Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Old Wiley Family Family Photo...

This is a photo of my mother's grandfather Caleb Thomas Wiley and family. Caleb lived 1835-1907 born in Perry and died in Obion Tennessee. Only people I can identify in the photo besides Caleb who is the seated bearded gentleman, is the seated woman Rebecca who was his second wife, the standing man who his son John by his first wife Catherine Denton and the boy standing by Caleb who we think is John's son Caleb. My mother's father, my grandfather, also Caleb is not in the photo. I don't have a date for this photo but I do know that my grand father Caleb was born in 1879 and if the young man is his brother John he was also a grown man at this time listed as 21 years old and a member of his father's 1900 U.S census. In the next year 1901 he would marry my mother's mother Ethel Janet Ledbetter or Pinkie as she is known. 

If you think this is confusing and there are too many Calebs you should start researching the Ledetter side and all the Henrys. Try keeping them straight. 

My mother has what I think is the original of this photo. I found this photo posted on line by (I assume it's a man hard to tell this kind of thing in an email correspondence) a person that is the great grand child of Caleb and first wife Catherine. They got the photo from a member of the Bawcum family who is related to the first wife Rebecca. I think it is interesting that this photo got around to the various family memebers and ended up on the internet all these years later. 

In the 1870 U.S. census Caleb Wiley is listed as a farmer with an estate valued at $200.   


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Family Tree Research...

So as if I did not have anything else to do I started a family tree. Gotta be careful looking up a family tree because a monkey might sit on your face. 

I have been careful and it takes a bit of care but using I have found a wealth of info and it may take the rest of my life to sort it out. Here is a photo I scanned and posted on the Ledbetter side of my family tree. It's my mom's grandparents in about 1907. I think I have it right who was who:
 Henry Ledbetter and family left to right son Don, wife Malinda, Henry, standing in front of Henry Lillian (never married) standing front is Edmund, standing back Walter Roberts who married daughter Mary who is holding their daughter Ila. seated with child Richard is Ethel Janet "Pinkie" Ledbetetr Wiley (my grandmother). Seated child is Pinkie's son Clay. Standing is Walter, Henry's son and wife Beulah with daughter May.

(Looks a little funny because of my copy and paste)

The Ledbetters look to be traceable back to England where they were sword makers (Lead Beater) possibly before 1066. The Wiley side of my mom's family also goes back to England. On my dad's side the Wallace family look to originate from Londonderry Ireland. After that it's all American with Revoutionary vets, War of 1812 Indian fighters committing genocide on indigenous peoples, slave owners, and Confederates and their widows who were filing for CSA war veteran pensions as late as 1924 in the Angelina Country Court House. 

I really don't know what to think of all this. Maybe it is best summed up by a recent quote I read in a book. "North, East, and West are directions. The South is a place." To my cousins, I'll keep you posted and maybe get all this in some organized fashion that can be shared. 

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen the Conn Wonderphone...

Here's my new horn. It's a gift from Miguel and I guess Mary also since they are married. Miguel bought this horn, the Conn Wonderphone Model from the Good Will auction pages. Good Will has a nice little ebay type thing going on with lots of funky instruments sold dirt cheap. I try to stay away from there since I have a bunch of cheap funky instruments already but I do thank and welcome gifts such as these. 

Looks like this model was made by Conn between 1938 and 1971. I think Miguel gave $20 bucks for it. It plays great. I did have to buy a mouth piece. I bought a Kelly made in USA Lexan mouthpiece for $26 bucks. I chose gold sparkle but there were others such as fire read, neon pink and so on. I though the gold would go with the horn. Not much more fun with this little amount of  trouble can be had for $46 bucks. 

So how does it sound? Click here. It's me playing the horn with overdubbed baritone uke. Somehow I ended up with two short sections but I like it.  Posted by Picasa


Friday, July 26, 2013

More Can Guitar Builds...

I built two more can guitars. In a way these were very nice builds. The quality of work was nice. In another way these were failures because I was trying to build a fiddle.

I used Cafe Bustelo Coffee as the body and this is good coffee by the way, no affiliation. Necks are ceder. On the right is a one string using a tape wound bass guitar string. On the left is a two string. I tried to play both with a fiddle bow. Let it be said that I am not a fiddle player but I just could not make it work as a bowed instrument.  Back to the drawing board on these. 

On re-purposing I would have to call these a mini lap steal and a mini string bass. The lap steep sounds dulcimer like and the one string definitely gets a bass sound when plucked.  

Live and learn, it's my motto for each day. 

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Birds at the Lake...

On a recent lake trip me and Cathy each made a pretty good bird photo.

Here's mine. It's an osprey or as some call them a fish eagle. There must be 6 to 12 of these birds in this area of the lake. I think that's a good sign of the amount of fish available to eat. Follow the fish eagles and wet a hook! 

