The Warford Band – KBBA – Radio Pioneers

In the summer of 1976 I was spending the weekend with my grandparents.  I was ransacking my Pappaw’s dresser drawers and digging through his hunting coats looking for ammunition for the 22 rifle. My Pawppaw hollered, “look in that old shoebox in the top drawer.” Sure enough I found several rounds of ammunition in the shoebox but I also found a heavy spool of silver wire. I had never seen anything like it and I could tell from the information on the outside of the spool that this was some kind of recording device.  I have always loved history and old things and I was in old stuff heaven at my grandparents’ house.  My grandparents never threw anything away and in their home you might open any drawer or a closet and find something that had not been used or even touched for years. At different times each of my grandparents gave me old keepsakes.  I suspect they gave them to me because they knew I would take care of them, and I have.  One of these treasures was this spool of silver wire.

When I found the wire I carried it out to the living room. My Pappaw said, “let me see that” and I handed him the spool. He inspected the spool closely and said, “Kenneth Lloyd,” (My Saline County family all call me by my first and middle name) “that is a recording of your Dad and the Warford Band makin music on the radio a long time ago.” He said, “if you can find a silver wire recorder I bet it would still play. I will give you that if you promise you will take care of it and try to find a recorder to play it on.” I of course gave my word and took the spool of silver wire. My Pappaw passed away a few months later in April 1977.

Years later when the internet came into existence I began to periodically search for information about silver wire recordings and to try to locate a silver wire player that worked so I could hear what was on the wire.  I doubted there would be anything on it after so many years but I could not give up.  I had to try to hear what was on that wire. Every few years I would dig it out and search the internet again until finally in 2004, I located a man in Lansing, Michigan who rebuilt silver wire recorders. I contacted Steve Gwost and he agreed to try to play the silver wire on one of his recorders and if something was on it he would make me a digital audio file.  Putting that spool of silver wire into the mail and sending it off to a total stranger was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The one thing I knew was that Steve Gwost was a kindred spirit a lover of all things old and historic. I hoped I could trust him to take care of it and get back to me.  It was worth the risk to see if something might still be on that wire. A few weeks later I received a package from Steve and true to his word not only did I get my spool of wire back but I also got a CD.  I ran to the computer like a kid on Christmas morning, and there it was – the Warford Band on KBBA.

The quality of the recording leaves a lot to be desired for sure but the content of the recording is priceless. It just sounded like noise at first but the longer you listen to it the better it sounds.  It is like your brain figures out how to filter out all the static.

The attached audio clip is of the Warford Band playing live on the radio in about 1953. The station was KBBA Benton Arkansas. The station is still on the air but it is now called KEWI.  You can read an interesting history of the station on Saline 24/7. HISTORY OF BENTON RADIO  The history was written by Preston Bridges the station’s first Chief Engineer.  The Station went on the air in April 1953. KBBA was an AM radio station that broadcast at 690 kilocycles from their 280’ tower in Benton Arkansas.  KBBA broadcast in half hour or hour segments. Many artists played live shows on KBBA and a few went on to fame and fortune. The most famous was probably Charlie Rich who is best known for his recording Behind Closed Doors.  The Browns also played on KBBA and later played and became part of the Grand Ole Opry.

The Warford Band would never make the big time but they were radio pioneers and had one of the first weekly shows on KBBA. We do not know the exact date of the recordings on the silver wire but we know they were made between April 1953 and October 1953. We know this because before Chuck Warford sings on the recording, Floyd Warford, asks his age and he was 11.  The Warford Band’s show was sponsored by L.C. Parsons and Elmer Lewis – Parsons and Lewis Grocery and Service Station, located on the Malvern Highway.

The Warford Band was made up of Floyd Warford on guitar and vocals, Kenneth Warford on guitar and vocals, Lloyd Roland Warford on the fiddle and Nina May Elliot on the piano.   At times Otis Elliot, Chuck Warford and Homer Graves also played and sang with the Band. The Warford Band like most bands only lasted a short time. The band broke up when Lloyd Roland Warford and Kenneth Warford went to college.

