Buford Pusser’s museum, a legend, a law enforcement hero

The Buford Pusser Museum was a random stop, but a memorable one. Growing up watching Walking Tall, I was a bit in awe of the man that the story was based on, although a bit skeptical that it was all true. According to what I learned at his museum he really did live the life that the movie recounts.

The museum and home is in Adamsville, Tennessee and my mom and I stopped by for a quick run through. We learned that Pusser was the sheriff of McNairy County Tennessee and that while serving, he literally took the county by storm.

Buford Pusser was born on December 12, 1937 and died quite mysteriously in a car crash on August 21, 1974. Both a basketball and football player during high school, Pusser joined the Marines at 18 years of age after graduation. His military service was cut short during United States Marine Corps Recruit Training, when it was discovered he had asthma. After receiving a medical discharge, Pusser moved to Chicago in 1957 to work at Union Bag Co. There he met and married his wife, Pauline, a young, attractive divorcee with two children, Diane and Mike.while living in Chicago. Later during their marriage the two would have one daughter Dwana.

The Pussers were married December 5, 1959. On weekends Buford Pusser was a wrestler around the Chicago area. He went by the tag, “Buford the Bull” which is fitting because he was certainly a big man. He was six feet six and weighed in at 250lbs.

Pusser returned to his hometown of Adamsville with his wife in 1962 and began a term as the Adamsville Chief of Police. He served as Chief of Police until1964. The Chief of Police was a position, according to our guide that his father had before him. From 1964-1970 Pusser was the Sheriff of McNairy County and at age 26, the youngest sheriff in state history.

Pusser was a one man war against moon shining, gambling, and other vices on the Mississippi-Tennessee border. He took on the infamous Dixie Mafia and the State Line Mob. According to http://bufordpusser.blogspot.com/p/buford-pusser-history.html, “His story has directly inspired several books, songs, movies and at least one TV series. The Buford Pusser Museum has been established at the house where he was living at the time of his death in 1974.”

The lore is that he carried a big stick and our guide confirmed that he used a walking stick on occasion. She recounted one event where a man had been drinking and Pusser used the stick on him and they never had another call. Obviously Buford Pusser had no fear, the website stated, “During his time as Sheriff, Buford Pusser jailed over 7500 criminals, was stabbed seven times and shot eight times!”

Our guide said that one evening he was out on a call and his wife accompanied him and sadly as retaliation for his action against the State Line Mob, his car was ambushed. On August 12, 1967 his wife Pauline was killed in the accident and Pusser was shot in the face. Amazingly he survived the incident

There is much more to the story, but head out to the museum to learn it for yourself or check out the movie or movies about his life! The museum website sums up his story, “He wrestled and defeated a live grizzly bear. He led a violent but successful campaign against moonshiners, gamblers, prostitutes and organized crime figures. His unusual methods of law enforcement earned him notoriety. He became a local legend for his heroics and at the same time gained him dangerous enemies.”

August 21, 1974: Buford Pusser died in an automobile accident. There are various explanations for the crash, but nothing is substantiated. The car is on display at the museum.

Country singer George Jones was one of his pall bearers and Actor Joe Don Baker & Elvis Presley (among others) attended his funeral. Today his daughter Dwana Pusser Garrison (and her husband) continues to keep his legacy alive.

While I am quite sure today he would be considered politically incorrect and never allowed to curtail crime the ways he did back then, he is a true hero that took on the bad guys and won. Maybe they got him in the end, but his is a story of a white knight and what makes it special is that he was a real man fighting for justice, not just a comic book legend.

A Buford Pusser Festival is held each May in his hometown of Adamsville, Tennessee. For more information about the museum log onto http://www.bufordpussermuseum.com/index.php/about-us/tours.
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Get ready, Half a Century 2015 is coming to town!

I think anyone who has been to or heard about the Half Century of Progress gets excited when they hear the big show is just around the corner. Held at the Rantoul National Aviation Center Airport Rantoul, Illinois, the 2015 Half Century of Progress will be held August 27- 30, 2015. The show takes place at the former Chanute Airforce Base which is home to the Chanute Air Museum. This event occurs every two years the same time that the Farm Progress Show is in Decatur, Illinois. The Half Century is the predecessor to the Farm Progress Show which features the latest in technology and other aspects of farming. The Half Century shares what was new 50 years ago and in this case that was 1965.