Don't know the name of this bird that posed for Cathy. I'll have to look him up. I know I do have a pair of those water shoes that kind of make my feet look the same color as his feet.  They just don't make my legs look that skinny.  Posted by Picasa


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Feed Me...

The Grand Kids are in for a visit. As usual there is a certain amount of chaos in this usually quiet house but they do come in handy with chores and they liven up meals.

Here Coraline feeds Pop-Pop. It was most delicious. I hope she fixes my supper again sometime.  

I just close my eyes and savor! 

Warren is getting around very well. He will be walking before you know it and is now a champion bear walker.

Cathy gets ready for some BBQ as Warren waves his plate in the air and pounds the table for a bone to gnaw.  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 21, 2013

If You Ever Wanted to be a Spaceman...

I have recently been contacted by NASA to provide spaceman training. In the era of budget cutbacks and cell phone surveillance the U.S. government has found out that I can easily provide that training by adapting items I have at hand. I will also throw in the standard spaceman haircut for free.

Using equipment I already own negates the need for large contractors designing and engineering complicated machinery when I can easily train space program candidates in sudden accelerations, centrifugal forces, hands free space walks, weightless buoyancy and of course sudden stops.  

I can even provide the necessary intergalactic laxative required before entering any sort of rocket ship. 

I will also offer these services to private sector firms entering the space race not as a small step for mankind but as a big steep to large monetary gains. Money, compliments, publicity, you know how to reach me.      Posted by Picasa


Friday, July 19, 2013

A Box Guitar Recording...

I don't feel too bad about copping Johnny's tune Folsom Prison Blues since he copied a cool big big band swing tune written by Gordon Jenkins called Crescent City Blues and sung by Beverly Mahr in 1953. Just like he hopped it up with a cotton picking Arkansas hillbilly rockabilly amphetamine beat I changed it up a bit myself.
I played my jewelry box guitar through a little Fender Frontman amp with a bit of tune screamer and phase shifter. Vocals are through a Fender Champ with a little delay.
Hear my version by clicking here.
Hear Beverly Mahr's  version by clicking here
I think the Crescent City Blues version is way cool. 

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Rainy Lake Morning...

Cathy slept in because she's working tonight so I took
an early morning trip to the lake to chase white perch under the highway 147 bridge. I had some success as I caught 4 keepers. 

As you can see from the photo it was a rainy morning. Seemed like no bites happened when the rain fell. I tied up under the bridge and had the top on the boat up so I stayed pretty dry. I was wearing a swim suit so really no big concern with dryness. Rain good in the summer time. 

The day had a couple of bonuses. One of them was the big schools of white bass braking the top near where I fished. I eased out among them and caught 4 nice keepers that put up a great fight on light tackle. Again the action seemed to stop when a rain shower passed through. 

Second bonus of the day was an older gentleman who stopped and asked did I want some fish. He gave me 13 nice crappie. He told me he caught 8000 fish a year and never fished anywhere but under the bridge and that he caught them all on lures. He said he had never bought a minnow in his life. Now some of you may think that sounds like a fish tale but I can tell you that in my work with the geriatric population of southern Angelina county I have heard that a man like this existed. Now I have met him. I did not ask his name as I thanked him for the fish but I bet I know his boat again when I see it. 

All in all a very nice day. I guess I did pretty good against an 8000 fish legend. If he had 13 and I had 8 of my own I am not too far off the mark. Maybe somewhere someone is telling the tale of me. 

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jewelry Box Build #8...

I Picked this old ceder jewelry box up for $5 at the storage building flea market in Herne, Tx where the guys sells the cow horns. You will know it when you see it. I used it for my 8th box guitar build. 

With the $5 box, a little under $20 for the rod piezo pick up and harness, $4 or so for tuners and few cents each for bulk resonator grommets and bolt bridges. I used ceder for the neck since it matched the box. Ceder is cheaper, easy to work but I don't think it will be a favorite and I will get this one long neck and two short ones out of this board so $1 on the neck. I did buy a stain for $5 or so but I won't count this because it will last a long time and be used many times. Strings were a busted apart set of something called "Power Flats." If you can tell me what use I had for power flats please call. I don't remember buying them. I am not the only guitar player in the house but I am generally in charge of maintenance and pick polishing.  

I built the guitar in two sessions. On my last off days from work I cut the box, shaped and stained the neck. Yesterday was spent on assembly and electronics. No building surprises or special problems to solve but much care taken cleaning and cutting. I think the box is old. It was paint spattered with the dirt of ages on it. Inside is a wad of chewing gum. It's not mine but I left it there. 

