Category Archives: Jerry Russell Paregien

Issue 185 – What We Did This Year

Issue 185 December 5, 2019 The Paregien Journal, An Occasional Newsletter

A couple of weeks ago, Peggy and I stepped in front of a studio photographer and had the following photos taken. We hope you enjoy them.

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Peggy and I were married in May of 1962. Her father, the late W.W. (“Woody”) Allen, performed the ceremony. I’m sure many of Peggy’s friends thought she had lost her ever-loving mind and the match would not last. Well, we are in our 57th year of marriage and we’re still going strong.

As we draw near to the New Year of 2020, it is a good time to look back at what happened this year. We did a lot of traveling (hey, what else is new?), much more than we anticipate for next year. We are, in fact, slowing down as we edge closer to our 80th birthdays.

Our lovely granddaughter, Christal Magness (aka “George” by her grandpa) of Snook, Texas came to Florida and spent some fun days with us in Paradise . . . . . Then came two Yankees from Kingsport, Tenn., my cousin/brother Jerry Paregien and his wife Muriel. We took them on a long day trip to Bok Towers Garden at Lake Wales, FL. We had a great time together, as usual .

Next, Peggy’s “eldest” sister and her husband, Charlotte & Bill Richardson of Indianapolis, came back to spend the winter in Sarasota. We also got to visit with Charlotte’s daughter, Joy G. Lombardi of Burton, Ohio.

In March, Peggy made a solo flight to Salem, Oregon to visit her “older” sister, Paula Allen King. She also got to see some of Paula’s children – Connie K. Williams, Woody King, Karsen King and Jeff King and their extended families.

In April of 2019, we got to see (again) Rhonda Vincent and her bluegrass band perform in Sarasota . . . . . In May, we and our Florida neighbors – Bob & Jean L’Hullier – drove down to Fort Myers and took a fun short-track train ride which featured comedy skits and a wonderful dinner . . . . .

On May 18th, we attended the 95th birthday celebration of neighbor Mike Damico. Believe it or not, Mike and his wife Donna kinda set the pace for regularly exercise her in our 55+ community . . . . In late May, our son Stan Paregien, Jr. and his wife Becky (from near St. Louis) spent a few fabulous days with us . . . . . Also in May, our HOA started a Sunday afternoon session of “Sit-down Volleyball” with a beach ball. That event has become very popular, and Peggy plays regularly. I, on the other hand, literally get dizzy even trying to watch the zig-zagging of the ball (due, I guess, to my inner ear problems). Oh, by the way, this was the year that I forked over my children’s inheritance and bought hearing aids. Yep, I did.

Late in May, our “adopted son” Jean M. Ndayisaba and his wife Christelle flew in from Norman, Okla. (home of the “Oklahoma Sooners” I might add). Jean and Christelle are natives of Rwanda, Africa. We “adopted” Jean and another college student when they were single and working on their degrees in Electrical Engineering. Those young men hold a special place in our hearts, and now also the lovely Christelle. They helped us celebrate our 57th anniversary with a dinner cruise from the marina in Sarasota.

In June, Peggy and I flew to St. Louis to attend a memorial service for our friend and brother in Christ, Hein Nguyen. His widow, Debbie, is a sister to our son’s wife, Becky. “Hen” was one of the last refugees to get out of his native Vietnam when it fell to the Communists. He arrived in the U.S. penniless and unable to speak English, but he went on to become a successful home-builder and remodeler. We got to visit with Becky’s brother, Mike McLain and wife Tomoko, who flew in from Japan. Mike and Tomoko (a native of Japan) operate a private school there and also own a coffee shop. He sings opera in the Japanese theatre. We also got to visit with our grandson, Daniel Paregien, and his wife Leah.

Early in June, 2019, we were able to check two states off of our bucket list of ones we still had not visited. We flew to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and ambled west across the southern part of the state (one night in Madison) and on to Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Yah, ve deed. Beautiful country. Yes, we went to the “Mall of America” (currently the largest in the U.S.) and after a whole hour there, we left. Just didn’t interest us . . . . Then we drove to the town of Wisconsin Dells and spent about six days with David and Nadene Allen of Stratford, OK., at their timeshare at a resort. David is a half-brother to Peggy’s father, making him a half-uncle or some such. Anyway, we had a ball with them. Always do.