KBBA Blog PostB

This audio recording last about 20 minutes and I promise the longer you listen the clearer it will sound.  I don’t have any pictures of the Warford Band playing but I have posted a few pictures of some of the members taken when they were young.  If anyone has any pictures of the band or the members playing music please share.  All of my Warford digital files are available to any family member, just ask. I would also be interested in posting pictures of KBBA station in the early days or even pictures of the sponsors, L.C. Parsons and Elmer Lewis and Parsons or Lewis Grocery and Service Station if anyone has pictures they are willing to share.

Please enjoy the Warford Band brought to you by KBBA of Benton Arkansas.

KBBA Blog PostA

Maintain A Healthy Skepticism Of Science

When I was about seven years old I was visiting my grandparents and I came across a science text book in the attic. The book belonged to my uncle who is about ten years older than me. I have no idea when it was published but I found it to be fascinating. My favorite chapter was about the future and it included predictions of what “scientist” expected humans and our environment to be like in the year 2000. Scientist in the 50s, or at least the authors of this science textbook, believed that by 2000 we would solve most of the world’s problems. We would probably go to work in flying cars or slide along on moving sidewalks. They predicted most of our food would be grown in indoor growth labs and we would all have a Dick Tracy watch. For you young folks, Dick Tracy was a futuristic comic strip detective that had a cell phone watch.

I found most of the textbooks predictions to be very exciting, especially the phone watch, but there was one prediction that shook me to the core. The authors of the textbook claimed that by 2000 many men and women would be bald and that eventually we were all going to be bald. Wow, that was terrifying, I did not want to be bald and I sure as heck was not interested in having a bald wife. I began to try to warn all the adults in my life about this impending tragedy but none of them seemed too concerned. Then it hit me, none of them are worried about this because they were all going to be dead. I was going to be the one stuck with a bald wife. This may seem funny now but it was not funny to me. I dreamed about being bald and having a little bald wife and two bald kids for several years.

Something happened in the 1960s and scientist went from what was no doubt and over optimistic belief that we could and would solve any problem faced by man to whiny doomsday prophets. In 1970 we celebrated the first earth day and every school kid in America was bombarded with terrifying predictions about our environment. It was up to us kids; we had to save spaceship earth. The predictions of a coming ice age and mass worldwide starvations were terrifying. Yes kids, when I was in school scientist believed we were headed into an ice age and not global warming. The theory as best I can recall was that human smog would somehow block the sun and cool the earth. The scientist claimed that the previous 20 years were the coldest in recorded history. Again, I tried hard to warn the adults in my life but again they did not seem overly concerned.

This pattern has been repeated over and over in my life. I remember when I would tell my Pappaw, Pappaw did you know scientist have proven that …; he would look at me, grin and say, “I know they think they have.” My Pappaw loved science and history just like me. Pappaw did not have a formal education at least not one like mine but he read every Reader’s Digest cover to cover and read all the condense books they published. It was amazing what he knew about the world but he was always a little skeptical of new science. He would say “well, we will just have to wait and see.”

Society has come to believe and treat science as absolute truth. Anyone who questions and says, as my Pappaw did, let’s wait and see, is painted by society as ignorant or a fool. This is a huge change. In the past even most scientists have embraced the fact that science is as often wrong as it is right. Unfortunately society seems to have begun to almost worship science. I find this trend deeply troubling. It has, after all, not been that long since doctors used bloodletting and since we believed lobotomies might just be the cure we were looking for to mental illness.

As I approach sixty I am now the Pappaw in my family and like my Pappaw before me life has taught me to be skeptical of scientific conclusions. I am convinced we must reject the very notion that science in general is absolute truth. It is anything but absolute truth. Science is in fact an ongoing never-ending process and not a conclusion at all. I am convinced that in time many of the scientific conclusions our kids are being taught as fact today will be proven to be partially or entirely wrong. Why do I think that, because that is the story of human history. Every generation believes they have arrived at scientific truth only to be proven wrong by the next generation. Don’t believe me, well, let’s just wait and see.


