouTube for “Paregien”.

The second video is a hilarious knee-slapper, roll-in-the-aisles song. You remember the cowboy classic “Ghost Riders in the Sky”? Well, years ago someone wrote a parody to it titled, “Ghost Chickens in the Sky.” I filmed old friends Peggy Coleman and Roger “Big Chick” Ringer  (both members of the Western Music Association) performing it at the Pawnee Bill Ranch in Pawnee, Oklahoma on March 31, 2012. We were all there for a meeting of the Cowboy Storyteller Association of the Western Plains.

You’ll find that video at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FumJeMggFI&list=UUHxdwN4NzRpIviKau23bi1w&index=1&feature=plcp

Peggy and I took three of our Rwandan friends with us to Pawnee for the day. And they were quite interested in the Pawnee Bill (i.e., Gordon Lilly) Ranch, museum and mansion. And they got a nice introduction to cowboy culture during the CSAWP meeting.

Time to saddle up and say adios  (heck, you didn’t even know I was fluent in French, did ya?).

–Stan