In early July, we linked up with our son, Stan Jr., and his wife Becky at one of our favorite cities – Savannah. Full of Southern charm . . . . . After a few days, we moved on to Ashville, North Carolina. We and about 15,000 of our closest friends toured the Biltmore Estate on the day we were there . . . . . The next day, we did a side trip to The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. That was really inspiring.

And we wandered back and found a gem in Shelby, N.C. We really just pulled off there to get a bite to eat. We found a really good Mexican restaurant. And we discovered that was the hometown of famed banjo picker Earl Scruggs (think “Beverly Hillbillies” theme song). They even have a first-class Earl Scruggs Museum. And we discovered that it was also the home (and resting place) of Don Gibson, the legendary country music recording artist and songwriter and guitarist. That have a beautiful Don Gibson Theatre there, and that day on the billboard was a promo of an upcoming concert by some of our favorite guys – The Riders in the Sky (fine Western harmonies).

A couple of days later we shuffled off to Sevierville, Tennessee that is. The tri-cities of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are crammed full of motels and hotels and restaurants and live concert halls and T-shirt shops and . . . , well, you get the idea. We liked Gatlinburg best.Then we boogied up the road to Kingsport, Tenn., where we spent about three days with my cousin, Jerry Paregien and his wife Muriel. Their beautiful house is perched “on a mountain top in Tennessee” (sounds like “Rocky Top”, right?). From their living room and/or deck, they look across a broad valley and all the way to the Clinch Mountains of Virginia (Do you remember bluegrass star Ralph Stanley and His Clinch Mountain Boys?). They treated us just like family. Heck no, they treated us better than that – like royalty. Muriel and Peggy are like two peas from the same pod, so we always have a jolly good time with them.

On Sept. 1, 2019, we attended the Cowboy Church in Brenham, TX.,  while staying at our daughter’s house nearby. Their soon-to-be-adopted son, Ajay, got sick and we all wound up at two different  hospital with him. He was there two or three days. . . . . We toured the George H. Bush Library in College Station . . . . . Peggy and I drove up to Lubbock, Texas, where I performed my cowboy poetry and stories. That was my 27th year (not consecutively) to be a part of the National Cowboy Symposium & Celebration . . . We also got to have lunch with Dr. David Langford and his mom, Nell. She is the widow of Texas Tech English professor and church leader Dr. Tom Langford. I first met Tom and Nell Langford in Sand Springs, Oklahoma at church in about 1960 or so. Yikes, that was 60 years ago! David is both the preacher for and an elder of the Quaker Avenue Church of Christ there in Lubbock.

From Lubbock, we drove to the home of dear friends James & Glenda Cotton near Marshall, Okla. One night they hosted a “Connections” group from our former home congregation, so we got to visit with more of our close friends. Peggy had not been feeling well, so when we got down the road to a crossroads, I asked her which way she wanted to go – south for a quicker route back home or north to Branson, Mo., and then amble back. She chose Branson. So we stayed at an apartment overlooking an arm of Table Rock Lake. we saw several good country music shows. “The Petersens” put on an especially good afternoon show.

A couple of days later, we chugged along the deer trails and cow paths to Mountain Home, Arkansas.  Holy, moly! Those winding, narrow two-lane roads were torturous. Heard some good bluegrass music there on the courthouse lawn. . . . . . We spent the night at Hot Springs, Arkansas, but we were too tired to see anything there. We kept driving those narrow roads almost all the way to West Monroe, Louisiana.  Visited the Duck Commander and their cafe.

Well, before we got rested up from that long, long drive, we flew to Bean Town – aka Boston, Mass. We spent nearly a week there with fellow Road Warriors and friends Michael and Penny Letichevsky. They have lived there for many years, in Waltham, actually; but they winter almost next door to us in Florida. When we spent a month in Costa Rica a couple of years ago, they flew down and spent the last week with us. Fun, fun, fun.

These few days were no different. They escorted us to such places as the Robert Paine Estate, the Tortugas Farm (Northborough) to pick apples, and the legendary Walden’s Pond (Concord) to meditate . . . or not.  They also took us to the Wachusett Mountain State Reservation (Princeton), to the home and studio of famed illustrator and artist Norman Rockwell (Stonebridge), to a farmers market, to downtown Boston and to the campus of Harvard University and all the history there. And they helped me check another item off my state list, when we made a day trip through the tip of New Hampshire and up to the Cape Neddick Light House at York, Maine. On the way home, we stopped at the edge of Gloucester where Peggy and Penny each dined on lobster. Thanks, y’all.