English Channel Crossing – June 22, 1975

Hoverlloyd Ticket

Hoverlloyd Ticket

From 1973-1976 my father was an Air Force Chaplain stationed in Bitburg Germany. During those years I was able to see many historic sites in Europe and I was always particularly interested in anything to do with World War II.  In June of 1975 my family drove to France boarded a ferry and crossed the English Channel to the United Kingdom.

The ferry crossing would be a chance to experience an exciting combination of new technology and to re-live a little history.  In 1975 the Hovercrafts were a relatively new technology that had cut the time it took for a ferry to cross the English Channel in half. The history to be re-lived would be crossing the English Channel.  In preparation for this trip I had re-read a couple of books, one on D-Day and the Normandy Invasion and the other on the battle of Britain.  Yes, I was a bit of a history nerd even in High School.  It would have been really cool to have crossed the channel on the June 6th anniversary of D-day but we were a couple of weeks late and crossed from France to England on the 17th of June.

We crossed on smooth seas in a high-speed hovercraft operated by Hoverlloyd.  All the way across the channel I was thinking about the soldiers and sailors packed in thousands of ships not knowing what awaited them on the coast of France. Of course we were headed in the wrong direction and I look forward to the return trip as it would be a more realistic illustration of the soldiers experience in World War II. I could not have imagined just how real the return trip would be. We spent the next few days in London and headed home on June 22.

In June 1944 the Allied Expeditionary Force Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower had originally designated June 5, 1944 as D-day but on June 4th the English Channel was covered with high winds and rough seas that made the landing impossible.  Most of the ships could have crossed the channel safe enough but they would never have been able to launch landing craft. The troop convoys already at sea were forced to weather the storm along the coast of England. The soldiers and sailors were trapped on these ships and were at the mercy of the sea.  The book I read on D-day graphically described how rough the channel crossing was and how sick most of them men were.  On 5 June, Eisenhower’s chief meteorologist (Group Captain J.M. Stagg) had good news.  Stagg forecast a brief improvement for June 6th and Eisenhower ordered the invasion to proceed.

Hover Lloyd 03

L-R Lloyd Warford, David Warford and Karen Warford Stewart

When we were waiting to board the Hoverlloyd for the return trip to France the wind was blowing hard. We were dressed for spring and the cold damp wind cut into your clothes and forced you to hold your breath.  On the trip from France to England we had been allowed to roam around the boat but when we boarded on the way home they asked us to move to a seat.

We were headed for the coast of France in rough seas.  This would be a very special kind of living history.  When we left the beach the crew began distributing stacks of five gallon paint buckets around the hovercraft and asked anyone who felt sick to raise their hand or otherwise signal for a bucket.

There may be writers gifted enough to describe a storm at sea but I suspect there are few and I am certainly not one of them.  Before this trip I had read about waves crashing over a boat or ship and I had an image in my mind of how that would look.  I had imagined the sort of waves you experience in the surf, waves rising up, moving across the water, and then collapsing.

This was very different.  As we passed across the surface of the sea, giant caverns would open in the sea in front of our boat.  The hovercraft would struggled forward, surging out over the watery cliff until finally it reach a point where it would tilt and dive down into the enormous pit.  For a split second the boat is submerged, and then it explodes up through the water and on to another precipice, pausing a moment and then down, down, down again into the sea, over and over again for hours.

More and more people were sick and the ship was closed tight. It was hard to breathe. I sat with my head pressed against the cold outside wall of the boat trying to ignore the sights and sounds around me.  I thought of the men who landed and fought at Normandy focusing on their sacrifice seemed appropriate and it seemed to help me keep from getting sick.  I enjoyed my trip to England immensely and I am glad I got to feel what it was like to cross the English Channel in a storm but I would never sign up to do it again.