The acoustic sound of this guitar is fair to good. It won't twang frontally in a crowded jam of folks waving at big cowboy chords but for experimental stuff played by people that want to paint their sounds it will be all right. Electrically it's loud and keeping with the character of rod piezo pickups a bit shrill. I'll experiment later with a dirt or EQ type pedals to see if it does better. I really favor the magnet pick ups but I think it would have lost the looks of the box to mount one on the front without coughing up big bucks for something slim and elegant such as those made by custom builders.  Overall electric sound at rest is quiet so good connections. I am on the look out for something to remake the volume knob out of. I had collected some polished beads and stones at the hippie type things I go to but could not make them work. 

I am well satisfied with this project.  I would guess it's under $35 in parts all total. Of course at Bill Kritchen says, "You can't pay me what I'm worth, I do't work that cheap."    Posted by Picasa

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

That Did Not Take Long...

You may have met Boris the rabbit on a previous  posting. Early yesterday he brought another new blog character by for a visit. 

Ladies and gentlemen meet Branda. You pronounce her name like the Jon Spenser Blues Explosion pronounces it in one of their songs. "BRANDA!" 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We Don't Have This in Texas...

We recently enjoyed a game between the Astos and Cubs at Wrigley in Chicago. The Astros won. Here you see a photo of the famed Wrigley roof tops where fans are seated outside the stadium. While I am not sure whether the Cubs have a piece of this action or not I do know that if you have gone to see major league baseball in Houston the past 50 or so years you would not have seen anything if you sat outside the ball park.

Another thing you won't see in Hoston is something like in this photo I made of the Lake Michigan hygiene committee cleaning up the stands after the fans have left. Those are some big fat pop corn fed gulls.

Thank you fans but baseball is made to be played indoors. Keep the gulls on the Gulf.     Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Signs Signs Everywhere a Sign...

When I was about 16 years old I was walking to work. That may sound strange but it was in the days before we had flying cars and all that stuff. A girl who worked the same place as I was driving by. She saw me and gave me a lift. First time something like this ever happened to me. I remember it so well. She was driving an orange and black Ford Maverick and smoking a cigarette. Blasting from the 8 track player was a song by the Five Man Electrical Band called "Signs." She seemed like such a grown up woman but she was probably only 17. I though I was doing something subversive catching a ride and rocking out like this. As vivid as this scene is to me with the color of the car and the song playing loud and clear I cannot for the life of me remember what the girl's name was. 

Anyway I still ride around it a car with a girl. Definitely a grown up woman and I'm married to her. We blast loud music from the stereo. Neither one of us smoke. I don't have any cds by the Five Man Electrical Band to play. I have been known to do some subversive stuff.  To make sure I don't forget things I make a lot of pictures. On a recent drive across the country I made pictures of some signs I saw. First two are from the Harry Truman Library. "Give em' Hell Harry" as the saying goes. Next one was from downtown Springfield near the old court house where Abe Lincoln practiced law. Last one I spotted at a bus stop on the streets of Chicago. Signs are everywhere. Look, read, think.  


Friday, July 12, 2013

More Shameless Self Promotion...

Saturday Night the Back Porch Band play the Lufkin VFW. Starts 8pm and admission is $5. 

Thanks to our fans we packed the place and kept the dance floor full two weeks ago. We will try to do it again. 

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

A visit to the land of Lincoln...

I recently wrote about our stop in Independence, Mo. at the Truman Museum. We also stopped in Springfield, In. at the Abe Lincoln home and Presidential Library. If we look in the past we see the present. They look about the same.

This photo is his Springfield home. After his election as President he never returned. He was 56 when he was assassinated. That's the same age I am now.  A famous quote at the time of his death is "Now he belongs to the ages." Seems like every now and then new things come up about Abe. In the 50s a teenage researcher in the Presidential Library turned up a never before seen photo of his body lying in state. I think I saw a recently published clinical report by the first Doc to reach him after he was shot and of course there is the movie. 

Here's a photo of in the home. It was recreated from drawings made just before he went to Washington. Seems like folks knew he was going to be a great one because he either put these furnishings in storage or loaned them out to friends who safely kept them. The only things lost were in Chicago at the time of the fire that destroyed the city. 

As you can see the accommodations were very fine for the times. And after Abe became president times were tough. Succession, war, slavery and more ripped the nation apart  As we have seen with other presidents the critics of the time were not very kind. Political cartoons in newspapers depicted Abe as an ape, a monkey, an African King or a banjo player. They had great fun with his rough, humble beginnings. Any of this sound familiar? Seen such lately? 

Here's Cathy in the foyer of the Library. It's the only place you could make photos. Inside are quite a collection of impressive artifacts from Abe and his family. There's a top hat, letters, other belongings and some very modern media presentations. 
Abe was a Republican. Hanging in the foyer was a photo of our old friend Bill who has been awarded the Lincoln Leadership award. I don't think Bill's a Republican. How's that for some bipartisanship? Seen any of that lately? 

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