My First 50 Years
1 early childhood memories – family, earliest – watching bozo the clown, Christmas’s, the house on Goshorn Street, Spring Hill Elementary moving to St. Albans Friends on 1st Ave., Ordnance Park and Vine Street
2 Family memories
3 School Memories
4 Sports – from watching favorite highlights – to playing a little and Ordnance Park basketball court
5 Music – the influence – earliest memories concerts and look at the tickets, photos and memories through the years, Songwriting journey through the years to events in Nashville and memories
6 Radio and work days and challenges through the years and what got me by – faith and positive thinking
7 Friends through the years
8 women – THANKS to each of you that have touched my life. I do not kiss and tell, but those of you that I had a great relationship with – THANKS with Love and the very best to you – I smile at the memories.
9 challenges I remember
10 thoughts on motivation that kept me going through the years – words to my nieces and nephews and family
11 Journey in Nashville
12 those 15 years in Charlotte
13 latest in Nashville – highlights of the journey and what is NOW happening that can change by time I finish the book
13 Some of MY favorite books
At age 49, living in Nashville, TN. It is August 13, 2008 and I’ve been thinking of writing a book for a long time. This is the first day and I am very thankful to be alive, healthy and feeling very blessed in life. I write this book for my family especially for my nieces and nephews so they will know who “Uncle Doak” is and was. I also write it so I can remember through the years as I get older – maybe sitting an a rocking chair one day and still have the memories of some of what I will write in the next months or so.
My earliest memories are waking up at Mamaw’s house on Goshorn Street in Spring Hill, WV and my mom was getting ready to go to work, my Aunt Barb was already at work at Spring Hill Bakery, Mamaw was probably already at work in the kitchen at a hospital - forgot the original name but it was later named Pick Memorial Hospital in South Charleston at it was later torn down. My Uncle Butch would tell me that Bozo the Clown will be on TV when the little hand is on the 7 and the big hand on the 6. I remember watching Bozo the Clown and a little later Jack LaLane would be on TV in his jumpsuit and doing jumping Jacks. My Grandfather had passed away on August 1st, 1959, which was 25 days after I was born. So Mamaw had her hands full raising her son, Butch, Her Daughter Barb and my mom, Betty and a couple year old grandson that she spoiled rotten. Only this past Christmas (2007) did I ask mom about the early days. I had thought she came home from the hospital with me and we lived with Mamaw from the beginning. I was wrong all those years. She had dated and married my dad, Buddy and they got a divorce when I was two and we moved in with Mamaw. Mom explained they tried, but he did not want to grow up so she divorced and I was spoiled by everyone on Goshorn Street! I remember my Aunt Ginny telling the story (She is Mamaw’s sister) telling a story of Mom taking me to the family doctor – Doctor Crigger and telling him that I do not talk and they are worried. Doctor Crigger replied, “All Doak has to do is point at something and everyone in the family runs to get it for him”! He told them to make me ask for things instead of pointing and I would learn to talk. Well 40 some years later I am still talking so he was right!
Mom worked at Sharp Shepherd on Route 60 in Spring Hill from what I remember. They sold tires and TVs and the owner was Dale Sharp. I remember visiting it every now and then as a kid. Dale had a friend named Jimmy “Speedy” Durrett that would have a big impact on our family.
I remember life on Goshorn Street as we were surrounded by cousins – The Hammock’s – Bill and Macel and their kids Walt Judy and Judy in a white house with a couple big trees – a weeping willow along the sidewalk to their house with those bright yellow blooms, a big plum tree in the front yard. An old man named Babe lived beside Walt and Laura – I think he had an old rusty fence around his yard. Mamaw’s house was in the middle of two houses that Merle and Katharine Ratchford owned. Merle’s house as I recall was brick with big stones on the front. I remember his Christmas trees – they always had those colorful little glass ornaments that when plugged in, had the bubbles – in red, orange, yellow and green and used to really fascinate me. The house beside us was white and I remember the lattice work on the side of it. Merle also owned a corner lot on the other side of the house and he had these big green glass rocks, all sizes and shapes going around the edge of the lot. The house was on the corner of Goshorn and Railroad Avenue which was made of cinders and ran along the railroad tracks. There was a house that was a brownish yellow looked like it had shingles on it. I forgot who lived in that house at times, I am thinking maybe my cousin Elaine and her two boys, Ben F and his little brother lived there at one time. Another house which I recall was a maroon color – the Bailey’s moved in that house – Steve, Sherry, Vanessa were the kids of Homer and mary Bailey. The house next to them were another family of Hammocks –Jim (I think) and Freda with their kids (my cousins) Alan, Keith and their sister Linda.