In Nov., we helped Judy Betts and friends and family celebrate her 80th birthday at a bash on Longboat Key. She and Don were among the first of many who helped us adjust after our move from Oklahoma to Florida. Mighty good folks.

The above is a repeat of the one of Don and Judy Betts, just above this one. The difference is that I waved my magic wand over my computer and created this rendition. It is amazing to me. Reminds me of Norman Rockwell’s work.

We’ll have one more trip to Texas this year. Tell you more about this exciting event, later, after the fact.

Best wishes,

Stan & Peggy Paregien  

Issue 373 – Six Freebies for You

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The Paregien Journal  —  Issue 373  —  Feb. 24, 2018  —  Published Occasionally

Six Freebies for You

Free--002--round, red button

I have a number of free documents posted on my Google Drive storage account in a public folder.They are all in the popular PDF format, and all you have to do to read them is to go to the link below.

In addition, you may download any or all of them to your own PC’s hard drive . . . or upload them to your own cloud storage. One big advantage of a cloud account – such as Apple – iCloud; Google – Drive; Microsoft Outlook – OneDrive; etc. – is this: then you will be able to access that material through your PC, your tablet, your laptop, your smartphone, and so forth.

Here are the items I’ve posted there so far:

  1. Evelyn Cauthen Paregien Spradling: Her Story  (1922-2011)

Article cover -- 1975 Photo of Evelyn Paregien Spradling

This is my personal tribute to my mother. I completed this 179 page document and released it on the 7th anniversary of her death – Feb. 23, 2011. This is a remarkable story of her growing up in south-central Oklahoma during the Great Depression, the daughter of dirt-poor sharecroppers, getting married and moving to California where life became a whole lot easier and better. I worked hard to let her love, faith and integrity clearly show. 

This essay really amounts to a book, since it is 180 pages long. It contains well over 300 photos and documents, mainly from her total of 30+ years in Oklahoma and 52 years in Ventura County, California. Many of the stories and photos relate, specifically to towns in which we lived: Santa Paula, Fillmore, Piru and Newhall (in Los Angeles County).

  1. An Open Letter to Christian Friends  (May 18, 1972)

Book cover -- 02 - Open Letter -- May 18, 1972

This document will be of special interest to who grew up in (or are still in) religious groups which grew out of the “Restoration Movement” which started in the United States in about 1804 and rapidly grew. It was a recognition that followers of Christ by those days had divided into warring factions, and an effort to unite those Believers by using the Bible (not denominational creeds and disciples) as the standard for work and worship.

I wrote this letter to a few dozen friends way back on May 18, 1972 to explain why Peggy and I were changing from one Christian segment to another. Then in 2018 I rediscovered the letter and added an explanatory preface and a list of resources. It may also be of historical interest to those who study . . . or have to deal with . . . divisions within Christianity.

One of the factors in our leaving the group we’d been part of for our whole lives was their theological position regarding the use of instrumental music in worship. They were a’gin it. That is, they favored a cappella (voices only) in worship. There are other churches who advocate the same thing, though maybe not was loudly as we did. But that is only a part of the equation, as you will read.

  1. The Day Jesus Died (eBook in 2013)

1968-001 Cover of The Day Jesus Died

This book was published as a hardback in Austin, Texas in 1970. Back then I was a minister, first with the University Church of Christ in Las Cruces, New Mexico and then with the Mayfair Church of Christ in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It was a collection of my sermons and magazine articles. It went out of print, but in 2012 or so I started revising many of the chapters. So, as with the more than a dozen other eBooks of mine, you may find them and buy them by simply Googling “books by Stan Paregien.” This PDF copy, however, is free.

  1. Oklahoma Almanac of Facts & Humor: Part 1

Cover--Part 1 -- Oklahoma Almanac--2013 --- Nigh 1773w x 2400 x 95dpi

Published: May 21, 2013. Category: Nonfiction. Foreword by the Honorable George Nye, former Governor of Oklahoma. This eBook is Part 1 of 2 containing facts about the state of Oklahoma. Part 1 covers Achille to Nowata. It is not your grandpa’s boring history book. The author starts by telling the unique stories of 148 towns, including those which are a county seat in one of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. He includes photos, prominent people and humorous stories. Part 1 covers such towns as Ada, Atoka, Broken Arrow, Catoosa, Chandler, Claremore, Clinton, Del City, Durant, Eufaula, Elk City, Erick, Lawton, McAlester, Midwest City, Moore, and Norman.