When I began writing this blog post I was focused on sharing a little about D-day and my own channel crossing experience as it related to World War II but I discovered that the hovercraft ferries are no longer in service and they have gone the way of the steamboat and are now as much a part of history as World War II.  I salute the men and women of D-Day as well as those who served on the hovercraft.  It was an exciting way to travel.

A Zugspitze Adventure

This post card reflects the Zugspitze as it was when I visited in the 1970s.

The Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany. The peak sits at 2,962 m (9,718 ft) above sea level. It lies south of the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and the border between Germany and Austria runs over its western summit. You can stand near the peak with one foot in each country. Everything about the Zugspitze is amazing. There is a plateau with several glaciers south of the peak that is perfect for skiing most of the year. My family was blessed to ski the Zugspitze several times in the seventies.

Just getting to the top of the Zugspitze is an adventure. Skiers and sightseers get to the top of the Zugspitze on either a cogwheel train that cuts through a tunnel in the mountain or a massive cable lift. Both of these modes of assent are truly feats of German engineering.

In the early 1980s the cog train route was changed so that it now goes directly on to the plateau where the skiers ski but when we skied the Zugspitze in the 1970s both the cog train and primary cable lift loaded and unloaded in a station near the peak. Skiers then took smaller lifts down to the ski area on the plateau. The plateau and the other surrounding peaks formed a bowl in which several thousand skiers could ski on glaciers when there was no snow on the hills below. When the sun was shining the Zugspitze was a beautiful place to visit but when the weather turned bad it could quickly become a forbidden and desolate place.

One day we were skiing in beautiful sunshiny weather when a little gray cloud appeared right at the peak of the mountain and begin to grow. Within fifteen minutes it covered the entire bowl and temperatures dropped dramatically. Then it began to rain, not snow or sleet, it rained and it rained hard. This rain would have of course frozen long before it reached the tree line but we were way above the tree line only a few feet from the highest point in Germany. The rain would hit your ski suit, run two or three inches, and freeze into a sheet of ice. Every time you moved large sheets of ice broke off your clothes and fell on the ground around you. It was a very strange and scary situation.

The people running the mountain immediately began an emergency evacuation. We all followed instructions and rushed to get in line for the lifts up to the main complex where you could catch the cog trains and primary lifts off the mountain. At this point many people started to become alarmed. The lifts to the top were small and could only carry about 10 people at a time. It was immediately apparent that it was going to take at least a couple of hours to evacuate the mountain. There were only a handful of small wooden structures in the bowl itself and there was only one way out and that was to wait your turn for the lift.

My father, brother and I carefully assessed this very dangerous situation and made a decision, we kept skiing. That’s right; with all those wimpy people standing in line the ski lifts were wide open. The T-bar lifts were eventually so coated with ice they would not stay behind you but since we were the only people skiing we road them as singles by just hooking both arms over the bar. For the next two hours we skied our butts off until we were physically exhausted. I remember I fell and I was so tired I just laid there for a few minutes. A U.S. Army ski patrol guy came along clearing the mountain and said the lines were getting down and we had to go.

Other than people who worked there we were some of the last people off the mountain. Workers were cramming as many people on each lift as they could and as we loaded the small lift up to the station I was crushed into the corner. I was nauseous and I think I probably passed out then but we were packed in so tight that there was no way for me to fall. A lady that was pressed against me asked if I was okay and then cracked a small window for me to get some air. I was feeling better before we got to the top but I still couldn’t wait to get out of that car.

When the door open and a blast of cold air came in I thought I’m going to be okay. Now in between the cable car and the station there is a grilled steel floor that is porous and you can see straight down to the mountain below. This is they are so the snow kicked off of peoples boats will not build up and become a safety hazard. The grill is also designed in a way that will keep it from being slick. I had never really paid a lot of attention to this grilled floor before that day but as we began to get off the left the last thing I remember was this grilled floor moving toward my face.