I have some early memories – especially holidays such as Christmas – I got a helicopter one year that had rubber tires and the door on the side opened up so you could have soldiers standing on the steps. The best I remember of the house – 22 Goshorn Street was on a little hill and had a concrete porch with a couple steps leading to the door of the kitchen. I do not remember every bedroom – I slept in Mom’s bedroom, my uncle Butch slept downstairs in the basement and the washer was located down there. You could go outside in the back yard from the basement to the sidewalk and they yard and we had a little hill in that back yard and on top of the hill was a big snowball bush – I still love those big bushes as they always take me back to those memories. I remember playing football in the back yard with Uncle Butch as he was ten years older than me – he’d drag me along as I was trying to tackle him. That reminds me of the year I was about six and got a football uniform for Christmas. The red jersey and white helmet, football pants with those thigh pads – I was hot stuff with a black number 32 on the front of the helmet and the white 32 on the back of the jersey. I liked Jimmy Brown of the Cleveland Brown’s and wore his number proudly! I had chicken pocks a couple days before Christmas, but was well enough to go outside and pass football with Butch on Christmas morning.
I loved 5:15 in the evening as mom would come home, Butch had been home from school a couple hours and hanging out with his friends, Dave Dickens and our cousins Alan and Keith. My Aunt Barb would come waking up the street and I’d go to meet her and walk to the house with her. Mom would come home and Mamaw was probably home from her job of cooking at the hospital and had dinner on the stove. Aunt Barb would sometimes cook one of my favorites still to this day – Spaghetti and she would always make delicious Coleslaw to go with it every time. Barb eventually moved to Florida with her boyfriend at the time – Kenny – who used to own a gas station in Dunbar. Kenny later passed away – I think to either cancer or heart problems.
I attended Spring Hill Elementary School – which has since been torn down. It was on Chestnut Street – right across from Spring Hill Bakery. Earliest memories were going to Kessel’s Store – right across the street from the school and a little store – mostly candy and those little wax bottles with a little bit of Kool Aid in them, those was teeth and lips for Halloween. I remember playing on the playground – some of the names I remember are Bobby Lawrence, Matt Woo and Marty Wall – Bobby’s mother ended up being our 2nd Grade teacher. There were girls – the Lilly sisters that lived across the tracks from us and Sherry Bailey that lived in our neighborhood. Geez – I remember that yellow raincoat with the buckles that went through the little openings and folded back to keep me dry. I think Mrs. Kessle was my first grade teacher. I remember the smell of that white paste we would use for projects, a card for Mother’s Day that had a little tip of a pussy willow under a little piece of material and I wrote “Mom – I love you as much as a bug in a rug”. I remember making drums for Thanksgiving out of Quaker Oats boxes and using my hand to draw turkeys for art class. I used to read a lot and we got stars for every ten books that we read and I always worked to get those gold stars by my name. The only paddling I remember is one day when me and Bobby were laughing and his mom whipped the both of us with that paddle. The family moved to St. Albans in October of the 3rd grade, as the local housing association or someone with the city tore down our neighborhood for public housing. We moved to a house with shingles that were replaced on top by aluminum siding that Mamaw had bought for I think about $9,000.00 with a large yard that went out to the river. There was a triangle shaped playground across the street from 64 1st Avenue. The playground had a basketball court with gravel on it, a swing set down the left side and a huge mistletoe tree at the edge close to the street in the outside edge. The neighbor kids used to play baseball with on orange rubber baseball, Some of my friends that I remember – Branchford “Littleman” Arthur and his big brother Ricky – who ended up being about 6’-4” a great basketball player in high school. The Pauley’s – Rusty, Bryan, Mark and their big brother Rocky – I knew them from being down at Papaw and Mag’s in the country on Bill’s Creek. The Cunningham’s lived up the street – Dana, Tyron, Michael and Andre – Michael and Andre were the oldest and sports stars at St. Albans High School. Dana and Tyrone were good kids all the way through school. I saw Dana at our SAHS class reunion of 30 years and he hasn’t changed a bit.
I remember in the summers the city of St. Albans would have someone bring games to the playground Monday – Friday – checkers, pool on wooden boards with plastic red and black rings for the pool balls and the little webbing for the pockets. All the neighborhood kids would play kickball, tetherball, checkers and other games all day. I still have my blue ribbon for checkers and white ribbons for third place in tetherball and dodgeball as we’d have contests near the end of the summer.