  1. Manatee County, Florida: Facts, Folks and Photos

 

Master Cover -- Manatee County, FL -- Stan Paregien 01 1,900 X 2,561 X 600 dpi

This eBook is a combination of one part travel guide for the beaches and other attractions in Manatee County, one part who’s who of today’s leaders and yesterday’s heroes and heroines, one part family photo album, and one part a history book containing over 450 photos and 470 biographical sketches. It is written in a conversational style with touches of wit, wisdom, mystery and spice. There’s all kinds of factual information about our beautiful beaches and our vibrant history. But you’ll want to spent a lot of time in Chapter 3. There you’ll see photos and biographical sketches of hundreds of Manatee County people. Learn why the heck we do things like we do them (Hint: “Because that’s how grandma and grandpa used to do it.”) You’ll meet some of our wonderful pioneer families, a great many solid citizens, plus a lot of folks who work doggoned hard to make this County an even better place to live or to visit.

  1. A List of Stan Paregien’s eBooks

This lists the 16 eBooks by Stan Paregien which are available at various retailers online. Also a brief bio.

Here’s the magic link for any or all of the above:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1AYwU8g8IZo9v4nwXIBnDaXrpqmd6InRI

PLEASE NOTE:  The link above is subject to being changed at any time without notice.

Happy reading, my friends.

— Stan Paregien

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Issue 372 – Wesley Tuttle & Les Anderson

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The Paregien Journal     –     Issue 372     –     Jan.  18, 2018   –     A Periodic Publication

Wesley Tuttle & Les Anderson: 

Legends of Country-Western Music

by Stan Paregien

The following photos bring back some of my fondest memories of wonderful friends and sweet, sweet music.

2008-0929- Albuquerque, NM - WMA Festival - MarilynTuttle - Stan Paregien - Betty Anderson - Nov, 208 - by P Paregien

One photo  is of me with Mrs. Wesley Tuttle (Marilyn, on my right) and Mrs. Les “Carrot Top” Anderson (Betty) on my left. Their late husbands were well-known country-western singers and musicians who performed in concerts, on radio shows, and on TV shows such as the popular “Town Hall Party” show which airred in the Los Angeles area. The photo was taken in Albuquerque, NM at the Festival of the Western Music Association in late November of 2008 by Peggy Paregien.

Wesley Tuttle (b. Dec., 1917 in Lamar, Colorado; d. Sept. 29, 2003) had a bunch of hit songs during the 1940s and 1950s. Some of his best-known include his hits in 1945, “With Tears in My Eyes (# 1)” and  “Detour (There’s a Muddy Road Ahead; #4),” “I Wish I’d Never Met Sunshine (a #5 hit in 1946),”  “Tho’ I Tried (I Can’t Forget You; # 4 in 1946)” and “Never,” a duet with his wife which was a # 15 hit in 1947.  He also appeared as a singer and/or musician in a lot of the “B-Western” movies.

1955--005-- B Town Hall Party TV show - 60dpi

1955--005-- C Town Hall PartyTVshow - 600 dpi

Marilyn Tuttle often performed with her husband, Wes, and was in a trio which sang backup for Jimmy Wakely for a long time. 

Tuttle-Wesley-Marilyn-gospelAlbum

When Wesley was converted to Christ, he gave up his career in country music because of the travel, the environment and the types of music he was expected to perform. So he and Marilyn started a career in gospel music. They not only produced most of their own LP-albums but those of many other individuals and groups in gospel music. Later, because his vision was rapidly declining, he was forced to give up performing at all.

1999-054-A Tucson, AZ - Stan Paregien -Wes Tuttles - Suzy Hamblen at WMA Festival

Peggy and I got to know and to love Wesley and Marilyn Tuttle just a few years before his death in 2003. We are still in touch with lovely Marilyn. She continues living in their long-time house in San Fernando, Calif., and reigns as the virtual Queen of many cowboy-western music events across the country.

