What We Got Here
Working three part-time jobs doesn't seem to leave a lot of time to do anything else, but I've finally shut out the world and sat down to publish this issue. The Legend-News schedule of "almost fortnightly" is fast approaching "almost monthly". If only sleep were optional…
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Wonderful Winter Solistice, Happy Fiscal New Year, Superlative Saturnalia, Joyous Kwanzaa: pick one or more. I'm hope that I've covered every reader's particular holiday.
Here at TechRen Enterprises — a business which looks more like a tax dodge — we've a new employee: Ryu*, the Labrador / Springer. He's now ten months old, still a puppy, and unable to sit still for an official portrait.
* How to pronounce "Ryu". His name is the Japanese word for "dragon". Remember, oriental dragons are good creatures, not evil. And the name is pronounced something like the letter "r" followed by the letter "u". Not "ree-you", or "rye-you", but "rah-you" — or something relatively close.
- C.W. McCall News: Well, something happened this year.
- Dave Dudley Dead At 75: He's gone to that truck stop in the sky.
- Meanwhile, Back At The Critter Ranch: Fresh meat.
- Old Home Café: The Next Generation: Episode the XXVIII.
- Song A’ Th’ Week: "Sing Silent Night".
Events from the past year:
This past spring, Bill Fries collaborated with Chip Davis on a Mannheim Steamroller / C.W. McCall album, American Spirit. Bill contributed spoken word pieces, and a reprise of the trucker's anthem "Convoy". Bill travelled to the American Gramaphone studios in Omaha, Nebraska to record his parts, while Chip travelled to Chicago to record several pieces with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Choir. Space Cadet Ed. Floden was fortunate enough to attend the session held at St. Michael's Church in Old Town.
American Spirit was released in May, and continues to sell well. Fox News probably helped its sales when they featured the album on one of their news feature shows.
Bill celebrated (I hope) his 75th birthday on November 15. He's still living on the side of the mountain in Ouray, Colorado. And despite the fact that he hasn't toured as C.W. McCall for almost twenty-five years, a resort which I can't mention (but it's near the feed store) asked if Bill would perform there for one show. Unfortunately, Bill had to turn them down.
And then is still no good news on the possibility of a box set of all of the C.W. McCall albums from the '70s. Rats! In the meantime, The Real McCall: An American Storyteller and American Spirit are available directly from American Gramaphone. The other C.W. McCall discs, C.W. McCall's Greatest Hits and The Best of C.W. McCall, are available wherever finer records are sold.
And last, The Simpsons used "Convoy" on a new episode which aired on December 14, "'Tis The Fifteenth Season". This time, though, the song was a parody with a theme of "Christmas Convoy". I'll report the lyrics, as soon as I can I get a copy of them. As predicted by Murphy's Law, one of the few times that I don't tape The Simpsons but watch it live, the episode is one that I should have taped.
Sorry to deliver this less-than-cheery news, but Dave Dudley, known for his 1963 recording of "Six Days On The Road", died of an apparent heart attack at his home in Danbury, Wisconsin, on Monday, December 22. Funeral arrangements are pending with the Swedberg-Taylor Funeral Home in Webster, Wisconsin.
Thanks to Brian Stein of Summit Solutions for alerting me to this event.
[You may need to register to view the stories at the Star Tribune. Registration is free.]
- Associated Press obituary, as published in the Star Tribune.
- Associated Press story
- Story at Country.com
New Critters On The Block
Francine Ludtke: "Been a C.W. McCall fan for years. Wore out the albums and the turntable…"
Rio Bigg, who just named his new horse "Sloan".
Sara Saunders of Oney, Oklahoma: "Raised on McCall music."
Michael Harrison of Brigham City, Utah, who ordered a set of the Music City, U.S.A. discs: "This is a real bargain. Do you even make a profit off this?" (Not much. — Ed.)
Patty Shanley: "I love the site. I wish I would have found it along time ago." (Strange. I didn't know that it was lost. — Ed.)
Critters In The Wild
Chris Doyle reports on wildlife in the city:
This fine looking Osprey was found having a late breakfast on the roof of one of our new Impalas this morning. He stuck around long enough to have several pics taken, then decided enough was enough and took his breakfast elsewhere. This was taken from about eight feet away by a salesman braver than me.
The poor guys in detail just groaned when the car was brought back to them to remove all the feathers.
Snow was falling as Jon cleaned the tables that night, preparing to close up the Old Home Café at 10. Tomorrow was Christmas Day, and the Café would be closed, not to reopen until 5 A.M. on the 26th. He yawned as he worked; he'd been at the Café since opening that morning, and he was tired.
Out in the lot sat two 18-wheelers, their engines idling to keep their drivers warm. They'd be gone in a few minutes, hoping to beat the storm that was coming across the Rockies tomorrow. For now the snow in Pisgah was just flurries, sticking to the frozen ground and piling in the corners of the curbs, but the roads were relatively clear.
Jon picked up the mike on the Café's CB, which was always tuned to Channel 19. The channel was silent now, until Jon hailed the rigs outside. "Hey, drivers. This is the Café. Last call! Do you want some road food?"
"Yeah, a quart of Colombia's best and a burger sound good," say one driver. "Ditto on the coffee," said the other.