When I woke up I was lying on a bench with people trying to ask me questions in German. They had taken a lot of my clothes off and there was a man with my feet against his belly trying to warm my feet. I was told later that these people were members of the German mountain team. Then one of them offered me a cup and motioned for me to drink it. I’m not sure what was in that cup but I am pretty sure that two or three cups of whatever it was would make you intoxicated. I don’t know if I passed out again, fell asleep or what but the next thing I knew I was in an infirmary or medic station of some kind. I was on an army style stretcher and wrapped in an army blanket. Several young American soldiers were taking care of me. They picked me up and put the stretcher on the cog train for the ride down and encourage me to go back to sleep.

One of the soldiers was a cute young female and just a few years older than me. I talked to her on the train ride down. My mom teased me later in the car that she knew I was going to be okay when I started trying to fix my hair and talk to that girl. When we got to the train station we all got a lecture from the head of the ski team about the dangers of hypothermia and how easy it can be to freeze to death. I still had the Army blanket wrapped around me and I started to give it back to them but all my clothes were wet and they insisted I keep it. I still have that blanket and I plan to keep it as long as it makes me smile when I pick it up.

Warfords Making Music

Coming from an Air Force Family we only made it home to our grandparents a couple of times a year. When we did there were certain traditions. We had to do certain things, eat certain things and so on. Usually toward the end of our visit Pappaw would want to play music. Usually he would say let’s “make some music.”  I remember a few times when there was a whole group Warford playing but most of the time it was just my Dad and Pappaw.  I loved it when my family made music. The Warfords have always been a musical family. Unfortunately these days fewer and fewer of us Warfords make time to make music.  This video is a combination of an audio recording made with a cassette recorder and silent super eight movie film. While the two are not synced together they certainly capture the feel of the Warfords making music. The three kids in the video are me, my little brother, David and little Sister, Karen.

First Deer at 54, Better Late Than Never!

The Warfords are a deer and turkey hunting clan and have been as far back as anyone remembers.  All my life I have been hearing deer and turkey hunting stories. As a kid I tagged along on several deer hunting trips but was never present when a deer was killed.  My father was in the Air Force and while we visited as often as we could we were rarely in Arkansas during deer or turkey season.  We were in Germany from the time I was 13 (1973) until I was 16 (1976).  I was home for only one deer season before my grandfather passed away in 1977.

In the winter of 1976 my Pappaw sat my brother, cousin and I along a fence line on the old Griffith place and then let the hound dogs lose on the other side of the woods we were facing.   We all heard the dogs coming toward us and then we heard what we thought was a deer moving parallel to us out of sight just inside the tree line. David, Shane and I were cold and frustrated when we headed back to the truck. The day would probably have been forgotten entirely but for an incident on the way back to the truck when a flock of black birds flew too close to our little group. Without one word being said by anyone the sky was suddenly filled with buckshot.  That day has since been referred to in Warford family folklore as “the day it rained blackbirds.”

Little did I know that my first deer hunting trip would be my last for almost 40 years.   From 1976 until 2006 deer and turkey hunting stories were rarely part of my life.  Then in 2006 my oldest daughter, Melissa, married Heath Freeman.  Heath is a hunter and comes from a family where women as well as men were hunters.  It was not long until he had both of my daughters not only in the woods but killing deer and turkey.  It was good to hear deer and turkey hunting stories again. It was after all part of our family heritage.