Here is just a few of the music videos you’ll find at YouTube.com featuring Wesley Tuttle:

Detour (1945)

Wesley Tuttle And His Texas Stars

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwMEhfwPXO8

I Want To Be Wanted (1945)

 

With Tears in My Eyes (1945)

 

Until Dawn (1946)

 

I’d Trade All Of My Tomorrows (1946)

 

When Payday Rolls Around

With Marilyn Tuttle, & Speedy West on the steel guitar

 

Strawberry Roan

 

Hey Good Lookin’ (1957)

(Wes and Marilyn Tuttle on Town Hall Party)

 

A Broken Promise Means a Broken Heart

 

The Yodeling Boogie

(with admiring Marilyn in it, too)

 

If You Don’t, Somebody Else Will  – with Johnny Bond

 

What A Day That Will Be

Wesley & Marilyn Tuttle singing gospel

Until Then (1988)

Wesley & Marlyn Tuttle singing gospel

Oh, hey, I just ran across a recent music video in which Marilyn Tuttle joins with several other singers at the last show of the 1917 Festival of the Western Music Association in Albuquerque, NM. She has long, blond hair and is wearing a black vest and a bright blue sweater. It is wonderful to see her still involved in the music scene. They are performing a lovely song I had never heard before, “If I hadn’t Seen the West.”

Then there is the photo of me with Mrs. Les “Carrot Top” Anderson, also taken in Albuquerque in 2008.

2008-0930 Albuquerque, NM Western Music Assn - -S Paregien & Betty Anderson - by P Paregien

 

Betty’s late husband Les, was born in Arkansas on Feb. 20, 1921 and died in Ollala, British Columbia in Canada on Oct. 4, 2001. Early on he frequently sang and played his guitar or the steel guitar with the famous western swing bandleader Bob Wills.

Les was nicknamed “Red” back then, because of his bright red hair. But for some reason Bob didn’t like that nickname. So eventually someone tagged Les with  “Carrot Top.” He decided to go with the flow and designed his fancy western outfits with large carrots on the front. He played steel guitar with Bob and the Texas Playboys for about four years, from 1942 until the legendary steel guitarist Leon McAuliff returned from World War II in 1946.

Then from 1946 through 1949, Les Anderson was both a soloist and a musician with Spade Cooley & His Orchestra. Cooley’s band (which was first Jimmy Wakely’s band, until he gave it up for the movies) was more mainstream than that of Bob Wills and he was sort of a Glen Miller in a customized cowboy outfit. Les recorded several songs with him.

Over the years Les recorded such ditties as, “My Baby Buckaroo,” “Teardrops on the Roses,” “The Girl Who Invented Kissin’,” “Hoein’ Cotton,” “I’m Hog-tied Over You,” and one novelty song which  my ol’ country cousin Jerry Paregien memorized when we were kids, “Hey, Okie, If You See Arkie.” 

Anderson, Les singer - 03 group - Cliffie Stone's 'Home Town Jamboree' 1200 X 600 dpi

Cliffie Stone was not only a musician and performer himself, but he was a smart businessman and promoter. He began managing the careers of other entertainers, and then started his own highly popular TV show, “Cliffie Stone’s Home Town Jamboree.” It was so popular it pushed Spade Cooley’s TV off the air and replaced it.

Anderson, Les singer - 05 cover of radio transcriptions - 500 X 600 dpi'

Then Les started a six-year run, from 1950 to 1956, being a featured singer and musician doing live concerts and live radio and TV shows with the “Town Hall Party” clan of performers. They performed several times a week at a dance hall in Compton, California and those shows were widely seen throughout southern California.

Anderson, Les singer - 04 color photo on record cover' -- 500 X 600 dpi

After that gig, he took a job with the Showboat Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. He finished that stint in 1961 and pretty much retired from performing. Soon he had moved up north to Ollala, British Columbia. There he became a gentleman rancher and worked some in real estate before retiring completely. 

 I found eight music videos of Les “Carrot Top” Anderson  on “YouTube” recently. Three you might especially enjoy are:

Beautiful Arkansas

(audio, only, of his excellent voice; very nice waltz)

 

Little Red Wagon 

(at Town Hall Party with Marilyn Tuttle directly behind him)

 

New Panhandle Rag

(with Marilyn Tuttle directly behind him)

 

As valuable and enjoyable as these videos are, . . . there is still nothing like going out to an old-time music venue and experiencing the vibes of live performances.