"Trudge on in. I'll get the burger started," said Jon. "10-10," he added, clipping the mike back on the unit before going to the kitchen and tossing a couple of beef patties on the griddle. Then he when to the counter and checked the coffee. Not enough for two, he noted, so he started a second pot.
A few minutes later, the drivers walked in and stomped the snow from their boots. "Thanks for the holler," said one. He was wearing a red NASCAR cap and a blue Carhartt jacket. "Nick Santos, out of Custer, South Dakota," he said, shaking hands with Jon. The other driver introduced himself as "Chris Knowle, from Denver. Been so long since I've been home, I'm not sure where it is."
"I hope that you get home soon," said Jon. "I've had a few holidays away from home, myself. I was working for Uncle Sam at the time. I'm Jon Bach, proprietor of this fine eating establishment." The three men shared a smile.
"Overseas?" asked Nick.
"Underseas," said Jon. "Submarines. Six years in the Navy. I spent a lot of time without seeing the sun." He checked the progress of the coffee: almost ready. "Your thermoses, gentlemen? I'll fill 'em up."
Jon took the stainless steel containers back to the kitchen, where he first flipped the burgers then washed out the thermoses before pouring a quart of hot C into each. Capping them, he returned them to Nick and Chris. "Thanks," he heard from both.
"What's your loads?" asked Jon. "Must be important, if you're out on Christmas Eve."
"Canned goods. Vegetable and stuff like that," said Chris. "I'm hauling the lot to a shelter in Boulder. Picked them up from a charity in St. Joe."
"And I've got a load of donated toys," said Nick. "Used stuff, mostly, but some new. They're going to an outfit in Rapid City. They're giving them to hard-luck kids around town. And I gotta be there by morning," he said, looking at the weather outside, and hoping that he really wasn't seeing the snow falling even more quickly.
Jon scooped the burgers off the griddle and wrapped them. "Who gets these?" he asked.
Chris raised his hand. "But I only asked for one," he said.
"It's on the house," said Jon.
"Well, thank you!" said Chris.
Nick rose from his seat. "Sorry to dash, but I've gotta go."
"Me, too," said Chris. "Or I'll be late for my Christmas dinner. Jon, it was nice meeting you. Probably catch you again in a few weeks," he said, shaking hands with Jon. "Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all that other stuff."
"Same here," said Nick. "I don't get out this way much, but I'll be sure to stop in again."
The drivers waved as they stepped outside and walked to their rigs. Jon shut down the coffee maker, pouring what brew remained into his own thermos. He heard the diesel engines roar as the drivers stuck their trannies in gear and headed out. A final greeting came from the CB: "Merry Christmas, Old Home Café!", said Chris. "And to all a good night!" added Nick. Jon grabbed the mike and hollered back, "Merry Christmas to you, too!"
Jon clicked off the CB, turned off the lights, and locked the door. As he walked away from the Café, heading for his house three blocks away, he passed the parking lot. Jon gave the view only a quick glance; but a few steps later he stopped, feeling that something was wrong.
He looked back at the parking lot. There, in the middle of the lot, were two clear spots where the trucks had sat. Those spots were clear of snow, and a light dusting covered the remainder of the lot. But he didn't see any tire tracks! Neither of the lot's driveways showed that anyone had driven out of or into the lot, and the snow was not falling quickly enough to obscure any tracks in the two or three minutes since the drivers pulled out. Then where are those trucks?
He heard the sound of a distant engine, and looked toward the west. There was no truck over there; only the red lights from an antenna tower shone through the blowing snow. Then Jon realized that the lights were getting smaller, and they were rising in the sky. For the next minute he watched those lights as they faded into the distance. He thought that he heard bells jingling, but that was ridiculous, he decided.
I need sleep, he thought, as he walked home on that Christmas Eve.
Sing Silent Night
(C.W. McCall, Bill Fries, Chip Davis)
From the album
Slow down. Relax. Breathe deeply.
"Sing Silent Night" does not appear on any audio CD. You can find an MP3 file .
When the snow falls on Christmas Eve,
And everything's white
I sit by the window,
And remember another night
When Mama played the organ,
And we turned off all the lights
And we all stood around her
And sang Silent Night
The organ is quiet now,
And Mama's gone
The sound of that Christmas Eve
Will live on and on
We sang all the old carols,
The hymns she loved to hear
And she played them over, one by one,
From memory, and by ear
And then she'd find the ancient album,
With its pages turned gold
And the crayon-colored paper star
I made so long ago
But brighter than any star
Was the love in Mama's eyes
As she said, "Merry Christmas, kids",
And she kissed us goodnight
And the organ's quiet now,
And Mama's gone
But the sound of that Christmas Eve
Will live on and on
The years have gone by now,
Since that last Christmas Eve
But the joy is still with me,
And the love will never leave
When Mama played the organ,
And we turned off all the lights
And we all stood together
And sang the last Silent Night
Next Issue. Yes, Virginia, there will be another Legend-News, but not until next year.
The Legend-News is published whenever the time seems right by TechRen Enterprises, a sleeping giant with insomnia. Contents Copyright 2003 TechRen Enterprises, except for anything that we borrowed from someone else. Thanks to Bill Fries and Chip Davis for the words and music. "Blame Canada!"
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