The girls, especially Melissa have been after me to let them take me hunting.  This past week I decided to make time to go hunting.   I was counting on what my Pappaw called beginners luck and it showed up big time. We were on the deer stand about an hour when Melissa, who was acting as my guide, spotted a young buck that was not legal.  I was watching the young buck when Melissa became very excited. “Dad, dad there is a big buck coming through the woods.” He is going to pop out. Do you see him, do you see him?”  She was whispering but very excited and I was staring up and down the tree line, I could see nothing.  I was breathing hard and my glasses started to fog up. I told myself, you better calm down or you are going to mess up. You know how to shoot, focus – sight picture, breath control, trigger squeeze.  I was calming down but I still could not locate the deer. Finally I realized the deer was to my side almost behind me and my view was blocked by a cedar tree. There was a gap in the cedar tree’s branches where I might have a shot but the deer was going to have to move out a few more steps. He was an older deer and he did not get that way by being reckless. He looked back and forth before he moved as if he were about to cross a busy street.  Finally he stepped from the woods right into the only spot where I could have taken the shot. Call it beginners luck if you like but everything went perfect. I squeezed off a shot and the deer bolted down the tree line and out of sight. I was sure I had hit him but he sure did not act like it. Melissa and I ran ten yards or so in the same direction he ran and then we heard a big crash.  He had run thirty or forty yards, jumped a brush pile, a fence and fell.  I had killed my first deer. It was a nice nine pointer.  I think Melissa was as excited as I was.  I know my Pappaw would be pleased and I sure was.  It was a good hunt.  When is turkey season?

Lloyd Warford with daughter Melissa and his first deer.

Lloyd Warford with daughter Melissa and his first deer.

Olga Baker Armand Griffith – World War II Shipyard Welder

Video

During World War II, Olga Baker Armand Griffith, was one of many women welders that took their place working along side the men in the shipyards of this country. This is her story in her own words. Her memory was beginning to fail her when this was film so we have spliced together two separate discussions to tell the full story.

Heirloom without a Home

Like most blogs this blog has frequent topics or categories.  One of my favorite categories is Heirlooms.  The things I am calling heirlooms are really just family keepsakes and have little or no value to anyone outside of my family.  Nevertheless some of my heirlooms are coveted by several members of the family. Unfortunately that is not the case for today’s heirloom. Today’s heirloom is in search of a home. When I was ten years old (1969) my father, Kenneth Warford, was an Air Force chaplain stationed in South Vietnam. During the year he was overseas he sent me a number of souvenirs. Most have been lost or simply fallen apart in the years since the war but my most cherish souvenir from Vietnam survives. It is difficult to explain the bond I have with this particular heirloom. The close bond I have with this heirloom probably developed from the fact that it has always been in my room. For some reason, all of the women in my life, beginning with my mother, have encouraged my relationship with this heirloom.  They have insisted this heirloom be kept in a place where I alone can enjoy it.  Consequently I have taken especially good care of this heirloom and hope to someday pass it along to some member of my family.  I am looking for someone to leave Jake to when I am gone.  They need to be willing to love and appreciate Jake as I have.  He is after all the only heirloom that I have actually named.

Jake

Jake

I am honored to introduce you to Jake. Jake is a cobra from Southeast Asia. Yes, at one time he was one of the most deadly creatures on earth but his venom glands were removed more than 40 years ago. He has not bitten anyone in the 40 plus years I have known him.  As far as I know Jake is completely harmless accept maybe to people who have both ophidiophobia and a heart condition.  If you have an abnormal fear of snakes and a heart condition you might want to pass on Jake otherwise Jake is an heirloom in search of a home.

Jake

Jake

If you are a member of my family even a very distant cousin and are willing to provide a loving home to Jake please contact me.

Forts and Tree Houses

When my brother, (David) sister (Karen) and I were kids one of our favorite things to do was to build a fort or tree house. We built many of them over the years using just about anything we could find. When the weather was too bad to go outside we put together forts made of sheets strung between chairs and held in place by stacks of world book encyclopedias. If we could get our hands on some cardboard that worked well to for an indoor fort. Our indoor forts were quite creative but are true masterpieces were always outdoors especially the ones we could make when we went to Papaw’s house. At Papaw’s house we had access to axes, machetes, nails, hammers, rope, and sometimes even scrap lumber. We also usually had the help of our cousins Susie and Shane. Here are a few of many childhood stories that surround these forts and tree houses.

Hardhats must be worn at all times!