Hey, as the cowboys say, we’re just burnin’ daylight sittin’ here. Which, being translated means, get online right now and “Google” something like “Old Time Music Concerts” and go join the fun.

AA Fair Use Disclaimer - 2018 - 02 for entire newsletter or blog

 

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End.

Issue 364 – Fleeing Hurricane Irma, Part 3

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The Paregien Journal    —    Issue 364    —    September 21, 2017

Fleeing Hurricane Irma, Part 3 of 3

[See Parts 1 and 2 for earlier portions of the story of our evacuation from Bradenton, Florida due to the imminent arrival of Hurricane Irma.]

On Thursday, Sept. 14th, we made a mad dash from our motel in Lexington, Kentucky about 20 miles west to visit Frankfort, Kentucky. That is where the state’s capital is, plus that is where the grave of he one-of-a-kind American hero Daniel Boone is buried. The first place we went was to the final resting place of Daniel Boone and his beloved wife Rebecca. A tall, impressively carved marker stands in the beautiful and historic cemetery across the Kentucky River on a bluff which looks out upon the State Capital.

2017--09--14 06--D Frankfort, KY - Stan Paregien at grave of Daniel Boone - by Peggy Paregien

2017--09--14 06--A Frankfort, KY - grave stone of Daniel Boone -2017--09--14 06--B Frankfort, KY - Stan Paregien at grave of Daniel Boone - by Peggy Paregien2017--09--14 06--C Frankfort, KY - Stan Paregien at grave of Daniel Boone - by Peggy Paregien2017--09--14 06--F Frankfort, KY - Stan Paregien at grave of Daniel Boone - by Peggy Paregien2017--09--14 06--G Frankfort, KY - grave of Daniel Boone - by Stan Paregien2017--09--14 06--H Frankfort, KY - grave of Daniel Boone - by Stan Paregien2017--09--14 06--J Frankfort, KY - grave of Daniel Boone - by Stan Paregien2017--09--14 07--A Frankfort, KY - State Capital Building - by Sttan Paregien2017--09--14 07--B Frankfort, KY - State Capital Building - by Sttan Paregien2017--09--14 07--C Frankfort, KY - Ky Historical Society Bldg Quote from Happy Chandler - by Sttan Paregien2017--09--14 07--D Frankfort, KY - First Baptist Church building - by Sttan Paregien

Then we drove up to Williamstown, Kentucky. Never got to see the town itself. But we saw what draws many hundreds of people every day to the edge of town. Just off I-75 is an attraction named “Ark Encounter.” A bunch of some bodies invested a ton of money in this project. Taking the actual dimensions given in the Old Testament of Noah’s Ark, they built a 510 foot arch, with a ground floor devoted to a huge gift shop, some meeting room, etc. Then the ark itself — with all the birds and beasts and such all arranged two by two — takes up three full floors. We walked ourselves silly and were amazed by all of the displays and exhibits. We probably spent three hours or so there.

However, if you’re a serious student of the Bible and/or archeology and such, you really ought to buy a two-day pass. Then pace yourself by maybe spending two hours there on the first morning and after lunch another two hours. Same thing for the second day. My bet is you won’t even be able to see it all even then. It is H-U-G-E, as a car dealer in the Tampa area likes to shout in his commercials.

2017--09--14 11 Williamstown, KY - replica of Noah's Ark2017--09--14 12 Williamstown, KY - replica of Noah's Ark2017--09--14 13 Williamstown, KY - replica of Noah's Ark2017--09--14 14 Williamstown, KY - replica of Noah's Ark2017--09--14 15 Williamstown, KY - replica of Noah's Ark2017--09--14 16--A Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - by Peg Paregien2017--09--14 16--B Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - Stan and Peg Paregien2017--09--14 16--C Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - Peg Paregien2017--09--14 17 Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - Peg Paregien2017--09--14 18--A Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - Peg Paregien2017--09--14 18--B Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - Peg Paregien2017--09--14 18--C Williamstown, KY - Noah's Ark - Peg Paregien

After seeing the Ark Encounter, we had planned on driving on up to Indianapolis to visit Peggy’s eldest sister, Mrs. Charlotte Allen Richardson and her husband Bill. We thought we might spent a couple of nights there, then wander west to our son’s house near St. Louis for the duration of our evacuation from Florida. That is, we did not want to start back until we were sure we had our electricity back on and that food and gas supplies were adequate.