Besides featuring farming equipment from 1965, the Half Century also celebrates equipment from any year preceding 1965 this includes the whole ball of wax and what is the very best part of this amazing show is you can watch the equipment in action, you can see how farming was done back when. If nothing else, you get a true appreciation of the efforts farmers put in both then and today to bring food to the table.

People “want to see the equipment working,” Darius Harms the show’s manager said. “Most shows, they just see it sitting there. We’re really fortunate to be able to demonstrate this equipment.”

I love seeing the old steam engines with their billowing smoke against a blue sky and this year the Prairie Plowers are the special feature bringing plowing demonstrations with horses, steam, diesel and more. “The powerful Prairie Plowers include the prairie tractors that busted the west,” Darius Harms said.

These powerful tractors ran on gasoline and keorsone and visitors will see six or eight of these mighty beauties. The plowers will include at least three steam engines. Antique tractor collectors will watch the rare view of a variety of multiple hitch plows of all sizes and types being pulled with multiple hitch tractors of all makes and models from the large tractors to the smaller sizes.

Get your cameras ready and prepare for a day of dust, moving machinery and the beautifully orchestrated chaos of what has come to be known as the largest working farm show in America. On Thursday, August 27th, the show begins with famed broadcaster Max Armstrong heading up the tractor drive. Then the show will open with the raising of the World’s Largest Flying Flag set to the background of the National Anthem.

To see the official countdown check out the clock showing how many days, hours, minutes and seconds until the show on the website http://www.halfcenturyofprogress.com

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The Alabama Music Hall of Fame and a really cool car!

Before July hit the skids I headed with my mom to the Shoals area for a bit of music history. Georgia Carter Turner of the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism took us around and after hitting the recording studios we finished off our music history with a stop at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

Dixie Griffin stopped a few minutes to chat with us. She said that at the Hall of Fame they have three ways that they honor musicians from Alabama. “We have the Walk of Fame with bronze stars, the Hall of Fame with painted portraits, plus our displays. We honor all genres, country, pop, rhythm, blues, etc. and we honor the songwriters and industry recordings.”

It was fun to see the paintings of the inductees and try to figure out their relationship to music. There were legendary artists like Lionel Ritchie and the Memphis Sun Studio’s owner who started the Rock and Roll scene, Sam Phillips. On into the museum we saw cast plasters of Alabama and Hank Williams Jr. to name a few.

The band Alabama even donated a tour bus and visitors seemed to enjoy every aspect of this museum that pays tribute to all. I will have to say though, that for me, the most unforgettable item at the hall of fame was Web Pierces 1960 Pontiac convertible “Golden Country Car” that has more than 500 silver dollars and 12 silver guns mounted in and around the car. The creation was topped off with Texas Longhorns mounted on front!

While we were there, the Cadillacs were playing and they parked their pink Cadillac with a facsimile Elvis inside. Of course, we had to take a picture or two, who can resist a pink Cadillac or Elvis?

Check out the Music Hall of Fame at http://www.alamhof.org/.
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FAME, still making recording history

Who doesn’t dream of coming up to a microphone and belting out a song like Aretha Franklin? While we may not be able to sound even remotely like this and other legendary musical icons, we can take a trip to Muscle Shoals, Alabama and witness musical history.

On a recent musical history trip to the Shoals area, I stopped by FAME studio to get my music fix. Before heading out on this musical journey I watched the documentary Muscle Shoals and I was completely blown away by the variety and longevity of this musical history. This documentary was running around the clock on one of the channels at the lovely Marriott where we stayed. The film has brought a whole new generation of visitors to the area.

The sounds that link so prevalently to this area in a big part are the result of the efforts of a man named Rick Hall who brought the music production to town. While we were in the area, Rick Hall had just released a new book titled From Shame to FAME. FAME was his studio and his story is truly a rags to riches with success beyond anyone’s dreams.

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The studio while smaller than one would think has a history that reads like a Who’s Who book of legendary stars from all genres of music. The story that I was transfixed on was of the back up players that have become legends themselves. Many of these players remained in the area I was blessed to attend the amazing From Muscle Shoals to New York city event as part of the W.C. Handy Festival. The show was a premier at the Marriott conference Center that played before they headed to New York’s Lincoln Center. Jimmy Johnson and David Hood of the Swampers, the original name for the Rhythm players at Fame who later opened their own studio 3614 Jackson Highway played with special guests Jimmy Hall, Christine Ohlman and Carla Russell. When we were not on our feet we were “chair dancing”.