My uncle Chuck worked in a plant where hardhats had to be worn at all times. Uncle Chuck said this was for safety in case someone dropped a tool or something hard from a high place. Somehow or another we appropriated several of these hardhats that we were wearing while building a fort. I was the oldest and usually develop the rules for our games. You have to have rules when you play games or everybody will just do what they want and if there’s anything first children abhor it is chaos. On this occasion we were using the shell of a camper to build our fort and I had made a strict rule that no one should be inside the camper shell without a hardhat. Everyone was dutifully following the rule and everyone was working at their assigned task. My brother David was up on top of the camper removing small nails that had once held the original outer wall in place. Shane was bringing more materials. Susie and Karen were also helping. At times they work with us and at times they played house. Sometimes they would bring us pretend lunch. I was inside the camper shell working diligently to get a nail out of an old board and when I finally prided free I was pleased with my hard work. I stood up, took my hardhat off to wipe my brow the way I’d seen the men do. All of a sudden I had a sharp pain on the crown of my head. For a split second it was like I was unconscious and I fell to my hands and knees. I shook my head trying to figure out what it happened. A large goose egg was already growing on my head. Shane was standing outside the camper shell laughing so hard he was in danger of passing out. I looked straight at him with a look that sent him running backward yelling, “he did it, he did it” pointing toward the house. I looked toward the house and I saw David already halfway to the house. He was still clutching a ball pein hammer and yelling over and over, “you said hardhats must be worn at all times, you said hardhats must be worn at all times!”

Barricades

We also love to barricade the drive way. We often did this when where waiting on our cousins or Mamaw and Papaw Griff. In this picture we have built a barricade blocking part of the drive coming up to Papaw’s house. In May of 1970 I would have been 10.

Summersaults and Nail Holes

There were two large oak trees in my Papaw and Mamaw’s yard. One day we decided we were going to build a tree house in the larger of the two. The problem was we could not reach the lowest limb even with our ladder. We were trying to figure out how to attach boards to the side of the tree that we could use as a ladder to climb up the tree. We decided it would be easier if we drove nails through the boards into the ground and then just nailed the pre-nailed boards in the tree. This was working pretty well and we had made it about five feet up off the ground. I had just finished nailing to nails into a board flipped it over and started another board when my brother jumped off the ladder and landed on two nails that were sticking up out of a board. He screamed like a little girl and started hopping all around and then did something of a somersault. Well, with all his gyrations the board came flying off of his foot and landed on the ground between him and the house. I ran over to him but before I could get there he jumped up and headed for the house and he stepped on that board again pushing those same two nails back into his foot. This time he fell on the ground and just started flopping around like a fish. I was trying but couldn’t catch hold of the board because of all the wiggling so I stepped on his foot and mashed his leg to the ground and grabbed the board. The nails were all the way through. I sat down put my feet against his behind and pushed with my feet while pulling the board and the nails came out. It was kind of painful pulling the nails out. The rubber on those shoes made a high-pitched squeak, like you get when you scratch a chalkboard. It makes me cringe to think about it. Oh, and I imagine David was hurting too.

Barbed Wire Safety Nets

David and I also had tree houses near our home in town. Although I was pretty reckless my brother David was the true wild man. Somehow or another David had figured out we could walk out on a large thick limb of an old oak tree and jump five or six feet to a smaller hardwood tree, throw our arms and legs around it as you flew by and it would spring back and forth wildly. Now this all occurred maybe twenty feet off the ground and in hindsight may have been a bit foolish but it was a heck of a lot of fun. The higher you jumped and grabbed hold of the tree the wilder the ride. David and I spent hours doing this and it was great fun until one day David leaped from the oak tree and tried to grab the hardwood at the very top and he missed the tree entirely with his hands. David’s feet caught the tree for a split second just long enough to spin him over and in a position where he was going to hit the ground head and neck first. I am standing to the side of the tree watching all this happen and I remember thinking, wheelchair! You see, my mom was always afraid one of us was going to end up in a wheelchair and if you’ve heard many of our family’s stories you know her fears were not completely unfounded. Standing there I literally thought, this is it, wheelchair! At that very second David crashed into some heavy brush and in that brush was an old rusty barb wire fence that we had never noticed before. David was wearing a heavy coat and his coat hung in the barb wire causing him to spin around and land on his feet. Other than a small hole in his coat he was fine. This was one of many times that I believe we would have been seriously injured or killed if God had not been watching over us.