However, about then we got a call from a neighbor back home in Bradenton. She gave us the exciting news that our electricity had been restored (it had been off since last Sunday night). And she said it looked like our house had only very minor damages.

Hallelujah! Those were the words we were waiting to hear. We did a quick u-turn and headed back to Florida. However, I did not want to drive down I-75 again. So we went slightly west toward Nashville and I-65. We spent Thursday night in a very busy, small town named Franklin, Kentucky, right on I-65. We had perhaps the best night of sleep since we had been forced out of our home by Hurricane Irma.

On Friday, Sept. 15th, we left Franklin, Kentucky about 8:30 pm and drove through some patches of fog on the way down to Nashville. Getting through congested “Music City” was no easy task, but I guess it did prepare us for what was coming next.

After actually looking at a map and seeing that the lower part of I-65 took us way west toward Mississippi, we decided to boogie back over to Chattanooga and join back up with . . . yep, . . . I-75. There is some major road construction going on in Chattanooga, so it was stop and go all the way.

When we got to I-75. the pace of the hordes of southbound traffic moved along pretty well for the most part. That is, until we got to Hell. Yeah, you know — Hell, Georgia. Oh, okay, you may know it better as Atlanta. But I’m here to tell you that driving through Atlanta from 2:15 pm to 5:30 pm is as close as I want to get to hell.

2017--09--15 10 Atlanta, GA -- hell on wheels - by Peg Paregien

2017--09--15 11 Atlanta, GA -- hell on wheels - by Peg Paregien

There were six lanes of traffic going each direction, but it all was going at the speed of a senior citizen snail. It was bad. No it was downright awful. I have driven in a lot of big cities — Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, St. Louis, Montgomery, Indianapolis, Columbus, and more. But I ain’t never in all my born days driven in anything that could compare to the helter-skelter of Atlanta. I came away from that white-knuckle experience crying, “No mas! No more! Never again!” Or to paraphrase the great Chief Joseph of Idaho’s Nez Pierce tribe who finally admitted defeat at the hands of the U.S. Army. He said, “As long as the grass grows and the water flows, I will fight no more forever.” And I said as I exited Atlanta, “As long as I am half-way sane, I will drive no more forever in Atlanta.” Amen and Amen!

We were physically and emotionally exhausted when we finally got to our . . . eh, well . . . 3rd rate motel in Macon, Georgia. After a few $160 per night hotels we just had to take something cheaper. It turned out to be okay. Certainly nothing fancy about the room, and the continental breakfast the next morning left much to be desired. But it was a bed and the room was air-conditioned . . . and they allowed pets. 

We set our alarm for 5:30 am on Saturday, Sept. 16th. And we hit the blacktop on I-75 at 6:40 am. We were going home. Nothing quite like that feeling after so many one-or-two night stands. There were pockets of very heavy traffic, especially about 11 am at all six exits or so to Gainesville. We wondered why the heck the traffic was backed up so far. And, bingo, we remember that the University of Florida “Gators” had a home football game that afternoon.

Amazingly, we managed to average about 66 mph on Saturday’s travel. We drove into our driveway about 2:00 pm.

2017--07--17 03 Cartoon - even anti-government folks ask for help after a disaster

2017--09--17 01 Bradenton, FL - Cartoon - linemen were heroes

2017--09--17 02 Bradenton, FL - home damaged - by Peggy Paregien

2017--09--19 01 Bradenton, FL - tree damage - by Stan Paregien

2017--09--19 02 Bradenton, FL - tree damage - by Stan Paregien

Yes, we did see a lot of trees down along the roads, all the way from central Georgia to Bradenton. And some of the residents in our 55+ community had some significant damage, with maybe 25 families still without electricity. Florida’s sauna-like summer heat and humidity are terrible for anyone without air conditioning, but it is especially hard on young children and on seniors. But, all in all, we were thankful the hurricane had not made a direct landing here.

Be it ever so humble, it is always a good feeling to get back home. And it is especially wonderful when the house that you half-way expected to lose in a massive storm surge of water is still in tact. Thank you, Lord.

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