Spencer, an intern at FAME took us on a guided tour and it was old home week. Georgia Turner Carter of the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism took me and my mom, Lora Disque to the studio and we had fun taking pictures and posing like the stars we are not! While there Georgia met up with a former friend and we met up with a couple that went to the same college I did in Illinois. It is a small world as they say.

The website for Fame states, “… FAME has worked in the studio with some of the Greatest artists in Rock music history. Artists such as Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Otis Redding, the Osmonds, Jerry Reed, Alabama, Mac Davis, the Gatlin Brothers, Bobbie Gentry and many others. More recently FAME has recorded projects for Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Matisyahu, Band of Horses, Drive by Truckers, Bettye Lavette, Cyril Neville the Civil Wars and Jamie Johnson to name a few.”

Being in a music studio and hearing the stories of the recordings, the bands players that have become celebrities in their own right and walking where musical legends walked was awe inspiring to say the least. After hearing a story about Duane Allman camping outside the studio until Rick Hall listened to him play, I realize the depth of determination these muscian’s have to walk their road. A visit to Fame (http://www.fame2.com/) and 3614 Jackson Highway Recording Studio which was the next stop on our agenda is a must.

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W. C. Handy Birthplace and Museum, where the blues took root

The idea to go to the W.C. Handy Birthplace and Museum was rooted for me after seeing the Handy home in Memphis. This past week my mom and I headed for the area that W.C. Handy described in his biography Father of the Blues as “Where the Tennessee River, like a silver snake, winds her way through the red clay hills of Alabama, sits high on these hills my hometown, Florence.”

Born in November of 1873, William Christopher Handy was the son and grandson of ministers that were former slaves. Handy was raised in a religious home near the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church where they preached. Selena the guide at the Museum shared, “The cabin was torn down and moved here in 1969. It was rebuilt so only the logs are original. W.C’s father and grandfather built the cabin after the Civil War. It had a dirt floor and two rooms.”

The cabin is now enclosed and is part of the museum that highlights Handy’s life and musical successes. The website for the museum states, “Born with a natural musical bent-as a boy he visualized birdcalls as notes on a scale. Handy went on to compose such well-known blues jewels as St. Louis Blues, Beale Street Blues, and Memphis Blues. Feel the blues down to your toes standing next to the very piano that shook with St. Louis Blues for the first time; see his hand-written sheets of music-originals of many of his tunes.”

After following his musical trail, it was awe inspiring to hear his story and imagine that just years after the Civil War, Handy made such a musical presence that has lingered on. Selena said that the publishing company he started in Memphis and moved to New York, although small,l these days is still open and run by W.C. Handy’s grandson. His legacy lives on all over the country, but truly can be found by visiting this museum or coming to the area like we did during the Handy Festival which has been going on since 1982. The Music Preservation Society, Inc. has been honoring and celebrating the “Father of the Blues” with this annual ten-day series of events that brings music of all types.

We witnessed the opening festival activities which began with a Ken Waters trumpet solo playing W. C. Handy’s St. Louis Blues. We stayed long enough to hear the magical sounds of Kuumba and watch accompanying African dancers.

Georgia Turner Carter of the Florence/Lauderdale Tourism also took us by the W.C. Handy statue in Wilson Park. These sites are just a few of the ways that Handy’s legacy lives on in the music he inspired though the famed Muscle Shoals sounds.

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Log onto http://www.visitflorenceal.com/things_to_do/w-c-handy-birthplace-museum-library/ for details about this wonderful place.

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Beauty at the Art Institute of Chicago

My friend Jane Aumann and I went to Chicago on a mission to see beautiful architecture and art in Chicago. I wanted to see art in unexpected places and in the curve of a doorway, the art deco design over a window and the sculptures which never cease to amaze me. This pursuit led us to the Chicago Art Institute where we found ourselves circling the building looking at the beauty of the outside before heading to see the art inside. While walking around the outside we were lucky enough to stumble onto a tour where the guide offered to let us listen in. We were right next to a statue of a man on a horse that was comprised of machined aluminum and stainless steel. The sculptor, Charles Ray is reflected in the man on the horse. Intrigued with his statue, this was the prompt besides a desire to see the Degas exhibit that brought us inside the building.