One of the summers – Jerry, our cousin Corky Wattters and some others cleaned off the river bank at Mawmaw’s and built steps out of decking which were pretty steep and they built a boat dock out of the decking. Jerry designed it so there were spaces between the boards so that when the river rose – the water would go between the boards and not make the dock rise and float downstream like many of the docks on the river – an architectural genius – that Jerry! Jerry bought a boat – I think it had a 35 horsepower motor and we skied all summer as he took the time to teach me to ski at about age 10. That was big stuff for me! I had trouble standing on the skis and would stay crouched down until one day – I had been skiing and learned what an enema is – from all the water between the skis. I learned to stand up on the skis after that near accident! Great memories of everyone coming to the house – cousinssuch as Corky and Judy, Walt and Laura and friends such as Jimmy (Speedy) Durrett and his wife Julia, Frank Boardman – a childhood friend of Jerry’s cooking out on the weekends, playing badmitten in the backyard and having such a great time.
Mawmaw used to work at the hospital and would come home around 3:00 in the afternoon. There was one winter when her sister, Aunt Ginny was living with her and we played rummy almost every day till it was time for supper when Mom came home. Like it was yesterday – I remember hearing stories about when they were young and we also would sometimes walk to the store across the highway. One fond memory is Mawmaw and Aunt Ginny walking me over to McClung and Morgan’s Department Store to pick out some bell bottom pants for Christmas. I picked them out and they put those pants on layaway. One pair had brown and gold stripes and another pair had blue stripes with gold trim. I was styling and profiling at an early age!
Mom and I got our own apartment in Ordnance Park in St. Albans when I was about half way through the 5th grade. 2734 Forrestal Avenue was where I had my first bedroom all to myself and the place had a garage and little backyard. My bedroom had a door that opened to the backyard. I decorated that room with posters of Bridgett Bardot, tie died towel hung above the bunk beds, a big blue bulletin board that mom brought home from her work at Architectural Products that I put all kinds of football cards – mostly the Dallas Cowboys. I have the photos somewhere of that room. I had found a book with all the pro football, baseball and basketball teams addresses. I sent each of them a letter asking for autographs, stickers and photos. It seemed like almost everyday I was getting something in the mail from these teams and may of those photos and stickers were on the bulletin board and stickers on the bunk beds.
Ordnance park was built after World War Two and were duplexes a small living room, kitchen, one bath and two bedroom. Mom paid $85.00 a month for the apartment – the extra $5.00 was for the garage that we kept the washer and dryer – Jerry’s red Triumph 650 motorcycle and a bunch of our extra stuff along with mom’s red Camaro. The neighborhood had two long blocks with playground or common areas with swingsets and a field to play in – which I did play football with my longtime friend David Lewis that will be mentioned later in the book. The neighborhood had seven streets and if you were on the outside streets it was exactly a mile around the long blocks. We had a basketball court along Route 60 that is still there today. The basket on the east end of the court was a couple inches below the standard 10 feet and it seemed as if the west end basket was a couple inches above regulation. These served as home court advantages for me and the guys in the neighborhood. I wore our many pairs of tennis shoes on that tennis court! The Gandy’s – Ray Sr. and his son Raymond lived directly across the street along with Raymond’s beautiful sisters. Ray, Raymond and I spent endless hours playing HORSE, PIG and some regular basketball games on that court. I met several friends on that court and still smile everytime I go home and drive past Ordnance Park! I still attended central Elementary to finish out my 5th grade. I’d walk home to Mawmaw’s and mom would pick me up. This was a great time in Mom and my life. She had been dating Jerry since I was in the first grade and we were on our own. Last Thanksgiving (2007) I remember telling Mom, “Remember when it was You and Me against the world” which was a song years ago – we both smiled big time. Several of our friends and a couple cousins lived in Ordnance Park that led to many great times. Back then kids could ride our bikes all over the city.
I transferred to Parkway Elementary for the 6th grade.
MOVING - wrote this in Deanna Walker’s class 9/8 and will move to another section – just loved the details and focus: The topic – Craziest thing I ever did:
October 15, 2002
Finished packing my Lexus and a 19’ U haul with a 10’ trailer behind. Roger Hughes flew to Charlotte to drive the U-haul to Nashville for me as I did not want to attempt to drive it through those mountains and on the road. I would have ran cars off the road behind the wheel of one of those trucks .We finished packing – my friends Vernon and Jade Jones came over and helped me pack – I never thought it would take so long to pack everything in my condo and storage unit! We left as far as I remember about 3:00 in the afternoon and headed up I-77 to Statesville, NC and West on I-40. I burned up the cell phone for most of the time on the journey that normally takes 6 hours. I have a diary somewhere of that date the I kept a log in for the trip. WE made it through all those mountains around and around through Asheville and onto a little straighter roads in Tennessee. I was smiling and reflecting the entire time in the car along with the tears as I thought about my 15 years in Charlotte, the radio business, sports marketing, cell phones, printing, lighting sales. Radio syndication, the friends and memories.