The Difference in Hardwood and Softwood Trees

Hardwood trees and softwood trees have very different physical characteristics. Some of you may have taken a botany class or otherwise studied the difference in hard and softwood trees in school. I learned about the different characteristics of hard and softwood trees through a very different process. A month or two after the barbed wire safety net incident we were out at my grandparents and we spied a softwood pine tree that was growing right beside a large brush pile. Now the height of this brush pile, the height of the pine tree, the distance between them was all approximately the same as the tree swing we had been jumping and swinging on in town. This looked like a perfect tree swing. Shane, David and I debated among ourselves who would be the best to test this new tree swing and for some reason I let them talk me into being the tester. I climbed to the top of the brush pile and I checked it out and everything looked just right. Same size trees, same distance, what could go wrong? I leaped at the pine tree grabbing it perfectly with both hands and wrapped my feet around as I flew by but that tree did not bend, it did not bend even a little bit. My arms were almost yanked out of socket trying to hold on to the tree. So there is the first difference between hardwood trees and softwood trees. Hardwood trees are pliable and bend and softwood are stiff and will not bend. Now I had managed to learn this part of the lesson without suffering any pain, unfortunately, the lesson was not over. I am now about twenty feet up in the air and I have to get down and I am wearing shorts and a thin T-shirt. The second lesson was that hardwood trees have a smooth bark and softwood trees have an extremely rough bark, you know the kind that will cut your body, your hands and your arms if you try to slide down it.

Little Sister, Karen, in the Stockade

I Will Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap

The forts in the first pictures were built in 1971 when I was 12. Being a twelve year old and pretty near grown I had learned a few bad words which I shared with my siblings and cousins. We were all up in the forts having great fun and trying our new words until my little sister, Karen snitched on us to Mom. She was upset because we were keeping her locked up too long in the stockade. My Mom made all of us come into the bathroom one at a time and she washed our mouths out with soap. Let me just tell you that was some nasty tasting stuff. We learn our lesson though none of us would ever cuss again in front of Karen.

 

The Bobcat Wedding Night – Sallie Teague Warford and Elmer Quincy Warford

Elmer and Sallie Warford on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
October 31, 1976

My grandparents, Elmer and Sallie Warford were married October 31, 1926, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. There was no cake, no toast and no photographer. After the ceremony the couple made their way back to the old Warford home place in Saline County near Lonsdale. It was after dark when they arrived at what would become their new home. The home had not been lived in for some time and was a rather rustic cabin. Now my grandmother was by the standards of the day, something of a city girl, having been raised on a dairy in Hot Springs. She was completely unprepared for what was waiting inside. My grandfather lit a lantern and opened the latch string door. He walked into the main room of the cabin which also served as the kitchen and dining room and set the lantern up on the table. When the lantern hit one end of the table a bobcat jumped from the dark corners of the room and landed on the other end. The bobcat let out a shrill hissing sound and bared its teeth. My grandfather beat a hasty retreat to the door only to find that my grandmother had slammed the door locking it tight. The bobcat was as afraid of my grandfather as my grandfather was of the bobcat and fortunately the bobcat still had a way out. The bobcat bounded around the room a couple of times and then shot out through a vent in the roof of the cabin. My grandfather loved to tell this story. At the end he would say something like, “now that is what I would call an exciting wedding night.” 

My grandparents had hard times and good times but throughout 50 years they were committed to each other and their family. On October 31, 1976, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at the home of Chuck and Linda Warford. Linda was the perfect hostess and we had a formal toast (punch of course), a beautiful wedding cake and even a photographer.  Well, we sort of had a photographer, I actually took these pictures.