The building is a piece of art on its own. The Art Institute of Chicago was founded as both a museum and school for the fine arts in 1879 just a few short years after the Great Fire. The moved to its permanent home in 1893, in the lovely building that was constructed jointly with the city of Chicago for the World’s Columbian Exposition, at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street. While the building has been added onto over the years, the front door entrance is guarded by the bronze lions.
Inside the doors of the museum are pieces the website history state of, “…nearly 300,000 works of art in fields ranging from Chinese bronzes to contemporary design and from textiles to installation art. Together, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the museum of the Art Institute of Chicago are now internationally recognized as two of the leading fine-arts institutions in the United States.”
Once inside we began with the Impressionist paintings. Jane said, “We are seeing art that we read about in the history books.”

Reading artists names like Monet, Ruben, Picasso and more is an awe inspiring thing. While the paintings caught our eye, we looked at everything from pottery to furniture then the Charles Ray exhibit where we happened on a Cletrac tractor sculpture of all things. (Look for a story about this in an upcoming issue of Heritage Iron).

When I walked away from the museum there were many things I saw that remain in my memory, but the piece of art that touched my heart the most was a picture of the Madonna crying after Jesus died. You can see tears in her eyes and their track down her cheek.

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The Art Institute is a great place to visit and check out your favorite artists. You never know what may inspire you or our loved ones. Jane’s favorite piece was a wooden crucifix from the early 1300’s. Art exists here in the building, the surrounding gardens and the special displays offered. While not everything will be everyone’s piece of cake, there is something for everyone. Log onto http://www.artic.edu/ for more information.

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Tybee Island Lighthouse – standing for history

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The Tybee Island lighthouse has seen a lot of history. Built in 1773, this was the third lighthouse built on this beach island off the coast of Georgia. Located just south of Savannah there is something quite romantic about this island and the fact that this piece of land has so much history. Different flags have flown here while the island was under the rule of Spanish, French, and amazingly enough pirates, as well as the Confederate government and then finally the United States of America.

While visiting the island with my husband, son-in-law, daughter and grand children we pushed ourselves up the winding staircase to see the amazing view of the Atlantic. “You can make it,” I kept telling myself as I pushed my way to the top of the 145 foot lighthouse that requires climbing 154 steps! Did I mention it was mid-nineties and 100% humidity? I hope I sound as heroic as I felt. Quite an accomplishment for a woman of mature years I must say, but for one who likes an adventure, I pushed on!

Once at the top we could see the Atlantic all the way to the mouth of the Savannah River. It is easy to see why this was used both for the protection of ships and as a coastal defense. The bottom 60 feet of the lighthouse is original with the top 85 feet constructed after the Civil War in 1867. In 1861, the lighthouse was burned by the Confederates.

Before electricity was introduced as late as 1933 three lighthouse keepers were required to run this busy site. The keepers had to high tail it up and down the stairs carrying fuel in large pails. I bet there was not a chubby one among them! If Richard Simmons owned the lighthouse today he could make a small fortune playing 50’s music and racing dieting visitors up and down the steps.

The site has three light house keepers cottages onsite. The head keeper’s cottage built in 1881 was open to tour. The porch was enclosed in 1907 and electricity was added in 1916. It was quite interesting to walk through the house and the gift shop which was converted three car garage, but the true highlight of the lighthouse visit is the amazing view from the top!

Looking up inside the lighthouse is also quite a treat viewing the 1st Order Fresnel lens that for years has aided navigators safely to shore. The lighthouse is still an active aid and the Coast Guard maintains the lamp and the lens. The Tybee Island Historical Society maintains the tower.
Check out http://www.tybeelightouse.org for more information about this historical and beautiful site!

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Products to ease life on the road

While traveling it is often easy to not take care of your skin. I try to always wear sun block and wear a hat and protect myself when out in the sun, but when enjoying the sites it is easy to overlook. When I got a chance to try a few cool products from Carapex I jumped at it.

The Canadian product arrived in the mail just after I returned from a beach trip. I almost jumped with joy when I saw the Super Moisturizing Butter Cream for feet the product advertises that it will heal cracked heels, dry feet and chapped skin. The product is comprised of Shea butter and cocoa Infused with green tea and aloe this was just what the doctor ordered for my sand battered feet. While on my trip I had used beach shoes and the sand had rubbed a sore on my foot and since I am diabetic this could potentially be a big deal. As soon as I got the Carapex cream I started using it and after a couple days the dry skin and the sore were pretty much gone. My husband has used this as well and thinks it has made a difference on his feet as well.

With so much walking when traveling, I have learned good shoes, and foot care is paramount to a good trip and I must say the Carapex products have fit the bill.

The other product I tried was Carapex Facial Brightening Cream, Natural Whitening Face Cream for Sensitive Skin. The advertisement states “We use new botanical extracts that are just as effective as kojic acid but without the toxicity. This cream is suitable for any uneven skin tones, including age spots, liver spots, freckles, sun damage, acne marks, scars, skin discolorations and birthmarks, as well as to simply gradually lighten your skin for a cleaner, more youthful look.”

With being a “mature adult” over time skin tones have become uneven and this has helped even out the skin tone and I even had one person tell me, “Your skin looks amazing”, which was a boost. Another boon to this product is that this product has no added perfumes or dyes.

I liked the products enough that I just got online at http://carapex.com/store/index.php?route=common/home and ordered a second round to share with my mother who likes to travel and walks everyday as well. Thank you Carapex for introducing me to these and allowing me a chance to see how well they work for this traveling farm girl!

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Historic Farm Days 2015 is almost here!

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July 9th- 12th 2015 Historic Farm Days is back! This year John Deere and Chevrolet are the featured brands of tractors and trucks. This event is always a big one for us especially this year since the Half Century of Progress in Rantoul will occur in August right on the heels of Historic Days. After the 4th of July it seems that summer just flies and the events blend from one to glorious next one.
The I & I Show has a lot of special things about it that make it special to us. First it is a place where we meet up with friends that we may not have seen for a while. Some we have got to know through stories I have written and others we have come to know over time. However we have met with the friends and collectors it is a show where every other golf cart is filled with someone special representing a very special tractor! This show is a reunion of sorts.

If you visit Penfield make sure you take time to go into the museum which is located in the former Penfield grade school and see the great collection of farming artifacts and rare items inside ranging from hand tools to tractor drawn implements. In the gym, larger machines are on display, including corn shellers, threshing machines, and of course the two tractors on loan from the Smithsonian, the world’s oldest running gas engine tractor, the 1903 Hart-Parr, and the futuristic 1961 International Harvester HT-341 Turbine Tractor.

Drive through or ride on a people mover to see the field events sometimes I think collectors don’t realize that section is back there and it is great fun to see machinery in action. Several events are going on during the show like corn crib filling, a tractor parade, a sawmill and blacksmith demonstration and more.
There is a building with quilts to take a look at and this building is air conditioned for those like me that can’t take the heat and sometimes need a cool oasis. The school where the museum is also offers the Chapter 10 e IH Collectors recreation of 1950’s era IHC parts counter, a gathering place for IH enthusiasts during the Historic Farm Days show in July each year. Dealership section and a women’s old time kitchen set up that showcases many of the latest home conveniences of the early twentieth century as well don’t miss anything the show has to offer. The remaining room is used for the Corn Items Collectors display during the summer show.

Next year Graham Bradleys and the Sears related tractors are coming back to Penfield so if you enjoy these tractors like we do put the date on your calendar early on. Log on to http://www.antiquefarm.org/ShowSchedule.html for details.

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Triple the fun at the Red Power Round Up

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Have you ever seen a triple tractor? Neither had I! At this year’s Red Power Round Up we met up with Buddy and Belinda Woodson and their Triple A comprised of three Farmall’s A’s all linked together to form one cool tractor. The Woodsons hail from Eagleville, Tennessee and before creating the Triple A Buddy mostly was into hi-crops.

The other half of the triple duo is Charlie Stewart a southern boy from Bogalusa, Louisiana. The original triple tractor was built by Charlie’s cousin the late Dewitt Stewart who combined three A’s. Dewitt’s Triple A is now housed at America’s Old Iron Museum in Bush, Louisiana. Buddy first saw the Triple A when Dewitt and Charlie came to a show in their hometown of Eagleville.

Buddy decided to make his version of the Triple A and Charlie saw just how much fun Buddy was having so he made a Triple Cub. The two sat up beside each other at the 2015 Red Power Round Up in Sedalia, Missouri and garnered a lot of attention. Buddy said there are about five double tractors out there, but that the triples are a new phenomenon.

We are having so much fun,” Charlie said,

He is on a high of pure adrenaline,” Belinda added about Buddy.

Keep your eyes peeled, at shows this summer. The Triple A and Triple Cub are quite a sight!

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